Daddy Issues and Foreign Policy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 18th, 2011

Breaking the Law like Dad Did

It’s good to be king.  And sometimes president (see Obama rejects top lawyers’ legal views on Libya by Glenn Greenwald posted 6/18/2011 on Salon).

The growing controversy over President Obama’s illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage’s New York Times scoop.  He reveals that top administration lawyers —  Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson — all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days: itself a generous intepretation of the President’s war powers.  But Obama rejected those views and (with the support of administration lawyers in lesser positions:  his White House counsel and long-time political operative Robert Bauer and State Department “legal adviser” Harold Koh) publicly claimed that the WPR does not apply to Libya.

As Savage notes, it is, in particular, “extraordinarily rare” for a President “to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice…”

Kind of reminds me of someone.  Someone else who acted against the advice of their own attorney general.  Who was that?  Hmmm.  Let me think.  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Not a popular guy.  Oh yes.  Now I remember.

[James] Comey explained that, in 2004, shortly after he became Deputy AG, he reviewed the NSA eavesdropping program Bush had ordered back in 2001 and concluded it was illegal.  Other top administration lawyers — including Attorney General John Ashcroft and OLC Chief Jack Goldsmith — agreed with Comey, and told the White House they would no longer certify the program’s legality.

That’s right.  It was George W. Bush.  Gee, President Obama is getting more and more like Bush every day.  He must hold Bush up as a mentor figure.  Even a father figure.  For it sure looks like he’s trying to impress him.  By being like him.  Like every son wants to be like their dad.  What’s that line from that great father/son song?  “He’d say “I’m gonna be like you Dad.  You know I’m gonna be like you.””  From Cats in the Cradle.  And Obama is trying to be like his surrogate dad.  To do as good a job as Dad did.  Military tribunalsGitmo.  Friends to business (albeit only the ones big enough to buy favors).  Attacked some Muslim countries.  Even breaking the law like Dad did.  Looking for his approval.  His love.  And yearning for that ever elusive hug.  From Poppa.

An Afternoon Tea Party in Libya

But the Libyan War is no big deal.  We don’t have combat brigades there.  Granted we blew the snot out of a lot of things.  And killed a lot of people.  But this isn’t a war with hostilities.  It’s an afternoon tea party.  And it’ll be over before we know it.  Even Harry ‘This War is LostReid isn’t bitching about Libya like he bitched about Iraq.  That other ‘illegal’ war (see Harry Reid On Libya: “This Thing Will Be Over Before We Know It” posted 6/17/2011 on Real Clear Politics).

JIM LEHRER:  Senator, welcome.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV):  Thank you very much for allowing me to be on the show.

MR. LEHRER:  Well, first on the Libya military operation, do you believe the War Powers Act requires authorization of further action?

SEN. REID:  The War Powers Act has no application to what’s going on in Libya.

MR. LEHRER:  None?

SEN. REID:  I don’t believe so.  You know, we did an authorization for Afghanistan.  We did one for Iraq.  But we have no troops on the ground there, and this thing’s going to be over before you know it anyway, so I think it’s not necessary.

So, you see, there’s nothing to get your shorts into a bunch about.  These guys know what they’re doing.  And they know foreign policy.  Geopolitics.  And protecting American security interests.  Like in Libya.  We don’t know what those interests are yet.  But the naysayers will learn in time.  And we’ll see that our non-war in Libya was important.  And necessary.  Just like our Egyptian policy will prove one day to be important and necessary in protecting American security interests.  By demanding that our friend and ally, a bulwark against radical Islamism, maintainer of peace and stability in a Middle East with the Jewish state of Israel, had to step down from power.  Sure, he was corrupt and somewhat oppressive.  But all rulers are in the Middle East.  Life was far better in Egypt than in a lot of other Middle East nations.  Especially for women.  Christians.  And Jews.

But the Obama administration said he had to go.  It made no sense.  And it doesn’t now.  Yet.  But I’m sure it will.  For they must know something that the rest of us don’t.  And that post-Mubarak Egypt will even be better.  For women.  Christians.  And Jews.

Hail the Arab Spring

Hey, look.  They’re already forming another political party.  Yeah for democracy (see After fall of Mubarak, group announces intent to form Nazi party posted 6/18/2011 on Al-Masry Al-Youm).

A group of Egyptians have announced their intent to establish a Nazi party with “a contemporary frame of reference,” an independent Egyptian news website said on Wednesday.

