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Syrian Rebels To Receive U.S. Arms

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

Washington’s new pledge to Syria: More military aid to the rebels. We’ll ask what aid and what it may mean.

his Tuesday, June 4, 2013 file photo citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels preparing to fire locally made rockets, in Idlib province, northern Syria. (Edlib News Network ENN/AP File)

This Tuesday, June 4, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels preparing to fire locally made rockets in Idlib province in northern Syria. (Edlib News Network/AP File)

The US has walked into enough quagmires — think Iraq, Afghanistan and, lest we forget, Vietnam — that it finally knows a slippery slope when it sees one.  At least, President Obama sees one in Syria today.  But the ‘do something!’ camp in Washington and in the Middle East has been pushing hard for more direct American action.

Well, the administration finally gave in last week and agreed to start arming the rebels.   You could almost hear the White House holding its nose.

This hour, On Point: America’s slow walk into the Syrian civil war.


Clarissa Ward, foreign correspondent for CBS News. (@clarissaward)

Paul Pillar, core faculty member of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He recently wrote “The Commitment Ploy.”

Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and director of research for the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. He recently wrote “Syria Solution Could Lie In Bosnia.” (@MichaelEOHanlon)

From The Reading List

CBS News: Arming Syria Rebels Easier Said Than Done — “The announcement came at a crucial time for the rebels. They’re struggling to keep morale up in the face of weapons and ammunition shortages, after being dealt a decisive military blow with their defeat in the strategic town of Qusair. That defeat also marked the first time that fighters from the Iranian-backed, Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah — branded a terrorist organization by the U.S. — openly fought alongside the Syrian army in significant numbers.”

The Christian Science Monitor:Why U.S. Must Give Military Aid To Syria’s Rebels — “The war in Syria is at a turning point. Backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah militants, Bashar al-Assad has the upper hand. Ending the war requires backing him into a corner from which peace talks provide his only safe escape. US military aid for the rebels can help do that.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Military Proposal to Arm Rebels Includes No-Fly Zone in Syria — “Asked by the White House to develop options for Syria, military planners have said that creating an area to train and equip rebel forces would require keeping Syrian aircraft well away from the Jordanian border. To do that, the military envisages creating a no-fly zone stretching up to 25 miles into Syria which would be enforced using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to U.S. officials.”

The New York Times: Text Of White House Statement On Chemical Weapons In Syria — “The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons. We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    once again we demonstrate the definition of insanity

    • SteveTheTeacher

       But the arms dealers and military contractors will make out like bandits again.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        funny how things work that way. i need to buy some KBR stock. maybe some irobot or raytheon so i can “buy local”

        • 1Brett1

          That was a good one.

  • afterallthat

    With major countries providing arms to one side or the other, and western nations being supportive of Al Quada-type ideologies in order to remove Assad, it seems like an orchestrated corporate move (banking & arms manufacturers). Besides, the middle east can be compared to a snake eating its own tail. It will implode despite anything the U.S. and the other countries may do. The best idea would be to put an embargo on all arms and let them duke it out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      but arms are a big export for us. of course this is orchestrated by the international corporations

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    its terrible that they are giving these arms to foreigners when there are plenty of poor americans without enough guns or no guns at all

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Futo, that’s funny stuff !

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        it does seem a little ironic that they are trying to disarm us while at the same time arming our alleged enemies. whats up with that?

        • 1Brett1

          That’s Obama’s master plan: to destroy America using irony. 

          That is why every American needs to be armed with sarcasm, satire, irony and parody! …We’ve been through this, FB!

    • SteveTheTeacher

      Such sarcasm and free thinking.  Looks like someone’s getting stuck with crappy seats at the next NRA convention.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        as long as i get a gift bag from there its cool. i like that you  can identify sarcasm.

        • 1Brett1

          Your comment was more satire than sarcasm…have you learned nothing?!?!

          • John Cedar

            It is ironic that his comment would have made sense if it was earnest.

          • 1Brett1

            Well, I was playing off of a joke I had made with Futo Buddy a few weeks ago…however, if you reread FB’s joke comment, does it really sound as if it was a sincere, straight forward comment to you? Or, was it a satirical comment loosely parodying world hunger concerns but making that model sort of a point about gun ownership/self-protection using guns in the US?

          • John Cedar

            It never occurred to me that his comment was intended as anything other than satire. I was commenting on the school of thought that would agree with an earnest interpretation. Or at least agree with it as an earnest hyperbole.

          • 1Brett1

            Ah, earnest satire, then…okay.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            perhaps parody

          • 1Brett1

            I almost went with the characterization of “parody.” It came close, but I went with the more general “satire.” 

  • Shag_Wevera

    A terrible mistake.  A mistake not representative of the will of the American people.  How the hell does this happen?  Anyone remember Iraq or Afghanistan?  Let’s arm Iraq against Iran = Saddam Hussein gets chemical weapons.  Let’s arm Afghan rebels against the Soviets = Osama Bin Laden armed and trained as part of the Mujahadeen.

    When are we going to let these things be and take care of Americans at home? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      when the prison industrial complex gets tired of existing and making money

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Don’t forget all of our other efforts at “Nation Building”.
      There’s really nothing new under the sun,
      still pushing the agenda with the barrel of a gun.

      • John Cedar

        If I was better at history and geography I reckon I could name more than a few nations the US has had success at building.

        • Shag_Wevera

          Japan, Germany…  I’d argue that none of the successes resemble the starting materials of Afghanistan or Syria.

        • Trond33

          Just look right south in Latin America, lots of U.S. successes down there.  At one time, the U.S. was even buddy buddy with Venezuela.  
          When you go around the world with a gun in front of you, these things are bound to happen. 

        • 1Brett1

          I’m familiar with cedar…it grows in acidic soil.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Stay home and lock the doors.

    • Trond33

      You are in Missouri – better take shelter in the storm cellar. 

  • SteveTheTeacher

    What about the evidence, that the United Nations presented, indicated that the Syrian rebels also used chemical weapons?

    What about the peace talks that were scheduled for July?

    Is there a connection between the US entry into the Syrian war and recent advances by the Syrian military?

    Can President Bush, I mean Obama, be trusted on this matter?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i thought the timing of this coincidentally is a distraction from the several scandals here

  • alsordi

    Can it now be more obvious that this seemingly convoluted and contradictory banker/zionist strategy in the Middle East is pure and simply DESTABILIZATION of every Muslim country at whatever cost ?? 

    Their plan is to preserve the PETRODOLLAR system of debt, and to leave the Middle East in fractious shambles while the Israelis continue expanding their shining suburban oasis surrounded by concrete walls on Palestinian land.


    • John Cedar

       Do you have any remedies to propose?

      • alsordi

        - Close foreign US military bases.
        - Cut NSA budget. Shut down the CIA.
        - Israel goes back to 1967 borders
        - No more funding for Israel
        - Re-open a comprehensive 911 inquiry with non-political investigators.
        - Hold WAR CRIMES TRIBUNALS, prosecute all US presidents, administration, generals, contractors and bankers.
        - Full reparations to all nations and families victimized by NATO in the last twenty years.
        - Audit the Federal Reserve and then shut it down.
        - Most of the resources saved goes into green technology, jobs and fuels.

