Parsing the Afghanistan Puzzle

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If one thing was obvious about President Obama’s speech on Tuesday night it was how complex the United States’ challenges in South Asia are.
As Steve Coll points out, Obama’s speech lacked the oratorical skill to which we have become accustomed in large part because the United States’ strategic situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is filled with contradictions and does not lend itself to a seamless narrative.
For those of you trying to keep up, I highly recommend Nir Rosen’s latest piece in the Boston Review. Nir has barely come back from the Middle East and South Asia since September 11, and his articles are always full of details and color that so much of the national security analysis out there lacks.
For those interested, The Washington Note‘s Steve Clemons will be participating in a forum tomorrow morning sponsored by the American Security Project called “Beyond the Surge: Assessing America’s Plan for Afghanistan.”
— Ben Katcher

Comments

120 comments on “Parsing the Afghanistan Puzzle

  1. John Waring says:

    http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/12/column-us-history-is-littered-with-war-blunders-.html
    Presidential historian Robert Dallek weighs in. “US History is Littered with War Blunders”.

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    Don S, you have to think about what “predetermined and activated” means in context.
    The international system seems, in my view, to be well described by Hobbes’s state of nature. Sovereigns are not parties to the contract vis-s-vis their own people, and they are utterly in the state of nature vis-a-vis one another. No trust, no trustworthiness, the only help at all is what Russell Hardin calls “encapsulated interest” — I trust you only because it’s actually in your interest to serve my interest. Nothing noble or beautiful here.
    The whole mideast resource and population conglomeration is of high value to the US, but the US has no basis of trust unless the governments there feel well served by doing our bidding. Without that encapsulation, there’s no stability that serves the US NATIONAL PURPOSE (whatever that is….)
    Given that one of the known knowns is the lack of trustworthy partners, there is a national interest purpose in pushing out unencapsulated governments and replacing them with more dependent/encapsulated versions.
    So, yeah, it serves a sad version of national interest to have April Glaspie wink at Saddam Hussein over the Kuwait invasion (if this event really took place…) and then bomb the crap out of him. He was on our payroll when it was convenient. He stopped being convenient as geostrategy shifted. So certainly a long term, long range, longed for invasion was the thing to do.
    I can’t really see how anyone who thinks in realist terms at all doesn’t support any and all invasions given that wherever we don’t have encapsulated interests, we have a potential challenge to our power. (Note that I don’t like any of these terms.) If you want US interests served, then you should probably want the US to run the universe. Hegemony is really logical. It might also be really wicked. But once you admit the category of wickedness, you’ve left the realm of realism.
    So if there were even a chance that Iraq was harboring anything, and there was a chance because there’s always a chance, the invasion made sense. Unless you want to start stepping away from notions of a clear national interest. (Which, of course, I do.)

    Reply

  3. DonS says:

    Going back to the ancient history of the ‘run up’ to Iraq is increasingly tiresome, but needs to be reviewed so the myth purveyors don’t prevail.
    Despite how bad a guy, and untrustworthy Saddam was, the Bush-Cheney-Neocon plan to invade Iraq RAN ON A SEPARATE TRACK that foreordained an invasion REGARDLESS OF EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES OR REALITIES. Everything was done to keep that plan on track including negating ANY ACTION whether by the IAEA, Saddam, or any third party that might distract from the narrative and might derail the plan.
    All evidence implicating Saddam, direct or indirect, speculative or fact based, IS IRRELEVANT and of theoretical interest only — NOT EXCULPATORY OF THE Bush-Cheney-Neocon cabal that had an ACTIVE PLAN for invasion well over a year prior to the actual fact.
    Discussion of who thought what and when about Iraq’s capabilities and intentions is solely DIVERSIONARY to the historical trajectory of the Bush-Cheney-Neocon action plan for invasion. All events were orchestrated by the US and the Brits to support that plan.
    THE NEOCON CABAL CONTINUES TO FUNCTION.

    Reply

  4. John Waring says:

    Here’s another good article, “Obama’s Afghan Surge is a Geopolitical Windfall for India”.
    http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/2009/12/obamas-afghan-surge-geopolitical.html

    Reply

  5. Outraged American says:

    Kathleen, if you’re a fan of Democracy Now and trust it for honest
    reporting try to find its funders, would you?
    Don’t get me started on Laura Flanders.
    It’s called ‘limited hangout” and it’s done more to destroy true
    independent media in this country than anything Murdoch could
    ever dream of doing.

    Reply

  6. Kathleen says:

    Great interview with Nir Rosen and Andrew Bacevich on Afghanistan, Iran etc over at Democracy Now.
    Laura Flanders has a great interview with one of the women from Afghanistan over at Grit TV At Firedolglake.
    All interviews really worth listening to.

    Reply

  7. Outraged American says:

    The annoying 24-hr Xmas station is running messages from
    troops to their families against a background of “I’ll be home for
    Christmas.” What a tragic joke.
    IIRC that song was written during WW II and how many of them
    never came back? Enough to fill a medium size city.
    Anyway, many of these troops sending messages to their parents
    or kids seem young enough to believe in Santa themselves, and
    seem to be stationed in Afghanistan.
    F-ing sick. While the DC party circle continues its holiday whirly
    gig, and the world press obsesses about Tiger’s 12th mistress,
    these people, and the people they’re being forced to kill, are
    going through hell.
    I hope that the mythical hell exists because I want everyone in
    UsRael’s government to spend at least one eternity there.
    It was very clear that Iraq did not have WMD, if I knew that and
    had proof, living in LA, don’t even try to pretend that Congress
    didn’t have at least as much information.

    Reply

  8. nadine says:

    “I was under the impression that the general take on the WMD issue at this point is that Saddam Hussein was lying to his own security people in order to protect his own position. There was no shipping out of weapons because there were no weapons. Our intelligence picked up a lot of mixed signals, our government was eager to dump Saddam Hussein as a now-inconvenient former partner, and so dump him we did.” (questions)
    Saddam wasn’t a US partner; if the US aided him during the Iran-Iraq war, it was only to keep the even more repulsive Iranian regime from winning the war. An amoral strategy, but one with lots and lots of multilateral support in the Gulf. But since Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, the US had been at war with him, a war that never ended but devolved into a very unsatisfactory containment strategy where the US paid the costs and had abuse heaped on its head for its pains, and everybody else ran around and made money off it.
    As for what got shipped to Syria in 2002-03, nobody knows for sure. Lots of Baathist money & loot, for sure, but what else? I’ve seen too many reports of Russian techs coming in & cleaning up incriminating evidence not to think that there was fire behind that smoke – it was completely in character for both the Russians and the Iraqis. It wasn’t too long after 2003 that the Syrians began building their nuclear facility, the one the Israelis bombed a while back. I’m not big on calling that a sheer coincidence, myself. We know that Saddam was lying to his generals about still having stocks of chemical weapons, but beyond that, it’s unsure. Only thing that is for sure is that we gave Saddam more than a year’s warning.
    Saddam had a long history of using chemical weapons, and a long history of hiding stuff. This was a guy who was always running secret weapons programs and burying stuff for later use (we found Soviet Migs buried in the desert, for example). There was that secret bioweapons program that we learned about when his son-in-law defected in 1995.
    This was why the intelligence services in France, Germany and Britain, as well as the US, all were positive that Saddam still had weapons in 2002. The only rational stance for Saddam was guilty until proven innocent, with his track record, and that was the stance that all the major intelligence agencies took. “Slam-dunk” like George Tenet said.

    Reply

  9. DonS says:

    Questions, your speculation about lying and imputation of fear follows one common narrative. But when you tie that to the malfunctioning of the international systems you go off the rails. Clear evidence indicates that between the US and Britain the road to war was predetermined and activated. This was no mistake of worldwide proportions; it was a course of action rammed down the throat of the international body as a cover for invasion.
    Hindsight confirms that the US did everything it could to prevent the international inspection system from verifying the situation in the immediate period before the invasion. Don’t you think it would have been a good tradeoff to keep all avenues open to prevent war? If that had been the intention, which it wasn’t.
    Oh yeah, I forgot “no one could have predicted”, and smoking guns/mushroom clouds” Explains everything.

    Reply

  10. questions says:

    NYT has a piece on the “map” of AfPak and at least part of the issue is that Pashtun speakers cross the political boundaries and so don’t respond to the nation-state.
    Also, on kos, I think it was Jerome a Paris, but could have been someone else — had a really nice piece on the whole pipeline issue. It’s out of my field, but it seemed to indicate that the pipeline stuff is a pipe dream of sorts and not based on anyone’s reality. Actually, here’s the link since I just searched for it:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/5/9596/37612
    So maybe he has a point?
    I think face saving may well be crucial given what I read in the Looming Tower. And I still think the ‘you never know what you’ll find’ argument may well play a role. If Obama took complete pull out off the table early, it suggests that there may be some reason for being there?? He’s totally going to lose the liberal voters on this one, he’s going to piss off a chunk of independents. This isn’t re-election or legacy at this point, near as I can tell. I get the feeling that those unfiltered intelligence briefs are pretty hard to read every day. Think if it were your responsibility….
    And by setting something of a date he needs somehow to deal with, he’s really tying his fate to Afghanistan and its surroundings.
    ****
    I don’t think everyone was lying about the WMD issue. I think that people expected there to be weapons, wanted there to be weapons, were terrified that there were weapons, selected the juiciest intel (Blair’s “sexing up” stuff) because they thought there was an underlying reality. Because trust in potentially disastrous situations is hard to come by, we don’t trust. And we get stupid. It’s more a function of the international system than it is a function of deliberate evil-doing. But then, that’s my take on a lot of stuff. Institutional behavior seems to explain more in my view than does out and out evil and conspiracy.

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The argument that Iraq was smuggling WMDs into Syria is so ludicrous that only a fool would make it. We had complete and utter control of Iraqi airspace, and any trucks or caravans into Syria would have been stopped way short of the border. It is one thing for a mouthpiece like Nadine to make such a claim, because one can expect her to make such asinine claims. Its what she does. But our leaders that were making such a claim were exposed as shameless liars to anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    And I would assume that the pipelines play a bigger role than you think. Pakistan
    and pipelines.

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    And Questions,
    I don`t disagree with your points here: “We pick factions in Afghanistan to support and
    we’ll likely pick wrong all over again.”
    True. But I think Pakistan is what really get them nervous.

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    Apart from domestic considerations, I believe that the keyword in this issue is “AfPak”.
    Why did Obama invent this neologism? It`s a bit like NorSweDen in Scandinavia, or
    EthiEriSom on the African Horn.
    AfPak is not a country, but let`s imagine that it is a country, to illustrate a point.
    (You may even call it AfPakInKash, to get the regional context relevant for the real
    issues here.) Most people in the Obama administration realize that the potential danger
    now emanates primarily from the south (Pakistan), and not from the north (Afghanistan).
    The trouble is that the US/NATO forces have very limited access to the south, and
    relatively limited political leverage – so they try to do something in the north while
    hoping for the best in the south. And yes, the events in the north do to a certain
    degree influence the south, and the other way around.
    The US will start the withdrawal in 2011 – but the pace will be determined by certain
    conditions (military, political etc.) at that time. So they may stay there for, say four
    to six more years? This will give them time to evaluate the development in Pakistan,
    and, given the proximity to the south, the ability to go in if things go really bad in
    Pakistan. But this is not a part of the strategy that they can announce to Pakistan and
    the rest of the world.
    Besides Obama`s campaign promises re. Afghanistan, I would assume that he wants to
    signal to the world that despite the economic downturn, and the political and moral
    capital America lost during the Bush years, America is still strong, and still has a
    will to fight. This is, if you will, the show-off part.
    I am not so convinced that Obama and his admin really really really believe in the safe
    haven argument and the claim that Taliban constitutes a threat to US national security.
    I doubt that they seriously believe that they may make significant changes in
    Afghanistan during 18 months. I seriously doubt that they trust in Karzai`s ability or
    will to change.
    This leaves us with:
    a) Show off/ saving face.
    b) The proximity to Pakistan, where things may develop in any direction during the next
    two to five years.

