Category Archives: Congress

Open Thread: Who’s Our Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, or Washington?

One of my favorite books is John Adams by David McCullough.  Last night on HBO a multi-part series began based on this book and the life of John Adams.   Whenever I study American history and the revolutionary period I am awe struck by the passion most of these men appear to have had for freedom and liberty; for doing what was best for the American people and not necessarily for themselves. 

This really struck home as I watched the show last night when the King of England decreed that any one in remote open rebellion against the crown would tried for treason and hung.  Each of the men in the continental congress knew this applied to them.  There was a somber and reflective mood amongst them as it sunk in that they were officially outlaws and traitors.  Yet rather than dispanding and sinking back into line with the British, they became united and the push for independence became stronger.

This got me to think about how fortunate we were to have such men at that time in our country.  I have no doubt that they were ordained by God from before the foundations of the world to be born when and where they were and to play such an important role.  Then I began to think about our situation today and compare our current crop of politicians and leaders with those whom I call the “big-4”.  The big-4 consists of George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.  These four people set themselves apart from the rest as the key players in America’s independence. 

Sadly,  when I look at our prospects todayI only see one leader that I would call a modern-day (insert-name here), and that is Gen. Petraeus.    He could arguably be our modern-day Washington.  Not that he will go down with the same acclaim or has accomplished as great a work as Washington, but he is innovative, a strong leader, honest, and rescued our military from what seemed to be a hopless situation.

However on the political front, I see little of note.  It disgusts me that our current choices for the next President are McCain, Clinton, and Obama.  We have a guy who has a terrible temper, drops f-bombs on capital hill interns regularly, and dumped his first wife to marry into money.  We have a lady who can’t be trusted, has been in more scandals than can be counted, and is as dirty as mud.  And a no-experience senator who refuses to take a stand on any issue really and rarely votes;  when he does it is usually after everyone else to see what side is going to win.  Really, I am extremely disappointed with the options we are presented and see no reason for optimism for the next 4 years. 

One  of the reasons I was such an ardent supporter of Romney is that I really believed that he wanted to help the country, it wasn’t a quest for power or money.   This is a country that needs fixing bad, especially with the economy, and Romney was the guy to do it. Not only that, but he is a good person, honest and a man of integrity.  However, now we are stuck with a bunch of candidates that are terrible really. 

Nevertheless, to find a silver lining, I would like all of you to propose which modern-leaders would you put into the category of an Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, or Washington?  Why?    These leaders can and should be from both parties as no one party has the exclusive right to good leadership or, conversely, scandal. 

So I will begin and the first one I can think of is Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona.  Here is a guy who is principled and determined.  He does not sway with opinion polls and seems to genuinely care about the path our country is taking as opposed to lining his own coffers.   He may never become more prominent than a congressman, but I sure hope he does.    So who do you like?

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Filed under American History, Barack Obama, Congress, Democracy, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, History, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Politics

Addressing War, National Interest, and Iraq-Part 1

On a previous post that I wrote, oddly enough one about Josh Romney possibly running for congress, a debate has broken out in the comments section about war and President Bush.  Anytime this is discussed between me and someone who wants us to withdraw immediately from Iraq, a few of the same arguments are made, two of which are stated in comment below, given to us by SLCondensed:

I guess my problem is I can’t honestly justify attacking a country for its oil when there are so many worse countries and regimes around the world. The situation in Darfur is much worse than it ever was in Iraq, and we don’t do something about it why?

I posted a fairly brief response to this comment, but feel that there is so much more involved with this comment that it justified a whole post here.  The first comment SLCondensed writes comes down an issue of national interest and this is what will be addressed in Part 1 (the comment about Darfur will be addressed in Part 2).  After reading that sentence there are a few questions that need to be asked: 

1. Why did we go to war in Iraq?
2. Did we go to war in Iraq for Oil?
3. Were there worse regimes and countries than Iraq?
4. Considering how much conflict there is in the world, what responsibility does the U.S. have to intervene?  What is the threshold for such an intervention? How should the U.S., being the industrialized world’s security provider, determine when military intervention is acceptable?
5. Does the reason we went to Iraq in the first place even matter to the situation today?