        • William

           Israel is the only decent country in the Middle East so why punish them? It is the Muslim nations that have been a total failure and we need a policy to distance ourselves from buying their oil and funding their terrorists.

          • alsordi

            Subjective opinion??

            If ending tens of billions to Israel and trillions of dollars to defend them is punishment, the US taxpayers must have been terrible to the over one hundred countries that don’t get a dime from the US.

          • William

            Why give any Muslim nation anything? What have they done for us? Do they denounce terrorism?

          • HonestDebate1

            The new Libyan President did. He was on our side and very outspoken denouncing terrorism. He cooperated in Benghazi and told us the truth about Ansar Al Sharia. It was a world of difference from Gaddafi. He is just the kind of Muslim we should embrace. 

            Obama stuck a finger in his eye and made up the video meme. That angered the new President so he quit cooperating and would not let us on the scene for days (it may have been weeks). 

            Nice work Obama.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            saddam did

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            what is so decent about them?

        • alsordi

          a few more…

          - end lobbies and lobbyists

          - end corporate campaign contributions

          - end corporate entities

      • 1Brett1

        Great, you just had to give permission to a Truther/there’s-a-vast-conspiracy-in-every-nook- and-cranny guy who has been champing at the bit since he first appeared on this forum…thanks a lot!

        • John Cedar

          Lather rinse and repeat, always repeat.
          ~ H.J.S.

  • Rich11

    The Russians criticize the U.S. for sending weapons BUT WHAT DID THEY SEND?

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    What Syria is experiencing is nothing less than a civil war.  Many  of the factions are aligned with Al Qaeda, and probably all of the factions/government don’t trust us and hate us.  Before we intervene in any way, we need to understand the possible ramifications (conflict with Iran?), the huge open-ended potential cost which we can’t afford, define what victory looks like, define what the end game is, understand how to avoid another Middle East quagmire where our own soldiers are put in harm’s way.  The bottom line of all these questions, which no one has satisfactory answers to, is that WE SHOULD STAY OUT OF THIS CIVIL WAR QUAGMIRE.  The killing of innocent civilians is unfortunate, but we can’t fix it.  Perhaps we should allow some of our “allies” such as France, Germany, or Japan spend their blood and treasure to fix this mess.

    • 1Brett1

      I think you raise some valid points, FR.

    • Steve__T

       The song “where have all the flowers gone” and the refrain “When will we learn” hits me as does your statement. I agree we have enough problems of our own to deal with instead of this mess. Also the Bible phrase (paraphrasing)”how can you remove the splinter from your brothers eye when you have a log in your own”

    • DeJay79

       hear, hear!

  • 1Brett1

    Another potential mess…There’s enough criticism to go around, and there doesn’t seem to be any one reasonable solution.

    I know my comment is kind of lackluster, but maybe I’m just tiring of the form itself (these types of forums) and how it promotes taking one side, and maybe I’m tiring of these foreign problems and how they just seem to repeat themselves in some form or other over and over. 

  • creaker

    There’s a story on foreign media that  Iran is sending 4000 troops to Syria, but I haven’t seen squat either reporting or denying it in US media. What’s up with that?

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Maybe they’re concerned that al Queda has WMD and have launched “Operation Syrian Freedom” to neutralize them before the smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      its funny how our news and theirs is different

  • J__o__h__n

    The pop-ups, the Twitter garbage, and now Jane Clayson . . .   See you next week. 

    • 1Brett1

      What, Jane Clayson?!?!?! She seemed to be subbing on some shows over the weekend…And here I was already having a hard time dredging up any impetus to listen.  

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “You could almost hear the White House holding its nose”
    Can you almost smell me closing my browser?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Yep. WBUR could get much less Beltway Inbred without losing anything on this story (and a host of others).

  • 1Brett1

    How to deal with Putin? Would it have been better for Obama not to make some of his decisions unilaterally? In a larger sense, how to deal with our allies? Is Obama’s strategy (if I could call it that) designed to force enough of whatever to set the stage for some agreement? 

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Tell Vlad, I’ll have more flexibility after the election.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        It’s amazing what righties think is funny.

        No new material, or does that still wow them at Fox and all the crap media places?

        • Acnestes

          Really.  Crude sarcasm, that’s all they’ve ever got.  Completely devoid of wit.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            What do you expect from the wing that’s celebrating Fox hiring the Alaskan Quitbull as if it were early September 2008, as if she were not yet vetted by voters and found wanting?

        • TomK_in_Boston

          I think they have a good time yucking it up in their bubble of faux, rush, etc and assume all that is gonna fly in the real world.

          Did you see the stories on the son of Sen Flake (R-utah) with his racist and homophobic on-line rants. He used n1**erkiller as a screen name for a game, tho without the asterisks. No doubt he has a comfortable home bubble with racist family values and was shocked to get called on it.


      • 1Brett1

        See, you guys never can engage in any kind of reasonable conversation… 

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          “never” ?????

          I’ll quote John McCain on Putin.

          When I look in his eyes I see three letters: K G B .

  • Emily311

    I have heard that the Pentagon would be able to send bombs that could be turned off from a distance. That way it would be easier to prevent them from getting in the wrong hands. Is this true? I think it would have a major impact on whether or not we should be arming the rebels.

  • creaker

    Whatever happened to Libya? They went from headlines to like the country no longer exists.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      …like the big bad deficit :)

      • creaker

        Very true.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          …like tears in the rain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gkeefermcgee Glenn Keefer-Mcgee

    I don’t think we should be doing anything in Syria.  They can fight this out and be all bitter with each other and their respective sects.  Whoever wins is still going to hate America, and letting them fight it out on their on is much cheaper.  We can’t do anything there that will make whoever wins like us.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      maybe the goal is perpetual war

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Patrick-Dwyer-Jr/100002088204784 James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    If we take any action in Syria, get congress to approve it and raise taxes on the rich to pay for it. That will shut most of the politicians up.

    • creaker

      It seems that the “how are we going to pay for it” thing never pops up for funding issues like this.

      • Trond33

        Sad thing is, what will be spent arming the Syrians – and resulting in more death in Syria, would in fact fund a program like Head Start several times over.  What’s more important, giving kids in the U.S. a boost on their education or providing guns to kill more people?  

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          or it could be that much less that we borrowed

    • John Cedar

      I don’t mind having to pay for a war as long as I don’t have to actually fight in it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        thats why modern wars are so popular. the mongers learned their lesson about drafting people making war unpopular

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    When’s the last time someone gave McCain a good, tough interview? The press is so in love with him it’s becoming an issue.

    Can’t we take some time to unpack the free pass he’s been given, as a losing Republican, to spout off on anything he wants and be treated seriously?

    I don’t care about what he thinks about Syria, per se. My beef is that he has a platform for foreign policy that losing opposition Democrats are never afforded by Washington power structures (including the press), and everything he’s been working in the press since Election Night 2008 has contributed to the carte blanche status he has now.

    • hennorama

      TF – as an heroic Vietnam War POW, Sen. McCain has a “free pass” for life on military matters.

      The press cannot directly criticize Sen. McCain without looking like cynical asshats.

      One hopes that Sen. McCain takes a cue from fellow adoptive Arizonan, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and he retires before dying in office.