    Reply

  15. questions says:

    Nadine, re 6:55 post,
    I was under the impression that the general take on the WMD issue at this point is that Saddam Hussein was lying to his own security people in order to protect his own position. There was no shipping out of weapons because there were no weapons. Our intelligence picked up a lot of mixed signals, our government was eager to dump Saddam Hussein as a now-inconvenient former partner, and so dump him we did.
    The thing that gives me the most pause about the deepening involvement in Afghanistan is probably this very point. We “partner” with some very questionable people around the world — fine. Alliances are about stability, not about direct ethical choices. The stability is at least vaguely ethical in the long run. Permanent revolution isn’t really desirable, and is in fact pretty cruel. BUT, the partners we pick generally lack internal legitimacy and so aren’t really stabilizing forces.
    We don’t ever seem to pick wisely. We play one group off another, one general off another, one faction off another. Machiavelli touches on these kinds of strategies. But if you pick wrong, you run into endless problems. We often pick wrong. Saddam Hussein ended up being a problem. Bin Laden ended up being a problem. The weapons we sell get turned on us…. We still haven’t figured it out.
    So what do we do yet again? We pick factions in Afghanistan to support and we’ll likely pick wrong all over again. It’s not pipelines and it’s not the war machine. It’s a real hubris that we can actually choose from outside whom to arm to control the inside. And we think we can make this choice stick.
    What I wonder is what is it about Afghanistan that makes us think that we can pick. Or is it more that we know we can’t but we have to anyway? Is there intelligence we only get while we’re there, and so it turns out it’s worth playing this game a little longer? Even though we know that we never win, we merely defer loss a little longer.

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    That would be rather bizarre, wouldn`t it? POA`s language, mixed with selected words from Kotz`s
    dictionary!

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    You should make some prints of these tortoises and turtles. Send them to Kotz -in exchange for his
    dictionary.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…, Why don’t you address Elizabeth directly, instead of addressing comments *about* her to everyone else?”
    He doesn’t have a name, and he never learned how to punctuate, and you ask him THAT????

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, as long as we are all fessin’ up to who our political heros are, I gotta come clean about my addiction. I’m obsessed with pasting Sarah Palin’s head on internet pictures of tortoises and turtles. I just can’t get enough of it. I can’t even sleep at night, or go to work in the day.
    One turtle after another, Palonized. (Or is it one Palin after another, turtlized?)
    I’m losing wieght. Nina is threatening to leave me. Its horrible.
    And now that Paul has fessed up that he’s hookin’ on the side, I’m afraid I’ve lost all hope.

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “What exactly pissed you off re. his behavior on Iraq?”
    Now there’s a novel idea. Lets just start over and do the whole thread over again!
    And, uh, as long as we’re puttin’ a white hat on Biden, and marveling at his goodness, can I take this opportunity to put in a good word for the Chalabi clan???? Also, I think Farouki deserves a hand of applause too, for his amazing ability to amass Iraqi antiquities, and partner up with ‘ol Dougie Feith. If theres one thing that can be said for this wonderful adventure in Iraq, its that Bush and Cheney were certainly astute judges of character, weren’t they? Its a damn good thing Biden was able to discern just what a wonderful cast of characters Bush/Cheney had assembled!!! I mean hey, whats not to trust? By now, if not for Biden, we’d all be dead, eaten alive by suitcase Sand Flea Bombs.

    Reply

  21. ... says:

    i didn’t feel like it..

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    …, Why don’t you address Elizabeth directly, instead of addressing comments *about* her to everyone else?

    Reply

  23. ... says:

    elizabeth is probably a pretty good reflection on a good part of the populace here in canuck ville… the dumbing down process never seems to stop no matter which side of the 49th parallel one resides on…ignatieff is another embarrassment..
    pauline left a link a few threads down that quotes glenn greenwald… “”We’re doing all the things [in Afghanistan] that inflame anti-American sentiment,” Greenwald emphasized, “which our own government says is the fuel that gives rise to Islamic radicalism…. We’re aiding and abetting the extremists.”
    thanks for pointing that out pauline…
    same thing is going on at present in pakistan..
    see the other thread on drones for more specifics with the usual lying blather from talking heads in gov’t..

    Reply

  24. Paul Norheim says:

    Don,
    besides writing, I have a night job.

    Reply

  25. Dan Kervick says:

    “What exactly pissed you off re. his behavior on Iraq?”
    Didn’t we already cover that? I would have thought it was implied in my earlier comments about “failing in his job”, “screwing up badly” and “helping to kill a lot of innocent people in Iraq, as well as thousands of American soldiers who died for no good reason.”

    Reply

  26. Paul Norheim says:

    Well, that`s at least a cure against provincialism.
    Don, I don`t think I have anything interesting to add regarding Obama and Afghanistan right now. I read the NYT
    piece this morning; evidently, he decided early on that withdrawal was off the table. You`re right that his general
    campaign rhetoric gave a different impression – but what he said about Afghanistan got the alarm bells ringing early
    on in my head.

    Reply

  27. DonS says:

    And BTW Paul, just what are you doing blogging at 2:33 a.m. Or are you not there.
    Forget I asked.

    Reply

  28. DonS says:

    Paul,
    Just FYI, Scranton is a place that prompts ideas of leaving. Even the terrain, to drive through. Depressing. I empathize.

    Reply

  29. Paul Norheim says:

    Ok, ok…so he`s a Scranton politician.
    Still beyond me. I mean… Scranton politicians are not bad, but to be a devoted fan?
    However, I`m sure our host understands you; he`s actually (I`m not joking now) the Chuck Hagel fan
    around here. And if Obama reveals his inner Nixon, Steve will adore him too.
    Seriously! Just ask him.

    Reply

  30. Elizabeth Miller says:

    That’s easy, Paul…Biden isn’t a DC politician, by any stretch of the imagination. Seriously.

    Reply

  31. Elizabeth Miller says:

    What exactly pissed you off re. his behavior on Iraq?
    I think the Russian leadership is hypersensitive…which surprises me.

    Reply

  32. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry Elisabeth,
    I was just joking!
    Seriously, I can somehow understand how someone can be a fan of a rock band, an actor, a writer, or a painter – but a
    DC politician???
    That`s beyond me.

    Reply

  33. Dan Kervick says:

    Paul is yanking your chain, Elizabeth. He is a Godless European, and therefore has no respect for truth. He purveys an insidious form of Norwegian social democratic propaganda known as fälsenkrapp, which makes hasbera look like kid’s stuff.
    As for my overall take on Biden as VP, things definitely could have been worse. We almost ended up with Evan Bayh as VP. And in this latest round of debate over Iraq, Biden seems to me to have been pulling in the better direction. But his behavior re:Iraq pissed me off, as did his public statements during the Russia-Georgia fighting.

    Reply

  34. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Paul,
    Dan is a Hagel fan!? So am I!
    As for Kerry, I often wonder longingly how different the world would be if he had won in 2004. Though, he does have some big shoes to fill as chairman of the SFRC…but, he’s doing fine.

    Reply

  35. Paul Norheim says:

    Elisabeth,
    since you asked — Except for Dan Kervick, who is a devoted Hagel fan; POA, who adores Hillary C and Harry Reid; and
    Nadine, who secretly admires Al Gore, 95% of the commenters at this site are actually Kerry fans.
    We happen to think that John Kerry is just brilliant – a foreign policy genius, to tell you the truth. Once in a while, Steve
    says something nice about Kerry, and this keeps us staying here. I really hope that you don`t have any negative thoughts
    regarding the genius of John Kerry. In that case, you must be uninformed. But don`t worry, we`ll guide you to the relevant
    links, so that you can read up and realize what a brilliant thinker John Kerry is and always has been.

    Reply

  36. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, I think you are probably right. While reporting during 2002 indicated that Powell was the main figure pushing for the UN route, reporting after and since the war revealed how closely Bush and Blair worked together to coordinate strategy from an early date, even as early as Fall, 2001.

    Reply

  37. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Yep…pretty sure I’ve heard ’em all! Have you got a new one?
    By the way, will I ALWAYS have play along with Captcha…or does one get a free pass after the first hundred posts?

    Reply

  38. Dan Kervick says:

    “Does anyone have a sense of humour around here? Geesh.”
    Sure, Elizabeth. Did you hear the one about Joe Biden? …

    Reply

  39. Elixzabeth Miller says:

    You’re disappointing me, Dan…I’d thought you’d have googled all my fine work in the blogosphere by now. 🙂
    Does anyone have a sense of humour around here? Geesh.

    Reply

  40. DonS says:

    “Saddam shipped a lot of stuff to Syria in the extra eight months the UN detour gave him
    “WMD was chosen as a least common denominator, because everybody believed it,
    Can’t help it can you Nadine. Slip in all that crap.
    You know goddam well not everybody believed it. Only it doesn’t fit in with the narrative you prefer because in the end it doesn’t matter to you whether or why the invasion took place. It was on the agenda, and as you said above, it’s been a smashing success. That conviction alone betrays your who ruse.
    “Everybody believed it” is the characterization that all the guilty parties, and that’s a massive lot continue to try to pound into the historical record.

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    “Surely you agree that the Bush administration was completely dishonest in their statements throughout the whole process.
    I’m sure they were lying to Congress as well.”(MarkL)
    Mark, this is the fantasy explanation the Left concocted to comfort themselves about how eeeevil Bush was. It doesn’t make any sense if you think about it for even five minutes. Let’s suppose Bush was lying and was perfectly ready to lie to go to war. Well, why the heck did he pick WMD, which could be exposed as a lie as soon as the Americans were in Iraq, and was, much to Bush’s political cost? Why not pick some top-secret reason that couldn’t be exposed? Why not plant evidence? Why not do any number of easy things that would have got him his war and saved him the political cost of no WMDs, if he was ready to tell any lie?
    The left’s story contradicts itself. At this point they begin saying, well Bush was eeevil, but he was stupid too. And Dick Cheney was also too stupid to have thought of a lie that wouldn’t be easily exposed? Puh-lease.
    There were several strong lines of argument to go to war with Saddam – chief of which was the position America would be in after it had to climb down from sanctions and leave Saddam triumphant. WMD was chosen as a least common denominator, because everybody believed it, even those opposed to the war (remember the anti-war argument: “don’t send our boys in to be gassed”?). When American troops couldn’t find the WMDs, they didn’t try to plant them. This was an honest and costly mistake, not a lie.

    Reply

  42. DonS says:

    For the record, I was sure there was going to be a war at least 6 months before the invasion.
    Maybe when something that evil is in the works there really are negative vibes that are perceptible. That’s not an argument either, but it might be just as defensible as saying it was reasonable for all the power possessing beings to ignore the overt signals Bush and Cheney et al were sending. In light of all we know, and knew, about junior’s sordid past, was it reasonable to believe he did do nuance?
    And what does “outside the administration” really mean in this context? The NYT, Judith Miller, as a channel for propaganda? Rather than discern who is culpable, the net gets so wide, that the masses of ‘silent’ responsibles need to defend themselves, or get dissed on the garbage pile of history. That’s my point.

    Reply

  43. nadine says:

    “It was evident to any attentive observer that George Bush and Dick Cheney were determined to attack Iraq from very early on, and that by early 2002 the decision had been made. The United States was already developing a strategic agenda by that time for dynamic regional change in the post-Saddam environment.
    As if we needed any further confirmation of this obvious political reality, recent testimony in the British investigation into the pre-war maneuverings makes it clear that the British government was well aware by early 2002 that the military horse was already out of the barn where it came to US intentions for Iraq. You can find many news reports from that time that show that other governments had already concluded the same thing.
    The only debate in the executive branch of the US government was between those who wanted to attack Iraq within the legitimizing framework of the existing international order, and those who wanted to use the post 9/11 period of crisis to assertively move the UN aside, effectively declare a new hegemonic US order, and make the Iraq invasion the signal act of that new order. Powell convinced the White House to go for a UN rubber stamp.” (Dan Kervick)
    Yes, agreed. The only thing I would question is whether Powell’s arguments carried the day. I have seen rather persuasive arguments that it was Tony Blair’s insistence on going to the UNSC that persuaded Bush – Blair told him he absolutely needed it. Otherwise, Dick Cheney might have persuaded Bush to dispense with the UN and go to war in 2002. Saddam shipped a lot of stuff to Syria in the extra eight months the UN detour gave him; I don’t think anybody quite knows what the situation would have been if we had gone in sooner. We might at least have forestalled Saddam’s emptying of the prisons in the fall of 2002.

    Reply

  44. MarkL says:

    DonS,
    You’re talking past me and not addressing my point at all.
    I agree completely that the Bush administration intended to go to war from the begining. In fact, I expect that the record will show it was Bush’s intention before he was even elected to wage war against Iraq at some point.
    We DO know this now, with good evidence.
    However, that does not mean that people outside of the administration knew this.
    Surely you agree that the Bush administration was completely dishonest in their statements throughout the whole process.
    I’m sure they were lying to Congress as well.
    Given that, how can you say it should have been clear to other people that war was inevitable?
    “It’s obvious” is a nitwit statement.
    Did every major Senator believe war was inevitable? I don’t know. I think it’s an interesting question.
    For the record, I wasn’t sure there would be war until it started. Then again, I didn’t cast any votes in Congress, and I did not support the administration’s actions to that point, anyway.

    Reply

  45. Dan Kervick says:

    … that’s why I’m rooting for Michael Ignatieff and his Liberal cohorts.
    I *knew* you must be an Ignatieff fan, Elizabeth. After that pompous buttinsky spent months running around America lecturing my countrymen about their morals and encouraging us to attack Iraq, he hi-tailed it back to Canada.
    And sorry to appear condescending to you, but the people around here can tell you that one thing that is sure to get my goat is people who don’t think for themselves and who follow gurus and worship heroes slavishly. I don’t care what whether the guru is Joe Biden, Justin Raimondo, Hillary Clinton, Ayn Rand or Sun Myung Moon.
    You’ve been quite free yourself with the condescending comments about how everyone else is woefully misinformed and just doesn’t get it where your hero is concerned. Anyway, is there anything you do with your blog time *besides* rush to any site where Joe Biden is being discussed, and leap to his defense? What are some of your other non-Biden derived opinions and interests?

    Reply

  46. DonS says:

    MarkL, in the best possible way, anyone who questions the lack of clean hands of the Bush administration and the manifest intention to go to war in 2002, during the charade we now call the buildup to the Iraq invasion — in light of the massive evidence already in the public sphere — has the burden of proof to show otherwise. Besides primary sources, there has been so much scrutiny, including notably on this blog, of chapter and verse of the intentional march towards war that it’s hard to know where you are coming from.
    But shall we say, of course, the the major actors in the drum beat towards war CONTINUE to have every interest in downplaying their knowledge or role — active or passive — in promoting and enabling the prime actors. One of those, subject to much debate hereabouts, remains Powell, who continues to remain enigmatic, I presume, to attempt to salvage some historical reprieve, or perhaps to build up what his memoirs will garner as an advance.
    Have you read “The Dark Side”

    Reply

  47. DonS says:

    Paul, if you’re still around, I should have added, to my statement at 4:23 above (“I cannot help but believe, it’s all optics, and genuflecting to the military”) . . . ,” and a healthy dose of needing to save face for the implications created during the campaign that he would beef up the military in Afghanistan.” Some would call it posturing.
    I know, that’s a revision, but what has seemed to emerge for me from the discussion, and reading sources elsewhere is the reminder that Obama was being attacked for being soft during the campaign and, instead of pointing out how right he was to oppose Iraq invasion, at a time the majority of the public felt that way too, and leaving it at that, he finessed that and took the alternative tack of calling out the Bush admin approach on Afghanistan and implying/stating (depending on how you read him) that he would be tougher than they were. It was a political gambit that has now had horrendous consequences in the present with the escalation.
    It was political (not strategically based on actual information) during the campaign because, if you look at the reported in depth review he did for this escalation, what makes us think that he would have been doing anything but ‘shooting from the hip’ to go out on that policy limb in the campaign? We, and the Afghans will be paying the price for a long time. OTOH, if he were truly convinced, per his campaign stance/implications that more escalations should be approved as needed (per military command), why indeed would he have so ‘dithered’?
    The weight of the office no doubt . . . . (GMAB – new acronym)

    Reply

  48. Dan Kervick says:

    As I recall, Powell says he did NOT know that there would be war until quite late.
    Then he is either slow or dishonest.

    Reply

  49. Elizabeth Miller says:

    NCHQ,
    …a harperite?…you really know how to be cruel.
    Seriously, I’m hoping against hope that our next prime minister will be an intellectual…it’s been a while…that’s why I’m rooting for Michael Ignatieff and his Liberal cohorts. Call me a sucker for punishment – it’ll come to you on the bus home, as they say.
    But, you assume that I take more than a passing interest in Canadian politics. In case you haven’t heard, Canadian politics can be summed up in one word…irrelevant.
    Though, I do worry about the Canadian part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. I’m not yet convinced that President Obama knows what the heck he expects to accomplish with an additional 30,000 troops…his West Point speech was about as clear as mud on that count.
    Cheers!

    Reply

  50. MarkL says:

    Dan Kervick,
    Sorry, but saying that it was “obvious” Bush was going to war by 2002 is not a serious argument.
    As I recall, Powell says he did NOT know that there would be war until quite late.
    Sure, Powell may be lying, but there is a piece of evidence.
    I think the “arrow in the quiver” rationale is reasonable on its face, in general, but not for this President.
    I do wish the British inquiry success.

    Reply

  51. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “You guys are one fun bunch, I must say”
    Biden is a real hero, and if he hadn’t of voted yea, he woulda voted nay.
    If not for Biden, we might not of taken Saddam’s WMDs away, and Saddam would still be hatching nefarious plots with Al Qaeda to subject all Americans to the terrible satellite based Z-19 Purple Zinger Death Ray.
    There, Elizabeth. Feel better now?

    Reply

  52. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Well, that was most condescending of you, Dan. Thanks.
    You guys are one fun bunch, I must say.

    Reply

  53. nadine says:

    Biden’s vote for the AUMF was done in an atmosphere where the intelligence services of the US, Great Britain, France and Germany all agreed that Saddam had WMDs, and where the US population strongly supported the Iraq war. That’s why Biden and Hillary and most of the other Dem Senators voted for it.
    Later, when the politics of the war changed, Biden’s and Hillary’s position changed with it. That’s all you need to know, really.
    I watch Biden with amusement because he’s such a strange mix of liberal wonkery, stream of consciousness gas-baggery, humble and even wise remarks, and completely goofball statements that would get him mocked mercilessly if he had an (R) behind his name.

    Reply

  54. Dan Kervick says:

    “I made my way to the Washington Note by way of the Huffington Post and the fact that Steve Clemons is Biden-friendly.”
    “What keeps the rest of you here?”
    Elizabeth, if you’ll take a peek at Steve’s archives, you will see that this blog offers very broad coverage of foreign policy topics, and that only a relatively small percentage of posts over time have been devoted to Joe Biden and his exploits.
    Steve seems to have some contacts among Biden’s staff, and apparently has a fairly high opinion of Biden. But the site encompasses a diversity of views, and I think you will be disappointed if you expect you have stumbled into some Joe Biden Fan Central on the net.

    Reply

  55. Neo Controll says:

    Elizabeth says: “So, I’m curious…
    “I made my way to the Washington Note by way of the Huffington Post and the fact that Steve Clemons is Biden-friendly.
    “What keeps the rest of you here?
    Let’s finish this discussion first. Are you now or have you ever been a Harperite (small joke)? For all we know you even swallow the lines that “everyone thought Saddam had WMD”, aluminum tubes, mobile labs, and a whole bunch of other apologist BS. There’s a good reason why “international resolve on UN sanctions was . . . waning”. This was a neocon put up job, not an international priority.
    –NCHQ

    Reply

  56. Dan Kervick says:

    Elizabeth,
    You are repeating the “arrow in the quiver” rationale. You suggest that Biden was among those who sincerely believed war was avoidable, but who thought it was important to back the president with a public show of support, and to give him the ability to wave a big and menacing stick at the Iraqis. Some of the people who have defended their decisions with this rationale have claimed that while they intended to put this arrow in the presidential quiver, they never intended for him to load it in his bow and launch it. And they have claimed they would have acted differently themselves.
    This story will not stand up critical scrutiny.
    It was evident to any attentive observer that George Bush and Dick Cheney were determined to attack Iraq from very early on, and that by early 2002 the decision had been made. The United States was already developing a strategic agenda by that time for dynamic regional change in the post-Saddam environment.
    As if we needed any further confirmation of this obvious political reality, recent testimony in the British investigation into the pre-war maneuverings makes it clear that the British government was well aware by early 2002 that the military horse was already out of the barn where it came to US intentions for Iraq. You can find many news reports from that time that show that other governments had already concluded the same thing.
    The only debate in the executive branch of the US government was between those who wanted to attack Iraq within the legitimizing framework of the existing international order, and those who wanted to use the post 9/11 period of crisis to assertively move the UN aside, effectively declare a new hegemonic US order, and make the Iraq invasion the signal act of that new order. Powell convinced the White House to go for a UN rubber stamp.
    The fact that Bush, Cheney and most of Washington never intended for the Security Council to provide anything other than a subservient rubber stamp was evident from the fury that ensued in DC when the French and others tried to turn the ongoing UN process into a call for a required second resolution. By the way, in an early March, 2003 appearance on Fox News, Joe Biden joined in the ridicule of Villepin and the French for “grandstanding”, since they had the temerity to use the feeble remaining power of the UN to slow down the US rush to war. It should be clear by now that the French were the ones who saw the unfolding global security calamity most clearly, and understood its threat to the international order. They were wise to attempt to stop the dangerous trend of self-isolation and self-destructive belligerence on the part of a traumatized US public and rogue US government, wisdom for which the temperamental, motor-mouth Biden mocked them.
    I simply cannot believe that Joe Biden, a man who moves among the inner circles of Washington power, did not fully understand that he was voting for when he voted for that war resolution. His attempts at exculpatory rationales in 2006, 2007 and 2008 were pure and desperate politics, made necessary by a very changed political environment, and are not credible.

    Reply

  57. MarkL says:

    It’s hard to stomach comments from people like Nadine. At a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, untold physical destruction and environmental poisoning, not to mention millions of refugees and a staggering cost, Iraq is now relatively peaceful after several horrific years.
    And the war was waged to fight a threat we know was false in almost all particulars, against an enemy who had nothing to do with 9/11 and who actively opposed Al Qaeda himself.
    Nadine’s posts are a swampland of nauseous emanations which are better left unread.
    I would say that Iraq was a successful war—for Bin Laden.
    I also fail to see the fascination with Biden.
    He has always seemed far too stupid and loose-tongued to merit any admiration in the area of foreign policy; when it comes to domestic policy, the less said about the Senator from MBNA’s record, the better.

    Reply

  58. Elizabeth Milller says:

    So, I’m curious…
    I made my way to the Washington Note by way of the Huffington Post and the fact that Steve Clemons is Biden-friendly.
    What keeps the rest of you here?

    Reply

  59. PissedOffAmerican says:

    In the end, Saddam not only requested that the UN teams be sent back in, he also suggested and welcomed CIA agents being included with the teams.
    Had Biden and many others voted with the 21 who got it right, further inspections would have resumed, Saddam still would have been “contained”, over a million Iraqi non-combatants would still be alive, millions more refugees would still have a homeland, about four thousand American soldiers would still be alive, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers would still be whole and healthy instead of maimed and damaged, and we would have over a trillion dollars in the coffers that instead has been pissed away in this clusterfuck THAT BIDEN HELPED SELL. And the global community would have far more respect for our leaders, for our integrity, for our morality, for our credibility, and for the American people.

    Reply

  60. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….UN inspections were being rebuffed at every turn…..”
    Thats bullshit.

    Reply

  61. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The AUMF resolution was meant to give President Bush a strong backing to say to the UN…look, if you don’t get tough and force Iraq into UN compliance, then I have the backing to do it myself”
    As Don points out, Iraq was only “out of UN compliance” because of fabricated violations. There were many in the government that knew this. There were many experts who would testify to this. And as Dan points out, there were many democrats in Congress whose votes reflected this. And there were millions of lay Americans who knew they were being conned, lied to, and taken to war, on false pretenses. Biden was not only compliant in allowing this huge criminal deception, but he was in fact complicit in selling the deception.

    Reply

  62. DonS says:

    Elizabeth, just for the record of course, Saddam did attempt to comply with the IAEA, but the US didn’t want to hear it because it wanted war. Now you can find all the excuses in the world for that, but the whole thing was a charade from the start. And the Senate played it’s part in a charade, stoked by jingoistic fever, not a constructive part in a valid international undertaking. All those senators who opposed, or many I suspect, smelled the stench and refused to take us down a road that turned into total disaster (nowthstanding those here who see Iraq as a shining success).
    Please be aware that, you as a Canadian (and I love Canada, actually Summer there), an I as an American cannot hear the words “international resolve” and “show of support behind the president” with any kind of respect. The whole episode is a disgrace to the presidency, and the US Congress on a par with the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and represents the dark underbelly of out government. It is not serious analysis as historical record. It is revisionism in the making

    Reply

  63. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, Elizabeth, as has repeatedly been pointed out to you here, Biden echoed, and acted upon, a false rationale for war. There were many people that recognized the false rationale, many experts that were willing to testify to the falsehoods, and Biden not only ignored them, but he also worked to sideline them. You can deny this until hell freezes over, but you can’t ALTER actual history, you can only DENY it, or purposely DISTORT it. Seems to me you are attempting to do both.

