ISIS

President Obama is bombing ISIS targets in Syria, an act of war against that country, in a widening of Mid-East conflict stemming from the ill fated Iraq War begun by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  The destabilization of Iraq caused by our invasion and overthrow if its government (under false pretenses) has resulted in the creation of ISIS.  It is a direct result of horrible foreign policy decisions and until Iraq develops a fully inclusive, effective central government which isn’t a US puppet regime such destabilization will continue.

We can again invade Iraq and bomb ISIS and, perhaps, destroy the group’s capabilities only to watch another such organization form and threaten stability in the region.  These are the results of having an idiot in the Oval Office who started a war for regime change without even understanding the dynamics at work in that nation.  Bush wanted to avenge his father’s honor and in so doing opened a Pandora’s Box of trouble which will last for decades.

Many foreign policy experts predicted this sort of long lasting instability after Bush and Cheney’s bloodlust and thirst for defense industry profits (Cheney’s Halliburton made $39 billion in profits from the war) motivated them to lie to the country about Saddam’s non existent WMD’s.  These are the fruits of the biggest foreign policy blunder of the last century.

ISIS does not pose a threat to our strategic national security.  They beheaded two American journalists who chose to enter a war zone voluntarily to do their jobs.  While regrettable we cannot choose to go to war every time an American makes a foolish or dangerous decision.  At some point they must accept personal responsibility for their entering a dangerous region.  Israel murdered thousands of Palestinians and many Americans sat back and cheered the slaughter.  What this says about pr priorities is sickening.

ISIS simply doesn’t have the capability to strike definitively inside this country.  Their 20-30,000 untrained fighters have to hold and secure the areas already under their control plus battle opposition forces in Iraq, Syria and the Kurdish region of Iraq.  Their estimated $3 million/day in revenues sound impressive until one understands they actually have expenses.  Since they control a considerable area in both Syria and Iraq remember that now, as the governing body, they must administer governmental services in this region.  Schools, prisons, road construction and repair, security and all those other normal governmental services normal in today’s world are now their responsibility.  This costs money.  Those government workers expect to be paid as do their fighters.  Their army also needs training and weapons.  These things cost money.  Three million a day won’t go far especially now that Obama is targeting their sources of revenue.  Bombing of their refinery and a tightening of contributions from wealthy Arabs and closing the black market for their oil will reduce their revenues considerably.

Frankly I’m more concerned with the threat of ebola more than I am ISIS.  Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham can inflame passions all they want in their bloodlust for war but remember these two, a year ago, were screaming that we should align ourselves with ISIS against the Assad regime in Syria.  They have no credibility when it comes to national security.  I’d rather see us concentrate on eradicating ebola in western Africa before it migrates to other areas of the world.  This is the more serious threat.

The Iranian Conundrum

The situation in Iran continues to be of concern to all.  As opposition groups continue protesting last year’s stolen election and the repressive government prepares to execute some protesters the situation is fraught with danger.  The United States, with its terrible history of meddling in Iranian affairs, must be very careful not to be seen as doing so again.  Still, the development of technology which could lead to the development of nuclear weapons in an age where the superpowers are dismantling theirs is a danger to world peace and stability in the Middle East.  

George W. Bush’s ill advised invasion of Iraq destabilized the region and provided Iran with a huge new sphere of influence in Iraq.  Iran is the big winner in all of that in spite of the trillions of dollars and human life and blood expended by Americans.  Providing an expansion of Iranian power and influence has seriously weakened the United States’ position there and at home.  

We all watched in horror last June as protesters took to the streets and were shot and beaten to death before our eyes.  Though there have been subsequent demonstrations none has threatened to bring down the Islamic government.  Though a deal was apparently reached on the uranium fuel situation questions remain and final details have failed to be resolved.  European and American negotiators thought they had resolved a deal with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to ship low enriched uranium to Russia for conversion to fuel rods for nuclear reactors, a peaceful use.  Instead internal divisions continue to divide Iranian leadership and nothing is happening on this front.  Meanwhile Iran continues buying time.

The anniversay of the February 11, 1079 Iranian Revolution is imminent and this government faces questions about its legitimacy among much of its population.  It is not yet the critical mass necessary to collapse the regime but as protesters continue to be brutally treated and executed that could be an inevitability.  The mullahs ruling the nation seem unaware of those consequences just as did the Shah.  

Will sanctions placed against the country work?  In the past sanctions have had a mixed record.  If we look at Iraq it was primarily the people who suffered and the government remained in power.   The general purpose of sanctions are to apply pressure through the people for a government to become more responsive to international concerns.  Sometimes this happens, most times not.  Meanwhile the international community is painted as the oppressor by the oppressive government in control of the media.  In an increasingly wired world it is becoming more and more difficult for any government to control all sources of information.  Perhaps this time they can be more effective, perhaps not.  Whatever, sanctions are far more preferable than warfare.  In the end though it is the Iranian people who must determine their fate.  No outside power or nation can force change in Iran.  Once a critical mass of its people demand it change will come.

Our Addictions to Guns & Drugs Is Destabilizing Mexico

In other circumstances this would be cause for war.  One nation’s addiction to guns and drugs is completely destabilizing another.  Normally the country being threatened would react by initiating war with the neighbor threatening its stability.  Obviously Mexico is in no shape to invade the U.S. but what if they were?  Instead they are a helpless victim of our addictions.

America’s appetites for violence, drugs and guns has caused much instability here as drug gangs seize and control areas of many cities and towns.  Entire neighborhoods are off limits to many residents who fear to enter drug enclaves.  Children are shot sitting on porches, on their way home from school, day care and Head Start centers shot up in drug wars.

