Posts tagged ‘President Clinton’

04/18/2012

Recall: Impeachment by Another Name

Wisconsin will soon be conducting a Recall Election against Scott Walker, and a band of Republican State Senators, who like Mary Surratt, provided aid and comfort to the Governor, as they plotted and conspired to deny state workers of their collective bargaining rights.

If voters wonder why an Impeachment indictment was not presented in the State Assembly, and specific charges were not prosecuted at a trial in the State Senate, the answer is while a Recall is like an Impeachment, by an another name, there are differences.

Before the Progressives amended the Wisconsin Constitution to give the people a direct voice in the removal of elected officials, Impeachment was the only way to take out rouge public figures. The proponents of the Wisconsin Constitutional Amendment that created the recall in 1926 intended to give voters a direct method for replacing office holders. They wanted to bypass the impeachment process, which requires a majority vote in the State Assembly, and a two-thirds margin in the State Senate.

U.S. Senator Robert La Follette had advanced similar measures at the federal level. Until the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, U.S. Senators were not chosen through a vote by the people, but were hand-picked by state representatives. La Follette transferred power to ordinary people by removing the smoked-filled rooms, and by shifting the process into the hands of the voters, through the ballot. Impeachment, like the indirect method of picking Senators, was also outside the reach of ordinary voters, that is, until the advent of the Recall.

Unlike Impeachment, which requires a Senate trial where evidence of bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors is presented, only two things must be done to win a Recall. The first is the extremely onerous requirement of obtaining the signatures of 25% of those who voted in the prior election, which in Walker’s case was over 500,000, and second is the heavy burden to reverse the previous vote of the electorate, a majority of whom supported Walker. People generally do not like being told they were wrong in the first place, even if they were.

While impeachments have historically been used against Presidents by political opponents, for political reasons, and have often resulted in political outcomes, the Recall is not burdened with the personal agendas or egos of individual Senators.

After the death of Whig President William Harrison, John Tyler, a Southern Democrat, entered the White House, and when he started vetoing nearly every measure the Whig Party presented, an Impeachment resolution was introduced in the House, before it was defeated 127 to 83, thanks to Democratic resistance.

Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, who became Republican Lincoln’s Vice-President in 1864 under a National Union ticket, became President when Abe was assassinated in 1865, and after he vetoed several Republican measures, the House voted to impeach him, before a Senate trial resulted in an acquittal, by just one vote.

Bill Clinton, who had a consensual and perfectly legal affair with a younger woman, was targeted in an impeachment charade egged on by the sinister Newt Gingrich, which ultimately failed in the Senate by a handful of votes. If the Recall method had been used, instead of impeachment, the people would have acquitted Bill in a landslide.

The Recall is not easier than Impeachment, as two large obstacles must be overcome before there can be a removal, it is more democratic, and it gives more direct power to the people.

Advertisements
04/17/2012

Mandate Candidate Tax Disclosures

Although the Federal Election Commission requires Presidential candidates to reveal assets and liabilities on Ethics Form 278, there is currently no law mandating the disclosure of tax returns, but there should be. Although it has been a tradition for over four decades for aspiring Presidents and incumbents to release several years of tax returns, Mitt Romney has surrendered only two. The Congress should impose a 7-year mandatory look-back period to correct this type of reluctance.

During the 2008 Republican primaries, Mitt Romney refused to disclose any tax returns whatsoever, and so far in the 2012 race, he yielded only his 2011 return, which showed 20.9 million in gross income, and his 2010 papers, that disclosed another 21 million in revenue. Voters are entitled to many more years from Romney, if he expects to be taken seriously in November.

President Barack and Michelle Obama released eight years of tax returns before the 2008 election. They grossed $240,000 in 2000, $275,000 in 2001, $260,000 in 2002, $238,000 in 2003, $207,000 in 2004, 1.6 million in 2005, $991,000 in 2006, 4.2 million in 2007, and 2.6 million in 2008. Since becoming Commander-in-Chief, he reported 5.6 million in 2009 (only $374,460 in Presidential pay), and 1.7 million in 2010, and his 2011 return. Sen. John McCain also made his tax returns public in 2008.

George W. and Laura Bush reported $936,000 in 2007, $765,000 in 2006, $738,000 in 2005, $784,000 in 2004, $822,000 in 2003, $856,000 in 2002, $811,000 in 2001, and $894,000 in 2000. Sen. Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry also showed us their numbers.

