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Why Obama No Longer Has My Vote

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From Open Left

Obama’s grand accomplishment is not breaking a sweat while giving us a jobless recovery just like Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. His most-touted accomplishment is passing the REPUBLICAN alternative to HillaryCare from 15 years ago, but meanwhile tens of millions of people go without work, while homes continue being lost at an incredible rate, (The good news from USA Today: “Foreclosure rates up by smallest amount in 4 years”.)

I will never vote for a Republican at any level, but I simply do not understand why Obama is working so hard to lose my support.

Written by slothropia

April 3rd, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Al Qaeda,Economy

Open letter to Peoria Journal Star

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Today (Tuesday, may 1) the Journal Star published an editorial cartoon depicting Osama bin Laden celebrating a possible deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Is the JS among those (like Vice President Cheney) who argue that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks

I understand that the Journal Star supports the war in Iraq. But the cartoon referred to above is confusing to me. After all, the war against Al Qaeda’s terrorism was weakened when the Bush administration moved resources and attention from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Furthermore, it is obvious that having the United States bogged down in Iraq serves Bin Laden’s strategic purposes. Every day that the U.S. loses blood and treasure in Iraq is a victory for Al Qaeda.

Your newspaper certainly has a right to take any editorial position it likes, but you might want to consider some other opinions. Consider the following:

The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue. The opinion polls are savagely decisive on the Iraq question. About 60 percent of Americans wish the war ended — wish at least a timetable for orderly withdrawal. What is going on in Congress is in the nature of accompaniment. The vote in Congress is simply another salient in the war against war in Iraq. Republican forces, with a couple of exceptions, held fast against the Democrats’ attempt to force Bush out of Iraq even if it required fiddling with the Constitution. President Bush will of course veto the bill, but its impact is critically important in the consolidation of public opinion. It can now accurately be said that the legislature, which writes the people’s laws, opposes the war.

These words were not written by a left wing blogger, but by William F. Buckley at National Review Online on April 28. Mr. Buckley concludes the quoted article this way:

General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it. Students of politics ask then the derivative question: How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters? General Petraeus, in his Pentagon briefing on April 26, reported persuasively that there has been progress, but cautioned, “I want to be very clear that there is vastly more work to be done across the board and in many areas, and again I note that we are really just getting started with the new effort.”

The general makes it a point to steer away from the political implications of the struggle, but this cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican Party will survive this dilemma.

No doubt Mr. Buckley is aware of public opinion about Iraq. In a recent CBS/New York Times poll the question was asked, “Do you think the United States should or should not set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008?”

The respondents answered this way:

Should         Should Not            Unsure

%                   %                       %

4/20-24/07           64                  32                      4

4/9-12/07             57                  38                      5

I wonder if the public in Central Illinois feels this way?

Today (Tuesday, may 1) the Journal Star published an editorial cartoon depicting Osama bin Laden celebrating a possible deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Is the JS among those (like Vice President Cheney) who argue that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks

I understand that the Journal Star supports the war in Iraq. But the cartoon referred to above is confusing to me. After all, the war against Al Qaeda’s terrorism was weakened when the Bush administration moved resources and attention from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Furthermore, it is obvious that having the United States bogged down in Iraq serves Bin Laden’s strategic purposes. Every day that the U.S. loses blood and treasure in Iraq is a victory for Al Qaeda.

Your newspaper certainly has a right to take any editorial position it likes, but you might want to consider some other opinions. Consider the following:

The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue. The opinion polls are savagely decisive on the Iraq question. About 60 percent of Americans wish the war ended — wish at least a timetable for orderly withdrawal. What is going on in Congress is in the nature of accompaniment. The vote in Congress is simply another salient in the war against war in Iraq. Republican forces, with a couple of exceptions, held fast against the Democrats’ attempt to force Bush out of Iraq even if it required fiddling with the Constitution. President Bush will of course veto the bill, but its impact is critically important in the consolidation of public opinion. It can now accurately be said that the legislature, which writes the people’s laws, opposes the war.

