Thursday, April 19, 2018
Bill O'Reilly - Cohen raid and where this all leaves President Trump
In this extensive interview, Bill questions Joe diGenova, former U.S. Attorney for D.C., on various members of the FBI and their role in the coup d'etat. Plus, O'Reilly gets to the bottom as to why Sessions didn't release the portion of the IG report on Comey. There is a large amount of information coming out at this time, head to BOR.com to get the answers you need
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 4/19/2018 04:04:00 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
The Perversion of America
The question from Sen. Cory Booker was blunt: “Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion? Yes or no?” Sitting in the witness chair at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was CIA Director Mike Pompeo, nominated by President Trump to be Secretary of State. The former Kansas congressman began to answer, but Booker interrupted: “Yes or no, sir. Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion that is what you said here in one of your speeches? Yes or no, do you believe gay sex is a perversion?”
Watching this televised interrogation last week, I halfway hoped Pompeo would make the obvious joke: If they’re not having perverted sex, what’s the point of being gay?
Words mean things, and “pervert” originated in 14th-century France, as a verb meaning “to turn away” from correct religious belief, or as a noun synonymous with “apostate.” In the 1890s, the English psychologist Havelock Ellis used “perversion” to describe homosexual behavior in his Studies in the Psychology of Sex, thus borrowing the language of medieval Catholicism for the allegedly “scientific” study of sexual behavior.
Of course, neither Ellis nor anyone else who has made a career of studying sex should be presumed to be neutral and objective about the subject. Like many later such “experts” (including Wilhelm Reich and Alfred Kinsey), Ellis was decidedly weird in his sexual behavior, and his “objective” writing about homosexuality must be viewed with suspicion in light of his own abnormality. Nevertheless, it is to Ellis that we are most indebted for shifting the context of Western society’s understanding of homosexual behavior from the traditional category of religious morality (sin) to medical science (perversion).
This shift from Bible-based language to scientific terminology as the common basis for describing sexual behavior was advanced in the 20th century by Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalytic disciples. Those who had formerly been deemed sinners in need of prayer were reclassified as patients in need of therapy, and psychiatric “experts” replaced clergy as the guiding authorities in such matters. What had formerly been a crime called sodomy (a term derived from Genesis 19) subject to legal punishment, became instead the symptom of a disease called homosexuality, subject to psychiatric “treatment.” Instead of being sentenced to jail for an illegal act, or seeking advice from a pastor, priest, or rabbi on how to escape sinful temptation, the person diagnosed with homosexual tendencies was sent to the therapist’s office or, in some cases, committed to a mental institution. Words mean things, and this change of terminology about sexual behavior was significant of a major cultural shift in 20th-century America.
Mike Pompeo didn’t have a chance to explore the etymology of the word “perversion” in his Senate testimony last Thursday. Cory Booker wasn’t seeking a historical overview of our society’s understanding of sexuality, but rather was asking about remarks Pompeo made during a June 2015 “God and Country” rally at Summit Church in Wichita, Kansas. Pompeo quoted the words of Summit Church’s senior pastor Joe Wright: “We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” In fact, those words are from a very famous prayer Pastor Wright gave in 1996 at the Kansas state legislature, which provoked nationwide attention as the evangelical minister asked God’s forgiveness for a number of sins. That 277-word prayer has been reprinted many times and circulated widely over the Internet and, while it may seem shocking to Democrats and their media allies, the words Pompeo quoted from Pastor Wright reflect the Bible-based beliefs of the vast majority of Christians in America today.
“Yes or no,” Cory Booker demanded, “do you believe gay sex is a perversion?”
