Archive for the 'Middle East' Category

20
Mar
11

Update: Anti-war crowd still kind of around

Yesterday I noted a strange silence from the anti-war left regarding Obama’s Congress-free decision to bomb Libya’s air defense system back into the 19th century. Well, turns out they just needed a little time to shake the rust off.

Ralph Nader called for Obama to be impeached for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he participated in an anti-war demonstration outside the White House. From The Hill:

“[Bush officials] were considered war criminals by many people. Now Barack Obama is committing the same crimes,” Nader said. “In fact, worse ones in Afghanistan. Innocents are being slaughtered, we are creating more enemies, he is violating international law.”

Michael Moore, who’s descended into a sad, bitter shadow of his former self, let forth a volley of tweets criticizing the strikes (Twitter being his biggest platform these days in lieu of Oscar podiums). Here’s some of Moore’s trademark wit on display:

It’s only cause we’re defending the Libyan people from a tyrant! That’s why we bombed the Saudis last wk! Hahaha. Pentagon=comedy

And we always follow the French’s lead! Next thing you know, we’ll have free health care & free college! Yay war!

We’ve had a “no-fly zone” over Afghanistan for over 9 yrs. How’s that going? #WINNING !

Khadaffy must’ve planned 9/11! #excuses

Khadaffy must’ve had WMD! #excusesthatwork

Khadaffy must’ve threatened to kill somebody’s daddy! #daddywantedjeb

Apparently Moore doesn’t find the wholesale slaughter of civilians by an insane dictator excuse enough for intervention. He also apparently finds it to be a good opportunity for cheap laughs.

And finally, we have the reliably crazy wing of the Democratic Party. From Politico:

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.

Good ol’ Dennis Kucinich is also pressing for impeachment. And perhaps underscoring why presidents and the Pentagon often avoid involving Congress in military decisions as much as possible, Rep. John Larson (Conn.) posed this series of queries during a conference call with media (emphasis added):

Whose side are we on? This appears to be more of a civil war than some kind of a revolution. Who are protecting? Are we with the people that are supposedly opposed to [Qadhafi]? You think they have a lot of people with him? If he is deposed, who will we be dealing with? There are a lot of questions here from members.”

This is certainly not to say that I think the power of Congress to declare war is a bad idea. The president should seek approval from Congress for all large-scale military actions. In fact, it’s pretty much his constitutional duty to do so. But when it comes to time-sensitive operations, Congress is probably the last deliberative body you’d want involved, as the above quote amply illustrates.

However, there is a good argument to be made that Obama’s actions were outside the scope of his power. For example, here’s the man himself, Barack Obama, in 2007:

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Well then!

Hat-tip to The Agitator.

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19
Mar
11

Let’s Be Clear: Eight Years Later

Today the president ordered a military offensive against a brutal dictator without the approval of Congress. I bet there will be all sorts of outrage and massive anti-war riots in the streets. Let me just check some popular liberal sites … hmm … nothing on Daily Kos. Talking Points Memo is fairly muted, and Michael Moore is still squawking about Wisconsin. Hell, HuffPo looks downright hawkish. “Not in our name” indeed.*

Putting aside the snark, here’s a statement from Obama:

I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.

Coincidentally, today is also the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. What did our current commander-in-chief think of brutal dictators prior to the invasion of Iraq? Here’s a quote from a 2002 stump speech:

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. The world, and the Iraqi people would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

Let me be clear: I’d like to think the experiences of the last eight years — Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Tunisia, Egypt — have made Obama a little wiser in regards to America’s responsibility to foster and support freedom in the world, hence his decision to stop Gaddafi from slaughtering his own people. However, I suspect his rhetoric and actions, just as they were in 2002, are motivated more by political expediency than anything else. (Say what you will about Bush, and there’s plenty to say, but no one ever accused him of making the easy or popular decisions.) Luckily for the people of Libya, political expediency is in their favor.

*Not in Our Name shuttered its doors in 2008 after liberals became profoundly unconcerned with what was attached to their name besides “hope” and “change.”

04
Mar
11

Oh, Hugo, you shouldn’t have. Really.

Has Hugo Chavez ever seen a gross abuse of power and human rights he didn’t like? In a kind of “Hey, bro, can I get in on that?” moment, Chavez offered his extensive expertise in crushing democracy to act as a mediator between Qaddafi and, well, the rest of the world.

Predictably, the rest of the world thought this was a horrible idea, even Qaddafi’s son, who managed to still be a giant asshole while declining Chavez’s offer:

“The Venezuelans have affirmed that they are our friends and respect and like us, but … Libya is in the Middle East and in North Africa and Venezuela is in Latin America,” said Qaddafi’s son, who then added a word of gratitude. “Thank you, we are grateful to them. They are our friends. It’s a nice gesture but we can resolve our own problems. There is no need for foreign intervention.”

03
Feb
11

Some brief moments of hope for the future

Egyptian Christians shield Muslims while they pray during the protests

Meanwhile back in the U.S., 19-year-old Zach Wahls owned the Iowa House, which was considering referring a constitutional amendment to voters that would ban civil unions between gay couples in the state.

The bill passed the House, but the video of Wahls has been viewed more than 500,000 times.

And now back to our regularly scheduled doom and gloom.

08
Jan
11

Good Things and Bad Things.

Bad things first:

  • Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot in the head by a lunatic while doing the job that her constituents elected her to do. Dude, what the fuck?
  • Sarah Palin, of all people, somehow getting blamed for this. Has everyone lost their goddamn mind?

Now good things:

06
Jun
10

Where Have I Read About Stuff Like This Before?

Egyptians who marry Israelis can be stripped of their citizenship, according to a Cairo court. Oh, and the Mischlinger offspring of such unions can’t serve in the military.  They might be “disloyal to Egypt and the Arab world.” Quite.

The Cape Times puts the whole thing a little more bluntly: “Egypt to clamp down on Arab, Jew marriages.”

31
May
10

Laughter and coats are the tools of Satan

Iran is gearing up for its annual summer vice crackdown by releasing new “improvements” to its modesty and dress-code laws. Specifically, the government will be targeting both the sellers and wearers of form-fitting women’s coats.

Methods for curtailing the menace of sassy-yet-professional outerwear for women include drastic increases in fines and mean-muggin’:

Meanwhile, a prominent ayatollah, Mahyeddin Shirazi, instructed the wives of Revolutionary Guard members at a recent meeting that they should adopt a withering expression to make inappropriately dressed women feel “humiliated”.

AND (emphasis added):

Certainly, students at Shiraz Medical University are likely to have found humiliating personal hygiene tips on the university’s updated dress code, issued last week. According to a report by Tahavole Sabz, a website run by “green” movement supporters, they were advised to shower and brush their teeth daily and wear clean, ironed clothes. Both sexes were also told to avoid wearing “strong smelling fragrances” – and that laughing aloud anywhere on campus is prohibited.

[…] In a tub-thumping sermon in Mashhad recently, a hard-line ayatollah, Ahmad Alam al Hoda, declared: “Badly veiled women and girls are like the foot soldiers of the United States.

America: an international army of provocatively dressed women. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Speaking of which, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention Great Satan’s Girlfriend, a blog you just kind of have to see to believe.

P.S. Hat tip for the story to my friend Alex Mayer, who works at Radio Free Europe and contributes to The Long War Journal, both excellent news sources.