Recently the University of Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan renamed Kalaf Zebari hall to Peshmerga Hall. For those who do not know the Peshmerga are the military that has defended the Kurdish region from both external attacks and internal such as Saddam Hussein’s military and most recently ISIS. Khalafe Zebari on the other was a Kurdish intellectual, who also happened to be a former Peshmerga fighter. This change has caused considerable consternation in the region. While it is understood that it is right and proper to honor the Peshmerga who have sacrificed much for the Kurdish people, why remove the name of an honored intellectual and poet who himself sacrificed for the Kurdish people. Having uprooted himself and his family several times, first to escape the tyranny of the Saddam era then to secure a future for his family in the US. Lastly, he once again uprooted his entire family to move to Washington DC to begin Voice of America Kurdish broadcasts.
This last gave great comfort to the Kurdish people, not only in Iraq but Turkey, Syria and Iran. Bringing news, information and hope to the suppressed people of Kurdistan. Joining him was his wife, Chiman, who in addition to VoA worked with a number of US and international agencies supporting Kurdish and regional refugee programs as well as US government operations in the region. I’ve known Chiman Zebari for a decade and have worked with her closely so I know her loyalty for her people. My interest in this began as I read posts on Chiman’s FB page. While I do not read Kurdish and the google translations leave much to be desired, I understood the gist of the story.
While, as said. it is right to honor those Peshmerga who gave so much. There are a number of ways to do this, and they have been done throughout the Kurdish region. The University of Duhok, being an institute of higher education must not forget the contributions made by the poets and intellectuals. Return the name of this man who gave so much to support the intellectual freedom of the Kurds.
The House Select Committee on the January 6th riots held a professionally produced TV event, the result of which, to no one’s surprise, placed the blame for the attack on the capitol building on Donald Trump. This result was a foregone conclusion from the outset of the hearings. The committee was designed to come to this conclusion from and by packing the so called “bipartisan” committee. The committee and the mass media have continued to call this event an attack on the foundation of democracy. They proceeded through the night to present evidence to back up their claim. The problem is that most of what they called evidence would likely not be allowed in a court of law in any democratic country.
Evidence implies facts and the facts are well known. On January 6th of 2021 a riot broke out in front of the Capitol building and proceeded into the building itself. No one denies this. The riot and subsequent assaults were and are criminal. There have been several arrests and convictions related to this. The problem now comes as we leave the world of evidence and enter the world of fantasy. While fantasy may be a harsh word, we could use assumption or conspiracy. Regardless of what you wish to call it, the intent is to prove Trump was responsible and controlled events. To this end there is no evidence, no facts to point to.
There have been civilian attacks on the government since the very beginning of the country. Shay’s Rebellion, The Whiskey Rebellion, John Brown at Harpers Ferry, The anti-war riots and race riots of the 1960’s. The list goes on and on. In 2011 union activist attacked and occupied the Wisconsin Capitol Building, which Nancy Pelosi called true democracy in action. Most recently we have seen a number of race riots directed by the Black Lives Matter movement, which have resulted in death and the destruction of businesses and other personal property. The congress has done nothing about those criminal acts and DOJ did nothing but try to blame whole police departments.
As I said what happened on Jan 6th 2021 was criminal and an insult to America. The reaction of congress however is far beyound what should have been done. The fact is that what the majority in congress has done has taken a criminal act of a few and turned it into a political drum beat. The way in which the Jan 6th committee has acted is so transparently partisan that it is insulting. From the beginning the majority attempted to ignore the facts and went after Trump through an impeachment that was doomed to fail and whose only reason was to keep Trump from running again. The special select committee is also an attempt to stop Trump and anyone who thinks of following him from regaining any power. In fact the actions of the left and this committee have done just the opposite by keeping Trump in the news. It is time to return to the age of reason were reason and reality are objective. The way that the truth has been ignored by the left indicates that they consider reason and reality to be subjective. They twist and turn every fact or rumor into what ever they what it to be and hope that the people will be fooled. This committee has been seated for over a year and has in fact come up with nothing, however their report will be issued sometime in September, just in time to impact the midterm elections.
