Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Pentagon UFO Report is Too Dismissive

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

8D6DD022-FE1D-4464-BEEC-FA84D1B4BF91   “They’re not out there.”

    The little green men.

    The flying saucers.

    The UAPs.

    The UFOs.

    The whatever-they-are that-move-faster-than possible.

     Trust us. It’s one big game of phone tag encouraged by movies, TV and conspiracy theorists. Nothing happening. Nothing covered up. Nothing being reverse engineered. Get on with your day. That is all.

       The above is the gist of a 67-page report issued recently by the Defense Department’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, entitled “Report on the Historical Record of U.S. Government Involvement with Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena.”

    To wit: Nothing out there. Nothing in some desert in New Mexico. The AARO, given full funding by Congress to do its job, concluded that most sitings were simply “misidentification” and, contrary to recent whistleblower claims, it “found no empirical evidence for claims that the USG and private companies have been reverse-engineering extraterrestrial technology.”

     Well … not so fast. I’m not a UFO fanatic or a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe the odds favor some form of life elsewhere in the universe and I know it’s risky business blindly accepting a report by a government agency summarily dismissing allegations against other segments of the same department.

   Also, I know that there were no weapons of mass destruction buried in Iraq, the U.S. did secretly buy weapons from Iran to arm Nicaraguan rebels and it’s still a bit sketchy on whether North Vietnamese ships really attacked U.S. Navy warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, thrusting the U.S. fully into the war in Vietnam.

    The point? The Defense Department investigating the Defense Department on a matter of wide public interest and controversy is probably not the best way to resolve long-standing questions.

      The mere fact that the government stopped referring to UFOs as UFOs and started calling them UAPs, unidentified aerial phenomena, suggests an effort to distance from easier public understanding of the topic. Give it a serious sounding name, suggesting all the other UFO stuff is just Hollywood making money. Most of the world will probably still refer to the balloons, satellites and other objects as UFOs, regardless.

     The report was requested by Congress after numerous reports by Navy pilots and other military personnel regarding the sighting of strange objects in the sky and reports from former Defense Department employees of some technology, not of this planet, being secretly reverse-engineered by  the government and private companies.

     A congressional committee held a closed-door meeting with the inspector general of the Intelligence community on such reports a while back and several members emerged thinking that, at the very least, the reports were credible enough for further investigation.

      AARO was given full funding by Congress to do so, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, being one of the senators pushing for the full funding. Haven’t heard any response from the senator yet to the AARO report.

       Most of the mainstream media simply reported the facts straight out of the report as presented: No UFOs, no little green men, nothing being hidden, ever, in the desert, or anywhere else regarding alien life. Just people repeating the same stories to each other, misidentified stuff, some references to other secret government programs and, well, maybe a few things there’s too little information on to draw a conclusion.

     Not good enough. Many of the recent reports, based on advanced technology, were made by credible witnesses. In fact, so were some of the older reports, many of which described objects similar to recent reports. Some older reports apparently were not even included in the AARO report.

   Instead of the Executive Department investigating the Executive Department, Congress, as an equal member of government, the funding member, should do so. There are reports that legislation is being prepared for just that purpose.

      People are unlikely to stop believing in UFOS or at least the possibility of them, especially when they’re dismissed as engaging in a game of phone tag. In fact, that’s the kind of response some bad Hollywood scriptwriters would come up with  

                                     ******

PS: The AARO report is unlikely to dampen the annual UFO parade and celebration in the Hamlet of Pine Bush in upstate New York. The UFO capital of the Northeast will hold its annual festivities June 1 and, yes, there will be little and big green men, robots, other strange creatures, lots of good food, music, goods to be bought and fun to be had. There will also be some serious discussion by serious people about UAPs, etc. I’d venture to say the AARO report will come up. A fun day for believers, non-believers and everyone in-between. Maybe Senator Gillibrand will stop by.


rjgaydos@gmail.com


     

      

Still Fighting Attacks on Democracy

Sunday, September 10th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

     Twenty-two years ago today, like millions of other Americans, I was preparing to go to work. The boys were off to school. It was a sky-blue September day. The news was on the TV, a practice of mine, in case there was something I needed to know about before I got to the paper.

