Sunday, June 14, 2015

My family and I had taken an interest in alternative treatments for cancers.  We were interested in the oxygen treatment where a person drinks a mixture of a glass of distilled water mixed with three drops of a special type of hydrogen peroxide that is safe for human internal consumption.  An article I read stated that that procedure is fairly commonly used as a treatment in the nations of Austria, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Russia, but not in the United States.  If the treatment is effective, you would expect the other nations to have a lower cancer death rate than does the United States.  Let's look at the basic figures:
Nation         Death Rate From All Cancers per 100,000 Persons

United States           123.8

Austria                    123.6
Cuba                       143.6
Germany                 127.5
Italy                         124.2
Mexico                      81.5
Russia                     129.8
 Average of the 6:   121.7             

That could be taken as evidence that alternate medicine treatment of cancer including oxygen and hydrogen peroxide therapy have beneficial effects where used.
Kenneth Stepp.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

ALLIANCES.

Allies Are Not Like Facebook Friends: US Should Drop Useless and Dangerous Alliances


Posted: Updated:

If America ends up at war, it almost certainly will be on behalf of one ally or another. Washington collects allies like most people collect Facebook "friends." The vast majority of U.S. allies are security liabilities, tripwires for conflict and war.
Perhaps even worse, American officials constantly abase themselves, determined to reassure the very countries which the U.S. is defending at great cost and risk. Indeed, America's most hawkish politicians, who routinely posture like reincarnations of Winston Churchill, routinely talk of sacrificing U.S. lives, wealth, and security for the benefit of other nations. For instance, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) recently worried, "What ally around the world can feel safe in their alliance with us?" The more relevant question should be with what ally can America feel safe?
Instead of relentlessly collecting more international dependents, Washington policymakers should drop Allies In Name Only (AINOs). The U.S. should return to a more traditional standard for alliances: Join with other nations only when doing so advances American security. Alas, that rarely is the case today.
Indeed, contra the scare-mongering of hawkish politicians such as Sen. Rubio and his GOP compatriots, the strategic environment today is remarkably benign for the U.S. The world is messy, to be sure, but that's always been the case. The number of big conflicts is down. More important, America faces no hegemonic threat or peer competitor and is allied with every major industrialized state other than China and Russia.
All of Washington's recent wars have been over -- from America's standpoint -- unimportant, indeed, sometimes frivolous stakes. The Islamic State, Libya and Iraq were regional problems for U.S. allies with minimal impact on America. Iran and North Korea are ugly actors, but mostly for Washington's dependents. The two would face destruction if they attacked America. The latest crisis du jour, Yemen, worries Riyadh but is not even a speed bump for the globe's sole superpower. Yet Washington now is involved in another sectarian proxy war through its totalitarian "ally" Saudi Arabia.
Terrorism remains a genuine threat, but falls far short of the sort of existential danger posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Worse, terrorism typically is a response to foreign intervention and occupation. Washington has inadvertently encouraged terrorism by backing authoritarian regimes, joining foreign conflicts, and creating enemies overseas. America has done some of the worst damage to itself when protecting the interests of allies -- fighting their wars, killing their enemies, backing their campaigns, advancing their interests.
Adding unnecessary allies obviously makes this problem worse. In Ukraine, for instance, the Obama administration is under pressure to treat a non-ally as an ally -- arming and/or defending Russia's neighbor -- which would yield a proxy war with Russia, a nuclear-armed state which considers border security a vital interest. Bringing Ukraine (and Georgia) into NATO would be even more dangerous, inviting a geopolitical game of chicken over minimal stakes. Neither country has ever been considered even a marginal security concern of America. In contrast, both were long ruled by Moscow, which sees their links to the West as a form of encirclement, capping the extension of NATO up to Russia's borders.
Of course, both nations have been treated unfairly and badly by Moscow. But that doesn't justify a military alliance with the U.S. Alliances should be based on interest, not charity. They should not be an end, an independent security interest, but a means to an end, to protect America. Adding troubled states with limited military capabilities and unresolved conflicts turns the purpose of alliances on their head.
The U.S. long eschewed alliances and other "foreign entanglements," against which George Washington had warned. Even in World War I, a foolish imperial slugfest of no concern to America, Woodrow Wilson brought in the U.S. only as an "associated power." Popular and congressional opposition then prevented Wilson from guaranteeing the allied powers' post-war territorial seizures. Nevertheless, Washington's involvement was a catastrophic mistake, making possible the Versailles Treaty, which turned out to be only a generational truce before the combatants returned to fight a second and far bloodier round.
