Archive for the ‘Paul Wolfowitz’ category

Finally The End Is Insight

October 16, 2011

The Administration quietly announced that all US military personnel (save those assigned to the Embassy’s direct security) will pull out of Iraq on schedule at the end of the year.  For those conservatives concerned with Middle East affairs this announcement was probably a disappointment.  For those ashamed and disgusted with America’s folly of invading and occupying a sovereign country to no avail, it represented a sigh of relief.

The motivation to invade and occupy Iraq was hatched in the 1990’s.  This was not a government plan but the work of neoconservatives.  (read PNAC)  And look who the signers were: Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, and Paul Wolfowitz. 

Iraq has demonstrated once again that American military might can accomplish its battle field goals while not coming close to achieving its foreign affairs objectives.

As the door creaks slowly to the closed position, astonishingly, the Administration would have kept 3-6,000 troops in Iraq had the Iraqi government been willing to grant immunity from Iraqi courts for those stationed there.  In the end it was no immunity, no troops.

American force, no matter how well intentioned, must recognize that there are limits to what it can achieve.  The “New American Century” that the PNAC group envisioned will, instead, be lead by an America strong within itself.  We must remain strong enough to defend America but invading other lands should be seen now as counterproductive.  We need to turn our focus to fixing Congress, getting the  budget right, and returning fairness to the rules governing the distribution of wealth.

Look around at who would or could lead the world.  No one jumps out and they all have their problems.  If the US just dealt with fixing up what has gone astray at home, others would follow thankfully our lead.

The PNAC crowd just went the wrong way.

Putting The Genie Back In The Bottle

October 1, 2011

During the George W Bush years, the practice of “ends justify means” was given a vigorous renewal.  With men like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, David Arrington, Douglas Feith, Donald Rumsfeld, and last but not least, Dick Cheney, the means became unimportant as long as the ends were achieved.  They let the dark genie out of the bottle.

This week the White announced that a drone attack in Yemen had succeeded in killing an American citizen.  The victim was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American Islamic cleric, who had gone over to the dark side.  Awaki has been accused of inspiring, if not setting in motion, several terrorist attacks on the US.  The CIA’s frustration with not being able to detain or silence him came to an end.

But is that the end?

This was an American citizen with the same rights to due process as anyone else.  How can it be ok to allow the CIA to assassinate anyone much less another American citizen?

Maybe he was a very bad person.  Maybe his extreme views did represent a threat and maybe he did inspire others to terroristic acts.  Maybe he should have been arrested and sent to prison.  But didn’t he deserve due process?

The Administration argues that there was a due process.  The President signed a finding listing Awlaki as an enemy of the country to be captured or killed.  But is that what we mean by “due process”?

The “ends”, that is, a world less dangerous, might have been served.  Did that not justify these means?

And that is precisely the problem.  What about the next time when someone living in New York (or any other US location) using their first amendment rights, writes, speaks, or shouts something that is highly unacceptable to our political leaders.  Add to that, what if other Americans respond and begin to act in civil disobedience.  What if that person went into hiding and spread his/her voice through writings or the internet?  Should the CIA or FBI take out this person who would not cooperate and surrender before issuing an arrest warrant?

What if this person were today Martin Luther King or Leonid Trotsky or Patrick Henry?

The government may be correct in this case but it is not a slam dunk.  Iraq, Abu Ghraib,  enhanced interrogation, and outing a CIA agent were wrong, even though they were undoubtably done for what the Bush Administration thought was a good reason.

Ends do not justify means.

One Pint In A 10 Gallon Hat

November 9, 2010

Another revisionist is alive and walking amongst us.  Former President George W Bush, for uncertain reasons, has authored a book that highlights some of the great decisions he says he made during his two terms.  It would seem his intent is to revise our memories of history and cast his presidency in a much more favorable light.  Will he be successful?

It helps to begin at the beginning.  Bush was elected the 43rd President when the US Supreme Court step in (with its conservative majority) and stopped the Florida count thereby insuring Bush the majority of the electoral college.  I do not blame Bush but it highlights his lack of legitimacy.