Of course it is, if words have any meaning, but Mike Pompeo was there to be confirmed as Secretary of State, not to give a lecture about etymology, theology, or moral philosophy. A student of rhetoric might observe that Booker was not asking Pompeo whether homosexuality can be defined as a perversion; anyone could consult a dictionary for that. Rather, the New Jersey Democrat was interested in the negative connotation of the word “perversion.” In large measure due to the influence of Havelock Ellis, “pervert” became a vulgar insult in the 20th century. To be a pervert was to be sick — mentally defective — and as psychology replaced Christianity as the prevailing standard of social and legal judgment, “pervert” carried a stigma, a connotation of disapproval. For the sake of rhetorical accuracy, therefore, Sen. Booker’s repeated questions in Thursday’s hearing might be rephrased: “Do you disapprove of homosexual behavior?”
Here we arrive at the real truth of the matter. Pastor Wright might provide a scriptural exegesis, invoking various Bible passages (e.g.,Genesis 1:27-28, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:24-28) to justify the Christian faith’s disapproval of homosexuality. Americans are guaranteed both freedom of religion and freedom of speech by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and so no Christian can be compelled to approve of homosexuality, nor can any American be forbidden to express their opinion on the subject. It might have behooved Pompeo to turn the question around on Sen. Booker: “Does the Democratic Party believe in the First Amendment or not? Yes or no, Senator?”
Do we have a right to our own opinions, or is it now “hate speech” for anyone to say they disapprove of homosexuality? This concerned the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the series of decisions — Lawrence v. Texas (2003), United States v. Windsor (2013), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) — in which the Supreme Court first struck down the right of states to outlaw sodomy, then voided the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and finally mandated that same-sex marriage must be recognized in all 50 states. Anyone can read Scalia’s dissent in the Lawrence case, where he prophesied the “far-reaching implications” of the 5-4 majority ruling as ominous of “a massive disruption of the current social order.” Four times in that dissent, Scalia quoted the majority’s claim that an “emerging awareness” of sexual freedom justified overturning the Court’s 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision, which had upheld Georgia’s sodomy law. The majority opinion in Bowers was written by Justice Byron White, who had been appointed to the Court by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, indicating that not long ago — within the lifetime of many readers — there were actually Democrats who disapproved of homosexuality.
Times change, and we are now governed by what I’ve called the Emerging Awareness Doctrine. Once an “awareness” of sexual liberation begins to “emerge” as a principle of law, who knows where it might lead? If the Supreme Court could locate a federal “right” to same-sex marriage somewhere in the Fourteenth Amendment, what other unexpected mischief might be found there? Some people have interpreted the Obergefell ruling to mean that citizens can be compelled to provide wedding cakes for same-sex marriage ceremonies, and why stop there? Perhaps next we’ll all be required to attend the nearest Gay Pride parade, under penalty of laws forbidding “discrimination” against the LGBTQ community.
Sarcastic humor about homosexuality is not yet illegal, of course, although it would be unwise to make any such jokes on a university campus in America, where the activist mobs are intolerant of anyone who refuses to participate in the compulsory celebration of “diversity” and “inclusion.” At Harvard University, for example, an evangelical Christian student group was recently “suspended” and “defunded” — to all intents and purposes, banned from campus — because it asked one of its leaders to step down after she became involved in a lesbian relationship. Christianity is now practically prohibited at Harvard, a school founded by Puritans for the training of Christian clergy, one of those 21st-century ironies we’re supposed to ignore, the same way we are expected to ignore how much Sen. Booker’s interrogation of Pompeo resembles the anti-Communist crusade of Joe McCarthy: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a homophobe?”
Words mean things, and the accusation of “homophobia” — which is what Sen. Booker was driving at in his questions about “perversion” — requires us to believe that Mike Pompeo’s disapproval of homosexuality is rooted in an irrational fear. Thus the scientific pretensions of Havelock Ellis have been reversed. Whereas once Ellis claimed “expert” knowledge of the causes of perversion as a mental disease, nowadays it is normal people who are subject to diagnosis as being afflicted with a “phobia” if they express disapproval toward homosexuality.
Pompeo was quick to disavow engaging in any illegal discrimination in such matters, but Booker felt a need to publicly shame him for what he’d said in a 2015 speech at a Kansas church event. If Christianity is unacceptable at Harvard, it certainly can’t be tolerated at the State Department. And if it is no longer permissible for any government official to say what Pompeo said, how much longer will preachers be allowed to say what Pastor Wright said?
America has become perverted, in the original 14th-century sense of the word, having turned away from the doctrines on which the nation was founded. We have worshipped other gods — “diversity” and “inclusion” chief among them — and the Supreme Court itself has “endorsed… an alternative lifestyle.” As Justice Scalia warned 15 years ago, there are “far-reaching implications” of our nation’s turning away from its founding principles and it remains to be seen how long America will survive the resulting “massive disruption” of its social order.
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 4/17/2018 10:20:00 PM
JUDICIAL WATCH BACKGROUND:
The Truth about Benghazi
MAY 29, 2015
Judicial Watch Unravels Benghazi Scandal with New Documents
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Judicial Watch has blown open the Benghazi scandal yet again. We forced the release of new smoking-gun documents that show that the Obama administration knew almost from the outset that the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, was coordinated and pre-planned. The news about these documents was broken by Catherine Herridge of Fox News.
Your JW obtained more than 100 pages of previously classified “Secret” documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State revealing that DOD almost immediately reported that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was committed by the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked “Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman” (BCOAR), and had been planned at least 10 days in advance. Rahman is known as the Blind Sheikh, and is serving life in prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other terrorist acts.
These just-released documents were not given voluntarily, but forced out of the secretive Obama administration thanks to a court order that followed a May 15, 2014, Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against both DOD and State asking for communications between the two agencies and congressional leaders “on matters related to the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi.” The documents provide us with the first official confirmation that the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria. The documents also include an August 2012 analysis warning of the rise of ISIS and the predicted failure of the Obama policy of regime change in Syria. (Interestingly, it is not clear if the information was ever shared with Congress, even though the documents were responsive to a request about communications with Congress.)
U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith were both killed in the Benghazi terrorist attack on September 11, 2012. Several hours after the initial assault, a second terrorist attack took place targeting a different compound located just one mile away. Two CIA contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were killed in this second attack and 10 others were injured.
Let’s see how Obama and Clinton operatives (such as George Stephanopoulos) explain away a Defense Department document from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), dated September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, which details that the attack on the compound had been carefully planned by the BOCAR terrorist group “to kill as many Americans as possible.” This document was sent to Clinton, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Obama White House National Security Council. The heavily redacted DOD “information report” says that the attack on the Benghazi facility “was planned and executed by The Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman (BCOAR).” The group subscribes to “AQ [al Qaeda] ideologies:”
The attack was planned ten or more days prior on approximately 01 September 2012. The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye ((ALALIBY)) in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings.
“A violent radical,” the DIA report says, and “the leader of BCOAR is Abdul Baset ((AZUZ)), AZUZ was sent by ((ZAWARI)) to set up Al Qaeda (AQ) bases in Libya.” The group’s headquarters was set up with the approval of a “member of the Muslim brother hood movement…where they have large caches of weapons. Some of these caches are disguised by feeding troughs for livestock. They have SA-7 and SA-23/4 MANPADS…they train almost every day focusing on religious lessons and scriptures including three lessons a day of jihadist ideology.”
The Defense Department reported that the group maintained written documents in “a small rectangular room, approximately 12 meters by 6 meters…that contain information on all of the AQ activity in Libya.”
It should be noted that Azuz is again blamed for the Benghazi attack in an October 2012 DIA document.
The DOD documents provide confirmation that the Obama administration knew weapons were being shipped from the Port of Benghazi to rebel troops in Syria. This had been the source of much speculation, as many have asked, including Judicial Watch, just exactly what we were up to in Benghazi that would require a rushed facility that was unsecured (the Benghazi Special Mission Compound). Some darn big clues are in the October 2012 DIA report:
Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.
During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the ((Qaddafi)) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.
The DIA document further details:
The weapons shipped from Syria during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles. The numbers for each weapon were estimated to be: 500 Sniper rifles, 100 RPG launchers with 300 total rounds, and approximately 400 howitzers missiles [200 ea – 125mm and 200ea – 155 mm.]
