The ISIS Crisis

The Middle East is a complex, complicated area mired in sectarian power struggles—struggles of which most Americans have absolutely no concept or understanding, and that includes many of our policymakers, past and present. Furthermore, many of our past interventions there have done little more than create more chaos in the region. President Obama is right to take his time figuring out a strategy. America cannot and should not go it alone; we need our NATO allies. But more than the involvement of NATO and other European allies, we need that of Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, yes, even Iran who is no friend of ISIS (now going by IS) and has already been involved in the fight against them. All of these countries have a stake in the outcome of these regional crises, and there are many—ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to unrest in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

To place American soldiers on the ground in Syria or Iraq, without a clear strategy or end game (e.g. – How do we define a “win”?) is irresponsible and short-sighted. Furthermore, who do we trust? Within the various militia and rebel groups fighting in the region and against ISIS, there are numerous “bad guys,” fighters who hate the West but would align with us to advance their cause. However, once that alliance has ended, they would turn on us with the weapons we supplied them. If we intervene in Syria, we are essentially assisting the brutal Bashar Al-Assad regime (whom we’ve been railing against and trying to force out of power) as well as aligning with Iran and Hezbollah, both Syrian allies. See? It’s complicated.

There is no easy, quick, or cheap solution–military engagement is expensive. (It is striking that somehow this cash-strapped nation always has money for war; for education, healthcare, and infrastructure—meh, not so much.) Dropping bombs and placing more American soldiers on the ground in harm’s way should not be the only solutions. Remember, our soldiers represent about 1% of the U.S. population so once again, very few Americans will bear the burden of these armed interventions. Military personnel deserve to have their Commander-in-Chief and congresspersons deliberate and discuss strategy with cool heads, not the hysterical “bomb, bomb, bomb” mantra that so often spews mindlessly from the mouths of seemingly war-hungry legislators.

Perhaps, as Jeffrey Sachs suggests in his article below, Let the Middle East Fight Its Own War on ISIS, the U.S. should put greater effort into helping solve the pervasive problems of “poverty, hunger, drought, and unemployment” in the region. This would do more to heal and strengthen these countries and create goodwill towards the United States than dropping bombs on them ever will.

Below are some related articles with brief excerpts from each.

The Way We Were

In short, some of the problems that dominate today’s headlines are partly due to local forces for which neither Clinton, Bush, nor Obama are directly responsible. But many of them also reflect specific foreign-policy blunders made by one or more U.S. leaders, and the travails of 2014 are in many ways a delayed reaction to two decades of bad policy choices.

Let the Middle East Fight Its Own War on ISIS

If the US had a real strategy for national success, we would let the Middle East face and resolve its own crises, and demand a UN framework for action. We would team up not with NATO, but with the UN Security Council, and put others (for once!) into the lead. We would actually mobilize to solve the real problems facing the region: poverty, hunger, drought, and unemployment. Those are the crises that at the end of the day cause men and boys to fling their lives into useless and suicidal slaughter. If just once in our times US politicians had the bravery to build coalitions to improve the lives of the people through development rather than through bombs, the US public would be amazed to see how much agreement and goodwill could quickly generate. Instead we head to war.

Obama’s Speech on ISIS, in Plain English

And sure, ISIS does deserve it. The group is a nasty collection of slavers, rapists, thieves, throat-slitters, and all-around psychopaths. The trouble is: so are the people fighting ISIS, the regimes in Tehran and Damascus that will reap the benefits of the war the president just announced. They may be less irrational and unpredictable than ISIS. But if anything, America’s new unspoken allies in the anti-ISIS war actually represent a greater “challenge to international order” and a more significant “threat to America’s core interests” than the vicious characters the United States will soon drop bombs on.

The question before the nation is, “What is the benefit of this war to America and to Americans?”

That was the question the speech left unanswered. And the ominous suspicion left behind is that the question was unanswered because it is unanswerable—at least, not answerable in any terms likely to be acceptable to the people watching the speech and paying the taxes to finance the fight ahead.

ISIS threat to U.S. mostly hype

ISIS has Americans worried. Two-thirds of those surveyed in a recent Pew Research poll said they consider the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to be a “major threat” to this country. But are such fears really justified?

Despite the impression you may have had from listening to U.S. officials in recent weeks, the answer is probably not really.

