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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Romney Advisor Supports Negotiating With Terrorists

A top advisor to the Romney campaign has argues  that the United States must at times negotiate with some of the world's most objectionable actors, including terrorists, rogue states, and even the Taliban.

In his new book, Negotiating with Evil (2010), former U. S. diplomat named Mitchell Reiss praises the Obama administration for opening up channels of communication with the Taliban in 2009. However Reiss is critical of the Obama team for fumbling those interactions.

. . . . . .The president appeared to recognize that the United States could not kill or capture every Taliban member. Some would have to be co-opted, accommodated, or bargained with in order for Washington to accomplish its mission. . . . .

. . . . .The United States has numerous examples of leaders engaging with terrorists and rogue regimes. . . . .

. . . . .American presidents have negotiated with terrorists and rogue regimes to secure the release of hostages, to arrange temporary ceasefires, and to explore whether a more permanent truce might be possible, although they have sometimes gone to great lengths to disguise their direct involvement. . . . .

. . . . The most powerful reason not to engage with certain enemies is the judgment that no amount of concessions will pacify their hostile behavior. Attempts to do so are usually termed ‘appeasement' and may result in disaster. . . .

Reiss argues that the Taliban is not a monolithic adversary, and that it does not have territorial ambitions that extend beyond Afghanistan.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

White Entitlement and White Rage

I have been much enraged of late. As usual the culprit has been the idiocy of my fellow Americans. But my mature mind is easily dissuaded from giving expression to my outrage. 'Have the wisdom', it says to me, 'to see what little you can change'.

But two items cause me to set pen to paper.

The First Lady met with victims of the Sikh Temple Shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Readers will recall that last August 5th a gunman with ties to a white supremacist group strode opened fire at the temple. Six Sikhs were killed and three others injured.

Ms Obama's message was one of condolence and apology.

The second item was
 reading of these advertisements which are posted along the Connecticut commuter lines by Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs.

These two photos, placed together, represent one of the (there are many) biggest blind spots which afflict American politics.

A recent article by Priyamvada Gopal in the Manchester Guardian, How Privilege-Blindness Stops Us Understanding The Roots of Terrorism which goes a long way in explaining the origins of this myopia. Here are the money paras:

While mass killing always has a madness to its method, white supremacists are all too often declared to be psychopathic loners, where others are seen as part of organised ideological networks. Instead, there were suggestions that Page had targeted Sikhs "unfairly", alongside irrelevant discussions about Sikhism. Chances are that Representative Peter King will not hold hearings, as he did for Muslims, on the "extent of radicalisation in the American white Christian community and that community's response".

While black and, more recently, Muslim anger are widely seen as the problematic pathologies of our times, and thus subjected to the full weight of sociological, scriptural, political and even economic analysis, declared white rage is routinely relegated to the fringes, written off as the result of individual psychopathy, and eliciting passing interest only after blood is shed.

Supremacists warn that there are "thousands of other angry white men like Page out there, the vast majority of them unknown". Yet as former department of homeland security analyst Daryl Johnson points out, an extensive report on rightwing terrorism, including white extremism, was angrily repudiated by Congress in 2009 and the number of security analysts devoted to domestic non-Islamic terrorism slashed to just one.

This marginalising of the real and present danger of white terrorism at a time when other forms of religious or nationalist militancy are under unprecedented scrutiny has to do with how "whiteness" itself operates.
. . . . .
Sociologists note that in Europe and America, whiteness and the privileges that have accrued to it historically are reliant on invisibility. To have white privilege is to not identify or be identified as racially specific unlike, say, "black athletes", "Asian entrepreneurs" or just an ethnic minority air passenger.

