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Why US Foreign Policy Continues to Fail in Afghanistan


Now that lives have been lost and we have withdrawn, this ill-conceived operation once again highlights the lack of US Foreign policy capabilities or our understanding of what is needed to protect American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 stand off with the Soviet Union. Much of the problem stems from the United States inability to adjust to a different world. Most of US foreign involvement since the cold war has been in Asia and the Middle East, cultures that most in Washington do not understand. This should not be the case as it is not in many other western countries and the US foreign service should be able to accept the different cultures but has always ended up trying to impose US values on the nations we get engaged with. 

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 we know today. 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.     

After the creation of Israel, the US seems to have locked out any further changes, no new countries. This of course left the made-up countries like Iraq to fend for themselves. We refused to acknowledge the different ethnic, religious, and even linguistic differences. The United States has the distinct advantage/disadvantage of being one of the most heterogeneous nations in the world. Regardless of all our knowledge we refuse to accept that not all countries and people will accept our values or adhere to our customs. We are seeing this play out today in Afghanistan. A tribal nation that many have tried to forge into a single country. It will not work. We needed to arm and train tribal forces not a national army. If it was ever to change it would take generations a century or more to make it whole. The United States unfortunately maintains a five second view of the world and has no idea of second and third order effect of its decisions. We look to deal with problems on a country-by-country basis while the countries we are dealing with are acting in regional or overarching religious aspects. In the case of the Taliban, they see their version of Islam as the only correct interpretation.

Biden said that after 20 years it was time for the Afghans to take charge, but who are the Afghans? As a single entity they do not exist. Our presence did begin to push a lot of the country forward. At a minimum woman were being educated. We are now talking to a group that holds a world view front he 7th century and act as if they have changed in 20 years and are now willing to become a part of the world. But all that will end simple because our foreign policy professional has failed once more.    

Afghanistain lesson not learned


There will be much finger pointing and recriminations following the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. There will be Congressional hearings and white papers from think tanks, and none will address the root cause of this and other problems that face the government and the people. The culture within the decision-making process sucks.  

Much of what I am going to say can be summed up by a saying attributed to Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House in the mid 1950s to early ‘60s. When speaking to young congressmen who told him of their ambitions his reply was, “to get along you have to go along.” This is the basic philosophy that drives career government and military leaders as they advance, don’t rock the boat.

This is not to say that there are not those who do indeed rock the boat, but they are few and do not last long. Those in the Intelligence Community are known as Cassandras, from the Greek woman in mythology who was given the gift of prophecy and the curse of never being believed.  While there should be a place for different analysis, and in fact has doctrinal support, it is seldom if ever used. Those who go the route of “Red Team,” or Devils Advocate,” rarely survive, it’s a career ender.   

While this mentality is less evident in the military it begins to rear its ugly head as people advance. To that end those that reach the higher command levels tend to be more politician than warrior. This was not always the case. There is an old story about a Soviet officer saying that the difficulty in planning against the Americans is that they rarely read their regulations or feel an obligation to follow it. Today strict adherence to doctrine is the road to success. George Patton would likely not have made it past captain.

I am not sure this problem will be, or can be, address. Those who write reports for the decision makers have their own form and language. If they are certain of the results, their superior wants they can structure the report to fit the desire. If not, which is more often the case, they can structure the report to be interpreted as needed. An absurd example would be a report that should read, “it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, we conclude it is a duck” would conclude more like “… we conclude with a high degree of probability that it is some form of waterfowl.”

Many have touted the results of a recent final report to congress from the Afghanistan Study Group that had listed several courses of action and the resulting consequences. Today most zero in on courses of action from the chapter of Alternative Pathways. The recommended pathway was to maximize existing US leverage to achieve an acceptable negotiated peace agreement. The most risky pathway was called a Washing of Hands and warned of the results, which we have now seen. The conclusion of the report stated that

“With the launch of peace negotiations, the conflict in Afghanistan has entered a new phase. This new phase requires a new understanding. Afghans must take primary responsibility for their own future. The United States must orient its efforts and resources toward shaping the conditions around the peace process—resetting and reframing it in ways recommended in this report—in order to give it the best chance to succeed. It should be reiterated, however, that our troop presence is a key point of leverage. U.S. troops play a vital role in ensuring the continuity of state structures, and thus their presence is essential to brokering a lasting peace. Success, it should be acknowledged, is not guaranteed. But there is a clear path forward. There is now a real possibility of the conflict winding down and Afghanistan becoming a country that needs far less help from the United States. If this happens, the United States can bring its troops home and both countries can move forward as sovereign nations with friendly relations based on shared values and sacrifices.”