The extraordinary circumstances of World War II led to a genuine and justifiable alliance. During the Cold War the U.S. created what were intended to be temporary alliances. This policy was justified by the vulnerability of America's war-ravaged friends and hostility of the great communist powers, China and the Soviet Union. But even Dwight Eisenhower warned against turning the Europeans into permanent dependents. It makes no sense for Washington to retain responsibility for defending a continent with a larger economy and population than America -- and vastly greater resources than its only serious potential threat, Russia.
Much the same has happened in Asia, which Washington filled with allies after World War II. Even as Japan became the world's second economic power Tokyo relied on the American military. South Korea now has 40 times the GDP and twice the population of the North, yet Washington is responsible for the South's defense.
The problem is not just wasted resources, but tripwires for war. Alliances deter, but they also ensure involvement if deterrence fails, as it often does. And lending smaller states the services of a superpower's military changes their behavior, causing them to be more confrontational, even reckless. America and China aren't likely to come to blows over, say, Hawaii, which Beijing has no intention of attacking. But conflict could erupt over irrelevant allied territorial disputes, such as the Senkaku Islands and Scarborough Reef, claimed by Japan and the Philippines, respectively, and China.
Unfortunately, commitments to marginal allies determine basic U.S. defense strategy. Should America be prepared to fight one, one and a half, two, or more wars at once? These prospective conflicts invariably involve allies, not America directly. After all, what state can actually harm the U.S.? Other than Russia (and to a much more limited degree China) with its ICBMs, there is none. If war comes, it will involve Korea, Japan, the Persian Gulf, or Europe. The greater the number of dependent allies, the larger the number of possible wars. But when the interests involved are unimportant and the nations involved are capable of defending themselves, why is Washington sacrificing its people's lives and wealth for other states?
The U.S. should start defenestrating AINOs. Most of these nations would remain close. With all of them commerce should be free, culture should be shared, people should be friends, and governments should cooperate. In some cases military coordination may be called for, when the U.S. and other nations share vital objectives.
However, Washington should stop defending South Korea. With an overwhelming resource advantage, the South should deter North Korean adventurism and build cooperative regional relationships to preserve security in Northeast Asia. Despite historic tensions, Seoul should build ties with Japan, another American dependent which should transcend the past and create a military sufficient constrain a growing China. Washington should base relationships on equality rather than dependence.
The U.S. also should end its European defense dole. Today, NATO is effectively North America and the Others. Yet the Europeans collectively are wealthier and more populous than the U.S. They should take over NATO or set up their own alliance. No doubt there still would be important occasions for Washington to work militarily with these nations, which share history and values. But they, not America, should secure Europe.
Even more so the U.S. should not turn conflict-prone nations like Georgia and Ukraine into allies. Europe, not America, should protect the continent's eastern reaches and police North Africa, such as Libya. If the Europeans prefer not to pacify their neighborhood, Washington certainly shouldn't do so. Life might not be fair for Russia's immediate neighbors, but that's no reason to make them U.S. "allies."
Washington should be particularly wary about turning less important and less democratic states into allies. America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were misguided. Neither nation warrants a long-term security commitment or permanent military garrison. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are at most "frenemies," which Washington should deal with as circumstances warrant. Americans should refuse to allow such nations to drag the U.S. into extraneous conflicts, like that in Yemen.
Washington still has an interest in preventing a hostile, hegemonic power from dominating Eurasia. But that possibility isn't likely for decades to come. Russia is a declining power, despite Vladimir Putin's pretensions. Europe is unlikely to ever marry economic strength with political unity and military power, let alone direct its resources against America. India must raise its people out of poverty before it will be ready to impose its will on the international system.
The People's Republic of China is most likely to become a superpower peer of America. However, the PRC remains relatively poor and faces enormous economic and political challenges. China is surrounded by states with which it has fought in the past -- and which remain interested in restraining Beijing's ambitions. The U.S. should watch warily, but act only if the PRC threatens far more than a border scrape with a well-heeled U.S. ally.
America has benefitted much from its relative geographical isolation. It rarely needed allies in the past. It requires even fewer allies today. When appropriate, Washington should cooperate with like-minded states to promote shared objectives. In the rare case, the U.S. should make an alliance to advance American security. But Washington should beware allowing the tail to wag the dog. Washington should create alliances to deter and win wars, not go to war to promote and preserve alliances.
Geopolitics is not a grand version of Facebook, with the objective of amassing as many "friends" as possible. While America's faux warriors see allies as another reason for promiscuous war-making, alliances instead should reduce the likelihood of conflict. Since most of Washington's military pacts endanger the U.S., America should be dropping, not adding, allies.

