By James A. Kidney Endless wars over dry desert lands.  Ancient Muslim myths promulgated to the young by old men demanding a return to the nomadic life of 700 years ago or longer, an unachievable goal pursued at the cost of those young lives, but not of the old.  If your dreams are not of the nomadic Muslim life as described in the Quran, demand instead that we relive the equally ancient lives recounted in the Old Testament and the Torah, with all the violence, hatred and – again – mythology those texts provide.   In the Middle East, it is easy to find those far more loyal to an ancient, tribal story of division as a substitute for logical and scientific thinking, modern achievement, and a welcoming community. But why not look to restore the past in the Middle East?  The present and a thousand years of history have … Read more of this post . . .

I Am Apologizing, Secretary Mattis. So Should You.

By James A. Kidney It took one week for Defense Secretary James Mattis to prove wrong those who believed he might be a stabilizing island of sanity in the Trump Administration. See the picture above. It is a picture of President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary Mattis last Friday at the Pentagon, where Trump executed his signature on the executive order “temporarily” barring immigration from seven Muslim countries. Note the display medal in the background. The visible one among several backing the stage is is of the Congressional Medal of Honor — the country’s highest military honor. The word “valor” is carefully staged to appear in photos above Trump’s head. Mattis is shown happily examining the pen with which Trump signed the order.   I apologize for believing Defense Secretary James Mattis would bring sanity to the madness of the Trump administration. The disease that is Trump has already … Read more of this post . . .

Some Questions About ISIS for Our Politicians (and You)

Here are some questions I wish someone in authority would answer about how the U.S. should proceed against ISIS.  If you have some ideas, please comment here or on my Facebook page. For the President: Isn’t high altitude aerial bombing among the most inhumane ways to proceed in war and guaranteed to slaughter the most innocents? While sending on-the-ground military obviously is more dangerous for the troops, isn’t it the most likely way to actually drive ISIS to ground? Have you explored the possibility of a unified multi-national command to direct a ground and air war against ISIS? If not, why not?  If so, what were the obstacles identified preventing such a command? Some have suggested that you are correct and that a reason ISIS is fomenting terrorism in Beirut and Paris, and threatening Washington, is that it is losing in its homeland and desperate. Do you buy that?  What’s … Read more of this post . . .

Military Might: Who Will Pay For It? Who Will Serve?

By James A. Kidney

       Every GOP presidential candidate except Rand Paul and, possibly, John Kasich, claims he or she will order a more muscular U.S. military presence wherever there is a perceived threat anywhere in the world, as they boldly asserted during the third debate Tuesday night.  (The Bloviating Donald said he would stay out of Syria for now, but otherwise seems inclined to toughen our policies by yelling at everyone.)  If their propositions are to be taken seriously, then the military needs more money and more able bodies.  But the frivolousness of their stated positions is proved by the fact they will offer up neither cash for costs, which would require higher taxes or add to the deficit, or bodies, through conscription.

As the respected Washington Post columnist David Ignatius remarked in a recent piece, “President Obama’s foreign policy has been a regular punching bag for Republican presidential candidates, but many of their criticisms are facile.  The next president – from whichever party – will have to confront the same puzzle that Obama has faced about how to best use U.S. power in a world that resists military solutions.”

But, the candidates say, never mind the complexities.  “Bulk Up, America!”

The Cost of a More Muscular Military Is High

Conservatively, the cost of our wars since 2001 has been nearly $1.7 trillion.  This only includes the costs specifically assigned to those wars, not the many more trillions spent to support the war effort and national security throughout the government.  For example, separately, the costs for Homeland Security military2_bigare estimated at $653 billion.  The Pentagon budget and related national security spending for FY 2015 was $598 billion, or 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending.  The new spending bill signed by the President this week provides for a $607 billion Pentagon budget.  According to the National Priorities Project, which tracks federal budget expenditures, U.S. military expenditures are “roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world.”

Read more of this post . . .Military Might: Who Will Pay For It? Who Will Serve?

To Quote the Congressman, “You Lie!”

By James A. Kidney The mendacity of the Republicans at last night’s debate was unbelievable. And I am not talking about just Donald Trump. The other 14 candidates at the two debates also misstated or ignored key fact after key fact. CNN, which purports to be a news organization, acted only as wrestling referee and did not call out the candidates on a single misrepresentation. Here are just three: FIRST.  All the candidates act as if they have the solution to the Middle East and that Obama is a scaredy-cat who just goes out on his own without consultation. They all ignored that President Obama solicited Congress less than a year ago, after the mid-term elections, for new authority to proceed with military actions in the Middle East. Congress – controlled by Republicans in both houses – could have imposed whatever limits or requirements it wished in freshening the war powers … Read more of this post . . .

What We Can Do About Syria

By James A. Kidney

Maybe we should adopt an institution from the old Soviet Union and have gulags for bureaucrats from failed administrations who keep telling a better president what to do.

No, not really. The First Amendment is supposed to be bothersome. Else your correspondent might be in some gulag, too, some day.

This wry musing about punishment for repeated bad proposals is prompted by a column in the WAPO on September 4, 2015 by Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. As one might expect from a speech writer, Gerson’s writing style is unobjectionable, but his ideas come right from the Dick Cheney playbook. In the subject column, he is lamenting once again that President Obama is doing nothing, nothing I tell you, to relieve the suffering of the Syrians.

That picture of the Turk carrying a three-year-old boy on the beach prompts Gerson’s musings. The boy drowned as his parents struggled to reach Turkey.

Read more of this post . . .What We Can Do About Syria

%d bloggers like this: