The three amigos of death are back with a hot new Washington Post joint editorial, and you’ll never guess what they’re recommending this time! (War.)
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., are three of the most respected foreign policy experts in all of Washington. They became three of the most respected foreign policy experts in Washington by following a simple, one-step plan: Always demand more war, everywhere.
This time, they would like us to intervene in the deadly civil war raging in Syria, where rebels are fighting the forces of brutal strongman Bashar al-Assad. The administration is in favor of the removal of Assad, and has offered the rebels non-military assistance, but it has been reluctant to actually send arms or troops. McCain, Graham and Lieberman would obviously like to change all that. It is time for “active involvement on the ground in Syria,” you see, and “we can and should directly and openly provide robust assistance to the armed opposition, including weapons, intelligence and training.” That’s well and good, but isn’t something missing?
Ah, wait, there it is, in the second-to-last paragraph:
Second, since the rebels have increasingly established de facto safe zones in parts of Syria, the United States should work with our allies to reinforce those areas, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested last week. This would not require any U.S. troops on the ground but could involve limited use of our airpower and other unique U.S. assets.
There you go. That means bombs! We definitely need bombs.
The best part of any McCain/Lieberman/Graham editorial is when they say “we know the risks of [MORE WAR EVERYWHERE]” and then they just never actually say what the risks are because they don’t actually ever care about the risks and downsides of military intervention:
We know there are risks associated with deepening our involvement in the profoundly complex and vicious conflict in Syria. But inaction carries even greater risks for the United States — in lives lost, strategic opportunities squandered and values compromised.
Maybe you agree with the liberal interventionist case for greater U.S. involvement in the fight, as argued by Anne-Marie Slaughter and others. Maybe you think in the wake of the failure of Kofi Annan’s mission, there’s a better case to be made for acting forcefully to remove Assad. Maybe your opinion has changed as the conditions have changed, like a responsible thinking person.
But with McCain, Graham and Lieberman, the actual facts on the ground, the details of this fight, don’t actually matter at all, because McCain, Graham and Lieberman were calling for bombs and arms five months ago — before Kofi Annan’s assignment even commenced — and they’re calling for bombs and arms now and they’ll keep calling for bombs and arms everywhere as long as there are still newspaper editorial sections and Sunday morning political chat shows. If they accidentally stumble upon the correct response to Syria, please stay tuned for when they turn their attention back to Iran! (And the Washington Post editorial page, which has never met an overseas military intervention it didn’t declare urgent with barely concealed glee, will be happy to print whatever they come up with.)
By: Alex Pareene, Salon, August 6, 2012
If you’re a member of the U.S. military and you happen to be a woman, you might think you were entitled to the full range of health care allowed your civilian counterparts. But you would be wrong. That’s why Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., crafted an amendment to the National Defense Appropriation Act that would grant, according to the Ms. magazine Web site:
the same rights as civilian women under federal policies that provide affordable abortion care to women who are the victims of rape or incest. Under the current policy, servicewomen are only eligible for abortion care if the woman’s life is at risk.
On Thursday, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the amendment by a 16-10 vote. The measure must next move to the Senate floor, and faces an uncertain future if, as expected, the appropriations bill goes to a joint conference. (The House bill is not expected to include a similar provision.)
Currently, abortions are forbidden to military personnel unless they are victims of sexual assault or the pregnancy endangers their lives. But if the pregnancy is the result of a rape the soldier, sailor or Marine must pay for her own abortion — a cost that can be prohibitive on a military paycheck. And in a war zone, a woman in uniform will likely find no civilian medical professionals available to her who will perform the procedure.
This is all the more galling when one considers the epidemic of sexual assault against military women that continues to grip the armed forces — assaults perpetrated by men who are supposed to be their comrades.
In 2009, reporting for CBS News, Katie Couric delivered this statistic:
One in three female soldiers will experience sexual assault while serving in the military, compared to one in six women in the civilian world.
And the numbers haven’t changed much. Because of the stigma attached to reporting one’s rape by a fellow soldier, it’s not unheard of for a woman made pregnant through rape to try to self abort. (For one account, see Kathryn Joyce’s outstanding 2009 article, “Military Abortion Ban: Female Soldiers Not Protected by Constitution They Defend,” at Religion Dispatches.)
If Congress really wants to show its appreciation to all of our troops, it will pass the appropriations bill with the Shaheen amendment in tact. But with this Congress, whose freshmen claim to love, love them some Constitution, military women will likely learn the limits of the right-wing version of the U.S. Constitution. (Now, what do you need all those rights, for, little lady?)
By: Adele Stan, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 26, 2012
To the anti-union governors, the Tea Partyers, the whiner down the street who is convinced that everyone in the public sector enjoys a high salary and benefits for doing a cushy job, let us consider the government worker whose effort we have witnessed in the past week.
Let’s start with all the career intelligence staffers—and this includes those who worked under the Bush administration—who have been looking for clues for a decade to chase down and capture or kill Osama bin Laden. These include people who may have had small successes that led to last week’s big success. Or they may have had enormous successes we don’t even know about: Who can say how many major terrorist attacks our teams at the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the White House, and the Pentagon have averted through good intelligence work? They can’t say. It would endanger their work. And when people complain about what they do—or don’t do—they just have to suck it up and keep quiet, lest they tip off terrorists.
There are some pretty high-level government workers to thank—President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. First, kudos to Obama for offering Clinton the job at State after a bruising and testy primary fight. Kudos to Clinton, as well, for accepting it. Being in government service, at any level, means setting aside personal gripes for the sake of the public. They both did that. And if Clinton had a problem with the United States going into Pakistan to get bin Laden—an idea she questioned during the primary campaign—she surely got over it, and presumably was deeply involved in the diplomatic gymnastics required before and after the raid.
