Posts tagged ‘Libya’

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Foreign Policy Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) TRADE WITH CHINA: Although Romney called China a currency manipulator and promised to prosecute them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the right to impose tariffs (10-11-11) (11-9-11) (11-12-11) (1-7-12) (1-19-12), since the Great Depression, both parties have worked together to eliminate tariffs, and in recent years, the Republicans have been the loudest advocate of free trade. It is highly unlikely Romney will seek or impose protective tariffs, or interfere with free trade.

(D) TRADE WITH CUBA: Although Romney said he would not open trade with Cuba, until Fidel Castro is dead (1-23-12) (1-26-12), there is actually no reason to treat Cuba any different than the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, or any other country we now trade with, who was once our enemy. Open the door now.

(D) EURO CRISIS: If the banks and economies around the world were collapsing, Romney said he would act to prevent contagion. (10-11-11). He also said Europe should take care of their own problems (11-9-11), and if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give them a blank check, or save their banks (1-16-12). He was critical of the European for using IMF Funds (11-9-11). It appears, as usual, Romney wants to cover both sides of the issue.

(D) IMMIGRATION: Romney promised to crack down on immigration. (8-11-11). He said employers who hire illegal aliens are magnets. (9-7-11) (9-22-11). He would make businesses check the E-Verify data base. (10-18-11) (12-15-11) (1-19-12) (1-26-11). He thinks illegal aliens without jobs will self-deport (1-26-12). He said amnesty for illegal immigrants is another magnet that only encourages more. (12-10-11). He would not give aliens tuition assistance. (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (10-18-11). He would not give them Driver’s licenses. (9-12-11). He wants people with math and science degrees (11-22-11), and English language emersion for immigrants. (1-23-12) (1-26-12). He opposes special routes to citizenship (1-16-12). Although many Republicans favor what Romney has said, business owners in his own party wish to continue hiring illegal aliens, so they can keep paying cash under the table, to avoid payroll taxes and other legal obligations.

(D) MILITARY SERVICE: Romney, who received several deferments during the Vietnam War, found it extraordinary that only a few families were paying the price for freedom (1-7-12)

(D) IRAQ: Obama carried out his campaign pledge to end the misguided War in Iraq. Romney said he thought we had to go to war against Iraq. (1-16-12). Why is that even remotely true?

(D) BIN LADEN: President Obama was the Commander-in-Chief over the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden. If a Republican had been President when the mission was accomplished, they would be carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. On the assumption Bin Laden was responsible for 911, it was a job well done, and Obama should be credited.

(D) ASSASSINATION: Romney said he thinks the President has a right to order the death of any “American citizens” suspected of terrorism (11-12-11) Sorry, Mitt, no such right.

(D) LIBYA: President Obama waged an almost flawless campaign to help the Libyan freedom fighters remove Gaddafi, their long-time dictator. He refused to put U.S. troops on the ground, but supplied aid to the rebels, and succeeded in bringing change to Libya. Republicans, who spend time on the recent incident in Bengazi, can’t see the forest for the trees.

(D) AFGHANISTAN: We should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, so our troops can come home, and we can save billions. Romney was vague about Afghanistan during the Republican debates. He said he would defer to generals and conditions on the ground. (6-13-11) (8-11-11) He thinks our commanders in the field don’t want to withdraw. He wouldn’t cut and run. He thinks Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal weakened us (1-16-12) He accused Obama of withdrawing early, but then he also said he would stay until 2014. (11-12-11) (11-22-11) He gave no reasons for wanting to stay until 2014. (1-7-12). He wouldn’t negotiate with the Taliban, since he said they’re terrorists. He incorrectly said they declared war on us. (1-16-12). Romney wants to win in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban (1-23-12) He also said he wants a gradual transfer to Afghan Security Forces. Frankly, I think Romney wants to be President and will say just about anything, depending on who’s listening.

(D) LAWS OF WAR: Romney said the rights that apply to criminal law are different than those applicable in war (11-22-11)

(D) GUANTANAMO: As to the Guantanamo Prison, Romney thinks we have a right to deny al Qaeda due process. (1-16-12).

(D) PAKISTAN: Romney is concerned about the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons (2-22-12) He believes they are a fragile nation close to a failed state. He wants to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century (11-22-11) He wants them to let us go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network inside Pakistan (11-12-11). We need to stay out of Pakistan, Mitt. You’re playing with fire there.

(D) SYRIA: Romney said Syria is a threat to Israel (1-26-12), and an ally of Iran. He would use covert means to end Assad’s dictatorship (11-12-11) He would not however impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would use sanctions and covert means (11-22-11) I say let’s stay out of their war altogether.

(D) ISRAEL: Although Republicans accuse Obama of sticking a thumb in Israel’s eye (8-11-11), the American problem is not too little support for Israel, it’s too much. Our bipartisan American foreign-policy has been controlled by Israeli special interests for a long time. Romney is frightening, because he sounds like a weak leader, who would allow outsiders to control our foreign policy. Romney said it was wrong for Obama to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine (9-22-11) Weak Republicans like Romney would abandon our long-standing objection to Israel’s illegal taking of the Palestinian territories in 1967. (8-11-11) Since Obama courageously followed international law, we need him to keep Israel from taking the U.S. even deeper into their conflict. Romney pandered to the Jewish community while in Florida (1-26-12), and it’s not surprising his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel (11-22-11) We need a leader much stronger than Romney, one who would stand up to Israel.

