Archive for the ‘lindsay graham’ category

Trapped By Words

January 22, 2018

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump joined other Republicans who heaped criticism upon former President Obama for the existence of ISIS. Joining people like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Trump stressed that the Obama strategic decision to withdraw combat troops from Iraq was a sign of weakness and in a Trump Administration, there would be no weakness.

ISIS, Trump said, was a direct result of Obama’s foreign policy.

After one year as President, I wonder what President Trump thinks? I am not concerned about what he tweets but rather what he really thinks.

ISIS is just another name for al Qaeda or Taliban or Muslim Brotherhood or Hezbollah or Hamas. These radical Islamic groups have existed for many years and represent Muslim factions that seek power and find strict Muslim fundamentalism backed by guns as an effective technique to seize power and hold it.

History has shown that these groups can be held in check only through authoritarian measures.

Had Republicans owned up to George W Bush’s doomed decision to invade and occupy Iraq (and to a lesser extent, President Bush’s decision to allow the morphing of US Afghan foreign policy to nation building), in other words owning up to having opened Pandora’s box in the first place, a far more comprehensive foreign policy might have been found. Alas that did not happen.

So, today the Government finds itself surreptitiously increasing American military presence in Afghanistan and doing the same in Syria and Iraq. The current American posture is ready made for an unforeseen event (like a full scale ambush of US soldiers or an intra-region squabble between Middle East neighbors trapping American forces).

One might cut President Trump a break on this since Pandora’s box is open regardless if Republicans won’t own up. But the President is not going to get any break because he has chosen to side publicly with Israel when common sense would dictate the role of “honest broker”.

What could possibly motivate President Trump to announce moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem?

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq is now woven into the modern Middle East history. For the time being, radical Muslim fundamentalism has access to money and weapons.  There is also plenty of “ugly American” examples which appeal to poor, less educated Arabs and provide the necessary support military units need.

President Trump was, from day 1 of his Administration, trapped by the words of denial by his and other leading Republicans. During President Trump’s first year in office, he has managed to increasingly trap himself (and all of us too).   In a Middle East world where no exit can be seen, cautious words speak louder than foolish ones.

Lindsay’s Gone

December 22, 2015

There is a reason John McCain and Lindsay Graham are seen together so often. In many ways they are cut from the same cloth. Both are career politicians, both are mostly hawkish, both, in comparison to the emerging next generation of GOP leaders, are relatively center right. For reasons that are unclear, Lindsay has been running for the Republican Presidential nomination and on Monday he suspended his campaign.

Graham has said he entered the race in order to inject and emphasize foreign policies concerns. In Graham’s assessment, he has been successful in changing the conversation. (I wonder whether Paris and San Bernardino had anything to do with the uptick in foreign policy discussion?) One might also assume his 1% or less poll numbers might have also influenced his decision. Hmmm.

Think back to the Presidential debates in 2008, and ask yourself whether any of the current GOP candidates can measure up to Mitt Romney’s credentials?  Mitt seemed heads and shoulders ahead of Lindsay in Presidential bearing and would leave the other candidates in his dust too.

But that’s another story.

While Graham considers himself a center right candidate, his hawkish policies were inconsistent with Americas current place in history. The Country no longer sees itself as the world’s policeman and even more to the point, does not see the Middle East as anything but a nuisance.

Remaining militarily strong should not be the question, rather the choice should be why to use our military and how to fund the deployments.

Many Americans are beginning to realize that the military does not represent Americans.  In its current “all volunteer” status, only a few get the chance to fight. Sending other Americans’ children to war for the whims of neoconservatives and aging politicians seems shameful.

Had Lindsay remained in the race I wonder whether he would have backed up his aggressive foreign policy positions with a call for a universal draft and special war taxes so our children and grand children would not have to pay the war bills?   Hmmm.

John And Lindsay

December 9, 2015

Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham are back on the Wall Street Journal op ed pages. I guess they just feel comfortable there. They must feel they are among friends.   Compared to obscurity, maybe writing anything is better than writing nothing. Hmmm.

