Tag Archives: Iraq

Baghdad Rocked By Bombs – Over 60 Dead

Karim Kadim, Associated Press / December 22, 2011

It was a horrific scene as a grisly wave of bombs swept through Baghdad on Thursday. This comes just days after the last U.S. soldiers left the country. BBC reported:

At least 68 people were killed and nearly 200 injured as car and roadside bombs went off in 16 separate locations, mostly Shia areas of the city.

The first 13 bombs hit as people were going to work in the morning – they were followed by other blasts throughout the day.

Officials said schools and kindergartens had been among the targets.

Associated Press reports:

The deadliest attack was in the Karrada neighborhood, where a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle blew himself up outside a government office. Two police officers at the scene said the bomber was driving an ambulance and told guards that he needed to get to a nearby hospital. After the guards let him through, he drove to the building and blew himself up, the officers said.

“I was sleeping in my bed when the explosion happened,” said 12-year-old Hussain Abbas, standing in his pajamas. “I jumped from my bed and rushed to my mom’s lap. I told her I did not want to go to school today. I’m terrified.”

Although not confirmed, analyst believe the attacks where carried out by the mainly Sunni Al-Qaeda in Iraq, because of the level of co-ordination and planning behind the attacks.

Ramzy Mardini from the Institute for the Study of War in Washington said “The conditions that perpetuate civil wars are making a hasty comeback”.

The attacks have thrown Iraq’s political community into a crisis. Sunnis are now suspicious that al-Maliki, in the wake of the American military leaving,  is attempting to make a power grab.

Washington condemned the attacks, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying any attempts to derail progress in Iraq will fail, and that other than hatred and murder,  the attacks serve no purpose.

The Airmen

The President honored our veterans for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan the other day by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marking the official end of the War in Iraq. That’s a good thing. Now he must further his commitment to our veterans by addressing the shame committed to our airman whose remains were dumped in a landfill in Arlington, for the sake of their families and their own dignity.

This is not the President’s get, but Barak Obama must address it, and no less than the Secretary of Defense should investigate why the partial remains of 274 Air Force personnel killed in Iraq was dumped unceremoniously in a landfill in Virginia. When culpability is determined, the responsible person should be fired.

There are few memories about my service in Iraq that bring me any happiness, in fact most make me feel the need to take a shower and get clean again. I wasn’t wounded, I didn’t fire my weapon. My job didn’t require it. I was just surrounded with a bunch of TOC snipers (tactical operations center) where the staffers cared more about promotions and medals and careers than for the soldiers they were there to support. Leadership matters and when it is absent, soldiers suffer.

A staff officer writes operations orders that directly affect the lives of soldiers he will never see. And so, when he writes them, he should be cognizant about the second and third order effects of what he has written. I found that many staffers didn’t give a crap. We actually had an officer write himself up for a medal for hiding under his desk during an air raid. The sad thing is; he got it! Meanwhile a senior master sergeant friend of mine who risked his life all the time to make sure the food service at the remote radio relay points on the dangerous supply routes was stocked with safe food was denied a medal after his convoy was attacked because the goddam sergeant major of the brigade didn’t like him. Memory of this fact makes me very, very angry. Master Sergeant was doing his job, keeping up morale and welfare of troops, but a political squabble prevented him from getting the recognition he deserved.

If I had been close enough to the enemy to fire, I hope that I would have had the courage to fire back, vindicating myself with honor. As it was, my job didn’t require it. I was in logistics, pushing papers and making phone calls and trying to get my soldiers and my brigade’s equipment there and back again unscathed. I guess you could say I failed. We lost 25 soldiers dead and I don’t know how many were injured. We lost a soldier on leave in Qatar after he dared in a drunken binge for another soldier to stab him in the chest with his knife. His buddy unfortunately complied and the young fool bled out in a bar room latrine. We lost another one here at home when, drunk again, he crashed a party he really shouldn’t have. I guess he made a scene because the nice people there stole his gun and shot him dead with it. His most recent Facebook posting said that all he wanted to do when he got home was drink himself to death.

I’m getting over what happened to me there, but I will never be the same as when I left. When I returned from my 15-month stint in Iraq, I had all my fingers and toes, and a very bad attitude. I got off the plane at Bangor Maine for a stopover and there received a hero’s welcome. Crusty old heroes of Vietnam and Korea greeted us there, with a hand shake and a hug and a “Well done, my boy! We are so proud of you! Welcome home!” A man with a wrinkled face, a VFW hat, and a smile came up to me with a cell phone in his hand. “Call your people, young captain! Let them know you’re all right!”

Sometimes I choke up, with a memory or a thought, usually coming at inconvenient times. People will say, “Jeremy you look tired. You’re eyes look puffy.” That’s probably one of those moments when a memory has occurred to me and I’d rather be anywhere but in the company of other people. Close friends will tell me, “Get over it! It was a long time ago! YOU FREAKIN’ GET OVER IT! Would be my response, if it had been appropriate to respond. Most of the time I just bite my lip or tell a joke.

