Sunday, February 25, 2007

Congressional Nancy-Watch -or- Murtha, She Wrote

Moves continue, in the House of Reprehensibles and Sedatorial chambers, to end the war in Babylon and greater Mesopotamia, where the US sitting duck soldiers are dying for the lame duck's pride and daily strengthening the Persian empire as they do the dirty work for the Shia militias. This was the so-called New Way Forward (to death), which was not new, but same old same old, is not a "way" as it is not a method or a means to an ends, and is not "forward" either, as it is another step in the wrong direction, digging a deeper hole, our own soldiers' graves.

Ending an illegal war should not, in theory, be a difficult matter for the Congress, which can declare and fund or not fund wars, but the thin majority is so fractured that their pathetic efforts so far have faltered, betraying the wishes of the American majority who elected representatives to carry out the wish to end the war. Some say the congressional democrats have a "slow-bleed" strategy, death by a thousand legal paper cuts. In the Senate, Joe "traitor" Lieberman holds the Democratic majority hostage to his threats to defect to the other side if war funding is cut.

In their first effort, the Congress passed a non-binding resolution, imagining themselves as something more like a newspaper editorial board rather than the body which funds the United States government. Recent efforts documented in the Washington Post included a proposal that would require troops to have had a year's rest between deployments, have completed training, and to have been fully equipped before being deployed. This was apparently too radical for conservative Demograts and Republicants, who prefer to "support the troops" by forcing them to conduct the illegal war and occupation on extended deployments without adequate breaks, under-equipped, and improperly trained.

The newest effort, scheduled for this coming week, is to focus on the November 2002 resolution which authorized the pResident to use military force to find and remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq and remove the dictator there, who had not renewed the US approval granted to other local dictatorships such as the House of Saud and Pervez Musharraf. Legislators have noticed that the resolution to find WMDs and remove Saddam no longer describes or justifies the current occupation. Good thinking, Sherlock.

Personally, I would favor stronger tactics, such as shutting down the government until you get your way, a method used by Newt Gingri(n)ch. His Repuglicant contract killers held the neoCongress for 12 years, demonstrating that the public will not necessarily disapprove of strong-arm tactics. Unfortunately, it seems that these kinds of options are closed to Democrats, who have a wide range of opinions and diverse members. Democrats risk giving themselves a wedgie if they use Rovean wedge-issue tactics.

Nancy Pelosi inexplicably said that "Impeachment is off the table". Impeachment should be served quickly, hot or cold, before the Republicans have another coup, with Supreme Court approval, and do to the Democrats what one Reprehensible from Alaska has threatened (in a fabricated Abraham Lincoln quote) -- arrest, hang, or exile them. They also need to act before a new war in Iran kills millions. The Bushies could provoke a nuclear counterattack of some kind, and use the event as an opportunity to declare a national emergency and arrest their opponents in Congress. (Congress has been a thorn in Dick's side ever since Flight 93 failed to hit the Capital as planned.) Instigating a war is so much more convenient for them than strengthening and renewing the nuclear non-proliferation pact, which requires the existing nuclear powers to gradually disarm. Extraordinary rendition also beats having to talk to your democratic opponents, who continue to have their own opinions, different from the deer leader's, in many cases.

Do the Democrats have alternative proposals for Iraq? They have made proposals, but let's make it simple: If there IS a military solution to Iraq, it can not be performed by the United States troops, who now have earned a reputation for rape, torture, and killing. If peacekeeping forces are needed, these should be United Nations peacekeeping forces. There is universal support for the United Nations leading the way, in polls done in Iraq, the U.S., and worldwide. This will require going to the UN on bended knee (and with open wallet) to apologize for headstrongness (stubborn pigheadedness) and attempt to redeem ourselves for our errors. The US troops are not on US territory in Iraq, and hence are not subject to US law, but to international law, which makes them, their commanders, and their enablers war criminals. Removing US troops doesn't necessarily mean abandoning the Iraqis to local sectarian warlords. As each American is withdrawn, five Bangladeshi blue-helmets could be moved in, for example, paid for by the US. The US has responsibilities, and a price must be paid, but the price is not necessarily US lives.

If the Congress can successfully force a US withdrawal, which seems unlikely before 2008, they should support US troops by increasing, possibly doubling their pay, insuring that veterans and soldiers have free lifelong medical care and free lifelong educational opportunities. Everybody deserves these benefits, but perhaps veterans deserve them most and least controversially.