  • 1Brett1

    If we are “arming” the rebels, what are we arming them with? Is it just a token gesture so the “red line” stuff doesn’t look quite as silly?

  • creaker

    I get so tired of the “our interests” talk. Those running our government are taking care of “their interests”. Any overlap with “my interests” is pure coincidence.

  • DeJay79

    Egypt did it without us Bahrain did not do it without us. Lets stay out of it and see where they take their own country.

    I also think that we should not have intervened in Libya regardless of the outcome.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    All I can say is WTF?

    The strongest faction of the rebels is Al Queda (remember, the group built by Reagan that hit us bin Laden on 9/11 after W went clearin’ brush in response to being briefed “bin Laden Determined to Strike in USA”). Their goal is an islamic state. Bye-bye christians. So, unless BHO is supporting AQ, which gives him the power to “detain” himself, the plan must be to strengthen the non-terrorist “good” rebels. However it is hard to believe some arms will significantly shift the character of the rebels, ie, AQ islamic terrorists.
    As someone suggested last week, maybe BHO is just trying to deflect attention from his 1984-ish surveillance?

    • hennorama

      - It’s hard to see this small gesture of proving small arms to a few
      “good” guerrilla fighters as a “wag the dog” scenario.

      small arms (and no doubt training the guerrillas in their use) will
      do little to change the balance of power or the tide of the conflict.
      The issue is not this initial step, but rather what the US is
      prepared to do when the guerillas fail – do we provide a no-fly
      zone? What about heavier weapons (some of which will no doubt fall
      into the hands of factions the US does not support)? Will we
      eventually send troops (with NATO or some other coalition or
      unilaterally)? Will we use Israel as a proxy?

      we have are choices between various lesser and greater evils.

      wild card here is the new Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, a
      moderate/centrist whose nickname is “the diplomat sheik.” Will
      he seek to moderate Iran’s support of Syria and work toward a
      political solution in Syria, or will he support maintaining the
      status quo, with Iran supporting Hezbollah and Assad? One doubts
      that there will be any significant change, given that Iran views
      itself as safeguarding Islamic, and particularly Shiite, values.

      again, religious ideology is heavily influencing the foreign and
      military policy of a major world power. This is rarely positive for
      the world as a whole.

      is also the view that the US position of passivity and inaction has
      been quite ruthless, allowing various US enemies (al-Qaeda,
      Hezbollah, et al) to be drawn into the conflict and to battle and
      kill each other. It’s also been put forward that the Syrian conflict
      has brought many of these terrorists into one small place, making
      them easier to kill in the event of military intervention on the

      are no good solutions here.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        But the dog does seem to be wagging a bit.

        Yes, it’s Sunni (rebels, AQ, Islamic Brotherhood) vs Shiite (Assad, Iran, Hezbollah) again. Since W acted as a Shiite and Iranian Agent by converting Iran’s number one enemy into an ally, I suppose Iraq supports Assad also.I heard the one about concentrating the terrorists so we could kill them before. Unless we’re planning to nuke Syria, concentrating the terrorists just means you have more terrorists. There is an endless supply.No good options.

        • hennorama

          TomK_in_Boston – indeed Syria has become even more front and center in the news, because there IS news – the (belated) announcement about the deaths from small-scale use of chemical weapons, and the fact that White House Chief of Staff McDonough said that the US will expand “the scope and scale” of assistance to (presumably select) Syrian guerillas.

          But note what else McDonough said:

          “We have to be very discerning about what’s in our interest and what outcome is best for us, and the prices that we’re willing to pay to get to that place,” he said. “We’ve rushed to war in this region in the past; we’re not going to do it here.”

          Putting a toe in the water is what’s happening, but is the US willing to dive in and get their hair wet without any way to towel off?

          I see a big ocean with no lifeguards in sight.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            After Iraq we can’t casually accept any claims of chem weapon use. I want a rigorous examination with consideration given to any skeptics.

            I’ve also heard that the rebels have used chem weapons. Why no concern there?

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          i bet we could level it with conventional weapons maybe a little white phosphorous for the stragglers

      • brettearle

        I can’t see any clear resolution–unless there is, eventually, a full commitment.

        If there is a greater commitment, we lose lives; they lose lives; we lose political capital with Russia (which may turn out to be quite dangerous); we lose a great deal of money; the flow of oil may be affected, directly or indirectly; as well as the possibility of a direct re-confrontation between Israel (which, apparently, now, Israel fully expects) and Hezbollah.

        The more I think about US involvement, the less I like it.

        • hennorama

          brettearle – I can’t see any clear resolution either, short of the Assad government being taken out from the top.

          Wonder what Seal Team Six is working on these days …

  • Markus6

    Have we forgotten that we’re grossly in debt (16 trillion) and that debt is getting bigger every year? Not one person on the panel has mentioned the total cost of this thing.

    And didn’t McCain finish at the bottom of his West Point class. He shows it every time he opens his mouth. 

    • TomK_in_Boston

      The big bad debt is yesterday’s bogeyman, you gotta move on. And even tho “deficits don’t matter”, remember, military spending stimulates the economy, spending on infrastructure and R&D in the USA is big gub’mint waste.

      • Markus6

        16 trillion and growing is yesterday’s bogeyman and those who are concerned need to move on. 


      • pete18

         Yeah, that stimulus spending really worked out well, didn’t it.

        • hennorama

          pete18 – yes the stimulus did work out pretty well, actually.

          We went from the worst of it in Q4 of 2008, when GDP was dropping at a -8.9% rate, followed by GDP declining at a – 5.3% rate in Q1 of 2009.

          Then the stimulus (ARRA) passed and started to go into effect. By the end of Q4 2009, GDP was growing at a 4.0% clip.

          So the rate changed by almost 13 points in a year (!!), and nearly 9 points in the 9 months following the start of the ARRA(!!).

          While not all of this can be attributed to the ARRA, since the Federal Reserve was also providing massive help, it’s undeniable that the stimulus had a major, rapid effect. This was an amazingly large and rapid
          change in GDP.

          Where do you think we’d be WITHOUT the ARRA?

          • pete18

             Well, according to the figures the Obama administration used to sell the plan, our unemployment rate would have been in better shape without the stimulus than it turned out to be with the stimulus: http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/library/chart-graph/unemployment-rate-and-without-stimulus-plan-and-actual-2009-2013

            I think it was money ill spent and sold on a false promise. Very few of the Obama’s administrations predictions for its results came true.
            We’ve accumulated a lot of additional debt for very little result.
            I think this analysis by Robert J Barrio demonstrates how bad a deal it was: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704751304575079260144504040.html

          • hennorama

            pete18 – TY for your response. I appreciate and respect your views.

            However, you haven’t answered my question –

            Where do you think we’d be WITHOUT the ARRA?

          • pete18

             I thought it was implied in my comments. I think we would have had a similar anemic uptick
            in the economy and less debt, which would have been much better in the long term. However, a far more effective move would have been a series of temporary tax cuts on corporations and small business and an accelerated depreciation on capital investments. That would have been cheaper and more effective in my opinion.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            LOL, tax cuts. Spending has a far larger “multiplier” than tax cuts. Corporations! They have record profits now and many are paying no taxes and they’re not doing anything. Common sense, please!

