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March 07, 2012 05:00 PM

Crooks and Liars- By karoli

Mitt Romney’s pathetic efforts to stain the President’s track record when it comes to foreign policy ring hollow and are actually dangerous, or could be. During his news conference yesterday, President Obama addressed Mitt Romney’s irresponsible comments about war with Iran in recent days. Here’s a sample:

“Yet, the current administration has promoted a policy of engagement with Iran,” he continued. “The president not only dawdled in opposing sanctions, he’s opposed them. Hope is not a foreign policy. The only thing respected by thugs and tyrants is our resolve, backed by our power and our readiness to use it.”

Earlier this week in Snellville, Georgia, Romney told an 11-year-old boy that the world would be one step closer to nuclear war if President Barack Obama was allowed another term in office.

“If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change if that’s the case,” he said.

This follows on the heels of his irresponsible statements at the last debate about how he, and he alone, would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

President Obama had some choice words for him and any other Republican candidate who thinks war with Iran is a good idea.

OBAMA: At this stage, it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically. That’s not just my view — that’s the view of our top intelligence officials, it’s the view of top Israeli intelligence officials. And as a consequence, we are going to continue to apply the pressure, even as we provide a door for the Iranian regime to walk through, where they could rejoin the community of nations, by giving assurances to the international community that they are meeting their obligations and they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon. That’s my track record.

Now, what’s said on the campaign trail, you know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They’re not commander in chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war. I’m reminded of the decision that I have to make, in terms of sending our young men and women into battle, and the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy.

This is not a game, and there’s nothing casual about it. And, you know, when I see some of these folks who had a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them, specifically, what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we’ve been doing over the last three years. It indicates to me that that’s more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

Now, the one thing that we have not done, is we haven’t launched a war. If some of these folks think that it’s time to launch a war, they should say so. and they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be. Everything else is just talk.

It’s not just the President who thinks they’re being irresponsible with their “loose talk of war,” either. The former director of the Mossad spoke out, saying Romney is actually making the situation worse with Iran. The National Security Network has a roundup of other condemnations by highly respected current and former officials also condemning it, and reminding people that war is not “another applause line.”

Doesn’t the Republican drumbeat for war with Iran feel a lot like the drumbeat for war with Iraq back in 2003? It does to me, and so let me just remind readers and casual visitors alike that there is no evidence of Iran actually having a nuclear weapon. Further, Iran has agreed to restart talks with the world community and agreed in principle to allow nuclear inspectors to visit the Parchin site. Saying so doesn’t make it so, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

It frustrates me to see Republicans warmonger to create a campaign wedge, but I don’t understand why they think they’ll succeed. This is a war-weary nation and support for another war is almost nil. What do they think they gain with this kind of “loose talk”?

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February 15, 2012

Addicting Info  By

Rick Santorum is currently the poster boy for conservatism and the candidate leading the national polls among Republicans. Every day, Romney gets a little weaker, and Santorum gets a little stronger. And that makes him a threat to be the Republican Presidential nominee who faces President Obama in the general election this fall. But who exactly would the American people really be voting for if they elected Santorum? The answer could make you throw up in your mouth a little bit.

If Americans were to elect Rick Santorum to the Presidency, they’d be electing a second George W. Bush. In fact, Santorum would be even worse. If Rick Perry is the dumber version of Bush, Rick Santorum is the extreme version. According to Congressional Quarterly, Santorum supported Bush policies over 95% of the time from 2001 to 2005. Here is just a sample of the many Bush supported policies that Santorum voted for.

Tax Cuts) Santorum loves tax cuts. In fact, he voted for the 2001 Bush tax cuts, the repeal the Inheritance Tax in 2002, the 2003 Bush tax cuts, and he voted for extending the Bush tax cuts in 2006. These tax cuts are partly to blame for the large deficits created by Republicans that continue to plague our economy today and has contributed to the largest increase in income inequality since the Great Depression. But Santorum would be worse than Bush because he wants to cut taxes even more for corporations and the wealthy.

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truthout

Monday 18 April 2011
by: Chris Hedges, Truthdig

These are remarks Chris Hedges made in Union Square in New York City last Friday during a protest outside a branch office of the Bank of America.

We stand today before the gates of one of our temples of finance. It is a temple where greed and profit are the highest good, where self-worth is determined by the ability to amass wealth and power at the expense of others, where laws are manipulated, rewritten and broken, where the endless treadmill of consumption defines human progress, where fraud and crimes are the tools of business.