And how about the Navy SEALs, who are, after all, government workers as well? They conducted a brilliant surgical strike on the most wanted man in the world, and we will likely never know their names, never be able to approach them on the street just to say thanks. They’re used to that; they are, I imagine, OK with that. Service isn’t about personal aggrandizement or fame. It’s about doing your job, sometimes anonymously.
And underneath these teams are the support staff who helped the intelligence workers and high-ranking officials and military people do their jobs. They, too, helped make this mission happen.
To the antigovernment forces who repeatedly ask the (hopefully) rhetorical question, “What good is government? Name me one government program that has worked.” Of course, we can start with roads and bridges, public libraries, Social Security, public education, and a raft of other items. But for those who can’t even see the value in those public works, we have the teams that worked for a decade, over two administrations, to get bin Laden. This is what your government does, and it was carried out by government workers. They deserve thanks—not derision.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and Worl Report, May 9, 2011
It was inevitable, with the emergence and escalation of the “birther” campaign, that we would experience the same bizarre skepticism when it comes to Osama bin Laden. If there are a group of conspiracy theorists who insist on seeing proof of U.S. birth for President Obama, is it any surprise that there would be a concurrent call for proof of death for bin Laden?
President Obama has decided not to release a photo of the dead bin Laden. True, it would perhaps appease those who don’t really believe that the U.S. military and intelligence personnel, under Obama’s direction, completed the task of killing the hated bin Laden. But releasing a photo or video could also rally terrorist forces around the world, buttressing any movement to turn bin Laden into a martyr.
We’ve become unfortunately accustomed to a YouTube, reality TV, cell phone photo approach to living–a world where privacy and dignity are sacrificed for hyper-transparency and more commonly, pure voyeurism. But images matter, and sending provocative images or videos around the world can have a destructive effect. The Internet posting of a video showing the burning of a Koran in Florida is one such example, giving amplified attention to a local pastor whose narrow-mindedness and ignorance does not deserve to be promoted.
What would be the purpose of releasing a photo? Would it really reassure Americans that bin Laden is really dead? Or would it just provoke a new wave of conspiracy theories about doctored photos and lies? There are people, remarkably, who still don’t believe Obama was born in Hawaii, despite indisputable evidence to the contrary. Why would a picture of a dead bin Laden be any more effective? At best, it would give some satisfaction to those of us who want to see the face of hate bloodied and lifeless. At worst, it will incite would-be terrorists around the world.
And at its heart, the demand for pictures of a deceased bin Laden are not much different from the demands for further proof of Obama’s domestic birth. In both cases, we are dealing with people who simply cannot believe that a mixed-race man became president, and further, will refuse to believe he could have accomplished something so great. The Obama haters will believe what they want to believe, regardless of what is shown them. Releasing photos won’t change their minds.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 4, 2011
It was a very different Barack Obama who stood in the White House late Sunday to deliver the astounding and satisfying news that Osama bin Laden was dead. Or was it?
Obama was derided during the 2008 presidential campaign for saying he would be willing to go into Pakistan unilaterally to nab the hateful and hated leader of al Qaeda. The idea was naïve at best, diplomatically disastrous at worst, his opponents said. Obama’s calm tones, lack of swagger, and professed desire to repair relationships with the rest of the world—the Muslim world, in particular—were used as a weapon to portray him as weak, someone who would not possess the cool-headedness to destroy the most cold hearted of mass murderers. And yet, Obama, with the able help of U.S. intelligence and military minds and bodies, pulled it off brilliantly, and in a manner entirely keeping with the personage he offered during the campaign.
For most of us, the mere fact of bin Laden’s death would be enough. But the way the operation unfolded was virtually perfect: bin Laden was hunted down by U.S. forces and shot in the head—not killed in an air strike or explosion, but in a manner in which we can presume that bin Laden, in his final moments, knew that it was American troops who would personally take his life. No U.S. troops were killed, and civilian casualties (except, possibly, for the unidentified woman bin Laden used as a human shield) avoided. His body was identified by DNA, preemptively silencing any “deathers” who would circulate rumors that it was all just a public relations stunt and a lie. Bin Laden’s body was disposed of at sea—to avert the need to find a country willing to bury him, and to avoid having his grave site used as a rallying spot for al Qaeda operatives and sympathizers. He was buried quickly, in Muslim tradition, averting criticism that the United States was being insensitive to the religion. Pakistan, which Obama said cooperated in the mission, but which apparently did not know the details of it until it was done, has not accused the United States of any invasion of sovereignty.
In his White House address, the serious-faced president avoided showing any glee over bin Laden’s death, although he surely was as happy about it as the rest of America. Nor did he take a cheap political victory lap, declaring “mission accomplished” against terrorism; in fact, the president rightly warned, the nation needs to be on alert for any retaliatory attacks. He reiterated that the United States is not at war with Islam, but with terrorism. There was no comment, implicit or otherwise, that he had managed to achieve what former President Bush had failed to do—to get bin Laden. Obama had the good manners to call Bush personally to tell him of the feat, and Bush responded in his statement with grace.
Obama lacks Bush’s aggressive style and provocative rhetoric. That does not mean he is weak or was less determined to get bin Laden. And while the president had not mentioned bin Laden much in public recently, that does not mean the administration wasn’t working on it. Similarly, while the Bush administration did not manage to kill or capture bin Laden, we have no way of knowing how many major attacks the previous administration defused.
Obama on Sunday night might have shown some of his critics a side they didn’t think existed, that of a determined commander in chief. But that was exactly the approach Obama presented during the campaign. It was just that his opponents didn’t think he could pull it off. He did—and the fact that Obama is not hanging a “Mission Accomplished” banner across the East Room makes the feat even more impressive.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 2, 2011