White supremacists make it difficult to uphold the individualist axiom that society is now "post-racial" or "colour blind". By asserting racial affiliation and calling for (the perpetuation of) an endangered white domination, they paradoxically undermine a more quotidian white power which, writes scholar Richard Dyer, "secures its dominance" by remaining ostensibly featureless and general. It can sit aloof from "multiculturalism", which is deemed a special pleading thing that only ethnic minorities do.
No murderer represents a community. But all killers, however psychopathic, act in a context, whether of economic deprivation, racism, militarisation, gun proliferation or lack of mental healthcare. To minimise these social realities in favour of individual psychopathy condemns us all to shooting in the dark.
There is no light at the end of this tunnel.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Putin & Assad: Where Is the Outrage?

I am baffled as to why there aren't world-wide demonstrations against Putin's Russia. There should be hundreds of thousand marching in Paris, London, NYC, Bonn? Putin has blocked effective U.N. action at every step, because he has a personal & vested interest in keeping whoever is in power, in power. Even in the case of this hereditary dictatorship.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

News Item: Afghan policemen Defect to Taliban in Farah Province

An Afghan police commander and 13 junior officers have joined the Taliban in the western Afghan province of Farah, in what correspondents say could be the biggest defection by police.

They say the commander, named as Mirwais, was in charge of a 20-man checkpoint when he defected on Sunday.

The men are said to have taken heavy weaponry, radios and police vehicles including US-made armoured Humvees.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rumsfeld Is Still Lying

By Glenn Thrush in Politico 44 Mackenzie Weinger just posted a comment from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld questioning just how tough a call President Obama made when he gave the kill order to the SEAL team targeting Osama bin Laden. “You mentioned there was a tough decision,” Rumsfeld said on Tuesday night on Fox News. “I don’t think it was a tough decision. We’ve seen a lot of instances where presidents over the years have had to make decisions like that.” But six years ago, Rumsfeld himself called off a major raid in Pakistan, citing many of the same factors that Obama administration officials complicated the OBL mission. In 2007, Mark Mazetti of the Times reported:
A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials. 
The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations. 
But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning. 
Mr. Rumsfeld decided that the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk, the current and former officials said. He was also concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan, an often reluctant ally that has barred the American military from operating in its tribal areas, the officials said. 
The decision to halt the planned “snatch and grab” operation frustrated some top intelligence officials and members of the military’s secret Special Operations units, who say the United States missed a significant opportunity to try to capture senior members of Al Qaeda.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Grover's Grand Ol' Party

Treasonous Congressional Republicans would rather take down Obama than do their jobs.

Recently, we learned that leaders of the Republican Party gathered together on the evening of January 20th 2009, immediately after Obama was sworn in as our nation's President, to devise their hateful strategies of obstruction, lying, manipulation, distortion, character assassination and demagoguery all in the name of "keeping millions out of work to put one man out of a job."

Given that the leadership of the Congressional Republicans publicly declared that their only goal is: "... to deny Obama a second term, no matter the cost to the country", shouldn't they be found guilty of lying under oath as well as of attempting to overthrow the legitimate government of the United States of America, and possibly Grand Theft Larceny? After all, they continue to accept their generous salaries, extravagant health care and drug coverage, hefty retirement plans, and all the other "perks" all paid for by we, the tax-paying citizens, while doing everything they can to end the "Grand Experiment that is America".

They have abdicated their oaths of office, instead paying obeisance to Grover Norquist, an unelected arch-conservative who advocates restricting voting rights to "the landed gentry", and who is successfully holding our nation's economic recovery hostage.

It is shameful and obscene that the Republican Party is so beholden to ideology that it is willing to lie and obfuscate, filibuster and demonize those trying to right our sinking Ship of State that is foundering because of the Bush-created Depression that is the Republican legacy of so-called leadership.

Americans need to awaken from the toxicity with which the Republican's constant fear-mongering and demonizing of differences has infected our citizenry. We need to awaken to the very real destructive forces within the Republican Party that threaten to destroy the American Dream by returning us to the days of Dickens.

Pay attention to what Republicans do when in office - remember: their actions are what matters - not their empty promises.

"Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What Motivates Republicans

Republican voters are divided into two categories: informed and clueless. The latter are pawns for the former.

This advertisement, which I found in the comment section of another blog this morning, is an iconic symbol of what motivates informed Republican voters.