The heavily redacted document does not disclose who was shipping the weapons. The level of detail presented suggests that the Obama administration, in the least, was in a position to stop any transfers.
Why is the weapons transfer issue important? Because the Libya fiasco was allowing weapons to move into a jihadist madhouse in the Syria-Iraq region.
Another DIA report, written in August 2012 (the same time period the U.S. was monitoring weapons flows from Libya to Syria), said that the opposition in Syria was driven by al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim groups: “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The growing sectarian direction of the war was predicted to have dire consequences for Iraq, which included the “grave danger” of the rise of ISIS:
The deterioration of the situation has dire consequences on the Iraqi situation and are as follows:
This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. ISIS could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.
Some of the “dire consequences” are blacked-out, but the DIA presciently warned one such consequence would be the “renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi Arena.”
It turns out the DIA warnings were right on the nose. In a recent crushing victory, ISIS terrorists took over Ramadi. The Iraqi military cut and ran. And now the murderous Islamic radicals, with volunteers courtesy of Obama’s Libya creation, have embarrassed America and taken many American military assets that we gave to the Iraqi military!
From a separate lawsuit, the State Department produced a document created by Hillary Clinton’s offices and the Operations Center in the Office of the Executive Secretariat the morning after the Benghazi attack, which was sent widely through the agency, including to Joseph McManus (then-Hillary Clinton’s executive assistant). At 6:00 am, a few hours after the attack, the top office of the State Department sent a “spot report” on the “Attack on U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” that makes no mention of videos or demonstrations:
Four COM personnel were killed and three were wounded in an attack by dozens of fighters on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi beginning approximately 1550 Eastern Time….
The State Department has yet to turn over any documents to Judicial Watch from the secret email accounts of Hillary Clinton and other top State Department officials. However, the State Department released some of these secret emails recently – again thanks in no small measure to our oversight pressure. For corrupt politicians, the long Memorial Day weekend is the best time to release damaging information in the hopes most miss it during the holiday.
These documents show that the Benghazi cover-up has been in motion for years and is only unraveling through our independent lawsuits. The Benghazi scandal just got a whole lot worse for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
These documents are jaw-dropping. No wonder we had to file more FOIA lawsuits and wait over two years for them. If the American people had known the truth – that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other top administration officials knew that the Benghazi attack was an al-Qaeda terrorist attack from the get-go – and yet lied and covered this fact up – Mitt Romney might very well be president. And why would the Obama administration continue to support the Muslim Brotherhood even after it knew it was tied to the Benghazi terrorist attack and to al Qaeda? These documents also show connections between the collapse in Libya and the ISIS war – and confirm that the U.S. knew remarkable details about the transfer of arms from Benghazi to Syrian jihadists.
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 4/17/2018 05:01:00 AM
Monday, April 16, 2018
Most notably, Congress has power to “make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.” Nothing in the Constitution requires these “Rules” to be consistent with the President’s desires:
The president is not our ‘commander-in-chief’
Politicians should stop referring to the President of the United States as “the commander-in-chief,” as he is often referred to. Most recently Hillary Clinton, who I admire, said the following about Republican senators who wrote an open letter to Iran:
“Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the commander-in-chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy.”But the president is not the commander-in-chief for purposes of diplomatic negotiations. This characterization mistakenly implies that President Obama—or any president—is our commander, and that his decisions should receive special deference. This is a misreading of our constitution, which creates a presidency that is subject to the checks and balances of co-equal branches of the government. The president is only the commander-in-chief of “the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.” This provision was intended to assure civilian control over the military and to serve as a check on military power.
The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia—not ordinary citizens.
This important limitation on the president’s power is highly relevant to the current debate about Congress having the authority to check the president’s decision to make the deal, currently being negotiated with Iran. The Constitution is clear about this. The president is not the commander-in-chief of our nation’s foreign policy. When he is involved in “high-stakes international diplomacy,” his involvement is not as commander-in-chief of our armed forces, but rather as negotiator-in-chief, whose negotiations are subject to the checks and balances of the other branches.