These words were not written by a left wing blogger, but by William F. Buckley at National Review Online on April 28. Mr. Buckley concludes the quoted article this way:

General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it. Students of politics ask then the derivative question: How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters? General Petraeus, in his Pentagon briefing on April 26, reported persuasively that there has been progress, but cautioned, “I want to be very clear that there is vastly more work to be done across the board and in many areas, and again I note that we are really just getting started with the new effort.”

The general makes it a point to steer away from the political implications of the struggle, but this cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican Party will survive this dilemma.

No doubt Mr. Buckley is aware of public opinion about Iraq. In a recent CBS/New York Times poll the question was asked, “Do you think the United States should or should not set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008?”

The respondents answered this way:

Should         Should Not            Unsure

%                   %                       %

4/20-24/07           64                  32                      4

4/9-12/07             57                  38                      5

I wonder if the public in Central Illinois feels this way?

Written by slothropia

May 1st, 2007 at 11:00 pm

Blowback

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Fropm the UK Independent (the entire article is well worth the time):

The gunmen came at night to drag Mohammed Halim away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.

Sounds like the Taliban, doesn’t it? And it would be a terrible thing if the Taliban once more ruled Afghanistan. The Taliban of course took over that country after the Soviets had been driven out with U.S. and other Western support.
Here’s a little info about the regime the Soviets invaded Afghanistan to support. The People Democratic Party of Afghanistan took power in 1978 folllowing a bloody coup. Then:

The PDPA, as a pro-communist socialist party, implemented a socialist agenda which included decrees abolishing usury, banning forced marriages, state recognition of women’s rights to vote, replacing religious and traditional laws with secular and Marxist ones, banning tribal courts, and land reform. Men were obliged to cut their beards, women couldn’t wear a burqa, and mosque visiting was forbidden. The PDPA invited the Soviet Union to assist in modernizing its economic infrastructure (predominantly its exploration and mining of rare minerals and natural gas). The USSR also sent contractors to build roads, hospitals, schools and mine for water wells; they also trained and equipped the Afghan army. Upon the PDPA’s ascension to power, and the establishment of the DRA, the Soviet Union promised monetary aid in the amount of at least $1.262 billion.

These reforms and the PDPA’s monopoly on power were met with a large backlash, partly led by members of the traditional establishment. Many groups were formed in an attempt to reverse the dependence on the Soviet Union, some resorting to violent means and sabotage of the country’s industry and infrastructure. The government responded with a heavy handed military intervention and arrested, exiled and executed many mujahedin “holy Muslim warriors”.

Now I wouldn’t be able to vote for the PDA, but ya gotta admit, they seem like a much more humane lot than the Taliban. But because the Russkies got involved (which was dumb and they would have lost anyway, without American invlvement) we had to help Osama Bin Laden make his bone and build up his chops. Which gave us Al Quaeda and the Taliban. Heckuva job, CIA.

All those poeple who carry on about Islamofascists? Where were they or their intellectual predecessors in that fight? Rooting for Russia? Not bloody likely.

Written by slothropia

December 1st, 2006 at 9:12 pm

Posted in Afghanistan,Al Qaeda

Iraq and Vietnam: Compare and Contrast

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On Wednesday, Billmon posted some devastating and candid thoughts about the war in Iraq. He regrets not doing more to stop the war before and after the invasion three years ago. I feel the same regret.

I sense a heightening of the debate in this country about what to do about Iraq from here on. The only figure who seems to know how he would like to proceed is W (and his posse of course). Stay the course is their mantra, but no one else is buying.

Bush has accepted a comparison between this month’s violence in Iraq and the Tet offensive in 1968. Bush wants to believe and wants the rest of us to believe too that just as the Tet offensive weakened the support of the American people for the war in Vietnam, so the recent spike in violence in Iraq and in U.S. casualties is meant to influence the elections next month and eventually persuade the U.S. to pull out of Iraq.

The few remaining supporters of the war argue that to pull out of Iraq before the war is won would repeat the mistakes of Vietnam, a war which ended after U.S. public opinion turned against it. Some conservatives and neoconservatives are fond of saying the Tet offensive was a military defeat for the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. There is some truth to that assertion because all of the objectives taken by the DRVN and the VC were quickly retaken by the U.S. (with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam holding the Americans’ coats). They also took enormous casualties during Tet, but the victory for DRVN and VC was in demonstrating that they could mount large operations deep in U.S. controlled territory. More importantly, it showed that they were able and willing to take heavy losses and continue fighting.

