Iraq War a Failure, Afghanistan Now on Its Way

There is very little in the way of a rational argument supporting the idea the Iraq War was in any fashion a success.  By just about any measure imaginable, it was an outright failure.  And the situation in the country continues to get worse, as indicated by just a sample of recent attacks:

And those reports are from the month of July alone.  As one article notes, “more than 2,500 Iraqis have died in attacks since April.”

This is also not counting the legacy of depleted uranium used by U.S. forces in Iraq which is causing huge increases in birth defects in cities such as Najaf and Fallujah where very heavy fighting occurred.

It appears Afghanistan is now headed for the same type of violent situation.  Civilian casualties are on the rise according to the UN, as noted by the CSM:

The report said that Afghan civilian casualties are rising, noting an increase of 23 percent in the first half of 2013…According to the report, between January and June of this year, 1,319 civilians were killed, while 2,533 more were injured. Women and children casualties are also on the rise, increasing by 61 and 30 percent, respectively.

It’s not impossible for these countries to make miraculous turnarounds and be thriving democracies with strong economies one day.  But that day is not in the foreseeable future and it would appear the U.S. occupations of both may have set that day back much further as the level of violence grows in each.

Which now begs the question: should the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan be considered a failure equal to that of Iraq?

NSA Tracking All of Your Internet Activity

XKeyscore mapA must-read article in The Guardian by Glenn Greenwald about a NSA computer program called  XKeystore that can track almost all of you internet activities, including the content of your e-mail messages, sites visited, and searches. Read this and beware of your own democratically-elected government.

Read Here.

Rouhani’s Challenges for Iran

iranrbanIncoming Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has many challenges ahead of him according to this interesting piece in The Atlantic. Trying to save a drowning economy, fixing international relationships, and dealing with domestic political gridlock are just some of the major problems awaiting the newly elected leader.

Read Here.

Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy

31manning2_cnd-hpMedium-v4Pfc. Bradley Manning, who leaked classified documents and videos to Wikileaks, was acquitted of “aiding the enemy” today. This allows for whistle-blowers and journalists to not fear prosecution when they leak and publish information deemed classified.

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israel_pol01I have yet to write about this issue because it seemed so unlikely to occur, but it looks like Palestinian/Israeli preliminary peace talks will begin on Tuesday thanks to a strong effort by Sec. of State John Kerry and the Obama administration. The Obama administration looks as if it wants to pad it’s legacy here, and it may actually succeed a little.

According to this report in The Guardian, Israeli P.M. Netanyahu has agreed to go against his own party leadership and the majority of Israeli citizens and release 104 Palestinian prisoners as a good faith offering before the planned talks.

Now, this is not a return to the 1967 borders or anything that monumental, but it’s a start.

Read Here.

Who Are Al Qaeda’s Associated Forces?

The_Pentagon_January_2008-620x412A good piece on Salon.com by Cora Currier of ProPublica asks the question who these “associated forces” are of Al Qaeda’s who the White House is always mentioning? Shouldn’t we know the answer to this question when the U.S. is currently killing members of these forces with our drones, in our name?

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New Iranian Leader May Be Game-Changer

jp-iran-articleLargeA good profile in the NYT about Hassan Rouhani, the newly elected leader of Iran, and how his past and present may lead us to believe that he may put his country on a more progressive trajectory.

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Trouble In “Horse Country” and Elsewhere

imagesI can say that I love our Bluegrass State and will probably never reside elsewhere. But we have a problem here in the Commonwealth where many uneducated folks get involved with public issues without knowing what they’re talking about. This same affliction also affects other states in the South for we are not alone. Evolution and climate-change lessons in the classroom are under threat in many states, as they are here in Kentucky.

Read this article Louisville’s own Courier-Journal, for instance.

Democratic Economic Rhetoric More Leftist

DEMS-articleInlineAn article  in the NYT reports that Democratic Party members are moving left of the centrist position in the economic debate to a more left-center position. With the slowly improving economy, they feel a more populist message may have more traction with the American public. And this movement is not only being led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren any longer, but rather by the President too.

But the problem is what if the Right begins screaming “class warfare” again? This term seems to resonate quite nicely for the GOP every time.

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Cuba’s Declining Society

Flag_of_Cuba.svgI have always had a special interest, and defensive attitude toward any criticism of, Cuba, for I admire the Revolution with Che and Fidel. Their idealism and tenacity in an effort to build a better world has always been appealing to me. But it seems now, according to this article in the New York Times, that the culture and civility of the Cuban youth is on the decline. The article points to a economy that crumbled after the fall of the Soviet Union, amongst other factors,  that are attributing to the deterioration.

Read Here.