As president, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress without Congress changing the law. Were he the “commander-in-chief” of our country—as Putin is of Russia or as Ali Khamenei is of Iran—he could simply command that all of these things be done. But our Constitution separates the powers of government—the power to command—into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.
To be sure when politicians call our president the “commander-in-chief,” they are using that term rhetorically. But it is dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power. Military metaphors are as inappropriate in a democracy as is martial law, which does empower the executive to act as the commander of all people, but only in cases of extreme emergency.
So let’s describe the president by his actual constitutional role: the head of the executive branch of our tripod government that stands on three equal legs. As the head of the executive branch, he gets to negotiate treaties, agreements and other bilateral and multilateral deals. But Congress has a say in whether to approve what the president has negotiated.
Turning to the deal with Iran over nuclear weapons, there are sharp disagreements between the executive branch and the legislative branch over the merits of what appears to be the deal now on the table. No agreement has yet been reached, but assume, for argument’s sake, that the president negotiates a deal with which a majority of Congress fundamentally disagrees. Who gets the final word? That depends on several factors.
First, of course, is whether the deal negotiated by the president constitutes a “treaty,” within the meaning of the constitution. If it does, then it requires the formal ratification of the Senate. The Obama administration has taken the position that this is merely an executive agreement and not a treaty. That of course is a knife that cuts both ways, because treaties are binding until formally revoked, whereas executive agreements can be undone by future presidents. The law is anything but clear as to what makes a bilateral or multilateral agreement a treaty, but this one has elements that are treaty-like in its content. So even if it does not formally meet the definition of a treaty, this agreement should require some form of approval by the legislative branch, particularly if it is to remain an enduring part of American foreign policy.
Another factor that impacts the role of Congress is whether the agreement requires Congress to remove existing sanctions that were put in place by congressional action. If it does, then the approval of Congress in the removal of such sanctions will be required. The president does have some sanctioning power and he can remove sanctions that he or past presidents have imposed. This deal would seem therefore to require congressional approval, since it includes the removal of congressional sanctions.
These important issues will be debated over the next weeks and months, but what should not be debated is the role of the president in a democracy based on the separation of powers. So let’s stop calling the head of our executive branch the “commander-in-chief,” and let’s stop creating the false impression that the president alone can make an enforceable and enduring deal with Iran regarding its nuclear weapons program.
Dershowitz is a lawyer, constitutional scholar, commentator and author, whose latest book is an e-book titled Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel’s Just War Against Hamas (Rosettabooks 2014).
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 4/16/2018 08:01:00 AM
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Thursday, April 12, 2018
“The statesman who yields to war fever,” Churchill wrote, “must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”
A Military Report Card - Andrew J. Bacevich
There are many possible explanations for why our recent military record has been so dismal. One crucial explanation -- perhaps the most important of all -- relates to those seven principles that undergird our military system.
Let me review them in reverse order.
Principle 7, the military profession: Tally up the number of three- and four-star generals who have commanded the Afghan War since 2001. It’s roughly a dozen. None of them has succeeded in bringing it to a successful conclusion. Nor does any such happy ending seem likely to be in the offing anytime soon. The senior officers we expect to master war have demonstrated no such mastery.
The generals who followed one another in presiding over that war are undoubtedly estimable, well-intentioned men, but they have not accomplished the job for which they were hired. Imagine if you contracted with a dozen different plumbers -- each highly regarded -- to fix a leaking sink in your kitchen and you ended up with a flooded basement. You might begin to think that there’s something amiss in the way that plumbers are trained and licensed. Similarly, perhaps it’s time to reexamine our approach to identifying and developing very senior military officers.
Or alternatively, consider this possibility: Perhaps our theory of war as an enterprise where superior generalship determines the outcome is flawed. Perhaps war cannot be fully mastered, by generals or anyone else.
