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Republican Contempt For The Constitution

In case you missed it yesterday, forty-seven republicans in the senate sent a letter to the Ayatollah of Iran, letting him know that Obama’s word in the negotiations is basically meaningless. Think I’m being hyperbolic? See for yourself;

It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system.  Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution—the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices—which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.
 
We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.
 
First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them.  In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote.  A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate).  Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
 

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics.  For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.  As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.  The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

Here’s the thing; congress’ role with regard to foreign treaties, is to vote on a deal after the president has done the negotiating. Congress does not enter into treaties with foreign countries. And it’s unprecedented for congress to step in to halt a treaty. This has literally never happened before.

These idiots think they stuck it to the black guy but what they actually did, was take another step toward turning the US into the clown car of developed countries. Step one was with the perpetual government shutdowns over deciding whether to pay for the spending they already approved (and spent). That was nice. Those headlines all around the world that basically said, "WTF, United States?" were awesome. So was the downgrading of our credit rating. So now what they’ve done, in addition to letting the world know that we don’t take our debt all that seriously, is to tell the world that we don’t take our president all that seriously and neither should they.

I’ve never witnessed this level of disrespect for the office of the presidency. Not even when it was deserved in 2000, when the president was selected by the Supreme Court (it’s a fact, look it up), rather than duly elected by the citizens of the United States. No one in congress threw a temper tantrum to subvert the powers of the executive branch, just because the presidency wasn’t legitimately won by that occupant of the oval office. I didn’t see this level of disrespect when congress passed The Boland Amendment explicitly banning president Reagan from "overthrowing the government of Nicaragua or provoking a war between Nicaragua and Honduras". Reagan flat out ignored that law and went ahead and did as he pleased anyway, and that congress never undermined him the way this congress is undermining President Obama.

These were legitimately questionable presidencies and still, congress respected the authority given to the president by the constitution. Why? Well for one, I don’t think it ever occurred to them to so thoroughly crap on the constitution, the way this congress has.

But more importantly, I want to believe that there was some thought given to precedent. This moronic republican congress is utterly incapable of calculating the ramifications of their actions. President Obama has less than two years left in office so shitting on him in public doesn’t have much of an upside if you really think about it. It is well within congress’ power not to ratify any deal Obama makes with Iran. From the constitution;

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…..

All they had to do, was to wait for their turn to vote on any deal Obama may have made with Iran. This letter wasn’t about killing the treaty. It was about undermining Obama. They weren’t afraid that Obama was going to make a bad deal, as their leader President Netanyahu warned. They were afraid that he was going to make a really good deal that was going to neutralize this bogeyman they love so much, for good. But they actually did way more than that. They permanently undermined the executive branch. They diminished not only this president, but all future presidents, as well as all future congresses.

They literally turned the United States government into the laughing stock of the world. They turned themselves into a joke.

Read me now, quote me later; they insured that President Obama will have an approval rating greater than or equal to the 68% that President Clinton had when he left office. I’ll go a step further so that you don’t have to wait nearly two years to see if I know what the hell I’m talking about; by summer, President Obama’s approval rating is going to be around 50%. These morons in congress have ensured that President Obama will be seen as one of the most beloved presidents in history. Why? Because the American people don’t like to see their president picked on by congress or anyone else. We’ve seen this movie before with Bill Clinton. On December 18, 1998, the house spent the whole day debating the impeachment of President Clinton. On December 19, 1998, the house approved two articles of impeachment. On December 19 – 20, 1998, Gallup reports the highest approval rating of the Clinton presidency at 73%.

My prediction isn’t wishful thinking, or rectally generated. I usually have a basis I can point to when I embark on the fool’s errand of making predictions!

Here’s another thing that congress didn’t take into account; sanctions against Iran. We alone, can’t successfully damage Iran with our sanctions. We have partners all around the world that joined us in squeezing Iran hard enough to get them to the negotiating table. I suspect that more than a few of our allies in these sanctions is going to question whether going along with the US still seems like a good idea. The sanctions that Obama negotiated had their desired effect; getting Iran to the negotiating table. If our congress is saying that we won’t be sitting on the other side of that table, under any circumstances, I don’t see why our allies would continue with the sanctions.

There is literally no upside for congressional republicans or the American people at large, in what those forty-seven idiotic senators did yesterday. They accomplished nothing for themselves, for you, or for the rest of the world. And if they get to their goal of starting a war with Iran, it’s going to be your kids that fight it.