(D) IRAN: Romney has a desire to impose crippling sanctions against Iran to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, which he called unacceptable (9-22-11) He falsely accused Obama of not putting crippling sanctions against Iran (1-7-12) He supports Iranian dissidents. He favors regime change and would take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (11-12-11) He called Obama weak on Iran (12-15-11) Romney said if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war (1-23-12). He thinks they will sneak dirty bombs into the U.S. through Latin America (2-22-12) Romney would indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention (11-22-11)

(D) LATIN AMERICA: Romney actually thinks the Hezbollah is working in Latin America (11-22-11) (2-22-12) Get real Mitt.

(D) RUSSIA: In one debate, Romney sounded like he didn’t know the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He was still talking as though Russia was an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. (11-12-11). Romney worries me.

(D) FOREIGN AID: Romney thinks the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than we should (10-18-11). We are still the richest nation on earth, and if we want allies, we need to give some aid.

(D) HOMELAND SECURITY: Romney would let people who are a “lower risk” go through TSA screening quickly. (11-22-11). Sounds like he wants to set up a fast track for his friends like Donald Trump, while the rest of us wait in line.

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01/13/2012

Huntsman: Why New Hampshire Surge?

Former Rep. Utah Gov. John Huntsman, who lived overseas four times while serving Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., and most recently Obama, as U.S. Ambassador to China, finished third in the New Hampshire Republican primary, and is now a serious contender, primarily because of his foreign policy.

FOREIGN POLICY: Huntsman said we need to leave lingering Cold War thinking behind. While some UN members are anti-American, he said, the organization serves a useful peacekeeping and humanitarian purpose. We should not use water-boarding, as he labeled it torture. He said it diminishes our standing in the world as to human rights. We must balance individual liberties and security, and project America’s goodness.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said we need an honest conversation about our sacrifices in Afghanistan the past 10 years. We listened to the generals in 1967, but that didn’t serve our interests. At the end of the day, he said, the President, not the generals, must decide as Commander-in-Chief. He made clear it’s time to leave Afghanistan, as only the Afghans can save their own country. While security is still lacking, it is time to come home, he said, since we achieved our objectives. We drove the Taliban out of Kabul, dismantled al-Qaeda, held elections in 2004, and killed Osama bin Laden. We should not do nation-building with 100,000 troops, as 10,000 to 15,000 troops, with Special Forces and drones can gather the intelligence we need.

IRAN: Huntsman predicted sanctions will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, because Russia and China are not going to play ball. In a contradictory way, he said our foreign policy in the Mideast is to insure Iran does not go nuclear.

PAKISTAN: Huntsman said only Pakistan can save Pakistan. His concern is they have 160 million people and 100 nuclear weapons. They have troubles along their border, and risk becoming a failed state, due to the Midrasha Movement. Expanded drones over Pakistan would serve our interests, he said.

ARAB SPRING—SYRIA—BAHRAIN–LIBYA: He said the American interest in Syria is called Israel. He would remind the world what it means to be our ally. He accused President Obama of missing the Persian Spring in Bahrain, saying he failed on that front. On the other hand, he felt we had no interest in Libya.

TRADE: If we apply trade sanctions against China, Huntsman worried, we will get the same in return, because we also manipulate our currency, and a trade war will only hurt our exports. He said we cannot sue China in the WTO over currency issues. He warned Europe is second only to Canada as a U.S. export market, and if they go down, the problem will spread to us.

BANKS/ANTITRUST: Huntsman appeared to be concerned about “too big to fail” and wants a proper size for banks. We must address the problem of banks being too big to fail, because they are setting us up for a long-term disaster. He said six institutions have 9.4 trillion or 60 to 65% of our GDP, with unfair implied taxpayer guarantees of protection. They need to be “right-sized,” he said. The banks must pay to take the risk away from taxpayers.

CORPORATE WELFARE: Huntsman said we should not bail out corporations, because we spent trillions with nothing to show for it. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As to those protesting against Wall Street, he wants to be the President of the 99%, as well as the 1%, but disagreed with anti-capitalism messages made by some in the crowd.

JOBS: Huntsman thinks we can create jobs for the 15 million who are unemployed through regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, tax changes, energy independence, and ending corporate welfare.

IMMIGRATION: Huntsman reminded listeners legal immigration is a growth engine. Two of his seven children, from India and China, help him see the issue through their eyes. He said the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. is down due to the economy. While Utah governor, he gave Drivers Licenses to illegal aliens.

AUTO INDUSTRY: Huntsman thinks we can regain our industrial base by lowering taxes and lessening regulations. He did not think the 68 billion dollar auto bailout was a good use of taxpayer money. Americans are sick and tired of bailouts, he said.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT: He wants energy independence, but thinks we can’t use wind or sun right now. He would develop natural gas to get rid of our heroin-like addiction to imported oil. The true cost of oil and gas, he said, includes federal spending to keep the Persian Gulf sea lanes open. He accused the EPA of running a “reign of terror.”

BUDGET/DEBT: Huntsman would never let the U.S. default on our debt, which he labeled a cancer, but we have to have an honest conversation about our sacred cows, as everything has to be on the table, including the 650 billion dollar Defense Budget. If we do not, he warned, we will soon look like Europe. He explained: Greece has a 170% debt to GDP; Italy: 120% to GDP; Japan: 100% to GDP; and ours is 70% debt to GDP, and it is moving up. A 70% debt-to-GDP ratio is a national security problem, which will cause us to stop growing, as it gets too high.

