Ugly Voices From The Past.

Since the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) jihadists invaded Iraq, the media outlets who failed to ask the tough questions in 2002 and 2003 have paraded Bush administration neocons and their apologists from one “news” program to another. In recent days, we’ve heard the warmongering duo of Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. John McCain, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Iraq Administrator Paul Bremer, chicken hawk Bill Kristol, former Secretary of State Condosleezza Rice, and GOP presidential wannabe Mitt Romney all tell us that President Obama has frittered away all of our hard fought gains in Iraq…that Iraq will soon become a testing ground for more 9/11s.

The obvious question is why on Earth would we ever want to listen to these nitwits again?

If you were paying attention in 2003, you may remember that Graham and McCain told us that there was no history of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites (Wrong). You may remember that Blair was little more than an obedient lapdog hoping to capitalize by pandering to the Bush administration. And you may remember that Rumsfeld said that we would be welcomed as liberators (Wrong) and the war would be over within a matter of days (Wrong again). Rumsfeld ignored the warnings of Gen. Eric Shinseki that we would need many times the number of troops to secure Iraq and pushed his “shock and awe” race to Baghdad without stopping to secure ammunition depots. (That ammunition was then used to create the lethal IEDs that haunted us for the remainder of our occupation.) Wolfowitz was the one who told us that a war in Iraq would pay for itself in oil. (Wrong!) Bush, Richard “The Dick” Cheney, Condosleezza, and Colin Powell assured us that Saddam was sitting on thousands of WMD. (Completely, provably wrong!) Bush announced “Mission Accomplished” more than four years before our combat role ended. Meanwhile, Kristol and his cronies cheered the war from the safety of their offices.

All of these people showed a knack for making impossibly stupid decisions that cost tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. Yet no one’s decisions led to more disaster than Bremer’s.

Bremer was the genius who, upon the conquest of Iraq, ordered the cleansing of all Baathists from their government positions. In other words, he fired all of the Iraqi military, administrators, government workers…even teachers…leaving a catastrophic void of expertise and creating an angry, displaced population set on payback. That decision alone led to the sustained chaos in Iraq that exists today. Moreover, Bremer’s stupidity gave the majority Shiites an opportunity to oppress the Sunnis and pushed the Iraqi government toward increased cooperation with Iran.

Now that ISIS is rolling through Iraqi cities, our incompetent media are once again turning to these people for more jewels of wisdom. Of course, the neocons have been quick to claim that the failures of Iraq were not their fault. The fault, they claim, lies at the feet of President Obama. “If only Obama hadn’t withdrawn our troops from Iraq, everything in the Middle East would be peachy keen,” they say. Yet it was Bush who destroyed Iraq. It was Bush who wasted hundreds of billions of dollars by awarding no-bid contracts to Cheney’s Halliburton and others to re-build Iraqi cities that are once again being destroyed. And it was Bush who agreed in 2008 to withdraw all of our troops. Not Obama.

McCain and Graham were livid that Obama refused to support the Syrian rebels. Yet, from the beginning, those Syrian rebels have included ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot formed as a response to our invasion of Iraq. ISIS is now financed by the Saudis and armed with American weapons that were provided by Congress and the CIA or captured from fleeing Iraqi troops – weapons that may eventually be aimed at us.

In other words, we are witnessing a sh*t storm that is the sole responsibility of the Bush administration. And there are no easy solutions to this mess. Our taxpayers have no appetite for placing troops on the ground or replaying the shock and awe bombing campaign. The ill-advised Iraq War has destabilized the entire Middle East and made it possible for the Islamic world to continue an ancient civil war. About all we can hope to do is to somehow minimize its effects on ourselves and others.

Listening to the neocons can only make matters worse.

VA Problems A Product Of Our Never-Ending Wars.

Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has been confronted with an extraordinary list of problems: Two wars, a failing economy, the collapse of our largest financial institutions, a massive number of home foreclosures, a failing auto industry, high unemployment, rising deficits and rising debt. Those are just the problems he inherited the day he took office. In addition, he’s faced a multitude of other issues: An obstructionist and do-nothing Republican Party, a racist and increasingly angry Tea Party, a porous southern border, belligerent leaders in Israel and Russia, rising poverty, and a vanishing middle class.