Elections have consequences. This last election had nothing but negative consequences for all of us, regardless of party affiliation.

 

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The Winning Strategy For Iraq And Syria


Perhaps you noticed my conspicuous lack of opinion on Obama’s announcement that we’re going to bomb our way into peace in Iraq and Syria. There was an odd reason for my silence; I was thinking about it and considering all of the options.

Iraq may be the most complicated situation the world has ever dealt with. There are hundreds of factors that got Iraq to this point, and they keep getting more complicated every day. And they each point to a different solution. Actually, that’s not true. Nothing points to a solution. Each factor points to how a proposed solution won’t work. I’ve written on Iraq and Syria on this blog before Here’s my take in Iraq. Here’s my explanation of how ISIS evolved into what they are today. I ask you to refer to those posts, not because I want to increase my hits for the day, but to give you context on my thinking.

I like reading opinions of people who are smarter than me about any given topic. In other words, I have a few go-to people for middle east issues, economic issues, domestic issues, etc. Everyone I turn to is smarter than me when it comes to their particular area of expertise. In trying to formulate my opinion on Obama’s announcement, I noticed something about what the people who are smarter than me are all saying. No one who is knowledgeable on Iraq and Syria seems to have a solution. I don’t mean that there’s no consensus, I mean that no one I trust and admire has put forth a solution. Most have opinions on what they definitely think is the wrong thing to do, but no clear opinion on what the winning strategy is. Since I’m not as smart as the people I turn to for subject matter expertise, I definitely don’t have a solution. But my opinion is even more murky than not having a solution. I also don’t know what I definitely think is the wrong move.

Some people are against bombing. Some people are fine with bombing, as long as there are no “boots on the ground”. Some people (all happen to be republicans) want to put the Iraq war back into high gear. I’m not vehemently opposed to any of these things. I know what you’re thinking; bitchy must be out of her fucking mind if she’s not opposed to going full throttle back into Iraq. That might be true, but let me tell you my thinking.

I’m going to start with Syria. I’m inclined to believe that bombing is not going to solve the problem, especially when it comes to Syria. Who are we going to bomb? Whose side are we on there? Assad’s? The rebels? If so, which ones? And how is that going to solve the famine problem that started that civil war in the first place? Assad is ultimately going to have to go. Of that, I’m certain. His starving of his people to profit on elevated wheat prices (due to drought) isn’t something that’s going to be forgiven. Nor is there any reason to believe he won’t keep doing it. But nothing else about the Syria situation is certain. In the absence of leadership, anything can happen and ISIS knows it. Because Syria is so completely fractured, there’s really no one to “support”.

Iraq is in a slightly different situation. There’s more to work with in Iraq. Even though there have been splinters, those three factions that have always existed still largely exist. The Kurds, Shia, and Sunni are still distinct groups. And yes, ISIS is a Sunni splinter group, but they’re too extreme for most of the Sunni in Iraq. They’re too extreme for most people in Iraq. The local population isn’t exactly embracing them. I believe that mistake #2, after the granddaddy of all mistakes (killing Saddam), was that we didn’t try and create a three state solution. I don’t mean a three country solution. I mean a three state solution. A country where all three states are represented in the federal government, but with certain powers reserved for the states. Just like we have here. This would give each religious group some autonomy while incentivizing them to work together against outside groups. We fucked up by not ensuring that every faction was going to have a voice in their collective governance. By not doing that, we ensured that no one in Iraq really had something to fight for. The Iraqi military isn’t a mess because they’re incompetent. They’re a mess because they don’t have an actual country to fight for.

That’s why I’m not definitely opposed to going back in and fixing it. I’m not saying that I’m definitely for going back in either, but that would make more sense to me than bombing alone. I think there’s a valid argument for making an earnest attempt to stabilize Iraq by going back in and fixing what we got wrong last time. We really gave them no chance at stability when we left last time. I’m not interested in staying in Iraq in perpetuity, but I think that we should make an attempt to get it right before either killing civilians with our bombs, or walking away and hoping for the best.