          • pete18

            Yes, I disagree.

          • hennorama

            pete18 – TY for your response. I respect your views.

            I disagree, and am thankful that the ARRA (along with TARP and the Fed’s various policies) worked, leaving you with no way to prove your theory about “temporary tax cuts on corporations and small business and an accelerated depreciation on capital investments.”

            Of course, voters disagreed in 2008 as well. Your “plan” is essentially what Sen. John “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” McCain’s had proposed:

            -Buying up bad mortgages and other loans to sell at a profit “when the market improves”
            -Tax cuts for corporations and other businesses
            -Eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, costing the Treasury about $60 billion/yr
            -Extending Bush II tax cuts

            Note that McCain’s stimulus ideas were limited to cutting the corporate tax rate, allowing 100% expensing of business purchases of equipment and technology, and adding a tax credit of 10% of R&D wages.

            That was it.

            And if Mr. Romney had instead won the Republican nomination in 2008, this was his stimulus proposal:

            -Reduce the lowest income tax bracket to 7.5%
            -Eliminate payroll taxes on workers age 65 and older
            -Eliminate savings, capital gains and dividend taxes for those earning less that $200,000
            -Reduce the corporate tax rate to 20%
            -Allow 100% expensing of equipment for two years
            -Expand FHA loan limits to allow larger loans to homeowners

            In other words – tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts and bigger mortgages.

            Because that had worked so well under Pres. Bush II, right?”

            How soon they forget …

          • pete18

            See above.

          • pete18

            To your comment below: 

            Of course there’s no way to prove my theory, there’s also no
            way to prove that things would have been worse without the stimulus. But you
            can measure how effective the stimulus has been and how it measures up to its
            promised results. I think that by any metric it has been very poor. Unemployment
            under Obama has only dropped .2 percent in his 4 ½ years in office, however the
            debt has gone up 6.1 trillion.  I don’t
            know how any objective analysis can consider this a success.



            Whether voters disagreed with “my plan” in 2008 is an
            irrelevant point. What the voters thought in an election has no
            bearing on the potential effectiveness of an economic policy.  That election had very little to do with the
            specifics of anyone’s plan anyway, people were tired of Bush and the
            Republicans and projected a lot of false hope and optimism onto their new
            inexperienced lover.


            Tax cuts worked great under Bush, we had a 4.5 %
            unemployment rate, government revenues went up and the deficits came down. The
            crash in 2008 had nothing to do with Bush’s tax policies.

          • hennorama

            See my reply above, as a response to your original comment in this thread.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            What a lame talking point. It’s always the same. They exaggerated the effect the ARRA would have on job creation, and that’s all the righties want to talk about. You don’t care that all the evidence is that it stabilized the economy and turned increasing bush job losses and around. 

            Who cares about the bad prediction if it helped? I know – those whose agenda is ideology regardless of results.

          • pete18

             If we ignore for the moment that you see anything that you disagree with as a talking point and anything that you pavlovically repeat from the democratic party and lefty talking heads as factual (and that you can’t seem to recognize the irony of that), let me tell you why I think the false predictions were important. Obama sold the notion to the public of spending about 800 billion dollars of public money on the idea that it would cap  unemployment rate, and create 3 to 4 million new jobs. (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/28695368/ns/business-personal_finance/t/obamas-stimulus-plan-promises-new-jobs/#.UcBw6IV5m5c)

            That didn’t come close to happening and neither did any of the other optimistic numbers that his administration put forth to sell the plan.

            If we go by Obama’s own analysis the unemployment rate would have peaked in the middle of 2010 at 8.8% and then would have gone down WITHOUT the stimulus.
            So, even his economists thought things would improve on their own as they went through their cycles.  Given that by any measure the stimulus’s effect was minor at best, had no real positive structural change on the economy and its costs will continue to drag down the economy for a long time to come, it is certainly not an example of a program that should be celebrated as a model of success to be repeated in the future, as you suggested in your earlier post..

          • TomK_in_Boston

            It is a talking point. You guys all toe the party line. I don’t care if the prediction was too optimistic, I care that the evidence shows it was a huge help. Most economists agree. The only reason to be focusing on the prediction instead of the results is ideology.

            You’re like someone who was saved in a lifeboat and all you can say is “Hey, you told me I’d be back on shore in 3 days and it took 4. What a failure!”

          • pete18

            See up top.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Yes it did, it made a major contribution to stopping the bleeding following the Bush crash. The data make it rather obvious, but I know it will always be the “failed stimulus” in the righty alt universe.


          The right sure do scream abt the wonders of gvt spending when it’s for a weapons system or a military base, tho.

        • hennorama

          pete18 – TY again for your response.  This is a reply to your most recent post below, moved here due to space constraints.

          Three points:

          You are disingenuously using the entirety of President Obama’s term in office as the time period to measure the impact of the ARRA. This is dishonest. The ARRA wasn’t signed into law until February 17, 2009, and the bulk of the stimulus didn’t occur until FY 2010, and was about 90% complete by the end of FY 2011.

          Tax cuts did not “work great” under President Bush II. Federal Revenue (FR) DROPPED in constant 2005 dollar terms, from FY 2000 ($2309.2B) to FY 2008 ($2288.1B). Federal Spending increased EVERY YEAR under Pres Bush II, from $2,039.9B in FY 2000 to $2,703.8 in FY 2008. And of course, Bush II was responsible for a great deal of both the lower revenue and increased spending in FY 2009 as well. Federal deficits went up under Bush II as well, switching from a SURPLUS of $269.5B in FY 2000 to a DEFICIT of $-415.7B in FY 2008.

          As to employment – there were actually 665,000 private sector jobs lost during the Bush II era. The only reason there was an overall gain in employment under Bush II was due to a massive expansion of government employment, to the tune of 1,748,000 government jobs.


          Office of Management and Budget, Historical Tables, Table 1.3;

          See these charts comparing changes in Private Sector and Public Sector employment under President Bush II and President Obama (through early 2013):

    • brettearle

       Agree with you about McCain.  He’s close to a disgrace.

      • hennorama

        brettearle – Sen. McCain may well be thinking “If only I’d been elected in 2008, none of this Syria nonsense would be happening right now.”

        Remember, he was campaigning in 2008 on the idea of INCREASING US troop levels in Iraq, Syria’s next door neighbor. The US might well still be in Iraq had McCain been elected in 2008. Here’s what he said in May 2008:

        “The following are conditions I intend to achieve. … By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. … The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.”

        And earlier, in January 2008, McCain told an audience in New Hampshire that he’d be okay with a US military presence in Iraq for for 50 or even 100 years if the country was stable and the American military was not suffering casualties.


        HOWEVER … I have to give Senator McCain a pass, however slight that pass may be..

        His service to our country, and his independent spirit, allowed me to respect him despite the fact that I almost always disagreed with him.

        This respect ebbed a great deal with his backpedaling and flipflopping in the 2010 Arizona Republican primary.

        He changed his long held stances on immigration and the border fence, DADT, and practically avoided the issue of climate change after being a leader on the topic for years.

        Presumably, the Straight Talk Express bus has long since been mothballed or sold off for scrap.