It might just be that war is inherently unmanageable. Take it from Winston Churchill, America’s favorite confronter of evil. “The statesman who yields to war fever,” Churchill wrote, “must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”
If Churchill is right, perhaps our expectations that senior military professionals will tame war -- control the uncontrollable -- are misplaced. Perhaps our military system should put greater emphasis on avoiding war altogether or at least classifying it as an option to be exercised with great trepidation, rather than as the political equivalent of a handy-dandy, multi-functional Swiss Army knife.
Principle 6, organizing our forces to emphasize global power projection: Reflect for a moment on the emerging security issues of our time. The rise of China is one example. A petulant and over-armed Russia offers a second. Throw in climate change and mushrooming cyber-threats and you have a daunting set of problems. It’s by no means impertinent to wonder about the relevance of the current military establishment to these challenges.
Every year the United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars to maintain and enhance the lethality of a force configured for conventional power projection and to sustain the global network of bases that goes with it. For almost two decades, that force has been engaged in a futile war of attrition with radical Islamists that has now spread across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa.
I don’t know about you, but I worry more about the implications of China’s rise and Russian misbehavior than I do about Islamic terrorism. And I worry more about changing weather patterns here in New England or somebody shutting down the electrical grid in my home town than I do about what Beijing and Moscow may be cooking up. Bluntly put, our existing military system finds us focused on the wrong problem set.
We need a military system that accurately prioritizes actual and emerging threats. The existing system does not. This suggests the need for radically reconfigured armed services, with the hallowed traditions of George Patton, John Paul Jones, Billy Mitchell, and Chesty Puller honorably but permanently retired.
Principle 5, paying -- or not paying -- for America’s wars: If you want it, you should be willing to pay for it. That hoary axiom ought to guide our military system as much as it should our personal lives. Saddling Millennials or members of Generation Z with the cost of paying for wars mostly conceived and mismanaged by my fellow Baby Boomers strikes me as downright unseemly.
One might expect the young to raise quite a ruckus over such an obvious injustice. In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed their righteous anger over the absence of effective gun controls in this country. That they aren’t comparably incensed about the misuse of guns by their own contemporaries deployed to distant lands represents a real puzzle, especially since they’re the ones who will ultimately be stuck with the bill.
Principles 4 and 3, the role of Congress and the authority of the commander-in-chief: Whatever rationale may once have existed for allowing the commander-in-chief to circumvent the Constitution’s plainly specified allocation of war powers to Congress should long since have lapsed. Well before Donald Trump became president, a responsible Congress would have reasserted its authority to declare war. That Trump sits in the Oval Office and now takes advice from the likes of John Bolton invests this matter with great urgency.
Surely President Trump’s bellicose volatility drives home the point that it’s past time for Congress to assert itself in providing responsible oversight regarding all aspects of U.S. military policy. Were it to do so, the chances of fixing the defects permeating our present military system would improve appreciably.
Of course, the likelihood of that happening is nil until the money changers are expelled from the temple. And that won’t occur until Americans who are not beholden to the military-industrial complex and its various subsidiaries rise up, purge the Congress of its own set of complexes, and install in office people willing to do their duty. And that brings us back to…
Principles 2 and 1, the existing relationship between the American people and their military and our reliance on a so-called all-volunteer force: Here we come to the heart of the matter.
I submit that the relationship between the American people and their military is shot through with hypocrisy. It is, in fact, nothing short of fraudulent. Worse still, most of us know it, even if we are loath to fess up. In practice, the informal mandate to “support the troops” has produced an elaborate charade. It’s theater, as phony as Donald Trump’s professed love for DACA recipients.
If Americans were genuinely committed to supporting the troops, they would pay a great deal more attention to what President Trump and his twenty-first-century predecessors have tasked those troops to accomplish -- with what results and at what cost. Of course, that would imply doing more than cheering and waving the flag on cue. Ultimately, the existence of the all-volunteer force obviates any need for such an effort. It provides Americans with an ample excuse for ignoring our endless wars and allowing our flawed military system to escape serious scrutiny.