The first six months of his first term were uneventful although the commander-in-chief appeared tp be the skipper of a boat without a rudder.  Even then, the back rooms were buzzing with the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Pearle, Libby, Wolfowitz, and Feith, already planning on how to invade Iraq.  Then while the Bush Administration was asleep at the switch, 9/11 took place and the world changed.

With the full advantage today of history, “W” still defends the decision to invade and occupy Iraq.  It matters not at all whether the invasion was justified under International  law or whether the costs (monetary or lives) support the overthrow of the Iraqi Government.  Not a single weapon of mass destruction was found nor has any connection between Iraq and 9/11 established.  So, once again, why should the US have invaded?

It is said that Karl Rove tried to market George W Bush to the American electorate as much more manly version of his father, George H W Bush.  (This is a clear clue that nothing Rove says should be trusted.  “H W” was a legitimate war hero while “W” did all he could to keep out of harms way.)  Rove said “W” grew up in Texas where people are naturally tougher.

“W’s” 8 years and now his book make one thing perfectly clear.  “W” may have worn a 10 gallon hat but he was barely a pint of man with the intellect to match.


Bushed Tony

January 31, 2010

This week the world saw and heard a sad story unfold. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair testified before a London inquiry board. The panel sought to know “what Tony knew when” about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Tony, amazingly, provided confirmation of US plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein over a year before the actual invasion. The sad part of the story is that Tony still thinks it was the right decision.

Hussein’s days were number once George W Bush (with side kick Dick Cheney) were elected. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Wolfowitz, Pearle, and Feith were all signators of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and just by chance all were part of the inner circle advising “W”. PNAC, a neoconservative think project, reasoned that the Middle East could not be made safe and secure unless Saddam was removed from office. These “would be” American patriots just waited for a chance gain the American voters’ ok, and 9/11 provided the pathway.

According to Tony, he did meet with Bush and Cheney, and did promise to stand with them in any confrontation with Iraq. Tony did not seem to see the phoney appearance that the subsequent British Intelligence report (Yellow cake from Niger) that “W” used as proof that Iraq had WMD, now had. Tony didn’t even flinch when reminded that there were no WMD, nor even more to the point, Iraq was in no way connected to 9/11. Tony told the panel that of course he would not have invade had Iraq come clean on their WMDs. One panelist reminded Tony that it is difficult to show you destroyed all your WMDs if you did not have them.

During the time in question, Tony was in the process of converting to the Catholic faith. It is immaterial that he converted to catholicism, the important point is he got the religious bug and knew that god was on his side.

There are many lessons from the Iraq invasion and occupations ranging from “don’t break something you don’t know how to fix” to “don’t believe anyone who says they listen to a higher authority”. What people believe is one thing, but when what they believe affects others, than it should be time out.

So, What’s Next II

April 11, 2008

Let’s revisit the NEW policy that any of the Presidential candidates will need to adopt if there is to be an end to the mess called Iraq.  In my recent posting “So, What’s Next”, I listed 6 elements of a new policy and in this post, I would like to elaborate why each is important.   My elaboration is in italics.

        1. International support based upon a new and more cooperative, non-unilateralist view of the world.

The strongest link to the rationale for invading Iraq (without sanction from the UN) is found in the unilateralist declaration of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) issued in 1998.  Such household names as Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, and good old boy Dick Cheney were signatories.  This document blatantly proposes that America has the power and it should use it to make the world the way it sees proper.  Without assigning other potential reasons for the invasion (like Israeli lobbying or the simple greed for oil), the NPAC idea of promoting democracy through pre-emptive wars is not a doctrine endorsed by the UN or for that matter a majority of other countries.

If we want to begin to take the finances and wealth (form munitions sales) out of the conflict, we will need an International agreement to curtail these activities.  Without a repudiation of NPAC by the next President and a call for International cooperation, there will be no sensible path forward.