Yes, Americans should always be mindful of the threats posed by extremists. But as the case of U.S. citizens in Somalia suggests, Syria could very well end up being a graveyard for Americans fighting there rather than a launch pad for attacks on the United States

Obama’s Illegal War

The United States has used unlawful force persistently since 9/11. Rather than stem terrorism, it exacerbates it. In February, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) asked the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “Is al Qaeda on the run and on the path to defeat?” The answer: “No, it is morphing and — and franchising itself and not only here but other areas of the world.”

To Syria, or not to Syria? That is the question…

As I watch with detached interest over the extended hand-wringing over what to do about Syria, I can’t help but think of Kosovo.

Just a little less than 11 years ago, I ended up in Kosovo through a string of rather odd events. Without going into boring detail, suffice it to say one day I was living in relative comfort in Germany, and the next I was scurrying out in sub-zero temperature in the wee hours the morning to … well, wee.

For those unfamiliar with the Kosovo War, here’s a little background information. This will give you a lot of the political background, but what’s important to remember that we, along with our NATO allies, went into Kosovo in 1999 to intervene in an ongoing civil war (sounding familiar yet?).

By the time I got to Camp Bondsteel in late 2002, although we were ramping down our activities there (with an eye toward moving on Iraq), it didn’t appear we had done much “delivering.”  Camp Bondsteel, then referred to as the biggest city in Kosovo, was run completely on oil generators. That’s because – more than four years after victory had been declared – the Kosovars got no more than four hours of electricity a day. No one knew when those four hours would come, of if they would come in one big chunk or in smaller chunks of anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or more. This made it extremely difficult to live anything resembling a normal life, or at least what we know as normal. Legend had it that some contractor had been paid several million dollars to stand back up the electrical grid but the money had long since vanished with no functioning grid to replace it and it appeared no one was making a great effort to locate either.

And so, the Kosovars went about their daily business, hurriedly cooking dinner and doing other electric-centric activities whenever the opportunity presented itself.  Yes, some Kosovars, no doubt, had gas or oil generators as well, but as the U.S. Army was the largest employer in the area, the number of folks who could afford fuel were few in number. You see, the U.S. and U.N hired no Serbians (for obvious reasons), and at least KBR only hired one person per family/household. There were relatively few established businesses left; because of roads were in such bad repair and the weather so dismal, the largest cottage industry was the pressure washer car wash. It was nothing to see cars abandoned alongside the road; the locals would drive their cars until they ran out of gas, then return when they came up with enough money to refuel. I don’t recall seeing anything other than desolate hoop-ties there during my six-month tour, though I do recall pulling up beside a rather interesting homemade vehicle. Years of hardship had made these people nothing if not resourceful. I purchased three beautiful area rugs by flashlight that I still have and treasure to this day. I can only say luck was on my side.

I don’t necessarily get into the politics of these types of things, because I find the people far more interesting. However, even as not-much-of-a-student-of-history, even I can see the pattern Kosovo represents: with the exception of the Allied areas of Europe, pretty much every country we’ve gone in to “deliver” we’ve left them in the same or worse shape than we found them: Vietnam, the Philippines, Iraq, Somalia, Grenada, Afghanistan… you name it. So now we want to go into Syria to do … more of the same?

One could be encouraged that some members of Congress are pushing for a clear strategy, both in terms of engagement and exit. I am dubious of this, as I clearly remember the question being asked “How much will reconstruction in Iraq cost?” and the answer being “Nothing. They have significant oil reserves to fund their own reconstruction.”  And how many billions of dollars later is it still a barren wasteland, with untold volumes of antiquities lost for the ages (in some looters’ basements and vaults, no doubt)?

There is a part of me that tells me something must be done to help these people. However, I’m not at all convinced we are the ones to do it. Staring down the barrel of a 25% Reduction in Force in the Department of Defense over the next four years, and seeing what a war-weary force we have after a decade of war that yielded – at best – a net of zero, I can’t help but think that we may need to sit this one out. Let someone else handle it. Maybe this time we need to think about saving ourselves first. This might well be the first time in history when we aren’t in a position to help, or simply the first time we realize it. Either way, I hope our leadership will take a look a long look at history before making a final decision, or they we will be destined to repeat it.

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is an unclassified aerial photo of Camp Bondsteel, the largest city in Kosovo. Think about it.

Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo

Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo

Next week: Memories of the People of Kosovo

Southern Style: The Belle

Welcome back to the south, friends, where our chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy.  Y’all pull up a rocker and grab a glass of tea.  Why don’t we chat a spell about Southern Belles?belle1

Tell me, do you think of Scarlett O’Hara?  A delicate young lady with a feminine southern drawl?  Bless your little heart,  we probably all do. We imagine hoop skirts, wide-rimmed hats, and parasol umbrellas.