 The answers were given to the decision makers, not from the IC or DoD but a select group empowered by Congress. This groups membership consisted of retired politicians and retired military as well as former diplomats and academics. In other words, this group consisted of people who could speak their minds without fear of professional recriminations, and they got it right.  This also shows that the information was out there for anyone willing to see it and think.

This failure of allowing the unpopular analysis to get through to the decision makers needs to be corrected and the culture of fear over being out of step with the mainstream needs to end. This needs to be a major lesson leaned or this problem will just continue.

Atlanta


The Murders in Atlanta are a horror and an abomination, as they would be anywhere. The horror of what the left is making of them is even worse for our society. The suspect Robert Aaron Long, is a troubled young man with a history of mental illness. Two stories in the Washington Post highlight the problems the left has with dealing with reality. The first, headlined in at the beginning of the online and print versions spoke of the troubles Aaron faced in his life, starting the article with “The war within Robert Arron Long was evident for years.” Long is portrayed as a quiet young man who was raised in a strict religious family and community. He was seen changing after graduation from High School when he became obsessed with sex. He found relief through pornography and visits to massage parlors where the women would help him masturbate. He was in rehabilitation programs that centered on religious therapy. He eventually succumbed to guilt and decided that killing the sex workers at the Spas would reduce his guilt. He was captured on the way to Florida where he intended to attack the Porn industry.    

Six of the eight people he killed were Asian. The media immediately declared this a hate crime and decried the rise in hate crimes against Asians, blaming it on President Trump calling the Covid-19 virus the Chinese virus. Statistically a case can be made for an increase. According to reports the number of hate crime against Asians rose 150% between 2019 and 2020. The number of hate crimes recorded against Asians in 2020 was 122. Society should never tolerate hate crime and one is too many, yet 122 is hardly at crisis level.  To be clear these are reported hate crimes and the number does not cover anti-Asian racist incidents.

The second article in the WP was about President Biden and Vice-President Harris on a trip to Atlanta speaking out on the crime and declaring it a racist act. This is reminiscent of President Obama’s visit to Ferguson Missouri following the death of Michael Brown. Browns death at the hands of a police officer was called police brutality perpetrated by a white officer. This launched the Black Lives Matter movement as well as several deadly riots across the country. Obama and his AG, Eric Holder, met with the community and spoke of the horror of racism and the need for police reform. In the end, after all the evidence was collected, it was determined that Brown had attacked the officer and that the shooting was justified.  

As the evidence is being collected in Atlanta it is becoming clear that this is not a hate crime against Asians, but murder committed by a deranged individual who targeted sex workers who he felt were guilty of his problems. What the takeaway should be is to look at the potential of sex trafficking in this case, the use of massage parlors to conduct prostitution, and the need to pay attention to the mentally ill in need of help. The response should bot be an instant cry of racism and protests and calls for more laws. We need to look at the reality and evidence and wait and see were that leads us. In other words, Pleasethink before just reacting.

We need to remember the story of the boy who cried wolf. When will the cry of racism become ignored? A military axiom from Frederick the Great of Prussia states, He who defends everything defends nothing. We can extend that today and say when everything becomes racist, then nothing is racist. There is racism in the world, always has been and always will be. The objective is to blunt its impact on society. Today however we reward its activities and when there is not enough, we make it up. The people that gain from this are not the few racist/white supremacist/black activist, but the politicians who use it to increase their hold on power at the expense of the people. I for one am tired of them trying to manipulate me.   

