S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Will it always be about conflict?

The word that best describes the United States' role in the world under the Bush administration, in my opinion, is "versus." By extension that also accurately describes Senator John McCain, who wants to be our next president. He is every bit as conflict ridden as George Bush.

Current conflicts in the news for example, include these from CQ Behind the Lines (9/24/08) Bugs ‘n bombs:

The Islamabad Marriott bomb owed its apparent intensity to the addition of aluminum powder to accelerate the explosion and add ferocity to the blaze, Danger Room discusses. Seven years after 9/11, the remains of 13 of the 19 men responsible have been IDed by the FBI and NYC medical examiner, but no one has formally requested the remains in order to bury them, the Times tells. “A key part of the FBI’s early investigation into the anthrax mailings was finding whether the germ that killed five people in late 2001 was weaponized,” a Scientific American technical review leads.

Versus . . . everybody -- Here are but a few on the Bush conflicts to which I refer: West vs. Middle East, U.S. vs. Europe, rich vs. poor, public vs. private, Democrats vs. Republicans. My hope is that the Obama administration is less about versus and more about common ground. In the spirit of bipartisanship, here is some newsletter information I received from Representative Christopher Shays' office. It outlines some of what I want to talk about news-wise in today's post.

September 12, 2008

Dear Friend,
I recently returned from a trip to Israel, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, others in the Administration, congressional and military leaders and leaders of the four countries I visited, I outlined 20 observations and 32 recommendations.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions are of grave concern to countries in the Middle East, particularly Israel. It is likely, if the international community does not take action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel will act unilaterally.

As I recommended following my trip to Iraq in August 2006, we need a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces. Most of our troops should be out of Iraq by December 2009, but a small US presence is still required to bolster the Iraq Security Force by offering medical, logistical, transportation and training support; acting as a deterrent from external attack; and providing stability so the Iraq military will not exert undue influence over the elected government.

Pakistan is in serious trouble, and unless the international community provides economic and security assistance the democratically elected government could collapse, with a nuclear Pakistan becoming an even greater haven for terrorists.

It is essential we understand our objective in Afghanistan, what is required to reach it, and whether the objective is possible. Before the United States commits additional forces, we must know what their impact will be; ask other NATO member states to contribute more forces; and request all combat restrictions be lifted.

To read my entire letter outlining my observations and recommendations, please click here.

Israel/USA vs. Iran -- Many countries in the Middle East see the U.S. and Israel as closely linked. In the recent dust-up with Russia, the U.S. linked up with Georgia. Russia has been helping Iran. From this tangled mess comes this little story: "Israeli Bombers Planned to Use Georgian Airfields in Iran Strike Report: Moscow ordered troops to raid Israeli facilities in Georgia to protect Iran#," by Arnaud de Borchgrave at Global Research, September 17, 2008. This is another fascinating piece of GWB diplomacy unhinged, the perfect illustration of the "Bush-versus-them" administration: "Bush: Iranians are "Assholes'*" is from Think Progress (9/11/08) It is about diplomatic Admiral Fallon's short tenure as CentCom Commander, as told in Bob Woodward's new book, "The War Within."

Iraq vs. itself -- The conflict in Iraq should never have happened. It unleashed a civil war that now waits to break out again when the U.S. leaves. "The surge" may not have been the total answer, after all : "Satellite images show ethnic cleanout in Iraq*" comes from Yahoo! News (9/19/08). To quote:

Satellite images taken at night show heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad began emptying before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published on Friday.

The images support the view of international refugee organizations and Iraq experts that a major population shift was a key factor in the decline in sectarian violence, particularly in the Iraqi capital, the epicenter of the bloodletting in which hundreds of thousands were killed.

U.S. vs. Pakistan -- What will happen in Pakistan, now that "The US Declare[d] War On Pakistan?*", according to Survival Acres on 9/18. The author reported on the Washington Post's use of the term, "The War in Pakistan." The conflict with Pakistan has a very uncertain outcome right now, more uncertain than almost anywhere. My Intel newsletter adds more:

CQ Behind the Lines (9/15/08) Over there: U.S. raids on Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Pakistan could provoke terror attacks in London, The Times of London reports Pakistan’s high commissioner to the U.K. warning — while The Evening Standard finds an extremist group promising the next 9/11 will take place in Britain. . . Suspected al Qaeda militants killed 12 Mauritanian soldiers Monday, AP quotes senior officials.