The two amigos have reaffirmed their view that President Obama has no plan for Iraq and Syria. They, however, do and they are only too willing to share the plan. Here’s what I understand from their op-ed.

Iraq – Focus US special operations personnel on specific engagements as well as perform training of Sunni tribal fighters. McCain and Graham acknowledge that the Iraqi Government does not want large foreign operations taking place in Iraq. I guess John and Lindsay don’t think the Iraqi Shiite Premiere Abadi will take exception to improving the fighting strength of the Sunni faction…

Syria – Here’s where boots on the ground are recommended. The McCain-Graham plan calls for up to 10,000 combat troops working in combination with Allied airpower going directly after ISIS forces. Sound good? This sounds like another invasion of a sovereign country where Iran and Russia are likely to take great exception. Once more, these two GOP hawks are ready to commit other people’s children to war with a plan that can quickly escalate with unlimited unexpected events.

There is no amount of posturing or berating President Obama that can erase the error associated with McCain’s and Graham’s support for President George W Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. For these two apologists, the surge wasn’t large enough and the occupation did not last long enough.

It’s regrettable enough that Americans must listen daily to nonsensical diatribes from Ted Cruse and Donald Trump. Now we must read and listen to two discredited Senators who might do better if they followed the maxim, “better to be seen than heard”.

Paris Attacks – Press and Politician Field Day

November 16, 2015

The cowardly and pathetic terrorist attacks Friday in Paris have once again shocked the modern world. How can young men still in their prime carry out mass shootings and bombings where their own lives are certain to be lost too. Why suicide attacks? Why attacks at all?

In all societies there are mentally deranged people who for a wide range of reasons undertake unprovoked acts of murder and mayhem. These mass killings also end up with the “whys”. Why did he/she do it? Why that victim? What was there to gain? The Paris attacks raise similar questions but the first “why did they do it” is much less uncertain.

Radical Islamic terrorist are responding to attempts to rebuild a caliphate and the Western world has a habit of throwing obstacles in their way. This is like theater of the absurd. A Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, or what ever group follows seek first and foremost economic power for its leadership group. Surprise, surprise, this is about money first.

As in all ancient societies, in the new Caliphate, the average person’s task is to work and contribute money to the leadership group. To help induce the average person to contribute, these radical Islamic groups serve up a brew of harsh, repressive Islam which still promises a great day in “Paradise”, with earthly reminders (like dismemberment, caning, and stoning).  This mix is intended to emphaize  that the Caliphate is the right way.

ISIS is the current top dog in terrorism. Its message falls upon receptive ears around the world wheres some local Muslims find their lot in life less than their neighbors. For reasons unknown, some of these Muslims find ISIS’ message convincing and sign up to “drink the cool aide”. Hence, the West gets “home grown” terrorists.

For the American press, the Paris attacks is another gratuitous event where there is suddenly a large audience awaiting reports on the details. The Paris attacks represents a double win for the press since both Presidential primary races have gone flat with little of interest emanating from the candidates. A little rest from the Trump’s, Bush’s, Clinton’s and Sanders’ would be welcome by readers.

Ah, but not so fast.

The candidates have little sensible to say about fixing the American economy, couldn’t the bluster about what they might do to eradicate ISIS?

Two of the best in terms of beating dead horses, Lindsay Graham and John McCain are making the TV rounds rattling their sabers.

Graham and McCain are still unapologetic about championing the Iraq invasion and occupation made famous by George W Bush. The world, according to these two, is better off today without Saddam Hussein.

On Monday’s talk shows, Graham and McCain have recommended that President Obama should recall former General David Petraeus and ask him to lead our efforts to defeat ISIS. Hmmm.

The lesson which every school child should be taught is that in the event of war, strange and unexpected outcomes usually happen. Hussein was a dangerous dictator surviving in a dangerous area of the world. He used by necessity cruel methods to maintain power but his victims lay within Iraq. Hussein’s removal, like the proverbial genie once the cork was removed, unleashed all sorts of unexpected (but predictable) consequences.

General Petraeus recommended the “surge” which increased the US troop count by 20,000 at a time when the occupation was going poorly.  Soon, however, the level of fighting subsided and the Administration once again declared “mission accomplished”.  Time has shown that simultaneous with the increased troop level, large payments were being made to Sunni militias who suddenly stopped creating problems.  Hmmm.

Stabilizing the Middle East will not be resolved with a silver bullet. Peace will require a comprehensive plan and will take time. What peace efforts do not need is cheap political talk from former “Iraq Invasion and Occupation” apologists.

World’s Leader

June 2, 2015

Senator Lindsay Graham articulated a theme which voters should hear often from GOP Presidential hopefuls. Graham promised to make the US again the “World’s Leader”. What in the world does that mean, what would it look like, and what is he smoking?

“Leading from behind”, for sure, is not the most macho way to describe the world’s wealthiest and most military powerful nation. It is, however, a more realistic assessment compared to the empty boast of “world’s leader”. The world is in a far different place than the days the cold war ended.

Telling other nations how to behave seems patently laughable no matter how well meaning the US’ words might be. More to the point, our nation grew to wealth and power from the shadows of other world powers from the days following our independence up to the end of World War II. There is nothing from the historical record that says the US could not continue to grow and prosper in a world of no clear leader.

The Obama Administration’s Middle East strategy fundamentally assigns primary responsibility for peace and security to the people living in the region. This means no further US occupation and only measured amounts of support. How can anyone expect that a US occupation presence would bring lasting peace to Syria, Iraq, Libya, or to dozens of African States.

Where would the money necessary to occupy again come from? Who would staff the military, volunteers or draftees? What current Government spending would be deferred in favor of “world leader” spending? And, how much more taxes would voters accept in order to become the “world’s leader” again.

Oh, and I wonder whether anyone has told Senator Graham that “world’s leader” also involves confronting North Korea, China, Russia, or any other nation bent upon fulfilling some national ambition?

The business community should be sending some pointed messages to our politicians. From experience, businesses know globalization has changed the competitive nature amongst countries. No longer is the American education system the best in the world. Gone are the days of the US possessing a vastly superior infrastructure. And the nation is slowly but steadily going to the poor house with healthcare per capita expenditures two times the rest of the modern world (with arguably worse outcomes).  Focus on improving the US’ competitive position is critical to remaining a strong country.

Foreign policy, of course, remains important for the security of our country. The idea that the US can simply invade another country and impose its will is on the wrong side of history. Our economy depends upon globally open and free markets.

Presidential candidates should be talking about what domestic policies they would advocate and how these policies would make the US more competitive.  Candidates should also clearly state foreign policy parameters which define what America’s national interests were. This would be a short list and not contain every boy scout good deed.

I do not expect to hear any serious campaign pledges. Advocating “world’s leader” is far more motivating as long as no one asks what that means. President Obama’s “pivot to the east” was insightful, and leading from behind simply reflects reality.

Does Lindsay know better?

The Blame Game

May 27, 2015

It is very early in the GOP Presidential nominating process but the blame game has already begun. This should be no surprise since the current 7 announced candidates are expected to double if not triple before a nominee is selected. Hmmm.

Bobby Jindal has said that Rand Paul is “unsuited to be commander-in-chief”. (Does it take someone also unfit to recognize another?)

Rand Paul says, gratuitously, that GOP hawks are responsible for ISIS. (If Paul is referring to Bush supporters. he is spot on.)

Carlie Fiorina has selected Hillary Clinton as her target and in the process has separated herself from the pack. (This will last until the rest decide she is doing too well and blame will come Carlie’s way.

Rick Santorum announced today he was in the race. The 2016 Rick Santorum version is for the middle class so it is unclear at this point who Rick will blame.

Rick Perry is rumored to be announcing this weekend. Who cares who Rick blames, it will be a hoot to hear him try and put two sentences together.