The true attack on Democracy is a representative government that has stopped representing the people and is only concerned with partisan politics. Lets spend time and money on addressing the problems that currently face all Americans.
To begin, I believe life begins at conception. I believe that there are circumstances where pregnancies can and should be aborted such as rape, incest or for medical reasons. I have never been sure of Roe v. Wade as the correct way to handle the abortion issue or should it reside in the states. I am sure however that the response we are seeing to a leaked preliminary report is a further indication of how far we as a nation have fallen
The most troubling response has come from our political leaders. Raising up and declaring SCOTUS is not properly responding to the wishes of the people and using the time worn attack that this is going to bring democracy down. Courts have never and should never be conduits of popular opinion. Yes laws change over time, responding to changing social conditions, but this is evolutionary. By saying that once the Supreme Court rules that is the end of all further discussions. The court has overturned past rulings and likely will continue to do so. Plessy v. Ferguson found that separate but equal education was constitutional upholding the concept of segregation and Jim Crow laws. This was then settled law from 1896 until 1954 when segregation was ruled unconstitutional in the Brown v. The Board of Education ruling.
Before Roe v. Wade abortion was not a “constitutional right” nor was it universally illegal. Until then it was up to individual states to determine, as well as individual choice in states where it was legal. Roe v. Wade determined the constitutionality based on the 9th amendment arguing that if it not a right denied in the constitution it is the peoples right. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg while supporting the spirit of Roe said it was founded on the wrong argument. When it is reargued, and it will be, it will be under the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause.
Why has this situation engendered such passion? To put abortion in perspective about .009% of woman between 15 and 49 get abortions on average per year. However both sides of the argument have taken it to extremes. On one side we say that any abortion is murder and have gone to the extreme of some now saying they wish to ban contraceptives and things like Plan B. On the other side we say, “My Body, My Choice.” This argument goes all the way up to the concept of partial birth abortions.
Both extremes are unworkable and will do nothing but continue to wreak havoc on America. Both side have to learn the art of compromise and understand that they will not get everything they want.
I want to give you my thoughts on the current crisis gripping Washington. It is not the fact that a war in Europe is raging and could potentially expand into a nuclear conflict, but a purported seven-hour gap in phone logs of President Trump on Jan 6th. These logs have been turned over to the House JAN 6TH committee and were reported by none other than Bob Woodward. This revelation comes soon after President Biden called for the removal of Russian Putin, suggested the 82d Airborne would be in Ukraine soon and suggests a possible US chemical weapons attack in response to Russia using chemicals in Ukraine, all which Biden denies but is on tape saying.
We are also in the midst of learning that Hunter Biden’s lap top is in fact real and the information that has been reported is in fact correct. All of this despite the fact that a number of Intelligence Professionals had claimed to be Russian misinformation.
But the big news is that a federal judge said Trump “probably” committed a crime. Not to forget that a Supreme Court Justices wife exchanged tweets with the WH CoS. This last has been followed by calls for his impeachment or at the least his resignation.
We are also recipients of reports from the confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court Justise, that has not discussed her qualifications but centers on the “fact” that all the white republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are nothing more than racist for actually asking questions. As an aside I do not like the politics of this nominee but see no reason to deny confirmation.
In the end it would be remiss of me not to mention the biggest national news story, Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars. Which has people talking about violence and racial stereotypes. Oh, and in case you missed it the Federal Election Commission has fined both Hilary Clintons campaign and the DNC for its part in the Steele Dossier. You remember the t.hing that started the whole Trump-Russia collusion hoax.