More than that, we envision a flirtatious, yet chaste, beauty, who has been taught that hospitality can win the day – and the man.  Even though, the man she will always love best is Daddy. (wink)  Mama has taught her that a wide front porch is the ideal setting for entertaining guests, and manners – ladies never sweat or cuss, thank you very much! – are of utmost importance.

As time passed, things changed.  Fiddle-dee-dee!!  Hoop skirts were replaced with feminine skirts.  Wide hats replaced with regular salon visits.  Women began to venture outside their homes to work.  In short, Scarlett O’Hara was replaced by Julia Sugarbaker and friends.

These changes, or advancements, came about by both force and choice.  Many women had to seek employment in order to care for their families.    Many more chose to seek a life outside of the traditional roles laid before them.

Gone with the wind.. are the days where a smart girl lets a man take credit for doing exactly what she wants him to do.

Todays Belle prefers to take credit for doing exactly what she wants to do.  Todays Belle is often the sole provider for her family.  She is educated.  She is industrious.  She is determined and persistent.  She knows her own mind.  And she is speaking it.  Loudly and clearly.

Let’s meet a few, shall we?

belle2If you haven’t already, meet Wendy Davis.  Mrs. Davis is a Harvard educated lawyer and Democrat from Forth Worth, Texas.

I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored. These voices have been silenced by a governor who made blind partisanship and personal political ambition the official business of our great state.

With those opening words, she solidified her place on the national stage.  She became a hero for women when she donned her pink tennis shoes and staged an 11- hour filibuster against an abortion bill she labeled “draconian”.  The bill would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks and closed all but five abortion clinics in the state.

Hats off to this Belle for showing them what a filibuster really is…No food, drink, sitting, leaning, or breaks of any kind.  Yes, friends, an honest to God filibuster!  We have become accustomed to the “threat” of filibuster by our do-nothing Congress.  Because a do-nothing Congress can’t be expected to actually do anything, right?  And while her friends from across the aisle think she owes them something, the rest of us think she has a bright future ahead of her.

Wendy Davis isn’t the only Belle of the ball.  I’m not sure how many of you know of Alison Grimes.  This attorney and Democrat currently holds belle3the position of Secretary of State of Kentucky.  She is also seeking to replace Mitch McConnell in the United States Senate.  With her sweet smile and gentle voice, she has laid down the gauntlet:

Now this part’s for you Senator. Your campaign wants to play silly games about where I am and where I stand.  Well I’m right here in Kentucky, Senator, where I’ll be holding you accountable for voting to double Medicare premiums on Kentucky seniors, including our retired coal miners, for being against requiring the Department of Defense to buy equipment that’s made in America first, for failing to stand up for women when you voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Violence Against Women Act, and for opposing raising the minimum wage over and over again while you became a multimillionaire in public office.

Well, I do declare…these ladies aren’t sitting on their porches gossiping about the town cad, are they?  A younger generation of southern women are eager to help change the tone in government and further our nation’s progress.  Take a peek at this:

belle5 belle6

Southern Belles are raising hell…

along with millions of other women, all over the country.  The largest and most reliable voting block in the country has something to say.

Are you listening?

Kirsten Gillibrand is tackling sexual assault in the military.   Elizabeth Warren is sick of banks being catered to, while students pay the price.  Not one to abandon veterans, is Tammy Duckworth.  Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, doesn’t want climate change deniers in her department.

It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.  – Hillary Clinton

Women, the Belles included, are no longer content to be seen as pretty shells with a uterus.  So, you should be listening.

This Civilian

Anybody who has been reading the last few weeks knows that my focus has been on the military.  During the course of my 16 year relationship with a U.S. Marine, I have learned a great deal about military culture.  The issues our service members face hold a special place in my heart.

Okay.  So this morning I am having my (required) second cup of coffee, and I run across a discussion on this.

After cleaning off my keyboard and fighting my gag reflex, I got angry.  Violently angry.

angry

That is to be expected, right?  Who wouldn’t be angry about this type of dehumanization and abuse as a weapon of war?

It is now known, Cienfuegos wrote in May 2004, that hundreds of these photographs had been in circulation among the troops in Iraq. The graphic photos were being swapped between the soldiers like baseball cards.