   There was.

   The image on the TV screen froze me and shook the sleep out of my head. Oh, my God!

     What was I seeing? They replayed it.

     I quickly got myself together and headed off to work. But I stopped for a few moments in a nearby park to gather my thoughts and process what I had just witnessed. The radio news informed me that, in addition to the two planes flying into the Twin Towers in New York City, a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and another had hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

     September 11.

     After about an hour of processing reports on what had happened, a meeting was held and it was decided that The Times Herald-Record would publish a special edition that afternoon, the first one, I believe, in the morning newspaper’s history.  My job was to write an editorial explaining what had happened. Or at least trying to explain it. About 500 words. “We need it in an hour.”

     I don’t have a copy of that editorial and I’m sure it was mostly emotion. I do remember writing, “America was at war.” 

       The world changed that day. America changed. We the people had been attacked. We were one nation, under the spell of the dynamic leadership of New York’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani. America’s mayor. We grieved together, healed together and called for retribution together, against whoever it was who had attacked us.

          So we started a war against, not the country where the terrorists responsible for the attacks came from (Saudi Arabia): but against a country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We justified it by claiming Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that it could use against someone, maybe us. That was a lie our government told us. We found out later.

           Then we went after the actual attackers in the mountains of Afghanistan. We actually found and killed their leader, then decided to stay in Afghanistan for some 20 years, trying to save it from itself.

            In those ensuing years, Giuliani went from “America’s Mayor” to embarrassingly ridiculous mouthpiece for every lie put forth by Donald Trump, including the lie that he lost his re-election bid to President Joe Biden because the election was rife with vote fraud.

             Also in the ensuing 22 years, the Republican Party has steadily turned itself from a party that espoused defense of all Americans into a party of an aggrieved white minority whose leaders in Congress legislate only in the interests of wealthy donors who contribute to their campaigns. Into a cult that believes and repeats Trump’s lies or, worse, repeats them for political gain or out of fear.

           Whatever galvanized us into one people 22 years ago (a common enemy I suppose) started disintegrating as soon as we started demonizing any group of people, different from us (Muslims) as the enemy. “Us” became more vague.

            The World Trade Center was rebuilt, Trump exposed the fear and bigotry at the center of the Republican Party and gave free rein to the fissures hiding within American society.

             The FBI now says the greatest threat to America is from domestic terrorism. Not Iraq. Or Afghanistan. The threat comes from the white supremacists groups who organized the assault in Washington and still threaten any who reject their cause.

       In 1870, cartoonist Walt Kelly coined a phrase in his Pogo comic strip: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

       Indeed.

       Not so long ago, on Jan. 6, 2021, I once again stared transfixed at a scene on television. Am I really seeing this? Thousands of virtually all white Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as president. Some were ready to hang Vice President Mike Pence to prevent him from fulfiling his duties. People died. Republicans refused to accept the election result and many even claimed there was no riot that sent them running for their lives.

          Today, the war to preserve American freedom and democracy is being fought right here at home. Fortunately, millions of Americans stand on the side of what’s right. Many still remember how we felt as a unified nation in the wake of the attacks 22 years ago. Trump and others who supported him in his attempted coup are being called to account in the courts. Many have already been sent to prison for the attack on the Capitol. Many more must follow.

           I’m not sure I”ll be here to mark the 20th anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, but whether I am or not, I pray the U.S. Capitol is still proudly standing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zest-of-orange.com. He was editorial page editor of The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., for 23 years.

     

20 Years On, Terrorists Made in the USA

Friday, September 10th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

     Twenty years ago today, like millions of other Americans, I was preparing to go to work. The boys were off to school. It was a sky-blue September day. The news was on the TV, a practice of mine, in case there was something I needed to know about before I got to the paper.