        Sen. McCain seems to now be a sad shell of his former self, no longer deserving of my respect. It’s a sad end to what was a distinguished career.

        I can’t dismiss Sen. McCain completely, but I really have only the slightest respect for him these days.

        • brettearle

          You have a somewhat better heads-up on McCain’s machinations.

          [hmmm  McCain's machinations....has a catchy ring to it, don't you think?]

          But we come up with the same conclusion.

          I have always felt–in a primitive, raw way–that just like JFK received UNDUE special attention because of his royal good looks, so did McCain, for being a POW.

          I am reminded of his over-the-top behavior  in the 2008 campaign vis a vis the economic crisis and emergency meeting fiasco.

          That pretty much sunk him.

          He’s a disgrace:

          5 wars he supported in recent years.  5.  Count `em:


          Where in tarnation is his board game of RISK hiding, for chrissake!


  • Ben Roberts

    I wonder if this is the event in the Obama administration which will be compared in a decade to the moment in Bill Clinton’s presidency where he eyed but passed over an opportunity to intercede in Rwanda. I don’t support more American interception but perhaps this isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan either; the only wars I’ve yet clearly witnessed in my life.

    • Trond33

      Syria and Rwanda are not really comparable, different dynamics in play.  Although, swift international action early on in most conflicts can have an impact.  For example, NATO bombing military depots in the opening days of the Balkan wars.  Serving to starve the combatants of military hardware. 

      • skinnytod

        They are comparable in terms of the human rights PR hand wringing (93,000 dead etc.) with which this (and future) Syrian interventions are being sold to the American public. Of course the real reasons are less emotionally compelling.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          thats almost as many as have died in mexico in our war on drugs

    • brettearle

       Do you know of any war that can be yet proven justified, in the 20th century and the 21st century–other than WWII?

      • hennorama

        – if you’re talking about US involvement, certainly one can justify
        the Korean War and the Gulf War, where invading armies were repelled
        and the sovereignty of the invaded countries was restored.

        course the problem is that the US never really completely withdrew
        from these countries, maintaining 8 current bases in Kuwait, and 15
        in South Korea.


        • brettearle


          No matter how much we either agree or disagree about US involvement in war….

          There will always be a fundamental difference between US commitments and US intervention.

          What are the economic factors and what are the ideological factors?

          VietNam, Korea, and, to a fair degree, the Gulf War, are all under consideration for stark contrast of opinion, by pundits, with regard to justification of commitment….more crisply, I think, in hindsight, rather than in foresight.

          But one thing for sure:

          Bernie Sanders and Pat Buchanan would both sanction US involvment in WWII.

          • hennorama

            brettearle – TY for your response. I respect and appreciate your views.

            Indeed there are a variety of factors to consider regarding US involvement in any conflict.

            One thing that is fortunate for Americans is that religious ideology isn’t one of them (with the possible exception of Pres. Bush II’s “Tenth Crusade”, of course).

            That being said, we’ve stumbled badly in conflicts in this region recently, and no one is in the mood for any repetition of those horrific blunders, which will haunt the US for decades.

            With any luck, we will demonstrate that we’ve learned from our mistakes, and will keep the flock out.

            As I wrote earlier, I see no clear resolution in Syria, short of the Assad government being taken out from the top.

            Thanks again for your reply.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            luck? i am betting the military industrial complex would love more war and they seem to get what they want

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          yeah huge victory in korea. oh wait they are still at war there

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      looks like another for-profit war for the war machine

  • MacMillin

    Bill needs to mind his own business. I see nothing wrong with the POTUS saying he made a mistake about the red line comment and backing away from engagement.
    I know redacting comments is a supposed taboo but in the grand scheme of things who cares? 
    If he is called a weak leader so be it. The same critics that will call him weak are going to do so no matter what decision is made. I believe we weaken our position by becoming engaged in a proxy war and once again preemptive activities.
    Just admit you were wrong and move on. At some point in the near future Middle Eastern regions are going to need to learn how to police or monitor neighbors that have bad intentions for their own populous.  
    The western occupation needs to end, it only makes the conflict worse, sorry hawks, read history.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      A “like” for your simple distillation of our political discourse that:

      The same critics that will call him weak are going to do so no matter what decision is made.

      I’d like to say “from your keyboard to Diane Sawyer’s ears”, but that ain’t ever gonna happen.

    • brettearle

      Do you literally believe that if the West were to stay completely out of it, that the potential for conflagration wouldn’t be worse?

      And if we have no right to intercede–and we might possibly have no Right–do you actually think that the Middle East can work out its own political polarities and conflicts and can work out its own Energy export matters, etc?

      We have major corporations at stake in the Middle East.

      Do you actually believe that the United States would turn their backs on these establishments?

      • MacMillin

        I am not sure what would happen, I just know how to read history. Corporations will be just fine as you probably know Brett. Quite trying to poke the bear already.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        they have been fighting each other for thousands of years over there. they will continue with or without us

        • brettearle

          There’s much, much, much, much more at stake, now.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            oil? lithium? making money off war?
            not to mention a great excuse to shred our rights domesticly

  • srm41
  • Steve Blair

    This coutries government would supress and put down any rebelion. It did so in the past and would surely preserve the union if there was another civil war. We should let the present government win or lose on its own. Give the process a chance. Stay out of the fight or send your own children to the war if you feel strongly about it. Don’t even think of sending my children and grandchildren to build a nation other than our own. 

    • hennorama

      Steve Blair – you wrote “This coutries [sic] government would supress [sic] and put down any rebelion [sic]. It did so in the past and would surely preserve the union if there was another civil war.”

      The interesting/curious/ironic thing is – one cannot discern from those words if you were referring to the USA or to Syria.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Veteran Ryan (about 52 minutes in) asks “…and what Army?”, the proverbial question that should have had a place in any discussion about Syria.

    All-volunteer military morale and its disconnect from the decisionmakers is something to remember in the stretch of parades, troop homecomings, and other star-spangled reports which will show up repeatedly on my TV  between Memorial Day and Independence Day.

  • Trond33

    Just what the U.S. needs, another proxy war.  No, the most prudent action for the U.S. and any external actor is to work to starve the combatants of military hardware.  Surgical strikes designed to take out military depots – and send a strong message to the Syrian government.  

    Pouring gasoline on a national civil war will only cause it to flare up and become a regional civil war.  A better option is limited strikes to even the playing field.  Knocking out the regimes command and control or destroying the regimes symbols of power such as major government buildings to send a clear message.  

    Old adage, “if you are first going to do something, do it right.”  Serves no good to do a poor job that only creates a bigger mess.  

    Real leadership at this juncture would convene a conference of Middle Eastern leaders, along with U.S., Russian and European leaders.  A high profile conference to start tackling the larger regional problems. 

    • hennorama

      Trond33 – that is an interesting idea, but if it involved US aircraft, missiles, etc., we would need a Congressional vote, right?

      I don’t see ANY way that would happen. Do you?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        yeah we never go to war without that

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      so you don’t want a proxy war buy you would like us to do some bombings there? how is that not getting involved in someone else’s civil war?

  • Lauren Kolenko

    I’m very concerned that the failure of the US and others to act is resulting in a situation reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War, potentially with similar, far-reaching repercussions. 

