Afterward, Mitt Romney rightly condemned this statement and labeled Russia a chief geopolitical ally. I could probably write an entire book on why this was correct; however, I will just give a few highlights of the lovable teddy bears that are Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev and the regime that they have overseen for more than a decade.
A growing number of Blogland readers are submitting their artwork and writing for submission in the Blogland and we invite you to submit yours as well.
Click here to read more ...On June 23, President Barack Obama declared the phased US withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has promised the departure of 10,000 US troops by the end of this year and 33,000 by the end of 2012. According to details of the plan, by 2014 all combat troops will be gone and security transferred to the Afghans. This comes on the heels of the Administration’s recent decision to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” allowing open homosexuality among the Armed Forces. As Obama begins his campaign for reelection, we are likely to see more of this political pandering. Clearly, these pronouncements are a way to divert attention from the nation’s dire economic plight. However, despite a public perception of the “endless war” in Afghanistan, the President is making a costly mistake which threatens to derail so many gains over the past few years.
The administration has remained remarkably quiet on democracy promotion and has been reluctant to criticize U.S. allies who fall short of the ideals about which Obama spoke so eloquently. The administration has also blocked Congressional threats to link future U.S. aid to democratic reform or improvements in Egypt's human rights record.
With Tunisia's revolution, Obama missed a chance to show the Arab world that he can live up to his lofty rhetoric. He must seize the next opportunity to portray America as a more sympathetic power - a country that sticks up for the little guy and does not tolerate repression.
Slovenia, seeking a meeting with President Obama, was encouraged to “do more” on detainee resettlement if it wanted to “attract higher-level attention from Washington”; its prime minister later “linked acceptance of detainees to ‘a 20-minute meeting’ ” with the president, but the session — and the prisoner transfer — never happened.
Unclassified FBI interviews conducted during his incarceration at a U.S. detention center offered new details Thursday about the late Iraqi dictator's life on the run — both before and after he was ousted.
The documents also confirm previous reports that Saddam falsely allowed the world to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — the main U.S. rationale behind the war — because he feared revealing his weakness to Iran, the hostile neighbor he considered a bigger threat than the U.S.
... but for those losers who kept harping on the "Bush lied" line - it never really was about the war. If it was, we'd see them raging mad about Obama's about-face over withdrawing troops from Iraq and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
But they're not, which shows them for the gutless hypocrites they really are.
Berlin is an ideal place for an American president, even a would-be president, to speak to the world about freedom and shared values. Barack Obama's recent visit evoked the famous speeches of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan that defended the U.S. stance against the Soviet Union and tyranny in Eastern Europe. Both the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union are now gone, but dangerous, nuclear-armed dictatorships are not. Sadly, Mr. Obama declined to mention this in Berlin.
The stage for his disappointing performance was set several weeks ago, when the Illinois senator rejected John McCain's proposal to eject Russia and exclude China from the Group of Eight (G-8). Mr. Obama's response during a July 13 interview on CNN -- "We have to engage and get them involved" -- suggests that it is impossible to work with Russia and China on economic and nuclear nonproliferation issues while also standing up for democracy and human rights.
It has repeatedly been shown that the exact opposite is true.
I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.
Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.
In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.
John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies.
Amen, Joe. We couldn't agree more. Go here to read the full op-ed.
We've often talked about "Fightin' Joe" Lieberman, but another well-known Northeastern Democratic icon, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, sounds off in continued support of President Bush:
Today, with the passage of time, most historians and certainly the American people, see Truman in a different light, primarily for his willingness to stand firm against Soviet aggression, whether against Greece or South Korea, and proclaim the Truman Doctrine, effectively defending the free world from Soviet efforts to expand their hegemony. Like Truman, George W. Bush, in my view, will be seen as one of the few world leaders who recognized the danger of Islamic terrorism and was willing with Tony Blair to stand up to it and not capitulate.
The rest of the op-ed is well worth a read. Go check it out.
It would be harder to think of two more different societies than Germany in 1945 and contemporary Iraq. The former -- despite Hitler and the Third Reich -- had a long tradition of law, order, constitutional government and civic society to draw on in rebuilding democracy. Nor was it riven by deep-rooted ethnic and sectarian religious tensions that erupted to the surface once the dictator's iron fist was removed. And although Germany certainly had hostile neighbors -- especially to the communist East -- the threat they posed served to create, not crack, political cohesion.
Yet in looking at Iraq over the past five years, it's hard not to find poignant echoes of the post-WWII experience and to wonder whether a better knowledge of that history might have helped prevent some basic errors. Or even -- because there may be some small crumb of comfort for optimists here -- that it's too soon to declare that the mission has failed. Sen. John McCain's 100-year horizon for a U.S. presence in Iraq may be stretching things. But let's not forget that the postwar occupation of Germany lasted for a full decade.
There is no doubt that mistakes were made early on, and Stafford is honest about those as well:
In 1945, the Allies had a carefully thought-out plan for what would follow victory. For two years before his forces crossed the German frontier, Eisenhower and his staff at Allied headquarters worked on detailed plans for the occupation. The lines of command were clearly drawn, and everyone agreed that the military would be in charge. Thousands of soldiers were trained in the tasks of military government. Compare that with the chaotically devised schemes for Iraq that were cobbled together at the last minute amid squabbling between the Pentagon and the State Department. Or with the confused and confusing mandate handed to the hapless Jay Garner, the first administrator of postwar Iraq, to devise a comprehensive plan for its administration in a matter of weeks.