Having outsourced responsibility for defending the country to people few of us actually know, we’ve ended up with a military system that is unfair, undemocratic, hugely expensive, and largely ineffective, not to mention increasingly irrelevant to the threats coming our way. The perpetuation of that system finds us mired in precisely the sort of long, costly, inconclusive wars that sap the collective strength of a nation and may bring about its premature decline.
The root cause of our predicament is the all-volunteer force. Only when we ordinary citizens conclude that we have an obligation to contribute to the country’s defense will it become possible to devise a set of principles for raising, organizing, supporting, and employing U.S. forces that align with our professed values and our actual security requirements.
If Stormy Daniels can figure out when an existing contract has outlived its purpose, so can the rest of us.
In between his contributions to TomDispatch, Andrew J. Bacevich is trying to write a book about how we got Trump. He is the author, most recently, of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 4/12/2018 03:03:00 AM
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Hillary Clinton and the Syrian Bloodbath
02/14/2016 08:41 am ET Updated Feb 14, 2017
In the Milwaukee debate, Hillary Clinton took pride in her role in a recent UN Security Council resolution on a Syrian ceasefire:
But I would add this. You know, the Security Council finally got around to adopting a resolution. At the core of that resolution is an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva, which set forth a cease-fire and moving toward a political resolution, trying to bring the parties at stake in Syria together.
This is the kind of compulsive misrepresentation that makes Clinton unfit to be President. Clinton’s role in Syria has been to help instigate and prolong the Syrian bloodbath, not to bring it to a close.
In 2012, Clinton was the obstacle, not the solution, to a ceasefire being negotiated by UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan. It was US intransigence - Clinton’s intransigence - that led to the failure of Annan’s peace efforts in the spring of 2012, a point well known among diplomats. Despite Clinton’s insinuation in the Milwaukee debate, there was (of course) no 2012 ceasefire, only escalating carnage. Clinton bears heavy responsibility for that carnage, which has by now displaced more than 10 million Syrians and left more than 250,000 dead.
As every knowledgeable observer understands, the Syrian War is not mostly about Bashar al-Assad, or even about Syria itself. It is mostly a proxy war, about Iran. And the bloodbath is doubly tragic and misguided for that reason.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the leading Sunni powers in the Middle East, view Iran, the leading Shia power, as a regional rival for power and influence. Right-wing Israelis view Iran as an implacable foe that controls Hezbollah, a Shi’a militant group operating in Lebanon, a border state of Israel. Thus, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel have all clamored to remove Iran’s influence in Syria.
This idea is incredibly naïve. Iran has been around as a regional power for a long time—in fact, for about 2,700 years. And Shia Islam is not going away. There is no way, and no reason, to “defeat” Iran. The regional powers need to forge a geopolitical equilibrium that recognizes the mutual and balancing roles of the Gulf Arabs, Turkey, and Iran. And Israeli right-wingers are naïve, and deeply ignorant of history, to regard Iran as their implacable foe, especially when that mistaken view pushes Israel to side with Sunni jihadists.
Yet Clinton did not pursue that route. Instead she joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and right-wing Israelis to try to isolate, even defeat, Iran. In 2010, she supported secret negotiations between Israel and Syria to attempt to wrest Syria from Iran’s influence.Those talks failed. Then the CIA and Clinton pressed successfully for Plan B: to overthrow Assad.
When the unrest of the Arab Spring broke out in early 2011, the CIA and the anti-Iran front of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey saw an opportunity to topple Assad quickly and thereby to gain a geopolitical victory. Clinton became the leading proponent of the CIA-led effort at Syrian regime change.
In early 2011, Turkey and Saudi Arabia leveraged local protests against Assad to try to foment conditions for his ouster. By the spring of 2011, the CIA and the US allies were organizing an armed insurrection against the regime. On August 18, 2011, the US Government made public its position: “Assad must go.”