What happened Atlanta was a crime, it was murder, it was mass murder, but it was not racially motivated and to insist that it was is to deny the facts and ignore the true nature of the crime which means that crimes like this will continue while society looks the other way.   

IF SUESS IS RACIST, AND I DO NOT THINK SO, THEN CENSORSHIP HAS OVERTAKEN US, IT WILL LEAVE US ALL LOW.


As you can tell from the title, I am no Dr, Suess. I do need to talk to you today about him. By now we all know that Dr. Suess has come under attack for his books having “undertones of racism.”  While others have mentioned in the past some of the imagery in Dr. Suess books did portray racial stereotypes, the main study being used today is an article in “Research on Diversity in Youth Literature,” by Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens.

Since the authors have reached back to Suess’s past to prove a racist predilection it is important to look at the authors past and current positions. To their credit they mentioned it in the paper “Katie is a director and Japanese American researcher for the critical literacy organization, The Conscious Kid. Her grandparents were incarcerated at Manzanar and Minidoka concentration camps during World War II, so her family was directly impacted by the anti-Japanese rhetoric and hysteria that Seuss fueled and espoused. Ramón is a director and Black male educator for The Conscious Kid. A CRT (Critical Race Theory) framework was employed due to his professional training and to address Black teacher advocacy in teaching.”

March 2nd is Read Across America Day; the date was picked because it is Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. This year he would have been 117, which means he was born in 1904. He was raised in Springfield MA and went to Dartmouth College as an undergrad and then attended Lincoln College, Oxford. Intending to be an English teacher he was diverted by another student, Helen Palmer who would be his wife, to use his skills at drawing and illustration. Following collage, he launched a career doing Political cartoons and illustrations for marketing. Now we have a Youngman in the mid-1920s to early 1930’s working in advertisement the authors of depict it as “In spite of Dr. Seuss’ extensive body of explicitly racist published works dehumanizing and degrading Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and people from other marginalized groups (including Jewish people and Muslims), many differentiate and defend the author’s children’s books as “promoting tolerance,” and even “anti-racist.” This last, seems to piss the authors off to no end.

I will admit I did not read every word of the paper but read most of it and understand the intent of the authors. In explaining how they went about their study; “Our study sought to evaluate the claims that his children’s books are anti-racist, and was shaped by the research question: How and to what extent are non-White characters depicted in Dr. Seuss’ children’s books? We designed our study to provide important insights into the manner and extent to which White characters and characters of color are portrayed, and assess their implications to the development and reinforcement of racial bias in young children.”  

The question is, did they really search out the truth or did they look for information that supported their predetermined conclusion? In the background of the paper under Seuss’ History of Publishing Racist Works they go back to his Undergraduate days; “In the 1920s, Dr. Seuss published anti-Black and anti-Semitic cartoons in Dartmouth’s humor magazine, the Jack-O-Lantern. He depicted a Jewish couple (captioned “the Cohen’s”) with oversized noses and Jewish merchants on a football field with “Quarterback Mosenblum” refusing to relinquish the ball until a bargain price has been established for the goods being sold. In the same issue of Jack-O-Lantern, Seuss drew Black male boxers as gorillas.” I cannot defend these images they are fairly common for the time. If the depiction of the Quarterback causes censorship we will need to ban “The Merchant of Venice.” Much of what he did as a political cartoonist and illustrations he did in marketing reflected mass appeal and that is what politics and marketing is all about. Most of the advertisements in the 50’s and 60’s depicted women in subservient roles wearing stings of pearls while in house dresses. Should we ban everything Mary Taylor Moore did because she once dress as a fairy and danced around a refrigerator?  Ishizuka personalizes his anti-Japanese work during the war and talks about his work with Frank Capra to dehumanize the Japanese. I am sorry but this was a war and Pearl Harbor was very fresh in the minds of America. If Suess is to be punished let us ban the works of Capra such as “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The paper starts out with the premise that Suess was an unrepentant racist. The biases of Ishizuka and Stephens runs through this paper, In particular we must address the concept of Critical Race Theory which deep in the assessment. Stephens academic career has focused on race and CRT as well as critical literacy. These subjects have been subjected to the complaint that they are too judgmental based on the assumption that all white people suffer from white privilege and support in one form or another white supremacy. These terms run as a consistent theme in the paper. When researching this subject, the authors point out that the cat in the hat is based on blackface and minstrel shows indicates a deep-seated misunderstanding of the books. They also state that any defense of Suess in based on whiteness.