Bill and Hillary Clinton disclosed $417,000 in 1999, $509,000 in 1998, 1 million in 1996, $316,000 in 1995, $263,000 in 1994, $293,000 in 1993, and $290,000 in 1992, in addition to several other returns, all the way back to 1980. Bill’s 1996 challenger, Sen. Bob Dole, also surrendered to the media his tax returns.

George H. W. and Barbara Bush grossed $456,000 in 1989, $452,000 in 1990, and 1.3 million in 1991. His challenger, Gov. Michael Dukakis had no problem releasing his tax returns.

Ronald Reagan reported $345,000 in 1987, $320,000 in 1986, $394,000 in 1985, over $400,000 (illegible) in 1983, $741,000 in 1982, and $412,000 in 1981.

Jimmy Carter reported $270,000 (illegible) in 1979, $254,000 in 1978, and $350,000 in 1977. President Ford also showed the public his tax returns.

Richard Nixon reported $736,000 in 1969, $262,000 in 1970, $262,000 in 1971, and $282,000 in 1972.

11/14/2011

Sexual Harassment: The Cained Women

Since Sexual Harassment has once again returned to American Politics, thanks to four different women who claimed to be the victims of it at the hands of Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, it is a good time to review the law on the subject.

The legal basis for a Sexual Harassment claim is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer…to discriminate against any individual with respect to (her) compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of… race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Sexual Harassment was further defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature…when: 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or 3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual Harassment manifests itself in one of two ways: 1) the exchange of concrete employment benefits for sexual favors; or 2) harassment that creates an offensive or hostile work environment. A successful case requires proof the harassment was: 1) based on sex; 2) unwelcome; and 3) sufficiently severe and pervasive.

When a supervisor sexually harasses a subordinate, because of the subordinate’s sex, the supervisor discriminates on the basis of sex. Meritor Savings Bank (1986). A woman must show she would not have been the subject of harassment, but for her sex.

The law allows work-place criticism and sexual flirtation. Mere criticism in the work-place, not based on sex, does not violate the law. A boss can be unpleasant, critical, or even mean, and yet not be guilty of sexual harassment, as the Civil Rights Act did not create a general civility code. The Supreme Court has never held workplace harassment…is automatically discrimination because of sex, merely because the words used have sexual content or connotations. The law does “not mistake ordinary socializing in the workplace, such as…flirtation, for discrimination.”

A second issue is whether sexual advances were unwelcome. Ongoing voluntary romantic engagements do not constitute sexual harassment. Co-workers can engage in sexual relations, as long as they are consensual. A claimant’s dress and conversation are relevant in determining unwelcome conduct. The Court in Meritor said it does not follow that a woman’s sexually provocative speech or dress is irrelevant, as a matter of law, in determining whether particular sexual advances were unwelcome. In other words, a man can introduce evidence of what was said and what she was or was not wearing. If a man made sexual advances, after a woman walked into his office and took off all her cloths, subsequent harassment charges could be defended against with evidence of her naked appearance.

The Supreme Court in Meritor further said sexual harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment. A single sexually explicit remark is not sufficient to prove a wrong. See Clark County School Dist. (2000). Simple teasing, offhand comments, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) do not constitute discrimination. Sexually hostile or intimidating environments are characterized by multiple and varied combinations and frequencies of offensive exposures, which would dictate an order of proof demonstrating the injury resulted not from a single or isolated offensive incident, comment, or conduct, but from incidents, comments, or conduct that occurred with some frequency. Courts will look to the frequency, severity, verbal or physical nature of offenses, and whether they interfered with work performance. Harris v Forklift (1993).

Since Herman Cain did not fight and win his cases, but instead made payments, it is fair to assume all of the required evidence was available against him, before cash settlements were made.

Perhaps Cain may now sympathize with President Clinton, who was innocent of sexual harassment as to his purely consensual affair with Monica Lewinsky. She never once said his advances were unwelcome. Clinton was properly acquitted in the Senate of trumped-up impeachment charges brought by House Republicans.

Clinton was also not guilty of charges brought by Paula Jones. In Jones v Clinton (W.D. Ark. 1998) Judge Susan Wright rejected Jones’ claim that a single incident of allegedly requesting oral sex was enough, in and of itself, to create a hostile work environment. Jones, who worked for Arkansas, was not even directly under the supervision of then Gov. Clinton. Courts have ruled where a supervisor has no authority over an employee, because they work in different departments, it may be improper to find liability.

Whether or not Herman Cain could have prevailed in his sexual harassment cases, if they had gone to trial, it is useful to know the law of sexual harassment.