TAXES: Huntsman said this is the worst time to raise taxes. He would lower tax brackets to 8%, 14%, and 22%. He would phase out loopholes and deductions for individuals, as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As Utah governor, he delivered on a flat-tax. He refused to sign a no-tax-hike pledge.

HEALTH: Huntsman said the government’s health care approach is wrong, because it contains a costly individual mandate. He warned the IRS is gearing up with 19,500 employees to administer the mandate. He delivered on health care reform in his state, he said, without a mandate. We need truly affordable insurance by addressing health care cost containment. We have to get costs out of the system. Half of health care spending is nonsense, he said. He wants a health care solution that works in the market. We need affordable health insurance to reduce the number of uninsured. Patients need to be empowered. The Ryan plan puts everything on the table, he said. He would send Medicaid back to the states. He would let the states experiment.

EDUCATION: He thinks early childhood literacy is important, but wants education local, and he would send it back to the states, with no unfunded mandates.

EQUALITY: Huntsman does not bash gays, and accepts civil unions. He asked fellow Republicans to do better on equality.

JUSTICE: Huntsman limited his approval of Supreme Court Justices to just Roberts and Alito.

11/25/2011

Republican Debate Defense (11-22-11)

The Republicans debated National Security issues on Nov. 22, 2011.

PATRIOT ACT: The Patriot Act undermines liberties, said Ron Paul. We can have security without sacrificing rights. He would protect the rule of law. Our Founders warned not to sacrifice liberty for security, something our government is now too willing to do. If we give up freedom and become a police state, the government will commit the crime. We would throw out much of what our revolution stood for. Huntsman said we need to balance individual liberties and security. We have to share intelligence, and work with governors. Romney said there is criminal law with constitutional rights, and a different body of law applicable to war. Perry said we must collect intelligence to keep the next attack from happening. Santorum said the last time we had a threat like this was in the Civil War when Abe Lincoln ran all over civil rights. Gingrich said there is a distinction between National Security and Criminal Law. We need to preserve criminal law rights, but strengthen the Patriot Act, so we can gather intelligence. He does not want to find terrorists after we lose a major American city. He wants to stop them from trying. Bachmann said technology changed and we must change the way we investigate. She said the attempted Detroit bomber was given Miranda warnings, even though he was not a citizen.

PROFILING: Paul asked what if a person looked like Timothy McVeigh? Romney said people, who are a lower risk, should be allowed to go through TSA screening more quickly. Perry proposed a law to criminalize TSA pat-downs, privatize the agency, and get rid of their union. Santorum would profile those most likely to commit crime, such as Muslims and younger males. We should look for the bomber, not the bomb. He favors privatizing the TSA. Cain called profiling targeted identification. Since terrorists want to kill us, we should kill them first said Cain.

INTERROGATION: Bachmann made the ridiculous statement Obama turned over the interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. She also believes the CIA can no longer interrogate terrorists.

FOREIGN AID: Ron Paul said all foreign aid is worthless. We take money from poor people in the U.S. and give it to rich people in poor countries. We have endless war and foreign aid, but nobody cares about the budget. The biggest threat to our national security is our financial condition.  Santorum incorrectly said “Africa” was a “country” on the brink. The work we are doing, such as the Millennium Challenge, is essential for national security. It would be absolutely wrong to zero out foreign aid. We are the shining city on the hill that comes to the aid of those in trouble. We have saved military deployments by wisely spending not on our enemies, but on our friends in Africa. Cain said foreign aid should depend on results. Perry said if you are not going to be an ally of the U.S., do not expect a dime of our money.

WAR: Ron Paul said our needless and unnecessary wars have undermined our prosperity and liberties, and added to our deficits. We are too careless in the use of the word war. We did not declare war. We are against terrorism, which is only a tactic. Santorum agreed we are not fighting a war on terrorism, since it is only a tactic. We are at war against radical Islam, he said.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said we need an honest conversation about our sacrifices over the past 10 years in Afghanistan. We ran the Taliban out of Kabul, upended al-Qaeda, held elections in 2004, and killed Osama bin Laden. We still need intelligence gathering, Special Forces, drones, and ongoing Afghan National Army training, but we don’t need 100,000 troops doing nation-building. 10,000 to 15,000 troops would due. The American people are very tired of where we find ourselves. He said we listened to generals in 1967, and that did not serve our interests very well. At the end of the day, the President must act as Commander-in-Chief. Romney said we cannot write off a major part of the world. We don’t want to literally pull up stakes and run out of town. We need a gradual transition responsibility over to the Afghan Security Forces. He thinks a withdrawal before 2014 would put at risk the sacrifices we made. We have been there for 10 years, and we are winding down, but it is not time for America to “cut and run,” a phrase borrowed from Nixon.  Of course the Commander-in-Chief makes the final decision. Romney actually thinks there is a very good prospect the Afghans are securing their sovereignty from the Taliban. If we pull out precipitously, as Gov. Huntsman suggests, we could see Afghanistan and Pakistan pulled into terror, and become another launching pad for going after America. Cain thinks if we pull out of Afghanistan “too soon,” there will be a power vacuum that Iran will fill.