Keep reading Suess to your children, it encourages reading and teaches tolerance.  

Iran vs. Biden


Welcome to our brave new world, which is starting to look like the bad old world. In the last week Iranian backed militias have launched three rocket attacks at American forces and positions including the American embassy, killing a US contractor, and injuring US service personnel. The reaction of the Biden administration has been to label the attacks an “Outrage” but that the US will not lash out, but consider options, Come on man. Iran has in the past tested the resolve of the United States, recently under Trump. The result with Trump was withdrawal from the JCPOA, the Iran deal, which cost them billions due to renewed sanctions. When they attempted to force their point once again by staging an attack on our embassy in Baghdad, their lead terrorist was killed by a drone strike. In June of 2019 Iran shoot down a US Drone over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz. The US responded by a cyber attack which shut down the Iranian Air Defense Grid. Last year the number of attacks increased but the number of rockets fired in each attack decreased.  The attacks also were of very little effect since they mostly missed hitting anything of value with no US casualties.

Today we see death and casualty causing impacts as well as an increase in accuracy. The good news is they are not using their more sophisticated weapons and not using the mass barrage technique of the past. How long will it be before they use larger more sophisticated missiles and aim to cause mass death. If there is no response, it will not be too long. Our allies I am sure are cautioning against the cowboy diplomacy of the past and the Biden administration is more then happy to oblige. While claiming to be assessing and contemplating they can continue to just sit back and do nothing. How will this work out?

In the past, during the cold war there was a military doctrine known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) that was thought to keep the US and the Soviet Union from using nuclear force. We may not be talking about stopping a nuclear war (yet), but the concept of deterrence is valid. An excellent book from those days is “Arms and Influence” by Thomas C. Schelling. The first chapter in his book is titled “The Diplomacy of Violence.” Schelling speaks of the difference between compelling a foe or coercing them. Joe Biden is familiar with compelling someone as we saw with his threat to Ukraine to fire a prosecutor or lose US aid. Coercion is different, since it is making someone do what they do not want to do under threat of violence. Compelling Iran to stop supporting militias in Iran or to stop exporting terrorism in the region is a futile quest. Coercing them with threats of violence has limited effect but can still be effective if the amount of hurt inflected or perceived to be coming is sufficient to slow down an action. Claiming they were in Iranian waters the boats and crew were taken captive. Secretary of State Kerry apologized for the incident and thanked Iran for releasing the crew. Obama pointe the incident out as a success for diplomacy. Iran continued to size tankers in the gulf and demanding ransom. Most recently they sized a Korean tanker in January claiming it was polluting the gulf. Iran just announced it was releasing the tanker after South Korea released 1 Billion dollars in assets frozen by US sanctions.

The Biden administration must learn how to deal with terrorist regimes, or the violence will increase and consume the region and the world. One teaching of life comes from William F. Buckley who said, “Idealism is fine but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive.”  No government or political institution can stand if it is based solely on ideology that makes no room for change.

saturday thoughts


Just a couple of quick Items for the weekend. First, Sen Ted Cruz, who cares. It is a PR disaster but not a major mistake. He is a US Senator and would have very little power to do anything but make phone calls to FEMA to ask how things are going. It is not like he is a Governor of a state whose actions may have killed thousands, but let’s keep Cruz in the news to keep Cuomo out.

The new all Democrat congress, which the media has judged centrist, assigned Sen. Bernie Sanders to be Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. He is now scheduling high-profile hearings that highlight the socialist agenda he has pushed for his 30 years on the hill. The first is titled “Why Should Taxpayers Subsidize Poverty Wages at Large Profitable Corporations?” Future hearings are on such subjects as “making corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share,” as well as the cost of climate change. I am sure these will be fair and open meetings. I will soon be discussing the concept of the wealthy paying their fair share and what that means.