    Reply

  64. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “You seem to share Stephen Zunes’ inexplicable fascination with Scott Ritter”
    I am also fascinated with General Shinzeki, and people like Kucinich. I seem to have an abnormal attraction towards people who have been proven to be right, rather than those who didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. You should try it sometime.

    Reply

  65. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Dan,
    I think what you may not be factoring into all of this is that the AUMF resolution took place in a climate where the international resolve on UN sanctions on Iraq were waning, UN inspections were being rebuffed at every turn, and there needed to be show of support behind the president, such as he was, to force tough UN sanctions and enforcement to ultimately force Saddam to comply with all of the UN resolutions he was violating according the IAEA and the UN weapons inspection team.
    The AUMF resolution was meant to give President Bush a strong backing to say to the UN…look, if you don’t get tough and force Iraq into UN compliance, then I have the backing to do it myself.
    As Biden has explained, if he were President, he would have wanted the same authorization but that he would have used it to avoid war and not rush into it without allies.
    The mistake Biden made was to overestimate the postitive influence that Secretary of State Powell had on the President to push him toward avoiding war and to underestimate the negative influence that Cheney, Rumsfeld and neocon central had in persuading the President to do the opposite. Let’s not forget that, ultimately, President Bush was the one who failed all the tests of leadership and competence.
    Now, you and others here can interpret what Biden did and why he did it anyway you like and I guess we can agree to disagree, as they say.
    It is not my intention to simply defend Biden’s vote on the AUMF. I just wanted to draw attention to what Biden said during the Senate debate because it was, in my opinion, among the most intelligent and prescient of the entire debate.

    Reply

  66. Dan Kervick says:

    Elizabeth, thank you for answering my earlier question directly.
    Biden could have joined 21 Democratic Senate colleagues who voted against the resolution, but he didn’t.
    It was a gravely important decision, and he got it dead wrong. That’s it. Beyond that reminder, I have no desire to relive the last eight years of foreign policy misery, which I followed painfully closely when it happened the first time. Nor do I believe that if we would only read various transcripts, we would realize that Biden’s error is only a manifestation of his nuanced and cagey foreign policy brilliance.
    Biden was head of a committee whose job it was to help the country get these decisions right. He failed in his job. He screwed up badly.
    Your only defense of this seems to be, “Yeah but lots of other people saw it the same way.” That is both irrelevant and false. As I mentioned, 21 of Biden’s Senate colleagues had the sense not to give George Bush the authorization to start a war in Iraq. And many millions of Democratic voters opposed the authorization as well. Biden could have listened to all of that good sense, and gotten himself on the right side of the issue. But he went with the DC lemmings, and ended up helping to kill a lot of innocent people in Iraq, as well as thousands of American soldiers who died for no good reason.

    Reply

  67. DonS says:

    For those who have been discussing Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan, and just how much of a liar, misleader, or scoundrel the whole sorry episode reveals him to be, here is the New York Time’s take on the history from a an article this morning:
    “Mr. Obama ran for president supportive of the so-called good war in Afghanistan and vowing to send more troops, but he talked about it primarily as a way of attacking Republicans for diverting resources to Iraq, which he described as a war of choice. . . But tension between the White House and the military soon emerged when General Jones, a retired Marine four-star general, traveled to Afghanistan in the summer and was surprised to hear officers already talking about more troops. He made it clear that no more troops were in the offing.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html?_r=1&hp

    Reply

  68. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Beyond the Surge: Assessing America’s Plan for Afghanistan…
    Does anyone know if there will be a transcript and/or video of this forum?

    Reply

  69. nadine says:

    “We have now ventured into fairy tale land where Iraq becomes a ‘success’. ” (DonS)
    Only the fever-swamps of the Left refuse to acknowledge that Iraq is a success. An elected government holds office; al Qaeda has been defeated in what Osama bin Laden declared to be “the central front in global jihad.” The saner parts of the Left have reduced to carping that Iraq isn’t a “strategic” success because Iraq hasn’t had a great political reconciliation between factions; it is only a “tactical” success. Sore losers. Or perhaps I should say, “sore winners,” because they are in office yet still carping.
    Look, even Obama himself, as quoted by David Sanger of the NYT (no Right Wing sympathizers there) acknowledges the success of the Surge in Iraq:
    “President Obama strongly opposed President George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq during his presidential campaign, and even now he has never publicly acknowledged that it was largely successful.
    But in the White House Situation Room a little more than a month ago, he told his aides, “It turned out to be a good thing.” And as many of Mr. Obama’s own advisers have recounted in recent days in interviews, the decision on the surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by next summer was at least partly inspired by the success of the effort in Iraq, which Mr. Bush’s aides say is their best hope that historians will give them some credit when the history of a highly problematic war is written. ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/05/world/05policy.html?_r=1

    Reply

  70. Elizabeth Miller says:

    POA,
    You seem to share Stephen Zunes’ inexplicable fascination with Scott Ritter.
    Do you know what transpired between Ritter and Biden when Ritter testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?
    It was quite the exchange and I don’t think Scott Ritter has ever fully recovered from the episode. You talk about thin skin!
    And, speaking of thin skin…one cannot possibly be a Biden fan AND have thin skin. In fact, being a Biden fan and having thick skin are pretty much synonymous – if you know what I mean and I think that you do! 🙂
    Biden was not alone in believing that Saddam was hiding biological and chemical weapons in 2003. Most people, including the head of the UN weapons inspection team believed that was possible due to the behavior of the Iraqi government.
    In short, none of the quotes you produced proved your point that “(Biden’s) quite public fearmongering (sic) and echo chamber recitation of the Bush lies…”.
    The evidence shows that in 2003, Iraq appeared to be maintaining a chemical weapons capability as opposed to actually producing those weapons. With respect to biological weapons, there was far greater uncertainty about what they were up to in 2003 but, again, Iraq was generally believed to at least have a continuing biological weapons capability.
    As for a nuclear weapons capability, Biden repeatedly and publically refuted Bush administration claims that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. He said that there was no evidence of that.
    You may recall that the debate surrounding WMD (biological, chemical and nuclear) in late 2002 and early 2003 was not about whether or not Iraq had these weapons but rather about whether or not Iraq’s weapons programs and capabilities, along with Iraq’s failure to comply fully with UN inspections and resolutions, posed a threat great enough to justify armed action against it.
    According to a report, WMD in Iraq:evidence and implications, issued in 2004 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, written by Joe Cirincione, Jessica Matthews, and George Perkovich, “no one knew for certain how many, if any, chemical or biological weapons Iraq still had…and there remained justifiable suspicions that Iraq could have tons of chemical weapons hidden or enough growth media to produce tons of new biological weapons agents.”
    It is clear that you have not read all of what Biden had to say during the AUMF debate and, therefore, it makes little sense for me to continue arguing the point with you.
    This has been an interesting exercise, POA, but I will not be spending any further time on this subject with you. I think we have both said all we need to say. I’m actually surprised that Steve Clemons hasn’t set you straight on some of these issues by now. Perhaps he has tried.
    My apologies to Steve for straying completely off topic here – I won’t let that happen again.

    Reply

  71. DonS says:

    We have now ventured into fairy tale land where Iraq becomes a ‘success’. Only the truly gullible follow.
    Iraq remains a catastrophe and will likely degenerate more. No imagined metric justifies it’s costs.

    Reply

  72. nadine says:

    What was the last successful war of choice? Iraq, which vanished from your radar screen the second you could no longer decry it as a catastrophe.
    If Saddam were still there, sanctions would be long gone, weapons inspections would be long gone, the no-fly zones would be long gone, and Saddam (or maybe by now his psychotic son Uday) would be up to his old tricks with all his oil revenues in hand. By now he would have reimported whatever he shipped to Syria, restarted all his programs and bought whatever he could get from A.Q. Khan’s Sam’s Club for Nukes, which we would never have found out about. This was Saddam’s M.O. What’s in Iraq now is a helluva lot better than that.

    Reply

  73. DonS says:

    You would think you could buy a merely corrupt government for less than 30, or 40, 0r 50 billion $, and a bunch of super high tech gear. I’ll bet that I a mere “leftist anti-faith in military campaigns” could, from scratch, buy a couple of tribal guys to take out Karzi and install someone a bit less corrupt.
    By the way, when was that last successful war of choice? Oh yeah, maybe Haiti. That wasn’t a big ticket item. I think it’s a pretty high bar to come up with a cost/benefit analysis that validates Obama’s super new Afghan strategy, all deference to Mr. Ricks of course.

    Reply

  74. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “One thing is clear: These weapons must be must be dislodged from Saddam, or Saddam must be dislodged from power” BIDEN
    “These” weapons??? POA
    “[Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons” BIDEN
    Despite the fact there was NO evidence of this??? POA
    “The objective is to compel Iraq to destroy its illegal weapons of mass destruction and its programs to develop and produce missiles and more of those weapons” BIDEN
    Well, experts such as Ritter were telling ‘ol “I am a Zionist” Biden that Saddam had no such programs and weapons, weren’t they, Elizabeth? But Joe stuck Ritter in a closet, didn’t he, Elizabeth? POA
    “But the reason he poses a growing danger to the United States and its allies is that he possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons” BIDEN
    Evidence justifying Biden’s statement??? NONE. POA
    “For four years now, he has prevented United Nations inspectors from uncovering those weapons and verifying Iraq’s disarmament, and he is in violation of the terms he agreed to allowing him to stay in power” BIDEN
    Thats a blatant lie, isn’t it? POA
    “There is a broad agreement that he retains chemical and biological weapons, the means to manufacture those weapons and modified Scud missiles, and that he is actively seeking a nuclear capability” BIDEN
    Only if you ignored those that disagreed, such as Ritter and others.
    Fact is, Biden’s AUMF speech was a glowing endorsement of George Bush’s rush to war, and was rife with propaganda, unsubstantiated claims, and outright untruths.
    Unlike the majority of Democrats, who meekly “went along” with Bush’s bullshit, Biden was an adoring cheerleader, complimenting Bush profusely throughout the AUMF speech.
    The truth, Elizabeth, that you are loath to admit, is that Joe Biden PURPOSELY sidelined those such as Ritter, because he didn’t want us to hear what they had to say. Just like Bush, Biden WANTED war, and was willing to hide whatever truths he couldn’t stretch.

    Reply

  75. nadine says:

    Hey DonS, you are just showing the leftist anti-faith in military campaigns – for you, they always fail by definition, even if they work. I am not a military expert. All can say is that people who have studied the American campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as Thomas Ricks (author of Fiasco, certainly no RW partisan) sound cautiously optimistic about McCrystal’s strategy. They say the bar is low in Afghanistan because it never was much of a functioning country anyway. All the locals in Kabul and Kandahar want is a government that is merely corrupt, not hyper-corrupt, and a police force that doesn’t beat and rob them.

    Reply

  76. DonS says:

    Hey (this is a Southern term of greeting, mostly) Nadine, also saying that Obama’s policy decisions are subject to change without notice is really not saying much; it too easily let’s him off the hook. As to the escalation, am I the only one who count’s the 20 plus thousand troops added this Spring as having been an escalation? We are now talking about another escalation. We are into serious blunder territory which, I cannot help but believe, is all optics, and genuflecting to the military. He retains Gates; Bush’s last war guy. He put Hillary front and center; a liberal interventionist from the git. Somewhere, down deep in his ‘gotta show myself resolute’ soul he could only hear the counsel against escalation as painting him with a surrender monkey brush. Hell of a way to conduct foreign policy.
    So now, you know, we don’t end wars anymore; pull out after victory, or get run out as in Vietnam. We just phase them out expensively over many many years and call it a strategy — and hope all hell doesn’t break loose in the process. As if the rest of the world is in anyway fooled by the charade.

    Reply

  77. nadine says:

    “Hey Nadine, ‘wimpiness’ isn’t the point, even if he was one. The point is cravenness. ” (DonS)
    Hey, DonS, that’s a distinction without much of a difference in political terms. The main point being, Obama is not a serious person whose words you must pay attention to. Rather, he is a poseur who makes statements for immediate political advantage. His policy decisions are subject to change without notice, regardless of his previous statements. This is something Jim Geraighty of NRO noticed during the campaign, when he said, “All of Obama’s statements come with an expiration date. All of them.”
    Though in fairness I must point out that escalating the war in Afghanistan, however grudgingly he did it, is consistent with Obama’s previous statements on Afghanistan.