This post originally appeared at Forbes online.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

INTERVENTIONIST CAUCUS!

"American People Must Say No to Washington's Foolish Policy of Constant War

"American foreign policy is controlled by fools. What else can one conclude from the bipartisan demand that the U.S. intervene everywhere all the time, irrespective of consequences? No matter how disastrous the outcome, the War Lobby insists that the idea was sound. Any problems obviously result, it is claimed, from execution, a matter of doing too little: too few troops engaged, too few foreigners killed, too few nations bombed, too few societies transformed, too few countries occupied, too few years involved, too few dollars spent. As new conflicts rage across the Middle East, the interventionist caucus' dismal record has become increasingly embarrassing."
Kenneth Stepp agrees with Doug Bandow.  We need to oust Hal Rogers and his interventionist caucus from Congress and replace them with people like Kenneth
Stepp who PUT AMERICA FIRST.    SURE PEOPLE IN FOREIGN LANDS ARE KILLING EACH OTHER.   SUNNIs KILL SHIITES, AND SHIITES KILL KURDS.  SUPPOSE THEY GAVE A WAR AND NO ONE CAME?  THE POLICY OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC WHEN THEY WERE IN THAT PART OF THE WORLD WAS TO STEER CLEAR OF THE LOCALS--BECAUSE OF THE LOCALS' SINFUL NATURE.  NOW, THE LOCALS OF MESOPOTAMIA WANT TO HAVE A BLOODBATH WITH EACH OTHER AND HAL ROGERS AND HIS INTERVENTIONIST CAUCUS WANT US TO PARTICIPATE.   LET'S GET OUR TROOPS OUT OF THERE.  WE DON'T NEED HAND TO HAND COMBAT WITH ISIS.  BRING OUR TROOPS HOME, NOW.  BRING OUR INTERVENTIONIST CAUCUS CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS HOME NOW AND REPLACE THEM WITH PEOPLE LIKE KENNETH STEPP WHO PUT AMERICA FIRST IN FOREIGN POLICY DECISIONS.  WHAT DO WE GAIN BY FIGHTING ISIS HAND-TO-HAND?   HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT WITH SUICIDAL PEOPLE IS STUPID.  IT COSTS US THE LIVES OF TOO MANY OF AMERICA'S SONS AND DAUGHTERS.  LET'S BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!  KENNETH STEPP.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday, March 07, 2015

SPENDTHRIFT REPUBLICANS!

CONGRESSMAN HAL ROGERS HAS BEEN IN CONGRESS SINCE 1981 (MARKED ABOVE ON CHART) TO THE PRESENT.  ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHAT HE AND HIS CRONIES HAVE DONE WITH THE NATIONAL DEBT? WE HAVE OPERATED WITH AN INFINITY NATIONAL DEBT CEILING FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS!  WHO KNOWS HOW HIGH THE FEDERAL DEBT IS TODAY?  THE INFINITY DEBT CEILING RUNS OUT A WEEK FROM TOMORROW.  MARK YOUR CALENDAR.  SPENDTHRIFT REPUBLICANS HAVE RUINED THE COUNTRY WITH A NEVERENDING WAR THAT WE CANNOT AFFORD.  IT COSTS MONEY TO KILL PEOPLE, AND WE DON'T HAVE THAT MUCH MONEY.  WE SHOULD BE USING OUR MONEY ON SCHOOLS, ROADS, AND HOSPITALS AT HOME RATHER THAN GOING ON A BORROWING BINGE TO KEEP AMERICAN TROOPS IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN A NEVERENDING WAR.  THROW OUT THE SPENDTHRIFT REPUBLICANS!

THE HAL ROGERS YEARS AND THE NATIONAL DEBT!

THE ABOVE CHART SHOWS HOW MUCH THE NATIONAL DEBT HAS GROWN DURING THE HAL ROGERS YEARS IN CONGRESS (FROM 1981 TO THE PRESENT DATE)!  WHY DO YOU KEEP RE-ELECTING HIM?  DO YOU THINK YOU CAN SPEND YOUR WAY TO PROSPERITY?