You may not believe the President has done enough to solve our problems but, in reality, his performance has been nothing short of remarkable. Without the leadership of his administration, we may have experienced a second Great Depression – a fact that is clearly spelled out in Timothy Geithner’s new book Stress Test. Of course, Teapublicans don’t want to talk about that. They call it the “Blame it on Bush Syndrome,” and they hold Obama responsible for all the problems he inherited.

Similarly, the Obama administration is now being blamed for delays at some VA health facilities. Yet VA problems existed long before Obama took office. Indeed, he appointed General Eric Shinseki to fix the problems and reduce delays. By most accounts, Shinseki has had some success. But no one can hope to change a health system that serves more than 8.6 million veterans overnight. The problems could be the result of a few incompetent bureaucrats. If so, they must go.

A larger issue is what led to the crowding at VA hospitals…the willingness of too many politicians to send our youth to war for questionable reasons! When we continue to pursue military actions around the globe, we are going to create more veterans – many with serious and expensive-to-treat health issues. Yet it seems that Congress has not fully recognized that reality when it comes to the VA budget. It’s estimated that, in addition to the trillions spent on the Iraq and Afghan wars, the cost of treating our wounded soldiers could also run into the trillions…a fact that has been little discussed.

When the Bush administration took us to war more than a decade ago, few Americans were asked to make sacrifices. Instead, Bush asked us to go shopping. And, instead of raising taxes to cover the cost of his misadventures, he actually cut them! If it weren’t for the yellow ribbons, ribbon decals on cars, and the obligatory “thank you for your service” statement recited to anyone in uniform, there would have been little indication that we were at war. The Bush administration controlled the news media by forcing reporters to be imbedded in military units. It even banned news media from photographing the flag-draped coffins of those killed in war.

Out of sight…out of mind.

The lesson in this is that if you want to go to war, you better be willing to pay the price. Everyone should be asked to make some sacrifices. Everyone should be asked to pay for the sacrifices of those wounded in war. And those costs should be made abundantly clear. Indeed, such costs are the only real deterrent to cause voters and politicians to hesitate before waving the flag, beating the war drums and sending our troops into yet another foreign conflict.

Men (And Women) Of War.

Now that the political upheaval in Ukraine is reaching a critical juncture, the usual warmongers are blustering and calling for military threats. At the same time, they’re blaming President Obama for “weak foreign policy.” Exactly which foreign policy do they consider weak? The policy that ferreted out and killed Osama bin Laden? The policy of targeting al-Qaeda leaders with drone strikes? The policy of providing air support for Libyan rebels? The policy of mandatory inspections and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria?

Or is it the policy of allowing the people of other nations to select their own government and leaders? Is it the peace negotiations with the new moderate President of Iran who requested a dialogue to end the severe economic sanctions in exchange for Iran ending its ambition for nuclear weapons? Or is it the resumption of US-led peace talks between Israel and Palestine? All of these are positive steps that stand as a welcome contrast to the Bush administration’s “you’re with us or against us” black and white approach to foreign policy.

The world is not merely black and white. It’s nuanced and complex. For example, Russia still has thousands of nuclear warheads with the capability of extinguishing all life on this planet. The US, Great Britain, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons. And all but North Korea have long-range delivery systems for their warheads. As a result, military threats and war are seldom the best solutions.

Without using nuclear warheads, which could escalate into the complete destruction of our planet, our options are limited. We have seen what happens when we involve our military in nation-building projects such as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. We have seen what happened when we used our CIA to overthrow leaders in Chile, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and too many Caribbean and Pan American countries to count. We have seen what happens when we serve as the world’s largest arms and munitions dealer.

All of these tactics have created anti-American sentiment, anti-American terrorists and legions of heavily-armed militias who are determined to fight us and each other. Yet this reality seems lost on the neocons who still cling to Cold War beliefs and the ideals of the Project for the New American Century…a plan to expand the American empire by using our status as a superpower by bullying and threatening other nations to obtain an endless supply of cheap raw materials and underpaid labor.