But the questionable decision to dismiss the military and political apparatus which governed Iraq, according to Stafford, was not without precedent:
Critics of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq point to the decisions by L. Paul Bremer, Garner's replacement, to dismiss Baathists from public office and to dissolve the Iraqi army as critical and disastrous turning points that created a vast legion of the unemployed and disaffected. Yet in 1945, the Allies implemented a similarly draconian policy in Germany. They dissolved the Nazi Party, carried out a thorough purge of Nazis in public office and even abolished the ancient state of Prussia, which they believed was at the root of German militarism. Millions of Wehrmacht soldiers languished in prisoner-of-war camps while their families struggled to survive.
It will be many years before a full assessment can be made of the invasion and post-war American (with its allies) efforts in Iraq. It is hard to imagine that these assessments won’t point out plenty of mistakes – especially in the first year or two. But is it fair to expect that mistakes would not be made? As Stafford points out, even in Germany, which was more advanced, educated, and where more planning was done beforehand and more forces committed during the occupation and reconstruction, these efforts were not easy.
There are signs of progress: growing reconciliation with the restive Sunni minority, the Kurds have opted not to separate from a post-war Iraq, and Maliki’s recent offensive in Basra forced Al-Sadr to back down and accept a cease-fire, in spite of early predictions of doom and gloom by the American media. Iraqi security forces are growing in number and ability. We see their economy growing, and their democratic institutions taking root.
Five Army brigades are being withdrawn, our forces handing over more territory and responsibility to the Iraqi military, as well as to armed Sunni citizens who have rejected radicalism for national unity, and overseas tours are being reduced from fifteen to twelve months. Those are signs of progress as well.
Progress in Iraq should continue to be measured in both terms – progress for Iraqis and progress towards our eventual disengagement. So long as we continue to see success by both measures, the next President should not arbitrarily pull the plug on finishing the job.
Other news has reported that a number of President Mugabe's ministers and allies have been ousted in their parliamentary re-election bids. This includes a virtual clean-sweep of seats in the capital and other major cities by the opposition.
The "This is Zimbabwe" blog of election watchdogs is reporting a number of reports of speculation that the Mugage regime is preparing either for defeat or the mother of all rigged elections.
Whatever the truth is, we'll soon know. But increasingly it looks like the size of this wave may have been too great for even vote-rigging to turn back.
That's why we try to stick to the high ground here in the Blogland. Just the issues - no divorce files, drug habit rumors, or any of that childish crap. We've stuck to the high ground, tried to be fair, and for the most part, so do most others ... but down in Zimbabwe, they're not so fortunate. For years, they've had rigged elections, intimidation of the opposition, and all sorts of sordid things from a government who can't offer results, so they cheat to get their way, and if they can't steal it, they'll take it by force.
Trade words for billy clubs, and you'll find that while this seems rather nasty, some of these thugs and their dirty deeds aren't so different from some people here. They're all out to steal and intimidate, to take what they can't earn, and to avoid accountability for their actions. Ethically speaking, they're about the same.
In Zimbabwe, the results of Mugabe's rule have been shocking and are well-documented, including this young victim of the destruction of that nation's economy, along with its once-prosperous agricultural system:
Shocking, isn't it? That's what's at stake in today's elections in Zimbabwe. You can find more pictures about the collapse of a nation online at http://zimbabwedemocracynow.com/toolkit/v/photographs.
In spite of the threats, the intimidation, and the probability that fraud will nullify their votes, the people of Zimbabwe are pouring out in droves today. We wish we could be there to stand with them. But we'll be sure to say a prayer for them - and thank God that while it's not perfect here, it could be worse.
Please join us in our prayers for Zimbabwe.
With the Beijing Olympics soon to begin in their nation, the Chinese government is trying to put on a kinder, gentler facade for the world to see, hoping the world will forget their past record. But those pesky troublemakers in Tibet had to rise up and start protesting. When pushed by the government, who declared a "People's War" against the protestors, they started rioting.
We support restoring independence to Tibet, so of course, we support those standing up to the government thugs who've taken over their nation.
Fight the power. We're with you all the way.
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein kept up the illusion that he had weapons of mass destruction before 2003 because he did not think the United States would invade, an FBI agent who questioned him said.
In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" to be broadcast on Sunday, FBI agent George Piro describes conversations with Saddam in the months after his capture in December 2003.
Piro said Saddam, who was hanged from crimes against humanity in December 2006, wanted to maintain the image of a strong Iraq to deter Iran, its historic enemy, from hostile action.
"He told me he initially miscalculated ... President (George W.) Bush's intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998... a four-day aerial attack," Piro said.
Given the poor state of Iraq’s military, which was effectively wiped out in less than two weeks of combat engagement with five divisions of American and British forces, it is hard to envision them withstanding an brute-force invasion by two or three hundred thousand Iranians, no matter how poorly trained or equipped they might be.
With options like these, it is understandable that Saddam would want to bluff his neighbors into overestimating the combat effectiveness of Iraq’s military. Otherwise, the noose around his neck may well would have been wielded by Iranians, instead of fellow Iraqis. He just never figured that President Bush was the kind of man who would actually mean what he/she said - until it was too late.
Piro’s narrative in the interview bears warning that while Iraq’s WMD program had not been restarted, it was not for the lack of willpower, or future intentions:
The Iraqi leader had also intended to restart the weapons program and had the means to do it.
"He still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there," Piro said. "He wanted ... to reconstitute his entire WMD program."
This confirms the essential argument that prompted the invasion – the threat posed by Hussein’s regime was real. It was just a question of when.
There is no small irony in how Saddam, in an effort to avoid his downfall, brought it about. Those who criticize the intelligence shortcomings that led to the United States invasion should have the intellectual honesty to recognize the impact that Saddam’s deception had over the decision to invade in 2003.
But that’s not likely, because the real agenda of many of Bush’s critics is not to objectively question the war effort, but rather to use whatever tools and issues they can to criticize him.
Even if the truth, and our troops, get in their way.
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