The two most destructive forces of human nature—greed and envy—drive the financiers, the bankers, the corporate mandarins and the leaders of our two major political parties, all of whom profit from this system. They place themselves at the center of creation. They disdain or ignore the cries of those below them. They take from us our rights, our dignity and thwart our capacity for resistance. They seek to make us prisoners in our own land. They view human beings and the natural world as mere commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. Human suffering, wars, climate change, poverty, it is all the price of business. Nothing is sacred. The Lord of Profit is the Lord of Death.

~read more~

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Militarized Conservatism and End(s) of Higher Education

Tuesday 5 April 2011
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

The Pathologies of War

There can be little doubt that America has become a permanent warfare state.(1) Not only is it waging a war in three countries, but its investment in military power is nearly as much as all of the military budgets of every other country in the world combined. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute states, “The USA’s military spending accounted for 43 per cent of the world total in 2009, followed by China with 6.6 per cent; France with 4.3 per cent and the UK with 3.8 per cent.”(2) The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans a staggering $1 trillion to date, second only in inflation-adjusted dollars to the $4 trillion price tag for World War II.”(3) Pentagon spending for 2011 will be more than $700 billion. To make matters worse, as Tom Englehardt points out, “We dominate the global arms trade, monopolizing almost 70% of the arms business in 2008, with Italy coming in a vanishingly distant second. We put more money into the funding of war, our armed forces and the weaponry of war than the next 25 countries combined (and that’s without even including Iraq and Afghan war costs).”(4) Moreover, the United States maintains a massive ring of military bases and global presence around the world, occupying “over 560 bases and other sites abroad”(5) and deploying over 300,000 troops abroad, “even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services.”(6) In spite of how much military expenditures drain much-needed funds from social programs, the military budget is rarely debated in Congress or a serious object of discussion among the public. Rather than avoid squandering resources and human lives on foreign wars, we avoid “the realities and costs of war.”(7)

War is now normalized even as the United States becomes more militarized, moving closer to a national security state at home and an imperial/policing power abroad. Military historian Andrew Bacevich is right in arguing, “The misleadingly named Department of Defense serves in fact as a Ministry of Global Policing.”(8) War has become central to American character, but what is often unacknowledged is that its perpetual wars abroad are increasingly matched by a number of wars being waged on the domestic front. Such a disconnect becomes clear in the refusal of politicians, anti-public intellectuals and the general public to acknowledge how the federal deficit has been run up by our military adventures. As Frank Rich argues, “The cultural synergy between the heedless irresponsibility we practiced in Iraq and our economic collapse at home could not be more naked. The housing bubble, inflated by no-money-down mortgage holders on Main Street and high-risk gamblers on Wall Street, was fueled by the same greedy disregard for the laws of fiscal gravity that governed the fight-now-play later war[s]” in Iraq and Afghanistan and more recently in Libya.(9) Similarly, as the spirit of a hyper-militarized America bleeds into everyday life, politics increasingly becomes an extension of war, and right-wing, liberal and conservative politicians eagerly embrace a militaristic approach to policy and the need to cleanse the social order of any institution, mode of dissent, social group and public sphere willing to question its state of permanent war and its militarized and unchecked embrace of economic Darwinism. These foreign and domestic wars are not unrelated, given that they are waged in the interests of right-wing militarists, neoconservatives, liberals and corporate moguls – all of whom have a political and economic stake in such military incursions abroad and wars at home. Wars make the economic elite even richer just as they undermine civil liberties, public services and public dissent. A hyper-militarized America has not only fueled violations of executive power, it has also promoted armed conflicts that are directly related to an economic crisis that has produced a wave of political extremism in the United States, while furthering the rise of a punishing state that places the burdens of the current economic crisis on the backs of the poor. We seem to have no trouble in spending money for the production of organized violence designed to kill people, but we have little money to spend on education, health care, or other serious social problems facing the United States. As one educational journal pointed out:

This juxtaposition of robust war spending and inadequate support for education highlights the moral bankruptcy of political and economic leaders who seem to find endless piles of money to kill people abroad but not much to educate them at home. And, of course, the relationship is plain: The more dollars spent on war, the fewer available for human needs – whether alternative energy, food stamps, in-home elder care, public libraries or keeping teachers in their classrooms.(10)

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Bill Kristol gets a war boner

Crooks and Liars- By Brad Reed
March 21, 2011 03:05 PM

One of the many depressing aspects of Obama’s horrific decision to start a third simultaneous war with a Muslim-majority nation is that it’s providing endless pangs of pleasure to Bill Kristol. After all, America’s Chickenhawk-in-Chief hasn’t been able to watch other people risk their asses invading a sovereign country since 2003 and he’s just as thrilled and excited about this latest adventure as you’d expect him to be:

And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

No, seriously. That’s how Kristol actually starts out his column. Read it again:

And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

It’s hard for most of us to comprehend the sort of vile vampiric scumbag who relishes the thought of having his country go to war in three different countries at the same time, but that’s pretty much how Bill Kristol rolls. I wonder what would happen if America successfully invaded the entire world — whatever would Kristol do to pleasure himself? Perhaps he’d recommend sending our entire army into the depths of the Pacific Ocean to launch a long-overdue war against the lost city of Atlantis. Those shifty Mermen have had it coming for a long time, after all.