PAKISTAN: Huntsman said Pakistan is a concern, because they have 100 nuclear weapons, and 160 million people. They have a Midrasha Movement, troubles along their border, and are at risk of becoming a failed state. He said an expanded drone program would serve our interests. Romney said only 12% of Pakistanis approve of us, we are not doing a good job. We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century. Perry said since Pakistan cannot be trusted, he would not send them one penny, or give them a blank check, until they showed they had our best interests in mind. Gingrich thinks we should be able to change the rules of engagement so we have a right of hot pursuit to enter sanctuaries in Pakistan from Afghanistan. Pakistan should not complain, if we kill people who are being protected on their land, and they are not willing to go after them. Bachmann said Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism, where al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network train. We have to take seriously their 15 nuclear sites. She would continue aiding Pakistan, because they are too nuclear to fail, but she would demand more from them. She called Perry naïve for not being willing to maintain an American presence in Pakistan.

IRAN: Ron Paul wisely said he would not support an unprovoked unilateral attack by Israel upon Iran. When Israel bombed the Iraqi missile site in 1981, he was one of the few Congressmen to say it was none of our business. Israel has 200 to 300 nuclear missiles, and they can take care of themselves. If they want to bomb something, it is their business, and they can suffer the consequences. We don’t even have a treaty with them. Why should we commit to send our kids and money endlessly to Israel? Why would they need American help? Huntsman said Iran is certainly going to make a nuclear weapon, but sanctions are not going to work, because Russia and China are not going to play ball. Romney said Ahmadinejad should be indicted for violating the Genocide Convention. Perry said we should sanction the Iranian National Bank. We need to use every sanction before a military strike. Gingrich would not want to see Israel use multiple nuclear weapons in Iran, because that would bring a future none of us would want to live through. He said we need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with a minimal use of force. We need to defeat radical Islam wherever it may exist. We need to sabotage the only refinery they have. Putting sanctions on them is better than a war. He said a bombing campaign that left the regime in power would accomplish very little. We have to replace the regime, not just attack them. Bachmann said Iran is a real threat, because they would use nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and the U.S. She thinks Obama appeased Iran. We are talking about Israel making a strike against Iran, she said, because Iran announced a plan to strike Israel. Ahmadinejad wants to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth. Can was asked: If Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help Israel? Cain said Iran may have 40 different weapon sites, and if Israel had a credible plan for success, he would support their attack, and would in some instances join Israel in violating international law.

ISRAEL: Romney said his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel to show the world we care about them. Huntsman said our foreign policy interests in the Middle East are Israel, and to insure Iran does not go nuclear.

PERSIAN GULF: Huntsman (apparently referring to Bahrain) said Obama missed the Persian Spring, and failed on that front.

LIBYA: Huntsman: We had no definable U.S. interest in Libya.

SYRIA: Huntsman said we have an American interest in Syria called Israel. We need to remind the world what it means to be a U.S. friend and ally. Romney would not impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would instead use sanctions and covert actions. We should support the rebels. Perry supports a no-fly zone over Syria, because it would help dissidents. Cain opposes a no-fly zone and would instead pressure allies to stop buying their oil.

IMMIGRATION: Paul said if we give an easy road to citizenship, we will get more illegals. We should not require border states to provide free education and medical care. Romney said amnesty is a magnet as it only encourages more people to come illegally. He would allow those with degrees in math or science. He would cancel in-state tuition for illegal aliens, because people respond to incentives. Perry said we have to secure the border first. Gingrich, who voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act in the 1980s, created a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens, which some called amnesty. He though 300,000 would get amnesty, but it was granted to 3 million. This time we have to control the border. Those who just got here should go home. Those here 25 years who have families, paid taxes, and obeyed the law, should not be kicked out. He said we need visas for people with advanced degrees in science and engineering. He likes the part of the Dream Act that allows aliens to serve in the military to acquire citizenship. He would not separate families that have been together for 25 years. We are the party of the family, and we cannot destroy them. Bachmann opposed making 11 million workers legal. Steve Jobs moved operations to China, because he could not find 30,000 engineers. We need highly-skilled people.

MEXICO: Paul said the war on drugs is a total failure. We should handle drugs like we handle alcohol. Perry said we need border security with Mexico, because he thinks Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are at work there with plans to come to the U.S. He promised that within 12 months of taking office, the border would be shut down. Cain thinks terrorists have entered the U.S. via Mexico. He would secure the border, enforce the laws, and promote a path to citizenship. Let people through the front door, not the side door.

LATIN AMERICA: Romney said Hezbollah is working in Latin America. Perry said Iran has one of the largest embassies in the world in Venezuela. Santorum also worries about Latin America.

CHINA: Perry said again Communist China is destined to the ash heap of history.

BUDGET: Paul said they are not cutting anything out of anything. It’s all just talk. They are nibbling away at baseline budgeting. There is nothing cut in the military. On the Hill, they are hysterical, because the budget is not going up as rapidly as they want. It’s a road to disaster, and we better wake up. Huntsman said a 70% debt-to-GDP ratio in the U.S. is a national security problem, because when it gets too high, we will stop growing. Japan is in their third decade of no-growth. We have to have an honest conversation about debt and sacred cows. Everything has to be on the table, including the 650 billion dollar Defense budget. Romney said they cut 350 million for the F-22. They delayed aircraft carriers. They stopped the Navy cruiser system. They are not going to build Air Force bombers. They are trying to cut troops by 50,000. Perry said Obama has been a failure in terms of budget leadership. He would impose a flat tax of 20% on corporations, and would cut spending. Santorum said he would compromise and give on some things. Gingrich would reform Social Security by using the Chilean model, which he believes would not hurt anyone. He said there is something wrong with a system where it takes 15 to 20 years to build weapons, but Apple can change technology in just nine months. Bachmann said four years ago we were 8 trillion in debt, now we are 15 trillion in debt. We are sending interest money and our power over to China.