2. A recognized “honest broker” approach to the entire Middle East.

From day one with the Bush Administration, the US policy in the Middle East was Israel – yes, Arabs – no.  The Saudis were ok since they had oil.  The Palestinians were forgotten and when convenient, were blamed.  The Israelis were allowed to build walls, erect barriers and check points, and to possess of land well within the Palestinian lands.  There was little or no effort by the State Department in finding a peaceful solution and the President’s heavy schedule of mountain biking and jogging simply did not permit him to become personally involved.

The continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict allows all Arabs to play the victim role and enables the more radical elements to do what any other policitical faction does… seek the remaining wealth of the land.  A settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian question will isolate the other conflicts (between Arabs) and enable a broader settlement.

3. A serious national policy to develop alternative energy sources that will reduce green house gases and cut our dependence on foreign oil by 50%.

I believe the fundamental drivers behind PNAC (or at least the White House gang) was oil.  There were two strategic purposes, first to obtain sufficient supplies that gasoline for the US could be plentiful and stable in price, and second, to deny or limit the access to oil for China and India so that the US could influence both their foreign and domestic policies.  Just doing the numbers tells you that the Chinese and Indians with a combined 2 1/2 billion people will sop up all the oil in short order.

The US must acknowledge this and rapidly move onto an economy that is not strapped down by foreign oil.  Eliminating this strangle hold will open wide our foreign policy options.  The Middle East is a big zero in our worldly needs and will be a threat only to those that remain fossil fuel bound.

4. Closure of Guantanamo and the return of all prisoners to their home countries unless they are transfered to US courts and tried under US law.  There can be no secret evidence or witnesses.

Guantanamo is a very sad chapter in American history when the President and his Adminstration should how cowardly they really were.  These are men who sought “deferments” or cushy (and protected) National Guard assignments rather than serve in the Vietnam War.  These “chicken hawks” freely sent other citizens children off to Iraq but did not do the same for either themselves or their children.  From these unpatriotic heros has come the disgraces of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and enhanced interrogation.  American history and values have been based upon due process and respect for human dignity.

Until Guantanamo is closed and the prisoners are either freed or processed in American courts, and there is a full return to the principles of the Geneva Convention, America will always be suspect in any negotiations to settle differences in the Middle East.

5. The mission of US troops in Iraq must be changed with a eventual withdrawal in mind.  Whether it is training or simply peace keeping, the scope of the mission must be reduced.

In parallel with points 1-4, the President must announce a new mission for American troops.  We must renounce any “occupation” status and adopt a training or ready stand by posture.  We must signal that our combat role is finished and will fire only if fired upon.

6. Careful thought must be given to separating the country into three parts (Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite) with an imposed split of oil revenues.  (The idea is that these groups will fight for their oil anyways but if they are already assured some split (plus foreign investment incentives), they might not fight so hard for more.

The final exit strategy is unknowable at this point.  The main Shiite and Sunni factions could decide to live side by side, or they could decide the spoils were still unevenly divided.  In the path where fighting continues and political compromise is not forthcoming, the US should look to a “soft divide” into three states within a state concept.  The Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Shiites would each control about a third.  Oil revenues, however would be shared on some basis (probably a third each).  It is possible that in setting up this 3 State approach, Iran and Saudi Arabia might conclude that they should encourage more compromise ahead of this type of step.  In any case, no movement, then 3 States.

These 6 points are all necessary to cleanse outselves of the stench created by Bush and Cheney, and to convince the other parties that the new US foreign policy is NEW.  If the next President rejects such an approach, we will be discussing this again during the 2012 election campaign.

War Powers Act

February 9, 2008

On October 2, 2002, the White House published the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Military Forces Against Iraq.  It was a dark day in American history and to this day, there remains plenty of blame to go around.  Read the resolution yourself and then try to answer these questions.

1. Did the UN ask the US to enforce the applicable UN resolutions?

2. Did the UN ask the US to enter Iraq independently?

3. Did UN inspectors assure the US that WMD including chemical and nuclear ones would be found?

4. Was there any connection betweeon Sadaam Hussein or Iraq and the 9/11 attack or attackers?

5. Did the Neoconservative movement strongly support the resolution?

6. Did the PNAC recommend invading Iraq and bringing about regime change even before Cheney, Rumsfeld, Pearl, and Wolfowitz joined the Bush Administration?

