Category Archives: Senate

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

The Media on Hillary v. Barack, Romney v. GOP, & the Primaries

Ocassionally while flipping through the channels on TV I stop on cnn or foxnews or any other news program out there.   As a rule of thumb, I do not watch partisan news shows (e.g. Hannity & Colmes, Olbermann, etc), however if there is a topic that interests me I will stop and try to last as long as possible without throwing my shoe through the TV.  I have always paid attention to politics and the goings on in the world, I have always had an opinion about everything, but it was not until I started blogging that I realized how much information the media leaves out or fails to cover.  I have also noticed that they push things they want to be true regardeless of if they are more than I ever anticipated.  This is especially true of the ’08 election.

First, the media gives predominant coverage to the Democratic race, despite the fact the GOP race is ridiculously tighter.  It would be comparable to sports writers constantly writing about an AL East race where the Red Sox are up by 7 games on the Yankees in mid-September, but it is reported like it is neck and neck.  The reason for this coverage seems to be 2-fold.  First, the media wants a Dem victory in ’08 and they think it is inevitable.  Second, the media seems to have (on average) a fascination and crush on Barack Obama.  So regardless of how large Hillary’s lead gets, the media will continue say the race is closer than it looks.  The media needs to clue in to the fact that Hillary is the nominee for the Dems. Period.

The close race, despite a fairly large lead nationally, really resides in the GOP.  We’ve got Giuliani with about a 10 point lead nationally on Thompson and a twenty point lead on Romney.  Looking purely at this, it seems that Giuliani is a near lock.  However, Romney has a huge lead in Iowa and a solid lead in New Hampshire.  Additionally, he leads in Wyoming, Nevada, and Michigan, all comprising  the first five contests– and Thompson leads in South Carolina.  So Giuliani doesn’t really lead the race.  No one leads the race.  Despite this all we hear about is the democratic contest. 

This leads to my next piece of evidence.  It appears that the media (mainstream and otherwise) is fairly anti-Romney and it baffles me.  He certainly has been raked over the coals more than other candidates and is the primary target of other GOP attacks.  Usually, this is a sign that he is the biggest threat among GOP candidates, something that I believe is accurate.  However, whenever I watch news shows or go to MSM websites they always tout Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain.  They fail to recognize that Romney is a legitimate candidate and is running no worse than a solid second, or even tied for first in the race.  And McCain is all but dead (despite a slight resurrection of late).  So not only does Romney get the most negative coverage, he also gets treated like a second tier candidate.  Something is not adding up, second tier candidates are not the target of negative media attention (unless your Ron Paul).

Finally, (and this expands on some comments above) whenever media folk are summing up the race for the GOP they say something along the lines of this, “While Giuliani leads nationally, Romney leads in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and Thompson in South Carolina.”  And then they proceed to act like the order of the primaries are IA, NH, SC, FL, then super-duper Tuesday in February.  By only mentioning those select states, they act like a Romney win in IA and NH would be fairly easy to overcome.   Which, if this were the actual order, it would be in the realm of possibility with SC going to Thompson and FL likely going to Giuliani.  It would be wide open in February.  However this is not the schedule.  The schedule is/will likely be IA, NH, WY, MI, NV, SC, FL, ME, then super-duper Tuesday.   So looking at this, Romney is not only ahead in the first two states, he is ahead in the first 5.  A Romney sweep of those first five states would be near impossible to overcome.   But, probably to keep people interested, we never hear about that.  It is a slight to not only the true status of the race but also to Wyoming, Nevada, and Michigan that they are rarely mentioned. 

(Side note, we never hear anything about Wyoming.  I don’t even think a poll has been done there.  How strange.  I know that it is largelt inconsequential, but considering there are reports about polls in PA and OH, two states that vote later, one would think that at least an occasional story or poll would come out of Wyoming.  I would think that they would have at least some sway in the momentum of the race, being so early and all.) 

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An Ideal Primary Electoral System

With the current structure of the primary process, so many states attempting to move, and the “unfair” influence of Iowa and New Hampshire on the process, many have called for a new primary system. One of these is the Delaware Plan.

The Delaware Plan calls for 4 rounds of primary elections divided up according to state population. The 12 smallest states in March, 13 next smallest in April, the next 13 in May, and the largest 12 in June. The theory is that more states would have an influence and there is a decent chance that no one candidate will have the nomination locked up until June. This is how it would break out:

March: Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska , North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho

April: Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina

May: Kentucky, Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts

June: Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas, California

I really like this plan, I think it is generally fair and equitable and everyone knows where they stand. That is, I really liked it until I mapped it, now I only like it:

Delaware Plan

Orange: March Yellow: April Blue: May Red: June

The problem with this plan is that the first round of primaries, which is the most influential, does not have any representation from the South and most of the mid-West. The bulk of influence is concentrated in the Northeast and in the unpopulated northern states.

To fix this problem I came up with a fair and equitable plan for the primary system. It involves both geography and population. First, divide the country up into 5 regions of 10 states each: Pacific, West, Midwest, South, Northeast

Regional Map

Now divide up each region by population to determine when they will hold their primary. The two smallest from each will be in February, the next two smallest in March, and so on until the two largest of each hold their primaries in June.

