Monday, February 28, 2011

Why Republicans Are Wrong on International Affairs, Especially Military Actions

"In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it.

“The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq — invading, pacifying, and administering a large third-world country — may be low,” Mr. Gates said, but the Army and the rest of the government must focus on capabilities that can “prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly — and controversial — large-scale American military intervention.”

ROBERT M. GATES, the secretary of defense.
addressing West Point Cadets, Friday February 25, 2011
New York Times, February 28, 2011

"U.S. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman said they support creating a no-fly zone over Libya and that more should be done to oust Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

“Now is the time for action, not just for statements,” Lieberman said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. Both McCain, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Lieberman, an independent panel member, said they support sending arms and humanitarian aid to the anti-Qaddafi government and recognizing that government.  "
John McCain, February 27, 2011
Meet the Press, and

Apparently failed presidential candidate Senator John McCain is not aware that using our air support and presumably our navy, by way of air force carriers from which to fly them, IS a military involvement.  Moreover, an involvement which has not been requested by a Libyan opposition government, which has yet to form.

To rush in without invitation, most especially in the areas where there is no active ongoing conflict and where oil production and oil shipping has resumed as of Sunday 2/27/'11, is folly.  And that is why McCain and his fellow too eager militant fellow Republicans and Tea Partiers have disastrous notions about U.S. foreign policy generally, and military intervention decisions specifically.

As I read my way through "from Dictatorship to Democracy", which appears to have been the handbook for popular mostly peaceful revolt throughout the middle east in the past weeks, it is clear that author Gene Sharp has some insight into how popular movement are able to avoid the mistake of simply replacing one dictatorship with a different, but equally oppressive (or more so) dictatorship.

There are specific challenges to socieities and governments which have experienced decades of oppression.:
Many countries today are in a state of rapid economic, political, and social change. Although the number of “Free” countries has increased in recent years, there is a great risk that many nations, in the face of such rapid fundamental changes, will move in the opposite direction and experience new forms of dictatorship. Military cliques, ambitious individuals, elected officials, and doctrinal political parties will repeatedly seek to impose their will. Coups d’├ętat are and will remain a common occurrence. Basic human and political rights will continue to be denied to vast numbers of peoples." Gene Sharp, From Dictatorship to Democracy, page 3
We made stupid mistakes  charging in to Iraq, believing they would love us and become a functional democracy if we only removed Saddam Hussein.  We have been equally foolish and naive in our support of corrupt, and weak, incompetent regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  McCain and his sidekick, Lieberman, are on their way out.  They are old, and they have lost much of their influence; their careers are in their sunset years.

What we do not need is the rest of the right repeating these mistakes, and failing to do their homework before they run their mouths, or automatically believe that force is the right answer.  We are fortunate the current man in the White House and our Secretary of State have better sense, along with the man who took on the office of Secretary of Defense who took over the office to clean up after Sec. Def. "Rummy" Rumsfeld.

Moamar Quadaffi is batshit crazy; he is becoming stranger all the time, as he loses ground with his troops and his territory.  What we don't need is crazy old fools on our side making matters worse.
also batshit crazy,
and possessing a
certain bloodthirsty
resemblance, but
not the real Quadaffi
the real Quadaffi


  1. I have a lot of respect for Secretary Gates. He’s got a very difficult job … his enemies are more in Congress and the military industrial industry than overseas. For example, consider Gates’ battle with John Kline (R-MN-02) and other Republicans EFV funding but that is nothing new as they were on opposite sides of the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter but then again, Mr. Kline has repeatedly spent based on the last war.
    Right now, it appears that Secretary Gates is winning as the HR 1 empowers the DoD Secrtary to cut the EVF program and does not fund the alternate engine.

    Secretary Gates also understands that our military is too top heavy and military “entitlements”, which have expanded rapidly, have become part of the nation’s mandatory spending problems. A Defense Business Board study revealed that 560,000 military members have not been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan … while 160,000 have served at least three tours. Heck, there are 340,000 military personnel who serve in commercial activities … meaning overhead.
    Pension is a concern as benefits are available after 20 years of active duty … but many of these people take jobs in the private sector (including many in the military industrial complex). The pension cost in 2010 was projected to be $46,710,544 but will grow to $59,325,445 in ten years … that’s a huge obligation that the taxpayers will have to fund. I wrote about one “retiree” … who is now in Congress and Gates desire to change the TRICARE healthcare premium. Participant fees were set in 1995 and remain at $460 per year for the basic family plan. By comparison, a Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Plan – Standard Option would have a premium of $ 431.60 per month … hmm … pretty simple … one year’s payment in one month. (Someone should ask Raymond Cravaack (R-MN-08) how he likes his military benefits … retirement and TRICARE.) Speaking of Sec. Gates and Mr. Cravaack, Cravaack prevailed maintaining funding for 65 military boards that Sec. Gates felt were unneeded.

    Secretary Gates clearly has an idea of what future battles are worth fighting … the Republicans seem to be too focused on expanding military capabilities -- not necessarily to fight the next enemy but to provide support for businesses that operate overseas.

    I hope that whem Sec. Gates retires that Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) wants the job ... as a former Sec. of the Navy, he knows the military ... plus supported the initial attack on Afghanistan but opposed the Iraq war.

    Regarding the NoFly Zone, I think that may be a good idea. Pilots for the Libyan Air Force have been defecting indicating that they do not want to attack their own people … by declaring it a NoFly Zone, the military has a convenient excuse why they cannot fly. The NoFly Zone worked in Iraq … keeping Iraq out of the air (although they did use some surface to air missiles to attack American jets … but the Libyans may not view us as enemies.)