Vietnam was a classic war of attrition, in which the body count was the measure of success or failure. The U.S. killed a lot of Vietnamese, military, irregular and civilian, but sustained substantial losses itself. Here are the numbers for the main participants:

North Vietnamese Army, National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam

  • ~ 5,000,000.

South Vietnamese Army

  • ~230,000 KIA/MIA

Vietnamese Civilians

  • ~2,000,000 to 4,000,000 Killed (The Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs released figures on April 3, 1995 claimed that nearly 2 million civilians in the north and 2 million in the south were killed between 1954 and 1975.
  • ~3,000,000 affected by Agent Orange

United States Armed Forces

South Korea

  • 5,000 KIA

The casualty figures for Iraq are not close to those of the Vietnam War, but we have made a good start: 2700 U.S. deaths, some 20,000 American wounded, and, according to some estimates, 650,000 Iraqis.

The war in Iraq is like, Vietnam, an imperial war of attrition. Unlike Vietnam, there are more than two sides. There is an insurgency directed against the American occupation and a multi-sided civil war among various Iraqi factions. The complexity of the civil war was demonstrated today when the Sadr militia briefly took the southern city of Amarah.

The Tet offensive demonstrated that the Americans could not win a military victory. LBJ recognized this and effectively resigned shortly thereafter. Nixon and Kissinger, I can speculate, also saw this reality but continued the American role in the war for another five years. Two more years of decent interval and the American defeat was completed.

If the President has his way, we will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future, inflicting and sustaining casualties toward no discernible end.

In my mind the question is whether or not the United States continues fighting in Iraq or withdraws completely, either immediately or over a period of time. To remain in Iraq is to continue the war. The insurgency will not end until the United States withdraws its forces.

I would choose immediate withdrawal. There is no interval that would be decent. The result will be the same, no matter how long the Americans stay.

And what will happen after American withdrawal? The civil war that is already occurring will continue until some political accommodation is possible. I predict that the Iraqis themselves would dispose of Al Qaeda and other jihadists as soon as they could.

In other words, we will only make things worse if we stay. The sooner we leave, the better.

Written by slothropia

October 20th, 2006 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Al Qaeda,Iraq,Vietnam

Afghanistan is Messedupistan

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Eric Margolis is a columnist specializing in international affairs who somehow got a job with the right wing Toronto Sun (the Fox News Channel of Canadian Newspapers -or is that the National Post?).

His column today is headlined West Won’t Win Afghan War. In that column, Margolis discusses a report released by the Senlis Council, a European think tank whose work, “…encompasses foreign policy, security, development and counter-narcotics policies and aims to provide innovative analysis and proposals within these areas.”

Here is margolis on the Senlis Council’s recently released report on Afghanistan:

The respected European think tank, Senlis Council, which focuses on Afghanistan, just reported the Taliban is “taking back Afghanistan” and now controls that nation’s southern half. According to Senlis, southern Afghanistan is suffering “a humanitarian crisis of starvation and poverty.

“U.S. policies in Afghanistan have re-created the safe haven for terrorism that the 2001 invasion aimed to destroy,” Senlis found.

Claims that withdrawing Western garrisons from Afghanistan or Iraq will leave a void certain to be filled by extremists are nonsense. Half of Afghanistan and a third of Iraq are already largely controlled by anti-Western resistance forces.

Were it not for omnipotent U.S. airpower, American and NATO forces would be quickly driven from the area.

Here is an article from the September 5 Guardian about the Council’s report and the British Foreign Office response (they’re in denial, of course).  I would supply a link to U.S. media coverage of this report but I can’t find any. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough.

Anyway, Margolis sums things up this way:

What the West calls “Taliban” is actually a growing coalition of veteran Taliban fighters led by Mullah Dadullah, other clans of Pashtun tribal warriors, and nationalist resistance forces under Jalalladin Hakkani and former prime minister Gulbadin Hekmatyar. Many are former mujahadeen once hailed as “freedom fighters” by the West, and branded “terrorists” by the Soviets.

