Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fore for Four

Click on Video above for Vlog summary.  Full post with links and comics below:

Friday, October 14 was “Take out the Trash Day” at the White House. The expression, from and early episode of The West Wing, describes a strategy for releasing sensitive information that for one reason or another the Administration doesn’t want to draw attention to. It’s usually late on a Friday and there are a number of items bundled together. This past week it included the administration’s abandoning CLASS – the long term care option under ‘Obamacare.’ The administration authorized the use of military force to intercept planes out of Brazil that might be carrying drugs, even though Brazil has legalized individual use of most drugs.  And, finally, the President released a letter he sent to Congress declaring war in Africa.

War in Africa? On October 14 the U.S. sent two combat equipped teams plus logistics personnel to Central Africa to remove Lord’s Resistance Army Leader Joseph Kony from power. He has brutalized his people for over two decades according to the White House letter. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (previously CIA Chief) justified the action to Scott Pelley of CBS News differently:  “There are elements there that either have ties to al Qaeda or that represent the forces of terrorism on their own. And that's what's dangerous.” (Dick Cheney lives on.)

Under the 1973 War Powers Resolution the Executive branch must inform the Legislative Branch within 48 hours of entering into armed conflict and forbids troops from staying engaged beyond 60 days without Congressional approval. The administration opted not to do this with Libya. On March 19 U.S. forces were part of a coalition that attacked Libyan forces. Seven months later conflict continues in that country and President Obama has yet to notify Congress of U.S. involvement and Congress has yet to authorize the action. While not authorized, approved funding for the conflict is part of the also-announced-on-Trash-Day $1.3 trillion deficit for 2011, the second largest in history.

It is noteworthy that President Obama opted to follow the War Powers Resolution in the case of Africa. (It might have something to do with the 2009 Congressional resolution that called for the U.S. to support civilians and to remove Kony…so Congress was already on board with the action.) There is only 100 personnel going now. Even though they’re combat forces officials are saying the troops are going to be training and advising the Africans. On the surface that seems a whole lot less intrusive than lobbing missiles in Libya. Sherriff Barak Obama is coming to Africa’s rescue.

People in other regions of the world could use some help too. Syrians have been suppressed for many years and subject to terrible atrocities especially this year of the “Arab Spring.” China continues to top the list of Human Rights abusers. Then there’s Iran.

The Iranian people have suffered since the 1979 Revolution. The State Department’s annual Human Rights Report states: “The government severely limited citizens' right to peacefully change their government through free and fair elections, and it continued a campaign of postelection violence and intimidation.”

Last week a number of members of Congress and the Administration indicated that they believed that Iran had effectively declared war on the U.S. The alleged plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador at a Washington DC restaurant had rhetoric heated around the capital.  The bizarre plot was unlikely to be realized given its structure – let alone the fact that it was hatched with the help of a U.S. informant.

Just so that we all understand the Doctrine of Nobel Prize winner Barak Obama: Increasing U.S. troops to 100,000 in Afghanistan to get rid of the remaining less than 100 Al Qaeda is a national priority. Combat forces in Iraq that were scheduled to leave by December 31 may not. Drones are considered an efficient and acceptable tool against terrorists even though they kill 10-15 civilians per militant target. Missiles are used to effect regime change in Libya. Navy SEALS are now tasked with killing specific individuals who have not been charged with any crime or atrocity but are presumed to be terrorists. Going to war against Iran for a John le Carresque plan is reasonable. Sending military equipment and personnel to Africa to kill somebody who has been in charge for over 20 years is suddenly important. And not one of these actions warrant the Congress to do its constitutional obligation and vote to declare war? We weren't forewarned that number four would happen…maybe it’s enough to prevent number five.

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