Mexico has been taken over by drug cartels shipping their poisons into America and they have done it with American guns and ammunition.  The border is a free flow zone of drugs coming north and cash and guns going south.  The real threat to this country isn’t from illegal immigrants as demogogues like Lou Barletta and Lou Dobbs would have you believe, but a drugocracy on our southern border.

Mexico has been unable to police its cartels for decades and now it is on the verge of losing this war completely.  Violence along the border has gone off the scales and bodies are appearing with alarming frequency as even news people are being hunted down like animals.  All this violence is being fueled by guns and ammunition from the United States.  Because we refuse to tighten our scurrilous laws on gun trafficking we have destabilized a friendly neighboring nation.

The Mexicans must really hate us by now.  We are unable to control any of our addictions and now we have exported our violent society to theirs.  In a parallel universe Mexico would declare war on America in order to seal its border, stabilize its country and establish security for its citizens.  

Since this isn’t a parallel universe and we are solely responsible for this situation it is incumbent upon US to find a remedy.  We have an obligation to Mexico to not undermine peace and justice in that nation and not to export our problems to them.  As such we must tighten the border as much as possible and crack down hard on the importation of drugs and the export of cash, guns and ammunition.

Improving the lives of the hopeless in America will go great lengths to decreasing our addiction to drugs.  The income and wealth gap in America has reached that of the days of the robber barons.  Real wages are collapsing while the rich get richer.  People with no hope and living hopeless lives turn to drugs as an escape.  Lifting people out of poverty instead of into poverty as Republican leadership has done will be a first step.

Legalization of all drugs will eliminate the gangs and violence destabilizing our own communities.  Repeal of Prohibition did this in the 1930’s as state control of alcohol eliminated bootlegging.  State control of drug distribution would guarantee safe supplies of drugs for the addicted, taxes would fund rehabilitation centers for those wishing to kick their habit and the tens of billions being spent by taxpayers for police, Judges, prosecutors and prisons could be used to provide hope for the hopeless instead of simply more despair.

People will always do drugs.  People have done drugs since the first ones began chewing on coca leaves or smoked opium.  We will never eliminate drug use any more than we’ll eliminate alcohol and prostitution.  As people we will always have vices.  Let’s be smart about how we deal with these issues however so we don’t bankrupt ourselves, cause more despair and destabilize our neighbors.

Cracking down on gun traffickers will also help solve Mexico’s problems.  The wild west mentality where everyone should have a gun, be able to carry one concealed and be allowed to shoot anyone they deem hostile is destabilizing our own country.   Pennsylvania is a magnet for gun traffickers because we make it easy.  No reporting of “lost” or “stolen” arms is required.  I could go buy 25 guns today and resell them in a few hours to drug gangs on the streets in our own cities and towns and tomorrow you, a loved one or a police officer could be shot and killed by one of them.

Many are being exported to Mexico and these are fueling the violence.  Without guns and ammunition the Mexican drug cartels will lose control.  Without billions of our dollars fueling their violence from the illegal drug trade they cannot buy the arms.  The solutions are simple but, at the same time, difficult.  Americans caught up in their false sense of morality won’t tolerate the legalization of drugs.  The NRA won’t allow crackdowns on gun trafficking.  Get ready for a violent reaction from south of the border as the destabilization of Mexico stretches across the border and affects us too.

Our current failed policies will be our downfall unless we wise up and do what must be done.

Israel Invades Gaza

Israel escalated their escalation of violence against Gaza today with a land invasion of the tiny, densely packed territory.  Looking and acting like brutes inconsiderate of the human toll of their brutality this is beginning to cost Israel dearly in the eyes of the world.  The Jewish state does not need to engage in such disproportional violence in response to what is, in essence, a thorn in its side.

Gaza has been blockaded and put under siege for years by Israel.  The unemployment rate has gone over 60% since no Palestinians could enter Israel for their jobs so what else are they to do?  This is what breeds terrorism.  Conditions imposed on the Palestinians, people driven from their ancient homelands when Israel was created, are tragic.

This seems an extension of the over reaction Israel committed against Hezbollah and Lebanon two years ago and which went quite badly.  If they suffer significant losses in Gaza their position in the world order, already suffering from the wholesale murder of women and children, will evaporate.  This is stupid, reckless and irresponsible foreign policy.  It is time to cut off American financial support for Israel’s military.

Bush Bungling Crisis

George W. Bush is badly bungling the crisis over Georgia.  His blind support for the breakaway former Soviet Republic versus his former “soul friend” Vladimir Putin is dangerous.  One mis step and we could be draw into this conflict.  Bush has already mired us in this war by using U.S. military planes to transfer 2,000 Georgian troops home from Iraq.  Now American military forces, Air Force and Navy, are being used to transport humanitarian aid to Georgia.

One tricky trigger finger on a single Russian soldier could be disastrous.  Why should Russia believe Bush that this is merely humanitarian aid and not military?  I wouldn’t believe a word he utters and I imagine the Russians to be equally wary.

Bush’s words ring hollow when he condemns the Russians since what they’re doing is no different from what Bush did in Iraq.  You cannot act holier than thou when you’re equally guilty.

The situation regarding South Ossetia and Abkhazia is complex and ancient ethnic rivalries brought these minorities and Russia together.  It appears atrocities have been committed by both sides but those practiced by Georgians against the local ethnic populations forced them into the arms of the Bear.

Decisions made by Georgia’s leaders have been reckless, dangerous and, now, disastrous for their country.  Why are we supporting them?  We’re fortunate they aren’t in NATO or this would be far worse.  As it is there is little the U.S. can do in this fight.  Our military was broken in Iraq and we have no capability to aid Georgia and doing so could ignite a new world war anyway.

This sort of bad judgment is why Bush has severely weakened our national security.