It was neocons from both parties who led us to arm the Shah of Iran to help him oppress his people in exchange for selling us cheap oil. It was Teapublican neocons like Donald Rumsfled who armed Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. It was the neocon Richard Perle who convinced Ronald Reagan to rebuff Mikhail Gorbochev’s attempts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. It was the neocons who led us to arm and educate the radical Islamists of western Pakistan to fight the Soviets. It was neocons like George H.W. Bush, Oliver North, Elliott Abrams, Caspar Weinberger and Richard “The Dick” Cheney who arranged to sell arms to Iran in exchange for the illegal funding of death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua. It was the neocons who supported the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in hopes that the Taliban would allow US oil companies to build a pipeline across Afghanistan so that they could gain access to Caspian oil and gas. It was neocons like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Condoleeza Rice who used the attacks of 9/11 to lead us into Iraq in order to ensure access to Iraqi oil.

More recently, neocon-lite Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for direct military involvement in Libya and Syria despite the fact that many of the militias involved in the war to overthrow Assad in Syria are allied with al-Qaeda. McCain, Graham and other warmongers from both political parties have called for increased sanctions on Iran – even as serious negotiations are underway – a move that would be likely to result in war with Iran. And now, the neocons are calling for confrontation and intervention in Ukraine. They are claiming that the problems in Ukraine are the result of the Obama administration’s “weak” foreign policy.


What do they want the administration to do? Invade Ukraine despite the fact that Ukraine has long been allied with Russia? Such an intervention rightly would be seen by Russia as an act of war. Since the end of the USSR, we have already broken our promises by moving NATO to the very doorstep of Russia, a move that is seen as a very real threat. We have already deployed our missile defense system in Europe, an act that is also seen as a threat to Russia by making a US first strike seem like a real possibility.

Any threat to use military force in Ukraine would, in effect, create a reverse version of the Cuban missile crisis. And there’s no guarantee that Putin is as realistic as Nikita Kruschev and as determined to avoid nuclear war.

The Project for the New American Century ended in 2006 in the aftermath of the group’s disastrous plan to invade and remake Iraq. Unfortunately, its members and proponents, including Richard “The Dick” Cheney, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, William Bennett, Jeb Bush, Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle and many others continue to sell the same bad ideas. Their ideas need to be relegated to the toxic waste dump of history where they belong. While we’re at it, we should bury the racist notion of American “Exceptionalism” along with the top-down economic policy known as Reaganomics, aka Trickle Down theory, Horse and Sparrow economics, and Voodoo economics. It’s time to leave the military and economic thinking of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries behind us.

It is a new century with new possibilities. It requires new thinking and new strategies.

The Man Who Saved Nukes.

In 1986, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev asked for a meeting with President Ronald Reagan. When they met in October of that year, Gorbachev surprised Reagan by offering what may have been the greatest gift in history. He proposed a realistic path that would lead to total nuclear disarmament. It would have resulted in the mutual destruction of all nuclear warheads over a period of 10 years and the elimination of all such weapons worldwide. It called for ongoing inspections to make certain that such weapons would never exist again. And it would have forever removed the very real threat of the annihilation of our species.

The offer was no trick. No attempt to gain military advantage over the United States. It was a sincere attempt to end the madness of the Cold War.

There was only one condition – that the US would agree to limit the testing of Reagan’s pet project, the Strategic Defense Initiative otherwise known as the “Star Wars” defense system. The US would be allowed to continue to develop SDI, but testing would be limited to laboratories and it could not be deployed. This was not an onerous condition since the project was still in the early days of development. It likely would never have been ready for deployment within the 10 year period. And after nuclear disarmament, it would no longer have been needed anyway.

Of course, Reagan refused.

Reagan’s neocon advisers, especially Richard Perle, convinced Reagan that Gorbachev was asking too much. They felt that restricting SDI to laboratory testing would not be accepted by the conservatives back home. They demanded atmospheric testing. As a result, we missed the best chance to rid the world of nuclear weapons in a lifetime – maybe forever. So the next time you hear someone like George W. Bush trying to create fear by pointing to the threat of nuclear weapons, remember who is truly responsible for the continuing threat.