I do not believe that Iraq and Syria are an imminent threat to the US. I think it will be years before we’re facing the inevitable imminent threat. They’re going to be too busy fighting each other for control of their respective countries to come after the US. But once they sort that out, I do believe they’re going to be a problem. So we can sit back and do nothing. That’s definitely an option. I’ve said this before; any side that we support is going to be delegitimized by our support. We’ve done so much damage in that area with the Shah in Iran, the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, Killing Saddam, and countless other fuck ups. They have a legitimate reason to hate us. We’ve been interfering in their business for decades. So even if we figured out who “the good guys” are, our support would by definition make them “the bad guys”. That’s why I believe that if we’re going to do something in Iraq, it must be to take three sides. We need to make it clear that we’re going back in so that we can ensure that all three factions in Iraq share power. 

Doing nothing right now may have disastrous consequences. What if ISIS, or an even more crazy group take control of one or both countries? We’re definitely going to get involved when that happens, right? And by then, the group that takes control will be stronger. They’re all in disarray, and therefore as weak as they’ll ever be right now. I think that if we pick the do-nothing route, we need to monitor the situation very carefully to make sure that no one terrorist group gets too strong to deal with later. So do-nothing definitely leads to do-something eventually. There’s a slight possibility that the people will rise up and emerge victorious against the extremist groups. As I said, ISIS is not popular in either Iraq or Syria. But who is going to arm and fund the people? We’re kind of back to the intervention problem that sounds so unappealing after thirteen years of war.

So yeah, I’m thinking lots of things. None of which I have a strong sense of certainty around. That’s not true, I’m pretty opposed to Obama’s bombing strategy. I just don’t see how that’s going to work. And at the moment that we put one US soldier into combat, I say we put a few hundred thousand into combat. We half assed it with no plan last time. Let’s employ the Powell doctrine combined with an actual goal this time; creating a three state solution. I find that a more palatable solution than slowly moving more troops in without a real mission.

 

Or we can wait. I’m positive I’m not smart enough to have the winning solution. Sometimes, knowing that you don’t know, is the smartest thing to do.             

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No, Pulling Out Of Iraq Didn’t Create ISIS

And don’t let anyone tell you it did. This is the latest republican talking point, and every time a republican delivers it, the sentence mysteriously starts with "the Obama Clinton foreign policy". Huh. It almost seems like they were all told what to say. Unfortunately for them, we have entered a period of time when their revisions of history fall within the parameters of the existence of the internet.

I didn’t know when and where ISIS was formed. I had heard conflicting reports on whether they formed in Iraq or Syria. There’s a meme going around that claims it was formed in 2004. I decided to do something bizarre; rather than forwarding the meme and advancing the notion that ISIS formed in Iraq (because the idea of blaming Bush sounds just swell) without knowing if it was true, I researched. I know it’s a strange concept, but that’s just how I roll.

Here’s what I found; strictly speaking, ISIS was formed in about 2003 in Iraq. Why did I throw in the "about" qualifier? Because it looks like the name "Islamic State" and all of the subsequent derivations, "Islamic State of Iraq" and then "Islamic State Of Iraq And Syria" started in 2006. They were referred to as "the al-Masri brigade" before that. 2003 is the first year I can find any reference to them. That’s not to say that they weren’t definitely brewing before then. I don’t have access to high level intelligence, so I’m relying on all of the information available to the general public. When I say "all", I mean all. I spent days on researching this. 

I’m not going to go into great detail on al-Masri’s biography because I’ve read a lot of conflicting information up to, and including when he died. I’m going to share what is generally agreed upon about him. He was from Egypt, and was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that assassinated Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. He spent the 90s forming al qaeda cells in Africa.

It looks like he knew Bin Laden even before the CIA involvement in training and arming the Mujahadeen in the 80s. In 2001, he became related to Bin Laden, when his 14 year old daughter married Bin Laden’s son, Abdullah. He was actually indicted (in absentia) by a US court in 1998 for his involvement in the embassy bombings in Africa. He was directly involved in 911. So the US has been aware of him and his activities for a long time. So this guy had been in the terrorism business for a long time. He just didn’t have the unstable environment he needed to get a foothold and to spread the batshit until we destabilized Iraq and Syria destabilized itself (more on that later in the post).

I’m going to go off on a minor tangent for a minute. During the Clinton presidency, our intelligence community appeared to have a pretty good grip on who the big terrorist players were, and what they were doing. And yet, the Bush administration claims that 911 was a failure of intelligence? Remember when Condi gave this pathetic performance before congress?