Lindsay Graham will announce this week also his supporters say. Lindsay is a long time “blame gamer” who may not realize that Rand Paul includes Lindsay in the GOP hawk cohort.

George Pataki (who?) will really need to become creative in the blame game since his days as New York Governor are well behind him and so what else has he got to say?

Ted Cruz has been relatively silent of late. This is probably a wise strategy until he can better assess his GOP rivals.

Jeb Bush would very much like to remain silent and somehow get anointed (as Hillary would too). Both Jeb and Hillary will not shy away from blame at some point but don’t want to go negative so soon. Both would prefer to let others throw the mud and for them to remain the Presidential looking candidate.

Marco Rubio wants the image of a clean cut, fresh voice but when the Florida primary rolls around the much anticipate show down with Jeb Bush the race will require some “blame” assignment.

Scott Walker likes his chances in Iowa and maybe New Hampshire but has hinted he may avoid the Florida primary. This could change but his reasoning is that both Rubio and Bush are much better known in Florida. Hmmm.

The irony of the GOP plight is that with so many candidates how can voters differentiate? (Hint, blame the opponent for something).  Even worse, the traditional “speaking to the base” approach the GOP used in 2012 reminded the entire voting population of some “out of touch” GOP platform positions. Immigration, women’s rights, and senior’s security (code words for Social Security and Medicare) can come home to bite the GOP candidate in the general election.

So, what’s left to campaign on?

Blame the other GOP candidate for something. Hmmm. Should be interesting.

Finding An Eye In The Needle?

September 15, 2014

ISIS has provoked a lot of talk but not a whole lot of action. NSA seems to be everywhere listening to the world’s communications, yet the where abouts of ISIS lot leaders seems a mystery. Political leaders, domestically as well as internationally, condemn this group and call for its elimination, yet no one seems to want to put “feet on the ground”. Hmmm.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, breaking all frequent flyer records, has signed up some 40 nations to fight against ISIS, but none seem anxious to commit ground troops. I wonder why? Even Humpty Dumpty, the rebuilt Iraq, seems luke warm to taking on ISIS even though almost half of Iraq is occupied by ISIS. Why this ambivalence?

Common sense tells us that it is always better to let the other guy do it, especially if it is a dirty job. Finding the “other guy” is the problem. And in the Middle East where absolute insanity reigns with the hatred between Sunnis and Shiites and the indifferent self interest of the oil rich countries leaders sets the table for non-cooperation.

President Obama appears to be on another planet if one listens to people like Lindsay Graham or John McCain. Both Senators, staples of the mindless Sunday morning talk shows, scoff at the idea of no US ground forces against ISIS. I guess a perpetual state of war with extremists is their view of the future.

The Middle East has long been characterized by ignorance, poverty, and enormous class differences. The public was been kept in line with State handouts and a boot on their necks. Nothing fancy, but when rigorously enforced, these policies have worked.

Removing Saddam Hussein, of course, took the stopper out of the bottle. And the entire region began to shift. With well intended but totally naive (or simply ignorant) responses by western powers has brought on significant disturbances in Libya, Egypt, and finally Syria. Rather than bringing democracy and freedom to these lands, just another set of despotic rulers have emerged.

The common person is no better off and arguably living in worse conditions.

One can justifiably criticize George W Bush, aka Dick Cheney, but in 2014, the damage is already done and revisiting egregious policies sheds little light upon what to do now. Considering the experiences which resulted from these policies, however, is very worthwhile.

As a consequence, one is lead to the conclusion that the authoritative Egyptian Government under President al-Sisi should be supported and not undermined. A similar conclusion might be reached with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In a sick way, it is unfortunate that former Iraq President Saddam Hussein is not around to take back the reigns of government (he would put troops on the ground).

Instead, the West must work through Iran to guide the new Iraqi (Shiite) Prime Minister.

All these leaders already have troops on the ground and a vested interest in the outcome.

From a distance, it certain looks like President Obama is trying to find the eye of the needle with his response to ISIS.