Baseball cards?!?  <Seething>

Look.  For the past few months, I have been exposed to all manner of military activists hellbent on convincing me that our government is headed towards tyranny.  I have been reminded, countless times, that they have fought for our freedom only to see it now being incrementally snatched away by a despotic government.

Yet, they defend the organization for which they fought tooth and nail.  They tell me I just don’t understand.  Because I am a civilian.

By all means, help me understand.

The government is a highly secretive organization, marked by cronyism and wasteful spending.  The security of any given “mission” often trumps individual rights.  Human rights violations are rampant because decisions are often made by those with no experience in a particular issue.  Scandals are often times covered up and justified because the organization’s primary focus is on protecting the institution.

The military is a highly secretive organization, marked by cronyism and wasteful spending.  The security of any given “mission” often trumps individual rights.  Human rights violations are rampant because decisions are often made by those with no experience in a particular issue.  Scandals are often times covered up and justified because the organization’s primary focus is on protecting the institution.

So….what’s the difference, again?

Look, I am not pointing fingers here.  I am simply pointing out that the Military Industrial Complex is just as, if not more, corrupt than government.

Baseball cards?

No one can tell me the government is violating our human rights, while photographs of abuse are passed around like friggin’ baseball cards.

No one can expect me to believe that turning in a fellow brother is “cowardly snitching”, while turning in a government official is “patriotic whistleblowing”.

A person can’t advocate protesting against the government, while decrying protesting against war.

Nobody can convince me that citizens are sheep, while service members are “just following orders”.

That, my friends, is hypocrisy.

I have always supported the idea of listening, with both ears, to our military members.  After all, they are the ones who are called upon to sacrifice their lives in defense of our freedom.

I listen, with both ears, to both the angry and proud rantings of our service members.

I am confused how having no real rights to speak of can be funny… if you wear a uniform.  I have listened to the “sandwich” jokes in reference to women.  I have seen the LOLs following some ridiculous order handed down by commanders.  (Excluding the CIC, of course)  I have heard the justifications for mistreatment of Middle Eastern natives.  I have read the rants against drones, and pats on the back for special forces-styled assassinations.

And today, much to the dismay of my gag reflex, I have witnessed the originals of those passed around baseball cards.  I have been aware, for many years, that this type of thing occurred, but it is sickening to see the evidence of it.

This civilian has great respect for military personnel, but was sickened.

This civilian is angry for you, and angry with you.  I will have your back when you’re right and tell you when you’re wrong.

This civilian does not see service as super citizenship.  I will listen, attentively, to your thoughts, as long as you remember that your service does not give you the right to tell me when mine have been infringed upon.

This civilian does not chuckle at the corruption of one organization, and rally against the corruption of the other.  I am an equal opportunity criticizer.

The government has its fair share of problems, and I will be the first to admit that.

But, the military needs to get its own house in order, don’t you think?

Conduct Unbecoming of Commanders

In my last blog post (The Day after Memorial Day), I spoke of the best way to honor those who have fallen, in the line of duty.  The most fitting tribute for the dead is support for the living.  Employment, or lack thereof, was the primary focus of the piece.  I encourage any who have not read it, to do so.  Our brave men and women need our support in finding meaningful work, and I further encourage you all to take an active role, in whatever way you can.

Our men and women are experiencing a different sort of trauma of late.  Thus, we have been asking ourselves whether the military has a sexual assault problem.  I dare say we do.  An estimated 26,000 service members experienced “unwanted sexual contact” in 2012.  That is an increase of 7,000 from the previous year.  “Unwanted sexual contact” includes rape, attempted rape, and unwanted sexual touching.  Fewer than half of the reported cases involved alcohol.

One might assume that this is a female problem.  One would be dead wrong.  According to the Pentagon’s most recent annual report:  12,100 women and 13,900 men suffered some form of sexual assault.  There are approximately 1.2 million men and 200,000 women serving in our military.  This means that while female victims bear the greater proportion of assaults, this is not a gender specific issue.  The plight of male victims is greatly overlooked.

This news angered many of us.  Congressional Hearings followed.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before the Armed Services Committee.  A particularly contentious debate ensued over the idea of removing prosecution from the chain of command.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand feels that this action would make it easier for victims to report an assault.  Senator McCaskill explained the necessity of differentiating between a human resource problem and criminal activity.

But a congressional hearing wouldn’t be a congressional hearing without a dash of ignorance.

