Tag Archives: Obama

Obama’s Napoleon Complex

16 Aug

Since the bombs started falling in Central Asia in October 2001, critics of the American Empire warned that the initial “success” in Afghanistan was an illusion. The country was no match for massive US firepower, but the lessons of history would make this war unwinnable. It would drain our resources, create exponentially more enemies, and further destabilize a region that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

Eight years later, as both civilian and US military death counts are surging, even the US’s top torturer/executioner in Afghanistan is admitting this. General Stanley McChrystal is witnessing firsthand the rising casualties and warning that the Taliban are winning:

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home.

This startling admission coming from Obama’s handpicked Afghan ethnic cleanser is just another sign of a undefined and ever changing imperial strategy, all of them with no conceivable chance of success. First, the goal was to tame the Taliban, a ragtag group of poor Muslim fighters who did want war with the US but got it anyway. Now, McChrystal is admitting that the Taliban can’t be defeated, and the job of the US military is now to “defend and protect the Afghan population.” Rather than cut our losses and come home, Obama and his war machine are putting new slogans and rhetoric to justify this imperial overstretch.

At the same time McChrystal is giving these warnings from Central Asia, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is claiming that it is a “mystery” how long US troops will be fighting and dying in Afghanistan:

Defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida will take “a few years,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, with success on a larger scale in the desperately poor country a much longer proposition. He acknowledged that the Taliban has a firm hold on parts of the country President Barack Obama has called vital to U.S. security.

Gates’ testimony represents the complete absence of logic behind the “war on terror” and Obama’s proclamation that the war in Afghanistan is “the good war.” Obama excited a war-weary American public with campaign talks of peace and pullouts, but now that the emperor’s torch of power has been handed to him, he sees no reason why this pointless and counterproductive war should end.

More than anything Obama attempts to do domestically, nothing has the chance to bring Obama’s presidency down like this expensive and bloody quagmire in Afghanistan. Critics of Obamacare like to point out the high costs of his healthcare policy and the likelihood that taxes will be raised. But the costs of government healthcare will be minuscule compared to the costs of fighting in Afghanistan: trillions of dollars, thousands of more troops killed or forever maimed, and the continuing growth of Taliban popularity in response to massive US air raids.

Obama did not create this Mesopotamian madness, but he has the power to put an end to it, to seek diplomacy, and to work towards something American foreign policy hasn’t witnessed in decades: genuine peace. President Eisenhower ended the disastrous Korean War, President Coolidge withdrew troops from the Dominican Republic, and President Reagan cut-and-ran from Lebanon; all of these actions secured peace and US security. Obama’s wise engagement with Israel is beginning to extinguish some fires in that trouble region, yet he insists on throwing more and more gasoline on the Afghan flames.

This war will be Obama’s Waterloo, and with its continuing costs and burdens, time is not on his side.

Paul Krugman makes me laugh

12 Aug

It’s always entertaining to read Nobel Prize winning “economist” Paul Krugman’s nonsensical rants at his New York Times blog. Krugman, who sincerely believes that all we need to do is have the Fed print trillions of dollars and our economy will magically be fixed, put in his two cents about the ongoing Obamacare debates. Not surprisingly, he argues that opponents of Obama are simply blinded by their racism:

What I think is going on here, at least partly, is that the peddlers of anti-progressive lies are managing to convince a certain kind of American — white, socially conservative, etc. — that the hate-mongers are people like them; and, even more important, that progressives are Those People, people not like them.

Oh ya, we’re also “anti-intellectuals.”

I wonder if Krugman has ever heard of Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell, who are ferocious opponents of Obamacare, and statism in general. They’re also black, apparently mongering hate at themselves and other “thems.”

It is absurd to think that only white people would be against the disasters of government healthcare. Since the proponents of Bush II’s Obama’s massive expansion of the State are running out of arguments, it becomes easy and convenient to call their opponents names and revert to their false sense of moral supremacy.