The UN’s anti-narcotic agency reports narco-state Afghanistan now supplies 92% of the world’s heroin. Production surged 20% last year alone. Who is responsible? The U.S. and NATO. Washington, Ottawa and London can’t keep pretending this is someone else’s problem. Drug money fuels the Afghan economy and keeps local warlords loyal to the U.S.-installed Kabul regime.

Afghanistan’s north has become a sphere of influence of Russia and its local allies, the Uzbek-Tajik Northern Alliance (led by notorious war criminals and leaders of the old Afghan Communist Party).

The U.S. and its allies are not going to win the Afghan war. They will be lucky, the way things are going, not to lose it in the same humiliating manner the Soviets did in 1989.

Ottawa’s deepening involvement in a conflict in which it lacks any national interests — save pleasing Washington and selling lumber — jeopardizes Canada’s security.

Western troops are not fighting “terrorism” in Afghanistan, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper claims. They are fighting the Afghan people. Every new civilian killed, and every village bombed, breeds new enemies for the West.

So with Iraq’s Anbar province and southern Afghanistan under their belts, the Jihadists now have two enclaves from which they can plan and stage operations, whatever they may be. In other words, things are now much much worse than they were five years ago. After hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives.
Heckuva job there, Bushie.

Written by slothropia

September 17th, 2006 at 8:39 pm

What Does AQ Want?

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The great Billmon has another insightful post about the wars we are fighting (or are being fought in out name). Here are some higlights. My comments folllow.

The real irony, though, is that the administration is talking up its ability to play defense even though it has insisted, over and over again, that the key to victory is a good offense — i.e. taking the fight to the enemy, a forward strategy for freedom, etc. But by that measure, the war is on its way to being lost — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and not least in the hearts and minds of the Islamic world, which is the war’s true center of gravity. (Even the Cheneyites acknowledge this, if only with boilerplate lip service.)…

To me, it looks like the jihadist movement is using the Maoist instruction manual for prolonged struggle, albeit at a kind of macro, worldwide (or at least Islamic world) level…

…by effectively shutting down (or at least crippling) the old Al Qaeda, the US has indeed made Iraq (and southern Afghanistan and the Pakistani border regions) the “central fronts” in the war. But this may have been precisely the evolutionary direction the jihadist movement needed to go in order to become a serious revolutionary threat in the Middle East…

If Al Qaeda were to root itself into Anbar and develop widespread popular support, it could take years, if not decades, to uproot it again. You only have to look at a map to see what a nightmare that could be for every regime in the neighborhood…

Like most extreme reactionary movements, Al Qaeda has no meaningful economic or political program (Land to the Tillers, All Power to the Soviets) to offer the Islamic masses. It’s call for the strictest possible interpretation of Shari’a law is divisive and repels rather than attracts international sympathy. But what it does have going for it are wide and deep fears of cultural penetration and Western domination, and the ancient religious duty of all Muslims to defend Islam and the community of believers…

The administration has made it into a mantra: Better to fight them over there than over here. As I’ve pointed out before, it’s hardly an either/or proposition. But to the extent that America does have a choice between fighting terrorists “here” (in the Islamic ghettos of London or New York or Hamburg) or “there” (the deserts of Anbar, the Hindu Kush) maybe it should choose here — our turf instead of theirs, the near enemy rather than the far. Because at this point, it’s not clear our far enemy can be defeated on its own home ground.

In the kind of war we are now engaged in, it is hard to imagine a home team losing. Isn’t that a big part of the story of the last century? Conquest is fleeting. The British, French, Dutch, German and Soviet empires are gone for good. The American empire is on its way out. But will America let go willingly or will it take a catastrophic defeat to destroy the empire along with a fair sized chunk of influence and affluence alike.

While I have never understood the ultimate goal of the jihadists,  I have also never taken seriously the right wing caricature of this enemy as wanting to conquer the world and forcibly convert all to Islam. It seems to me that they would like to drive the U.S. or at least American influence from the Middle East. It also seems to me that they might be able to make temporary alliances with less other elements in Middle Eastern countries and societies to achieve this goal.  Some nationalist forces, for example, might also be eager to act against American influence and interests.