Biden has returned the US to the Paris Climate Accords, by the way the US has meet or exceeded the benchmarks set before this decision.

Biden has recently overturned several Trump executive orders, two were designed to lower the cost of insulin and increase support for apprenticeships.

Have a good weekend and PLEASEThink about what is happening around you.  

Should there be a third party


Much is being said and written about advancing a third major political party. Many parties have existed in the United States since its beginning. The early parties are no longer with us, having outlived their usefulness or morphed overtime into what we have today. Recently there have been attempts to start viable third parties but all have failed. Even movements within the parties, such as the Tea Party, used to push toward an extreme view have ended badly. For good or ill the US is a two-party country and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. To determine the way forward for the republican/conservative movement we will take a page out of resent home improvement shows. Couples on these shows are given the option of keeping their current home with upgrades or moving to a new home. We must determine if we want to keep our party with upgrades or move on to an unknown.

Obviously, my recommendation is to upgrade and rebrand. We got a good start from President Trump and need to build on that. Trump acting in the interest of the country as a whole and fought for the individual. We need to find a way to shed the image of racism and the party of the one percenter. This will not be easy since the left owns the news media and will not allow for any positive reports about the right, to get much coverage. We need to work around this obstacle. Local organizations must be recruited to spread the word. The word must also be moderate and less extreme than some may wish. Most of what the republican party is about is moderate action to problems and reasonable solution that work overtime. This is anathema to the left who respond to everything with kneejerk reactions and a need for instantaneous gratification. We need to push back on the radical ideas that have no basis in fact and stop fearing popular reactions to unpopular statements.

Identity politics has driven the concept of differing views to the point that there can be only one why of looking at any situation. In a recent interview on CNN Freshman Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA) called for a truth commission to root out and combat extremism. She is not the first and I have not heard much from the right. This type of ideology, that puts itself above the constitution, needs to be confronted. We have heard from the new Secretary of Defense that he is ordering a 60-day standdown to confront extremism in the military, while most recently the acting chief of police in Washington DC said they are exploring ways to investigate police officers who may hold extremist views. What no one has defined is what is extremism. Will visiting a Proud Boys web site cost you a career or a promotion? Will there be equal examination for Black Lives Matter or Antifa?  The right should be standing up and screaming about this, but so far nothing. Where do these type of big brother investigations end?

The Republican party needs to return to the roots of American thought and culture. We must push the ideas of freedom and liberty. We must continue to push the concept of the individual above the collective state. It must be understood that America is unique in the world. Solutions that have worked or perceived to have worked elsewhere may not work here. At the same time, we must understand that we cannot export American culture.

We have reached a time in which too many of our citizens are ashamed of being American for reasons they cannot explain. We must get everyone to PLEASEThink about how great our country is and how we can work together to make it work.  