    Reply

  78. Elizabeth Miller says:

    POA,
    I wonder if you could provide me with quotes from Biden Re. his “his quite public fearmongering and echo chamber recitation of the Bush lies…”
    I’d love to read them.

    Reply

  79. Elizabeth Miller says:

    POA,
    Okay, so here’s a bit of elaboration – you must have missed it on your google search!
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zunes/bidens-hawkish-record_b_214873.html
    Since the Huffington Post has an idiotic word limit, this ‘exchange’ is somewhat disjointed. But, if you read my posts in chronological order, it is easier to follow. There were only 21 comments in total.
    Unfortunately, Stephen Zunes did not respond.

    Reply

  80. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Elizabeth……
    The outside the beltway American people were not listening to Biden wax eloquent before his cohorts. They were listening to his quite public fearmongering and echo chamber recitation of the Bush lies. And they were not hearing from Ritter, either, in no small part due to Biden’s efforts to hide Ritter in the closet.
    What impacted us the most, Biden’s rhetoric before his complicit Washington scumballs, or Biden’s actual vote on the issue?

    Reply

  81. Elizabeth Miller says:

    POA,
    I read through your ‘Biden in his own words’ link from the AUMF senate floor debate transcript.
    Those were some of the essential parts of the debate and I would encourage you, if you have the time – because it takes a lot of it! – to have a closer look at more of the debate at the link I provided.
    http://authforce.liberatedtext.org/
    This link provides the complete transcript, more or less, for the entire debate surrounding the AUMF on the senate and house floor.

    Reply

  82. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Perhaps, instead of just accusing me, and Zunes, about being “wrong” about Biden, you could elaborate about exactly what it is we have “wrong”.
    I have not launched “personal attacks” against you. I have, however, questioned both your pro-Biden narrative, and your motives. To be honest, when one runs an internet search on your pro-Biden postings, one comes up with a fairly bizzarre picture of someone who is almost fanatic in their defense and worshipful adoration of Joe Biden.
    But irregardless, putting that aside, you have twice now attacked the messengers, both me and Zunes, without specifically rebutting any of our assertions about Joe Biden’s salesmanship of George Bush’s Iraq policy, AS WELL AS Joe Biden’s prolific use of the ACTUAL LIES used to take us to war. Nor have you commented on Joe Biden’s efforts to ignore and marginalize Ritter, and other knowledgable critics of the Bush/Cheney Iraq WMD propaganda.
    Your defense of Joe Biden, in denying his role in selling the Iraq war, flies in the face of reality. If you consider me pointing out the dissingenuous and unrealistic nature of your Biden defenses as being a “personal attack”, you are far too thin skinned. Or perhaps its just your manner of diverting the discourse away from having to rebut Zunes’ claims with anything resembling substantive argument.

    Reply

  83. Elizabeth Miller says:

    POA,
    I wasn’t attacking Zunes…in fact, you may have missed it but I think I just praised him for focusing on Biden.
    As for your innuendos and personal attacks against me, well…I think you spend too much time googling. You know, the google search machine does have a tendency toward leading some people astray. You have to be careful there!
    But, you are right, I should have made it clear when I started posting here where exactly I’m coming from…literally and figuratively. Since I intend to post here from time to time – perhaps even on issues unrelated to Biden! – a bit of explanation is definitely in order.
    First off, I am a Canadian with a moderate and inexplicable interest in American foreign policy. In fact, you could safely say that I am a fan of America – or at least, of the promise of America. It see America’s role as global leader and I am not one of those who bemoans that global leadership role or the superpower status of the US.
    I have no political connections or party affiliations, whatsoever, and I work in an area far removed from anything to do with politics…well, excluding a very small degree of “office” politics, in the broadest sense of the term. I might add that none of my co-workers share my interest in US foreign policy, either. Maybe that’s why I like commenting on this stuff here and elsewhere – it beats talking to yourself or yelling at the TV screen!
    I have no idea where this interest comes from – no one I know shares my moderate passion for the subject – but it has definitely gotten into my blood, somehow or other.
    Anyway, it can’t be too surprising that I would have been attracted to the likes of Senator Biden who lives and breaths foreign policy and I have been following his career, on and off, for the better part of the last twenty years…particularly since 9/11. We seem to be on the same page on a number of issues and certainly when it comes to many of the basic principles of what a sound foreign policy should look like. As Biden often says, and I paraphrase…no foreign policy, no matter how warranted, can be long sustained without the informed consent of the American people.
    Do I agree with his stance on all of the issues? No, though I would be hard pressed to come up with a lot of issues with which I would vehemently disagree. How the US treats Israel, often times at the expense of its Arab friends and its own self-interest and that of Israel’s, may be one of those issues where I would find some disagreement with him. Fodder for another thread, perhaps.
    By the way, I hope Steve doesn’t mind us hijacking this thread – that’s not something I like to do and I certainly don’t want to make a habit of doing it here.

    Reply

  84. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Elizabeth…
    Or, is your actual “close connection” to Jill, in a proffessional capacity?
    Honestly, I find your prolific cheerleading efforts for Joe Biden somewhat inexplicable. Certainly, it might help if you explained to us what your “interests” and connections are.

    Reply

  85. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2008/08/biden_and_the_aumf.php
    Biden and the AUMF
    There’s a lot of interest, naturally, in Joe Biden’s vote in favor of the 2002 Iraq AUMF. Fortunately, Biden is much more disposed to deliver long talks on foreign policy than is your average Senator, so it’s possible to put his voting record in more context than is usually available. In particular, these three speeches seem relevant:
    – Here’s a January 31, 2003 speech to the National Conference of the World Affairs Council of America. (linked at actual article…POA)
    – Here’s a February 3, 2003 speech “On the Possibility Of A War With Iraq”. (linked at actual article…POA)
    – And here’s a speech in Delaware on February 20, 2003 on “Two Crises: Iraq and North Korea” (linked at actual article…POA)
    The speeches read as somewhat incoherent. Biden is keenly aware of the problems with the President’s policy — war is likely to be more costly than Bush says, less necessary for American security than Bush says, and more of a distraction from al-Qaeda than Bush says. Biden also exhibits a clear understanding of the general structure of the international situation and why a threatening and unilateral posture could undermine a lot of important international objectives. He co-sponsored a resolution with Richard Lugar that would have put some breaks on the slide to war, but when the perfidy of Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt scuttled Biden-Lugar he voted for the AUMF and against an anti-war amendment by Carl Levin. But having done that, in his January speech Biden perceptively argued that the administration’s focus on Iraq made no sense:
    So to put it in perspective, our failure, if you notice, I was told if you check Lexis-Nexis, since 9/11, or shortly thereafter, the President only mentioned Osama Bin Laden 6 times. He probably mentioned Saddam Hussein 6,000. In relative terms they’re not close. I would note parenthetically that we no longer have soccer moms in San Diego or Wilmington or Washington or Seattle, we have security moms. An abnormally high percentage of women between the ages of 25 and 40 with children, believe that they are likely to be a victim of a terrorist attack, which is not accurate but close to 40% believe that. Which has another destabilizing effect on us as a country.
    So to make a comparative point, I think Saddam Hussein is a genuine danger and cannot be left unattended. Do I think it should have been moved front and center to the degree it has now? My answer to that is no, but it has. I think there are other things that are of a much more immediate concern, but that’s not where we are right now. And so what do we do? What do we do?
    The answer he gives is: “My suggestion is that we should, and what I have attempted to do, and I will not speak for Dick Lugar, who is a close friend and whom – which will shock you all, we agree on almost everyone of these major issues – is to weigh in on a side of an incredibly divided administration.” The explanation that follows seems pretty incoherent to me, but Biden’s basic take is that the administration is deeply divided between a reasonable Powell faction and a crazy faction. The crazies are hot for a doctrine of unilateral prevention:
    And so some folks believe, and I will not use names, but these folks sincerely believe that if we go it alone even when help is offered to reject it, we will demonstrate to the world our resolve. We will leverage the power we have, and to put it in colloquial terms Khomeini will sit there and say, “Oh my God! Look what they did in the face of the whole world of objecting, in Iraq we better straighten up our act.” Kim will say, whoa, we see what’s coming we’d better, you think I’m exaggerating. The only thing I’m doing here is unfairly and not fully, because of time, giving the complete rationale for their argument. And there is a chance they may be right. But I disagree with it.
    Biden seems to believe, in a massive misunderstanding of how things work, that by signing on with the administration he would be able to weigh-in on the side of the non-crazy faction and thus influence events in a positive manner. I don’t really understand why he would have thought that would work, but maybe he had his reasons. Beyond that, the main things that stand out about the speeches in retrospect are that Biden was a bit too credulous about the WMD intelligence, and even as he (rightly) accused the Bush administration of understating the size of the task he himself understated the size of the task, talking about how “it could take from one to five years to win the peace and may take as many as 75,000 troops to secure victory with a cost of 20 billion dollars or more.”

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  86. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Elizabeth, attacking Zunes, instead of his assertions, does nothing to enhance your credibility. Why don’t you take the Asia Times’ Zunes’ article, and rebut it? What, exactly, did Zunes get wrong in this article? Did he misquote Biden? Fabricate any of Biden’s history? Take anything out of context?
    What is your connection to Biden?
    http://middleeast.about.com/od/usmideastpolicy/a/me080823.htm
    Sen. Joe Biden on Authorizing War on Iraq
    Joe Biden in His Own Words, Oct. 10-11, 2002

    Reply

  87. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Dan,
    Of course, Biden voted for the AUMF resolution – now, I know you haven’t had time to take a look at that link. When you do, focus on Biden’s contributions, especially the part about the Levin amendment and why he voted agaisnt it.
    In other words, Dan, you’re missing the point of this exercise.
    POA,
    As for you POA, your constant referrals to Stephen Zunes do nothing to improve your credibility. I think I may have mentioned that before!
    Although, I do have to give him credit for being the only blogger at Huffington Post, that I know of, who has taken the time to try to lay out Biden’s history in foreign policy. He gets a lot of it wrong, mind you, but I appreciated his effort.

    Reply

  88. PissedOffAmerican says:

    All one need do is research Biden’s pre-invasion public commentary, and what you will find is a willing salesman, hawking the Bush lies to a cowered and brainwashed citizenry. Heres a place to start your research…..
    Biden’s stumble over Iraq
    By Stephen Zunes
    Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama’s selection of Joseph Biden as his running mate constitutes a stunning betrayal of the anti-war constituency who made possible his hard-fought victory in the Democratic primaries and caucuses.
    The veteran Delaware senator has been one of the leading congressional supporters of US militarization of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, of strict economic sanctions against Cuba, and of Israeli occupation policies.
    Most significantly, however, Biden, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the lead-up to the Iraq War during the latter half of 2002, was perhaps the single-most important congressional backer of the George W Bush
    administration’s decision to invade that oil-rich country.
    Shrinking gap between candidates
    One of the most important differences between Obama and the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee John McCain is that Obama had the wisdom and courage to oppose the US invasion of Iraq. Obama and his supporters had been arguing correctly that judgment in foreign policy is far more important than experience; this was a key and likely decisive argument in the Illinois senator’s campaign against Senator Hillary Clinton, who had joined McCain in backing the Iraq War resolution.
    However, in choosing Biden who, like the forthcoming Republican nominee, has more experience in international affairs but notoriously poor judgment, Obama is essentially saying that this critical difference between the two prospective presidential candidates doesn’t really matter. This decision thereby negates one of his biggest advantages in the general election. Of particular concern is the possibility that the pick of an establishment figure from the hawkish wing of the party indicates the kind of foreign policy appointments Obama will make as president.
    Obama’s choice of Biden as his running mate will likely have a hugely negative impact on his once-enthusiastic base of supporters. Obama’s supporters had greatly appreciated the fact that he did not blindly accept the Bush administration’s transparently false claims about Iraq being an imminent danger to US national security interests that required an invasion and occupation of that country. At the same time Biden was joining his Republican colleagues in pushing through a senate resolution authorizing the invasion, Obama was speaking at a major anti-war rally in Chicago correctly noting that Iraq’s war-making ability had been substantially weakened and that the international community could successfully contain Saddam Hussein from any future acts of aggression.
    In Washington, by contrast, Biden was insisting that Bush was right and Obama was wrong, falsely claiming that Iraq under Saddam – severely weakened by United Nations disarmament efforts and comprehensive international sanctions – somehow constituted both “a long-term threat and a short-term threat to our national security” and was an “extreme danger to the world”. Despite the absence of any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or offensive military capabilities, Biden, when reminded of those remarks during an interview last year, replied, “That’s right, and I was correct about that.”
    Biden shepherds the war authorization
    It is difficult to overestimate the critical role Biden played in making the tragedy of the Iraq War possible. More than two months prior to the 2002 war resolution even being introduced, in what was widely interpreted as the first sign that the US Congress would endorse a US invasion of Iraq, Biden declared on August 4 that the United States was probably going to war. In his powerful position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he orchestrated a propaganda show designed to sell the war to skeptical colleagues and the America public by ensuring that dissenting voices would not get a fair hearing.
    As Scott Ritter, the former chief UN weapons inspector, noted at the time, “For Senator Biden’s Iraq hearings to be anything more than a political sham used to invoke a modern-day Gulf of Tonkin resolution-equivalent for Iraq, his committee will need to ask hard questions – and demand hard facts – concerning the real nature of the weapons threat posed by Iraq.” (Ritter was referring to the incidents in 1964 between American destroyers and North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin that prompted the first large-scale involvement of US armed forces in Vietnam.)
    It soon became apparent that Biden had no intention of asking hard questions. Biden refused to even allow Ritter himself – who knew more about Iraq’s WMD capabilities than anyone and would have testified that Iraq had achieved at least qualitative disarmament – to testify. Ironically, on Meet the Press last year, Biden defended his false claims about Iraqi WMDs by insisting that “everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them.”
    Biden also refused to honor requests by some of his Democratic colleagues to include in the hearings some of the leading anti-war scholars familiar with Iraq and Middle East. These included both those who would have reiterated Ritter’s conclusions about non-existent Iraqi WMD capabilities as well as those prepared to testify that a US invasion of Iraq would likely set back the struggle against al-Qaeda, alienate the US from much of the world and precipitate bloody urban counter-insurgency warfare amid rising terrorism, Islamist extremism and sectarian violence. All of these predictions ended up being exactly what transpired.
    Nor did Biden even call some of the dissenting officials in the Pentagon or State Department who were willing to challenge the alarmist claims of their ideologically-driven superiors. He was willing, however, to allow Iraqi defectors of highly dubious credentials to make false testimony about the vast quantities of WMD materiel supposedly in Saddam’s possession. Ritter has correctly accused Biden of having “preordained a conclusion that seeks to remove Saddam Hussein from power regardless of the facts and … using these hearings to provide political cover for a massive military attack on Iraq”.
    continues……..
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JH28Ak01.html
    (Interestingly enough, I cited Zunes’ article once before here, when Elizabeth sought to distort Biden’s history. Inexplicably, the post was removed from the blog.)