07/26/2011

Somalia Should Pipe West African Water

A drought responsible for the lowest amount of rain in 50 years has caused a return of famine in the Horn of Africa, in Southern Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. There was a similar episode 20 years ago, and a solution is needed for this recurrent problem.

While there is an immediate need for relief, work must also begin now on pipelines to redistribute the overabundance of water in West Africa to the dry regions of Northeast Africa. Four of the top 15 wettest nations on earth are in West Africa, including: Guinea, which ranks #1, Sierra Leone #3, Gabon #4, and Nigeria #15.

Guinea has a 200-mile Atlantic coast (9 N) and a rainy season from May through Dec. Sierra Leone (8 N), bordering Guinea, also has a swampy 210-mile Atlantic shore, which receives 195 inches of rain each year (April-Dec.) These poor states could benefit greatly from the sale of rain water to the dry regions. Gabon, in the elbow of West Africa (0 N), and also on the Atlantic, has Sep. through May rains. Nigeria, located on the West African south coast, has rain from April through Oct.

Gabon and Nigeria, both rich from oil revenues, have money to finance water pipelines, and experience from pumping oil. They could join with the Economic Community of West African States (ECWAS) to finance two water pipelines, one along a northern route, from the Atlantic at Guinea and Sierra Leone, due east through Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and into Somalia. A southern equatorial pipeline could start in Gabon and go east through the Congo, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, and also into Somalia.

Pipelines would bring a more permanent solution to the recurrent problem. The last time Somalia needed aid, Operation Somalia was authorized in 1992, but relief could not be delivered due to fighting in Mogadishu. President George H. W. Bush decided to prevent mass starvation by authorizing a U.S. Marine airlift. When President Clinton took office in 1993, he increased the size of the mission, under Operation Somalia II. When the U.S. started seizing weapons, however, they were accused of neo-colonialism, causing a Mogadishu mob to down two U.S. helicopters and murder U.S. soldiers, bringing the relief mission to an end.

The drought stricken area should not have to rely on airlifts for relief. Pipelines can and should be built. It’s just a matter of leadership, intergovernmental cooperation, and willpower.

05/30/2011

Bosnia War Crime Trials Must Proceed

The Bosnian War (1992-95), a conflict that has never been easy to explain, is finally moving towards closure, with the arrest in Serbia of Bosnian-Serb military leader Ratko Mladic.

When the former Yugoslavia dissolved into six countries, namely: Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Serbia, some provinces did so in peace, but Bosnia had troubles, because their religions and ethnicities were a Balkanized mix of Bosnian-Muslim, Catholic-Croat, and Orthodox-Serb.

When the Bosnian-Muslims and Bosnian-Croats united to form a Federation, the Bosnian-Serbs set up their own Republika Srpska (RS). This triggered a Civil War (1992-95), during which the Bosnian-Serbs, forcefully removed Bosnian-Croats and Muslims from their homes, in what became known as an ethnic cleansing.

The UN failed to act militarily, because the issue was seen by China and Russia as an internal Yugoslavian affair. The Security Council did however set up the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to prosecute war crimes (1993).

After the Bosnian-Serbs attacked Sarajevo (1994), and under the lead of Ratko Mladic, slaughtered 8,000 defenseless Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica (1995), President Bill Clinton and other NATO country leaders finally used air power to stop the Serbs.

The Dayton Peace Accords (1995) recognized both the Bosnian Muslim-Croat Federation, and the Bosnian-Serb Republic (RS). The Federation now occupies 51% of Bosnia, while the RS Republic controls the other 49%, each with their own laws.

Since the war ended 16 years ago, the remaining task has been to bring justice to the victims, or their families, by prosecuting and convicting those who committed war crimes. Those commanders who ordered or allowed torture or murder, are individually responsible for breaching the rights of prisoners and civilians, under the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Although it took 16 years to capture Mladic, there is no Statute of Limitations as to murder. After his extradition to the Netherlands, the judge must give him a few months to prepare for trial, but after that, the court must proceed promptly, as justice delayed is justice denied, and thus far, there has been no justice as to Mladic.

05/24/2011

Arab-Israeli 1967 War In Review

The 1967 Arab-Israeli War started as Israel launched a surprise attack against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel swept through the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, and on to the Suez Canal, where they broke a blockade by Egypt, in the Gulf of Aqaba, and at the Port of Elath. Following the war, Israel occupied the Sinai (Egypt), the Golan Heights (Syria), East Jerusalem, and the West Bank (Jordan). Up to 250,000 Palestinians became refugees.