The idea that the US could be a world policeman is taking a beating (not unlike the beating you would get at the hands of a Los Angeles cop if you are black). World respect for the US is probably at a 100-year low about now. The US rushed into Iraq when there was no crisis, but ignored genocide in Darfur and Rwanda, among other places. Even in the US, probably only a minority still support "World policeman" policies, perhaps 3% of the world population, but certainly not a majority. We do not earn respect from stationing troops overseas any more than the Soviets did by having troops in Vietnam or Cuba. The "assistance" which overseas US forces provide is primarily the killing of people by bombing or shooting them.

The United States should withdraw all troops stationed overseas which are not part of a United Nations or NATO agreement. It could be announced that US forces would begin a two-year process of withdrawal, but where an internationally-recognized public referendum finds a majority support keeping US forces, the withdrawal would stop and refresh to prior levels. In this way, a review of the global deployment of US troops would insure they are not stationed where they are unwanted, but if countries like Japan decided to keep the status quo, they could. Done quickly, this would weaken the hand monkey's paw, of the chimperor-in-brief.

Certain NATO deployments are poorly thought out and badly implemented, too. The near-100% support for the death penalty for converting to Christianity in Afghanistan shows that the values of the Afghan people are quite different from ours. (Their religious fanaticism is a different religion, mainly.) Negotiations should aim at creating a reformed Taliban as a political party competing for power democratically, not as a military force. We (NATO?) only require that they recognize democratic procedures and not harbor terrorists. The current deployment can never end as it is now conceived, and will eventually cause a bigger war. Similar progressive thinking created the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan and the Christian Democratic Party in Germany. As you will recall, the US did not stay and fight remnants of the defeated regime indefinitely. It is simply more practical to negotiate an end to it -- even if you do plan on stationing your troops there.

As we continue to see the solutions to world problems as being killing people, that mindset will eventually return home. If the solution to political problems in Iraq and Afghanistan were to kill people, why won't those solutions work in the US, some veterans may wonder, and apply their knowledge of guerrilla urban warfare to the US.

As I have said before, the Department of Defense is not really concerned with "defense", but is a ministry for foreign aggression. If it were "defense", its duties would overlap with "homeland security" --although I guess you could argue that "homeland" is an internal security ministry like the East German Stasi. One or both of these agencies should be abolished or radically downsized. The Pentagon is an interesting building that would make nice artists studios, a Peace Center campus, or some kind of multifunction center. If 300 million Americans with the world's strongest military cannot defeat a popular insurgency in a nation of 23 million, what would it take for someone to successfully defeat and occupy the United States? Clearly there is no threat to the United States now. The massive agency dedicated to sending millions of Americans overseas to defeat the Nazis went against the previous 150 years of American history, and is not appropriate now.

What can the US contribute to the world if not killing foreigners in its role as world policeman? America can be a leader in the United Nations again someday when its reputation is restored. The US can make an improved nuclear nonproliferation agreement to replace the broken-down old one, rather than threaten Iran for doing what the US did 50 years ago. People around the world respect the American educational system (universities and graduate schools, research institutions), technology, and medical technology, so we can build hospitals and universities around the world, and pay for their staff and professors. In places like Iraq, the lives saved by American hospitals and university-trained medical professionals would eventually overtake the number of people killed by the US invasion.

Progressive policies will probably not take place until the Kucinich administration takes office. In the meantime, the congressional nancy-watch continues. Will they find the means to stop the illegal war and occupation, or fail at that and be replaced by more gutsy Republicans, such as Chuck Hagel, in the next election.

The fact that Americans, unlike most (really all) other countries, have an agency that spends hundreds of billions of dollars -- over a thousand dollars for every man, woman, and child-- projecting military forces overseas to kill non-Americans, while they have no agencies (unlike many countries) to provide free medical care, lifelong free education, or free childcare services, says a lot about the values of Americans. The values projected are that it is more important to kill foreigners that they dislike than to educate, care for, or maintain the health of their own people. This is, of course, both unethical and uneconomical. These values do not arise naturally but are encouraged and expressed by the corporate culture. After the department of death is dismantled, simply replacing the anti-human spending with pro-human spending will not be enough. Republicant sympathizers in the military complex will have to be fed contracts for the maglev rail system that will connect our cities and the windmills, solar cells, and wave/tidal energy systems to power the grid.

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