 

Yeah, those PDBs (the one they’re referring to in this hearing wasn’t the first, it was the last in a series that began 5 months earlier) were "historical" and not really a warning. So while Clinton was mounting legal cases against, and indicting these guys Bush was ignoring the intelligence and torturing the wrong guy. OOPSIE.

Sorry, I had to take a moment out to demonstrate how fucking incompetent the Bush administration and their posse of neocons were. 911 truly might not have happened under a Gore administration. The Bush administration were fucking clowns and anyone who denies that is a fool.

Okay, back to al-Masri. In 2006, he was tapped to take over as leader of al qaeda in Iraq, when their leader was killed. Now AQI (as they’re known) was a particularly brutal offshoot of al qaeda. Once al-Masri took over, they appear to have been rolled into ISI (they hadn’t moved into Syria yet). You know how you keep hearing that ISIS is too batshit, even for al qaeda? That’s technically true. The more accurate way of describing the situation is that ISIS is so brutal, that they’re not "winning hearts and minds" in any region they go into. As we learned during our tenure in Iraq, not winning hearts and minds isn’t good for business so al qaeda is separating themselves for the purpose of recruitment.

So ISI had been busy working away in terrorizing Iraq since 2006. In 2011, when the Syrian civil war began, ISI saw an opportunity.

Just so that you are clear on the events, I’m going to take a minute to explain what happened in Syria. The Syrian civil war began over famine. Syria had been going through a devastating drought period that shrank the wheat crops significantly, and killed 85% of it’s livestock.Since there was a massive drought in the middle east, the cost of wheat went up precipitously. Assad being Assad saw an opportunity to cash in so he put some of the wheat on the open market. This left Syria starving, and the world community knew it. From the article;

The international community, however, failed to effectively counter this crisis. A confidential cable sent from Syria explained the dire situation, with the Syrian minister of agriculture stating publicly that the economic and social fallout from the drought was beyond their capacity as a country to deal with.

The cable explained how Syria, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, U.N. Development Programme and the World Food Programme requested roughly $20 million from donor countries and donor organizations to provide emergency food aid, restore food production and safeguard agricultural livelihoods. In a direct appeal to Washington, an FAO representative in Damascus even expressed his hope that "improving relations" between the U.S. and Syria might encourage the U.S. to become a donor to the 2009 Drought Appeal.

And the response from the US (from the article);

The U.S. government balked at the appeal, saying: "Given the generous funding the U.S. currently provides to the Iraqi refugee community in Syria and the persistent problems WFP is experiencing with its efforts to import food for the refugee population, we question whether limited USG resources should be directed toward this appeal at this time." In light of America’s lackluster leadership, the world’s response was insufficient: Donor countries only ponied up around $5 million, a quarter of the total need.

That decision would befall congress. I don’t know if the Obama administration attempted to get the money, but I can guarantee that congress wouldn’t have appropriated the funds. We’ve already spent more in Syria than what they were asking for. 

Do you hear that isolationists, libertarians, and Randroids? The Paul family have no pearls of wisdom for you so stop listening to them because they’re idiots who don’t think anything through. Doing nothing is an action that can be as devastating as doing the wrong thing. 

I explain this so that you understand two things;

  • The Syrian civil war is the first of the wars over climate change. Have you ever heard someone say that the next world war is going to be over water? Well, it’s true.
  • The problem that started this whole thing will have to be addressed in order to really clean up the mess in Syria. As long as the Syrian people are starving, there will be no stabilization to be had.    

So when the civil war started in Syria, it created a power vacuum and ISI became ISIS. And that’s how we got here. You now have all the information to combat the bullshit.

And here are some more materials for you to read. I’d never been to this site before, but here’s a fantastic (it even held up to hindsight) analysis of (then) ISI. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely adding The Long War Journal to my list of go-to places. Here’s a great timeline of ISIS from Stanford. Here’s a 2003 report from The Guardian.

I saved the best for last. Here is a 2007 story about ISI from Fox fucking News. That one is for the willfully ignorant, blindly faithful dumb dumb that you all know. They won’t hear anything else you say, but you can end the conversation by throwing that gem at them.

And here’s one that I’ve posted several times and will no doubt, post several more. Here’s Dick Cheney in 1994, telling you what would happen if we took out Saddam. Here’s a hint; it’s exactly what happened when we took out Saddam.       