USA vs. Russia -- During the Cold War it was the United States and the West versus the Soviet Union. That conflict started an arms race that, in a different way, is manifesting again. This little piece is about Russia selling arms to Venezuela and Iran while the U.S. is also deeply into the business of arms sales. The Real Gun Runners, And It’s Business As Usual*, 9/18/08, is from Survival Acres. To quote:

Except this isn’t a bogus comparison — it’s real. The US really IS selling $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments.

Nothing new here, the American economy is strongly tied to our arms deals all over the world. The nation industry is deeply embedded in arms sales and the death and destruction of millions of people all over the world. But that isn’t my point.

My point was how the lying media refuses to let you know what one hand is doing while it accuses the other.

War vs. Peace -- "Wag the Dog" was a post at Reconstitution 2.0 (9/18/08). It asks whether there will there be an election "October surprise" somewhere near the Persian Gulf? Will the military-industrial complex fight for life after a regime change? Of course they will. They have their tentacles everywhere and will not give up easily. For example, this post at AlterNet (9/19/08), is on the subject of "Public Military Academies: Prep Schools? Or Blatant Recruitment Pools?*" Public school systems are increasingly opening their doors to military academies -- primarily in poor urban areas. Fortunately not everything is about conflict; some long for peace. There is this good news from AfterDowningStreet (9/15/08): "Sir Bob Geldof Launches Peace Channel*" by Rowena Mason. To quote:

Sir Bob Geldof, the charity campaigner and rock star, has opened the way for citizen journalists to report on conflicts around the world with the launch of his Peace Channel. His online TV channel is switched on today at midday at the Point of Peace Summit in Stavanger, Norway, where Nobel Peace Laureates and experts are gathered to discuss conflict resolution. Sir Bob wants people to send in their video reports to “cover the world’s wars and potential flash points”.

Right vs. Wrong -- The following closing story reinforces my hope for less conflict and more peace in my life. It concerns an ongoing flash point within a sister mental health professional organization, that of psychiatrists. It came to me via ProPublica. Titled, "The Ethics of Interrogation — The U.S. Military's Ongoing Use of Psychiatrists," and written by Jonathan H. Marks, M.A., B.C.L., and M. Gregg Bloche, M.D., J.D., it is in The New England Journal of Medicine, 9/11/08. To quote:

In May 2006, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) adopted a position statement prohibiting psychiatrists from "direct participation" in the interrogation of any person in military or civilian detention — including "being present in the interrogation room, asking or suggesting questions, or advising authorities on the use of specific techniques of interrogation with particular detainees."1 A few weeks later, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a similar opinion, stating that "physicians must neither conduct nor directly participate in an interrogation, because a role as physician–interrogator undermines the physician's role as healer."2 The opinion defines direct participation as including "monitoring interrogations with the intention of intervening."

. . . Yet documents recently provided to us by the U.S. Army in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) make clear that the Department of Defense still wants doctors to be involved and continues to resist the positions taken by medicine's professional associations. An October 2006 memo entitled "Behavioral Science Consultation Policy" (see the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this article at fails to mention the APA statement and provides a permissive gloss on the AMA's policy, at some points contradicting it outright.

The antidotes to national and international conflict include -- the diminished influence of the military, more bipartisanship within the ranks of those who govern, enhanced fairness, respectful attitudes, more transparency, and an increased sense of how fast the globe is shrinking and flattening. The last and most powerful antidote would be the defeat of John McCain on November 4.

Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo*" and Jon#.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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JollyRoger said...

The wingtards have nothing to offer as policy successes, so they have to have the "big enemy" with which to scare the Bejesus out of voters. If they don't have a big enemy ready, then they'll create one.

Carol Gee said...

Jollyroger, the tactics you describe, unfortunately were successful enough to keep these wrong-wingers in office for two terms. We Democrats won't dig out of this easily, but we will.