Obama Admin Failing to Follow ‘Don’t Do Stupid S***’ Policy in Egypt

One of the promises the Obama administration made when it came to foreign policy was simple and straightforward: Don’t do stupid s*** (stuff).  While they’ve been successful in living up to that mantra by doing things like making the nuclear deal with Iran, they’ve failed miserably and disgracefully in Egypt.

A recent piece from the AP not only illustrates this fact but should be very disturbing from a national security perspective.  The article points out how the young in Egypt, who supported the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood, are now disillusioned with the idea of democracy and are turning to jihad.  A startling tidbit from the story says it all:

Once sympathetic to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, some of them resent it as weak and ineffectual.

“Now we know there is only one right way: jihad,” said the law student, Abdelrahman, showing off scars from pellets fired at him by police shotguns during protests…He spoke bitterly about the series of ballot box victories in 2011 and 2012 that gave the Muslim Brotherhood political dominance and made Morsi the country’s first freely elected president.

Democracy doesn’t work. If we win, the powers that be, whoever they are, just flip things over,” he said. “The Brotherhood thought they could play the democratic game, but in the end, they were beaten.” (Emphasis added)

The article goes on to describe some of the brutal tactics the state has employed against protesters and notes the young man quoted above is on his way to supporting and joining ISIS.

And what has the Obama administration done about this abuse of human rights that is driving more people toward extremism?  Supported and armed the abusers even further and has now boasted about those arms in a YouTube video, which was recently pointed out by Glen Greenwald.

Greenwald also adds a quote from a recent piece in the NYT (mostly fluff) about Secretary of State John Kerry supposedly taking a stand (but not really) against Egypt’s human rights abuses.  The quote should not just be noted.  It should be burned into the brain of everyone that thinks the U.S. is always on the right side of things when it comes to who we support around the world.  It just speaks volumes and no democracy with any morals should allow this type of thinking from their elected government:

“American officials . . . signaled that they would not let their concerns with human rights stand in the way of increased security cooperation with Egypt.”

That quote should turn everyone’s stomach.

And this isn’t to say the Muslim Brotherhood would have been a perfect friend to the U.S. or that they didn’t do  things that were seen as utterly awful in the eyes of many.  It was a fledgling democracy and things got very ugly and even fatal at times.  But it was the choice of the people of Egypt at the time and, most importantly, the alternative appears to be incredibly worse with the disaffected now looking toward joining ISIS.

The cycle of violence here is as black and white as it gets.  The Muslim Brotherhood is overthrown and an authoritarian regime takes power and abuses human rights.  The United States then backs that regime by arming them and allowing them to abuse their power even more.  The angry youth who lose faith in democracy take up arms and choose a path of violence.  The U.S. sells more arms to a brutal regime to crackdown further.

This is the equivalent of handing Jack the Ripper a set of knives, knowing he’s already killed people, but politely asking him to just use these on food.  There’s no mystery as to how this will work out.

Egypt looks like a bad situation getting worse at the moment and the United States is exacerbating the problem by knowingly arming an abusive government.  We’ve done it many times before and many innocent people have been slaughtered by U.S.-backed regimes around the world.  It’s yet another example of how not to do foreign policy yet the Obama administration is doing the same old stupid s*** we’ve seen too many times before.

Stopping Terror At The Source

terrorism12115On this past Tuesday the Los Angeles Times published a letter by Pres. Obama on countering terror recruitment here in the U. S. and around the world. He stated we cannot defeat terrorists with military actions alone, but we have to go after their cadre of recruiters who draw them in so effectively and other measures. The President also stated that,

More broadly, groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today’s youth something better.

Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.

The following day Pres. Obama held a press conference on the same subject I read about in the NYT also. The article stated that,

Mr. Obama said undercutting the Sunni militant group’s message and blunting its dark appeal was a “generational challenge” that would require cooperation from mainstream Muslims as well as governments, communities, religious leaders and educators.

So here we finally have a leader who understands that it is impossible to kill-off every terrorist and terrorist-sympathizer around the globe. And what you have to do is to take the wind out of their sails, if I can put it so lightly. We have to affect the reasons why people become terrorists.