10/20/2011

Libya Liberated: Obama Gets A Grade

(Editor’s Note: I wrote this story when Tripoli was taken 8-24-11, and reprinted it today, upon the capture and execution of Col. Gaddafi)

After seven months of fighting, the 42-year regime of Col. Gaddafi has been overthrown, and the Libyan people are now free to establish a democratic form of government. While the rebels obviously deserve the lion’s share of the credit, as they risked their lives, others are also entitled to recognition, including the UN, NATO, France, Britain, the U.S. and President Obama, as the fall of Qaddafi would not have happened without their support.

President Obama, for his part, earned excellent grades throughout, as he made correct decisions at every critical stage of the uprising.

When the rebellion started in March, 2011, Obama correctly recognized the rebels as the authentic voice of the Libyan people, and viewed Gaddafi as lacking legitimacy, as he took office in 1969 via a military junta, and not through a free and fair election.

Obama’s next decision was to intervene in an internal uprising. Since Libya had not invaded another country, Obama could have said it would be wrong under international law to meddle in their internal affairs, but he did not. For humanitarian reasons, he got involved. If he had done nothing, Gaddafi certainly would have annihilated the rebels.

Obama correctly ruled out U.S. ground forces. Although weapons would have to be used to remove Gaddafi, for a variety of reasons, the President correctly realized the rebels themselves would have to wage the fight. U.S. troops would have only allowed Gaddafi to rally Libyan people against the great infidel.

Obama also refused to act like a crazy Texas cowboy and go it alone. As an early policy decision, Obama set up a coalition of willing NATO partners, before taking any military action.

Obama’s imposition of a No-Fly Zone with our European allies was a smart move, as it saved the rebellious populations in the east from air attacks by Gaddafi and his henchmen. Taking control of the sky was an essential early step towards victory.

Obama’s next policy move was to secure legal authorization from the UN Security Council. A UN Resolution gave NATO the right to use military force to protect the civilian people and authorized the bombings that followed. If the U.S. had not taken the lead in this regard, Europeans would not have followed, or acted at all.

The subsequent decision to covertly arm the rebels with rifles, trucks and other weapons, even though there was an uncertainly as to what they stood for, was also a correct move, as it allowed them to advance from Benghazi in the east, to Tripoli in the west.

Although Obama did not request or obtain a formal Declaration of War from Congress, and arguably violated the War Powers Act by using American air power for over 60 days, (since the U.S. had not been attacked), the Republican-controlled House did not object, or defund the operation, and tacitly approved of it.

No American lives were lost in the operation to remove the regime of Col. Gaddafi, and Obama deserves credit for standing with the rebels, intervening against a 42-year dictator, wisely holding back on the use of U.S. ground troops, refusing to go it alone, using NATO, obtaining UN authorizations, pushing the Europeans to stand up and fight, imposing a No-Fly Zone, and covertly aiding the rebels with arms and technical assistance.

Hopefully, the Libyans will now take it from there, and will create a political system that limits their leaders to relatively short terms in office. Obama did his part. The rest is up to the Libyans.

10/19/2011

Republican Debate: Nevada (10-18-11)

The Republican Presidential candidates debated in Nevada.

DEFENSE SPENDING: Ron Paul said there is a lot of money in the military budget that does no good. We have an empire with 900 bases in 150 countries, and would be safer if we were not in so many places. Why keep troops in Korea, Japan, or Germany? We have more weapons than all other nations combined, Paul said, enough to blow up the world 20 to 25 times. Bachmann said defense spending should be on the table, but not 500 million. Gingrich would determine our threats, and calculate the cost of a response. Santorum would not cut a penny of military spending.

AFGHANISTAN: Ron Paul said the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan, because the Soviet Union was brought down by entering that country, and the same thing will happen to us.

FOREIGN AID: Romney said we spend more on foreign aid than we should, and we should let China do it, because it makes no sense to borrow from China to give aid to others. Paul would cut all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, saying the Constitution does not authorize it. Aid to Israel does not help, but only teaches dependency. We take from the poor, Paul said, and give to the rich in poor states. He said look at the aid we gave to Egypt. We spent billions pumping up a dictator, and yet they are hostile to us. Cain would give foreign aid to friends, like Israel, but not enemies. Bachmann opposed cutting foreign aid to Israel, since she believes they are our greatest ally.

ISRAEL: Bachmann incorrectly accused Obama of being the first president since Israeli independence to put daylight between our nations. (She never studied Eisenhower’s stand at Suez in 1956)

UN & PALESTINE: Perry thought it was a travesty for the Palestinian Authority to go to the UN to seek statehood. He asked why the U.S. is contributing to the UN. He would defund it.

LIBYA & IRAQ: Bachmann wants Libya and Iraq to reimburse us for the cost of bombing their countries. She wants our troops to have immunity for any and all wrongdoing committed in Iraq.

IRAN: Bachmann accused Iran of an attempted assassination on U.S. soil. The number one global issue, she said, is Iran and nuclear weapons. She called their leader a genocidal maniac, but offered no proof to back up her claim. Santorum also said our central threat is Iran. Neither candidate explained how or why they see Iran as a credible threat to the U.S.