Since then and until the recent fragile UN Security Council accord, the US has refused to agree to any ceasefire unless Assad is first deposed. The US policy—under Clinton and until recently—has been: regime change first, ceasefire after. After all, it’s only Syrians who are dying. Annan’s peace efforts were sunk by the United States’ unbending insistence that U.S.-led regime change must precede or at least accompany a ceasefire. As the Nation editors put it in August 2012:
The US demand that Assad be removed and sanctions be imposed before negotiations could seriously begin, along with the refusal to include Iran in the process, doomed [Annan’s] mission.
Clinton has been much more than a bit player in the Syrian crisis. Her diplomat Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi was killed as he was running a CIA operation to ship Libyan heavy weapons to Syria. Clinton herself took the lead role in organizing the so-called “Friends of Syria” to back the CIA-led insurgency.
The U.S. policy was a massive, horrific failure. Assad did not go, and was not defeated. Russia came to his support. Iran came to his support. The mercenaries sent in to overthrow him were themselves radical jihadists with their own agendas. The chaos opened the way for the Islamic State, building on disaffected Iraqi Army leaders (deposed by the US in 2003), on captured U.S. weaponry, and on the considerable backing by Saudi funds. If the truth were fully known, the multiple scandals involved would surely rival Watergate in shaking the foundations of the US establishment.
The hubris of the United States in this approach seems to know no bounds. The tactic of CIA-led regime change is so deeply enmeshed as a “normal” instrument of U.S. foreign policy that it is hardly noticed by the U.S. public or media.
Overthrowing another government is against the U.N. charter and international law. But what are such niceties among friends?
This instrument of U.S. foreign policy has not only been in stark violation of international law but has also been a massive and repeated failure. Rather than a single, quick, and decisive coup d’état resolving a US foreign policy problem, each CIA-led regime change has been, almost inevitably, a prelude to a bloodbath. How could it be otherwise? Other societies don’t like their countries to be manipulated by U.S. covert operations.
Removing a leader, even if done “successfully,” doesn’t solve any underlying geopolitical problems, much less ecological, social, or economic ones. A coup d’etat invites a civil war, the kind that now wracks Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. It invites a hostile international response, such as Russia’s backing of its Syrian ally in the face of the CIA-led operations. The record of misery caused by covert CIA operations literally fills volumes at this point. What surprise, then, the Clinton acknowledges Henry Kissinger as a mentor and guide?
And where is the establishment media in this debacle? The New York Times finally covered a bit of this story last month in describing the CIA-Saudi connection, in which Saudi funds are used to pay for CIA operations in order to make an end-run around Congress and the American people. The story ran once and was dropped. Yet the Saudi funding of CIA operations is the same basic tactic used by Ronald Reagan and Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s (with Iranian arms sales used to fund CIA-led covert operations in Central America without consent or oversight by the American people).
Clinton herself has never shown the least reservation or scruples in deploying this instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Her record of avid support for US-led regime change includes (but is not limited to) the US bombing of Belgrade in 1999, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Iraq War in 2003, the Honduran coup in 2009, the killing of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, and the CIA-coordinated insurrection against Assad from 2011 until today.
It takes great presidential leadership to resist CIA misadventures. Presidents get along by going along with arms contractors, generals, and CIA operatives. They thereby also protect themselves from political attack by hardline right-wingers. They succeed by exulting in U.S. military might, not restraining it. Many historians believe that JFK was assassinated as a result of his peace overtures to the Soviet Union, overture he made against the objections of hardline rightwing opposition in the CIA and other parts of the U.S. government.
Hillary Clinton has never shown an iota of bravery, or even of comprehension, in facing down the CIA. She has been the CIA’s relentless supporter, and has exulted in showing her toughness by supporting every one of its misguided operations. The failures, of course, are relentlessly hidden from view. Clinton is a danger to global peace. She has much to answer for regarding the disaster in Syria.
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Posted by Deuce ☂ at 4/11/2018 08:38:00 AM