Israel was censured by the UN Assembly (99-0, 20 abstentions). The UN Security Council found the taking of land by force illegal, and ordered a “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” (Res. 242, 1967). The U.S. also asked Israel to withdraw, and barred the use of U.S. economic aid in the occupied areas. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded by Yasir Arafat to resist Israel.

Israel ignored the UN, the U.S., the PLO, and international law, and started re-settling Jewish families in Arab Jerusalem, known as the Old City. The UN warned against changing the legal status of Jerusalem by conquest (Res. 252, 1968). They reminded Israel it is illegal under international law to expropriate land, or forcibly remove civilians (Res. 298, 1971). In a 14-0 vote, the Security Council directed Israel to return occupied East Jerusalem (1971).

Israel instead defiantly proceeded with 44 new settlements in the occupied territories, all started since 1967. 15 were in the Golan Heights, 15 in the West Bank, and 14 in Sinai and Gaza (1972).

Things changed in 1972 following a bombing raid, when the U.S. vetoed a Security Council Resolution censuring Israel. Since then, the U.S. vetoed another 40 odd resolutions critical of Israel. This explains why the Arabs and Muslims dislike U.S. foreign policy.

The Arabs tried to take back the occupied territories in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, but failed, mainly because Israel had superior firepower, supplied by the U.S. The UN nevertheless continued to demand an Israeli withdrawal (Res. 344, 1973).

In 1978, Israeli Prime Minister Begin proved a withdrawal to the 1967 borders could be accomplished. During the Egyptian-Israeli peace process, Egyptian leader Sadat insisted on an Israel withdraw from the occupied Sinai. After Prime Minister Begin, Sadat, and President Carter, signed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty (1979), Israeli soldiers and civilians withdrew, and peace has existed along the Sinai border ever since.

But the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Golan Heights, and Jerusalem, remained occupied. The UN criticized settlements in the occupied areas, saying they violated the rights of civilians, under the Geneva Convention (Res. 446, 452, 1979, Res. 465, 1980).

When Israeli law was imposed upon Syrians in the occupied Golan Heights, the UN declared the act null and void, citing the Geneva Convention (Res 497, 1981).

In 1985, Arafat said the PLO would accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, if Israel would withdraw to the 1967 borders. The UN again called for a withdrawal, but Israel refused (Res. 592, 1986).

The UN deplored the killing of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and other occupied areas, in violation of the Geneva Convention (Res. 605, 1987). They also ordered Israel to stop deporting Palestinians (Res. 636, 641, ’89; Res. 694, ’91; Res. 726, 799, ‘92).

Another break came in 1994, when Israeli Prime Minister Rabin proved peace was possible, as he and President Clinton reached a agreement with Jordan (1994). After Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli extremist (1995), Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party came to power, and the peace process stalled, as Netanyahu lifted a ban on new settlements (1996).

Israel later built a Wall in and around occupied Jerusalem, which the International Court of Justice said was a de facto annexation, in violation civilian rights, under the Geneva Conventions. (2004).

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it appeared that more progress was being made, but peace didn’t really have a chance, since Israel closed off all land, sea, or air access to the Gaza Strip, and denied Palestinians of a right to exist with their own leaders.

When President Obama suggested a withdrawal to the 1967 border in the West Bank, Netanyahu rudely lectured him, saying the 1967 line is indefensible. The truth is the current border is indefensible, as it has led to nothing but conflict for 44 years. Netanyahu’s fear-based approach will never work. Once the Palestinians no longer have a reason to be angry about an illegal occupation, only then may Israel enjoy peace and security. Since Netanyahu is unwilling to use the 1967 line, it’s time for a new Israeli leader, preferably one who listens more, and lectures less.

05/18/2011

National Debt: Lower It The Left Way

Rational people have always believed that except in extraordinary circumstances, taxes must cover spending. We lost our way when President Reagan and the supply-siders made taxes a dirty word, and introduced voodoo economics. Things worsened as Reagan’s disciples, like the light-weight President Bush II, increased the policy of borrowing-and-spending, to where debt is out of control.

When President Eisenhower served (1953-61), the debt increased just 8.2% in 8 years, from 266 to 288 billion. During the Kennedy and Johnson terms (1961-69), it rose only 22.5%, from 288 to 353 billion. In the Nixon-Ford years (1969-77), national debt climbed 97%, from 353 to 698 billion. Democratic President Carter (1977-81) slowed the growth rate to 43%, from 698 to 997 billion.