    Reply

  89. Dan Kervick says:

    Elizabeth,
    Did Biden vote for the resolution that ultimately passed, or didn’t he.

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  90. DonS says:

    Hey Nadine, ‘wimpiness’ isn’t the point, even if he was one. The point is cravenness.
    This is not a surprise to many of us. A disappointment, yes, but not a surprise. My own expectation was that Obama would go out of his way to prove that he wasn’t some wild radical, although, also no surprise, the crazy RW bigots paint him that way anyway. Again, no surprise. Gaining acceptance in the club; an unfortunate dynamic operating at a time when it’s the last thing we need.
    Obama’s governance, not even from the center, but from the right on so many issues, resembles Bush of course.
    So, yeah, he’s verified that he’s one of the club of craven politicians. Who knows what he really believes? His actions show him to fit right in with the continual decline of the nation. Steve cites the appointment of a gay ambassador to New Zealand. A ‘hopeful’ sign to be sure, but in light of the abandonment of so many other promises to gay Americans, is it just one more example of tokenism — padding the resume so to speak?
    So is the glass half full or half empty? In my view it’s irrelevant because the mess that this country is in today calls for decisively different behavior, not producing the same old results with the same old mindset.

    Reply

  91. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Dan,
    I think you had better check out the debate on the floor of the senate surrounding the AUMF resoltution. I’m sure it will be quite the eye-opener.
    You may also be surprised to learn that Senators Lugar (another of my favourite senators)and Biden drafted an authorization resolution that was decidedly more restrictive about what the president could be authorized to do but, alas, it was torpedoed by a secret deal between the White House and Rep. Dick Gephardt, of all people.
    Anyway, here is the link that you and others here should take a serious look at before you begin a serious debate with others about what it was all about.
    http://authforce.liberatedtext.org/
    Surprisingly, many commenters here seem to be inordinately influenced by what I would refer to as the incompetence and ineptitude of the vast majority of the media/blogosphere/punditocracy and the collective inability of this esteemed group to present even the basic facts of any complicated issue. I would have expected better from those who frequent a site like this.

    Reply

  92. DonS says:

    Paul, again you are right in the technical sense that Obama of course identified Afghanistan as the place where the eye was taken off the ball, etc.
    It is the subtext, which may be solely my perception, or those listening to [one of the many] messages he sent during the campaign that he would be a different kind of president including in foreign policy . . .
    The “way forward” in Afghanistan was not ‘messaged’ to be wild escalation of troop force to deal with the implied surgical mission against Al Quaeda. I reiterate history, forces and focus were diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. The opportunity passed to replay 2003. The mindset should have changed as well, and Obama, while citing Afghanistan, did not rattle sabers for escalation. I don’t not want to read too much in, but I tell you that the tone and direction of his message was not one of escalation in Afghanistan. Regardless of his careful words, that is all we have had out of his Afghan actions.
    I do not suggest that one could haul Obama into the dock and convict him of lying and misleading, thereby causing the deaths of untold more individuals. But in his own way, his actions confirm that he did lie and/or mislead. That’s not a hanging offense. But it’s as bad as it gets for losing trust.

    Reply

  93. DonS says:

    Excerpt from a recent letter to the Nobel Committee:
    I write with regard to the impending ceremony for bestowing awards to winners of the 2009 Nobel Awards, specifically the Peace Prize to be awarded to President Barack Obama. I am a citizen of the United States and therefore have at least an indirect interest in the recognition of President Obama and how it’s meaning reflects upon all it’s citizens. I am also mindful of how the bestowing of the Prize on President Obama reflects on the meaning of the prize itself, though I hasten to add, of course, that you yourselves are far more cognizant of this than any outsider such as myself.
    To get to the point, you are no doubt aware of the intense discussion that has emerged around the award of Peace Prize to Obama, both with regard to the appropriateness of the recipient, and to the reflection on the Prize itself as I allude to above. You are also no doubt aware that a narrative seems to have emerged that 1) interprets the Committee’s decision as an exercise of it’s prerogative to influence the direction of political events in a direction positive to peace in the world, rather than solely based on recognition of achievements in the service of peace already actualized and 2) in the case of the Obama award, interprets the Committee’s decision as an effort to reinforce potential movement in the policy and action of the United States Presidency in support of reduced militancy and increased engagement in the world based on principles of mutual cooperation, respect, and peace.
    In particular, at least in much of the analysis I am aware of, it is assumed that the Nobel Committee has sought to encourage differentiation of President Obama and the policies he supports from the aggressively militaristic and divisive policies that have prevailed in the U.S. Foreign posture over the past eight years. Specifically, one assumes that the military posture of the United States in prosecuting military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan must be seen as a background of increasingly serious division in the world.
    In consideration of the President Obama’s recent decision to increase and accelerate commitment of military action in Afghanistan, in addition to previous escalation of troops last Spring, I respectfully call this to your attention. I would suggest that these actions totally belie both the spirit and the possible intention of the Committee in citing President Obama for the award. And while I recognize that one always has perfect vision in hindsight and that the Nobel committee could not, nor should it base decisions on subsequent actions of awardees, these extraordinary times call for acknowledgment that President Obama’s actions seem to have violated much that has likely been the impetus for the award in the first place.
    It would be my respectful suggestion to the Committee that, short of actually revoking or abrogating the Peace Prize, the Committee might be moved to consider making a statement that places the award in a light reflective of the conditions and actions of President as we know them to be today.

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  94. Paul Norheim says:

    “Interesting that nobody, but nobody, believes that it was really Obama’s decision to
    escalate in Afghanistan, despite the fact that he ran for two solid years calling
    Afghanistan a “war of necessity” and “vital to our interests”.”
    Yes, that was his intention and decision, and I wrote several comments about this on the
    other long Afghanistan thread. I have seen some pundits making the same point, but I`m
    surprised that so many prominent and not-so-prominent commenters seem to have entirely
    forgotten his promises during the campaign. In a major speech delivered in July 2008,
    before an overseas trip, Obama said “fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan
    would be his top priority”, according to CNN – and I remember several other occasions
    when he made the same point.
    The fact that he kept this promise seems to surprise both the left and the right.

    Reply

  95. nadine says:

    “It’s nonetheless the wisdom of this Washington and of this military that Obama has been found wanting, at least when it comes to Afghanistan.
    So here’s a question: Why did he listen to them? And under such circumstances, why should we take the results seriously? ” (Tom Englehardt)
    Interesting that nobody, but nobody, believes that it was really Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan, despite the fact that he ran for two solid years calling Afghnanistan a “war of necessity” and “vital to our interests”.
    In less than a year, he has apparently developed a rep for wimpiness that extends across the political spectrum.

    Reply

  96. Dan Kervick says:

    Elizabeth, your defense of Biden’s vote is unconvincing. It’s the same lame and cowardly dodge that several other war-authorizing Democratic officials have used, including Hillary Clinton. Once the Iraq War went bad, these slippery and irresponsible politicians all raced to abandon the sinking political ship. We were then told that they never really and truly and sincerely meant to authorize a war; they only meant to authorize the President to conduct an elaborate war fake-out, in order to have that “arrow in his quiver” and put pressure on the Iraqis and the UN. They were shocked, shocked that he actually pulled the trigger.
    This is bullshit, because it was a wide-open secret by early 2002 that Bush wanted a real war in Iraq, and was going to go for it.
    The dodge smacks of dishonesty and moral cowardice, and you shouldn’t embarrass your boss/hero Biden by advancing it on his behalf. An authorization is an authorization. These folks wrote their names in blood on a document that authorized the President to attack a country that had not attacked us; and despite their later protestations of guilelessness, they knew he was going to do it. They could at least have the dignity to stand by their crime, instead of hiding behind these flimsy skirts.
    Anyway, what’s with all the Joe Biden obsessing lately? This is one of my long-time bugbears, but the Vice President of the United States has almost zero legitimate constitutional authority to do anything other than sit around, take notes at meetings and keep his suit pressed in case the president is incapacitated. Since Vice Presidents have almost no accountability and are subject to even less oversight than the President, it is dangerous to the country to hand them important portfolios of any kind.
    If the President decides he wants to treat the Vice President as a member of the White House staff, or a super special personal appointee in the Office of the President, and then give him all sorts of perquisites and privileges, and even treat him like some sort of assistant president, I suppose that is his prerogative. But if you ask me, we should just eliminate the office altogether, since it absorbs a budget and valuable office space, and doesn’t do any real legitimate governmental work, but is a proven source of trouble and bad governance.
    Giving someone a government sinecure in the Executive Branch, with his own staff of wannabes, with few constitutional responsibilities or authorities, and mountains of time on his hand to stir up mischief, seems like a recipe for trouble. Just look at what happened in the last administration. Dick Cheney used the recent perverse tendency to exalt the office of the Vice Presidency way beyond its limited constitutional bounds, along with the advantages offered by the lack of accountability and oversight, and by the totally mystifying, confounded and mysterious role of the VP in the Executive Branch flow chart, to turn himself into one of the most individually powerful and truly evil officials in the history of the country, and one who who might very well go down in world history with folks like Rasputin, and other malevolent and usurpatious henchmen and viziers of note.