Regarding why we went to war in Iraq, there was not one single reason.  Sure, the Bush administration sold us that there were WMDs and that was really the only reason given, but it was so much more than that.  First, I need to remind the reader that EVERYONE believed Iraq had WMDs before we invaded, everyone (except Saddam).  The question wasn’t, “Does Iraq have WMDs?”, it was, “how much of a threat are those WMDs?”  So I don’t want to hear anything about Bush lied, what a crock.

Anyway, here is the list of reasons why I think we went to Iraq: 1. WMDs (9/11 was still fresh on our minds), 2. Surround Iran with U.S. forces 3. Oil and Gas, 4. Send a message to other despotic regimes (which worked magically, just about 9 months after Iraq started Libya gave up it’s WMD program, perhaps Bush’s greatest acheivement and solidified my vote for him in ’04), 5. Revenge against Saddam for trying to assassinate Bush ’41, 6. To provide freedom to the Iraqi people, 6. To finally force people to take Western threats seriously (I mean, how many times can you say, “you better do this or else” and never follow through-lookin’ at you U.N.), 7. To fight terrorists somewhere not named the United States.

Some of those reasons are more honorable than others, some are more realistic than others, some are childish, but ultimately I believe all of those things were considered by the Bush administration during the decision making process.  Of course, the Administration could not come out and say all those things, it would have been political suicide. No President, whether GOP or Dem, would be that stupid. 

Question 2 was answered in question one, of course the need for oil played a part in our decision to go to war in Iraq.  So what?  The need for energy and fuel is essential to any society, the whole reason we have any interest in the Middle-East at all is because of energy.  If they didn’t have oil or gas we would view them and treat them the way we do Mali and Sudan.

Question 3, certainly there were worse regimes in the world, but not many.  North Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, and Haiti to name a few.   But this brings us back to national interest and it’s role in our decision making process, which I will discuss in full in Part II.

Question 4,  these questions have no cut and dry answer.  But I will certainly share my opinion.  The way I view the current world is I see the U.S as the world’s only superpower and essentially, as the military for Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand.   Each of these geographies, whether we or they like or not, rely on the U.S. predominantly for their security.  The reason they can get away with having such miniscule military forces is because they know the U.S. is there to back them up and we will so long as the reason is just.  This is a good scenario for both parties, it allows us to maintain our place in the world and grow and expand our economic interests.  It allows them to focus their more limited resources on providing for the people socially and economically.  The fact the U.S. acts in this role is precisely why the developed world blossomed.  Now these realities may upset you or you may like them, but the fact remains that this is the reality of the world in which we now live.

So, with the U.S. having such a large role in the world, both economically and militarily, it puts us in a place of responsibility.  How to use that responsibility is a question of great debate and the cause of much frustration and animosity, both on the part of America and the rest of the world.  The fact is, despite our current position as the world’s hegemon, we still have limited resources, we can’t do all things and we can’t be involved in everthing; nor should we.   Thus, all decisions are usually to be made based upon national interest.  Every country in the history of the world operates this way.

With the U.S. in such a unique and powerful position, we also have to show restraint.  Just because we have freedom and democracy does not mean that we have to force every other country to institute the same.  Forcing democracy seems like an oxymoron.  At the same time, the spread of democracy is in our national interests so we encourage democracy and try to demonstrate the value of it. 

Similarly, both because of national interest/limited resources and because we need to allow countries to largely work out their own issues, we just can’t and shouldn’t get involved everywhere.  Sometimes it is justified, but determining that justification is difficult.  I will address this much more in Part II.  Ultimately, though, the U.S. needs to make decisions based upon what is best for the U.S.

Question 5, ultimately SLCondensed’s comment basically was saying that we need to leave Iraq because we never should have been there in the first place.  Whether that reasoning is true or not, it has absolutely no relevance on the current situation.  The anti-Iraq people’s favorite argument against Iraq is this reason we are there thing and it is utterly ridiculous. The fact is, we are in Iraq, we destroyed their government, and we decided that we were going to help rebuild it and to provide freedom.  Essentially, we broke so we are going to fix it.

Why we went to Iraq in the first place does not change the fact that we are there.  Pulling out all of our troops and causing an even worse humanitarian crisis because you disagree of our original justification for the interaction is ridiculous, ignorant, and naieve.   Further, we are now winning.  Why are we going to pull out when victory and success is in our sights?

But you may say, what determine’s victory in Iraq? I would argue that victory is a country that is relatively stable, can provide for the basic needs of the people, and has a semblance of democracy.  We don’t need Iraq to be like the U.S. or even like Turkey right away, we need Iraq to just be able to largely support itself, defend its people from radicals, and provide an environment for continued economic development.