    • jefe68

      How is it reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War?
      By the way it was Europe that failed to do anything about Hitler and that’s why he rose to power. The US in the 30′s was a backwater nation in terms of it’s military.

      • Bluejay2fly

        I would not be to quick to judge the Allies for their inability to prevent WW2. France and the UK lost over a million soldiers each. The trauma they suffered made them believe in things that were not true because they could not imagine going through that hell again. The great depression also served as a distraction from foreign affairs as people struggled with the more immediate concern of survival. Hitler and the Nazi army were cowards who enjoyed military success in large part because they attacked nations who were not war obsessed. Germany was so committed to war they began murdering their own insane and disabled citizens (Action T-4) because those resources used to keep them alive would provide greater efficiency in fighting. The disparity between the two sides at the beginning of WW2 was immense but when they finally confronted an army determined to fight in June 1944 they were swept from France in months and surrendered less than a year later. The only chance the allies would have had to avoid this blood shed would have been early intervention in a preventive war. Since we do not know the outcome of history it is often guess work and speculation as to wether or not intervention is good or bad. I think by not strangling Hitler in the crib it has created a predisposition to act in fear of repeating the mistake made leading up to WW2. This perpetual waging of preventive war can be interpreted by some as a reactionary use of force.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          if only annie Oakley had shot Kaiser Wilhelm II when she had the chance both world wars could have been prevented. or if only someone had liked hitler’s artwork.  the germans were involved in a preemptive war according to what they told the population because of false flag bombings the nazies did and blamed polish “terrorists”. that’s way different than us right?

          • Bluejay2fly

            The strangling Hitler in the crib remark was a reference Churchill made meaning that fascist Germany not just Hitler himself should have been destroyed before it became too powerful. Although the point that killing off singular leaders or toppling governments can lead you to a place worse than where you started is certainly a costly and probable outcome. I would state that respecting another nations sovereignty is grounds alone for us not to intervene in any foreign wars. It’s even more rational considering how desperately we need to address our own concerns. If we stuck to just the congressionally declared wars our list would only be 5 wars long ending with WW2.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            i was referring to an incident where Annie Oakley met the future Kaiser as a young man and shot a cigarette out of his mouth and quipped later she should have “missed”.
            i was mocking the whole idea of “what if” sort of historical analysis i agree with you 100%

          • Bluejay2fly

            I know, you are obviously too smart to make illogical random comments. I realize that maybe during the cold war we support evil regimes for national interest (although after reading The Hawk and The Dove that may have been BS) but to do so since USSR’s collapse makes us look bad. Either it’s too support our corporations, our military industrial complex, or just complete ignorance. Either way the USA is living far below its potential and nobody seems to care, that saddens me to no end.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            yup war has become peace ignorance strength and slavery freedom

  • 1Brett1

    It’s as if our military support/involvement in these matters is like we go to Muslim weddings and the usher asks us, ” are you a guest of the Sunni or are you a guest of the Shia?” Then, later, during a rift, we say to our “friends” that the other one is bad.

    Seriously, though, just maybe we could at least limit our “support” to humanitarian concerns…this might at least act like a pressure release valve in some of our relationships with other countries…and, PLEASE, no more of that “red line” nonsense; who do you think you are, Obama, George W. Bush?!?! 

  • burroak

    Yet another possible participating conflict; and how is Iraq? Is it’s democracy flourishing, blossoming?
    And what exactly is our purpose in Syria? Before we get involved, should it be imperative that our citizens know the specifics of why, how, and to what extent?
    What does the United States gain? More oil?
    Aside from northern Africa, we do not seem terribly overzealous about its tens of thousands lost in conflict.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      that you don’t have to go very far to fuel your war  machine?

  • JeffEwener

    The idea that this new level of US involvement in Syria is intended to reduce violence, to save lives, to protect the weak and reduce the number of victims of the war — this is ridiculous.  Everyone agrees that the rebels have been suffering serious reversals lately, Assad’s army is seizing back territory and going from strength to strength.  This may not be the team we want to win.  But it does mean the game, left to itself, would be entering the 4th quarter and almost be over — IF the US wasn’t throwing in more weaponry to keep the rebellion alive.  US involvement will obviously result in more not less violence, and thousands more victims, refugees and ruined lives.  I don’t know why Clinton, McCain and the others are so eager to escalate US involvement in Syria, but clearly a concern for the tens of thousands of victims so far — and the uncountable more that will now result — is not the reason.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      if we give them some of our old weapons that’s an excuse to buy more and if we create a larger conflict that’s an excuse to buy still more. its a win win for the military industrial complex

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Russia doesn’t trust the chem weapons story

    ““It’s necessary to refrain from unproven claims by either party,” Putin adviser Alexei Kvasov told reporters at the summit Monday. “We have no evidence proving it.””

    Neither do I. After Iraq are we really going to be such sheep? “OK, fine, you say they used chem weapons sir, yes sir, we better intervene.”

    We need a hell of a lot more evidence, regarding both sides,  and we have to consider that anyone who wants us to intervene has a great motivation to plant fake evidence. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i think i can hear the baaaaing already

    • hennorama

      TomK_in_Boston – Indeed, without inspectors getting access to the suspect area and being able to gather forensic and anecdotal information, conclusions about chemical weapon usage become very dicey propositions, and certainty is impossible.

      International treaties on chemical weapons established strict standards of proof, and such proof is not obtainable without access.

      Sarin itself presents a particular problem due to its volatility and rapid evaporation. This makes a retrospective “new probe involving an international chemical weapons watchdog and the World Health Organization … assigned to investigate the validity of such claims” problematic, to say the least.

      When one adds in the fact of an ongoing shooting war, the Russian “probe” is impossible to achieve. They know verification under international treaty standards is impossible, which is why they’re suggesting it. It’s a cynical delaying tactic, and designed to make them look as if they’re “taking the high road.”

      They aren’t.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Be that as it may, I don’t accept the chemical weapons story without more detailed proof including the possibility of “planted” evidence and use by the rebels. Nobody should.

        • hennorama

          TomK_in_Boston – I’m not disagreeing with you, just pointing out that proof is nearly impossible to obtain without access during a shooting war. Assad certainly won’t allow access to any official inspectors, making the point moot.

          Everyone knows that, which makes the Russian “proposal” a transparent, cynical tactic.

          • brettearle

            Thing of it is, though, henn, is this:

            Because of how Obama stuck his neck out, by drawing a line in the sand (there ya go, two cliches–one right after another), many moons ago, I doubt that the US would be making this move, unless they had conclusive proof.

            Would Obama truly take the risk?

            I don’t think so.

            It’s possible that he offered to show Putin the evidence, but was rebuffed.

          • hennorama

            brettearle – my personal opinion is that there is no way that President Obama would use the updated US intelligence community’s assessment about chemical weapons (CW) in Syria as the sole reason to take action, regardless of how strong or weak that updated assessment was. As I wrote last month, the invasion of Iraq was based in part on cherry-picked intelligence and on far too little verifiable information. There is no way this President is going to make a similar mistake, especially given the clear war-weariness (and war-wariness) of the American public.