Any system that is based on brute force and coercion should be opposed, both morally and politically. And what is government other than brute force and coercion, a gang (with lots of guns) with a sanctioned and legalized monopoly of force? The arguments in favor of government healthcare boil down to the expansion of government guns, and any system based on the threat and use of violence is instable, immoral, and  unconstitutional.

The “town hall mobs” are reflexive and knee-jerk reactions to a new Democratic president, but the biggest and most dangerous mob of all is whatever current regime occupies the White House.

US selling arms to both sides of Somali conflict

12 Aug

Despite the fact that a huge majority of Americans oppose the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, these wars continue to rage on under our new emperor’s watch. It is imperative that these adventures in imperial ignorance and arrogance end immediately, but it’s the US Empire’s smaller and less visible war-making that also needs to be exposed and opposed.

The US is pretty busy in the poverty stricken African continent. Since January, Congolese militias have been receiving US guns and money as they raze and rape their way across the country. Now the State Department is informing us that it has provided hearly 40 tons of arms to the Somali government to combat the al-Shabaab insurgency, and Hillary Clinton is promising 80 tons more.

What exactly is being accomplished by this massive transfer of arms? Well, Somali forces bring these guns to market, sell them to traders, who then sell them right to the insurgency at a nice little profit. With all these middle-man markups, it might just be cheaper to sell them directly to the insurgency.

Somalia is a country torn apart by civil war, and was further destabilized by the US-supported Ethiopian invasion in 2006. Poor, hungry, and desperate, Somalis have continuously turned to piracy to feed their families and avoid the constant threat of rivaling militias.

The US response to this increase in piracy has been numbingly typical: threats, threats, and more threats. Talks of imposing sanctions has significant popularity in the Pentagon, and even discussions of a possible invasion of tiny nearby Eritrea, who the US accuses of supplying the insurgents with weapons. Eritrea denies this claim, exposing the Pentagon’s mindset that military intervention in other countries is solely the job of the good and noble US government.

The US war planners refuse to see any possible repercussions in their short-sighted attempts to police and run the world. The US has a terrible habit of funding both sides of ethnic and religious conflicts, and blowback from these interventions aimed at our shores is not a matter of if, but when.

Imitating the Soviets in Afghanistan

10 Aug

Obama’s healthcare plans have been dominating the media for the last month, so it’s no surprise that this little piece of news went nearly unnoticed here in the US. According to the UK Times Online, 45,000 more US Marines will be sent to Afghanistan. Anthony Cordesman, “an influential American academic,” says

The United States should send up to 45,000 extra troops to Afghanistan…

If Mr Cordesman’s recommendation reflects the view of General McChrystal, who recently presented the findings of a 60-day review of Afghanistan strategy to Washington, it would mean sending another nine combat brigades, comprising 45,000 American troops, in addition to the 21,000 already approved by President Obama. This would bring the total American military presence in Afghanistan to about 100,000, considerably closer to the force that was deployed for the counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq.

Not a word in the American press about this possible “surge” in Afghanistan, a war that ia costing the US $200 million every day, destablizing the entire region, strengthening the Taliban, and killing hundreds of civilians a day. Obama may be drawing down troop strength in Iraq, but his offensives in Afghanistan are dangerously counterproductive, creating and an endless list of new enemies with every bomb and drone missile.

100,000 Soviets and thousands of helicopters couldn’t tame the Afghan countryside. Two decades later, the sons of those Afghans who whipped the Soviets have been bleeding the US since since October 2001. What makes these war planners think that they ignore history and keep digging hole after hole in Central Asia?

If Cordesman and McChrystal are going to be giving orders in Afghanistan, then it is very likely that the US won’t be leaving anytime soon. General McChrystal was the top torturer in Iraq before Obama promoted him; Cordesman criticized Bush for not escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enough and publicly praised Israel’s air and ground bombardment of the Gaza Strip last December.

These are some of the top minds running the US Empire, and they all have Obama’ ear.