This leads me to briefly discuss U.S. history in war.  The United States has a large history of doing terrible in wars at the beginning but pulling out the victory in the end.  Let’s run down that history.  The U.S. had no business winning the revolutionary war.  We lost battle after battle and very nearly lost the war in the first year.  The war lasted about 8 years, in 1776 things were awful, yet by 1783 and ’84 we had come back and won. 

The War of 1812 was near disaster as well.  Our Navy was terrible and we lost many battles early on, but managed to pull it out in the end.  The Civil War is the perfect example.  From 1860 to 1863 the Union army was terrible, many people criticized the war and wanted us out.  had we listened to them the United States would be two countries. Fortunately we had a President that had resolve and refused to cower to public pressure.  Eventually, we won some big battles and won the war. 

In WWII the German military had the upperhand for the first year or two of our involvement, but again, American determination resulted in victory.  This takes us to Vietnam.  The reality in Vietnam is that when we gave up, we were on our way to winning, things were looking up.  The only reason we lost the War was because our politicians back home caved to public pressure.   We would have been outright victorious a short time later had we seen it through.

The only two wars that we haven’t been behind in were WWI, because we came in late and gave the Brits and French the boost they needed to break the stalemate with the Germans, and Iraq I, we faced a ridiculously weak military and only required Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.  (By the way, that was a War that was solely for oil, I wonder where all you were then?).

Today, we are going through a similar pattern to what we SHOULD be used to, except for the fact our people are historically ignorant.  The first 3 years of the “war” (I don’t even consider it a war, it more a peacekeeping and stability mission, we won the war when the Iraqi Army collapsed and Baghdad fell) were disasterous.  We made a lot of mistakes, just like the Lincoln administration did in the 1860’s, but year four has been a resounding success and year 5 is starting out much the same; even the Political situation is starting to stablize.  Yet so many of you still want us to throw in the towel.  It makes no sense!

As a result, the only conclusion I can come to as to why you want us to give up actually has nothing to do with Iraq or the realities there, it is that you hate and despise President Bush and want whatever it takes to bring him down to occur (short of assassination of course).   I am confident that had Kerry won in 2004 and followed the exact same path that Bush has taken in this second term, today you would be loving Kerry.  The reality is that so many of you are so blinded by your vitriol for Bush that you fail to recognize that the fastest way for us to get out of Iraq and the best way to ensure that a humanitarian crisis will be averted is by finishing the job there.  It reminds me of a common phrase our training instructors told us in Air Force Basic Training, “the fastest way out of here is to graduate.”   Things are going well in Iraq, sure they aren’t perfect, but they are still going well (you can tell that by the limited coverage Iraq gets in the media).  Give it a chance and try to look at the situation realistically.

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Filed under 9/11, Air Force, Anti-War, Army, Congress, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, Genocide, History, International Affairs, Iraq, Liberal, Liberalism, Marines, Media, Military, Myanmar, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Senate, Terror, terrorism

A Romney to Vote for in ’08?

Like father like son may be the new motto of the Mitt Romney household.  It appears quite possible that Mitt Romney’s 32 year-old son Josh Romney will run for congress to challenge Democrat incumbent Jim Matheson in Utah’s 2nd congressional district, which includes Salt Lake City and all of eastern and southern Utah.  

I am no expert on Utah politics, but all indications are that Jim Matheson is a fairly popular and successful congressman.  Matheson first won election in 2000, beating Derek Smith by 15% and most recently won re-election with is largest margin yet, a 22%, 59-37 drubbing of LaVar Christienson.

Heading into this election cycle, Democrats most likely felt that this was a safe seat that they should easily hold on to, especially in this election cycle when Republicans are so down.  However, Utah’s 2nd (The Fightin’ 2nd) voted overwhelmingly for President Bush in 2004 and this is what is the cause of worry for Matheson should Josh Romney decide to run.

Mitt Romney is extremely popular in Utah, he won the the Utah primary with 90% of the vote.  Most of the Mormon voters in the state feel that Mitt and his religion were unfairly treated in the primary and would likely feel some sort of vindication being able to vote for a Romney, any Romney, in 2008. 