More:

The president didn’t want this. He’s been so unhappy about such a possibility—so fearful of such an eventuality—that first he tied himself in knots trying to do nothing. Then he decided that, if he had to act, it would be good to boast that he was merely following the Arab League and subordinating American action to the U.N. Security Council. After all, nothing—nothing!—could be worse than the perception that the United States was “invading” another Muslim country.

Yeah, where the hell did we get this stigma about “invading” Muslim countries from? It’s not like anyone’s ever died from such “invasions” before. Why, you’d think it was as bad as trying to give people health insurance!

In all seriousness, Kristol is just happy to be starting another war, since apparently the Afghanistan conflict has gotten so BOE-RING! The one downer for him is that Obama bothered to get the UN’s permission to attack Libya rather than going all in and giving other countries the finger like Bush did. Kristol is at his absolute happiest when our country is both at war and defying the will of the international community. But he’ll happily take the war all the same.

Rubbish. Our “invasions” have in fact been liberations.

They have liberated many people from their lives, yes.

We have shed blood and expended treasure in Kuwait in 1991, in the Balkans later in the 1990s, and in Afghanistan and Iraq—in our own national interest, of course, but also to protect Muslim peoples and help them free themselves. Libya will be America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation.

It’s amazing that after five glorious wars, the Middle East isn’t yet a mecca of sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and everything that’s wonderful that I feel when we’re together. But of course, there’s always the option of starting a sixth war, which I’m sure will make everything better.

[T]he Reagan tradition—indeed, the Reagan-Bush-Dole-Bush-McCain tradition—in foreign policy isn’t a burden to be borne. It’s a tradition to be proud of. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for more than a partial interest, for more than a limited point of view. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for the national interest, for national greatness, for the exceptional American role in the liberation of peoples around the globe.

I’m amazed that Kristol can’t type this crap without God coming down from the heavens, striking Kristol down with all manner of lightning and saying, “I didst err when I made thee, vile spawn of darkness!” In case Bill hasn’t noticed, we’re facing massive cuts to public education, to social safety net programs and even to services as basic as public street lights. And yet Kristol thinks we should sacrifice all of these things on his bloody altar of permanent warfare.

Thanks for aiding his agenda, Obama!

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Eric Margolis, The Huffington Post, Dec 20, 2010

After nine years of war in Afghanistan, costing over $100 billion in taxpayer money and 700 American lives, the full truth about this murky conflict remains elusive.

The government and media have colluded to paint the picture of a noble, heroic, flag-waving American enterprise in Afghanistan that is, alas, very far from reality. As the cynic Ambrose Bierce pointedly observed of patriots — “the dupe of statesmen; the tool of conquerors.”

Three interesting reports about Afghanistan emerged in Washington last week.

First, a political whitewash issued by the Obama White House claiming the war was going well and some US troops might be withdrawn next year. This ‘don’t worry be happy’ summary was trumpeted by the pro-war New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other members of the government-friendly US media.

US generals spoke of “progress” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, as US forces conducted a brutal campaign around Kandahar to crush resistance to the occupation and punish communities that supported Taliban.

Second, the Red Cross issued a grim report showing that Afghans were suffering widespread malnutrition and serious health problems after nearly a decade of Western occupation. So much for US-led nation-building.

Third, there were leaks about a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the combined findings of all 16 US intelligence agencies. This key intelligence report is explosive and may not be fully revealed.

Continues >>

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by Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe, The Huffington Post,  Dec 5, 2010

When asked by USA Today‘s pollsters last week, sixty-eight percent of Americans said we worry that the cost of the Afghanistan War hurts our ability to fix problems here in the U.S. This week, we learned just how right we were about that. Friday’s terrible jobs report shows that a crushing 9.8 percent of us are unemployed. And, millions of us are about to lose our lifeline because Congress refuses to extend unemployment insurance benefits. We’re spending $2 billion per week — per week! — in Afghanistan while millions of people face going hungry during the holidays.

Do our elected officials not get it? We’re drowning out here, and the administration is throwing money that could put Americans back to work at a failed war on the other side of the planet. In fact, that’s where the president was when the jobs report came out this morning — in Afghanistan, talking about “progress” again.