"U.S. Debt Deadline Prompts Emergency Measures



Posted: Updated:

CAPITOL STORM


(Adds background)

"WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday said it would start using emergency cash measures to allow the government to keep paying the nation's bills once it hits the legal debt limit in about a week.

"Congress is expected to face another contentious debate over raising the U.S. legal borrowing authority, which is due to expire on March 15. If it stretches to the final deadline, the timing would coincide with the debate over government agency funding for the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

"The Congressional Budget Office said this week that if Congress does not raise the federal debt limit, the Treasury Department will exhaust all of its borrowing capacity and run out of cash in October or November, slightly later than a previous forecast.

"To avoid running out of room to borrow, Treasury said it will suspend issuance of state and local government series securities, known as "slugs," next Friday.

"In a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, U.S. Treasury Jack Lew urged Congress to raise the borrowing cap "as soon as possible."

"In 2011, a debt limit standoff in Congress brought the United States close to an unprecedented debt default before it was resolved with a budget deal that put in place automatic spending constraints that last through 2021. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)"

You remember how Hal Rogers and all those "good ol' boys" that control Washington avoided a government shutdown during the election campaign by giving the government an infinity debt ceiling, with the proviso that it expired March 15, 2015 and regular government would resume with limits on government borrowing being set at whatever debt the government had managed to run up during the interim?   WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!  The six months has run out!  The statutory limits on government borrowing resumes March 15, 2015, which is a week from tomorrow.  Kenneth Stepp opposed the infinity debt ceiling for the Federal government!  That runs out in eight days.  It's time to pay the piper!


It's time to pay the piper!

"U.S. Debt Deadline Prompts Emergency Measures



Posted: Updated:

CAPITOL STORM

(Adds background)

"WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday said it would start using emergency cash measures to allow the government to keep paying the nation's bills once it hits the legal debt limit in about a week.

"Congress is expected to face another contentious debate over raising the U.S. legal borrowing authority, which is due to expire on March 15. If it stretches to the final deadline, the timing would coincide with the debate over government agency funding for the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

"The Congressional Budget Office said this week that if Congress does not raise the federal debt limit, the Treasury Department will exhaust all of its borrowing capacity and run out of cash in October or November, slightly later than a previous forecast.

"To avoid running out of room to borrow, Treasury said it will suspend issuance of state and local government series securities, known as "slugs," next Friday.

"In a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, U.S. Treasury Jack Lew urged Congress to raise the borrowing cap "as soon as possible."

"In 2011, a debt limit standoff in Congress brought the United States close to an unprecedented debt default before it was resolved with a budget deal that put in place automatic spending constraints that last through 2021. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)"

You remember how Hal Rogers and all those "good ol' boys" that control Washington avoided a government shutdown during the election campaign by giving the government an infinity debt ceiling, with the proviso that it expired March 15, 2015 and regular government would resume with limits on government borrowing being set at whatever debt the government had managed to run up during the interim?   WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!  The six months has run out!  The statutory limits on government borrowing resumes March 15, 2015, which is a week from tomorrow.  Kenneth Stepp opposed the infinity debt ceiling for the Federal government!  That runs out in eight days.  It's time to pay the piper!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

NO PERMANENT WAR!



Congress Should Deny President Obama Authority for Perpetual War



Posted: Updated:


ISLAMIC STATE BOMB
ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Islamic State is evil. But that's no reason for America to go to war again in the Middle East. Or for Congress to approve years more of conflict.
The president requested formal legal authority to war against ISIS -- more than six months after dropping the first bomb on the self-proclaimed caliphate. USA Today headlined an article on the administration request: "Obama Ready to Take the Fight to Islamic State." Just what has Washington been doing for the last half year?
The congressional debate will focus on limits to presidential authority. The administration wants to do most anything without admitting as much to the American people. Some Democrats advocate a more restrictive resolution, while many Republicans endorse untrammeled executive power. All to defend a gaggle of frenemies from a far weaker foe unable to seriously threaten America. Washington has rushed into war in a fit of pique.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State has gone through several incarnations dating back to 1999. The group achieved notoriety during the Iraq war, before fading. ISIL recently revived in Iraq and then became a potent opposition force in Syria.
For a long time the Obama administration ignored the group's gains, recognizing that ISIL was more about insurgency than terrorism, and was targeting Middle Eastern countries, not the U.S. Moreover, Washington could do little to resolve the underlying causes of the group's rise: sectarianism in Iraq and civil war in Syria.
The administration reversed course when the group's advances threatened Kurdistan's capital of Erbil and Iraq's Yazidi community. Ironically, Washington had not responded a decade ago to attacks on Iraq's Christian community or more recently to violence against religious minorities in Syria. Even so, the mission seemed limited, until the beheading of two American hostages transformed administration policy.
Now President Obama claims the Islamic State "poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East and to U.S. national security." Yes to the first two and possibly the third, but these are not reasons for America to go to war. Exactly how is U.S. security at risk? The president argued that ISIS creates "a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland." How can a few thousand insurgents, locked in bitter combat with several Middle Eastern nations, threaten the rest of the world, and especially the globe's superpower? The most serious danger may be Western jihadists cycling back home -- but most of them joined after Washington made the sectarian Islamic war all about America.
The administration created yet another pseudo-coalition of roughly 60 nations and the European Union, with U.S. forces responsible for around 85 percent of the airstrikes. While the American-led campaign has had some defensive successes -- for instance, halting ISIL's attacks on Kurdistan's Erbil and Syria's Kobani -- the radical movement seems no closer to defeat. Despite sizable personnel losses, the Islamic State remains in control of most of the territory it seized before the U.S. offensive. "ISIL is going to lose," declared the president. But you wouldn't know it from results on the ground.
In fact, Washington gave the group a recruiting bonanza. Estimated at around 10,000 mid-summer, the Islamic State's fighting cadre jumped to 20,000 or 30,000 after the U.S. entered the conflict. And now, reported the Associated Press, foreign fighters continue to join "in unprecedented numbers." Moreover, while the Islamic State once was almost entirely isolated, formerly antagonistic groups such the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, since have endorsed ISIL.
In seeking congressional authority the administration is playing on emotions, highlighting ISIL's crimes, including targeting "innocent women and girls with horrific acts of violence." Of course, some of America's Middle Eastern allies, such as Saudi Arabia, engage in barbaric practices. And plenty of foreign governments, a number friends of Washington, are little better than ISIL. But never mind.
Moreover, U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller's killing "fueled congressional outrage and renewed calls to defeat" the organization, reported USA Today. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) declared: "Her death will only strengthen our resolve to destroy these depraved barbarians." Yet her tragic fate actually demonstrates ISIL's limited reach. The only U.S. citizens harmed by the Islamic State are those who voluntarily traveled to a war zone.
Of course, the president paints ISIL's threats much more broadly. However, the Islamic State's expansive ambitions are the group's chief weakness. It wants to be a government, but while the organization would be a wealthy terrorist group, it is a poorly-funded nation state, and its performance has suffered accordingly.
The longer the "caliphate" has existed in cities like Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, the less popular ISIL has become. In particular, repression has generated opposition, as previously happened with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
During its first incarnation in Iraq ISIL's brutality cost popular backing and working relationships with other insurgents. Leading jihadi groups and theorists, even some linked to or supportive of al-Qaeda, are denouncing the organization again. Syrians call Islamic State fighters "foreign occupiers." In Mosul, reported USA Today, ISIL fighters "face increasing opposition from residents chafing under the harsh laws being imposed there." Even many who once welcomed the Islamic State now are thought to favor its overthrow. The gruesome execution video of the Jordanian pilot created widespread demands for revenge among that nation's majority Muslim population, most Sunnis like ISIL's fighters.
The group has succeeded so far only because of others' failings. In Syria a civil war destroyed the political order. The so-called moderates are weak and tend to surrender, along with their U.S.-supplied weapons, to the Islamic State. In Iraq the sectarian Shia central government spawned a corresponding Sunni counter-reaction. Despite the desperate need for reconciliation, Shia militias continue to murder Sunnis; in fact, the former were blamed for executing an important moderate Sunni leader in Baghdad a couple weeks ago, sparking a Sunni parliamentary boycott and threat to withdraw from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's unity government.
The Islamic State found the going much tougher once it moved beyond select areas of Iraq and Syria. Indeed, the movement has targeted nations with a million or more men under arms. Protecting ISIL from the full attentions of this formidable collection of enemies is, paradoxically, Washington. Because the U.S. took over other nations' defense duties, Turkey has remained studiously aloof. Morocco and the United Arab Emirates have quit flying missions against Islamic State. The Iraqi government has continued mistreat Sunnis, driving many of them toward ISIL. America's "allies" are enjoying a very cheap ride even though it is their security at risk.
In fact, some of these countries have scaled back their participation to pressure the U.S. to advance their agenda. For instance, Turkey fields an army of 400,000 men, 2500 tanks, 3600 armored personnel carriers, and 7800 artillery pieces, as well as an air force with 350 combat aircraft and 60 helicopters. Instead of using that military abundance, Ankara insists that Washington act in its stead against Syria's Bashar Assad -- and eliminate the strongest bulwark against the Islamic State.
Perhaps the only good news is that ISIL is bound to weaken. Allied action, aided by oil price declines, has cut the group's funding, which already is stretched by its nominal responsibilities as a state. Brutal repression, growing economic hardship, and lack of government services have angered those conquered. The bounty of American weaponry captured in Iraq will diminish without maintenance and spare parts. Military stalemate may slow the flow of volunteers.
Unfortunately, the proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force would further entangle America in sectarian war without addressing the reasons for ISIL's success. Indeed, declared presidential press secretary Josh Earnest, the measure was "intentionally fuzzy" so as to maintain the president's "flexibility," since "we believe it's important that there aren't overly burdensome constraints" on the executive.
The measure would repeal the 2002 AUMF regarding Iraq, but leave in place the 2001 AUMF, directed against al-Qaeda, under which the administration improbably claimed authority to attack the Islamic State, a different group which had nothing to do with 9/11 and which has not attacked America. Despite his criticism of the 2001 AUMF for "keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing," the president would leave it in place for a future administration to similarly misuse.
Moreover, the new measure would be a dangerous expansion of executive power. First, the administration requested authority to wage at least three more years of war. In December Secretary of State John Kerry also urged "provisions for extension" of such a limit. If ISIL really is such a dire threat to the U.S., can't the world's greatest power win more quickly? America spent three and a half years in World War II and less than two years in World War I. Yet the U.S. is incapable of defeating a motley crew of radicals surrounded by enemies, outmanned 30, 40, or 50 to one, massively out-gunned, and busy making enemies among their own people?
Second, there is no geographic limit. Today the U.S. is operating in Iraq and Syria. The new AUMF would authorize combat anywhere. Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Gulf already are on ISIL's target list. The administration could declare most anywhere else to be a battleground as well. Yet if there was good cause to expand U.S. activities, legislators no doubt would respond favorably to a future presidential request.
Third, the measure does not limit war to the Islamic State. Also included are "any closely related successor entity" and "associated persons or forces," meaning ISIL's allies, defined as "fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners." That would cover almost any Syrian opposition group, from the al-Nusra Front to so-called moderates, as well as Sunni tribes, former Baathists, and anyone else opposed to the Shia-majority government in Iraq. Washington could attack forces which subsequently broke with the Islamic State, even if they did so because they didn't want to combat America.
Also included could be national groups claiming "loyalty" to ISIL, which already exist in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, and are likely to show up in one form or another elsewhere in the Mideast, Africa, and Asia. Such affiliates only need threaten one of three score coalition partners, most in name only; in Libya militants professing their allegiance to the Islamic State just killed 21 Egyptian Copts, triggering a retaliatory attack by Cairo. The potential daisy chain is long: In Foreign Policy Ryan Goodman pointed out how the administration used AUMF 2001 to justify airstrikes on Syria's Khorasan Group which was linked to the al-Nusra Front which was linked to al-Qaeda.
Fourth, the resolution bars only "enduring offensive ground operations," like the lengthy conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, suggested the president. However, the current operation is described as a matter of America's "inherent right of individual and collective self-defense" even though ISIL did not attack America. Moreover, most "offensive ground operations" can be redefined as a means to defend someone somewhere. Government actions which start out temporary have a tendency to become "enduring." The administration already has used bait and switch tactics on the American people -- citing the plight of the Yazidis while organizing a lengthy regional war.
The resolution would ratify the current U.S. presence in Iraq, 2,630 personnel already there for training and advising the Iraqi military, and protecting the U.S. embassy. Another 4000 soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team are being deployed to Kuwait, ready for action elsewhere. The president's transmittal letter exempted a variety of activities from any limit -- rescue operations, actions against ISIL leadership, intelligence work, "missions to enable kinetic strikes," and "other forms of advice and assistance." Americans in these pursuits easily could be drawn into conflict. Islamic State forces recently captured much of the town of al-Baghdadi, only a few miles from Ayn al-Asad Air Base where more than 300 Marine Corps trainers are stationed. That facility has been subject to mortar attacks and small assaults. These could be merely the beginning.
Fifth, instead of turning the war over to threatened Arab states, the new AUMF would assure Washington's "allies" that they need not worry about their own defense for the next three or possibly more years. The resolution even authorizes war against "associated" groups which threaten "coalition partners," irrespective of the military balance. Instead of intervening temporarily to blunt the Islamic State's momentum and give time for surrounding states to act, the administration plans to create a herd of long-term military dependents. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even wishes to authorize war on Syria, which has not threatened America. Indeed, if he and the other neoconservative and hyper-nationalist hawks have their way, there will be no limits to presidential action.
Seeking congressional authority made sense -- six months ago. Doing so now looks like an attempt to prolong U.S. participation in yet another unnecessary Middle Eastern war. Again the administration claims the mantle of peacemaker while extending old conflicts and initiating new ones. About the only benefit of a congressional vote would be to mandate transparency and accountability. But there's little reason to expect the administration to comply and the Congress to force compliance.
The president's proposal is a bad idea. If Congress truly is concerned about legality, it should enforce the 2001 AUMF, which does not permit new misadventures in the Middle East and elsewhere. Any new measure should sharply limit military operations. Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged Congress "to avoid any undue restraints on the commander-in-chief's choices." But the Constitution gives the basic decision over war and peace to Congress. Legislators should end old wars rather than rationalize new ones.
This post first appeared on Forbes online.