But if and when the jihadists and others succeed in this project, how will they govern their societies? The Afghani Taliban model might frighten a lot of Muslims the way it does ”enlightened” westerners like you and me. Te repeat from Billmon’s peost quoted above, “Like most extreme reactionary movements, Al Qaeda has no meaningful economic or political program (Land to the Tillers, All Power to the Soviets) to offer the Islamic masses.” If Al Qaeda were to take over a country like Jordan, for example,  I can easily imagine a resistance quickly forming and sectarian warfare to break out a la Iraq.

In short, depending how things play out, we could be looking at another generation of acute and chronic instability in the Middle East and South Asia.

Written by slothropia

September 14th, 2006 at 9:46 pm

I Wish I’d Said That

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Attaturk has it right:

I don’t want to sound like Billmon here, but neither party has the guts to stand up and truly inform the public on the general “ineffectiveness” and weakness of terror groups. Anyone who actually said so would have the bodies of innocent civilians thrown at their feet and the “fear” words would come in a Katrina-level deluge. Osama and his pals got incredibly lucky on September 11th, so tragic is fate. Yes, they are highly dangerous and intelligence and police work is required. Sadly, any rationality to this clear fact cannot be engaged in now without scorn being brought down upon your head. Being afraid is the mode we are supposed to have, no matter how many times a 73 year old phrase about fear being the only thing to fear is tossed out. The moldering Republic is now being pissed upon in its “last throes”. You think in its last days of unique dominance, we could at least respect the ol’ girl.

Anything else?

What is not needed, are needless wars and the inflating of the threat into one that can topple our nation and our government. That is something we can ONLY do to ourselves. Osama “may” aspire to it, but only we, ourselves, have the means. If this situation isn’t confronted, as much as Bush and the GOP need to be replaced, the Democrats that follow them will only be better by degree, the bromides will just take a slightly more moderate phrasing and a more tolerable mode. But the cancer will remain — keeping you shitting your pants will be the Republican method of politics, keeping you angst ridden and afraid you’ll shit your pants will be the Democratic mode.

But both would still be false.

Written by slothropia

September 12th, 2006 at 8:36 am

GOP Campaign Kickoff

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Well, look who cawled out from under some rock in Pakistan, just in time for the Labor Day rebranding:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — A new videotape by al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has surfaced on the Web with an appearance by a Californian-turned-al Qaeda member wanted by the FBI, according to a counterterrorism expert.

A banner on multiple Islamic Web sites the other day announced that al-Zawahiri would be delivering a message.

The tape, called “Invitation to Islam,” runs 48 minutes and refers to the recent war in Lebanon between Israel and Lebanese-based Hezbollah, expert Laura Mansfield said.

Al-Zawahiri says the message is directed at Americans. Californian Adam Gadahn, whom the FBI wants in connection with possible terrorist threats against the United States, introduces the message.

I heard on the telly that the dynamic duo invited Americans to convert to Islam. Later today I will drive 20 miles to Peoria to see if that one is playing there.

Lately, Bush/Rumsfeld and assorted enablers have been like street corner prophets with cardboard signs in hand, warning of an Islamofascism that wants to rule the world.  Righties got all flustered when two Fox journalists (as Bill Maher mused last night ‘Fox has journalists?’) converted – or pretended to convert – to Islam rather  than have  their throats cut. The threat may or may not have been real but would you take that chance?

And Maher’s final New Rule last night was about how Americans should convert to Islam (not posted on his HBO site yet) so the terrorists would leave us alone. Bill was joking, I think.
Remember what I wrote the other day? No? Well here it is:

The Republicans have gotten fat on the war against terror. They are so lucky they didn’t capture bin Laden when they had the chance. Now, Osama is out there menacing all Americans. Homeland Security has no choice but to keep the alert level at orange or purple or whatever the hell it is this week.

And Osama endorsing Kerry in 2004? Priceless! Like I said, the GOP has been soooo lucky. It couldn’t have gone better if they had planned it that way.

I swear, it’s amazing how well these people coordinate without communicating.

Written by slothropia

September 2nd, 2006 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Al Qaeda,Terrorism