The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23.  Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.  So we’ve got to be very careful how we address it on our side.  – Sen. Saxby Chambliss

Gee whiz???  What is this, high school?  Yes, we do need to be very careful how we address it.  Sexual assault is not equivalent to teenagers out behind the bleachers making out.  Young adult men, all over the globe, experience hormone increases.  They don’t become rapists.

Mr. Chairman, I’d just add a letter, a document here that was given to me from Morality in the Media. Pat Truman used to be in the Department of Justice. I knew him when he was there. He points out that, a picture here of a newsstand and an Air Force base exchange with, you know, sexually explicit magazines being sold. So, we live in a culture that’s awash in sexual activity. If it’s not sold on base, it’s right off base. There are videos and so forth that can be obtained, and it creates some problems, I think.  – Sen. Jeff Sessions

Sexually explicit magazines???  That is obviously the reason for sexual assaults.  Well…as long as you overlook the well-documented fact that rape is not about sexual gratification.  Rapists seek power and control over their victims.

Sadly, traumatized service members are victimized twice.  Once by the perpetrator, and again, by their chain of command.  A commander is responsible for the discipline and readiness of his or her troops.  Commanders have the option to stop an investigation, reduce a sentence, or even set aside a conviction.  Abuse goes unreported because no commander wants to be held accountable for a troop accused of rape.  It could affect his ability to be promoted!

Consider the case involving Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, who overturned a court-martial conviction of an officer for sexual assault.

Then, there is the case of Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin.  He tossed the conviction of a star fighter pilot based on information considered inadmissible by the court.

Sailor, Brian Lewis; Marine, Stacey Thompson; and specialist, BriGette McCoy are among the abused.  Unfortunately, they must rely on commanders like Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, who is accused of sexual assault, himself.  His actions are defended by Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, who believes “hook up” culture is to blame.

The stories of these victims are heart wrenching and angering.  The behavior of their commanders is intolerable and unacceptable.  While senior members of all five branches claim a commitment to addressing this issue, they are strongly opposed to stripping commanders of their power.

They [commanders] are responsible for setting command climate.  – Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, USMC Commandant’s staff judge advocate

You want us to believe that leadership should be held accountable, and that a commander’s authority shouldn’t be restricted?

Then, do your damned job, gentlemen.  Your conduct, up to this point, has been unbecoming.

The Day after Memorial Day

Yesterday, Americans celebrated Memorial Day. Old Glory blew in the breeze.  Grill covers were removed.  Hot dogs and hamburgers were char-broiled.  Beer was consumed.  Cars and mattresses were purchased.  And those who have perished, in service to this nation, were remembered.

Those things are all fine and dandy.  But why not do something better?  The best way to honor those who have fallen is to support those who haven’t.

Perhaps,..a Call for a National Strategy on Veterans?  An all-encompassing one is needed, if we are to get our service members back on track to becoming members of civilian society.  In the coming weeks, we will discuss what the issues are.  And, there are many!  There are steps we can take, both individually and politically, to support our returning veterans.  But we, first, have to know what we are up against.

Here are startling statistics, as reported by the Center for American Progress:

** Nearly 1 in 7 homeless adults are veterans.

** 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness.

** 30.29% of veterans, aged 18-24, were unemployed as of 2011.

** $31 Million of SNAP/food stamps (2008) were spent at military commissaries.

** 1.2 million veterans used mental health services in 2010.

As if those numbers are not shocking enough, Democracy Now! reports that military vets (including those wounded in service) are being kicked out, due to misconduct.  This causes them to lose medical care and benefits for life.  Young men and women, returning from the horrors of war, find themselves unable to cope.  Many have underlying health conditions, including Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Instead of providing help, they are given a bad discharge, and alienated even from the brothers in arms that they fought and died with.

In another article, the growing epidemic of military suicide, among other things, is addressed.  Every day, in America, 18 veterans are committing suicide.  17% of Afghanistan combat vets are on psychotropic medication.  1/3 of female service members are sexually assaulted.  From Defense Secretary,Leon Panetta, “Despite the increased efforts, the increased attention, the trends continue to move in a troubling and tragic direction.”

imagesCA2JEKMC

As a member of a military family, I am grateful for those who “support the troops”.  I am honored to be among the families who have sacrificed.  I have, in years past, humbly accepted the love and support of friends, family, and strangers.

I am, also, all too aware of the difficulties such families face.  PTSD is not an acronym to me.  The psychotropic drugs, the therapy…are all too real.

We, as a nation, accept the sacrifice…physical, spiritual, or mental…of our young men and women.  We take them from their families.  We spend millions training them for combat.  We place them in unimaginable situations, and we ask them to do unimaginable things.