            That being said, yes, I agree that the evidence of Assad’s forces using CW must be very strong. But I could be wrong, making TomK’s (and others’) skepticism completely justified.

            Clearly, if the Assad regime wanted to prove that their opponents had used CW, they could grant access to UN inspectors. The fact that such access has not been granted argues against the use of CW by the opposition. Here is what the “Statement by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes on Syrian Chemical Weapons Use” says, in part:

            “The Syrian government’s refusal to grant access to the United Nations to investigate any and all credible allegations of chemical weapons use has prevented a comprehensive investigation as called for by the international community. The Assad regime could prove that its request for an investigation was not just a diversionary tactic by granting the UN fact finding mission immediate and unfettered access to conduct on-site investigations to help reveal the truth about chemical weapons use in Syria. While pushing for a UN investigation, the United States has also been working urgently with our partners and allies as well as individuals inside Syria, including the Syrian opposition, to procure, share, and evaluate information associated with reports of chemical weapons use so that we can establish the facts and determine what took place. “

            And also, “We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.”


          • brettearle

            Thanks much for the sources.

            Has it been brought up here, or elsewhere, Putin’s reaction to Rhodes’s quote, above?

            Has the UN come out, publicly, and claimed refusal of access?

            And, if not, did they make this clear to Russia?

            I doubt it, on both fronts.

            Not because Syria’s recalcitrance isn’t true–but rather because of UN politics.

            Excellent point on the, “fool me once the joke’s on you” point, with regard to cherry-picked Intel and the future of US military intervention, thereafter.

            It’s sort of like, in an ironic way, Neville Chamberlain and appeasement….

            Know what I mean?

          • hennorama

            brettearle – TY for your response. I appreciate, understand, and respect your views.

            That being said, I hate to burst your bubble about the UN and access in Syria (yes, I’m a brettearle bubble burster – do NOT get me started ;-) ).

            Here’s what NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in his monthly press briefing on May 6, 2013:

            “Well, I hinted at the very fact it’s understandable that political leaders want a clear evidence when it comes to the possession of… and possible use of chemical weapons.

            “Taking into the account the experience from Iraq, I was asked about the indications that chemical weapons may have been used in Syria and I share the view that it is of utmost importance to get consolidated information to get clear evidence.

            “And this is also a reason why it is of the utmost importance that United Nations inspectors get full and free access to Syria to investigate what has actually happened. And it’s regrettable that so far the Syrian authorities have denied the United Nations such access.”

            For some reason, NATO’s monthly press conferences are widely ignored by the US press. They are quite interesting, and allow one a wider perspective on world affairs.

            Oh right, THAT’S why they are widely ignored by the US press.


  • pete18

    Response to TomK from the conversation below,

     You’re so funny, all you do is spout the democratic party lines
    (‘inherited worst economy since the depression,’ ‘ most economists
    agree the stimulus worked’) in defense of a failed program and yet you
    still somehow see yourself as free from ideological influences. You
    further this comedy act by then accusing everyone else on the other
    side of the argument–with the rabidness of someone suffering Tourette
    syndrome — of having your own failings.  How did you develop such an
    interesting blind spot?

    It’s been four and ½ years and no one is back on shore yet. However,
    everyone’s lifeboat is now saddled with an extra hundred pounds of
    debt. Call me crazy but I don’t find a .2 percent drop in the
    unemployment rate since the President took office a measure of
    success.  That you do may have something more to do with your ideology
    rather than my “talking points.”

  • brettearle



    The raw way of looking at the difference between your view
    and mine—with regard to Global Jihad–is, of course, through our respective
    political prisms.


    I would argue that you are critical of Obama’s foreign
    policy and his view of Global Jihad—not simply because of what Obama says, or
    doesn’t say; not simply because of what Obama does, or doesn’t do.  But, also, because you assume that as a
    liberal or progressive Democrat—which is the way you view him—Obama is not
    going to be prudent—when you feel it necessary to be so; nor aggressive or
    assertive enough—when you feel it necessary to be so…..as a military and
    foreign policy leader (at the very least, as aggressive and as assertive and as
    prudent, as you would like him to be, at certain times).


    You think that, from the standpoint of global threats and
    corresponding foreign policy, that Obama is either not tough enough; not
    discriminating enough; and/or that he is not capable of protecting the American
    people as effectively as, say, Bush II. 
    And, indeed, that Obama is an egotistical martinet who seeks
    unprecedented glory.


    First….for what it’s worth…..and, at the risk of revealing
    my own personal bias….I, on the other hand, find Obama to be the most
    personally likeable President–since I have been old enough to remember
    Presidents [that includes JFK].


    But, I, too, as a Liberal Democrat, have been somewhat
    upended by some of the President’s decisions—including, but not necessarily
    limited to, the expansion of the Patriot Act; and, possibly, the use of drones;
    his decisions on Afghanistan; public comments on Egypt and, possibly, now his
    actions in Syria.  [Libya?  I was a little less worried about Libya, but
    still worried.  The issue is,
    somewhat--though on a smaller scale--like Syria:  How many are in danger of losing lives?  And how many Radical Islamists are tied to the Rebel cause?]  I blame Gitmo on the House.


    I am leaving Iraq and the capture of OBL out of this.  [But, it ought to be said, that in the 2008
    campaign, the President said he would cross foreign borders if he had
    actionable intelligence.  Well, with
    OBL, he did so direct.]


    While I recognize the President as somewhat of a `political
    animal’, I do not see him as cynically, as you do.  I do not see that all his actions are accomplished often to shore
    up his Presidential image.


    You seem to believe that the US can’t be destroyed if we
    adopt a policy that protects our interests up front.







    In that regard, I would argue, for example, that the
    so-called “Doctrine of Pre-emption”—indeed a policy that was entitled and
    conjured AFTER the invasion of Iraq was officially planned—could, in the
    future, in my view, eventually result, possibly, in WWIII.   And WWIII could, likely, turn into a Global
    thermonuclear war.


    Indeed, WITHOUT such a doctrine, of course, the same result
    might obtain.


    Nevertheless, I think we are underestimating Russia (less
    likely, China; or China with Russia…but still possible) if we think that Russia
    would not react with active belligerence, against us—if we were to make, IN
    THEIR VIEW, another gratuitous strike, as they think that we did with Iraq.


    It is, indeed, a possibility, too, that if another 9/11
    scale terror act takes place—without actual fingerprints or without
    fingerprints that can be proven to the other superpowers (Russia and China) as
    to whose fingerprints they are (although R & C might never believe actual
    evidence)—the US could very well strike, in any case, those regions,
    territories, and countries, whom they think are involved, even without
    definitive proof.


    The US might feel obligated to do this—because it feels it
    does not have any other choice….lest it be regarded, by its enemies, as
    vulnerable, a priori, in the future.


    Now to that end, this business of Obama’s speech, last
    month, of “toning down” the War on Terror:


    Regardless of whether current Intel justified his
    announcements on pulling back commitments—with a decrease in drone strikes and
    a decrease in widespread active network surveillance–there is absolutely no
    guarantee, whatsoever that…..


    regardless of our status-quo maintenance now or future
    stepping-up of measures and tactics, now, or in the future—that terrorism will
    be abated….


    You could argue that the President is taking his eye off the
    ball, with his announcement.