  2. While the Libyan opposition government might not view us as enemies, our intrusion into their air space could so easily be mistaken for us coveting their oil fields, that to propose it without first establishing their permission to do so on their behalf could only inflame the entire middle east against us.

    We have either supported, or at the very least tolerated, all of the middle east dictators over the period of their regimes. They have good reason on that basis to distrust us, our potential assistance, and most of all, our motives.

    We can hope for a better reception as one nation of many assisting them under the aegis of NATO, as Hillary Clinton has advocated. She has done an excellent job, imho, as Sec State.

    Thank you for another very insightful comment - you are clearly a very well informed and articulate commenter. My compliments!

  3. The no-fly zone was first proposed at the UN and I think by France. Something like the no fly zone over Iraq would help the new govt without putting foreign troops on the ground. I also read recently that even with lots of military units defecting Gadahfi is in good shape. He has restricted supplies over the yrs so that the only units with more than a day or two worth of ammo were ones led by his sons and his personal guard. The others would go to depots in a war to get more when they were deployed. Any depots near cities controlled by the opposition were bombed in the first couple days and the pilots did not object because they were not being asked to fire on the crowd. He may be crazy as a loon but he is not stupid.

  4. And if NATO wants to do a no-fly zone, that would be great - but they won't unless they're invited or have some agreement with the Lybian dissidents. Arms is the one thing that Libya seems to have an abundance of; food on the other hand might be a really good thing to provide.

    While we are part of NATO, we're not the whole of NATO, and NATO has a different relationship, by history and proximity than we do.

    McCain has had a consistently ignorant position on anything and anyone associated with Islam. He was on the wrong side of the Ground Zero mosque issue (,

    McCain was on the wrong side of the revolt in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood, who are not likely to take over a new government, are not running a candidate to replace Mubarak when they have elections, and who support the peace with Israel ( and seems oblivious to the fact that Egypt is a pretty firmly secular country that doesn't want sharia law,

    and McCain can't tell shia from sunni (,
    he has never bothered to learn and doesn't seem to think he needs to know anything about either - not to mention he can't get his geography in the region correct.

    If he can't bother to learn the subject, he should shut up rather than make a mess of second guessing policy suggestions.

    McCain opens his mouth to say stupid things about international affairs, consistently advocating a military solution of some kind when it is the wrong answer, for one reason and one reason only - it is a dog whistle to the far right base.

    There was a time when I had respect for McCain. Somewhere along the line he became a desperate old political right-wing whore, and that saddens me, but it repulses me more.

  5. This is a fast moving story, so I may be behind.

    Let’s not blame the messenger. Whatever your opinion of McCain should not matter … evaluate the idea AND the Motivation.

    After all the calls for a no-fly zone include a Minnesota Congressman … who happens to be a Muslim … Keith Ellison (D-MN-04) joined others issuing a press release "The violence in Libya is unconscionable and the international community must unite in opposition to this brute use of force against non-violent protesters. Yesterday's speech by embattled Moammar Gadhafi reinforces the fact that he is willing to cling to power through whatever means necessary. Calling himself a 'martyr' and deploying machine guns and snipers against civilian protesters are the clearest signs yet of Gadhafi's unwillingness to accept the Libyan people's demands and their exercise of basic rights. We agree with Libya's deputy UN ambassador's call for an internationally enforced no-fly zone to be established over the country to prevent Gadhafi from using his air force against protesters. We strongly condemn the unlawful killing of hundreds of civilians in Tripoli and the use of mercenaries to intimidate and control the population, and we call on the Libyan military to stop immediately its unlawful and immoral crackdown against the people of Libya."

    Congressman Ellison makes a clear and rational justification for the action … I can only speculate that it does not have anything to do with oil but instead protecting innocent human life.

    Now there may be others that want the US military to be used to protect American and other national companies. Although state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) may be the dominant player, there are a number of U.S.-based companies operating there -- Occidental Petroleum, ChevronTexaco, Amerada Hess and I suspect that Exxon-Mobil is back … plus Petrobras (Brazil). Yes, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras is in Libya … why wouldn’t they be … after all, I wrote during the “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign of the number of foreign companies that drill in US properties … oh, and in case you wondered the “auction” that I referenced ended up being won by a unit of Norway's Statoil ASA oil company.

    Let’s face it, America is the World’s policeman.

    For example, why do we have 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea … at a cost of at least $1.23 BILLION a year … does South Korea need protection when it has a force of 686,000 active troops and 4.5 million in reserve, supported by 538 combat aircrafts, 2,300 tanks and a 230-ship navy. And as Senator McCain (R-AZ) remarked during a hearing on the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, “there is no doubt…that South Korean forces are among the most capable and best equipped in the world.

    IMO, they there because politicians like Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) want to protect business trade with South Korea.
    IF South Korea wants America’s presences, then they should pay for it.

    Plus, where does South Korea get its oil ? Well, the US Navy protects the flow of oil that is transported through the Strait of Hormuz (through which about 40 percent of the world's traded oil is shipped) … yes, the US is the World’s Policeman.

    OK, it is true that North Korea does present a threat … but why do we have 76,000 military members stationed in Western Europe two decades after the USSR collapsed and in the complete absence of any military threat to the continent ?

    In the end, it might be cheaper to establish a No Fly Zone.