How We Need to Think about Coronavirus


COVID-19

It is time to end the politicization of the coronavirus. When the president moved to appropriate 2 billion dollars to combat the virus the Democrats and some Republicans yelled it was not enough. OK if that is the case the release the 2 billion and move to appropriate more. We are told the president did not move fast enough yet it was only about a month after the world learned of the outbreak in China that Trump declared a health emergency and at that time there were no cases in the US. Compare this to the six-month delay by the Obama administration that the swine flu H1N1 was declared a health emergency and that was after millions of Americans had been infected and more than 1000 had died. A New York Times editorial comes out and state “We should start calling it the Trump virus.” When the president goes on the air to reassure the public that the US is doing what it must to mitigate the impact and that most Americans are safe, he then appoints the Vice President to lead a committee on government actions, the Democrats decry this as wrong and that a doctor should lead the effort.
To put this in perspective the outbreak of the swine flu in 1976 led to a mass immunization program that begun months after the first patient was diagnosed following recommendations by the CDC and a blue-ribbon panel that included Jonas Salk Albert Sabin. The Swine flu was at that time being compared to Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which is now happening again. Four months after the first indications of Swine flu the president and his panel move to produce a vaccine appropriating 135 million dollars for the immunization program. Drug manufactures were recruited to begin producing the vaccine and were informed by their insurance companies that they will not be protected. Congress passes legislation to protect the manufactures, the vaccine is produced and then, associated with an increase in Guillain-Barre syndrome. In the end the program is stopped after 25% of the nation receives the shot. In the end an estimated 35 people died of the swine flu and approximately 500 contracted Guillen-Barre, through there is still a question on the connection between the vaccine and Guillen-Barre. In 2009 over 12,000 people died in the US from swine flu and between 26 and 52 thousand deaths are attributed to the flu in 2019.
The point of all this is that over the years we have seen a too fact reaction little study then too slow a reaction resulting in many deaths. Wee need to add to this that death from the normal influenza infection is in the tens of thousands. Today we are facing a deadly strain of corona virus that will spread across the country. The administration is moving to mitigate the impact. We have seen death from this in the country and will likely see more. When the president says there is a low probability of individuals getting the virus, he is correct. Looking at the normal deaths from the flu we see about .0002 percent of the population effected. This does not mean we can ignore it and do nothing, but it does not mean we need to live in fear.
The government must act as a single entity in this and stop fear mongering and politicizing the problem. It does no good to exaggerate the problem any more then to dismiss it. Its time for all to Pleasethink about how they must act.

 

 

Trump and Iran


 

US_Steps_up_Pressure_on_Iran

 

By Paul Davis and Chiman Zebari

Today the world is holding its breath to see the response of the United State to an anemic attack by Iran on Iraqi bases housing Americans. The Islamic Republic launched around 15 missiles at targets in Iraq, some of which were shot down most of which missed the target. The attack was in response to the killing by the US of an Iranian terrorist and commander of an Iranian terrorist group.
Some say the Iranians missed their targets on purpose in order to avoid a major retaliation by the US. The Iranian FARS news network at one point said up to 80 Americans had been killed. The US is saying no casualties. While there may have been no US casualties there were Iraqis injured. So, what is next.
This is also being called a face-saving device so that the Iranian leadership, playing to a domestic audience, can show that they took decisive action to retaliate for the US actions. The operation was called the “Martyr Soleimani.”
The fact is that the death of Soleimani was a major blow to the Iranian ability to continue to export the Islamic revolution. The technical capabilities of Iran have increased in the last few years but the war fighting capabilities are far short of what they need to engage in any protracted war. This however will not fully deter the actions of Iran since there war model has been to use proxy forces to carry out limited attacks on selected targets.
The belief that this is a one-off operation does not track. The anger in the Islamic Republics leadership is very strong and revenge in their history. The President in his statement announced additional sanctions on Iran and justified the strike that took out Soleimani. The foreign minister of Iran told the world that this missile strike was proportional and served it purpose. This is difficult to believe since Iran has been attacking anyone or any country it sees as an enemy for 40 years. What may be considered is that Iran may not launch attacks by its forces from Iranian soil again. The standard Iranian tactic is to use proxy forces which gives them deniability.
The President also said that it appears that Iran is standing down, not sure what that means, in fact the next day there was an attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad. I expect to see a lull, which means back to normal, and then a spike in attacks in Syria and Lebanon as well as a potential Hamas or Hizballah attack on Israel. The Iranian dominated Iraqi militias will continue to act independently of the Iraqi government and under the control of Iran.
It should also be pointed out that the missile attacks were aimed at bases in Sunni and Kurdish areas. This tracks from past IRGC controlled attacks by the PMF militias. Soleimani’s main objective has been to spread the Islamic revolution, increase Iranian hegemony and remove the US (west) from the region. This last is important to understand, Iran sees little to no difference between the US and other western nations yet will continue to manipulate those western nations for trade.
Short of all out war with Iran the US needs to adjust it position in the region in order to continue a US presence as well as be prepared to defend US interests and allies. Based on the resolution of the Iraqi Parliament to seek to have all US forces leave one solution would be to move the US embassy from Baghdad to Erbil and ask the Kurds to hold another referendum on independence, and this time back them up fully. Kurds as we have mentioned previously are the only true allies the Americans have in the region. A truly free and independent Kurdistan would be a game changer. Removing US forces from Iraq would be a financial blow to Iraq and a political blow to Iran and Turkey.
With Soleimani out of the way Iran does not have a replacement of his caliper. Much of the control and personal contacts may begin to weaken and allow for the different actors to operate on their own. Beside the Kurds, the Sunni in Iraq have been victims of the Iranian control of Iraq. It is within their power to vote for autonomy and break away from Baghdad. What has stopped this in the past was not Iran but the US which maintains a one Iraq doctrine.
While so many are saying this is going to lead to World War III I would reiterate that the Iranian are in no condition to wage an actual war. As for terrorist attacks Iran and the IRGC are the leading exporter and planners of terrorism already. The Iranian government is facing a dilemma with a shift in the way the American government is reacting, holding Tehran accountable for the actions of its proxies, and the widespread protest in Iran and Iraq. This is in fact the perfect time to apply maximum pressure. The only thing that is working in Iran’s favor is the US House pushing a new War Powers Act exclusively to stop any action by the US in the event it is needed.
We need to build a strong coalition that will truly isolate Iran and end the regimes reign of terror. It is time for the majority of the government to understand that to do nothing now will result in a greater loss of national security then what they can understand in their current state.