The news industry keeps asking why they are losing readers/viewers? Perhaps if they went back to reporting the new instead of pushing a narrative people would begin to trust them again. My blog is PleaseThink1.com and all I ask of people id to please think. Look at the facts and see if it meets the criteria of news. News organizations are always going to take a side and have an opinion but leave that on the OpEd page. Opinions and personal agendas have no place in a front-page news story
Today the world faces a dilemma it had always hoped to avoid, morality going up against ideology. How do we handle the situation in Ukraine without understanding our moral obligation to the world? What is happening in Ukraine is a moral outrage with leadership acknowledging the fact. President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken as well as many of our NATO allies have called Putin a war criminal and say there is evidence that the Russians are committing war crimes in Ukraine. The crimes being committed are a daily occurrence. Economic sanctions will take time to become effective, if ever. The legal process that could be used is dysfunctional at best. The ICC in the Hauge has already opened an investigation, but it has no true power to charge Russia or Russians with any crime. The evidence to support the charges are inside a war zone.
The West has hidden behind the legalities of international treaties and law. I am not suggesting that we ignore laws or abrogate treaties, just that we need to remember who and what we are. Ukraine is not a NATO member so Russian actions do not trigger a NATO response. Russia is a nuclear power which means we must proceed carefully, but at what cost? President Biden likes to whisper into microphones that if we engage Russia its WWIII. This goes back to the claim President Obama made while negotiating the Iran deal, “Its this deal or war.” Is this the mentality we need to follow, let Ukraine be crushed or it’s WWIII? Does the West have a moral obligation that overrides the arguments of diplomacy?
We have been faced with these questions before. Our founding fathers needed the moral courage to stand up the greatest military force in fighting for independence. Then there came a time to fight to remove the stain of slavery from the country. The greatest generation then had to face off against the Axis powers. Let it be known there was much objection to this last in the US even through our leadership knew about the holocaust, but we found a way. Yes, Russia is a nuclear power but we faced off with them during the Cuban missile crisis. We found the moral courage to face down the bigots of the Jim Crow era. Can we find the courage now to understand our moral obligation before it is too late? If we cannot find the moral courage to do what is right now, what becomes of us in the future.
The United States today appears to be divided between left and right polls. If the news media is to be believed there is no middle ground. I personally believe there is a large middle ground, but they are being beaten into submission by the extremes. What is driving this may be understood using the old adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” We have seen this philosophy used countless times, not only in war but politics as well. Many are unaware that one of the reasons the founding fathers put freedom of speech in the constitution was to insure that people with opposing thoughts had the right to express them. This also kept opposing forces from joining together to oppose the government. As long as they could express their beliefs and opinions freely there was no need to join with their enemies. This could be a lesson for some social media groups who impose their “community standards” on their sites giving rise to competition. This was seen in the 2d World War with resistance movements such as the French maquis. The maquis included such groups as the French Communist party and the Young Catholic League. Two sworn enemy who joined together to fight the evil occupation. This did not end well, at the end of the war these groups turned on each other.
How does this reflect in today’s America? A recent example of how far we have fallen is a report from Yale University that around 100 Yale law students: “…disrupted a bipartisan panel on civil liberties by trying to shout down and intimidate the speakers — who had to be escorted out of the building by police, according to reports.
The panel “hosted by the Federalist Society featured Kristen Waggoner, a controversial anti-LGBTQ speaker with the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, and Monica Miller, an associate at the progressive American Humanist Association,” when reminded of Yales policy of free speech and free expression the students could only understand that they had a right to protest and that the panel did not have a right to express their views.
On the other side we have some right-wing extremist in Congress calling the president of Ukraine a thug and saying we should not support him. The congress approved a measure designed to help pressure Russia with eight republicans voting against it, Of the two, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, have repeatedly pushed propaganda that mirrors that of the Putin. Why, because if Biden or the Dems say it, it must be wrong.