Al-Badeel, a leftist news portal, quoted founding member Emad Abdel Sattar as saying the party would bring together prominent figures from the Egyptian society. The party’s founding deputy is a former military official.

The party believes in vesting all powers in the president after selecting him or her carefully, Abdel Sattar said, adding that preparations are underway to choose the most competent person to represent the party.

Oh dear.  Nazis.  This can’t be good.  Is this for real?

Although Al-Masry Al-Youm could not verify the news reported by Al-Badeel, two Facebook pages have appeared recently under the title of “the Egyptian Nazi Party”.

The two pages attracted around 70 followers, who mostly posted questions about the party’s ideas and policies and requested details on how to join.

Hopefully not.  Perhaps it’s just a fringe group.  Like Hitler’s Nazis were in Germany.  Until they started winning seats in the Reichstag.  And Hindenburg had to reluctantly share power with them in a coalition government.  Even appointed Hitler chancellor.  Then Hindenburg died and Hitler became Führer und Reichskanzler.  Increased his powers.  Eventually making Germany a dictatorship.  The rest is history.  And not a good one.

The party has a one-year plan to develop Egypt, unlike the “marginalized liberal parties, which are like dead bodies,” he said.

A source from the proposed party told Al-Badeel the idea to start it came after some fundamentalist religious waves emerged, which, according to the source, created a state of chaos and led to the burning of churches, the destruction of shrines and assaults on unarmed civilians.

It was the radical Islamist elements of the Arab Spring that created the state of chaos.  Not aspiring Nazis.  They’re just looking to exploit the chaos.  Perhaps this fringe group will just pass on into the dustbin of history.  Sure, they share the anti-Semitic views of the big political party.  The Muslim Brotherhood.  And there are Middle East and Nazi Germany ties.  Even Haj Amin al-Husseini met with Adolf Hitler.  And discussed post-war Nazi ambitions outside the Nazi sphere (such as in the Middle East beyond the Caucasus).  The only Nazi interference in Arab politics would be the continued genocide against the Jews.  Which meshed well with al-Husseini’s vision of a Jewish-free Palestine.  Despite this deep Nazi-Islamic history, I’m sure there is no danger with the rise of a fringe Nazi political party in Egypt.  Because post-Mubarak Egypt has to be even better than Mubarak-Egypt.  Otherwise, why would the Obama administration force Mubarak out?

Does the President need a Hug?

American foreign policy is confused at best.  Intervention where there is no U.S. security interest.  Undermining a friend and ally.  While our enemies grow stronger.  And a past evil is coming back to life.  It begs the question is this on purpose?  Is it incompetence?  Or just a desperate cry for a hug from Poppa?  George W. Bush?

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Obama’s ‘help’ may Lose the Middle East to Radical Islam

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2011

Libya no Worse than other Humanitarian Crises

Everyone is still asking that question.  Why Libya?  The Middle East and Africa are full of humanitarian crises.  Yet we’re not bombing them.  Is their suffering not as bad as the Libyan suffering?  Or are their people simply not worth saving?  People want to know.  Because people are suffering everywhere. 

[Syria]  Violence erupted around Syria on Friday as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital in the most widespread unrest in years, witnesses said.  -By Associated Press, The Washington Post, 3/25/2011 

[Bahrain]  Clashes erupted in Shiite villages across Bahrain on Friday as antigovernment protesters defied a government ban on public gatherings, despite a beefed-up presence by the military and security forces.  -By Joe Parkinson, The Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2011 

[Ivory Coast]  Up to one million Ivorians have now fled fighting in the main city Abidjan alone, with others uprooted across the country, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday as violence escalated in a 4-month power struggle.  – Stephany Nebehay, Reuters, 3/25/2011 

[Yemen]  With hundreds of thousands of rival demonstrators on Sanaa’s streets, soldiers fired warning shots to prevent loyalists whipped up by Mr Saleh’s speech attacking anti-regime protesters on Friday, the Muslim day of prayers and rest… The rallies came one week after a bloodbath in which 52 protesters were gunned down by Saleh loyalists, drawing widespread international condemnation and a spate of defections from within his ruling circle.  -By AFP, ABC News, 3/25/2011 

And there’s more.  Iran.  North Korea.  And others.  It’s everywhere.  Suffering.  But you know why we’re not helping any of these nations?  Because it’s too much for anyone to do.  Suffering is bad but it is NOT the United States’ duty to end it all.  And yet we’re trying to do just that in Libya.  Was the Qaddafi regime a great threat to American security interests?  No.  He’s been pretty quiet since the Iraq War.  He seemed content to oppress his people and leave others alone.  Perhaps the others noted above were even less dangerous than Qaddafi.  Perhaps in comparison they’re just docile pussy cats.