Continues >>

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Obama’s Massive Power Struggle with the American War Machine

Even if Barack Obama is seriously betting on his exit strategy, the Pentagon wants infinite war.
September 24, 2010 |

As that self-appointed court stenographer Bob Woodward reveals in his latest court opus Obama’s Wars – conveniently leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times – the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is shelling out the moolah for its own, 3,000-assassin-plus Murder Inc to roam in AfPak. These paramilitary – brigade-size – outfits, “elite and well trained”, have been branded Counter-terrorist Pursuit Teams (CPT).

Much is being made in US corporate media that this shady CPT posse is able to “cross-over” to the tribal areas in Pakistani territory and, like in that famous Heineken ad campaign, reach the parts US intelligence are not able to reach. Aware Latin Americans – with a shrug – will see this as Bad Joke redux: the “Salvador option” is back. As much as these Afghan assassins have been flown to the US for training, the infamous School of the Americas in the 1970s and 1980s trained death squads of natives to kill their compatriots from Chile to El Salvador. The CIA not exactly excels on thinking outside the box.

Old Afghan hands will also be thrilled; this is a small-scale remix of the Afghan mujahideen fighting the anti-Soviet 1980s jihad. Everyone knows what happened afterwards to those bad asses Ronald Reagan called “freedom fighters”; they turned against the US. Maybe some enterprising CIA analysts should share a kebab with their old pal on a payroll, former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin “bomb, bomb Kabul” Hekmatyar, an eternal mujahid today on Washington’s most wanted list.

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by Paul Woodward, War in ContextJuly 23, 2010

On September 11, 2001, America froze in shock and the shock was followed by a mix of fear, anger and bewilderment.

Yet for some, the first response was also the enduring response: a knowing dread that what followed would be far worse than what just happened; that America’s reaction would be wildly disproportionate and vastly more destructive than the events of that day.

Some of us had the luxury of holding that dispassionate wide-angle perspective from the comfort of distance — I lived on the West Coast at that time. But there were others who saw what was coming even while still breathing the dust from the collapsed Twin Towers. Tom Engelhardt was such an observer and has been chronicling the 9/11 fallout ever since.

Dan Froomkin reviews a distillation of those observations captured in Tom’s new book, The American Way of War; How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s.

Continues >>

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Could “Success” in Afghanistan Be Worse Than Failure?

Success means that the fifth poorest country in the world and foremost narco state is ours for years to come.

July 12, 2011, Washington, D.C. — In triumphant testimony before a joint committee of Congress in which he was greeted on both sides of the aisle as a conquering hero, Gen. David Petraeus announced the withdrawal this month of the first 1,000 American troops from Afghanistan.  “This is the beginning of the pledge the president made to the American people to draw down the surge troops sent in since 2009,” he said, adding, “and yet let me emphasize, as I did when I took this job, that our commitment to the Afghan government and people is an enduring one.”

Last July, when Gen. Petraeus replaced the discredited Gen. Stanley McChrystal as Afghan war commander, he was hailed as an “American hero” by Senator John McCain, as “the most talented officer of his generation” by the New Yorker’s George Packer, and as “the nation’s premier warrior-diplomat” by Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post — typical of the comments of both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives at the time. Petraeus then promised that the United States was in Afghanistan “to win.”

In the year since, the Taliban insurgency has been blunted and “a tipping point has been reached,” says a senior U.S. military official with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, who could speak only on the condition of anonymity, in keeping with the policy of his organization.  By every available measure — IEDs or roadside bombs, suicide attacks, Taliban assassinations of local officials, allied casualties, and Afghan civilian casualties — the intensity of the insurgency has weakened significantly.  The Afghan military and police, though not capable of taking the lead in the fighting in their own country, have been noticeably strengthened by American and NATO training missions.  President Hamid Karzai’s government, still considered weak and corrupt, has succeeded in putting an Afghan face on the war.

Democratic critics of Gen. Petraeus, and of President Obama’s surge strategy, were notably quiet this week as the general toured the capital’s power hotspots from John Podesta’s Center for American Progress to the American Enterprise Institute, while being feted as the hero of the moment and a potential presidential candidate in 2016.  As in 2007, when he was appointed to oversee George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq after the critics said it couldn’t be done, the impressive charts the general brought to his congressional testimony once again vividly indicated otherwise.  The situation in Afghanistan has undergone an Iraq-like change since the nadir of July 2010 when critics and proponents alike agreed that the nine-year-old war was foundering, the counterinsurgency strategy failing, and polling in the U.S. highlighted the war’s increasing unpopularity.

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