The only time I had to duck for cover was when the Hajis fired rockets at my little base at Camp Adder in Southern Iraq. They made a helluva noise, which is why I don’t care for fireworks anymore. Crowds don’t do much for me either as we often would gather on what I would call “Meet Your Neighbor Night”. In the closeness of a dusty bomb shelter we would all cram in together and try not to leave any body parts hanging out over the edge as the 120 millimeter rockets fell from the night sky. “Hey First Sergeant! Captain Griffith here. What were you doing before Haji reminded us that he’s still out there and doesn’t like us very much?” I often joke about the event as just a matter of human nature and routine.

“You see this local Iraqi got an earful from his six wives, for something he did or didn’t do, see?” I’d explain to a co-worker or friend. “So he’d go out and in order to blow steam, he’d buy a couple of rockets from the local Iranian Revolutionary Guard rep. Then he’d gather up some of his buddies and they’d set them up on egg timers and fire them at the base, just for fun. Like fireworks. They’d skitter off, laughing at us as we’d duck and cover. Then Haji would go pick up the kids at soccer practice and head home for dinner! Just an average day in the life of an Iraqi in the middle class.” Routine.

I did go out on a couple of convoys, before I found out that many of my fellow officers were ducking that opportunity for the relative safety of the FOB (Forward Operating Base). My biggest accomplishment I think was to keep two young lieutenants from killing each other. When on patrol, you are supposed to stop if you detect a possible roadside bomb, and everyone behind you is also supposed to stop. Convoys can remain idle for hours while bomb disposal teams come out to determine whether a real threat exists or if that was just another inexplicable mound of dirt left there by nature to freak out the convoy commanders. Jaded lieutenants take risks and bypass other convoys because they’ve been on the road a lot and they’re tired and they want to get home to their FOB and sleep and many of the possible IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) are just false alarms anyway. I guess some take the attitude that when your time is up, your time is up. My lieutenant took offense to being bypassed there in the dark and resolved to tell his peer that very thing at the next opportunity. He caught up to the other lieutenant in a movement control team’s trailer at the next FOB and let him have it. Before it came to fistacuffs, I intervened. I suppose I could have let them go at it, but I felt compelled. Even though I was just a high ranking heavily armed passenger with no responsibility what so ever, I was senior. It was the right thing to do.

I explained to the young officer that he was wrong, and he should follow the procedure and that in the future he should take better care for the sake of his men. He just stalked off, muttering something about HIS unit’s SOP (standard operating procedure) and HIS unit’s way of doing things, and that HE didn’t feel a need to change. Later back in the States, I attended an Army school with another captain with a similar experience. A young lieutenant from an active duty unit was corrected by a National Guard captain after the captain pointed out that he was doing a snap TCP (traffic control point) wrong. The lieutenant thanked the captain politely but assured him that he was following his unit’s procedures and he didn’t need advice from a reservist. The captain smiled and went away shaking his head. Dad always says some of life’s lessons are hard. Really hard sometimes. That lieutenant and eight of his men died minutes after that young captain departed, a victim of a vehicle born IED that got too close to his small cluster of troops. Really hard! I hear stories like this and I catch my breath. Where’s the leadership?

And so I am left with even more anger when I see that a lack of leadership in the political realm has left the remains of our brave servicemembers abandoned unmarked in a trash pile. I wonder what family members of these brave fallen must feel like knowing that their loved one left them to fight for their country and their liberty only to be treated in the end in this shabby manner.

Shame on you, whoever you are who did this thing to our troops! Shame!

They deserve so much better.

It embarrasses me when people thank me for my service, when so many did so much more. They will not hear our thank-yous. Their families are rewarded with tears, and sometimes with jeers as the funerals are met with protesters and signs. So I guess for all their sakes I will be their proxy and listen politely to your “thank you for your service” comments.

Citizens and veterans groups are you listening? We should all contact our legislators with our petitions that this shameful thing should not happen again and that our leaders are held to account for what they have done, or haven’t done. The SECDEF should meet with families to apologize and the President should give a speech to give solace to families and to outline a plan of action. No less action is appropriate.

I’m not a hero, but my brother is. He built a well in Afghanistan, for poor villagers under the thumb of an evil war lord. Before he came, the villagers were paying the thug for the right to use his murky, unclean water. When Jason got there, he robbed the baron of revenue and built a new, clean well, a gift from the taxpayers of America. He built a monument to fallen heroes of the newly formed Afghan Army, men he trained, who died in defense of their country. Their comrades wept and gave anguished speeches at a ceremony in their memory. My brother has the photos.

Jason returns next month to Afghanistan, his second tour there, his fourth overall. A newly minted Major, he leads a team of “Space Cowboys” who will assist the Marine commander there with advanced weaponry and satellite communications and imagery. That is how I know the “war” isn’t over. Thanks anyway, Mr. President. Jason is a rare leader who really cares for his soldiers and the people he serves with. He is my role model, and my best friend. He embodies for me the decency and bravery of the average American Trooper. I would be very unhappy indeed if anything were to happen to him over there.

At one time our mother kept a small flag with three blue stars on it. It was a gift from the local VFW symbolizing her three sons on combat duty all at the same time. Imagine if someone had come to her door and told her that one of those sons had perished in service of his country. Imagine if that were your own beloved service member. Then, imagine how you would feel if someone told you that instead of carrying the honored dead all the way home to you, they instead couldn’t be bothered with the effort and so carelessly and thoughtlessly discarded the remains.