TERROR: Paul said Reagan negotiated with Iranian terrorists for a return of hostages. Gingrich said Reagan made a mistake. Bachmann would not release anyone at Guantanamo. Can would not negotiate. Santorum would never negotiate, period.

WALL STREET: Cain had said: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you are not rich, blame yourself.” He said Wall Street did nothing wrong; they did not spend a trillion for no good. Protesters should be in front of the White House, Cain said. Ron Paul accused Cain of blaming victims. He would protest in front of the Federal Reserve and in Washington. The bailout was supported by both parties, Paul said. They bailed out big corporations, who ripped off people in the derivatives market. They thought the world would end if we did not bail banks out. The middle class got stuck. Paul said if money was given out, it should have gone to people who lost their mortgages, not the banks. Romney called the protests dangerous class warfare, and said Obama is to blame over the past three years, as he says he has no idea how the private sector works.

HOUSING: Santorum said Romney, Perry, and Cain supported TARP. Cain said people on the top who took risks got bailed out in 2008, but the market should have been allowed to work. Perry wanted Congress to act, but did not want TARP. Santorum said Perry supported the particular TARP plan on the House floor. Romney said government should not give a couple thousand dollars to buy a new home, or to keep banks from foreclosing.

JOBS: Perry wants to focus on the 9% unemployed. Santorum said no more products “Made in America” hurts the middle class. Gingrinch wants America off food stamps and on paychecks. Romney said half the jobs created in Texas were filled by illegals.

IMMIGRATION: Texan Ron Paul said a fence is not the answer to illegal immigration. We worry more about the Afghan and Pakistan borders than our own, Paul said, and need to bring our National Guards home so they can guard our borders. Perry blamed the federal government for failing to secure the 1,200 mile Texas border, and for the huge number of illegals looking for jobs. Businesses who hire illegals ought to be penalized, Perry said. He does not want to repeal the 14th Amendment as to citizenship by birth. A fence could be built, Perry said, but it would take 15 years and 30 billion. He instead recommended strategic fencing where it matters, and predator drones to direct boots on the ground. Perry accused Romney of hiring illegals to work on his property, but Romney denied it, saying it’s hard to know if lawn care contractors employ illegals. When he learned they hired illegals, they were let go. Perry also accused Romney of offering amnesty to aliens. Romney said Perry was the one open to amnesty, and accused him of creating a magnet by giving aliens a $100,000 tuition credit, a practice that must end. We must stop employer magnets by enforcing E-Verify. Romney also said 4.5 million want to come here legally in an orderly way. He said Perry’s Texas had a 60% increase in illegal immigration, while California and Florida had none. Cain would build a fence and have it electrified. He would promote a path to citizenship, and shut the back door, so people could come in the front door. He wants to empower states. Bachmann accused Obama’s aunt and uncle of being illegal aliens. She took a pledge to build a wall, saying illegals cost 113 billion a year. She would also enforce English as the official language. She said they cross the border to have anchor babies and the welfare that come with it. Gingrich said to 50 million Latinos, not all of whom are illegal, that America is the most open nation to immigration in history.

ENERGY: Paul said it’s wrong for 49 states to dump nuclear garbage in Nevada. Romney said Nevadans should have the final say and not have it jammed down their throats.  He wants energy independence, using our own natural resources. France gets 70% of their energy from nuclear power, Perry said. He wants 1.2 million people working on energy. We shouldn’t rely on OPEC, saying we should be energy independent. We need not subsidize energy. Gingrich wants a safe way of take care of nuclear waste.

HEALTH CARE: Paul said we need more medical competition. Americans should be allowed to opt out of Obama’s health care. Bachmann said even the Obama Administration realized they cannot afford Long Term Care. Santorum said Obama failed to focus on the cost of health care, which is the real problem. He said Romney has no credibility, since Obama’s plan was basically his. Romney called Obama’s plan unconstitutional, which should be repealed, as it is a huge burden on the economy. He would turn Medicare over to the states. He said his plan for Mass. was not for the entire nation. The idea of the individual mandate came from Gingrich, Romney said. His state relied on private insurers. The uninsured got private not government insurance. When it comes to knowledge about health care, Romney said I am the doctor. Gingrich admitted supporting the individual mandate in opposition to Hillarycare, but the Heritage Foundation came up with the idea. He said a small business is Mass. is being ordered to pay a fine of $3,000 for not paying $750 month in premiums.

TAXES: Cain tried to defend his 999 tax plan, which would impose a 9% federal sales tax and repeal all tax breaks. He argued it would remove all hidden income taxes in goods and services, and was not a value-added tax, but a single tax, which was revenue neutral. He failed to convince anyone it would not raise taxes on those making the least. Bachmann, a tax lawyer, also wants to abolish the tax code, but said Cain’s 999 plan would destroy the economy. She warned if Congress was given a new sales tax, it would never go away. She argued it would be applied against products at every stage of production. Everyone should pay taxes, she said, even if it is only $1. Santorum said 84% of Americans would pay more under Cain’s plan, which eliminates all deductions and exemptions. Getting rid of deductions would mean those with home mortgages would pay more, and people with three children would pay the same tax as a single man. He favored cutting the tax rate for manufacturing to zero. Perry, whose state already has a 6.25% sales tax, said Nevada’s is 8%, and New Hampshire’s is 0%, but no state wanted a 9% federal sales tax; they want flatter and fairer taxes. Romney said to a cheering crowd, Nevada does not want a 9% federal sales tax on top of an 8% state sales tax.  Paul opposes Cain’s plan, because it is regressive and increase taxes. He would replace income taxes with nothing. Gingrich wants to reduce capital gains taxes to zero.