         

That one is also a good one to shut up the stupid sycophant in your life. Enjoy!

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Again With The Training Of The Iraqi Military?

Yep. We’re going to try this again. President Obama just announced that he’s going to deploy 300 special forces to Iraq. Not to fight, but to train Iraqi troops again.

Here’s the deal; I’m relieved that he’s not talking air strikes or boots on the ground and I sincerely hope he sticks to this position but I don’t see what the point of training the Iraqi military is. The problem isn’t that Iraqi troops are untrainably stupid or cowardly. There’s a reason why they’re not "trained" and more training isn’t the answer. The problem is that a Sunni troop isn’t going to take up arms against a Sunni group. The same is true of the Shia and the Kurdish Muslims. They’re not going to take up arms against their own, no matter how batshit extremist a package "their own" comes in.

The "Iraqi military" is a fiction because Iraq is a fiction. This is a country that literally isn’t a country. These are not a united people with a common vision of governance. Britain arbitrarily drew a border around three vastly different groups of people and said, "Poof! You’re a country". The only way "poof" works, is with a brutal dictator who can effectively keep their boot on the whole country’s throat which is what Saddam did.

Without Saddam, there’s nothing cobbling this not-a-country together. There’s no country for a military to fight for. Iraq needs to have a civil war now, and all we can do is sit back and hope that the group that takes power doesn’t destabilize all of Iraq’s neighbors. The best outcome that we can hope for, is that the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds draw borders they can all live with and split up into three different countries. And they need to get there on their own because anything we do to help will delegitimize the outcome. We’ve seen how this movie turned out when we installed the Shah in Iran.

There’s nothing remotely resembling a guarantee that they will split up the country. In my opinion, it’s actually more likely that batshit radical groups stake out their territories and create mini dictatorships (warlords)  a la Afghanistan. But we can’t do anything. There’s no victory here for the western world (notice that I didn’t limit the situation to the US).

The west was fucked the minute we killed Saddam, and lots of people told you this was going to happen in 2002. Every single expert on the middle east opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The reasons they gave weren’t, "War is bad….oh look, there’s some yummy granola". That wasn’t what they said. They plainly stated that eliminating Saddam would destabilize the region and lead to a civil war between the three flavors of Muslims that make up a made up country. Don’t believe me? Go look for yourself. Limit your searching to a period from September 12, 2001 to March of 2003 (when we went in) so that you don’t get the taint of revisionist history. Do your own research. I’m not going to provide you with links, lest I be accused of selectively dishing up materials that prove my point. But I will give you this little nugget from a peacenick who was right about what would happen until he was wrong;

 

 

The ones that warned us not to do what Bush did were right. And none of them had or have a quick fix now that the damage has been done. I don’t know what the answer is because people who are smarter than me haven’t told me, and I’m not going to come up with a rectally generated solution, just so that I can stake out an opinion. To state it plainly; we’re fucked and there’s nothing we can do that isn’t going to fuck ourselves worse unless we plan on having troops in Iraq until the end of time. And if you think you have a solution, I first want to hear you explain the current situation accurately. Because if you don’t have a grasp on what’s happening right now and how we got here, I’m not going to put much faith in your ill informed hypothesis. I’m pretty well informed, and I don’t have a hypothesis.           

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SOFA: No, Not The Kind You Sit On, But The Kind You Leave Iraq With

So it’s Sunday morning and all hell has broken loose in Iraq so I’m positive that everyone who got everything wrong in regard to the invasion of Iraq will be on television to share more of their pearls of wisdom with the American people. I’m also positive that the chaos will be President Obama’s fault and that somehow the Sunday morning talk shows will be full of republicans discussing Iraq while managing to never utter the word "Bush". Yes, it will be an amazing thing to behold. So amazing that I don’t plan on watching. It’s going to be too predictable and infuriating.

I just wanted to write a quick post to clear up a couple of things that I’m positive will be fabricated for you by Fox, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bill Kristol, Wolfowitz, and everyone else who is directly responsible for this shit storm. Everyone but Bush. He’s going to remain in his undisclosed location, quietly fucking up his brother’s aspirations to run for president.