Isn’t it time we do more than pay them lip service?

The most important thing we can do is provide meaningful employment opportunities.  We must stop looking at the hiring of military veterans as charity.  These men and women have any number of combat skills that translate well in the civilian world.  VetJobs is an excellent resource that we can pass along to those men and women still seeking work.

Equally important is making sure our veterans are receiving necessary medical and mental health care.  The Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful program that brings much-needed attention to the needs of returning vets with physical and/or mental health issues.  The project provides a myriad of services for returning veterans, through donations and fundraisers.  Visit their website to see how you can help.

Finally, we must not forget the spouses and families.  They are often invisible in discussing issues concerning veteran’s affairs.  If we are to successfully integrate these warriors back into civilian society, spouses and families must also have support.  Learning to live with an entirely different person is no easy task, let me tell you.  I have found that Military OneSource provides invaluable talk therapy for spouses adjusting to their new unfamiliar circumstances.  The National Military Family Association is a wonderful resource for financial concerns.  There are opportunities to donate to both these wonderful organizations and information can be located on their websites.

Supporting our troops isn’t simply a ribbon.  It would be wonderful if it was.  Our brave men and women need, and deserve, our support.  Sure, holidays are great.  They deserve those, too.  But our country can do so much better.

Take a look at the links.  Make a contribution.  Donate your time.  Put pressure on your representatives.

That is supporting our troops.

Enough of the “Impeach Obama!” nonsense

President Obama’s past few weeks have been pretty dismal. The Benghazi tragedy has garnered increased attention, so the White House released associated emails to quell accusations of a cover-up; subsequently and to the administration’s benefit in this matter, it was discovered that a Republican staffer had doctored an email; then McClatchy reported that Ambassador Stevens turned down two offers for increased security one month prior to the attacks. It was also revealed that the IRS had been targeting conservative social welfare groups requesting tax-exemption, though that is looking increasingly more like ineptitude, lack of resources, and the absence of clearly defined parameters for determining 501(c)(4) tax-exemption rather than outright politics. Then it came to light that the Department of Justice had been spying on reporters’ emails at the Associated Press.

Republicans are crying foul, they are mounting numerous congressional hearings, and some are even tossing about the “I” word–impeachment. Of course, this is hardly the first time Republicans have called for impeachment since Barack Obama took office. Some have even wanted to impeach him because they were, and still are, convinced he is not an American, and therefore his presidency is illegitimate. They refuse to drop theBirther” conspiracy no matter how many times President Obama’s birth certificate has been released to the public or how often Hawaiian officials testify to the veracity of said document.

More Americans might take these Obama “scandals” seriously, except for the fact that there was silence from these same quarters in the wake of the George W. Bush administration scandals. Some examples from the Bush-era include:  Alberto Gonzalez and the U.S. Attorney firings; the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse scandal; the NSA warrantless wiretapping program; IRS targeting of the NAACP in 2004 and a Pasadena Church in 2005 for criticizing various Bush administration policies; the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame after her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times refuting Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had sought to obtain uranium from Africa (Niger); torture and indefinite detention; and the list goes on.

If none of the above Bush administration scandals warranted impeachment, risking the lives and futures of American soldiers and their families as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis by lying and manipulating evidence in order to justify a war in Iraq certainly was an impeachable offense. (See Iraq Ten Years Later: The Cost of America’s War of Choice for more details of the consequences of Bush’s preemptive war.) Sadly, cowardly Democrats aided and abetted this travesty.

Numerous misrepresentations were fed to Americans about Saddam Hussein’s WMD capabilities. Two are highlighted below:

  • “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program … Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” George W. Bush (This has been proven to be false; the aluminum tubes were not capable of uranium enrichment.)
  • “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” George W. Bush (See Joseph Wilson’s op-ed above.)

What is so confounding about the GOP Benghazi obsession is their almost maniacal outrage over the death of four Americans. While no death is acceptable, where was/is that same level of outrage over the nearly 4,500 American soldiers killed in Iraq? It seems Republicans’ anger is terribly misplaced when comparing these two situations. Understanding this, their relentless pursuit to find a scandal related to Benghazi reeks of politics.

When wrongdoing is uncovered, yes, it should be investigated and the guilty parties held responsible. This post is not condoning any Obama administration wrongdoing but merely pointing out the hypocrisy surrounding all the hype.  So please, those calling for it, stop with the “Impeach Obama!” nonsense.

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal

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