Pray for our honored dead. Remember their families over this Christmas Season. And then tell your congressperson what you think they should do. God Bless our heroes.

Trump isn't the only thing stinking at the ION/Newsmax debate

On December 27th, some of the remaining GOP Presidential candidates will be debating on the ION network co-sponsored by Newsmax.

Much of the recent bluster has been about the moderator – Donald Trump, but he’s not the only poor choice Newsmax and ION have made. Former CNN News Division Chief Eason Jordan will be one of the producers of the event.

Mr. Jordan was pressured to resign from CNN in 2005 after making statements that our troops in Iraq were deliberately targeting and killing journalists. At the World Economic Forum, Mr. Jordan said “he knew of about 12 journalists who had not only been killed by American troops, but had been targeted as a matter of policy,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) who was on the “Will Democracy Survive the Media?” panel with Mr. Jordan.

CNN then furiously spun the comments as having been misconstrued and “taken out of context” by a few bloggers. In the end, Mr. Jordan’s tenure at CNN came to an end.

That’s only the most recent of Eason’s mis-steps. His time in CNN’s Baghdad bureau was tarnished by his cover-up of Saddam’s violent and murderous acts against Iraqis and his own bureau’s staff – all so that he wouldn’t lose his position at the bureau.

Eason is no great model of integrity. Add on Trump and you have a debate more fit to be a circus side-show than a Presidential event.

I don’t blame Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul one bit for passing on this debate. I won’t be watching either – and I haven’t missed one yet.

Dealing With the Occupations

I’ve heard a few libertarians who get a little bit defensive of how the Occupy Wall Street movement is treated, and for a while I wondered why that was. Every conservative I know has been very critical for obvious and good reasons. As a conservative libertarian, I usually reserve judgment, but as usual I fall somewhere in the middle of both ideologies. I’m personally disgusted by the overwhelming majority of the people at the “occupations”, their behavior, their political ideologies and solutions. The question I ponder is, “Is there a silver lining to the Occupy Wall Street movement? And what good can come from it?”

Before the Marxist elements became more obvious and widespread at the Occupy Wall Street movement, much of their disdain appeared to be aimed TARP and to a lesser extent, the Federal Reserve. Those are two areas of agreement conservatives have in common with them. This also means I have more in common with Occupy Wall Street radicals than I do with mainstream Democrats like Harry Reid and company. Occupy Wall Street seems to oppose the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I too think its way past time for them to end. Democrats have only paid lip service in their supposed opposition to the wars, which is why they didn’t end them when they had total control from January 2009 to January 2011. To be clear, there’s many more areas we disagree on, like their desire to “eat the rich”, forgive all debt, and enact a $20.00 minimum wage. Those are all insanely awful ideas, and while I think most Democrats agree that those are bad ideas, they probably all sympathize with the proposals to varying degrees and would like to move in those policy directions. But even if Occupy Wall Street opposes bailouts because they don’t believe there should be a private sector, if they oppose the Federal Reserve because they’d rather use the barter system instead of using currency, and if they oppose the wars because that they believe that money could be better spent on running petting zoos; their reasoning doesn’t really matter to me. The important thing is that we’d both vote against bailouts, against the Federal Reserve, and to end the current wars.

I was reading a 2011 Heritage Foundation guide that ranked all members of the House and Senate in terms of their conservatism. In the Senate, most Democrats had anywhere from 5%-0%, but Bernie Sanders, the admitted socialist from Vermont had a 14% rating, the highest by far of anyone on the left! That is shocking to most, but not to me. Bernie Sanders is without a doubt an absolute crazy leftist. But, Bernie Sanders introduced the “Audit the Fed” Bill in 2009 that was co-sponsored by ultra conservative senator Jim Demint. Someone who is also like Bernie Sanders in that regard is Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich is another far leftist, but he actually voted against Cap N Trade (because it didn’t go far enough), wants to impeach Obama over his violation of the War Powers Act and assassination of an American citizen (be it a very bad one), and opposes the Patriot Act. Regardless of Kucinich’s reasons, I’m totally with him on those agendas. Policy wise and to a lesser extent, principle-wise, there may be more common ground between the far left and the right.

Establishment Democrats are the absolute worst. Joe Lieberman is many republicans’ favorite democrat. I admire that he has principles, which is unusual for politicians in general, but that’s as far as my admiration goes. Lieberman has a neoconservative foreign policy and is a socialist domestically. What that means is that he is as bad as Barack Obama in terms of spending, if not worse. Speaking of terrible things, Democrats usually say and do whatever they need to, to get re-elected. I’m sure some Democrats are unaware of the harmful effects of their policies and have benevolence in mind. But most are interested in buying votes from every group they can possibly get a hold of. Democrats usually run against things, namely republicans. They will oppose republicans virtually on every policy, not because they necessarily disagree, but as a political tactic. This is beyond obvious when Democrats are in power and their foreign policy is seen by the American people. The only difference between Bush and Obama on foreign policy is that Obama wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders and that he likes to travel to countries and apologize for things America did 50-75 years ago.

