Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bush Foreign Policy Legacy

Dear Editor,
Helle Dale exposes her extreme partisanship (“Bush’s Foreign Policy” 10-29-08) or global ignorance in concluding that Bush’s “essential legacy, was to keep the United States safe from any further terrorist attacks after September 11, despite the terrorists’ determined efforts.”
Osama Bin Ladin’s primary goal was not the mass murder of Americans. His primary goals were to break us economically and to divide us politically. In this sense, President Bush has done more to aid Al Qaeda’s mission than anything Bin Ladin and his murderous cronies have done before, during or after 9-11.
For the record, more Americans have been killed post 9-11 than on that day and the decades before it. If Bush’s approach to terrorism is continued by the next President even the Patriot Act on steroids won’t prevent far more American deaths from murderous extremists in the future. Osama Bin Ladin or his replacements will eventually get biological weapons, or they will find more US troops occupying their lands trying to preempt them, and thousands if not millions more Americans will die.
If Senator Obama or McCain is elected President and we suffer another mass murdering attack by Al Qaeda (or any other extremist group) it will not be their fault -- any more than 9-11 was Bush’s fault. Al Qaeda and other extremist groups attacked the US because in their eyes, we had to pay for the lethal consequences of our nation’s interventions in their lives and countries over the past 40 years.
US support of Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran and his use of WMD against Iranians and Saddam’s own people (the Kurds) along with earlier US support of the Shaw in Iran, and other US efforts to support Islamic radicals during Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan were essentially, US foreign policy interventions destined to backfire. And, Bush’s invasion and failed occupation of Iraq will be no different. Further attacks against Americans here or abroad will be in response to the tens of thousands of deaths of innocent Muslims and the dislocation of millions more as a direct result of US military exploits since 9-11.
The recent US military attacks inside Syria (a potential enemy state) and Pakistan (a critical ally state), as justified as they may be to protect the lives of US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, will likely be seen as more US hypocrisy by fundamentalists, extremists and Muslim moderates alike. With more innocent Muslims dying as a result of such rogue US military strikes, even if we do our best to prevent collateral damage, we only feed the ranks of those who want to murder us on our own soil.
War is not the answer to terrorism. Bush’s greatest foreign policy legacy will be his recognition that development and diplomacy are best tools for defeating Al Qaeda’s ideology. His support from African citizens is testament to that legacy.
There is little chance that the people or the governments of Iraq, Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan will be friendly to the United States if our presence in their lands and in their faces is primarily military. When America puts as much resources into saving and protecting the lives of innocent Muslims as we put into killing suspected terrorists in their neighborhoods, we may have a chance of truly preventing the next mass casualty attack against us.
The best way for the next US President to ensure future US security is to act on the fact that we are far safer in the long run by having many, many close friends in far way places than by having the most powerful military force in history stationed here and throughout the world in thousands of well fortified camps.


Monday, October 27, 2008

No math...just inspiration. Vote Obama

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

US Banks more dangerous than foreign armys

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our
liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a
moneyed aristocracy that has set the Government at defiance.
The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored
to the people to whom it properly belongs."
-- Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President

"The system of banking [is] a blot left in all our Constitutions,
which, if not covered, will end in their destruction...
I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous
than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to
be paid by posterity... is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
-- Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source: stated in 1811 when President Jefferson refused to renew the charter for the First Bank of the United States (the 2nd central bank chartered by Congress in 1791)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Maverick: Another name for cowboy.

Somewhere between Andrew Bacevich’s “He told us to go Shopping” and the Washington Post news story “Standard Warfare May be Eclipsed by Nation-Building” (both in Sunday 10-5-08) lies the answer to this nation’s economic crisis, our defeat of terrorism and our future leadership in this increasingly troubled world.
If after or even before the attacks on 9-11 President Bush had asked Americans to buckle down economically and invest a small part of our relative wealth in boosting the wealth of all people in all nations via foreign aid -- instead of shopping domestically or visiting Disney world, we wouldn’t be in the world of hurt we are today.
Stability operations, nation building or ‘development’ -- whatever you want to call it -- is as vital to our economic prosperity as it is to draining the swamp of future terrorists. But, expecting the U.S. Army or the American tax payers to achieve this essential endeavor alone is futile.
After the suffering of the last great depression and the horrors of the last World War America led the world in creating a new international institution aimed at preventing war and suffering for future generations. But when we gave the UN the most aspirating objectives, we failed to give it the power or the resources to achieve them. And now we either blame the UN or ignore it when its ideals and an empowered reforms are needed most urgently.
Our next President will inherit a giant sucking sound of dollars and power leaving our still great nation. Investment in a new global marshall plan as outlined in H. Res 1078 could help prevent more costly crisis that are inevitable. Both candidates are calling for change but small change isn’t going to do it. And, H.Res 1078 proposes funding changes for nation building that won’t add to our deficit or detract from our military readiness.
On Sept. 18, 2001, when then-defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said "We have a choice, either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live, and we chose the latter." He was dead wrong. Both presidential candidates know admit we need change. And one of them clearly articulates the change we need to make in how we relate to the rest of the world. And “maverick”? That’s just another name for cowboy.

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US Army does Develpment. End of hunger closer.

Normally I write in response to Washington Times opinions...but I believe the story below from the Washington Post is so significant it deserves our attention and contemplation. Should nation building be the role of the UN instead of the US Army? What are your thoughts?

Standard Warfare May Be Eclipsed By Nation-Building: By Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post Staff Writer, Washington Post, October 5, 2008. Pg. 16

The Army on Monday will unveil an unprecedented doctrine that declares nation-building missions will probably become more important than conventional warfare and defines "fragile states" that breed crime, terrorism and religious and ethnic strife as the greatest threat to U.S. national security.
The doctrine, which has generated intense debate in the U.S. military establishment and government, holds that in coming years, American troops are not likely to engage in major ground combat against hostile states as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead will frequently be called upon to operate in lawless areas to safeguard populations and rebuild countries.
Such "stability operations" will last longer and ultimately contribute more to the military's success than "traditional combat operations," according to the Army's new Stability Operations Field Manual, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.
"This is the document that bridges from conflict to peace," said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where the manual was drafted over the past 10 months. The U.S. military "will never secure the peace until we can conduct stability operations in a collaborative manner" with civilian government and private entities at home and abroad, he said.
The stability operations doctrine is an engine that will drive Army resources, organization and training for years to come, Caldwell said, and Army officials already have detailed plans to execute it. The operations directive underpinning the manual "elevated stability operations to a status equal to that of the offense and defense," the manual reads, describing the move as a "fundamental change in emphasis" for the Army.
Yet the concept has drawn fire from all sides: Military critics say it will weaken heavy war-fighting skills -- using tanks and artillery -- that have already atrophied during years of counterinsurgency campaigns. For their part, civilian officials and nongovernmental groups with scarce resources say armed forces are filling the gap, but at the cost of encroaching upon their traditional overseas missions.
Military advocates argue that the Army has long been called upon for peacekeeping and rebuilding in unstable areas, but that it has conducted those operations an ad hoc fashion because of an excessive focus on combat. "Contrary to popular belief, the military history of the United States is characterized by stability operations, interrupted by distinct episodes of major combat," states the manual, saying that, out of hundreds of U.S. military operations since the American Revolution, only 11 were conventional wars.
From Panama in 1989 to Haiti to the 1991 Persian Gulf War to Iraq in 2003, Caldwell said he has seen the Army "confronted with having to conduct stability operations woefully unprepared."
In 1989, for example, Caldwell was the chief of a military planning team preparing for the 82nd Airborne Division's role in the invasion of Panama. "We never once talked about once we took down [Gen. Manuel] Noriega, what then," he said. "We only thought about the clenched fist, and someone else would get the trash picked up and get the water plants working." After Noriega's power structure fell, Caldwell's superiors ordered him to put police back on the streets. "We all panicked," Caldwell recalled.
Today, such fragile states, if neglected, will pose mounting risks for the United States, according to Lt. Col. Steve Leonard, the manual's lead author. Weak states "create vast ungoverned areas that are breeding grounds for the threats that we fear the most, criminal networks, international terrorists, ethnic strife, genocide," he said. "The argument against it is: Forget all that; you still have . . . near peer competitors who are on the verge of closing the superpower gap."
The new manual aims to orchestrate and plan for a range of military tasks to stabilize ungoverned nations: protecting the people; aiding reconstruction; providing aid and public services; building institutions and security forces; and, in severe cases, forming transitional U.S. military-led governments.
In doing so, the manual adds to a growing body of doctrine focused on the military's nontraditional skills, most notably the Army's 2006 counterinsurgency manual, overseen by Gen. David H. Petraeus, Caldwell's predecessor at the Fort Leavenworth command. "It's certainly going to shape how we will allocate resources and how we direct training," said Col. Mike Redmond, director of the Army's stability operations division, who is executing an action plan to implement the doctrine with 157 different initiatives, such as directing the Army's medical command to develop plans advising foreign health ministries.
But as the Army struggles to define its long-term future beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, some critics within the military warn that the new emphasis on nation-building is a dangerous distraction from what they believe should be the Army's focus: strengthening its core war-fighting skills to prepare for large-scale ground combat.
The critics challenge the assumption that major wars are unlikely in the future, pointing to the risk of high-intensity conflict that could require sizable Army deployments to North Korea, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere. "All we need to do is look at Russia and Georgia a few months ago. That suggests the description . . . of future war is too narrow," said Col. Gian P. Gentile, an Iraq war veteran with a doctorate in history who is a leading thinker in the Army camp opposed to the new doctrine.
"I don't think the Army should transform itself into a light-infantry-based constabulary force," Gentile said. Instead, he said, "the organizing principle for the U.S. Army should be the Army's capability to fight on all levels of war."
Civilian officials and nongovernmental groups voice a different concern: that the military's push to expand its exercise of "soft power," while perhaps inevitable, given the dearth of civilian resources, marks a growing militarization of U.S. foreign policy.
"When the military is handed the task of stabilizing an area, that means doing everything. That's not really what we want to have happen," said Beth Ellen Cole, a senior program officer at the Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations of the U.S. Institute of Peace who worked on the manual. However, she said, "we are in an unfortunate situation where the civilian side is not resourced or equipped to do these things."
Some nongovernmental organizations raised concerns about the potential blurring of roles when the military carries out relief operations, saying it could compromise their independence and impartiality in the eyes of local citizens, and make relief workers targets of attack.
The organizations also objected to early drafts of the manual that suggested the military had an obligation or right to intervene in fragile states. "They referred to humanitarian NGOs as partners of the military," said James Bishop, vice president of Humanitarian Policy at InterAction, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations. "We said we did not want to be described as such."
Nonetheless, civilian government officials and NGO representatives including Cole and Bishop credit the Army for inviting them to take part from the beginning in shaping the doctrine, and for incorporating their suggestions. "They left the pen up to us for key sections," said Matthew A. Cordova, deputy director for civil-military affairs at the State Department's reconstruction and stabilization office.
Michael Hess, assistant head of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, said, "The military understands and we understand that if we don't work together, your chances of achieving success are diminished."
Still, bureaucratic unrest surrounded the writing of the Army stability manual, Leonard said, pointing to disputes over questions such as whether to the document should enshrine "democracy" as a goal of stability operations, a move that was ultimately rejected. "It was constant debate and argument," he said.

