Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Trump Couldn’t Lose for WInning

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Who knew?

     Who knew?

Sitting and watching the March blizzard do its thing outside the window — working, working, working to shut everything down — a memory from the 2016 presidential campaign snuck into my consciousness. The post kept popping up on my Facebook feed, but I honestly can’t remember the original source of the news. I’m also not in the mood to go researching for it because I didn’t think it was fake news then and today I am convinced it is the god’s honest truth.

In brief, one of DT’s former aides (of which there are many) wrote an article in which she claimed he never expected to win the Republican nomination and the election. Indeed, she said he did not want to win the election. Rather, she said, he just wanted to get his name out there for whatever profit he could gain from the publicity and maybe help launch a TV network he was planning. Branding.

Less than two months since his inauguration, it’s obvious: Donald Trump likes being president, but he is less than fond of doing president. The title and the glory are great — right up his alley. Put a big, gold “T” on the White House.

But the work? Daily intelligence briefings? Reading reports on the battle against ISIS? Getting up to speed on how complicated health care is? Learning the difference between the debt and the deficit, Medicaid and Medicare, China and Taiwan, Iran and Iraq, legal and unconstitutional? Isn’t that what we have Mike Pence for?

The man has no patience for details, for facts, for differing opinions, for the legal process, for diplomacy, for Cabinet meetings, for, at the very least, hiring people to fill the hundreds of federal government jobs unfilled since he took office. Who knew being president was such a big job?

Well, for one, his predecessor. And, with varying degrees of success, a long line of predecessors before Barack Obama.

Getting back to that aide’s story … Was there ever a campaign for president run with such obvious disregard for facts? WIth such disdain and outright rudeness aimed at other candidates? With such arrogant disregard for the bigotry and violence it encouraged in its followers? With such crudeness towards women, minorities, the physically handicapped? With such an ill-informed, self-obsessed liar as the candidate?

Rhetorical questions.

It was a campaign expressly designed for maximum press coverage, which it got. What went wrong for Trump is that he was up against the worst field of Republican candidates imaginable, few of whom had the guts to match him insult for insult (some of whom now kiss up to him since he’s the titular head of their party) and then ran into the most disliked Democrat in America as his opponent in the general campaign. Even encouraging the Russians to wiretap Hillary Clinton wasn’t enough to doom the Trump campaign.

Hard as he tried, most Republican leaders and elected officials couldn’t bring themselves to publicly call him a bully and a liar and a fraud and so their voters — the ones who weren’t outright racists or conspiracy theorists or rightwing extremists, all of whom loved him from the get-go — went for the celebrity candidate who promised them … well, whatever they wanted him to promise them.

I won’t be playing golf every week, he promised. Mexico will pay for the wall, he promised. Social Security and Medicare are safe, he promised, Everyone will have health care, he promised. How could he know that House Speaker Paul Ryan hated Social Security and Medicare and had no clue about how health insurance worked? That would have required understanding all that stuff himself and talking to Ryan about it. Work.

Trump’s bad luck followed him into November. Clinton beat him by three million votes and still lost, thanks to the Electoral College, which is a concept the new president surely still does not understand. Although he swears he had the widest winning margin there in decades. He couldn’t lose for winning, no matter how hard he tried. And now he has to try to convince a bunch of much smarter people who report to him every day that he knows what he’s doing.

Not that they believe him.

Which is our problem, America.

The golf? Jeez, I know I promised I’d be a working president, but this is ridiculous. Anything to get out of that depressing White House every weekend. ISIS this; ISIS that. Merkel this; Merkel that. Warren this; Warren that. What’s wrong with Flynn talking to Russians? Some of my best friends and creditors are Russians. How come nobody told me federal judges were appointed for life? Do I attack North Korea if they launch a missile at us? I can’t believe Ryan is going to try to find money for that stupid wall. Now they’re trying to pin my name on that ridiculous health care plan he came up with. Maybe I can feed that Maddow dame the only legit tax return I have this century to take the heat off the Russia thing. And what the heck is going on with Lindsay Graham and that loser McCain? Is Turkey an ally? Did La La Land win the Oscar or not? Bad dudes in Hollywood. I wonder if Rudy wants his old job back at Justice, or is he ticked I didn’t name him ambassador to Russia? Damn, why does the FBI want to talk to me? Melania!? Melania!? Help! They want me to organize the Easter egg roll! Stop hiding in New York!