We have been subjected to the concept of “Cancel Culture” which both sides use. Also called call out culture, it can be an effective way to pull back the curtain on things that otherwise would be left in the dark. The MeToo movement was a start to correcting the process that had kept survivors of sexual assault from speaking out. It was instrumental in bringing down people like Harvey Weinstein, but then it became a political tool. One of the most famous political uses of this was during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Kavanaugh, a distinctly conservative jurist, was about to be confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court. Toward the end of the hearings a professor from Palo Alto CA, Christine Blasey Ford, claimed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when the two were in High School. The cry rang out that victims must be believed. The problem with this is that there was no proof. Even after Ford named a friend at the party who could confirm the attack. This witness, Leland Ingham Keyser, stated she had no memory of the party and did not know who Kavanaugh was, regardless some of the public accepted Fords claim and would not be dissuaded by the facts. Similarly the public has been told that Trump is the personification of evil and regardless of facts continue to cancel him, with no direct or supportable evidence.
Today we see in the same type of cancel culture attacks on the current Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. To be honest she is much too liberal for my taste, but I cannot find a reason to deny her the nomination. Calls that she was too lenient on child pornographers are a subjective argument. She sentenced within the guidelines, which themselves may be too lenient, but the sentencing was legitimate. Worse are calls of how she defended clients when she was a public defender. While some of her clients may be the scum of the earth, it is a lawyer’s job to provide a defense.
What does this all mean? Are we all becoming extremist or is the way we get our information failing? Information that the public gets has always been skewed by those reporting. A prime example was back when the US and Spain were almost at war. As the story goes William Randolph Hearst, a powerful news paper publisher, sent one of his illustrators, Frederick Remington, to cover the insurrection in Cuba. Remington cabled Hearst that there was no war to which the reply was “You furnish the pictures. I’ll furnish the war.” Today open any news paper or watch any news station and count the times the reporters attack a person or political party rather then just give us the news. Look at how many times you will see FOX News or CNN attacked by rivel networks. There was a time that those of us of a certain age remember watching a news show because of the popularity of the person giving the news, rarely did you have any idea of their political affiliation. Even worse is the proliferation of online sites that don’t even pretend to be news reporters but attempt to play into a certain segment of society while pretending the opinions or “news” they are giving are facts.
What to do? Remember there are no GOOD news sources, suspect story. If it is important to you do your own investigation. Accept that those with opposing views not only have the right to express them but that they may be right. In the end PLEASEThink for yourself.
Americans have been stuck in a terrible rut these past few years and it is beginning to hurt. The main tactic of the political elites is to convince people to stop thinking and to just accept groupthink. The problem with today’s politics, academics, and general discourse, is the invasion of groupthink into almost everything. Some of it intentional, such as the probe of Russian interference of elections and others that just take off and take over any attempt at facts to dispute it.
“Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis, occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.” Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.”
America has been divided into camps that look for others to tell them what to think and then act on those instructions as if they came down from above. The problem is that what is presented to the unthinking as fact is usually just plan wrong. Vaccines do not cause autism. Trump did not collude with the Russians. Covid-19 was not invented to train the masses to obey government orders. This has come down to whatever one side says the other must take the opposite position.
This has come down today for people trying to understand the Ukraine crisis. If someone on the right sees the New York Times of CNN calling Putin evil, they reactively say Biden is the one who caused the war. On the other side if FOX news says it the left must react and call it a lie, whatever “it” is.
In the coming weeks I will examine this problem and try to bring some back to the point of intelligent discussion. All I have ever asked of anyone is to PLEASEThink before they react.
In August of last year, I wrote about the failure of US foreign policy in Afghanistan. In general, I wrote about the failure of US foreign policy. I think it time to revisit that article and expand. Lets start with the beginning of what I wrote;
“Now that lives have been lost and we have withdrawn, this ill-conceived operation once again highlights the lack of US Foreign policy capabilities or our understanding of what is needed to protect American interests. Since the end of the Korean War the US has slowly lost the will to build influence and continue to lead the world. The Cold War was the last hoorah for what was left of US influence mostly based on the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. Much of the problem stems from the United States inability to adjust to a different world.…In 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia helped establish the countries we know today that make up Europe. There were tweaks along the way, but it established the customs of international relations as we know them. It was established within the bounds of European customs and cultures and of course held little sway as countries pushed out of Europe to colonize the world. At the end of the First World War the victorious nations sliced and diced the world up to their economic and political advantage. Ignoring the wants and desires of the indigenous population they put in motion decades of violence. Many countries put together by colonial powers were countries in name only. Following the Second World War and then the Cold War many of these countries broke apart or fell under ruthless regimes that held them together at gun point.” Following the breakup of the Soviet Union the countries that were subjected to Soviet domination or were directly under Moscow as “Soviet Republics” began to return to their traditional status. This of course led to violence and a continuing restabling of borders.