    Reply

  97. Elizabeth Miller says:

    POA said,
    “Biden, recently described as potentially “the second-most-powerful vice president in history” as well as “the president’s all-purpose adviser and sage” on foreign policy, was during the Bush years a believer in nation-building in Afghanistan, voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, and later promoted the idea – like Caesar’s for Gaul – dividing the country into three parts (without, of course, bothering to ask the Iraqis), while leaving 25,000-30,000 American troops based there in perpetuity, while “these regions build up their state police forces”.
    I’m not sure where you are getting your information, POA – maybe you’re just a little too PO’d! – but your quote above has little basis in reality.
    First off, what do you think Biden’s definition of ‘nation-building in Afghanistan’ is? I ask, because ‘nation-building is a very nebulous concept and I just want to be clear as to what you are talking about.
    Secondly, you continue to be terribly misinformed about what the resolution for the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq (AUMF) was all about. If you understood the real purpose of the AUMF resolution (and not how it was misused by the Bush administration) you would know that a vote for it cannot be equated with a vote “for the iraq invasion” …at least in so far as those senators and representatives who voted for and understood the real purpose of the resolution and the context in which that vote took place.
    Furthermore, Senator Biden’s strategy for promoting a political solution in Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with partition or dividing up Iraq – you must be getting your information from c-span! – or any number of other media outlets. In fact, Biden’s strategy was, and arguable is, the only viable option for keeping Iraq stable AND united.
    He consulted extensively with Iraqi leaders, many of whom quietly supported what he was advocating. He also consulted extensively with the permanent members of the UN Security Council, all of whom, including the American representative, unofficially signed on to the proposal with enthusiasm.
    I may have already provided you with a link for Biden’s sense of the senate resolution for promoting a political solution in Iraq (which, if I may remind you, received the support of an overwhelming majority of the Senate in a vote of 75 – 23) and would be happy to do so again if you wish. Or, you could google it! 🙂

    Reply

  98. Angellight` says:

    After great Deliberation and personal Agony (traveled in the dead of night to meet the draped casket of a fallen soldier), Pres. Obama called for the Escalation of the “struggle” but Coupled it with an end date to this Struggle by military might and because of that (end date), I have Hope that the Long Nightmare of the twin wars, ignited by the twin towers will soon be over.
    I saw in Pres. Obama a heart that bleeds for this decision for anyone whose heart center is open and active feels the pain of this task, yet, speaking with a Heavy Heart, I also heard in that speech the unspoken wish or Intent that he was going to also bring Bin Laden to justice ( the great Prize and Symbol)! I also heard the great Urgency he feels to bind up all loose nuclear threats and to prevent them from getting into those hands within Afghanistan and Pakistan which might annihilate the world as we know it. He has not made this this “call to arms” for Oil or for profit based upon a lie but a heartfelt desire to keep safe the people in the world, in the binding up of these nuclear threats to the world by this faction which he knows is still out there plotting to do harm! That in this way we are Standing up for Peace and that somehow we must go into Hell for a Heavenly cause.
    I heard him also say to the Military Industrial Complex Machine that there will be an end date, and that it will not be open-ended, but that the battle for peace might call for other strategic ways to get to this goal — that giving the benefit of the doubt to his generals — he will try their way, but only for a time.
    As, he spoke about true security from a world without nuclear weapons (his real true goal), he also spoke about the need to unite with the world to accomplish this task because in truth, terror and nuclear weapons is a world problem! And finally, he called us to the time after 9/11, when we were all united but got deviated from the course, but to return to that Unity of purpose, one more time…. and that if he is lucky, he will bring home the Prize, Bin Ladin, break the back of this threat, and then for the weary and battle scarred-soldiers they can look onward and say, well done — yet, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!
    Let us trust ” that there is a goodness in all of life that cannot even be eliminated by thoughts that temporarily cause you to believe that negativity is the underlying reality of human life on earth… ” (1) Let us call on that goodness to illuminate our way forward towards that peace and goodwill and seal the door where evil dwells.
    Deepak Chopra words on Pres. Obama’s: Call to Arms:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/how-to-make-peace-with-ob_b_377483.html
    And for those of us who know how to use positive thought or the light, we Must, use our thought forms and/or light of love to radiate peace and love into the world, Daily! This will do much to uplift the atmosphere in the world and seal the door where evil dwells. I believe that if peaceful loving people all around the world use their God-given light and energy then soon the Twin Wars initiated by the fall of the Twin Towers will soon come to an end, but we must work, not in a vengeful way but with love and light. Love heals and unites, fear separates and divides, therefore, let us work with love. ” We often instruct that unity be preserved. Such an Indication is not merely a simple moral teaching—disunity is the most abhorrent dissonance. Nothing strikes space as sharply as dissonance. When people are filled with malicious discord, damaging disruptions in space result immediately. Such people not only harm themselves they also create a spatial karma involving others like them. It is dreadful to battle with such newly-generated chaos.”
    “People who bring discord are truly creators of chaos and the consequences of their malicious abuse are grievous. We must work for unity, not by hymns and harps, but by labor and struggle.” (2)
    (1) Ron Scolastico. Doorway to the Soul
    (2) Supermundane I, Agni Yoga

    Reply

  99. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And heres the candidate Obama, commenting on Signing Statements….
    “I will not use signing statements to nullify or
    undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.”
    And heres the REAL Obama, with his Bush-like use of signing statements….
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Signing-Statements-Obama-by-David-Swanson-090628-489.html

    Reply

  100. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I think you know that, based on separation of powers, staff here don’t go to testify in front of Congress…She will not be testifying in front of Congress”
    Thats Gibbs, commenting on why Desiree Rogers “will not be testifying in front of Congress”.
    Sound familiar??? It should, because its the same shit Bush pulled whenever Congress wanted to ask embarrassing questions of the Presidents staff or cabinet members.
    Personally, I really don’t give a flyin’ fuck about the Salahi (?) soap opera. But I do care about some posturing piece of shit, running for office, feeding us a line of garbage about “transparency” that ends up being nothing more than insincere rhetoric. Is there ANYTHING Obama didn’t lie to us about in order to slime his way into the Oval Office????

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  101. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oops, forgot to gcredit the author of the above comment. It was MJ Rosenberg.

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  102. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://palestinenote.com/cs/
    Berman skeptical about Afghan war–what about Israel’s wars?
    “I’m not as prone to jumping into wars as I used to be.”
    That is what Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said about President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy.
    It’s a good sentiment. The less prone we are to “jumping into wars,” the better off we’ll all be. For the record, however, it needs to be noted that the President is not exactly “jumping into” Afghanistan. Right-wingers are criticizing him not for expanding the war but for doing it with no enthusiasm. But that is to his credit. No President should ever be excited about sending US troops to war as Obama’s immediate predecessor was.
    But I have a question for Howard Berman, Jane Harman and other Iraq and Iran hawks who have suddenly gone dovish.
    Are you going to apply this reluctance to Israel’s wars or will you still rush to the floor to defend horrific wars like Gaza? Are you going to keep arguing that Israel (and the US) should keep “all options” (most significantly a military strike) on the table when it comes to Iran? Will your caution in supporting our President extend to prime ministers of Israel?
    I ask that because it strikes a rather false note when the same people who express serious doubts about Afghanistan not only had none about Gaza but engaged in nasty and ugly attacks on Judge Richard Goldstone for finding that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza.
    Progressives and liberals need to start asking our vocal supporters of diplomacy over war if they will apply that worthy standard to Israel as well as to the United States. For my money, if you express reservations about Afghanistan (as you should), you should also have joined the bravest of your colleagues who condemned Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians and a war that took 1400 Palestinian lives (including 320 children) as well as the monstrous blockade of Gaza and the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.
    I won’t hold my breath.

    Reply

  103. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The general concensus, amongst the journalistic and political “thinkers” that aren’t attached at the hip to the Washington think tank establishment, seems to be that we were just fed a line of shit by the Obama Administration, not at all different than the line of shit we were fed by the Bush Administration.
    Its actually quite comical seeing the self masturbatory intellectual gymnastics that the established think tank “foreign policy experts” are using to “analyze” and “assess” Obama’s speech.
    Well, heres a pearl of wisdom for these “great thinkers”…
    Obama just lied his ass off, just like the last effin’ criminal in the White House spent two terms doing. Thats the REASONABLE and ACCURATE “analysis” and “assessment” that common sense dictates we arrive at.
    The “change” that is gonna roll down the pike is this;
    Obama will spend only ONE term feeding us a line of shit.

    Reply

  104. DonS says:

    Glenn Greenwald points out the, the absolute contradiction between Gates and Clinton before the Congress, as to the meaning of the 18 month date for reducing troops, and Obama’s ‘clarification’ through Gibbs. The pundits will have their field day. The bottom line is more war.
    “On the vital question of whether Obama is committed to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July, 2011 — or whether that’s just an aspirational target subject to being moved — the statements from key administration officials aren’t merely in tension with one another, but are exact opposites:
    . . .
    “What could possibly explain a contradiction this extreme with regard to a question so central to the policy Obama just announced? How can you have the Defense Secretary and the Secretary of State testifying in front of the Senate that the July, 2011 date is “not set in stone,” that they “have not locked ourselves into leaving,” and that “the target date could change,” while the President is saying exactly the opposite: that “it IS locked in – there is no flexibility” and “it’s etched in stone”?
    “Is it remotely possible that the months of extremely careful, cerebral, thoughtful deliberations produced complete ambiguity on this central point, or is it that Obama’s plan is designed to be sufficiently ambiguous so that nobody knows what it actually entails and everyone can therefore be told that it means what they want it to mean? And which is worse?
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/12/04/afghanistan/index.html

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  105. DonS says:

    Bob Herbert in NYT:
    “After going through an extended period of highly ritualized consultations and deliberations, the president has arrived at a decision that never was much in doubt, and that will prove to be a tragic mistake. It was also, for the president, the easier option.
    “It would have been much more difficult for Mr. Obama to look this troubled nation in the eye and explain why it is in our best interest to begin winding down the permanent state of warfare left to us by the Bush and Cheney regime. It would have taken real courage for the commander in chief to stop feeding our young troops into the relentless meat grinder of Afghanistan, to face up to the terrible toll the war is taking — on the troops themselves and in very insidious ways on the nation as a whole.
    . . .
    “Afghanistan is not Vietnam. There was every reason for American forces to invade Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. But that war was botched and lost by the Bush crowd, and Barack Obama does not have a magic wand now to make it all better
    . . .
    “The tougher choice for the president would have been to tell the public that the U.S. is a nation faced with terrible troubles here at home and that it is time to begin winding down a war that veered wildly off track years ago. But that would have taken great political courage.
    . . .
    “We still haven’t learned to recognize real strength, which is why it so often seems that the easier choice for a president is to keep the troops marching off to war.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/opinion/01herbert.html

    Reply

  106. John Waring says:

    http://www.americansecurityproject.org/theflashpointblog/bernard-finel/2009/08/19/the-incoherence-of-coin-advocates-stephen-biddle-edition/
    Please read the above blog post by Bernard Finel, “The Incoherence of COIN Advocates — Stephen Biddle Edition”. Mr. Finel is a skilled wielder of Occam’s Razor.
    We keep buying the same worn-out farm over and over again. Forget the lipstick. This pig is dead.
    Thanks to all for this series of posts. If anyone in the administration should care to get beyond his bubble, all he has to do is read this thread.