Things really changed when President Reagan (1981-89) and his supply-side Republicans arrived. Reagan was able to fool voters into believing the budget could be balanced through simultaneous tax cuts and spending increases, but as he gave taxes away, the debt shot up a whopping 186%, from 997 billion to 2.8 trillion.

Republican President Bush I next increased the debt another 57%, from 2.8 to 4.4 trillion, before Democrat President Bill Clinton, allowed only a more modest rise of 32%, from 4.4 to 5.8 trillion.

The country then suffered through another major dose of borrow-and-spend, as Bush II gave away prescription drugs, and started two wars, without raising any taxes. Debt went up a staggering 105%, as Bush II more than doubled it, from 5.8 to 11.9 trillion.

While national debt was modestly increased by Democrats Kennedy-Johnson (22.5%), Carter (43%), and Clinton (32%), the amount added by the latter-day Republicans is unsustainable, as Nixon-Ford brought it up 97%, movie star Reagan used his credit card to add 186%, and Bush II borrowed to increase it by 105%.

While deficit spending has been the norm for a long time, and both parties deserve some blame, it is time to recognize that the budget-balancing Republicans of my father’s generation left the building with Eisenhower, long ago. The time for tax breaks is over. We have to attack the debt the right way, which is to say, we have to do it the left’s way, by electing fiscal Democrats.

05/06/2011

Bin Laden Intel: Thank Bill Clinton

During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, bin Laden was suspected, in the first World Trade Center bombing (2-26-93), a car bombing against U.S. forces in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (11-13-95), a truck bombing at the USAF Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia (6-25-96), the U.S. Embassy bombings, in Kenya and Tanzania (8-7-98), and the USS Cole attack in Yemen (10-12-00).

Under President Clinton, the CIA established a special operation in 1996 called the “Bin Laden Unit,” which started collecting intelligence on his whereabouts. After the embassy bombings, Clinton’s Atty. Gen. used the Intel to indict bin Laden, on Nov. 4, 1998, and the FBI was able to put him on their “Most Wanted” list.

George W. Bush was sworn-in on Jan. 20, 2001. If it had not been for the five years of groundwork done by Bill Clinton and his people, Bush would have had no idea bin Laden was a Sept. 11, 2001 suspect, and no clue he might be hiding in Afghanistan. It was Bill Clinton’s Intel that made possible Bush’s prompt invasion of Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, just one month after 911.

While President Obama and his team deserve 90% of the praise for the recent operation that eliminated bin Laden, if credit is to be shared with earlier presidents, then Bill Clinton must be included. Clinton started bombing suspected bin Laden sites on Aug. 20, 1998. Although Republicans accused him at the time of diverting attention away from his personal issues, it was Clinton in Aug, 1999, who first ordered the CIA to take out bin Laden.

While Clinton did not find him under his watch, neither did Bush, despite having eight years to do so. When U.S. intelligence pinpointed bin Laden’s precise location on Dec. 16, 2001, during the Afghan Battle at Tora Bora, Bush inexplicably denied a Delta Force permission to drop in over a mountain range to capture or kill him, and bin Laden was able to escape into Pakistan.

Bush later said at a March 13, 2002 Press Conference: “I just don’t spend that much time on him…I don’t know where he is…I truly am not that concerned about him.” By 2005, Bush had re-directed Delta Force away from the bin Laden objective to other unrelated missions in Iraq. The NY Times reported Bush closed the CIA unit that had been looking for bin Laden, in late 2005 (7-4-06). This was the same time bin Laden had opened his Pakistani hideaway.

The partisan desire of the right-wingers to praise Bush for a mission Obama carried out is illogical. If they want to give some credit to their former president, for whatever they think he might have done during his eight years in office, then it only logical to also give Bill Clinton credit for the work he did, during the last five years of his presidency. They can’t have it both ways.

05/03/2011

Bin Laden’s 20-Year War

Bin Laden’s 20-year War started when the first President Bush made the mistake, in the Gulf War (1990-91), of stationing American troops in Saudi Arabia. Since Saudi Arabia is to Muslims, as the Vatican in Rome is to Catholics, bin Laden was outraged that the infidel was permitted on his sacred Holy Land.

Bin Laden’s Army took the offensive, and fought their first battle against the U.S. at the World Trade Center, where they had only minimal success, as a bomb went off at the base of the buildings, but they withstood the blast, and only six Americans died (1993).