7. Did AIPAC and Israel recommend and support the invasion of Iraq?

8. Did the Administration use all available political means to rush the US into invading Iraq and was this effort lead by the Vice President’s office and a Republican controlled Congress?

The answer to questions 1-4 are “no” and 5-8 are “yes”.  The type of action results from people who believe “ends justify means”.  It is compounded by people who seek gains for their supporters at the expense of the general population.  In the 2008 election, we need to clearly acknowledge and separate the questions of (1) why did the war take place and (2) given where we are now, what should we do next.    The Iraq War was illegal (international law), foolish in terms of costs and gains,  and unnecessary in the overall effort to combat terrorists.   Now we are faced with the conundrum of “what do we do responsibly now that we have broken Iraq”?

Ari Fleischer’s Disgrace

September 6, 2007

A new group named “Freedom’s Watch” of which Ari Fleischer is a founding member has launched a TV, radio, and print media campaign to boost support for the surge.  America is the land of the free and so Fleischer and others have every right to be pro-surge or anti-surge.  But America is also the home of the brave and Fleischer is lower than whale turds when he uses severely wounded veterans and mother/spouses of deceased/severely wounded soldiers and puts propaganda in their mouths.  It is a disgrace.

1. Those who are severely wounded or those who are related to deceased or severely wounded service men and women are susceptable to any suggestions that their loss was justified and for a worthy cause.  To exploit these emotions is the same “chicken hawk” mentality that got us into Bush’s war of choice in the first place.

2. Each and every member of the armed services knows or should know that while on active duty they might be exposed to enemy action and become wounded or killed.  This is a random risk and most military members complete their duty without incident.  For those who are wounded or are killed, it is too late to look for justification.  Their situation was just the luck of the draw.  Therefore war testimonials need not (and should not) come from the most emotionally vulnerable and ethically should come from those who escaped injury.

3. The Flesicher message is that the rest of us should honor the sacrifices of the wounded or deceased soldiers by supporting the surge (and whatever is to follow) so that the sacrifices will not be in vein.   This is simply dead wrong thinking.  We should honor the sacrifices of these honorable soldiers simply because they did their duty. 

  • The Iraq War was a war of choice
  • The Iraq War was undertaken illegally and under false pretenses
  • The Iraq War was begun without adequate preparation and with not a clue as to how to manage the peace.
  • The Iraq War has been systematically managed to minimize the exposure Americas have to the costs of war.
  • It was “chicken hawks” who themselves did not serve who lead us into war.  President Bush’s National Guard duty was a clear attempt to avoid active duty in the regular military and a Vietnam tour.

The timing of this ad campaign is focused on the mid-September Congressional surge status debate and its continued funding.  These ads attempt to rewrite history and distort the critical issues at hand.  America is in a war that it should not be in.  It is important to know why and how we got to where we are.  Then, America needs to refocus its national policies that more fully reflect the duties and responsibilities of being the world’s only super power. 

1. The Neoconservatives and Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Pearl/Wolfowitz/Feith marched into Iraq under the flag “America is the most powerful nation and we do not need anyone’s approval.  This is a prescription for disaster and it has turned out to be.

2. As the most powerful nation, we have both the luxury and the duty to lead by example.  If we champion human rights, then our record within the US needs to be spotless.  If we believe in rule by law, we need to demonstate that we can observe both US and International law.  If we believe in science and education, we need to ensure that we do not shackle our selves with faith based dictates.

3. Above all, the US needs to pay attention to what got us to the dance.  It is our economy and our ability to operate globally, and not the Middle East that should be number one priority.  This suggests we pay attention to what makes us competitive at home and what trade relationships we need to foster.  (For example, we need never become a military enemy of China if we promote a positive, competitive, and growing trade relationship.

Shame, shame on Ari.  He is selling a defective product and taking advantage of those who perform in his commercials.  What do the 2008 Candidates think?