Occupy Wall Street could be dangerous in the future. As winter weather comes in for the long haul, it seems the movement would face 2 options, it either dies out or revs up by becoming violent and [even more] lawless. Obviously we should hope that its the former. The latter would bring about the chaos and destruction that we see taking place in crumbling nations like Greece. Most rational people probably look at Occupy Wall Street as disgusting and view it negatively. I don’t see how the Democrats channel the movement into electoral success (by attracting new voters, they have the Occupy Wall Street vote pretty well in hand). The truly sad part of it is that it had some limited potential.

Instead of just voting a straight democrat ticket, a democrat tea party would’ve brought about positive changes for the country. Voting out all the crony capitalist Democrats as well as the ones supporting destructive entities like the Federal Reserve would be fantastic (but painstaking, as that would require replacing most of the ones currently serving). However its likely that the individuals who are currently occupying places are too lazy to bring about such productive change and to do in depth research on the policies that are actually causing the problems they are facing. As Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch pointed out, one of the great aspects of the Tea Party is that they are principled enough to vote for a candidate who they agree with on most policies but who is also a crazy who only dresses in a bunny suit (who obviously has no chance of winning), instead of supporting a worthless establishment republican who could easily win in the general election. Unfortunately, with far left nuts such as Michael Moore, Van Jones, and Cornel West in their ranks and financial support coming from the labor unions, Occupy Wall Street has insured itself as a worthless group of nasty, unemployed, angst filled useful idiots willing to take direction from absolute crazies or the people who promote many of the policies they say they oppose. Instead of a good policy or personnel reform coming from the Occupy Wall Street movement, the only silver lining may be independent voters running even further away from the democrat party.

Will Iraq Be Obama's Gift To Iran?

What Happened and WHY It Happened

President Barack Obama announced Friday, October 21, 2011, that the remaining thirty-nine thousand troops will leave Iraq at the end of the year. But, again, the MSM did not report on WHY Obama is withdrawing troops. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made clear that it was Iraq who refused to let the U.S. military remain under America’s terms. “When the Americans asked for [troop] immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible.” Maliki, a Shiite, has the political backing of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr‘s forty representatives in Iraq’s parliament who have demanded all U.S. troops leave. Maliki knows his partnership with Sadr has been blessed by Iran, and that making a deal with Iraqiya would lose the Sadrists, enrage Iran, and risk the possibility of eventual betrayal by Iraqiya.

The Obama administration insisted that the Iraqi Council of Representatives endorse the troop immunity deal, a political impossibility. So, Obama, after Iraq’s prime minister said “no” to America, announced that the Iraq war was over and that troops will be leaving by year’s end. Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough said Iraq is “secure, stable, and self-reliant.” It is none of these things. Its government is not capable of defending itself from Iran in the air or on the ground. Iraq does not possess a ready and equipped air force, or an effective intelligence apparatus.

The Obama administration, BTW, is talking out of both sides of its mouth on Iraq. It says the withdrawal is one of President Obama’s campaign promises, It also says that this is all the Iraqis’ fault, that Obama wanted to maintain troops on the ground after 2011, but the Iraqis wouldn’t accede to his wishes.

Handing Iraq To Iran

The U.S. is handing the Iranians a goal they have sought for years, to remove us from Iraq so Iran can increase its influence for its ends. It once seemed that Iraq could be a strategic ally and base for our influence in the Middle East, but it now may become both things for Iran. Iran’s militias were already active in Iraq. Now, it can use Iraq for bases for its proxy forces to spread its influence to the rest of the Persian Gulf. Political decisions will begin to go more and more Iran’s way as Iraq’s and Iran’s Shiite majority will continue to influence politics. The Iraqi government is quite sectarian, favoring the Shiites, and has thrown itself toward Shiite Iran. Indeed, even Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is Shiite.

U.S. troops withdrawal will most hurt Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Force. The Counter-Terrorism Force benefited from a long-standing partnership with U.S. special forces. For al-Qaeda-inspired groups or Shiite extremists wishing to destabilize the Iraqi government, Iraq’s loss of such training is indeed welcomed.

What Do Iraqis Think?

Seventy Three percent of Iraqis said they believe it is likely Iran will act aggressively after U.S. troops leave. Fifty One percent said they believe the security situation within Iraq will get worse when the U.S. forces leave. Thirty One percent said they were confident Iraqi forces could protect the Iraqi population from terrorist attacks. The survey, conducted by YouGov-Cambridge, interviewed 505 Iraqis from July 12-27, 2011.

What Does Hillary Clinton Think?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran not to view the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq as an opportunity to try to build its influence in the country. “No one, most particularly Iran, should miscalculate about our continuing commitment to and with the Iraqis going forward,” said Clinton. As American troops prepare to leave Iraq, Clinton issued a warning to Iran, saying the U.S. will continue to have a presence in the region to assist Iraq as a “partner country” into the future.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded, “I think this is going to be a very good idea, and we should have done it sooner, maybe seven or eight years ago, and they would avoid killing so many Iraqi people or Americans, as well. I think they should have done it much earlier.” Ahmadinejad stated that “the government of Iraq, the parliament, we have a very good relationship with all of them … and we have deepened our ties day by day.”

What Does the Military Say?

Gen. Lloyd Austin, U.S. Commander in Iraq, says that without a secure, orderly transition, U.S. successes have been put at risk. Politics does not tolerate a vacuum. Iran’s ability to meddle in Iraqi politics has soared with the announced U.S. withdrawal.

