Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
It is time for the US to end that senseless war in Afghanistan. The President's decision to withdraw 33,000 troop definitely is a step in the right direction. However, it does not go far enough. The Washington Post reports that:
"In a prime-time address from the White House, Obama said he will bring home 10,000 U.S. troops by the end of the year and 23,000 more by next summer, a withdrawal window that will conclude two months before voters decide whether to give him a second term. The first troops will leave Afghanistan next month.After the 9/11 terror attacks, President Bush, with Congressional authorization, declared war on Al Qaeda and those who harbored them, the Taliban in Afghanistan. At that time, the war was a righteous cause. It was a war to protect our national security.
The pullout schedule he outlined Wednesday will leave 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by the end of next summer, and Obama said their departure will continue steadily through 2014, when the Afghan army is scheduled to take over security."
Here we are 10 years later. If America's goal was to defeat Al Qaeda and to remove the Taliban from power, that goal has been accomplished. Al Qaeda has been defeated in Afghanistan. Less than 100 Al Qaeda fighters remain in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is dead. By the way, the terrorist leader was found in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. The Taliban has been removed from power. Since the mission has been accomplished, there is no need for US troops to remain in Afghanistan.
Our goal should not be rebuild a failed state. That is virtually impossible. After almost 10 years of intervention, the US has not been able to transform Afghanistan into a sustainable and democratic nation. I doubt that an additional three years will make any difference.
As President Obama said during his address last night, our focus should be on nation building here at home. We should not be building schools in Afghanistan as we close schools in Detroit and New York. We should not create jobs in Afghanistan while the African American unemployment rate remains in the double digits, twice the national average.
In these tough economic times, it makes no sense for the US to continue to squander billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Before even discussing cutting Medicaid, Medicare, education and other vital services, this nation must stop funding those three wars.
Not one more US soldier should be injured or killed to prop up a failed, balkanized, narco-state. The Afghans must determine their own destiny. All US troops should leave Afghanistan now!
This article is cross posted on Jack and Jill Politics.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
As reported in the Washington Post last week,
"The Obama administration argued Wednesday that its nearly three-month-old military involvement in Libya does not require congressional approval because of the supporting role most U.S. forces are playing there, a position that puts it at odds with some Republican leaders and the antiwar wing of its own party.However, this week, the Washington Post reported that:
The White House reasoning, included in a 32-page report to Congress, is the administration’s first detailed response to complaints from lawmakers of both parties, who say President Obama has exceeded his authority as commander in chief by waging war in Libya without congressional authorization.
The report came on the same day a bipartisan group of lawmakers filed suit in federal court against Obama seeking to end the U.S. participation in Libya, pushing what has been a slow-moving confrontation over the power of the president at a time of war toward the center of the political debate...
The United States has spent $715.9 million in Libya, the vast majority of it on military operations, according to the report. The administration estimates that the cost will rise to $1.1 billion through September, although it does not plan to request additional funds from Congress to pay for the mission...
The report says that “because U.S. military operations [in Libya] are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the resolution,” the deadlines for congressional approval or force withdrawal do not apply.
“We’re not engaged in sustained fighting. There’s been no exchange of fire with hostile forces. We don’t have troops on the ground. We don’t risk casualties to those troops,” said one senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity during a conference call arranged by the White House. “None of the factors, frankly, speaking more broadly, has risked the sort of escalation that Congress was concerned would impinge on its war-making power.”"
But at the Pentagon, officials have decided it’s unsafe enough there to give troops extra pay for serving in “imminent danger.”For the record, I oppose the war in Libya for the reasons outlined in my article entitled I'm Not Buying What Obama is Trying to Sell. I support Rep. Kucinich's and Rep. Conyers' War Powers Act lawsuit.
The Defense Department decided in April to pay an extra $225 a month in “imminent danger pay” to service members who fly planes over Libya or serve on ships within 110 nautical miles of its shores.
That means the Pentagon has decided that troops in those places are “subject to the threat of physical harm or imminent danger because of civil insurrection, civil war, terrorism or wartime conditions.”
Many in Congress have said they were outraged by Obama’s argument last week.
“Hostilities by remote control are still hostilities,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), normally a close Obama ally, on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” “We are killing with drones what we would otherwise be killing with fighter planes. And we are engaged in hostilities in Libya.”
Legislators have proposed resolutions that would express disapproval of the operation or cut off its funding — or authorize it outright. Congressional leaders have not said when any of those options will be voted on.
