The United States military has dropped almost 50,000 bombs on Syria and Iraq over the last two years. Most of that has been against ISIS targets in the desert regions between the two countries, but some, including President Trump’s airport bombings last week, were against the Assad regime itself.
Almost thirty years after he took office, George HW Bush is still remembered as a weak-willed moderate because of six words in his inaugural address: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
Bush pledged not to raise taxes no matter how much his Democratic Congress demanded it. Just two years later he reluctantly agreed to a budget deal that raised gas taxes and the top income tax rate. His approval rating and overall image never recovered.
President Obama made a similarly strong and explicit pledge, but on a much more vital issue. Beginning in August 2013, as hawks were begging for the US to intervene in the Syrian civil war, Obama said that there would be no “boots on the ground” there.
The news out of the Perpetual War on Terror is pretty grim these days. The US military knowingly but “accidentally” bombed a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 doctors and patients. Just days later, the president decided not to draw down troops in the country as previously planned, but will instead keep nearly 6,000 of our sons and daughters in the country until at least 2017 when his term ends. At the same time, the inner workings of the president’s drone war, including questionable intel, lax target timeframes, and horrifying collateral damage ratios, have been brought to light by a whistleblower.
But you’d be forgiven for not noticing any of this. While it has been reported in the news media, there has been almost no secondary public reaction. I think that’s entirely because of one factor: Barack Obama won the last election, not Mitt Romney. If Romney had been elected in 2012 and in the year before his reelection campaign had bombed a hospital, decided to keep troops in Afghanistan, and had details of his robot assassin program leaked, things would probably look a little different today.
Militarized police supporters in Congress such as Nancy Pelosi get big bucks from defense contractors
The recent stories coming from Ferguson, Missouri have stirred the police militarization debate by putting the spotlight on the police’s use of “surplus” war gear to contain a mass of protestors in the suburbs of St. Louis.
The protests followed the killing of Michael Brown, and while most are peaceful, local police — and now the National Guard — have proceeded to use rubber bullets, tear gas and other aggressive methods such as curfews to fight locals and even journalists covering the events.
Without proper coverage, it’s nearly impossible to know what is truly going on in Ferguson, especially because the Federal Aviation Administration banned helicopters to fly below 3,000 feet over the region as soon as the unrest began. News crews often use helicopters to cover live events, but with the ban, law enforcement agents on the ground have a free pass to act according to their understanding of the situation.
One essential piece of this equation, however, is missing from the public debate; lawmakers who support the government’s program allowing the distribution of leftover war gear and weapons to local police departments are also the same lawmakers who receive a considerable amount of financial support from defense contractors.
Just a few weeks ago, it looked like Congress was going to overwhelmingly pass new Iran sanctions while the Obama administration was still negotiating with the prospective nuclear nation over their enrichment program. That hit a brick wall this week as Senator Rand Paul became the first Republican to denounce the idea:
I’ve been for sanctions. I have voted for sanctions in the past, to try to get the Iranians to negotiate. I think while they’re negotiating, and if we can see that they’re negotiating in good faith, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pass sanctions while we’re in the midst of negotiations.
Now it looks like there may not even be a vote on new sanctions until this summer. Even under a Democrat-led Senate, it’s an entirely new thing for this kind of dithering and delay on Iran issues. However, coming less than a year after the failed Syria military intervention idea, it’s becoming clearer that the American people and even their representatives may be weary of perpetual global police action at our expense.
The Obama administration based much of their hurried march to war in Syria on the conclusion that the Assad regime was responsible for the attack, and indeed was the only faction with the capability to carry it out. However, a new report based on classified defense intelligence documents directly contradicts those conclusions, in turn questioning the entire rationale for the forestalled military intervention:
The Hersh article is based in part on a four-page secret cable given to a top official at the Defense Intelligence Agency on June 20, one of a group of intelligence community documents allegedly stating that jihadi rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra has the ability to make sarin gas. Sarin is the chemical believed to have been used in the Aug 21 chemical attack in Ghouta that crossed Obama’s “red line” and prompted the administration to push for a strike on Assad’s regime. The story is sourced mainly to intelligence and military officers and consultants.
“When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad,” Hersh writes.
For those that are not familiar with our nation’s Capital, that is the Peace monument pictured in front of the Capitol building - something that Democrats on the Hill probably should take a moment to consider. As they approach the time when they will vote on whether or not we will become involved in the civil war in Syria, it seems that the real issue isn’t what Bashar al-Assad has done, or which Syrian rebels are honestly friendly to our nation - if there are any. The real issue is that we could end up going to war simply because Democrats feel that they must vote for it, to save face for Barack Obama.
Obviously, that isn’t remotely close to a good reason, but if anyone is expecting an uproar from the public or the press, it’s not very likely that it will happen. The peaceniks of Secretary of State John Kerry’s generation have long-forgotten those roots, and some of them, like Kerry himself, are probably on the side of the administration. Perhaps their excuse will be “it’s for the children,” since we saw the horrific photos and videos of dead and dying children in the wake of the latest chemical attack.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to justify the Obama administration’s proposed strike on Syria. Hagel was typically unclear and confused, Dempsey provided a few strategic details, but to nearly everyone watching, Kerry contradicted himself, tripped over his own feet, and significantly undermined most of the arguments for a strike.
One of the primary motivations Kerry gave was that a strike on Syria’s chemical weapons would help keep them out the hands of terrorists. Then when asked whether Hezbollah already had chemical weapons, he said he would answer in a classified briefing scheduled the next day. As with an invocation of the Fifth Amendment, this doesn’t necessarily confirm that Hezbollah already has chemical weapons, but if they don’t it begs the question why he couldn’t have just said so. He mentioned several other sensitive details about the situation on the ground in Syria, including composition of the rebellion and our tactical assistance to them, so I don’t see how the fact that terrorists don’t have chemical weapons would be classified. That is…unless they do. And if they do, then the primary situation the strike is supposed to prevent is already the status quo.
President Barack Obama’s promise to send arms to rebel forces fighting against Bashad al-Assad alongside al-Qaeda operatives in Syria, has been met with much criticism from multiple Senate members. Senators from both sides of the aisle have come together to push legislation that would prohibit the President and the Pentagon from sending rebels any form of aid.
Now, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and nine other House members decided to act by introducing legislation that would challenge the President’s decision by blocking aid that wasn’t previously authorized by Congress.
Co-sponsors include Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
The War Powers Protection Act of 2013 would keep the U.S. from sending any military assistance to the rebel forces unless Congress has issued a formal declaration of war.
Rep. Massie has stated that “since our national security interests in Syria are unclear,” risks could be far too great if we choose to aid rebel forces, particularly now that it has been noted that al Qaeda’s Iraqi wing in Syria insists on fighting alongside the Al-Nusra Front.
The Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that no war can be declared without Congress’ approval, which doesn’t seem to keep the President from continuing with his plan of aiding the rebels.
Much ado has been made over President Obama’s selection of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to serve as the next National Secrutiy Advisor because of her role in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya. But Benghazi is only a symptom of a larger problem with Susan Rice: she’s a hardcore interventionist.
Since her involvement in the Clinton Administration’s response to the Rwanda Genocide - during which she served on the National Security Council - Rice has never objected to an American intervention.
Now seen as a “voice for intervention,” Rice was quoted in the aftermath of Rwanda::
“I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”
Eh, excuse me: Going down in flames?
What’s also concerning is that Susan Rice has viewed foreign policy as an extension of politics; in 1994, she is quoted as saying, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”