    But there comes a time when Military safeguard and security,
    and Intelligence safeguard and security, need to be recalled—without having to
    completely stand down.


    Such measures, in the near or moderate future, can certainly
    be modified, adjusted, bolstered or curtailed—based on any ongoing general
    assessment.  That, clearly, would
    therefore not mean that any reenergized plans could not be implemented quickly.


    Why couldn’t they be?


    If you, or Hawks, or Republicans, believe that sustained
    stepped-up measures can plug all holes, stop all plots, identify all bad guys,
    quash all subversive plans, I’m sure you would agree that such an assumption
    could be unrealistic.


    If our country takes our eye off the ball, yes, we could be



    But if we maintain our current policy, it could ALSO destroy
    us, from within—and STIL not stop the threat.


    Would the US now retreat, if they NOW knew that the
    comprehensive threat had not abated, accordingly?


    Would the US truly pull back security if it thought that
    Individual Cells—Lone Wolves–

    would more likely attack our domestic interests, if we shied
    away from monitoring a subversive central communications network, committed to
    destroying the United States?



    THAT would clearly BE unthinkable.


    Risk is necessary. 


    Otherwise, we will:


    Go bankrupt

    Lose more lives now  

    Devalue Economic problems, and their solutions, much too

    Devalue other domestic problems, and their solutions, much
    too much


    I simply don’t believe that Obama would EVER make such
    conciliatory comments, in his recent speech about Security, if he literally
    were privy to Intelligence that told him otherwise.


    It would be unthinkable for any President to do so.


    For you to believe otherwise suggests that you would
    actually think that some Presidents are Literally interested in willfully
    endangering America. 


    If you believe that, then, in my view, your cynicism is
    EXTREMELY unrealistic and irresponsible. 
    Although I’m not sure that you do believe that.


    However, I think that you would concede that there are some
    in `your camp’ who do, or who move in the direction of believing that.








    Global Terrorism





    You can’t keep a full `Red’ Alert up, indefinitely—to the detriment
    of the economy, to the detriment of lives, to the detriment of global
    diplomacy, and to the detriment of basic spirit.


    Individuals know that Life is a risk.


    Countries need to know this, too, on an extremely `intimate’


    A country, in my view, sometimes has to be examined as being
    one big Human Being



    I doubt that the United States—regardless of how you feel it
    needs to be, and could be, as far as increasing the quality of its life and the
    potential of its invincibility—will be able to ultimately escape the destiny of
    what has happened to other countries—especially those countries that were
    superpowers and empires, over the course of history.


    No amount of my own pessimism, or optimism, or our country’s
    increased vigilance, will, ultimately, make this any less true.


    Regardless of technology, the advancement of life
    experience, the advancement of man’s understanding and insight, countries are
    only made up of individuals….individuals who eventually repeat History.


    Do you recall the dialogue—maybe four-fifths of the way
    through Catch-22–between Natley and the elder Italian man, as the US troops
    were moving through Milan or Bologna?


    Look it up.  It might
    interest you.



    Thanks for reading this…..

    • HonestDebate1

      Brettearle, I just wanted to let you know I saw you comment alerting me to this post. I can see you put in some time so I want to give it the respect it deserves but I’m on my way out. I’ll definitely reply later.

    • HonestDebate1

      I appreciate that you spent the time. We don’t really disagree on the larger view but you got me completely wrong on a few things. I don’t disagree Obama has an ego but I’ve never said nor do I think any of his actions are motivated by his seeking glory. I think he just blows his horn to distract the public. So it may puff his ego to leak top secret intel to movie producers (while condemning other leaks) about Bin Laden or to keep reminding us he got him but the real motivation is to fool the masses into thinking the threat is minimized. 

      I really don’t care about ideology as much as you seem to think either. And Obama has been prudent with Gitmo, following the Bush Iraq withdrawal, indefinite detention and some other things. But I’m not forming my opinions based on what I think he might do. We have a record. We have unilateral action, we have missed opportunities in Iran (2009), we have Mubarek’s ouster and Gaddaffi hanging on longer than he had to. We have North Korea. We have Russians and Chinese acting in defiance without fear over Ed Snowden. I don’t think the world is safer nor do I see a spirit of cooperation improving. I really could go on and on with examples of how we’ve insulted Britain, Israel, the new Libyan regime, Karzai, and on and on. So I don’t like where we are based on what he has done not because of whether he may be prudent. And to add insult to injury the Secretary of State who was in charge our standing in the world is a frontrunner for 2016. I don’t get that.

      But my main beef all along is the President is not leveling with us about the threat of global jihad. He just isn’t.

      And remember the US DID deliberately pull back security in Benghazi. Our consulate is our domestic interest.

      “if we were to make, IN THEIR VIEW, another gratuitous strike, as they think that we did with Iraq.”

      But China and Russia voted in favor of UN resolution 1441 authorizing Iraq. Remember at that time GWB was working with them in N Korea as well. Relations have deteriorated drastically since then.

      I think we are at a tipping point with the Arab Spring. The Middle East will go one way or the other and I fear it’s going the wrong way while Obama is telling us the opposite. That’s my problem.

      • brettearle

        At least to me, your talk of Russia, China, Libya, Iran, and Egypt, Israel imply that the US can  exert subtle, or overt influence, and make countries behave in a certain way.

        If that were true, after WWII, pretty much, most conflicts around the world, including the genocides, would have been thwarted. .

        Sanctions, No-Fly Zone’s, Special Recconnaisance, Special Ops, are not going to cut it, for the most part.

        Without debating specifics about what you object to–including how we’ve insulted Great Britain–the only places where I think we blew it (for many years, with many Presidencies) is with North Korea.

        North Korea were given too many concessions, too many years ago.  I can’t, for the life of me, `grok’ how you think Bush II was on his way with China and Russia.  Obama’s at fault, as well.

        And since we are still in Afghanistan, in a distinct way, I think the US can be criticized, more readily, for tactics and overall strategy.

        About Global Jihad.

        It is hard for me to believe that you would literally think the US would withdraw its commitment–noticeably or significantly–if the US had specific information that suggested major, ongoing threats that required the same or increased commitment.

        Threats can be perceived differently.  THAT is true.  Just ask Neveille Chamberlain.

        The question is how prudent is it for the US to change its Global Security policies based on the current Intelligence.

        It isn’t an easy call.

        Because if we continue our efforts–in Texan shopping malls; in special ops, south of Teheran; with communications programs that might make PRISM seem like walkie-talkie banter, between two schoolboys–sooner or later, we are going to implode.

        Like the Soviet Union.

        Threats are ALWAYS there.

        You have a perception, I believe that, we can alter the course of the Arab Spring or that American consulates aren’t vulnerable in many places.

        Reagan’s soldiers in Lebanon were massacred in l983–and that impossible tragedy was never politicized.

        And, about Resolution 1441.

        This UN directive was NOT direct authorization.

        Indeed, when the time came to declare that Iraq had not complied with documentation and access, to the satisfaction of the Resolution, it was ONLY Spain, Britain, and the US–who supported military action against Iraq, WITHOUT a further resolution.

        And I wouldn’t worry about Hillary Clinton.  She isn’t going to win.

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