What is happening today in Ukraine is a continuation of foreign policy failure that have been happening for decades. Our major adversary after the 2d World War was the Soviet Union. During that time a policy/belief was something called Mutual Assured Destruction or “MAD.” In the 1960s a book was published titled “Arms and Influence” by Thomas Schelling. Schelling was an American economist and professor of foreign policy. He won a Nobel Memorial Prize for “having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.”
The first chapter in this book is titled “The Diplomacy of Violence.” This is not a review of the book but get it and read it if you want to understand. The first lines of the book are “The usual distinction between diplomacy and force is not merely in the instruments, words or bullets, but in the relation between adversaries—in the interplay of motives and the role of communication, understandings, compromise, and restraint. Diplomacy is bargaining; it seeks outcomes that, though not ideal for either party, are better for both than some of the alternatives.” sometimes this entails threats as well as offers. This is the part the US has forgotten, threats. By this I do not mean economic sanctions, though they can be part of the package, I mean the threat of physical violence. The use of this type of threat is known as coercion. Schelling continues “To be coercive, violence has to be anticipated. And it has to be avoidable by accommodation. The power to hurt is bargaining power. To exploit it is diplomacy—vicious diplomacy, but diplomacy.”
This last part is what Russia was using when it parked 150000 troops on the Ukrainian border. Once coercion does not work then the next act is to initiate violence. There is a difference in making someone give you what you want and forcing them to give it to you. On the one hand it must be believed you will initiate violence for coercion to succeed, on the other it must be believed you can take by force what you want.
The mistake Russia has made so far is the belief they could coerce Ukraine and if that failed they could take what they wanted. The mistake the West made is not believing Russia would attack or only move to take the Donbas region. To compound that mistake the west took the military out of the equation. It is not as if we have not faced expansionist moves and threats of nuclear attack before. Khrushchev did threaten nukes over Berlin but it was likely at the time he did not have any. And in 1962 we again faced the threat in Cuba. The response at the time came from President Kennedy “it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” During the Cuban crisis we also used unofficial back channels to communicate. This type of unofficial communications is now looked down upon by the public as not being transparent.
We have lost our way in the world and need to return to some of what kept us strong and helped us lead. I am sorry if this comes as a shock but to remove the threat of military action from diplomatic activity is to render the entire endeavor useless. I applaud President Biden for his efforts to cut off Russia economically, but these efforts became ineffective when he announced, and continues to announce, that no US forces will not be deployed against Russia since that will mean World War Three. Yesterday China announced severe consequences for any nation helping Taiwan militarily. I do not want to see US troops killed in Ukraine nor the start of WWIII. Perhaps the west can relearn the lesions on the past and present a credible threat to Russia. I fear this may be to late but could be effective if all of Europe joined in, NATO and non-aligned countries as well.
One of the questions asked and badly answered is, why is the war in Ukraine still going on? While any strategic analysis would have to conclude that Russia will eventually defeat the Ukrainian military and occupy the country it is more than likely Ukrainian resistance will continue for years and drain Moscow’s desire to continue. If this is allowed to happen, many tens of thousands will die both Ukrainians and Russians.
What can the west do to stop the carnage and make the Russians leave? Economic sanctions are the go-to answer whenever something like this happens and I don’t know why, since they have never truly worked. Putin is a dictator who feels secure in his position, and sanctions will not affect him. He is securing his position by relieving Russian generals from their commands and has arrested the head of the FSB, the successor of the KGB. He feels secure in the knowledge that he has superior nuclear delivery systems as well as an advantage in space and can destroy satellites that would blind the west. He has no one around him that will tell him the truth.