I imagine that an accusation about Obama "getting out too soon" will be made. Because we all know that a decade and two trillion dollars just isn’t enough to get the job done. If we stayed in Iraq for 1,000 more years, what is happening now would be happening 1,002 years from now. The smart people who were right about what would happen if we invaded Iraq are telling me so, and I believe them because that’s how credibility works. When you’re been correct in the past, you’ve earned some. When you’ve been tragically misguided and never acknowledge that you’re wrong, you get none

Let’s be very clear about the circumstances of our departure. The timing had exactly nothing to do with President Obama. Bush had signed a "Status of forces agreement" (SOFA) in December of 2008, right before he slinked out of the white house in shame, and with record low approval ratings. That agreement mandated that US troops leave Iraq by January 1, 2012 unless the Iraqi government negotiated a new agreement to extend that deadline. Obama did his damndest to prolong that ill-conceived nightmare of a war but mercifully, he didn’t succeed.

So on October, 2011 when Obama announced that the US would be leaving Iraq by January 1, 2012, he wasn’t actually announcing an accomplishment he had made. He was simply letting us know that the US was going to abide by the agreement that Bush had made.

Why do I tell you this? Because the drumbeat of revisionism is about to start again, and it’s going to come from the same people that created this nightmare in the first place. People who genuinely need to revise history because they simply can’t see how very wrong they were. The invasion of Iraq should never have happened, and the minute we killed Saddam, the civil war that is now starting became an inevitability. We literally could not have stayed long enough to ever prevent what is happening now from happening. It was always going to happen sometime after we left. Say what you will about Saddam, but he managed the unmanageable task of ruling three different groups of people that should never have been forced into one country. Joe Biden was right about splitting Iraq into three different countries, and that’s going to become obvious to the world in a few years. But he’s never going to get credit for getting it right because that’s not how the right wing rolls. When they fuck things up and make the world a harder place for people to live in, they just revise history a la the mythology of Saint Ronnie.

Fortunately, we have the internet now to record the actual events of the time. And since we know the internet is forever, I just want to make sure that my little corner was preserved for posterity with the facts.        

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Syria, I’m Just Not That Into You

It’s funny, if you watch the main stream media, you would think that there was a big debate going on over whether to intervene in Syria or not. There isn’t. Over 90% of Americans are against it. Let me tell you why I’m against it.

First off, Obama clearly stated that we’re not after regime change, so changing the balance of power is not our goal. What is our goal? Is it to stop Assad from killing Syrians? Let’s assume that’s the reason, even though no one has made that clear. I have to wonder, who are the “good” guys in Syria? Do we know that the rebels are any better than Assad? Why would we intervene without making that determination? Do we really need to go in without all of the information again? Remember, we didn’t know shit about the relationship between the Sunni and the Shia before going into Iraq. Do we really need to make that fucking mistake again?

Secondly, 30 years ago, we thought that training the mujahideen was a good idea. A strong argument can be made that doing that directly led to 911. Obviously, it wasn’t just that, but it was that and installing the Shah in Iran, and our continued interference between Iran and Iraq, plus our blind support of Israel. We need to stop leading the efforts to control the middle east. We clearly don’t understand it well enough to be an authority on what the “right” thing to do is.

Let’s assume something we categorically don’t know for a minute; that the rebels are the “good” guys. We’re stuck in this endless loop where we have the world’s biggest military, so we’re the ones best positioned to intervene in other countries’ “atrocities” (real or manufactured). This leads to having to spend even more money on the military. This reminds me of the cocaine commercials from the 80s; “I do more coke so that I can work more, so that I can earn more money to buy more coke”. It’s endless. The only winners here, seem to be the military industrial complex. They win whether we do the “right” thing or the disastrously wrong thing.

And lastly, no one has explained why intervening in Syria is good for America. What are our interests here? I’m sorry for the Syrians who are suffering, and I hope that they get a good outcome for themselves, but I’m not interested in selectively playing the role of “moral authority” in the world. Bad regimes have eventually fallen at the hands of the oppressed people throughout time. When Syria is ready for regime change, they will change it.

Our history of selective intervention is so tainted, that we aren’t even seen as a moral authority anymore. Everything we do is questionable now, and anything we achieve in another country will always be seen as “illegitimate” in the eyes of the people in those countries. Even if we manage to help the “good” guys, they will never be seen as the good guys. They will forever be seen as another symbol of western intervention.

There is no benefit to be had here, for anyone. I honestly can’t come up with a single reason to get involved in this conflict. I am by no means a strict isolationist, but just like Iraq, I can’t see what “winning” looks like. At least in Iraq, the interests of Exxon and all of the other oil companies was clear. There is no clarity of purpose here, not even a perverse purpose.

