Point of View Columns

Deja Vu All Over Again

There is always a possibility that the same stars and planets that aligned for Barack Obama during his near mythical campaign and ascent to the presidency will realign once again as he considers a course of action in Syria. What is more likely is that President Obama and this country will learn  once again that if one does not learn from history one is doomed to repeat it.

The carnage and killing in Syria has turned a once repressive state into a charnel house. The body count climbs almost hourly and there is no lack of horrific scenes for the nightly news – every night. It is understandable and human for men and women of good will to want to “do something”.

But when “something” goes beyond humanitarian aid the gears of war begin to grind and the outcome can never be predicted. As you are reading these words President Obama is considering “limited military action”, and we already know that however “limited” the intent might be the Law of Unintended Consequences rules supreme in theaters of war and conflict.

And, as you are reading these words members of Congress seemed to have roused themselves from obstructionist stupor to demand that President Obama “do something” about the ongoing tragedy in Syria. And it is the source of no little irony that many of these same members of Congress have already gone on record as being willing to shut down the American government so as to deny a national healthcare system for Americans. And yet, these same members of Congress will certainly have no problem allocating what will amount to billions of dollars to finance yet another foreign killing exercise by the American government.

But the chicken hawks and fairweatherhawks and the occasional hawks all seem to think that the United States wields some kind of magic wand that freezes the rest of the planet while the American military displays its technological whiz bang wizardry while blowing up military installations and the occasional unintended civilian. They must think that allies and supporters of Syria like Russia, Hezbollah and Iran will simply stand by, frozen in amber, while the United States and its allies of convenience go about their business of “doing something”.

And what good is history if no one ever learns from it? The war in Vietnam, which resulted in over 50,000 American deaths and perhaps as many as a million Vietnamese dead, began with advisors in a “limited” military action.

The American people were promised that the invasion of Afghanistan was a “limited” military engagement and that was twelve years and thousands of American deaths ago.

The Bush-Cheney cabal, lying through its teeth, claimed the overthrown of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of non-existent weapons of mass destruction would be “quick” and would only take a few months, and that was ten years and thousands of American deaths ago.

The kettle of American pseudohawks that would have this country winging towards yet another war also seem to forget the consequences of any kind of military engagement – retribution. There are too many saber rattlers who seem to think that the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean protect American citizens from citizens of other countries where American bombs and bullets have done their work. They might want to ask the citizens of New York City and Washington who survived the 9/11 attacks about the illusion of American invulnerability.

Nevertheless, seemingly rational men and women are discussing military options in Syria as if the Syrians have no way of counterattacking. Whether it is recent Syrian cyber-attacks (newsflash: Syrians know how to use computers and the internet) or disgruntled jihadists from wherever who are tired of Americans attacking Arab and Muslim countries – every American bullet, missile or bomb fired in Syria has the potential of wreaking untold havoc in the United States.

It is hoped that President Obama will not fall into the trap that his enemies have set for him. Having attacked his legitimacy, his citizenship and his loyalty to the United States, these same enemies are now baiting him into taking military action that can only have disastrous consequences for Americans, as well as Syrians. That liberals and progressives who do not want to be seen as “weak” are joining in the unholy chorus only makes it worse.

After all the analysis and debate the conclusion has to be that American military action in Syria is a mistake. It is that simple.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 9, 2013

Sometimes it is useful to remember that elections do matter. Thinking about a Mitt Romney presidency provides some perspective. Meanwhile, in light of Russia granting temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, we are already hearing the clarion call for a boycott of the Winter Olympics next year – and why do these call always come from the right? And finally, while we already knew that the Teapublican playbook calls for the dismantling of the federal government, the new playbook calls for making sure that the federal government just doesn’t work.

Elections Do Matter

In the 2012 presidential campaign over $1 billion was spent in order to persuade voters that there was a real difference between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Obviously the majority of voters chose Barack Obama to lead the country for another four years.

But, for those who continue to suggest that there was only a marginal difference between the two candidates (the ever loquacious Tavis Smiley and continuously quotable Cornel West come to mind) think about this: Right now the Department of Justice under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder is trying to undo the horrific damage caused by the recent Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act.

This has required the Department of Justice to fight voting rights battles state by state, court by court. What do you think that an Attorney General appointed by President Mitt Romney would be doing?

Some more food for thought: The Department of Justice is reviewing the murder of Trayvon Martin for possible civil rights violations. That would be the U.S. Department of Justice headed by Attorney General Eric Holder who was appointed by President Barack Obama. What do you think that President Romney’s Department of Justice would be doing about the travesty of George Zimmerman’s acquittal last month?

In the weeks and months to come more examples of the difference between a thankfully mythical Romney presidency and the actual presidency of Barack Obama will be offered for your consideration.

We can be assured that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West will be to absorbed with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West to pay any attention.

The Revenge of the Nerds

In 1980 the United States boycotted the Olympics that were to be held in the Soviet Union because of a dispute regarding the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In retaliation the Soviet Union led a boycott of the Olympics held in Los Angeles in 1984.

While this political posturing went forward, the hopes and dreams of thousands of Olympic athletes were obliterated. If they were American they simply could not compete in 1980 and had to compete in a flawed Olympics in 1984 if they were still around. Many other athletes from around the world were caught up in the boycott and there was absolutely no impact on Soviet policies in Afghanistan.

Now Senator Lindsay Graham and other wannabe tough guys in the Senate and House are calling for the United States to boycott the Winter Olympics that are to be held in Russia next year as retaliation for Edward Snowden being granted temporary asylum in that country.

Aside from the fact that boycotting the Olympics would be cutting off the nose of American athletes in order to spite the global face of the United States, logic tells us that such an action would have absolutely no impact on the current Snowden-asylum impasse. The only people that would be hurt would be American athletes many of whom have trained their entire lives for one shining Olympic moment in 2014.

Let us hope that saber rattling will not take the place of sane and sober foreign policy.

Traveling at the Speed of Mud

Approximately two weeks ago the Senate confirmed the head of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau after only………., get this, seven years of delay and obstruction. Approximately three weeks ago the Senate confirmed the Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau after light speed deliberations of two years!

These delays are part and parcel of a Teapublican strategy to throw enough sand into the gears of the federal government until it simply stops working. On the Planet Teapublican this passes for sound public policy.

Loyal opposition is one thing. Destruction of the federal government itself does not border on treason, it is treason. The sooner it is said the better.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

 

 

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