Reagan is the man who was credited with ending the Cold War, but the real credit belongs to Gorbachev. It’s thanks to Reagan that we still live under the threat of nuclear weapons and the very real chance that they might fall into the hands of someone crazy enough to use them.

Source: The Untold History of the United States

Prelude To 9/11.

Understandably, 9/11 is a very sensitive subject. It was the only attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor. The people who died in the attacks are still being mourned, and those who gave their lives trying to save the victims are legitimately American heroes. Additionally, there are still many questions about how the attacks happened and why they were not stopped.

To be clear, I’m not a “Truther”…never have been. I believe it’s nonsense to think that the attacks of 9/11 were engineered and carried out by our own government. Not only would it be difficult to hire people to commit such heinous acts, it would be impossible for anyone with any knowledge of such treason to remain silent. However, I do believe there is abundant evidence that the Bush administration willfully ignored numerous and dire warnings of an impending al Qaeda attack prior to 9/11.

Why would the administration do such a thing?

You’ll have to draw your own conclusions. But I suspect that it was a matter of convenience for Bush, Richard “The Dick” Cheney and the rest of their neocon Project for a New American Century (PNAC) crowd to allow them to display our military might in order to force our economic will on the world. In their defense, I doubt that they could have imagined that an attack from a few extremist Muslims could result in so many casualties. After all, only a year earlier, Bush dismissed Clinton’s attempt to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda training camp as “sending a million dollar cruise missile to blow up a camel tent.”

Nevertheless, even a relatively minor attack on US soil would give the Bush neocons an opportunity to unleash our military to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. It would provide a showcase for our “Shock and Awe” weapons. The spectacle would serve as a warning to potential opponents and “encourage” other governments to accept our corporate demands. And, by “liberating” Iraq or, more precisely, Iraqi oil, I believe the neocons assumed they would be able to accomplish their goal of establishing a US military presence in the region to counterbalance the influence of Iran and protect our access to all Middle East oil reserves.

Pretty crazy, huh?

But when you look at the events leading up to the al Qaeda attack, it’s the Bush/Cheney neocons that look crazy. (And that’s being polite!)

National Security Council Counter-terrorism Chief, Richard Clarke, has testified that he tried to get the attention of Bush officials to warn them of an imminent attack by al Qaeda as early as January of 2001. Almost immediately after the administration had assumed office, he asked for a cabinet-level meeting with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Cheney and Colin Powell. But Rice ignored him until September 4. In the meantime, according to Clarke, he and CIA Director George Tenet were running around with their “hair on fire” in order to get the administration’s attention. Clarke recalled Tenet saying, “I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one.”

Additionally, Bush was handed a Presidential Brief on August 6, 2001 that was headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” But, according to those close to the situation, Bush dismissed the brief by telling the CIA briefer, “Alright, you’ve covered your ass now.” Further, there is evidence that the administration was warned of an impending strike as many as 40 times! But officials in the administration, particularly Rice, not only ignored the threat, according to Clarke and others, they seemed disinterested.

Immediately following 9/11, Rice, Cheney and Bush claimed that there were no credible warnings prior to the strikes. They accepted no responsibility. Instead, they blamed the intelligence community for not communicating effectively. They claimed that, had they known in advance, they would have done everything in their power to save the country.

They then set about planning an invasion of Iraq which had absolutely no role in 9/11.

To this day, Bush, Cheney, Rice and the rest of the neocons have never been forced to answer for their treachery. Instead of being impeached, Bush was re-elected. Instead, of being charged with war crimes; with invading Iraq under false pretenses; with authorizing torture; with causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands, Bush and his posse have ridden off into the sunset. A presidential library has been erected in Bush’s honor. Rice has been awarded a cushy position at Stanford University and given the honor of helping to select the college football teams that will participate in the championship playoffs. And Cheney walks around with someone else’s heart beating in his chest, still trying to justify the invasion of Iraq and still pushing the PNAC.

These people have not only escaped justice. They have proven that there is no justice.