Damn, where’d I leave my phone? Maybe I can get Snoop Dog to come down to Mar a Lago for golf this weekend. Hey, Bannon, it’s still Black History Month, isn’t it?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Mr. Obama: No Proof, No Attack on Syria

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
President Obama needs to make an ironclad case to justify an attack on Syria.

President Obama needs to make an ironclad case to justify an attack on Syria.

By Bob Gaydos

Here we go again.

A brutal Arab regime, under fire from rebel forces, is accused of using chemical weapons against its own people, women and children included. This violates every rule of warfare and demands military intervention by the United States, to whom the role of defender of democracy and human decency has been assigned by other nations over the years. But like everything else in the Middle East, nothing about the war in Syria is that clear-cut.

The United Nations, established in part to unify and coordinate worldwide reaction to such atrocities, as usual, is paralyzed. Any effort by the U.S. and allies to get Security Council approval for missile or air strikes against the offending party will be blocked by Russia and China, who have veto power. They do not simply follow marching orders from the White House and are big enough to make that matter. That will probably require the U.S. to put together a coalition of enough nations to give the imprimatur of legitimacy, if not legality, for such a military action.

This will likely happen despite conflicting accounts as to who actually used the chemical weapons — the ruling Assad government or the rebels — and with the assurance that U.S. involvement will include only targeted air or missile strikes (remember smart bombs?) and no involvement of ground forces in Syria’s civil war. Apparently, it will also occur without a debate on the issue by the U.S. Congress, which is unfortunate since it is the only branch of government authorized to declare war. In addition, a clear majority of Americans, weary of fighting more than a decade of wars in the Middle East, are opposed to U.S. involvement in another war in the region.

Add to these complications the fact that there has still been no convincing proof given publicly that the Syrian military, not the rebels, employed the nerve gas. Rather, Americans have been reassured by a well-respected secretary of state that the White House is certain the weapons were used by Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s troops and that this is reason enough for U.S. involvement.

Sound familiar? Did anybody in the White House hear former Secretary of State Colin Powell — who made the case for attacking Iraq before the U.N. — recently call out former Vice President Dick Cheney for steamrolling President George W. Bush into attacking Iraq with similar justification and no solid evidence? Since that justifiable “moral” intervention lasted 10 years and cost tens of thousands of lives and destroyed a country, it would seem to behoove President Obama to present undeniable proof of guilt publicly before ordering any attack.

Obama, who has until now wisely resisted calls for U.S. military intervention in Syria, drew a red line in the sand to signal when the U.S. might actually get involved. That’s a risky diplomatic tool. His red line was the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Having made such a declaration and now believing that Syria has, in fact, crossed that line, the president faces a difficult choice. If he follows the will of the American people, recent history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and the lack of publicly offered conclusive evidence on who used the chemical weapons, he would surely not order U.S. warplanes or ships to attack Syria.

However, if he ignores his own red line, other nations that have been given similar warnings about development of nuclear weapons — Iran and North Korea — might feel emboldened to move ahead, figuring Obama was not a man of his word. That the American president was all talk, as it were. Then there is the matter of this being a deplorable act that cannot be allowed to go unpunished.

The key questions to be answered are:

— Who used the nerve gas, the government or the rebels?

— What is an appropriate response?

Given the American public’s growing distrust of the Obama administration because of its widespread spying on American citizens and its vigorous efforts to prosecute whistleblowers — who might be able to answer the question of who used the chemical weapons — the president should insist on a full public debate on Syria by Congress. This would be wise especially if he’s certain he’s got the goods on Assad. This would also be wise given the extended U.S. military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little obvious gain except to the corporations that provide the machinery of war. Obama should welcome a full and open discussion by Congress of the situation and the options.

There is no good choice here. Some party is using chemical weapons against the people of Syria to further its own interests. This is barbaric. Just look at the photos of the bodies of dead children lined up. A surgical air strike or ship-launched missiles, aimed at the guilty parties only and the machinery that allows them to use the weapons, would be a viable military option. But “surgical” air strikes have been notoriously imprecise in the past. Innocent people have been killed in the name of protecting innocent people.

The obvious preference would be for a diplomatic solution that spares lives. That would probably require Obama to somehow convince Russia and China, friendly with the Syrian government, to work with him on a peaceful solution. Assad leaving Syria would be one. If that is not possible and if the president can provide conclusive and independently verifiable (say, by United Nations inspectors) proof of guilt by the Syrian government, and if Congress is given the evidence and conducts a public debate, and if more nations than Syria’s immediate neighbors (Turkey and Jordan) as well as U.S. ally Great Britain, support the action, Obama would be justified in launching a limited military intervention in Syria.