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Moral Clarity

In my experience, people that have moral clarity when it comes to politics or world affairs are ignorant, insufferable simpletons. I offer that observation in order to explain why I have not yet sorted out my thoughts in the Bin Laden situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think the world is a better place with one less lunatic extremist. But pragmatically speaking, his death is more of a emotional victory for America than anything else. It makes Americans that crave revenge feel good. It gives friends and family members of 9/11 victims closure. I’m not minimizing the value of these things, since they’re obviously important to Americans.

Personally, I wish we’d gotten him alive. I want to know what he knew.

His death doesn’t change anything in the world. It doesn’t topple the giant, superfucking scary terrorist network known as Al Qaeda because al qaeda was never what it was made out to be. I never bought into the narrative that al qaeda was this huge organization with tentacles all around the world. Not because I didn’t want to, but because common sense told me otherwise. When we learned that 100% of the 9/11 hijackers were from the same country, we should have all recognized that this was a small operation. If they were far reaching and organized, those hijackers would have been from all over the world. Shit, Cirque Du Soleil has longer tentacles than al qaeda!

The foiled terrorism attempt in the UK in 2006 confirmed my belief that al qaeda was a small operation since again, all involved were (or descendants of) from one single country; Pakistan. Again, this would have been more of a multicultural plot if al qaeda were as big as we’re supposed to believe they are.

In addition to confirming how small al qaeda really was, the UK plot told me something else; Bin Laden moved to Pakistan. When you’re a lunatic with a small number of followers, you recruit and radicalize in your own backyard because you don’t have the means to reach people that are physically very far from you. It was reported for years, that Bin Laden was in Waziristan, on the Pakistan/Afghan border. That sounded credible to me, based on the fact that the UK plotters all had ties to Pakistan. He definitely wasn’t going to hang out in Afghanistan after we went in, no matter how incompetent the Bush administration was.

So in 2007, when candidate Obama declared that he wouldn’t hesitate to go into Pakistan if he felt it was necessary, I was the only liberal on the planet that wasn’t outraged. OF COURSE we had to go into Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s dictator at the time, wasn’t doing a fucking thing to help us get Bin Laden. I wasn’t thrilled when Obama ultimately took the drone route into Pakistan. Nothing turns people against you more effectively than if you kill one of their family members, who was just out on a slurpee run to 7-eleven, with an unarmed drone. I would have preferred he taken a more “intelligence” and policing route, you know, the way we catch serial killers and pedophiles. But this isn’t the first time this president has done something I wanted him to do in a way that I completely disagree with. I’m fairly certain it won’t be the last.

Both parties built up al qaedamania so that they could dole billions of dollars in government contracts out to their donors, in a vomitous display of exploitation. Bush was the worst of the worst, since he used this fear to do everything from invading Iraq, to stripping us of our rights to privacy, to taking away the fundamental right to habeas corpus, to a whole host of other bullshit that you’re all familiar with by now.

The one thing about Bin Laden’s death that I do have clarity about is that the GOP won’t give Obama an ounce of credit for effectively executing it. They lorded his death over our heads for eight long years in an effort to scare us into voting for them. And now that it’s finally happened, they are utterly classless. They’ve spent all morning crediting the troops that they fuck over every chance they get and the intelligence community they spent 8 years marginalizing for Bin Laden’s assassination, with no mention of Obama at all. Their minions in the right wing press are coming up with batshit crazy ways to demonstrate that Obama doesn’t deserve credit. Assertions that Bush’s wars have toughened him up, since he obviously wouldn’t have had the stomach for this type of assassination two years ago. Fantasies about how “harsh interrogation techniques helped nail Bin Laden”. Please spare me this assault on logic and reason.

Your party couldn’t get the job done. In fact, I can’t remember the last time your party got anything done for Americans. So if you show some class, then just shut the fuck up. Really, I’m sick of your bullshit.

Readers of this blog know that I hate democrats. But at least once every decade, they throw me a crumb like giving me COBRA, or repealing hateful practices like “don’t ask don’t tell”. This republican party on the other hand, does nothing but debase my country, pick my pocket to enrich their self entitled asshat donors, and crap on days like this when most Americans are proud.

Fuck you, and your “moral clarity”.


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