With that stated I can already hear grumbling from those in the back thinking, “He’s gonna blame America, isn’t he?” No, I’m not going to blame the U.S. on the West at all. How can anyone be to “blame” for such brutality? These are atavistic medieval fighters awaiting the apocalypse who do the most heinous things to try and recruit more zealots to join a malformed ideology I can hardly even believe exists. And no one is to blame other than the terrorists themselves.

But we can take some of the wind out of their sails with a few things we should do,

1) Reduce our political/military footprint in Palestine. Nothing does more to recruit terrorists than America’s perceived indifference to what Israel does to the Palestinians. We support them both politically and materially with great amounts of military aid and do nothing about how it is used. The “50-day” war over the summer has to be one of the biggest recruiting tools in Mid-East terror history for ISIS.

2) We must all work together to affect real social change in the region. I was watching “The Five” on FOX News yesterday and they were arguing that poverty and oppression had nothing to do with terrorist recruitment. They stated that bin-Laden came from a royal family and that Zawahiri was an eye-doctor. But they are not the rank and file! The rank and file live in poor social conditions with oppressive governments and no jobs to keep them economically stable and occupied. They even run to terror for a good salary. We all know how ISIS is building an economy within itself by illegally exporting oil to Turkey. This is an essential point.

3) Disavowal the recruiters. At the Pres. Obama’s press conference he stated that, “We need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion, and we especially need to do it online.” And White House official Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, stated to the NYT correspondent, “You could hypothetically eliminate the entire ISIL safe haven, but still face a threat from the kind of propaganda they disseminate over social media….It’s an undervalued part of how you prevent terror attacks in the United States.”

This phenomenon is a serious, serious concern for anyone who desires both freedom and safety alike. I do not support in any form or fashion censorship or online monitoring, but we need to get more active as a people to counter these recruiters.

4) Stop thinking they hate us for our freedom. I used to read Osama bin-Laden’s statements before he was killed and he refuted this misnomer directly in one of them. He stated that al-Qaeda disagrees with us but does not care about our society as long as sharia law is followed in the Arab world. He even went as far as stating that if he hated our freedom, why not attack some nation such as Sweden? If politicians and laymen keep espousing this fallacy it keeps our eyes blinded from the real reasons they hate us.

5) Read this cover article in The Atalantic entitled “What ISIS Really Wants.” It is the first truly analytical report on the nature of ISIS. Essential read.

5 Quick Political Facts for Today (2/17/15)

  • The American public clearly has no idea what it wants from Obama on the issue of ISIS.  A new poll showed a majority of the public disapproves of the president’s handling of ISIS but a majority also do not want boots on the ground to fight them.  Considering the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS for a while (a fact I assume is probably lost on a portion of the respondents of this poll), one has to wonder what the public even wants?  What should he be doing?  The question is not asked in the poll and, since it isn’t asked, it should be noted that some of the disapproval might be coming from people who think the airstrikes themselves are too much and those resources shouldn’t be used by the U.S. government.  We can’t know from this poll.
  • Welfare reform is now causing people to die earlier.  A new study has found the welfare reforms of the 1990s are shaving time off of the lives of the poor.  In a better world, politicians would recognize their duty to protect the citizens they represent and take things like these effects into account.  In reality, it’s just another situation of the elected government not caring about those that do not vote in high numbers or contribute to their campaigns.  I wonder how much longer the wealthy that are running government-subsidized corporations get to live because of their welfare?
  • Attorney General Eric Holder calls for a national moratorium on capital punishmentNot really a strong endorsement of ending the ridiculously expensive practice but at least a step in the right direction from a high-ranking official.  Unfortunately, the U.S. will continue to stay behind most of the rest of the modernized world on this issue for the foreseeable future.
  • Get ready for the GOP swing to the left on gay marriage“Half of Republican primary and caucus voters in the key early states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina said that opposition to same-sex marriage is unacceptable” (Emphasis added).  I believe gay marriage will not be much of an issue by the time the primaries roll around since the SCOTUS will likely legalize it nationwide this summer.  This will be a secretly welcomed change by the GOP candidates since they will then be able to dodge the question on the campaign trail next year.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders continues to be awesome.  In a great op-ed on the new regime in Greece, Sanders tells it like it is again with this great line:

The real concern, apparently, is that democracy may go too far for austerity advocates to continue imposing their economic ideology from a distance: in Spain, Portugal, Finland and elsewhere, the patience of citizens is wearing thin as a growing number of them awaken to the stark reality that, while the very rich get much richer, the austerity programs their governments dutifully implemented are the cause rather than the cure for what ails their economies. (Emphasis added)

Sanders also took the time today to call for the first two years of all college to be free for Americans.  This would be a further expansion on the Obama plan of two years of community college being free.  It’s nice to see that some elected officials in government actually want to see the United States be taken into the 21st Century and not taken back to the 19th.  If only we could elect a guy like that to be president…

5 Quick Political Facts for Today (2/15/15)

  • John Boehner apparently has no idea what goes on in Congress despite being the Speaker.  Boehner stated it was important to investigate Benghazi again because some questions haven’t been answered, like these:

“Why wasn’t the security for our embassy in Libya given to our ambassador after repeated requests the night of the event,” Boehner continued. “Why didn’t we attempt to rescue the people that were there? Why were the people there told not to get involved?”

All of those questions have already been answered and answered multiple times by the Congress Boehner allegedly leads.  Maybe he didn’t notice the last report since the Republicans strategically released it on a Friday late in the day so the news cycle wouldn’t pick it up.  This was done, of course, since it debunked every argument they’ve made about questions still existing about the attack.  Regardless, the propaganda machine continues…

  • Republicans further show their immoral and disgraceful position on hard-working immigrants.  The GOP is out to stop immigrants with children who have worked jobs and paid taxes to the government for years from getting proper benefits for their contributions.  And it should be noted that many illegals have paid taxes and been a boost to federal tax coffers, particularly since they get little out of federal programs.  Some other commonly believed myths are busted in the article and should always be pointed out when discussing the issue:

Over the past decade, immigrants in the U.S. illegally have paid an estimated $100 billion in Social Security payroll taxes, even though few will ever be able to collect benefits…At least half are paying income and payroll taxes…Even if these immigrants pay taxes, they are ineligible for most federal programs. They cannot legally get food stamps, unemployment benefits, Pell grants or federal student loans. They cannot get Medicaid, except for emergency medical services, and are ineligible for subsidies under Obama’s health law.

  • Shiites are now reacting to ISIS brutality with brutality of their own, which has been going on since “Mission Accomplished”.  If people chose to ignore the fact that Shiite death squads were executing Sunnis in Iraq as soon as Saddam Hussein was out of power, that’s their choice to be ignorant.  But violence begets violence and that situation forced people to turn to more violent groups like ISIS so they could take revenge for the countless murders of their friends and families.  This isn’t to say it was/is right for anyone to join an extremist group or death squad.  But it does show how horrible the U.S. plan for post-invasion Iraq was just an absolute disaster and there is little that can be done by the U.S. to fix this bloody situation now.  And with this vicious reaction by Shiites against Sunnis, this situation is continuing to get worse.
  • The West is still disgracefully and inexplicably supporting the brutal monarchy in Bahrain.  Great piece by one of the activists for change in Bahrain who recently had his citizenship taken away from him after years of punishment, including torture, for expressing his opinion and calling for a better government in his home country.  It is a very reasonable question to ask why the West continues to display such hypocrisy on democracy when it comes to certain areas of the world.  (Spoiler alert: it’s oil.)
  • Egypt purchases military planes from France at the expense of its people.  I mentioned the purchase of the Rafale fighters a few days ago but this article points out two further realities of the purchase.  First, it’s not needed: “One thing is very clear,” says (Jon) Alterman (senior vice president and director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies). “On the basis of national priorities there is no military urgency to buy more combat aircraft.”  Second, by spending the money on the military instead of infrastructure or social programs (clearly taking a cue from the U.S., unfortunately), this means the spending won’t go to put Egypt’s unemployed to work, which includes more than half of its citizens under the age of 25.  Stupid priorities now will equal a bad situation in the future.