This election would likely be a blowout for Matheson if Josh does not decide to run.  But if Josh runs and his family (especially his Dad) come to Utah and campaigns on his behalf, Matheson will be sweating it and very worried.  If the national GOP is smart and they are interested in limiting the blood to be shed this November, they need to invest in Josh and get him to run. This is the only way for the GOP to pick up this seat, a seat they likely didn’t think would be possible a year ago.

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Filed under Congress, Election 2008, Mitt Romney, Politics

An Ill-Timed and Unnecessary Genocide Resolution againt Turkey

This week, Democratic leaders in the House will seek to pass a non-binding resolution officially classifying the mass-murders of Armenians by the Turks in World War I as genocide.  This is a terribly ill-timed and strange move on the part of the Democrats.   If it passes there could, and likely will be, significant detrimental effects on U.S. – Turkish relations.  Detrimental effects that we cannot afford.  

Certainly, what the Turks did to the Armenians in 1915 is a genocide.  There is no argument here and there should be no argument anywhere.   Additionally, genocide needs to be condemned wherever it is found. 

But why now?  Our relations with Turkey are already strained by the coalition forces’ inability to curb the increasing number of Kurdish militias staging incursions into Turkish territory.  Also, we need Turkey.  They are one of our few Muslim country allies and the most moderate of Muslim states.  Passing this resolution will only prove to have negative effects on our relations with little good in return.  

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Turkey’s top general, General Yasar Buyukanit, warned that the passing of this resolution may result in the U.S. losing access to Incirlik Air Base, a key cargo and transportation hub for our military.  He also added that, “If this resolution passes the House, our Military ties with the U.S. will never be the same.”  These are huge implications not only for us, but for the greater war on terror.  We need Turkey on board and we need Incirlik Air Base. 

It is indeed important that history be accurate and refer to genocide for what it is.  But why can’t this be done during a time of peace or at least when our key international issue is not bordering the country we are about to deeply offend.  This genocide occured nearly 100 years ago, what will a few more years of waiting to do this harm?  If Congress is intent on this, they should  pass this measure in 2015 at the 100 year anniversary or when it is less politically harmful.  But now is not the time. 

So, there are two options that we have that may serve to solve the problem, we could pull the resolution from the table or have it defeated.  Or we could pass the resolution then encourage the Turkish parliament to offically classify our treatment of the American Indians in the 1800’s as genocide and then call it even.  I prefer the former.  This is a strange and unnecessary move on the part of the Democrats, if it passes and Turkey does indeed follow through on their threats, we had better place full blame on Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. 

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Diane Feinstein, Election 2008, Genocide, Hillary Clinton, International Affairs, Iraq, Justice, Law, Liberal, Liberalism, Marines, Media, Military, Murder, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Republicans, Terror, terrorism

Petraus and Congress

Yesterday, General Petraus presented his long awaited report on progress of the surge in Iraq. All in all his report was positive regarding how things have gone. As I watched (some) of the coverage I was greatly impressed by the General and the his understanding of the realities of the War and the way in which he handled the congressmen. I am very impressed by the General, but more on that in a minute.

I have a really big problem watching our public officials or candidates on T.V. I am not a fan of most speeches by the President, I can only watch debates for at a maximum of 30 second intervals without gouging my eyes out, trying to watch congress or senate on CSPAN is as enjoyable as a root canal, and even political shows on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. drive me crazy. About the only political organization that I actually enjoy watching is British parliament, great fun. (Wouldn’t it be great to see the President (Bush or otherwise) have to constantly defend his positions against progress in the manner that the British PM does, fantastic). Anyway, the point is, is that as I was watching the coverage of the report yesterday, I was sucked in by General Petraus and completely repelled by the congressmen. Politicians drive me nuts. Every one of the congressmen questioning Petraus loves the sound of their voice. They wouldn’t shut up. It would be their turn, so they would go off on some partisan diatribe about whatever they thought about the war or Bush or whatever, they would talk for a good 10 -15 minutes then some of them would just defer their time to someone else and not ask a question. And if they did ask a question it usually had to do with political policy rather than military tactics and strategy. If I were in Petraus’s shoes I would have blown up. I would have said that they are all complete idiots, they have no idea about anything going on in Iraq, told them they were playing politics with peoples lives, and that he is the commander of American forces in Iraq, not the President.