    Reply

  107. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meet the commanded-in-chief
    By Tom Engelhardt
    Let others deal with the details of President Barack Obama’s Afghan speech, with the on-ramps and off-ramps, those 30,000 United States troops going in and just where they will be deployed, the benchmarks for what’s called “good governance” in Afghanistan, the corruption of the Hamid Karzai regime, the viability of counter-insurgency warfare, the reliability of North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) allies, and so on. Let’s just skip to the most essential point which, in a nutshell, is this: victory at last!
    It’s been a long time coming, but finally American war commanders have effectively marshaled their forces, net-centrically outmaneuvering and outflanking the enemy. They have shocked-and-awed their opponents, won the necessary hearts-and-minds, and so, for the first time in at least two decades, stand at the heights of success, triumphant at last.
    And no, I’m not talking about post-surge Iraq and certainly not about devolving Afghanistan. I’m talking about what’s happening in Washington.
    A symbolic surrender of civilian authority
    You may not think so, but on Tuesday night from the US Military Academy at West Point, in his first prime-time presidential address to the nation, Barack Obama surrendered. It may not have looked like that: there were no surrender documents; he wasn’t on the deck of the USS Missouri; he never bowed his head. Still, from today on, think of him not as the commander-in-chief, but as the commanded-in-chief.
    continues……
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KL05Df01.html
    a further excerpt….
    It’s nonetheless the wisdom of this Washington and of this military that Obama has been found wanting, at least when it comes to Afghanistan.
    So here’s a question: Why did he listen to them? And under such circumstances, why should we take the results seriously?
    Stop for a moment and consider the cast of characters who offered the president the full range of advice available in Washington – all of which, as far as we can tell, from Vice President Joe Biden’s “counterterrorism-plus” strategy to McChrystal’s COIN and beyond, was escalatory in nature. These are, of course, the wise men (and woman) of our era. But just a cursory glance at their collective record should at least make you wonder:
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now said to be the official with the best ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and so the one in charge of “coaxing” him into a round of reasonable nation-building, of making “a new compact” with the Afghan people by “improving governance and cracking down on corruption”; and yet, in the early 1990s, in her single significant nation-building experience at home, she botched the possibility of getting a universal healthcare bill through Congress. She also had the “wisdom” to vote in 2003 to authorize the invasion of Iraq.
    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, reputedly deeply trusted by the president and in charge of planning out our military future in Afghanistan, was in the 1980s a supposed expert on the Soviet Union as well as deputy CIA director and later deputy to national security advisor Brent Scowcroft. Yet, in those years, he couldn’t bring himself to believe that the Soviets were done for, even as that empire was disappearing from the face of the Earth.
    In the words of former National Security Council official Roger Morris, Gates “waged a final battle against the Soviets, denying at every turn that the old enemy was actually dying”. As former CIA official Melvin Goodman has put the matter: “Gates was wrong about every key intelligence question of the 1980s … A Kremlinologist by training, Gates was one of the last American hardliners to comprehend the changes taking place in the Soviet Union. He was wrong about [former Soviet president] Mikhail Gorbachev, wrong about the importance of reform, wrong about Moscow’s pursuit of arms control and detente with the United States. He was wrong about the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan…”
    Biden, recently described as potentially “the second-most-powerful vice president in history” as well as “the president’s all-purpose adviser and sage” on foreign policy, was during the Bush years a believer in nation-building in Afghanistan, voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, and later promoted the idea – like Caesar’s for Gaul – dividing the country into three parts (without, of course, bothering to ask the Iraqis), while leaving 25,000-30,000 American troops based there in perpetuity, while “these regions build up their state police forces”.
    McChrystal, our war commander in Afghanistan and now the poster boy for COIN, had his skills honed purely in the field of counterterrorism. He was a Special Ops guy. The man who is now to “protect” the Afghan people previously won his spurs as the head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in Iraq and Afghanistan. He ran the “manhunters” – essentially, that is, he was the leader of a team of assassins and evidently part of what reporter Seymour Hersh has termed an “executive assassination wing” of that command, possibly taking orders directly from former vice president Dick Cheney. His skills involved guns to the head, not protective boots on the ground.
    Petraeus, the general leading everything, and who has been practically deified in the US media, is perhaps the savviest and most accomplished of this crew. He surged into Iraq in 2007 and, with the help of fortuitous indigenous developments, staunched the worst of the bleeding, leaving behind a big question mark. His greatest skill, however, has been in fostering the career of Petraeus. He is undoubtedly an advisor with an agenda and in his wake comes a whole crew of military and think-tank experts, with almost unblemished records of being wrong in the Bush years, whom the surge in Iraq recredentialized.
    Karl Eikenberry, our ambassador to Kabul, in his previous career in the US military served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and as the commander of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan was the general responsible for building up the Afghan army and “reforming” that country’s police force. On both counts, we know how effective that attempt proved.
    And when it comes to key figures with well-padded Washington CVs like Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or James Jones, present National Security Advisor and former commandant of the Marine Corps, as well as the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, a close friend of Senator John McCain, and a former revolving-door board member of Chevron and Boeing, remind me just what sticks in your mind about their accomplishments?
    So, when you think about Obama’s Afghan decisions, imagine first that the man considered the smartest, most thoughtful president of our era chose to surround himself with these people. He chose, that is, not fresh air, or fresh thought in the field of foreign and war policy, but the airless precincts where the combined wisdom of Washington and the Pentagon now exists, and the remarkable lack of accomplishment that goes with it. In short, these are people whose credentials largely consist of not having been right about much over the years.
    continues….

    Reply

  108. JohnH says:

    More parsing…Why hasn’t Afghanistan become an existential threat to Israel? Israel is always on the look-out for new existential threats to rally its people, raise money from the diaspora, aid from Washington, and distract attention from its brutal Occupation. So why not Afghanistan?
    Making Afghanistan an existential threat to Israel could benefit everyone. Israel could huff and puff to its heart’s content. The US could declare it Israel’s problem and bug out. And Afghans could rest secure in the knowledge that Israel could do nothing to harm them! Heck, the Afghans could even send Israel a few shipments of opium to help them in their delusions. Call it a token of love!

    Reply

  109. Outraged American says:

    “Cobra’s Anger”, eh? Israel’s recent war games w/the US were
    called “Juniper Cobra”. This is about Iran, not Afghanistan.
    You’d think UsRael would be a tad more subtle in announcing
    their intention of bombing the crap out of Iran. Instead the US
    and Israel are Dumb & Dumber.
    From Stratfor (very reputable)
    U.S., Israel: Juniper Cobra 2009
    Oct. 6, 2009
    Summary
    American warships and transport aircraft have been arriving in
    Israel ahead of a major ballistic missile defense exercise slated
    for the week of Oct. 12. The exercise will not only be
    noteworthy for its size and complexity, but for the integration
    and interoperability it hopes to achieve. In addition, it comes
    amidst a mounting crisis with Iran and will be watched closely
    by all sides.
    Entire report
    http://tinyurl.com/yh7x63w

    Reply

  110. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Where the hell is this “change” we heard so much about? Obama is a fraud. He is actually more dangerous to this nation than George Bush was.

    Reply

  111. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama’s Plan Not What It Seems, Officials Insist
    Already Expanding Past 30,000, Downplaying July 2011 Deadline
    by Jason Ditz, December 03, 2009
    Just hours after President Barack Obama announced his Afghanistan escalation strategy’s key tenets on Tuesday night (30,000 troops, pullout to begin July 2011), top administration officials were already throwing around suggestions that neither of these was what it seemed.
    Ambassador Eikenberry presented Obama’s 30,000 number as “up to 35,000” yesterday, and today Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the president had given him flexibility to send an additional 3,000 troops as he sees fit.
    The July 2011 deadline seems even less convincing, as Secretary Gates told the Senate yesterday that this was just an estimate. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded by saying this was not true, even going so far as to say after his press conference that he checked again with President Obama and could assure that the date was “etched in stone.”
    Now officials are again insisting that this is simply not true. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that the date was not locked in, and Admiral Michael Mullen said the official date could still happen but that they might decided to remove virtually no troops then, which is essentially what has happened in Iraq’s “drawdown.” Secretary Gates too has spoken of an “elongated” pullout taking several years.
    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/12/03/obamas-plan-not-what-it-seems-officials-insist/
    Obama Administration Backs ‘Patriot’ Act Provisions
    Privacy is Toast, But No Humble Pie From Obama
    Massive FBI Data Mining Revealed, Set to Expand
    Patriot Act Renewal Moving Forward
    Written by Thomas R. Eddlem
    Renewal of two controversial Patriot Act provisions set to expire at the end of the year have been approved by House and Senate Committees over the past month, and appear headed for floor votes in both bodies. President Obama has endorsed extending the provisions.
    The two provisions include the “records” rule and the “roving wiretaps” provision. The so-called “records” rule grants federal officials with a court order the power to force private parties such as businesses, hospitals, and libraries to hand over “any tangible thing” they believe has “relevance” to a terrorist investigation.
    “Roving wiretaps” allow wiretapping multiple lines of communication without informing FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) courts which specific phone lines or communication media are being targeted.
    President Obama has reversed himself on the issue, since he once opposed Patriot Act provisions as a fishing expedition by federal snoops in a December 15, 2005 Senate speech:
    If someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document — through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made — this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case. This is just plain wrong.
    Obama’s 2005 speech was spot-on with regard to the facts. A recent Orange County Register editorial noted that “The evidence that any of these provisions has prevented or deterred a terrorist act is between slim and none — you can be sure that if they had been useful in helping to identify the handful of would-be terrorists who have been apprehended or prosecuted that government officials would have trumpeted the news.” And the Obama administration’s own government confirms the Orange County Register’s able summary. “According to the U.S. Attorney General’s office,” ABCNews.com reported November 30, “there have been 220 such orders issued, but no major case to date has transpired because of information procured from them.”
    Now that Obama is in power, what was once “just plain wrong” is suddenly just plain right.
    continues……..
    http://www.jbs.org/jbs-news-feed/5705-patriot-act-renewal-moving-forward

    Reply

  112. JamesL says:

    While we are parsing….Now we know another piece of the Obama puzzle: what he will accept as the secret code name for his own war: Cobra’s Anger. As far as I know this is the first code containing an apostrophe, which finally opens the door for semi colons, period triplets, and lesser known punctuative graphics. Code words used to be secret, senseless word combos designed to confuse and mislead the enemy. Now code words are chest-thumping brand names designed to mislead Americans, trotted out with the hoopla akin to the 2003 international auto show.
    Historically, no President may ever again reach the heights of Bush the Short as top war brander. The secret “Operation Intentional Slavery” became the public “Enduring Freedom”. And “Operation Just Cause” was saved from the round file when altered from “Operation Just Because”.
    It is certain that Obama would not accept just any old code name; there had to be a vetting, a tryin-on of terms, a search to ensure there are no lascivious or otherwise tainted similar
    words that might be sprung later on an embarrassed Prez or general. Perhaps even some
    practice press conferences. A simple mispelling by any of thousands of governmental typists,
    leaked to the press, might for instance create “Condom Anger”, which would create a high
    ridicule potential, not something any President or General trying to look regal or tough
    would wish.
    Now we know something new about Obama that could only be replicated by the White House announcement of a theme song. For other war theme songs and specifically for those pinin’ for the return of good wars, you may peruse one pulse pounding list containing “Husky”, “Modicum”, and “Campus”at: http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/WCP/glosscn.htm

    Reply

  113. Outraged American says:

    This isn’t a puzzle: the Afghan “surge” is about Iran and the up-
    coming UsRael attack on her.

    Reply

  114. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Isn’t it obvious why the politicians that TRULY want “change” that works towards the best interests of our nation are demonized, ridiculed, marginalized, and banned from participating in the electoral process in a manner that may result in their being elected to high office? Anyone that followed what occured during the last election must surely see how Obama was PLACED in office by the media’s mass marketing campaign, and a process that stacked the deck in his favor. “Change” was never in the cards from this snake oil salesman, because if he truly represented change, he never would have been allowed to get into the Oval Office. His campaign platform was a carefully scripted rendition of what his handlers knew the American people wanted to hear, NOT a true representation of Obama’s intentions. He is nothing more than a puppet, a posturing figurehead. A Trojan Horse.
    Dennis Kucinich…….
    “The war is a threat to our national security. We’ll spend over one $100 billion next year to bomb a nation of poor people while we reenergize the Taliban, destabilize Pakistan, deplete our army and put more of our soldiers’ lives on the line. Meanwhile, back here in the USA, 15 million people are out of work. People are losing their jobs, their health care, their savings, their investments, and their retirement security. $13 trillion in bailouts for Wall Street, trillions for war; when are we going to start taking care of things here at home?”
    Ron Paul…..
    “We’re following this precept of perpetual war for perpetual peace, and to me it’s perpetual bankruptcy.” Paul said.
    “They claim they’re not nation building, they claim we’re in there for national security, to destroy Al Qaeda, but our very presence is the motivation for people to join Al Qaeda or the Taliban.”
    “How many more people have to die just for us to save face?” The Congressman asked.
    “The strength that we need is a president who finally resists the pressure by the special interests, the military industrial complex, the bankers and all the people who want these wars.”

    Reply

  115. MarkL says:

    I’ve seen nothing that suggests Obama is doing anything besides throwing troops and money at the problem, in part to satisfy his domestic political needs, and also as a sign of his weakness in saying no to the military.
    Arguments that we SHOULD do something in AfPak are secondary, in my opinion; where is the plausible argument that we can do something with the number of troops Obama is sending?
    (Not that I’m suggesting sending more troops).

    Reply

  116. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    The US-sponsored Afghan policy, announced by President Obama( albeit expostulated by many Republicans)may only become a successful story if the policy exponents of this newly perceived AF-Pak strategy may try to coincide it with the dynamics of sustainable development, the core panacea to deal with the roots causes of extremism/ terrorism in the backwater regions of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the fact that the new US administration may pay fidelity to the exit-strategy announced by President Obama.

    Reply

  117. Ben Rosengart says:

    Please fix the Nir Rosen link.

    Reply

  118. JamesL says:

    oh…geez, my mistake. Taking families into account would be Nation Building. No time or money for that. Over our heads, beyond the pale. Best get on to the realistic things we can accomplish. More missiles!

    Reply

  119. JamesL says:

    Sorry, can’t agree. Throw bales of dollars at the military and you’ll have a military outcome, usually not good for People Without Guns. Throw bales of dollars (as long as it isn’t through a government)at feeding people, development, education, etc, and you end up with a LOT less waste, fewer dead people, fewer enemies from the unhappily unintended dead, and some thanks. It’s really simple: don’t kill family members and you won’t make family enemies. Families add up. Why is this so hard for “leaders” to understand?

    Reply

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