John Kerry

Senators announce opposition to Obama-backed U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) faces a nearly impossible road to ratification after half of the United States Senate reiterated their opposition to the measure in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The letter, which was spearheaded by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and signed by 50 senators, meticulously explained the reasons for opposition, including the lack of consensus at the U.N. and weak recognition of the lawful use of firearms.

“[T]he treaty was adopted by a procedure which violates a red line laid down by your own administration. In October 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the U.S. supported the negotiation of the treaty only by ‘the rule of consensus decision-making,’” noted the senators in the letter to President Obama.

“But in April 2013, after the treaty failed to achieve consensus, it was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly,” the senators wrote. “We fear that this reversal has done grave damage to the diplomatic credibility of the United States.”

President Obama supports the treaty, which was signed last month by Secretary of State John Kerry. Many Second Amendment supporters believe that the treaty will serve as a backdoor for gun control regulations, including gun registration, as a provision of the measure requires countries to track gun ownership of small arms to the “end user.”

The senators noted that the treaty’s lack recognition of lawful ownership and tracking requirements played a factor in their opposition.

Obama Administration’s embarrassing foreign policy fumble


Just days after an U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power claimed that the United States had “exhausted the alternatives” to a military strike against Syria, the Obama Administration is seriously considering a deal brokered by Russia that may prevent a war.

The details are still in the works, but the deal, which Bashar al-Assad’s regime has accepted, would require that the Syrian government to relinquish its supply of chemical weapons to international intermediaries. Syria also says that it will ratify the chemical weapons ban treaty.

The Obama Administration remains skeptical, though the President has called the proposed deal a “positive development,” and wants the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that would make the deal enforceable. Meanwhile, members of the United States Senate are working on a new resolution that would authorize force against Syria in the event that Assad’s government doesn’t turnover its chemical weapons arsenal.

Barack Obama, NeoCon Warmonger…Who Knew?

Oh, what a difference a few years make.

In 2009, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize despite barely getting his seat warmed up in the Oval Office. In 2009 current Secretary of State John Kerry called Assad’s Syria “an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.” In 2011, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad as a “reformer.” In 2007, then-candidate Obama attacked President George W. Bush for considering military strikes against Iran’s nuclear capability without the approval of Congress, declaring it a violation of the Constitution.

A few years later Obama attacked Libya without congressional approval, and now seeks that approval to attack Syria, even while maintaining that he does not need it in order to act.

Obama, the anti-war candidate, called Iraq a “rash war” waged for political reasons, even while he acknowledged the brutality of Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq who’d killed tens of thousands of his own people using sarin, mustard, and VX gas, primarily targeted at the Kurds of the northern provinces.

There is no debating that Saddam had launched dozens of such attacks, as well as used WMD against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War. He continually shot missiles at U.S. and Allied warplanes which were enforcing a No-Fly Zone, agreed to under the terms of surrender that allowed him to retain power.

Secretary Kerry’s Senate testimony basically undermined the entire Syria narrative

John Kerry testifies on Syria

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.

Obama goes to skeptical Congress for Syria intervention

Barack Obama

In what was a welcome development, President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he would make the case to a skeptical Congress to authorize military intervention in Syria, following an example set late last week by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable,” said President Obama in the White House Rose Garden.

“As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action,” he continued, referencing the failed vote that took place on Thursday in Parliament.

“Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective,” he added. “We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy.”

More Calls for Intervention in Syria

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Pressure is building on President Obama to involve the United States more deeply in the brutal civil war in Syria that may have claimed as many as 70,000 lives, and created more than a million refugees. Late last week, the editorial board of the Washington Post called for “aggressive intervention by the United States and its allies to protect the opposition and civilians.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) apparently believes that the Post didn’t go far enough because the editorial explicitly ruled out sending U.S. ground troops. He wants the U.S. military to secure suspected chemical weapons caches there. But where Graham is leading few will follow, aside from his frequent co-conspirator, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The American people are not anxious to send U.S. troops into the middle of yet another civil war in the region.

Senate Confirmations: An Opportunity Squandered

President Obama’s foreign policy team is undergoing a makeover, with the nominations of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State, former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, and the Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan as CIA Director.  All three gentlemen are expected to be confirmed; Kerry already has, Hagel will likely be confirmed (following an abysmal hearing) later this week, and Brennan faces his confirmation hearing this Thursday, which will essentially be the GOP’s final chance to hold Obama accountable for broken national security policies.

The GOP squandered two opportunities to ask proper questions of Kerry and Hagel.  The Kerry confirmation hearing was a jovial affair for one of the first advocates on intervention in the Libyan civil war in 2011, which, by the way, received no congressional authorization.  When Kerry was questioned about congressional authorization, he essentially bragged about his history of support for unilateral Executive action in Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Bosnia, and yes, Libya.

LOST should be sunk by the Senate


Have you been following the debate over the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST)? If you haven’t perhaps you should. This UN-backed treaty, which requires ratification by the United States, may not seem important since it deals with a rather mundane issue. However, it could become a vehicle for more nefarious propositions; including backdoor cap-and-trade, a policy that was defeated in Congress back in 2009.

LOST has some powerful supporters in the Senate and among special interests, for example, the United States Chamber of Commerce supports its ratification. However, a number of Republicans in the Senate are looking to derail it, permanently:

The Obama administration’s all-out push to join the United Nations international maritime treaty is just four votes short of being doomed after two more senators this week added their names to the list of lawmakers who have vowed to oppose it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) are the two latest senators to sign on to the letter, The Hill has learned, bringing the total to 30. Treaties need a two-thirds majority to pass in the Senate, meaning 34 signatures would effectively kill it.

Accession to the treaty is championed by a powerful coalition that includes the U.S. Navy, the business community and the oil industry but that hasn’t been enough to assuage concerns that the convention would impinge on U.S. sovereignty.

“Super Committee” members named

All of the Members of Congress that will serve on the so-called “Super Committee,” the group created as part of the debt deal between the White House and Congress to find $1.5 trillion in “deficit reduction” in the coming months, have been made public:

The top Republicans in the House and the Senate appointed six more lawmakers on Wednesday to the bipartisan committee that is supposed to recommend steps to reduce federal budget deficits by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Speaker John A. Boehner chose three senior Republican House members: Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan.

Mr. Hensarling, who is chairman of the House Republican Conference, will be co-chairman of the new panel, along with Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington.

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, chose Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania for the 12-member panel.

As noted, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who hasn’t been one to restrain spending, was named by Senate Majority Harry Reid. She will serve with Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named her picks today:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has selected Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) for the so-called “supercommittee” on Thursday.

How Newt Gingrich screwed over the 2012 GOP nominee

Does Newt Gingrich know what he believes? It’s a serious question. The guy that is often seen as a leading intellectual behind the conservative movement and is hoping to be the Republican presidential nominee is sure making some big mistakes in his first week as a candidate.

Over the weekend, Gingrich slammed the budget plan presented by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for “right-wing social engineering”:

Newt Gingrich’s appearance on “Meet the Press” today could leave some wondering which party’s nomination he is running for. The former speaker had some harsh words for Paul Ryan’s (and by extension, nearly every House Republican’s) plan to reform Medicare, calling it “radical.”

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” he said when asked about Ryan’s plan to transition to a “premium support” model for Medicare. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”

As far as an alternative, Gingrich trotted out the same appeal employed by Obama/Reid/Pelosi — for a “national conversation” on how to “improve” Medicare, and promised to eliminate ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’ etc.

“I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options,” Gingrich said. Ryan’s plan was simply “too big a jump.”

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