We need to realize that most congressmen are no different than you or I, most of them are not children of privilege and many had regular jobs before getting into politics. They certainly don’t have any greater understanding of history, international affairs, or public policy than most of you who browse and read political blogs regularly. That fact is never more apparant to me than when I am watching our congressmen at work, some of them are dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyway, let me go back to Petraus. I am convinced he is our Eisenhower, he is absolutely the right man to be in charge. In fact, I could see him running for President in 2012. I don’t know if he is GOP or a Democrat. I assume GOP because I like him and hope that’s what he is, so I would expect that if Hillary wins the presidency that the good General may well be in the thick of it in 5 years. If he is a Democrat and a GOPer (other than Romney or Huckabee) is in office, I would likely vote for Petraus and give my vote to a Democrat for the first time. He is impressive.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Air Force, American History, Anti-War, Army, Congress, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, Iraq, Iraq / Military, Liberal, Liberalism, Marines, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Republicans, Romney, Terror, terrorism, War

The Gettysburg of the Iraq War

Every war has one battle, one location, one incident that is a turning point one way or another. Arguably , the most famous of these for our country was the Battle of Gettysburg, and the subsequent Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln in the Civil War. In today’s environment, we have been waiting for such an event in Iraq, something that will hopefully lead to victory. That event may have occured this weekend in Anbar when President Bush and nearly his entire war cabinet met with members of the Iraqi government, all of this following Iraq’s success in pacifying Anbar last year. Frederick Kagan wrote about this on National Review, it is a MUST read. I’d love to hear your comments about it.

The Gettysburg of this War

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Filed under 9/11, Afghanistan, Anti-War, Congress, History, International Affairs, Iraq, Iraq / Military, Media, Military, Navy, Politics, Terror, terrorism, War

Hamas, Democracy, and U.S. Hypocricy

Since the end of WWII the United States has had a foreign policy centered around spreading democracy across the world.  The general belief is that democracy, though imperfect, provides the best mechanism for providing peace, building a market economy,  and cordial foreign relations – (not to mention keeping more countries in the good graces of the U.S.).  Some of the strongest arguments from the right and the conservatives in this country for going into Iraq and from the left for interveneing in humanitarian efforts like Sudan was for providing freedom and spreading democracy. 

Last year, after years and years (even decades) of working and negotiating with the Palestinians, Palestine held its second (relatively) free election.  Much to our surprise and the surprise of the West, so-called terrorist group Hamas won.   Many of us asked how that could have happened.  We thought that democracy would naturally choose the most pro-freedom and U.S. friendly.  The Hamas victory came as a shock to the nation, and undoubtedly strongly upset the Bush administration. 

I was extremely disappointed in the Bush adminstration for their handling of the election results.  In fact, I am/was more disappointed in that than I have been over anything surrounding Iraq.  Essentially, the U.S. said that they will not recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a political entity and governor over Palestine. We will not work with them or support them.  What a missed opportunity for our country to really make a positive difference there, instead we acted like kids and whined about the results, all because the election did not turn out how we would have liked. 

This response on the part of America is as hypocritical as it is childish.  Here we are spouting how great and wonderful democracy is.  When our State Department goes into a country, all we do is push freedom and democracy.  We hear the rhetoric from our President, our congress, our radio pundits, the blogs, and on the television.  Yet when a country elects a group that we are completely against, we refuse to even remotely work with them.  How can we be expected to be a standard bearer for democracy when we act like that?  It is sad.

 The proper response would have been to publicaly state our disappointment in the results but that we respect the choice of the Palestinian people.  They have the right to vote for whomever they vote for.  Then go on to say that, ‘nevertheless, we will work with the political wing of Hamas to the extent appropriate so long as they begin from day one to reign in the militant wing, so long as they behave the way a political and government entity will behave.”  And rather than waiting for evidence of this to occur before we start working with them, we should have started from day one. (I’m not saying that we had to be buddy buddy with them and treat them Britain, but recognize them as valid and treat them like we do Pakistan, we have issues with their government too).  This type of response would have demonstrated our unwavering commitment to democracy, our respect for the palestinian people, and could have provided enough incentive and support to Hamas to abandon its terrorist entities and primarily become a political group, much like the PLO did.  Essentially, it would have provided more of a window of opportunity for peace in the region. 

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Filed under Bush, Congress, Conservative, Democrats, Election 2008, Iraq, Liberal, Liberalism, Media, Military, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Republicans