If any Nation Deserves Regime Change it’s Syria

Let’s look at Syria.  They make no secret of the fact that they don’t like America.  Or Israel.  They are behind a lot of unrest in the Middle East.  They want to see the whole region under Sharia Law.  And be less friendly with the West.  As bad as Qaddafi was, he did sell a lot of his oil to the West.  So that would make Syria more of a national security concern than Libya.  But we’re not bombing Syria.  Perhaps the Syrian violence just isn’t that bad (see Resident says troops open fire on protesters in Daraa, other Syrian cities by Associated Press posted 3/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country, shouting calls for greater freedoms in support of a more than week-long uprising in Daraa, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted online…

An activist in Damascus in touch with eyewitnesses in the southern village of Sanamein said troops there opened fire on demonstrators trying to march to Daraa, a short distance away. He said there had been witness reports of fatalities, some claiming as many as 20 slain, but those could not be independently confirmed…

About 200 people demonstrated after the Friday prayers at the Thawra Bridge, near the central Marjeh Square, chanting “our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Daraa!” and “freedom! freedom!” They were chased by security forces who beat them some of them with batons and detained others, an activist said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

No.  That isn’t it.  That’s some pretty bad violence.  That’s Qaddafi bad.  Killing your own people.  And it is far worse than what Mubarak was doing in Egypt.  He didn’t turn the army against his people.  And yet Obama said he had to go. But we’re not attacking Syria.  With bombs.  Or words.  Perhaps Syria is a strategic force for stability in the Middle East.  Like how Iraq balanced Iran once upon a time.  We supported Iraq then.  Because Iraq balanced the greater risk in Iran.  Like that old saying.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  So maybe Syria offsets the ‘big bad’ in the Middle East.

Assad, a close ally of Iran and its regional proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, has promised increased freedoms for discontented citizens and increased pay and benefits for state workers — a familiar package of incentives offered by other nervous Arab regimes in recent weeks.

No.  That ain’t it either.  Syria is cozy with all the ‘big bads’ in the Middle East.  The powers that want to kill Jews, Americans and all other infidels.  But wait.  It gets worse.

Shaaban, the presidential adviser, also said the Baath party would study ending a state of emergency that it put in place after taking power in 1963.

The emergency laws, which have been a feature of many Arab countries, allow people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial. Human rights groups say violations of other basic liberties are rife in Syria, with torture and abuse common in police stations, detention centers and prisons, and dissenters regularly imprisoned for years without due process.

The Baath party?  Sound familiar?  That was the party of Saddam Hussein.  Emergency laws since 1963?  Arrests without warrants?  Imprisoned without trial?  Torture and abuse?  No due process?  This is bad stuff.  What some would call a humanitarian crisis.  Like the one in Libya.  But as bad as that all sounds, it’s the Iraq connection that is most troubling.

Before the Iraq War, Iraq and Syria were close.  So close that many think those weapons of mass destruction we were looking for in Iraq were hidden in Syria during the run-up to war.  We know Saddam had them.  He used them on the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  But he never documented their destruction.  So if he hid them in Syria they may still be there.  They may have been hesitant to use them thus far because we could probably trace them back to them.  Especially if they had Iraqi markings on them.  But if all these ‘democracy’ movements in the Middle East and North Africa gather steam, they could become a problem.  If the region goes Muslim Brotherhood and is closer to Iran and/or al Qaeda, Syria won’t be the only country to see the world the way they do.  And they may feel safe enough to use these weapons.  Should they have them.  Oh, and Israel would be surrounded by countries that have the destruction of Israel at the top of their top-10 list.  And that is very bad.  Because that could start a world war.  Shut off the oil supply to the Western economies.  And plunge the world into a depression.

The Muslim Brotherhood Establishing an Islamic State in Egypt?

So let’s back up a bit.  Let’s take a closer look at these ‘democracy’ movements.  Are they really democracy movements?  Or are they more theocracy movements?  Well, in Egypt, things aren’t looking good for democracy (see Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt by Michael Slackman posted 3/24/2011 on The New York Times).

In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.

Sound familiar?  This is what happened in Iran.  The young people who started the revolution didn’t end the revolution.  Ayatollah Khomeini ended it.  With one of the most oppressive theocracies in the Middle East.  And those young women in the Iranian Revolution?  They don’t protest anymore.  They live good Muslim lives under Sharia Law.  Whether they like it or not.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group…

 “We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone…”

When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.