U.S. commanders in Iraq say they believe Iraqi security forces have been trained well enough to defend the country against external threats, but continuing sectarian violence and the threat of Iranian intervention raises questions about the future stability of Iraq.

President Announces Troop Withdrawal in Iraq

The President of the United States announced today from the press briefing room, that all American fighting forces will be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011.  “After nine years, the US war in Iraq will be over”, President Obama stated and then hurried off the stage, taking no questions from the press.  This marks a truly definitive date of withdrawal for the troops in Iraq, which was a controversial promise he made during the campaign of 2008.

 

Many in the State and Defense departments wanted to extended the presence of troops (albeit a small amount) into the next year, but insisted that they continue to enjoy immunity from prosecution in Iraq.  This was rejected by the Iraqi government and Prime Minister al-Maliqi.

 

The announcing of the timetable for withdrawal raises questions of whether the Iraqi military and police forces are fully prepared to defend the fledgling freedom again Al-Qaeda and other insurrectionist groups.  Anti-democratic forces are likely to take advantage of the deadline to launch a new offensive in the country.  Only time will see if Iraq is ready to stand on its own two feet.

Obama Admin. Fails to Secure up to 20k Libyan Portable Missiles

Free missiles in Libya for terrorists

As many as 20,000 shoulder-fired portable heat-seeking missiles are unaccounted for in Libya today, as the Obama Administration is caught flat-footed and left scrambling to do damage control in a very dangerous situation that they have had a big hand in creating. In their zealousness to promote the Arab Spring [supposed] Democracy uprisings in Libya, the Obama administration is shown to be eager to bomb first and deal with dangerous consequences later in this debacle. In the rush to help oust the long-time tyrant and oppressive dictator Moammar Gadhafi, numerous stockpiles of these missiles have been left unguarded and have already in fact, been carted off by who knows what terrorist groups and individuals by simply pulling up and loading them into vehicles. The following ABC News video describes the dangers of not securing these weapons depots, BEFORE removing the Libyan military that was guarding them:</p

These 4 to 5 foot long, portable heat-seeking missiles shown in the above video could now be used against our military aircraft in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe, and were basically left free for the taking in Libya. From the ABC News report, we see that this dangerous situation was brought to the Obama Administration’s attention over 6 months ago:

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch first warned about the problem after a trip to Libya six months ago. He took pictures of pickup truckloads of the missiles being carted off during another trip just a few weeks ago.

These missiles are deadly from distances up to two miles and do not have to actually be aimed, as they zoom in on an aircraft’s engine heat, and it also doesn’t take a lot of training to fire one. Basically put it on your shoulder and point it in the direction of any aircraft, and the missile will track the aircraft, strike it, and then explode.

Mr. Bouckaert was right there in Libya taking pictures of these missiles, and stated: “I myself could have removed several hundred if I wanted to, and people can literally drive up with pickup trucks or even 18 wheelers and take away whatever they want,” said Bouckaert, HRW’s emergencies director. “Every time I arrive at one of these weapons facilities, the first thing we notice going missing is the surface-to-air missiles.”

Former White House counter-terror adviser Richard Clarke stated, “I think the probability of al Qaeda being able to smuggle some of the stinger-like missiles out of Libya is probably pretty high,”

Recently we have seen The fast and Furious gunrunning scandal in which the DHS, ATF and other government agencies enabled the sale of assault weapons to drug cartels resulting in hundreds of murders on both sides of our Southern border, The Solyndra pay-for-play solar company scam where a good portion of half a billion taxpayer dollars have basically been shuffled into Democratic campaign coffers, and now we have the U.S. government enabling al Qaeda and any other anti-American maniac to acquire up to 20k portable anti-aircraft missiles. Meanwhile the ignorant sheep now known as Obama-supporters following his recent west coast taxpayer-funded campaign trip keep on screaming… Four more years, four more years!   Lovely.

With Friends Like These…

Since the beginning of the War on Terror, the United States has taken on the task of forming hostile nations into allies in the Middle East. The best analogy I can think of to currently describe the way things have gone is likening our nation building efforts to the comic strip “Peanuts”. The nations that we go to war with are much like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, America in this scenario, to kick. We run to kick the football, Lucy moves the football, and we fall on our behind. The difference is that immediately afterward, Charlie Brown knows that he’s been had and vows to never fall for that again, before he inevitably does. Our politicians on the other hand, refuse to reflect on the results of past interventions and many times embrace a “full steam ahead” approach.

I don’t write this as apologetics for Ron Paul, the Cato Institute, the founding fathers, Reason Magazine or any other well known libertarian intellectual cause. Instead, I’m going to use an inherently conservative thought process, the cost-benefit analysis. Liberals hate the cost-benefit analysis because it shows that their government programs to be counter-productive; this is why they often resort to arguing based on emotions and intent. Unfortunately, despite President Bush’s noble intentions, the major engagements of the War on Terror may not pass the cost-benefit test.

We invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to eliminate Al-Qaeda and to topple the country’s acting government, the Taliban. While fighting the enemy, we also helped set up an acting Afghan government. And in 2004 Hamid Karzai was elected president of the country and the US has supported him ever since. However, it has been revealed that Karzai and his family are corrupt and that he perhaps fraudulently won re-election in 2009. The US decided to express its disapproval by sending a troop surge of 30,000 to double down on our efforts of giving him a stable country to govern. Worse yet, its also been learned that Karzai, behind our back, has been in talks with the Taliban and has had diplomatic relations with Iran. But even before Karzai’s corruption became apparent, he still wasn’t exactly our BFF. Karzai frequently threw the US “under the bus” in press conferences and openly supports the farmers there growing Opium poppy despite our requests. Even taking Karzai out of the equation, a cost-benefit analysis must be done (not in this article) on whether or not we should still be fighting in Afghanistan. Former CIA director and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panneta estimated in 2010 that there were no more than 50-100 Al-Qaeda still in the country.

Next we turned to Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a terrible dictator who ended up getting what he deserved, not many Americans on either side of the political aisle would disagree with that. But, as the Iraq war winded down and the US turned into a police force to help stabilize their government, the people at home wondered what the new Iraqi government would look like. While still in its infant stages, details of the new Iraqi government have been disappointing at best. It appears as though Iraq has warmed up to its former hated enemy, Iran. This is particularly bad, because the Iraq-Iran conflict helped to keep Iran in check. This is why in the 1980s we helped supply Iraq with materials to produce chemical/biological weapons; with the idea of them to using the weapons against Iran. Further showing its gratitude towards the US, Iraq recently voted against Saudi Arabia’s proposal to increase oil production at OPEC’s 2011 conference. Seeing nations turn their back on the US after the US had invested large sums of money isn’t particularly unusual, but what makes this different is that the US still has 50,000 soldiers over there. This is a blatant slap in the face.

Worst of all is Libya. If there is something positive to be said of the War in Libya, one could say that its been the least costly of the wars. Despite its comparatively low price tag, Libya could quite possibly have the costliest long term consequences. To clarify, just like Saddam, Muammar Gaddafi is an evil dictator who deserves whatever grisly fate that awaits him. But, the United States went to war for the stated goal of stopping an alleged massacre that never took place, not for “regime change”. Then, in spite of goals which stated otherwise, we stayed until the regime change was complete. Now the question that remains is, “What now? Who are these rebels?”. That answer appears to be an interesting mix of regular citizens who grew tired of their oppressor, radical Islamic insurgents, and long term US ally Al-Qaeda. Wait… no, that’s not right, Al-Qaeda’s goal is to destroy the US and Israel. While the new Libyan constitution hasn’t been written, it was released that Sharia law is anticipated to be the main source of inspiration. If the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity in Egypt is any indication, the so called “Arab Spring” will not have positive long term effects on the US and it’s allies. Rarely do events have 100% negative consequences without a silver lining, and Libya very well could be one of those times. In life there are disappoints and ideas that backfire, but rarely do you spend money and resources to create a nation whose leadership’s stated goal is to destroy you. Before many marriages that end in divorce go bad, there is usually a blissful honeymoon. Likewise the Libyan rebels started off giving the US a deserved gift, by denying their request to extradite Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi.

The Middle East has plenty of hostile countries, some unfriendly indifferent nations, and very few allies. One of those nations considered friendly to the US is Kuwait, particularly after we saved them from Saddam Hussein’s invasion in Desert Storm. Now to Kuwait’s credit, they have repaid us with their support in the UN by voting against us a region-low 67% of the time. More and more on the right, people grow disenfranchised by our foreign involvements. Republican California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said that behind closed doors, most republicans will admit that Iraq was a mistake. This sentiment briefly gave businessman Donald Trump the affection of some republicans when he considered a presidential run. One of Trump’s main platforms was taking trillions of dollars in oil from Iraq to offset our costs there. The fact that the idea garnered some support among republicans shows that at the very least, they’re willing to admit that the Iraq war didn’t yield desired results; so they feel the need to get something out of it. I agree that in retrospect, knowing what we know now, it was a mistake. But you can’t go around taking nation’s oilfields or anything else for that matter, might doesn’t make right. The equivalent I draw from the people who support the US taking oil from these nations we intervene in is this: Let’s say I cut your grass without me asking. You either try to stop me or passively let it happen. When its done I take some household appliances to compensate myself.

A best case scenario in these countries is that we pay billions yearly for their defense, having them become reliant on us, allowing them to become socialist in nature; all while complaining about our presence and influence. This allows them to become what I like to call “International democrats”. They do nothing to warrant the US taxpayer paying for their defense or fighting for them, yet we do it. What would be better is if we charged them at cost or more for us to protect them, but even then, that’s only a solution if you want to use our military men and women as mercenaries instead of only using them to “protect the US Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic”. Better would be forcing these nations to pay for their own defense, taking them off the government payroll.

In the world there are going to be problems that arise on an international level. Friendly dictators and elected officials alike will lose power or get overthrown from time to time. When a US-friendly regime loses power its one thing, when the US pays great costs in lives and money to create a hostile regime is infinitely worse. Woodrow Wilson’s progressive dream is alive and well today with the goal of “making the world safe for democracy”, championed by republicans (McCain, Graham) and democrats (Lieberman). Creating democracies in a region where the people who make up the electorate despise the US would seem to make the policy mutually exclusive with safety at home.