Clearly, by any definition, the United States is engaged in hostilities in Libya. According to the New York Times, "since the United States handed control of the air war in Libya to NATO in early April, American warplanes have struck at Libyan air defenses about 60 times, and remotely operated drones have fired missiles at Libyan forces about 30 times, according to military officials."
Moreover, NATO action is US action. NATO is led and funded by the United States. As stated on the AP, "in transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show."
Al Jazeera reports that NATO has hit 1,000 targets, killed approximately 718 (according to Libya), and injured 4,000 people. This past Sunday, NATO bombed a two-story house and killed two children and seven adult civilians. The Washington Post reported that "Libyan officials on Monday accused NATO of killing 15 noncombatants, including three children, in a massive strike on a farm in western Libya." Again, the US is essentially waging war in Libya. Therefore, the President's failure to get authorization from Congress is a violation of the War Powers Act.
This nation is supposed to be a democracy, not a monarchy. Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, not the President. The War Powers Act enshrines that general principle into law. If properly enforced, the War Powers Act can prevent an abuse of power. If we elect progressive members of Congress like Conyers and Kucinich, the War Power Act may be able to curb America's natural, imperialistic and militaristic impulse.
Some may suggest that members of Congress are taking action because the President is African American. That argument does not have much merit because similar action has been taken against other Presidents. According to the CRS Report for Congress - War Powers Resolution After Thirty, in May 1981, members of Congress took action against President Reagan for sending military advisers to El Salvador. The same report notes that members of Congress filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Reagan's invasion of Grenada. According to the report, in 1999, members of Congress sued President Clinton for violating the War Powers Act with regard to US military operations in Kosovo. In sum, the War Powers Act has been raised during many conflicts during several Administrations. Obama is not being singled out because of his race.
Sure, the Republicans who support the lawsuit and proposed resolutions are probably political opportunists. I am sure that many, if not most of them, are merely looking for an opportunity to undermine the Obama Administration. While that may be true, it does not negate the fact that the President is violating the War Powers Act.
This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sadly, in this modern era, the Republican Party is continuing that racist legacy. In some respects, the Republican Party is today's version of the White Citizens' Council. Similar to the Council, the Republican Party is a predominately Southern, white male organization. It opposes issues that are important to minorities such as affirmative action, immigration rights, health care reform, workers' rights, social programs, etc.
To make matters worst, as reported in the New York Times, the GOP is even attempting to disenfranchise African Americans, Latinos, the elderly and the poor.
"Less than 18 months before the next presidential election, Republican-controlled statehouses around the country are rewriting voting laws to require photo identification at the polls, reduce the number of days of early voting or tighten registration rules.
Republican legislators say the new rules, which have advanced in 13 states in the past two months, offer a practical way to weed out fraudulent votes and preserve the integrity of the ballot box. Democrats say the changes have little to do with fraud prevention and more to do with placing obstacles in the way of possible Democratic voters, including young people and minorities.
Democrats, who point to scant evidence of voter-impersonation fraud, say the unified Republican push for photo identification cards carries echoes of the Jim Crow laws — with their poll taxes and literacy tests — that inhibited black voters in the South from Reconstruction through the 1960s. Election experts say minorities, poor people and students — who tend to skew Democratic — are among those least likely to have valid driver’s licenses, the most prevalent form of identification. Older people, another group less likely to have licenses, are swing voters.
Changes to voter law tend to flow and ebb with election cycles as both Democrats and Republicans scramble to gain the upper hand when they hold power. The 2010 midterm election was a boon to Republicans, who now control 59 chambers of state legislatures and 29 governorships. In some states, like Florida and Texas, Republicans hold overwhelming majorities. This has allowed the bills to move forward."
The 2000 Presidential Election taught us that every single vote is crucial. Similar to the Jim Crow era voting restrictions, the Republican Party's covert goal is to discourage minorities and poor people from voting. Unnecessary and burdensome registration requirements may have a decisive impact on the 2012 Presidential Election. By disenfranchising a few, a whole race of people may be prevented from electing their candidates of choice.
We must counter this massive conspiracy to disenfranchise black, Latino, poor and elderly voters. We must intensify our voter registration and education efforts. We must pressure politicians to repeal those restrictive laws by launching online petition drives and, if necessary, by engaging in organized acts of civil disobedience. Finally, advocacy groups must continue to use the courts to fight against this type of injustice.
There is far too much at stake for us to remain silent. Too many people died so that we can exercise our right to vote. We cannot allow anyone to take us backward. We must march forward.
This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.