New Plan

What this plan does is allow all regions of people to be represented equitably throughout the primary system, keeps the smaller states relevant, and, hopefully, keeps the nominee from being determined until all of the states have held their primaries. It is a win-win for all involved.

(((Note:  This is a re-post of an article I wrote in the first week of the blog.  As I am on vacation for the week, I will be re-posting some of the early columns that were not seen by many people.)))

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Filed under Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Congress, Conservative, Democrats, Election 2008, Fred Thompson, Hillary Clinton, Liberal, Liberalism, Mitt Romney, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Republicans, Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Sam Brownback, Senate

Libertarians must hate the children

On this very blog, amongst other places, I have said openly that I think that career politicians are a poison to our democratic system of government. I actually have no idea what their respective backgrounds are, but the bi-partisan dynamic duo of Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and (now infamous) Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) should both be relieved of their duties that have to do with technology immediately.

Just like Kip, I love technology too and I hate seeing it be misunderstood and blamed for something that’s not it’s fault. Recently the aforementioned dynamic duo took part in a meeting that called for universal implementation of filtering and monitoring technologies on the Internet. The last thing I want is my ISP, HOA or other public group deciding what is and isn’t decent for the entire world. I don’t have any problem regulating open transmissions like radio and unencrypted television etc. However, trying to filter the Internet universally to “protect the children” is just stupid. Only someone that doesn’t understand how to filter the “series of tubes” as he called it, would make such a ridiculous claim. All in the name of the children.

My problem with this whole scenario is that it’s coming in a wake of debates about Net Neutrality. Shocker that the two leaders of our commerce are now calling for monitoring implementations universally on our global Internet. I wonder if any of the nation’s broadband providers have paid any lobbying money to get network traffic filtering legislated, so they can then levee that into offering consumers premium (higher priority, means you don’t have to wait in line) broadband plans for a premium price leaving the rest of the consumers in the cold. Or possibly more deviant, the larger ISP (Your AT&T’s, Verizon’s etc) that are required to lease the usage of the large tier networks to smaller broadband providers (a.k.a. their direct competition) would like to make their traffic more reliable and their lessee’s traffic worse, so the lessee’s customer’s switch providers for a better connection. Couldn’t be…….nah, never.

That being said, here is my real issue with the duo’s remarks: from Sen Inouye

“While filtering and monitoring technologies help parents to screen out offensive content and to monitor their child’s online activities, the use of these technologies is far from universal and may not be fool-proof in keeping kids away from adult material, ….. In that context, we must evaluate our current efforts to combat child pornography and consider what further measures may be needed to stop the spread of such illegal material over high-speed broadband connections.”

Who does he think he’s kidding? The current best technology isn’t enough to keep kids away from porn, therefore we must universally implement this inadequate technology universally? Wow, what a moron. He then says that contextually we need to determine what measures may be used to stop spreading child pornography. Here’s how to stop child pornography: Make the punishment so stiff (worldwide) that it becomes too dangerous to casually view, store, serve or create such pornography. Sounds great doesn’t it? Except, we go back to the age old “I know pornography when I see it” ruling. How can you attempt to determine measures to stop something that you can’t define what “it” is (thank you Mr. Clinton).

These two should be fired for one of two reasons:

1) They are absolutely incompetent to make the decisions to regulate our commerce of technological nature (which they’ve both shown).

2) They are heads of a committee that should be fighting for capitalism, not caving to the lobby of the large broadband providers that want to eliminate the lower tier competition by not giving them reliable connections on the large tier networks.

All in the name of protecting the children of course……

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Filed under Congress, Conservative, Democrats, Family, Justice, Law, Legal, Liberal, Liberalism, People, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Republicans, Senate

Mitt & Hillary Extend Leads in New Hampshire

The latest CNN/WMUR Presidential Poll gives Mitt Romney a 15 point lead in New Hampshire.  While we are still early, 6 months from the first primary, Mitt has incredible momentum riding in these early states.  Most analysts are already conceding Iowa to Mitt and it now looks like he has a iron grasp on New Hampshire.  Naturally, anything can happen and change, and there is a good chance it will.  But this is certainly good news for the Romney camp.

GOP Results:

Romney: 33%     Giuliani: 18%     F. Thompson: 13%    McCain: 12%

In the Democratic race Hillary also extended her lead but Obama is well within striking distance.  It looks to me like Hillary is a fore gone conclusion on the Democratic side, but with Obama’s fundraising and if he can somehow manage to pull out at least one of the first two states it could get interesting.   No other Dem candidate has a shot.

Democratic Results:

Clinton: 33%    Obama: 25%     Richardson: 10%    Edwards: 8%    Gore: 8%

How about Richardson leap frogging Edwards!  Edwards is done, he is tied with a guy who isn’t (and won’t be) running.  Good for Richardson, his hard work is paying off.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Congress, Conservative, Democrats, Diane Feinstein, Election 2008, Fred Thompson, Global Warming, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain, Liberal, Liberalism, McCain, Media, Mitt Romney, Mormon, Mormonism, People, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Republicans, Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Sam Brownback, Senate