That’s a lot of ifs, to be sure and war is seldom the answer. Still, there are no ifs, ands or buts that whoever inflicted chemical weapons on the children of Syria must be made to pay.

bob@zestoforange.com

Did He Get Osama or Not? Case Closed

Monday, April 30th, 2012

President Barack Obama addresses troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By Bob Gaydos

Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

Those are two incontrovertible facts.

Barack Obama made the crucial decisions to kill one and save the other.

Incontrovertible.

Also, if one happens to be a Republican, inconvenient and uncomfortably on target for the two things Americans care about these days when voting for a president — national security and jobs.

Protect us from terrorists and protect our jobs.

In a presidency hamstrung by two wars he did not start, a recession he did not cause and a Republican Party that struck the words “bipartisanship” from its playbook on Day One, President Obama has had only a few clear successes. He killed Osama and he saved the American auto industry.

God forbid, though — now that the election campaign has switched focus from the GOP field of nightmares to a man-to-man between Obama and presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney — that the president’s supporters should be allowed to brag about his accomplishments.

Take Osama, please, as Henny Youngman might have said. In a surprisingly direct (for Democrats) attack on Romney, Obama’s campaign ran web ads on the first anniversary of the event, trumpeting the daring Navy Seals raid in Pakistan that killed the al-Qaeda leader and asked, “Would Mitt Romney have made that decision?”

Good question. In fact, it’s one Newt Gingrich might well have asked of the man he described as an indecisive liar. But the Republican whiners came out in force immediately. How dare the president exploit the killing of bin Laden for political purposes? How could he take a unifying event like that and make it a divisive one? Whaa! Whaa! Whaa!

Do you hear yourselves? Who precisely is he dividing? I still don’t know a single American who is angry that bin Laden is dead and most of them are grateful that Obama gave the order to go get him.

Which, of course, is more than George W. Bush ever did. I know, we’re not supposed to talk about any of that stuff, either, right? About forgetting about capturing the 9/11 mastermind in the mountains of Afghanistan and deciding to level Iraq instead.

And, of course, we’re supposed to forget about that W. landing, in a Navy jet and wearing full flight gear, on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to declare “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq when the war there had barely begun. And let’s not bring up the Bush team’s attacks in the 2004 campaign on Sen. John Kerry’s courage and patriotism while serving in Vietnam while W. was avoiding National Guard training in Texas. Wouldn’t be fair to recall that, right?

Aw heck, if W. had nabbed bin Laden, he would have just moved on to getting the next tyrant and we would never have heard of it again, right? He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Utter fantasy. And yet, this reaction is pretty much par for the course for the GOP these days. It has no grounding in reality most of the time and the facts are whatever its members say they are, even when they contradict one another. The more troubling reaction to the Obama ads came from some liberal/Democratic supporters who felt Obama should not be politicizing the killing of bin Laden. That it was somehow unseemly for the president to do so.

Yeah? So?

We are talking politics here aren’t we? Since when has it been a genteel sport? Did anyone pay attention to the GOP primaries? Talk about political blood sport. Republicans, conservatives, tea partiers (once upon a time that was genteel) have shown they will say and do anything to tear down the president, including belittling his accomplishments. Don’t ask, don’t tell? Don’t remind them.

The point is, Obama made a carefully calculated decision to take out the head of the most notorious terrorist group on the planet by using feet-on-the-ground troops rather than remote-controlled drones or “smart” bombs. He did it over the objections of some of his top advisers, including the vice president, secretary of state and secretary of defense. And he did it knowing full well that, if the mission failed — as did President Carter’s effort to rescue the hostages in Iran — as commander-in-chief, Obama would get full blame for it. And we would be seeing ads today reminding us of that, paid for by Romney supporters.

So yes, it seems a fair question to wonder whether the ever-changing Romney as commander-in-chief might have made the same decision. (We already know he would have let GM fail.)

Of course, the raid succeeded and al-Qaeda is a badly crippled shell of itself. To mark the anniversary, the president flew in secret to Afghanistan to thank the troops and to sign an agreement with the new government there — the one that replaced the al-Qaeda-friendly Taliban — pledging the support of the United States even when U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.

Yes, the war there will come to an end soon, just as the one in Iraq did. On Obama’s watch.

The man has a right to brag.

 bob@zestoforange.com