The Houses Treatment of the Impeachment process


 

 

I have watched the impeachment hearings and seen President Trumps tweets and am embarrassed for my country. We have lost sight of the core values of America, those values that have made us the envy of the world. Chief among those values was and should be a sense of fair play. Everyone should have the right to speak their mind and if accused of wrongdoing be able to defend themselves. The president is wrong when he comes out and attacks his critics and accusers. If you do not like the president, then you have the right to say so. There was a time when this was done without invective, but no longer. Today we attack any and all personal habits and traits. The president makes up names and insults the integrity of his opponents. The democrats attack the president with insults and name calling. The worst part of all of this is the current impeachment hearings, begun with little to no evidence of an impeachable crime. They have concluded without the presentation of any hard evidence, only rumor and hearsay. The next step was the House Judiciary Committee review of the results of the hearings and writing articles of impeachment. The house will then get the articles and will almost certainly vote to impeach. Unlike past impeachments such as Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, there is no hard evidence to support the commission of a crime that is impeachable.
Most of what we have seen, and likely will see, is hearsay and opinion. The Ukrainians themselves have said there was no demand and they felt no pressure. We are not currently talking facts or evidence but opinion and spin. We followed this up with the House Judiciary committee, chaired by Congressman Jerry Nadler of NY, a man who has been an adversary of Donald Trump for years. The committee heard from four so called experts on the constitution and impeachment. Of the four, three were acknowledged opponents of the President and the fourth was a token republican because the chair would not allow any other republican picks.
One of the things that bothers me is that there is not even a pretense at any form of judicial fairness. The Intelligence Committee first meet in secret then had a couple of open hearings. According to those with access at the beginning and then on live TV the Democrats ran the hearing as a Star Chamber, controlling the questions and the witness’ while going for a predetermined conclusion. Then onto the Judiciary Committee which began by bringing on four law professors three of whom have been on record as avid Trump haters. One of the witness’, Pamela Karlan, a law professor from Stanford was quoted from a video last year as saying “ “I came in from the airport yesterday and I got off the bus from Dulles [Airport] down at L’Enfant Plaza and I walked up to the hotel, I was walking past what used to be the Old Post Office Building and is now the Trump Hotel, I had to cross the street of course.” Noah Feldman of Harvard once spoke of the high standard of proof needed in Sharia law. In 2008 wrote in the New York Times, “Today, when we invoke the harsh punishments prescribed by Shariah for a handful of offenses, we rarely acknowledge the high standards of proof necessary for their implementation. Before an adultery conviction can typically be obtained, for example, the accused must confess four times, or four adult male witnesses of good character must testify that they directly observed the sex act.” This of course is what is written but rarely is this standard kept. Feldman and three of the four are hardy keeping to a high standard of evidence since none has been forthcoming. Michael Gerhardt of UNC has written a number of books on the presidency and impeachment said the founding fathers would impeach Trump. Only Jonathan Turley of George Washington University pointed out that the evidence so far does not hold to the high standard of Impeachment.
All of this goes to the main problem, there is no way to shift through the noise to determine the facts. The only fact we actually know is that a phone call happened between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine in which, amongst a number of topics Trump used the phrase “.. do me a favor.” This was followed by request to see what was known about the DNC server and a group known as crowd source. Later on Hunter Biden was mentioned as well as a request by VP Biden to fire a prosecutor. This last is also considered a fact since Biden himself admitted it.