The big question was would Mubarak turn the army on the people.  Or, should he, if the army would follow that order.  You see, the people respected the army.  Most had family that had or were serving in the army.  The army was good.  It was the security forces the people hated.  Not the army.  It was the army the people thought they could trust.  And now we’re hearing that they struck a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood?  That’s very ominous.  As are the beards.  That’s hardcore, conservative Islam.  Like they have in Iran.  And that sure ain’t what the protestors wanted in Egypt.  I mean, there were women in those crowds.  If Egypt goes the way of the bearded men, these women will never protest anything ever again.  Just like in Iran.

And the lying has begun.  Egypt was a secular country.  But they still had their religion.  It was still a Muslim country.  Like Turkey.  There’s the state.  And the religion.  Both very important parts of life in these countries.  But separate parts.  Now it appears secular means state atheism.  Like in the former Soviet Union.  Or in parts of America where anything goes.  According to the more radical elements in Egypt, at least.

“The problem is that our country will be without a religion,” read a flier distributed in Cairo by a group calling itself the Egyptian Revolution Society. “This means that the call to the prayer will not be heard anymore like in the case of Switzerland, women will be banned from wearing the hijab like in the case of France,” it said, referring to the Muslim head scarf. “And there will be laws that allow men to get married to men and women to get married to women like in the case of America.”

Talk about scare tactics.  If you don’t vote for a more conservative Islam there will be no Islam.  People will be free.  Women will be free.  And gay, I guess.  All horrible thoughts to the conservative Muslim.  And a lot of Muslim men who are just not fans of feminism.

This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state…

None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”

He would not comment on whether the Brotherhood had an arrangement with the military, but he said the will of the people to shift toward Islam spoke for itself and was a sign of Egypt’s emerging democratic values. “Don’t trust the intellectuals, liberals and secularists,” Mr. Erian said. “They are a minor group crying all the time. If they don’t work hard, they have no future.”

Warning Klaxons should be going off.  These are things that dictators say before they oppress their people.  Why, you can almost see the reassuring eyes and the soothing voice of Ayatollah Khomeini as he calmed the anxious Iranian people shortly after 1979.  Before those eyes became scary.  And we all saw how that turned out.  Oppressive theocratic rule.  And the odds just got better for the same in Egypt.

Virginity Tests in Egypt

And it’s already started (see Egypt women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’ posted 3/24/2011 on the BBC).

A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take “virginity tests” during protests earlier this month.

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Cairo to investigate.

It says at least 18 female protesters were arrested after army officers cleared Tahrir Square on 9 March.

It says they were then beaten, given electric shocks and strip searched.

The army denies the allegations.

This isn’t what the women in the crowds were protesting for.  And the reason these women were protesting?  Because they could.  Egypt was one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East.  Women had some of the greatest freedoms enjoyed in a Muslim country.  Not anymore.

A 20-year-old woman, Salwa Hosseini, told Amnesty she was forced to take off all her clothes by a female prison guard in a room with open doors and a window.

She said that male soldiers looked in and took photographs of her while she was naked.

The demonstrator said a man in a white coat later carried out a ‘virginity check’ on her and she was threatened with prostitution charges.

“Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women,” a spokesperson for Amnesty International said in a statement.

Mubarak may have been bad.  But he wasn’t that bad.  The painful moral of this story is to be careful what you ask for.  The enemy you know is often better than the enemy you don’t know.  Unfortunately we sometimes learn this lesson too late.  Including presidents.  For it was a mistake to throw Mubarak under the bus.  Middle East scholars knew it then.  And the rest of us are learning it now.  And now we’re helping to destabilize Libya.  That, too, could turn out to be a mistake.  Because we don’t know who the rebels are.  Just like we didn’t know who they were in Egypt.  So the chances are good that what happens in Egypt could very well happen in Libya.  A “shift towards Islam.”

Of course, there are a couple of countries in the Middle East that probably warrant our involvement.  Two come to mind.  Iran.  And Syria.  Things could only get better in these countries.  Yet we don’t help the protesters in these sovereign countries.  So when President Obama finally tells us why Libya, perhaps he can tell us why not in countries that already hate us.  And while he’s explaining these great mysteries perhaps he can tell us why he’s undermining our allies in the Middle East.  Is there a method to this madness?  Or is it just madness?

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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