RELIGION: Perry disagreed with the pastor who said Mormonism is a cult. Romney said the Founders appreciated the Freedom of Religion. The Founders went to great length to create a nation with a Constitution that respected all.

10/18/2011

Bachmann Is No Commander-in-Chief

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is not fit to serve as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, because she has no statewide, national, or worldly experience, little knowledge of international law, and several incorrect views on foreign policy.

While she opposed the military operation that President Obama successfully prosecuted in Libya, claiming no American interests were involved, she remains overly willing to engage in armed conflict in Iran, even though there is no evidence they are building a bomb, or pose any credible threat to the U.S.

Bachmann has obviously not studied Middle East history, because she criticized President Obama for suggesting a Palestinian peace plan that would require Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, and give up lands illegally occupied for 44 years.

Bachmann lives in the past, as she still sees Cuba as a sponsor of global militarism of the sort used during the Cold War, even though the Soviet Union dissolved 20 years ago, and Cuba no longer receives any weapons or instructions from Russia.

Bachmann incorrectly concludes the elimination of Osama bin Laden had something to do with our mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, and worse yet, she shows little or no regard for the Geneva Conventions, and international law, as she thinks the U.S. somehow has a special god-given right to engage in torture.

Bachmann’s Evangelical religious views make her unqualified in an era when we need a President who will take on fundamentalist viewpoints all across the globe. We need one who believes no government should ever establish a religion. Bachmann’s problem is she would interject religion in politics, and not separate the two.

We need a President like Obama who supports democracy against the rule of tyrants, such as Gaddafi in Libya. Our next leader must not be a sucker for fabricated proofs of the sort that drew President Bush into Iraq. He must understand special interests are right now trying to trump up another phony case for war, this time against Iran. We need a candidate with courage to broker a peace in the Mideast, which means not blindly taking Israel’s side, but rather considering the views of the Palestinians. Our next leader must respect international law, and understand that if we torture, our soldiers will likely be subjected to do the same abuse.

Since Michelle Bachmann is not a person who will ever be fit to serve as Commander-in-Chief, the Republicans should not advance her cause any further. If they do, all Americans should be prepared to rally to her defeat, whether she runs in 2012 as a Presidential candidate, or as a Vice-Presidential sidekick.

05/27/2011

Constitutional Power To Declare War

Is President Obama breaking the law by engaging in a military conflict in Libya, without first having a formal Declaration of War from Congress? Although the U.S., as a member of NATO, has been using military force in Libya since March 20, 2011, the Congress has not voted to approve or disapprove of the campaign.

The U.S. Constitution clearly gives Congress the power to declare war (Art. I Sec. 8). The President has only the power to act as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces (Art II, Sec. 2).

Congress last passed a formal Declaration of War in WWII, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (1941). During the Vietnam War, the issue was hotly debated, because, young men were dying in a far away land, but Congress had not declared war. They instead passed a Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on Aug. 6, 1964, which gave President Johnson authority to use all necessary force.

When President Nixon expanded the war into Cambodia and Senators learned he had conducted a secret bombing campaign, the Congress passed the War Powers Act (1973), to stop the Executive Branch from engaging in unauthorized conflict. Under the law, the President is allowed to engage in military conflict without Congressional authority, only where there is an attack against the U.S., and only for a limited period of 60 days.

With respect to Libya, there was no attack on the U.S. and since the 60 days expired on May 20th, the Commander-in-Chief is violating the War Powers Act and Art I Sec. 8 of the Constitution.

The remedy lies in the Republican-controlled House. They clearly have the power to pass a law saying the President shall not engage in military action in Libya. If the President vetoed it, they could override, with a 66% vote. Since the House also controls all revenue bills (Art I, Sec. 7), and no money can be taken from the Treasury, except by appropriation made by law (Art I, Sec 9), the Congress clearly has the authority to defund the Libyan conflict.

As the North African war continues, and we move closer to the 2012 election, it should be remembered House Republicans tacitly approved of the Libyan fight. If the war goes bad and Republicans complain, they should be asked why they did not end it.

05/23/2011

Obama’s Historic Mideast Speech

President Obama delivered a historic speech on May 19, 2011, in which he first addressed the two wars President Bush started, by saying 100,000 troops have already returned from Iraq, and U.S. soldiers and will soon be coming home from Afghanistan.

Obama next referred to the peaceful changes in Tunisia and Egypt, during the Arab Spring, and the ongoing revolts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. He reaffirmed U.S. support for self-determination, the freedoms of speech and religion, peaceful assembly, equality for men and women, and voting rights. He said journalists must be respected, and an open Internet access must be allowed, since legitimate democracy needs an informed citizenry.

Obama condemned Libya’s Col. Qaddafi for launching a war against his own people; advised Syria’s Assad to stop shooting at demonstrators; and asked President Saleh of Yemen to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.

While Obama reasserted a U.S. commitment to Bahraini security, he boldly admonished the royal family for using brute force, making mass arrests of Shiites, and for destroying their Mosques. He told them to release political prisoners and engage in dialogue.