After all of this we are left with the question, what was the intent of the president? Some who listened to the phone call did not hear anything that they construed as wrong. Others said it was an improper request. None have said it was a violation of law. The house is moving forward with the impeachment proceedings. Speaker Pelosi told Nadler to move forward with articles of impeachment, even though the hearings were only in their second day.
After a very raucous session the Judiciary Committee passed two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and contempt of congress. It will now go to the full house and pass at which point it will go to the Senate for trial. In support of the articles the committee issued a 169-page assessment of the case. In the 169-page report the committee brought up the constitution 259 times. Never citing evidence but saying the evidence was irrefutable in showing the President violated his constitutional oath. They pounded on the fact that the president obstructed the congressional probe by refusing to allow his staff to appear under order of subpoena by the House. While it is not clear how many subpoenas are active the ones that were issued are being reviewed in the courts. While the house has insisted that the president is not above the law, agreed, neither is the House. Stating that the House has the sole authority to impeach and that they are co-equal to the president, then so is the judiciary. Let the courts decide the limit of Presidential power to resist the House. Yet while the courts decide many of the democrats are saying it is not up to the courts that the house has the sole power to decide, therefore ignoring the co-equal branch of the Judiciary.
The case of abuse of power hinges on an interpretation of the July 25th phone call. The democrats say it showed an attempt to interfere with the 2020 elections by a foreign power. The republicans say it was a request to investigate a potential crime by Hunter Biden and perhaps his father, then the VP. The true motive can neither be proved or disproved. This brings us to another legal term, reasonable doubt. If a charge cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, there must be an acquittal. In the 169-page assessment the Judiciary Committee contends the president committed multiple federal crimes including criminal bribery and wire fraud. Why then not include these charges in the articles of impeachment. Likely because they are criminal charges that need to be proved. Abuse of power is a catchall phrase that lacks specificity or the stringent standards of a criminal charge.
The President has not helped his cause with a constant stream of tweets that for the most part attack the opposition with child like invective. Calling people names and insulting them in other ways does not bode well in Washington or the rest of the country. The concept of inocencent until proven guilty should be the way to go. Put out the facts and let the other side try and prove guilt. The release of the transcripts and the denial of the Ukrainian government vs. the opinions and hear say of the witnesses against him should stand on there own. The president did send Speaker Pelosi a 6 page letter detailing the political nature of the House actions and laying out the defense that was denied him.
The question to resolve is whether or not the President broke the law in a way that justifies his removal from office. The democrats have said that he does not need to actually break the law to be removed that his actions alone demonstrate that he is unsuited for office. They have called him dangerous to the constitution and the country. They have called “witnesses” that have witnessed nothing and have been shown to be prejudicial to the president. During hearings in the house the presidents’ side was not allowed to make a concerted defense and when they questioned the witnesses they were, in many cases, gaveled to silence.
None of the actions mentioned prove the President innocent, but that is not what drives American justice. You do not have to prove your innocence, the other side needs to prove guilt, which they have not done. The actions of the House are not about constitutional power or a need to save the country but about a political campaign begun November 9th, 2016. The people need to understand the reality of what is going on and understand the danger the country faces if we reduce the process of impeachment to a political activity.
This entire process is driven by politics, not a concern of law or constitutional fidelity. I am concerned that it may work, not that Trump will be removed but that he will be damaged enough to loss in 2020. We will need to see how the Senate handles the trial and what kind of coverage it gets.