Embarrassingly Stupid Attack by Boehner’s Gov Page on Obama’s Foreign Policy

John Boehner’s government page decided to continue the attacks on President Obama’s alleged foreign policy failures by using a curious strategy: showing how much of an idiot Boehner, himself, is on foreign policy.

Let’s address the lunacy included in the post:

When Libya became leaderless, America infamously led from behind – then our posts in Benghazi were attacked.

I’m assuming Boehner wanted an American invasion to sort things out in Libya, which I’m sure would have been wildly popular among the voters (not really).  If only we had invaded to install a leader the U.S. liked and approved, everything would have been peaceful forever, just like in Iraq (not really).  The post also fails to mention the reason Libya became leaderless was because of Obama approving airstrikes that helped oust Gaddafi.  As for Benghazi, I’ll get to that.BO

The reset button with Russia was an embarrassing failure, underscored when a hot mic caught President Obama’s assurances to Vladimir Putin that he’d have “more flexibility” after the 2012 election. In Syria, the president didn’t bother to enforce the red line he established, and then turned to Russia for a political lifeline. Emboldened, Putin muscled his way into Ukraine.

First off, concerning Russia, the “flexibility” statement was technically made to Medvedev, not Putin.  Splitting hairs a bit but factually inaccurate.

Secondly, the Cold War ended a couple decades ago, a fact that the warfare queens on the right still ignore much of the time.  The statement was regarding missile defense and taking steps away from that whole “mutually assured destruction” thing, something we should all crave from our leaders.

Thirdly, Boehner chooses to completely ignore something else that probably emboldened the Russians even more: the feeble reaction of the U.S. government to Russia’s invasion of Georgia.  Why would he not include that?  Maybe because it happened three months before Obama was elected president and five months before he took the Oath of Office.

Then there is Syria.  I’m assuming Boehner is ignoring the explosive Seymour Hersh article detailing why the U.S. did not attack Syria.  In fact, if he wants to prove the Hersh points wrong and show we should have attacked Syria over the use of chemical weapons, he should be calling for the release of all documents showing what the CIA was doing in Benghazi prior to the attack.

The post also fails to point out the Syrian regime did give up its chemical weapons under threat of increased international intervention.

Then President Obama set five elite terrorist commanders free from U.S. custody.

Zero mention of getting a tortured American home for this exchange.  Zero mention of the Afghanistan war coming to an end and trading prisoners at the end of wars.  Zero mention they were released to the custody of Qatar, not immediately set free.  And if these five were so “elite”, why not ask for them to be put on trial to show how provable their elite abilities are in a court of law?

Then there is the point of ISIS gaining ground in Iraq.  The criticism of the decision by the Bush administration to invade Iraq on false pretenses is obviously ignored here but something else should be asked.  What exactly was being done about the Shiite death squads and brutal suppression of the Sunnis in Iraq by the previous administration after the invasion?  It’s as if that has nothing to do with what is happening now.

Sometimes, it’s just amazing what ridiculous claims the right will make.

Iraq and How It’s Going So Bad

IRAQ-3-articleLargeWith the troubling news coming out of Iraq these past few days I can only think what a waste the War was. We lost over 4500 service men and women and hundreds of billions of dollars, not to mention the fact that we were led into the conflict under false pretenses regarding WMDs. We were then sold a moralistic argument that we removed of a brutal dictator from power that Donald Rumsfeld, former Sec. of Defense, met and shook hands with in the 1980’s during the Iraq/Iran War.

Now the jihadi, Sunni-led ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is spilling out of Syria’s bloody civil war and invading Iraq at an alarming speed, taking city after city. They are now heading to Baghdad to settle old scores with Prime Minister Nurem Maliki, a Shiite, who has excluded Sunni’s from the government. Even former Baath Party members (the ruling Party of the Hussein Sunni era) are joining with ISIS in the goal of establishing a Islamic caliphate practicing Sharia law. Maliki now wants help from the U.S. in the form of airstrikes with jet fighters and drones, which according to sources reporting to the NYT seems very unlikely.

The borders of Iraq were set up by colonialists in the 19th century with no bearing or regard for lumping together people of different tribes, and now the current borders are being threatened by sectarian violence. It seems to me, more now then ever, that the Iraq War was a tragic waste.

 

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