There is also another possible war on the horizon as Israeli hawks continue to pressure the US to pre-emptively strike the Iranians. In the midst of a crippling depression, inflation, and debt, how long can the US maintain these desert killing-fields?

From Manila to Hiroshima

8 Aug

It all started in Manila. When the US easily defeated a weaker Spanish fleet in the Caribbean during the Spanish-American War, the US shrugged off the modest and prudent restraints of a constitutional republic and embraced the heavy burdens of empire. Victory over Spain allowed the US to conquer Spains’ former colonies (Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam) and stretched its imperial guns to the shores of the Philippines.

Imposing our will on the Philippines was no easy task, and the US Army wiped out 200,000 Filipinos who dared to resist foreign occupation. President McKinley, proud of “Christianizing” the already Catholic Filipinos, put on an emperor’s crown as he saw the Stars and Stripes fly on foreign soil, and the American Empire was born.

A couple decades later, the Japanese began dabbling in their own imperial slaughter, razing their way through the Asian mainland in a fury. US hegemony in the Pacific was soon threatened by the Japanese Empire, and the US responded provocatively with an oil embargo, selling boatloads of weapons to China, and encircling the island. The Japanese, sick of being bullied and provoked by the US, bombed Pearl Harbor (yet another US colony, not even a state at the time).

The rest, as they say, is history. The world witnessed a war that left continents in ashes, cities destroyed, millions dead and wounded, and massive ethnic cleansing. 64 years ago, WW2 finally came to a close when the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, then three days later dropped another on Nagasaki.

Anniversaries are a time for reflection, and this haunting one is no exception. Yes, these acts were war crimes and in a just world, FDR and Truman would be scorned and hated for what they sanctioned. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrible, but not much is mentioned about the firebombing of Tokyo and the incineration of over 100 Japanese civilian cities under their watch.

More than examining the horrors that occurred on August 6th and 9th, 1945, the nuking of Japan should be a reminder to the entire world of the dangers of nuclear war. The Cold War is over, and the thought of nuclear war has somewhat faded from the American mind, but the threat is not entirely hidden. There are still nine countries (US, Russia, Israel, England, France, Pakistan, India, North Korea) that have a combined 27,000 operational nuclear weapons that could destroy plenty of Earths.

The threat of nuclear war is even more dangerous now considering that the ones dropped on Japan were 115-ton bombs, which are slingshots with rocks compared to the nukes that the US and Russia now possess. In a matter of 15 minutes, the US and Russia could conceivably launch 100,000 Hiroshimas.

President Obama deserves some credit for publicly embracing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, talking with Russia about nuclear disarmament, and initiating talks in the Senate about finally signing the long overdue Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (which would effectively ban the production of nuclear material for weapons). Despite these positive signs, the Obama Administration will still spend $6 billion this year researching new ways to incinerate the world.

The anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan may be in the past, but they serve as a constant reminder of the incredibly destructive power of modern warfare.

Obama won’t rule out tax increase

8 Aug

It’s funny how much of a difference a year can make.

Do you remember when Candidate Obama promised that 95% of American workers would receive tax cuts? A year later, President Obama is now offering “no guarantees” that there won’t be a tax raise on middle-class Americans:

President Barack Obama’s treasury secretary said Sunday he cannot rule out higher taxes to help tame an exploding budget deficit, and his chief economic adviser would not dismiss raising them on middle-class Americans as part of a health care overhaul.

“If we want an economy that’s going to grow in the future, people have to understand we have to bring those deficits down. And it’s going to be difficult, hard for us to do. And the path to that is through health care reform,” [Treasury Secretary] Geithner said. “We’re not at the point yet where we’re going to make a judgment about what it’s going to take.”

All of a sudden, the biggest spender in the short history of the US is concerned with budget deficits. Obama passes his trillion-dollar phony-money stimulus package written in red ink, and Americans are supposed to foot the bill to fix the deficit?