   There was.

   The image on the TV screen froze me and shook the sleep out of my head. Oh, my God!

     What was I seeing? They replayed it.

     I quickly got myself together and headed off to work. But I stopped for a few moments in a nearby park to gather my thoughts and process what I had just witnessed  qThe radio news informed me that, in addition to the two planes flying into the Twin Towers in New York City, a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and another had hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

     September 11.

     After about an hour of processing reports on what had happened, a meeting was held and it was decided that The Times Herald-Record would publish a special edition that afternoo, the first one, I believe, in the morning newspaper’s history.  My job was to write an editorial explaining what had happened. Or at least trying to explain it. About 500 words.“We need it in an hour.”

     I don’t have a copy of that editorial and I’m sure it was mostly emotion. I do remember writing, “America was at war.”  (Any colleagues who were in the newsroom on that day may feel free to corroborate or add any details you may remember in the comments section.)

       The world changed that day. America changed. We the people had been attacked. We were one nation, under the spell of the dynamic leadership of New York’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani. America’s mayor. We grieved together, healed together and called for retribution together, against whoever it was who had attacked us.

          So we started a war against, not the country where the terrorists responsible for the attacks came from (Saudi Arabia): but against a country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We justified it by claiming Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that it could use against someone, maybe us. That was a lie our government told us. We found out later.

           Then we went after the actual attackers in the mountains of Afghanistan. We actually found and killed their leader, then decided to stay in Afghanistan for some 20 years, trying to save it from itself.

            In those ensuing 20 years, Giuliani went from “America’s Mayor” to embarrassingly ridiculous mouthpiece for every lie put forth by Donald Trump, including the lie that he lost his re-election bid to President Joe Biden because the election was rife with vote fraud.

             Also in the ensuing 20 years, the Republican Party steadily turned itself from a party that espoused defense of all Americans into a party of an aggrieved white minority whose leaders in Congress legislate only in the interests of wealthy donors who contribute to their campaigns..Inro a cult that believes and repeats Trump’s lies or, worse, repeats them for political gain or out of fear.

           Whatever galvanized us into one people 20 years ago (a common enemy I suppose) started disintegrating as soon as we started demonizing any group of people, different from us (Muslims) as the enemy. “Us” became more vague.”

            The World Trade Center was rebuilt, Trump exposed the fear and bigotry at the center of the Republivan Party and gave free rein to the fissures hiding within American society.

             The FBI now says the greatest threat to America is from domestic terrorism. Not Iraq. Or Afghanistan. The threat comes from the white supremacists groups who organized the assault in Washington and still threaten any who reject their cause.

       In 1870, cartoonist Walt Kelly coined a phrase in his Pogo comic strip: “We have mer the enemy and he is us.”

       Indeed.

       Not so long ago, on January 6 of this year, in fact, I once again stared transfixed at a scene on television. Am I really seeing this? Thousands of virtually all white Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as president. Some were ready to hang Vice President Mike Pence to prevent him from fulfiling his duties. People died. Republicans refused to accept the election result and many even claimed there was no riot that sent them running for their lives.

          Today, the war to preserve American freedom and democracy is being fought right here at home. Fortunately, millions of Americans stand on the side of what”s right. Many still remember how we felt as a unified nation in the wake of the attacks 20 years ago.

           I’m not sure I”ll be here 20 years from now io mark the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, but whether I am or not, I pray the U.S. Capitol is still proudly standing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zest-of-orange.com. He was editorial page editor of The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., for 23 years.

 

     

The GOP’s Dying Words … Silence

Friday, May 18th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

John McCain ... not going quietly

John McCain … not going quietly

‘It doesn’t matter; he’s dying anyway.”

The words, relayed to the world via the Internet, were spoken by a White House aide about Sen. John McCain, who is stricken with brain cancer, but they could just as well have been another shovel of dirt on the remains of what once was the Republican Party,

In fact, when McCain, who is not going quietly, does succumb, it could fairly be said that any meaningful remaining link to what once was the Grand Old Party will have been lost. In truth, the party has been brain dead for years.