Bin Laden’s Army next won two battles on Saudi Arabian soil. A car bomb exploded at the U.S. military base in Riyadh, where five Americans died, and 60 were wounded (1995). The next hit was a more forceful blast at the USAF Khobar Towers complex, near Dhahran, where 19 Americans died, and 372 were injured (1996).

While U.S. forces held their ground at the Saudi bases, Bin Laden’s Army opened an East African Front, and scored two more victories, as bombs went off at the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998). 224 were killed and 4,000 were injured in Kenya, and 11 died and 85 were wounded in Tanzania (1998).

As bin Laden became enemy number one, his Army strategically retreated into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. President Bill Clinton counter-attacked against bin Laden’s suspected sites, with air strikes, but Osama avoided harm, as the Taliban refused to cooperate, despite sanctions against Afghanistan (1999).

Bin Laden’s Army next hit U.S. forces on the Arabian Peninsula Home Front, in Yemen, where they attacked the USS Cole, as it was docked at the Aden port, killing 17 American sailors (2000).

Emboldened by their successes, Bin Laden’s Army struck at the heart of his enemy’s capitol in Washington, and again in New York. Like the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor (1941), bin Laden scored a dastardly victory on Sept. 11, 2001, as the Pentagon burned, and the World Trade Center came down, killing 3,000. Bin Laden’s Army had won a major battle, but America was awakened, and bin Laden had now signed his own death warrant.

Even though fundamentalist bin Laden was born, raised and indoctrinated in Saudi Arabia, and 15 of bin Laden’s 19 attackers on 911 were also Saudi Arabian, President Bush II decided not to overthrow the backward Saudi Kingdom. He instead entered Afghanistan (2001). After initially wanting bin Laden dead or alive, Bush II announced he abandoned the hunt for bin Laden. He then lost his compass completely and started an unrelated war in Iraq (2003).

Meanwhile, Bush II gave bin Laden what he had always wanted. He withdrew all U.S. troops from the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia (2003). Upon doing this, the offensive phase of bin Laden’s War against the U.S. ended. There were no longer any attacks against U.S. Air bases, U.S. Navy ships, U.S. Embassies, or U.S. cities. Bin Laden himself simply slipped into seclusion.

After President Obama won the presidency (2008), U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan increased by 30,000 (2009). Bin Laden was located in neighboring Pakistan (2010). The 20-year war that had begun in 1991, when an Islamic fundamentalist was offended by Bush I and his decision to open U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia, ended on May 1, 2011, as Special Forces for a President named Barack Hussein Obama, finally took out Osama bin Laden.

03/31/2011

Syria and Israel: Solve Golan Heights

Internal politics in Syria is now getting a lot of attention. For the past 40 years, the country has been ruled by the Assad family. Al-Assad was chosen president in 1971 and ruled for 29 years. Bashar Assad, his son, started in 2000 and has served for 11 years.

While change may soon come after 40 years of one-family rule, there is an even more important international issue that has been festering for the past 44 years that must be addressed by Syria and Israel. It is an issue that can and should be solved, soon after there is a change in domestic Syrian politics.

Syria shares a border with Israel. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel invaded Syria and occupied the Golan Heights. Thousands of Syrians were driven from their homes and became refugees. The UN condemned the taking of the Golan Heights and called on Israel to return the occupied territories (UN Res. 242).

In the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab troops from as far away as Morocco assembled to open a Syrian Front against Israel in an attempt to retake the Golan Heights. Syria demanded the dismantling of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. A UN Disengagement Observer Force supervised a ceasefire (1974).

Israel announced in 1981 it was annexing the Golan Heights and that it would impose Israeli law upon the people living there. Their action was declared null and void by the UN, under the Geneva Convention, which protects the rights of civilians, living under the rule of an occupying power.

To this day, the occupation continues and the settlements remain. After 44 years, the problem has not been resolved and it cannot simply be ignored, or swept under the rug. They only way Israel may enjoy a truly lasting peace is to come to terms with Syria.

A peace treaty with Syria can be made. Israel made peace with Egypt in 1978, with the help of Jimmy Carter. During the Clinton Administration in 1994, Israel made peace with Jordan, due to King Hussein’s cooperation. A peace treaty between Syria and Israel was nearly reached in 2000. Soon, the time will come to get it done.

President Obama is the right middle-man to broker the deal. What needs to happen is for Americans, particularly the friends of Israel, to put pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party. They need to be told in no uncertain terms to remove the settlements from the Golan Heights, and to give the land back to Syria, so that a lasting peace may be implemented.