The question to answer then is will he use his nukes and chemical weapons, and if so, how do we deal with the possibility? We must first off stop the excuse that all answers revolve around NATO. This war threatens Europe and the world. We hear a lot of talk about article 5 of the NATO charter, an attack on one is an attack on all. Secretary of State Blinken has stated that any missile that falls in a NATO country will be considered an article 5 violation, even if it is accidental. The Russians did strike a Ukrainian air base in Yavoriv, approximately 25 miles from the Polish border and close to where members of the 82d Airborne are stationed. It would not take much for a cruise missile to over fly a target by 25 miles, especially seeing the quality of Russian equipment. If this should happen, would we in fact enact article 5 and pour NATO troops into Ukraine? The Secretary of State says yes, we would, but the President of the United States says he will not start WWIII by attacking Russian troops. If we do, will we in fact start WWIII or stop it. If we do not, what deterrence do we maintain, and will the failure in fact escalate to a larger war?
I always hope diplomacy will resolve the most serious problems of our age. I also know that diplomacy will never work without the threat of military action to back it up. Today Putin does not fear the west and is confident in the fact that Biden or NATO will actually resort to arms. We must disavow him of this attitude, or we will be forced to surrender all or go into a much larger war then would be necessary.
Currently there is a lot of talk about #US, #NATO, #Russia, and #Ukraine. It is interesting to see the divergence of opinions and in some cases the reversal of Democrat and Republican views. Most show political ideology and others show a serious lack of understanding history. Is it prudent to ignore the Russian attempt to coerce Ukraine and the west rather than go to war? What is then the reaction when Russia attacks in order to compel the world to accepts it demands? Why are we facing a situation that could affect the world in a most dangerous manner?
One side sees it as a way to prove the current administration is willing to face up to a bully and protect democracy while the other side sees it as pay back for all the attacks on the past administration over Russia. The Obama administration presented the Iran deal as “This or War.” In her book “The March to Folly” writer and historian Barbra Tuchman pointed out the many times in history nations went to war for all the wrong reasons. In a follow-on book “The Guns of August” Tuchman recounted how Europe fell into WWI for the most transient of reasons. What Tuchman did not talk about was the reasons nations go to war when it becomes necessary to protect itself and its political system.
Today the west is faced with the question of diplomacy vs war. All of course wish to see diplomacy win out but at what cost. The Trump administration took a lot of criticism for being nationalistic. We heard how he was destroying the liberal world order. Does Russia need to bargain with the west? The threat of sanctions is real and could impact Russia in the long term. In the short term however using force can achieve all of Russia’s aims.
Russia does not fear any repercussions since it has done much the same thing in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Again, following the annexation of Crimea and the Russian supported breakaway of the Donbas region of Ukraine we see no real action by the west. The fighting in Ukraine only slowed down when the Trump administration began to supply Ukraine with military with equipment. Where have we seen this before, Germany and the Sudetenland, Italy and Ethiopia and Japan and Manchuria.
Diplomacy was tried in all three instances and failed in the end, resulting in war. Could a different type of diplomacy have worked, more robust, more threatening? Carl von Clausewitz told us “War is a continuation of Politics by other means.” In his book “Arms and Influence” Thomas Schelling tells us of the two types of use of the military in diplomacy, to coerce an outcome by threat, which is what Russia is doing right now, or to compel with the use of force. How to avoid either without going to war is to have a military option that is sufficient and believed that will make traditional diplomacy a viable option. The concept of mutually assured destruction kept the world safe during the cold war. The closest the world came to nuclear war was the Cuban missile crisis when cooler more mature heads prevailed.
Like the 1930’s many are saying this is not our concern, it’s a European problem. Just as in the 1930’s allowing the problem to fester and explode it will eventually return to us. Also, to those who say we should take care of our own problems like the southern border, we can do both if we act as a united country and leave the politics behind.