When I first read the comments attributed to White House special assistant Kelly Sadler I was angered, but not surprised. Not these days, not with this administration. Cruelty is a staple.

The comment was made during a staff meeting about the Dotard-in-chief’s nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA director. McCain had voiced strong opposition to the choice even as he battled cancer at his home in Arizona. The comment was apparently intended as a joke, which did not go over well, but was quickly swept off the table.

But the telling thing about the comment is what followed from her boss and from members of the Republican Party who have known McCain for decades and who, not insignificantly, made him their presidential nominee in 2008.

Nothing. For days. Nothing. No cries of outrage at the disrespect for a party elder and the blatant lack of humanity in the remark. No thought of the impact on McCain’s family. No calls for Sadler to be fired. No call from the boss saying, “You’re fired.”

We’re told that Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, did chew out the staff, not for the comment, but for someone leaking the comment. Someone leaked the Sanders chewing-out. Now they’re trying to fire the leakers.

This is the world of Trump, from mocking a reporter with a physical disability — at a campaign rally where it drew cheers — to declaring that McCain, a Navy pilot who was shot down, captured and endured years of torture in Vietnam, was “no hero” because he was captured.

This, from the man whose alma mater, New York Military Academy in upstate New York, makes no mention on its web site of the fact that one of its alumni is president of the United States. That would normally be considered a good recruiting tool, but there’s nothing normal — or decent — about this presidency.

Again, this speaks volumes about the Republican Party and so many who identify themselves as Republicans yet have not a word to say publicly about the man who has infused the office he holds with a level of greed, ignorance and callousness that is at times mind-numbing. It’s one thing to make a mistake, to be conned, to exercise bad judgment. It happens to everyone. It’s quite another thing to be unable to admit the mistake, to say I was conned, I was stupid, I was greedy, I was foolish, I was wrong. I’m sorry. I regret my choice.

McCain said it recently, about his fateful and perhaps politically fatal decision in 2008 to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate, instead of his good friend, Sen. Joe Lieberman. That decision did much to strengthen the wingnut, know-nothing branch of the Republican Party which gives Trump free rein today. Choices have consequences.

Lest I be accused of getting on my high horse, slinging arrows of accusation as if I had never succumbed, let me admit to a choice I unequivocally regret making — writing an editorial endorsing George W. Bush’s decision to attack Iraq. I can try to justify it by saying I had a great deal of respect for Colin Powell, who was secretary of state, and that his presentation to the United Nations claiming Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction was convincing. No matter. The fact that it was a Bush/Cheney/CIA lie did not occur to me and I let myself be convinced even though I had always believed that the United States did not, would not, should not attack another country. I wrote the editorial. I was conned. I was wrong. I regret it.

Trump, vindictive to the core, obviously resents McCain’s dramatic, late-night, thumbs-down vote that doomed the GOP effort to kill Obamacare. It was a good moment for McCain, who has had a less-than-perfect record as a senator. I have not always applauded McCain’s decisions, but in terms of statesmanship, leadership, patriotism and basic decency, he has it all over Trump. And yet, the silence persists from McCain’s Republican colleagues in Congress about a White House aide joking about him dying.

Haspel, who ran a CIA torture facility and destroyed records connected with it, was confirmed by the Senate as the new CIA director. Bad decision. McCain, who knew torture first-hand, objected strongly to her nomination. Trump thinks torture, which is illegal, is just fine. In fact, he’d like more of it. He’d probably really like to promote the female aide who joked about McCain dying, but will settle for firing the aide who leaked the comment. Having compassion is a dangerous trait in this White House. In the Republican Party, which can’t bring itself to say Donald Trump was a mistake, compassion has long ago been discarded.

May John McCain live on for days and weeks and months and even years as he valiantly battles his disease. The Republican Party for whom he once was the standard-bearer is dead and gone.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

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