Allen West Talks With CDNews on Debt, the Economy and Foreign Policy

Tuesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to spend twenty minutes with Congressman Allen West (R FL-22) and ask him about the outcome of the debt-limit negotiations, the current state of the economy and U.S. foreign policy. Once the pleasantries were exchanged, we got right to the questions.

Rich: Moody’s cut the U.S. economic outlook for 2011 and people are still struggling to find jobs. What would you like to see done on to fix the economy?

Rep. West: I think One of the things that has to happen is the government has to set the conditions to incentivize long-term, sustainable economic growth in America. When we continue to talk about bigger government and tax hikes, that’s not how we do it. I think when you look at the corporate tax rate in America, which is the second highest in the world, very simply let’s take that tax rate and cut it down to 20-21% and remove all the loopholes, strategies and subsidies and give our corporations and businesses a competitive tax rate. For the individual tax rate, since many businesses operate as sub chapter S corporations, let’s flatten that out to somewhere between 13% and 16% and only have two deductions: the child tax credit and the mortgage interest deduction.

For clarification, I repeated what I’d heard and got even more insight into how the Congressman would kick start the economy. He mentioned that not only would he be in favor of the lower corporate tax rate, but would favor making it retroactive to January 1st of 2011. As Rep. West put it, it would allow companies to recalculate their liabilities and realize additional assets that could allow them to invest, expand and hire.

Rep. West also mentioned the repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley, the set of financial regulations intended to prevent market losses like those experienced due to the Enron scandal. Unfortunately, Sarbanes-Oxley is expensive to implement and lacks any real or perceived benefits. It has done little more than to burden American companies with complex regulations that make it difficult to compete in the global economy.

Stressing that the “Keynesian model just doesn’t work” Congressman West mentioned that instead of more “pie-in-the-sky gimmicks” like stimulus spending, we should be looking at real plans like the new legislation he has in the House Ways and Means Committee – H.R. 1663 is titled  “The Small Business Encouragement Act” which, according to the Republican Study Committee, would:

The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow small businesses who hire an unemployed American, a work opportunity tax credit, saving employers up to $12,000 a year per hire in some areas of the country. To qualify, small businesses must have gross receipts in the preceding taxable year not exceeding $20 million, or they must employ less than 100 full time employees. The tax credit will double for employers hiring unemployed Americans in counties with an unemployment rate that is higher than the national average, which is currently just above 9 percent.

In the RSC blog post Rep. West was quoted as saying, “The Small Business Encouragement Act is a simple, effective solution to putting people back to work by encouraging the very backbone of our economy, the small businesses.”

Rich: In addition to the economy, what other issues would you like to see the House take up after the current recess?

Rep. West: I wish we had our tails back up there in Washington, D.C. right now. We have 12 appropriations bills that we have to pass through the House and get over to the Senate. We’ve only done 6 in the House so far and I think that the Senate has only taken up one of those.

We shouldn’t be waiting around for this joint committee of Congress to get going on finding spending cuts. We should get back up there and immediately implement the $300 Billion in cuts to duplicative and redundant government programs that the GAO (Government Accounting Office) report identified earlier this year.

I think we should be very concerned that China has rolled out it’s first aircraft carrier and the United Nations (U.N.) have a unilateral vote on Palestinian statehood in September.

The Congressman also expressed that while it was fantastic to get to speak with and meet his constituents, the prevailing feeling he was getting was that voters would rather Congress was in session getting these things done.

Rich: The news yesterday mentioned a “trial balloon”-style rumor that Obama may seek to solve our jobs dilemma by creating more government – The Department of Jobs. How do you feel about that approach?

Rep. West: That’s one of the most insidious things I’ve ever heard. Look, we have some government agencies that I don’t know why they exist. Why do we have a department of labor if we need a department of jobs? Why do we have a Department of Energy, that was originally created to make us energy independent and we still don’t have a diversified energy resource portfolio in the United States of America. When I hear the President speak, all I hear is a big government, liberal, progressive, socialist that does not understand that his policies that he has tried to implement over just less than three years has brought us incredible debt and increased our trillion dollar plus deficits over the last few years.

Even the liberal-leaning Huffington Post has an article that agrees with the Congressman on the silly nature of the President’s rumored idea. HuffPo’s Ken Blackwell points out not only the redundancy that Obama’s Dept. of Jobs would have with the Labor Department, but also the Commerce Department:

Then, of course, we have the U.S. Commerce Department. The Mission Statement of this department makes it sound like it, too, is a Jobs Department.

The U.S. Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers.

We then changed the subject to the recent debt limit negotiations and outcome.

Rich: You voted for the negotiated debt-limit deal, correct?

Rep .West: Yes I did.

Rich: Out of all the plans and frameworks presented – the Ryan plan, Connie Mack’s Penny plan and cut, cap and balance, which was your favorite?

Rep. West: The Cut, Cap and Balance plan was my favorite and that was the one that 70-some-odd percent of the American people were behind. I think it’s reprehensible that Harry Reid, playing politics, tabled it. But the important thing is that you just don’t quit. The worst case situation is that the Democrats, that had no plan, no vision whatsoever, enabled a perceived or manufactured  crisis to occur. Then they turned to the blame game and the next thing you know we have to succumb to their wild and crazy economic schemes.