If Obama really wanted to slash the deficit, he actually has plenty of options besides robbing more Americans of their wealth. The US spends nearly $12 billion a month on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $390,000 a year per soldier to keep them there (there are about 130,000 troops there now). Ending these occupations could do a lot of damage to the debt and deficit, but Obama is instead intent on digging deeper and deeper holes in the sands of Mesopotamia.

Since “healthcare reform” is on the President’s mind in not ruling out tax increases, it should be obvious that Obama has no intention of having just a public option. He wants a completely government-run health care system. Here he is, in his own words, stating that the “public option” will destroy private healthcare and lead to a healthcare system run completely by the USSA:

This is why he wanted it jammed through Congress so quickly. Like the Patriot Act, the quicker the bill goes through, the fewer questions that get asked and the quicker the government can swallow more and more power.

2012 can’t come soon enough.

Obama’s tobacco tyranny

8 Aug

It is hard to comprehend the righteous enthusiasm some Americans have for using the government to punish or effectively ban things that they find “offensive” or “immoral.” So it didn’t surprise me to see near universal applause when President Obama’s signed last month’s bill giving the FDA the power to regulate tobacco.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act now gives sweeping powers to the FDA. Anyone involved in manufacturing, preparing, compounding, or processing tobacco has to register with the FDA and submit to FDA inspections, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The FDA will also restrict tobacco advertising and advertising on labels, a blatant unconstitutional restriction of free speech. All of these new measures will be funded, of course, by taxes on manufactures, importers, and the cigarettes themselves.

Objections to this type of government control is not an endorsement of the harmful and deadly effects of smoking. Smoking is a bad habit and a personal choice, and the  way to combat vices is through education and information, not with the corruptible power of the state. Liberals defend freedom from government only in private and social issues, and conservatives tend to only praise economic freedom, seeing no philosophical contradiction. These equally inconsistent ideologies have spent the last century playing a tug-of-war with each other over the reins of the massive US government, and depending on who is in charge, the vice hunting begins.

The enthusiasm behind this bill, and the tax raises on cigarettes that are gaining popularity, is disconcerting since it represents a regressive step in fighting the insanity of US drug laws and other prohibitions. A majority of Americans now think that marijuana should be decriminalized, and some states are standing up for themselves and making their own drug laws. Authorizing the FDA to regulate tobacco makes the repeal of victimless crime laws that much harder.

President Obama promised a different and encouraging approach to federal drug policy, but is again showing his reptilian political ability to say one thing and do the other. The raids on medical marijuana facilities have increased, including one a few months ago here in San Francisco. Our prisons are already bursting with millions of non-violent drug users. Will the hypocritical Puffer-in-Chief’s tobacco tyranny result in the criminal punishment of smokers?

An overreaction? Maybe. But consider that the beginning of the road for the federal ban on marijuana started with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. It effectively taxed marijuana at extremely high levels, and slowly but surely the government grabbed more and more control and regulation over “illicit” drugs until they were completely criminalized by Nixon’s junta.

The prohibition or taxation of a substance that is deemed “dangerous” or “harmful” has had, and continues to have, incredibly destructive repercussions that are worse than the drugs themselves. Modern drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition before it, creates a black market where bloody organized crime steps in to supply the demand, forces police forces to waste valuable resources hunting drug offenders down, and actually increases drug use and addiction.

The road to hell is paved with government’s good intentions, and no matter how noble it may sound to regulate harmful substances for the benefit of the children (and don’t forget that nauseating, all-inclusive “society”), social problems, like smoking, are best handled by families, communities, churches, charities, guilds, and the thousands of other voluntary associations that existed when Americans didn’t live under a nanny state.

My fundamental objection to the regulation of tobacco, and drug prohibition, ultimately lies in the principal that our bodies and our property do not belong to the state. These prohibitions and massive regulations are counterproductive and costly, yes, but the real crime is how much of our individual liberty gets trampled by the government’s refusal to mind its own business.