Philadelphia Inquirer
September 24, 2008
Note To McCain, Obama: Gates Making A Lot Of Sense
By Trudy Rubin, Inquirer Opinion Columnist
As the presidential candidates bone up for their foreign-policy debate Friday, they should study the speeches of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Gates, the CIA director under Bush père, had happily moved on to the presidency of Texas A&M but was brought back to Washington to rescue defense policy from the mess Donald Rumsfeld made.
His levelheaded pragmatism has been a blessing after years of policy driven more by ideology than by realities on the ground.
Gates' sober outlook presents a sharp contrast to Sen. John McCain's emotional, shoot-from-the-hip approach to foreign policy. He strongly promotes the use of "soft power" tools abroad, as does Sen. Barack Obama. But Gates goes further in describing how to balance soft and hard power.
Particularly fascinating was a speech Gates gave last week in England at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Referring to Churchill's prescient warnings about Nazi Germany and rejection of appeasement, Gates noted that Munich is still constantly invoked to prove the need for preventive action. (That's certainly been the case with the Bush administration.)
But Munich, he said, can't be the only reference point "whenever crisis strikes or an adversary threatens." Gates recalled another history lesson, that of August 1914, the beginning of World War I, where "a combination of miscalculation, hubris, bellicosity, fear of looking weak, and a runaway nationalism led to a cataclysmic and unnecessary conflict."
His point: In today's world, with unprecedented challenges by terrorist networks and authoritarian states with oil, the next president can't afford to get trapped by either historical analogy. There has to be a balance "between too-eager embrace of the use of military force and an extreme aversion to it."
This may sound like (and is) common sense. But such common sense has been sorely missing in recent years. It's a quality that will be essential for the next president.
Two examples. First, Russia's recent behavior in Georgia. As Gates noted, although Russia seriously violated international norms, the Cold War has not returned. Russia's incursion will backfire in the long run; it scared the Europeans and even disturbed China, and sent foreign investors fleeing.
Therefore, Gates said, it's important "not to fall into a pattern of rhetoric or actions that create self-fulfilling prophecies." Sen. McCain's claim that "we are all Georgians" and call for expelling Russia from the G-8 fall, I believe, into that rhetorical category. So does loose talk about war with Moscow.
Not only Gates, but five former secretaries of state made a similar point on CNN last weekend. Republicans Henry Kissinger, James Baker and Colin Powell and Democrats Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher agreed we had to think strategically on how to deal with a difficult Russia, not tactically or emotionally; we have major strategic interests in U.S.-Russian cooperation.
In other words, there are better ways for America and Europe to deal with Russia than direct confrontation - or a rush to admit Georgia to NATO. For starters, why not use Europe's new anger at Russian behavior in Georgia to galvanize a united European energy policy that makes Europe less dependent on energy pipelines through Russia?
Second example: Iran. Gates said it was essential to avoid a situation "where we have only two bleak choices: confrontation or capitulation, 1914 or 1938."
He described those bleak choices in refreshingly blunt language: on the one hand, a nuclear Iran that could blackmail other countries in the region (note: he did not claim Iran would threaten America with nuclear weapons); on the other, "a costly and potentially catastrophic military intervention - the last thing the Middle East needs."
Avoiding those extremes would probably involve aggressive diplomacy offering Iran a choice between international acceptance or harsher sanctions. The three Republican ex-secretaries of state told CNN they backed direct talks with Iran at high levels. That in no way signifies approval of the disgusting rhetoric of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Beyond Iran, Gates urges a dramatic increase in the projection of U.S. "soft power": more reconstruction aid, more foreign service officers, and a global information network that could counteract the extensive Internet operations of terrorist groups. He says nonmilitary means are as essential to our national security as are "the guns and steel of the military" in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So when you listen to the debates, see which candidate sounds more Gates-like. This is not the moment for shrill rhetoric or calls for regime change. We need sanity and clear thinking - for a change.