The final debt agreement was not the 100%. It was probably a 70-75% solution for me. The cuts in spending are not great, but at least we don’t have tax hikes. It’s also the first time ever that we’ve had a debt limit increase along with cuts in spending.

Congressman West was also quick to point out that this sets a precedent. Debt limit increases are not going to come free and easy anymore. He also was not fond of the Joint Committee, but felt it would be something they could work through.

Rich: The negotiated deal also contains, as a trigger provision, significant cuts to defense spending if deficit reductions don’t happen. Considering all that our young men and women in uniform are asked to do, are you concerned about that provision?

Rep. West:  What I found is really horrible is that we have to have this nuclear option hung over our heads as if we can’t do the sensible and the right thing and find the $1.5 trillion in additional cuts over the next ten years. I don’t think anyone wants to be there and say that “I decimated the defense structure of the United States of America on my watch”. You can best be sure that I will do everything possible on my side to make sure that this Joint Commission of Congress performs their duties. I sit on the Armed Services Committee, I have many a friend and also a nephew that is still serving. I am not going to allow them to be sent into a combat zone without the proper levels of readiness.

With the debt-limit situation covered, foreign policy was up as the final topic.

Rich: Considering the three conflicts that the U.S. is currently engaged in – Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, which, if any do you believe we should be fighting?

Rep. West: Libya we should not be fighting at all. On this I have been very vocal. I believe the President is violating statutory law and going against the War Powers Act of 1973. I was one of the first to go into Iraq in 2003 with the Fourth Infantry Division. Now it’s going to be drawn down on the 31st of December of this year. I do have some concerns on the resurgance of Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi army which is supported by Iran. I believe that when you look at Afghanistan we got off-focus in being more concerned with nation building and occupation-style warfare instead of focusing on the enemy and his sanctuaries. On the tenth anniversary of 9-11,those attacks emanated out of Afghanistan, I don’t want to just pull tents and run away without having defeated the enemy to some measure of success.

Rich: There was a video put up by The Shark Tank that showed you discounting Representative Ron Paul as a serious candidate based on his foreign policy views, specifically on Iran. How would you like to see the United States deal with Iran?

Rep. West: The last thing I want to see us do is to take the Neville Chamberlain type of perspective and believe that we can compromise, appease and negotiate with Iran. You know, we’ve been in contention with Iran ever since the fall of the Shah, the rise of the Ayatollah and the hostage crisis. I believe there is going to come a time when we will have to take action against the military capability of Iran. Iran is supporting actions against our men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan. For anyone to sit and say that they want to be President of the United States of America, understanding that the most important title for the President is Commander-in-Chief, and say that they would not have problem with Iran having a nuclear device because everyone else has it – shows that person does not understand mutually assured destruction theory (M.A.D.). The religious fanatics that are truly in control in Iran – if they get that device, they’re going to use it for the purposes of having an apocalyptic event so that they can conceivably bring back the 12th Imam – the Mahdi.

Rich: Obama has stressed our relationship with one of our closest allies – Israel. There is mounting pressure for the U.N. to grant statehood to Palestine and this administration seems to be doing little to prevent it. What is your stance on the statehood of Palestine?

Rep West: I’m headed over to Israel this Saturday for a week. I think the most important thing is for the President, [U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.] Susan Rice, and Secretary of State Clinton should do is to come out, have a press conference and unequivocally state that they will not support a unilateral creation of a Palestinian state by the United Nations. We need to vote against it in the General Assembly. We definitely need to veto it in the U.N. security council. There should not be any quibbling about where we stand.

Congressman West expounded upon his answer by explaining that he had real concerns about a Palestinian government, Fatah,  that has reconciled with Hamas – a known terrorist group that has in its charter the destruction of Israel. Hamas does  not recognize Israel as a nation and now the U.N. would consider recognizing Palestine as a state. He also mentioned that if Palestine somehow were granted statehood, that the United States would respond by providing, “absolutely no funding to an illegitimate Palestinian State”.

Representative West is running for re-election in 2012 and you can keep up with his work in the House at west.house.gov or at his website: www.allenwestforcongress.com/

Interview Note:
There was much more from the interview, but I’ll be releasing that in separate articles as those questions were from unrelated topics. I thank Representative Allen West and his dedicated team for making this interview possible.

Condoleeza Rice Talks About Iraq and Bin Laden’s Death

On Thursday, Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice sat down with Lawrence O’Donnel on “The Last Word” and she honestly, got the last word. O’Donnell was skewered on point-after-point on Iraq as his lack of journalistic integrity came to the forefront. The total segment was 15 minutes long, more than eleven and a half minutes were spent on the war.

Lawrence started the Iraq war segment out saying that Bush made “huge mistakes”. Impartiality and balance apparently no concer.  Then again, it is MSNBC.

Part One: Bin Laden’s Death

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Part Two: Iraq War

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Condoleeza Rice handled O’Donnell with deft precision. And as O’Donnell tweeted, “Condi Rice just told me I’m a terrible interviewer. You decide at 8:00 pm ET tonight. #condoleezzarice #lastword@lawrence” – I agree.

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