Finally, Obama showed great courage, as he suggested that Israel stop building illegal settlements, and end their longstanding occupation of Palestine, by withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders.

In his historic speech, Obama lamented: “The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate…The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome… The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace…Endless delay won’t make the problem go away.”

Obama told Israel and the world, the Palestinians have suffered “the humiliation of occupation,” and have not lived “in a nation of their own…The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” Obama noted “Israeli settlement activity continues,” as he bravely suggested the coordination of a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces…”

Obama simultaneously warned the Palestinians they will never realize independence by denying the right of Israel to exist, as he said: “Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.”

Obama correctly concluded a lasting peace will involve two states, Israel, as a Jewish state, and Palestine, as the homeland for the Palestinians. This is almost exactly what the UN has been saying for 44 years: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

During the past 44 years of violence, Israel has illegally occupied Palestine, and it’s about time a strong American President directly suggested giving peace a chance by retreating to the 1967 borders. It is not only the right solution, it’s the only one that has a chance.

05/04/2011

NATO: Has It Become A Modern UN?

The BBC reported Norwegian fighter planes made strikes against the Libyan capital of Tripoli, as part of a NATO mission. It was refreshing for an American, tired of the U.S. superpower burden, to see a small state like Norway play such a central role. While all member states should be involved in NATO operations, a more basic question now is: Just what is the NATO mission?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) started out with 12 European and North American states (1949). [i] Soon, Greece and Turkey joined (1952), and Germany hopped on board (1955).  30 years later, Spain enlisted (1982). After the Soviet Union dissolved, Poland, Hungary, the Czechs joined (1999), followed by 7 East European states (2004), [ii] and 2 in the Balkans (2009). [iii]

NATO’s purpose in 1949 was strictly as a defensive treaty group. They agreed that an armed attack against one European or North American member would be considered an attack upon all. In their first 40 years, NATO concerned itself with threats by Russia, but when the Soviet Union dissolved (1991), NATO changed.

As the former Yugoslavia broke up, NATO became proactive, and intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo (a Serb Province), even though no NATO state had been attacked. They downed Bosnian-Serb planes that violated Bosnian no-fly zones (1994), bombed the Bosnian-Serb Army (1995), and acted as a Bosnian peacekeeper, after the Dayton Accord (1996-04). Despite the lack of UN approval, NATO flew missions against Serbia, to protect Kosovo (1999). While NATO’s conduct in the former Yugoslavia was no longer defensive, at least it was still on the European continent.

NATO then expanded their mission once more, as they went global. They entered South Asia, in an Afghan operation (2003); they undertook a training mission in the Mideast, in Iraq (2004); they started policing international waters off East Africa, to ward off Somali pirates (2009); and now, they are enforcing an embargo and no-fly zone in North Africa, against Libya (2011).

With this history of intervention in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Mideast, and clear authority to enter North America, is there any part of the world off limits to NATO? Could they conduct a mission in South America, Australia or Antarctica?

Has NATO effectively become the enforcement arm of the UN? If so, has the UN Security Council become irrelevant? With a NATO membership that consists of only 28 of the world’s 193 independent states, what legitimacy does it have to act around the globe at will? Do the other 165 nations approve of NATO’s unlimited reach? At some point, the world is going to have to reconcile the growth of NATO, at the expense of the UN.


[i] U.S., Canada, Iceland, Britain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy and Portugal

[ii] Estonia, Latvia, Lith., Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria

[iii] Albania, and Croatia

03/30/2011

Iraq War Is Not Same As Libyan Revolt

Some have asked why the left protested against George W. Bush when he invaded and occupied Iraq, but they have not criticized President Obama for using air power, as part of an international coalition, to protect the Libyan people. The answer is the situations are entirely different.

In Iraq, the people were not revolting against Saddam Hussein when President George W. Bush invaded. In Libya, the opposite was true. A popular revolt was in progress, as President Barack Obama joined an international coalition to provide air support.

In Iraq, Bush lied to the American people to get the U.S. involved. Obama, on the other hand, did not make any false or fabricated claims to promote the Libyan mission. Bush used fear tactics in a State of the Union address to scare uninformed Americans into believing Iraq had nuclear weapons and that they were going to be used against the U.S. Bush made his comments while his own CIA was telling him: “Iraq does not have a nuclear weapon or sufficient material to make one.”

While the Iraq War had no approval from the UN, the mission in Libya has received Security Council authorization. Bush tried but could not obtain UN approval for his proposed Iraqi invasion. He sent Sec. of State Colin Powell to convince a skeptical UN that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that were an imminent threat to the U.S. The Bush people warned of a mushroom cloud, but the UN didn’t buy it. Bush invaded Iraq anyway, and violated the UN Charter, which requires states to refrain from the unilateral use of force. Of course, as it turned out, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

In the Iraq War, Bush sent over 100,000 soldiers and Marines to occupy a foreign country. In Libya, Obama made it clear he will not put any boots on the ground. The military occupation of Iraq triggered a bloody guerilla war against U.S. forces. Although most American troops were finally withdrawn, after years of fighting, the U.S. is still paying the price for Bush’s invasion, as there continue to be 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq.

To sum it up, there was no rebellion in Iraq, but there was one in Libya. Bush lied to get into Iraq, Obama made no false claims. Libya has UN authorization; Bush’s War in Iraq had none. Bush sent ground troops to occupy a foreign country, Obama has not.