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“Never As Consistently Anti-Intervention As Advertised”: Vetting Bernie: He Never Voted For Intervention In Iraq — Except Twice

The only topic that preoccupies Bernie Sanders more than income inequality is his vote against authorization of war in Iraq, which he mentions at every debate and whenever anyone questions his foreign policy credentials. Fair enough: Sanders turned out to be right on that vote and Hillary Clinton has admitted that she was wrong to trust George W. Bush.

But the socialist Vermont senator is under fresh scrutiny today on the (further) left, where his support for intervention in Bosnia and Afghanistan has raised sharp questions. In Counter-Punch, the online magazine founded by the late Alexander Cockburn, his longtime collaborator Jeffrey St. Clair complains that even on Iraq, Sanders is a “hypocrite” who was never as consistently anti-intervention as advertised:

In 1998 Sanders voted in favor of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which said: “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

Later that same year, Sanders also backed a resolution that stated: “Congress reaffirms that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic  government to replace that regime.”

According to St. Clair, Sanders has dismissed those votes as “almost unanimous,” but that implies an absurdly elastic definition of the term. Looking up the actual vote, St. Clair found that 38 members of varying ideology and party affiliation voted no. To him, this means Sanders should be held responsible for the bombing campaign that followed, as well as the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children who allegedly perished as a result of US sanctions (which seems to absolve the late dictator of any culpability for the sanctions regime, but never mind).

Certainly it is fair to ask Sanders — who strives to distance himself from his rival on foreign and security policy – why he cast those fateful votes to support Bill Clinton’s Iraq policy in 1998.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, The National Memo, February 17, 2016

February 18, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Foreign Policy, Iraq War | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“The Great Fracturing Of The Republican Party”: Appears To Believe In Anything, Which Is The Same As Believing In Nothing

It is no longer possible to think of “the Republican Party” as a coherent political force. It is nothing of the sort — and the Donald Trump insurgency should be seen as a symptom, not the cause, of the party’s disintegration.

I realize this may seem an odd assessment of a party that controls both houses of Congress, 32 governorships and two-thirds of state legislative chambers. The desire to win and hold power is one thing the party’s hopelessly disparate factions agree on; staunch and sometimes blind opposition to President Obama and the Democrats is another. After those, it’s hard to think of much else.

It makes no sense anymore to speak of “the GOP” without specifying which one. The party that celebrates immigration as central to the American experiment or the one that wants to round up 11 million people living here without papers and kick them out? The party that believes in U.S. military intervention and seeding the world with democratic values or the one that believes strife-torn nations should have to depose their own dictators and resolve their own civil wars? The party that represents the economic interests of business owners or the one that voices the anxieties of workers?

All of these conflicts were evident Tuesday night at the presidential candidates’ debate in Las Vegas. It was compelling theater — Trump mugging and shrugging for the cameras, Jeb Bush gamely steeling himself to go on the attack, Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) waging a one-on-one battle, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vowing to shoot down Russian jets over Syria, Ben Carson turning “boots on the ground” into a mantra without actually saying what he thinks about deploying them.

A Republican optimist might praise the candidates for airing “serious” and “important” policy debates. A realist would say this is a party that appears to believe in anything, which is the same as believing in nothing.

One of the more telling exchanges came when Trump was asked whether the United States was safer with dictators running the troubled nations of the Middle East. Trump replied, “In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now.”

Carly Fiorina was aghast. “That is exactly what President Obama said,” she declared. “I’m amazed to hear that from a Republican presidential candidate.”

Indeed, there once was broad consensus within the party about the advisability and legitimacy of forcing “regime change” in pursuit of U.S. interests. But toppling even such a monster as Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is opposed by Trump, Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) — who combined have the support of 51 percent of Republican voters, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. So apparently there isn’t a “Republican view” about foreign intervention anymore.

Nor is the party able to agree on immigration policy. Even if you somehow manage to look past Trump’s outrageous call for mass deportation, there is no consensus for the course of action favored by what’s left of the party establishment, which would be to give undocumented migrants some kind of legal status. The only point of concord is the allegation that Obama has failed to “secure the border,” which is actually far more secure than it was under George W. Bush.

Once upon a time, the Republican Party’s position on a given issue usually dovetailed nicely with the views of business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But the chamber supports giving the undocumented a path to legal status. It also waxes rhapsodic about the benefits of free trade for U.S. firms and shareholders. Now, since Trump opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact (as does Mike Huckabee), other candidates have had to mumble about waiting to see the details before deciding pro or con.

The GOP electorate has changed; it’s whiter, older, less educated and more blue -collar than it used to be. Many of today’s Republicans don’t see globalization as an investment opportunity; they see it as a malevolent force that has dimmed their prospects. They don’t see the shrinking of the white majority as natural demographic evolution; they see it as a threat.

One of our two major political parties is factionalized and out of control. That should worry us all.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 17, 2015

December 21, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, GOP, GOP Establishment | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When Bluster Meets Reality”: A Chance To Start World War III, Republicans Neither Know Nor Care What They’re Talking About

I’m from Jersey and we like to talk bluntly, but Rand Paul is correct when he says that Chris Christie could easily start World War Three if he actually governed as advertised in the White House:

Christie said that as president, he would shoot down a Russian plane if it breached a no-fly zone in Syria, and claimed Obama wasn’t strong enough to do the same.

“Maybe because I’m from New Jersey I have this plain-language hang-up,” Christie said. “I would talk to Vladmir Putin a lot, and I’d say listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone and it applies to you and yes we’d shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.”

Meanwhile, in the real world:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday accepted Russia’s long-standing demand that President Bashar Assad’s future be determined by his own people, as Washington and Moscow edged toward putting aside years of disagreement over how to end Syria’s civil war.

“The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change,” Kerry told reporters in the Russian capital after meeting President Vladimir Putin. A major international conference on Syria would take place later this week in New York, Kerry announced.

Kerry reiterated the U.S. position that Assad, accused by the West of massive human rights violations and chemical weapons attacks, won’t be able to steer Syria out of more than four years of conflict.

But after a day of discussions with Assad’s key international backer, Kerry said the focus now is “not on our differences about what can or cannot be done immediately about Assad.” Rather, it is on facilitating a peace process in which “Syrians will be making decisions for the future of Syria.”

Kerry’s declarations crystallized the evolution in U.S. policy on Assad over the last several months, as the Islamic State group’s growing influence in the Middle East has taken priority.

How relevant does Christie’s bluster look in light of the factual situation on the ground in Syria?

The Republican candidates debated each other last night in Vegas, but they might as well have been debating a dining room table. They neither know what they are talking about, nor care. It would be sad or maybe just funny if there weren’t a remote possibility that one of them might win and get the chance to start World War Three.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 16, 2015

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Presidential Candidates, Vladimir Putin, World War III | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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