Kenneth Stepp agrees that we should not authorize the President to wage permanent war.   Permanent war was a bad idea in the 1910's and 1920's and it is still a bad idea now.  Ask your Congressman and Senators to vote NO on giving the President the military authority to wage permanent war.  The Constitution--may it be preserved!

Monday, December 15, 2014

CLOSE RANKS, CLOSE RANKS, MARCH!


Washington Closes Ranks On Torture Report


Posted: Updated:




Less than a week after the release of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's wide-ranging report on the CIA's torture program, officials in Washington are closing ranks.
The report outlined several shocking revelations, including instances of waterboarding, forced rectal feedings and in one case a detainee's death. Agency officers themselves were upset by the program, the report suggests, requesting transfers away from the "black sites" where interrogations took place and begging CIA headquarters to let them stop.
“Facts aren’t partisan,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, noting that every major conclusion in the report was backed up by CIA's own documents. “We reviewed 6 million pages of documents. … There are a mountain of contradictions.”
But the damning facts in the executive summary seem unlikely to result in few lasting changes if the response of official Washington is any indication. Republicans are dismissing the document as a biased Democratic product. A few Democrats are calling for Brennan's resignation. Almost no one in office is calling for widespread changes at the CIA -- or for a renewal of the Justice Department investigation into whether to prosecute those who knew about or carried out torture.
The Senate report goes into excruciating details about how the CIA overstepped the boundaries of what even the George W. Bush administration and the Department of Justice had approved. CIA officials from former Counterterrorism Center Chief Jose Rodriguez to current Director John Brennan have admitted to errors. Brennan said some of the abuses were "abhorrent."
On Sunday's talk shows, it was nevertheless torture's defenders who got the most air time -- and they were unrepentant. In a characteristic performance, former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the CIA program without qualification and insisted that he would do it again. Cheney even dismissed the stories of the men who were subjected to "enhanced interrogation" but later found by the CIA itself to be innocent.
"I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent," said Cheney.
Cheney dismissed calls from a UN official for the Justice Department to reopen an investigation into CIA torture. Other CIA defenders on the airwaves on Sunday included Rodriguez, former agency Director Michael Hayden, current Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and former Bush adviser Karl Rove.
The only Republican to speak out against torture was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), himself a torture victim while held in a North Vietnamese prison.
The most prominent Democratic voice against the CIA's actions to appear on air on Sunday was Ron Wyden. He said Brennan needs to oversee changes at the agency or to be replaced. But like much of official Washington, Wyden stopped short of calling for prosecutions.
It's been an outgoing member of Congress -- Mark Udall, the Colorado Democrat who lost his election in November -- who's been most critical of the agency. Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, he said the CIA is still lying in its response to the torture report, and he directly criticized the White House for helping the agency "cover up the truth." He called for the replacement of Brennan. The CIA director gave a by turns apologetic and defiant defense of the torture report on Thursday, in which he declined to call waterboarding torture.
Obama's support for Brennan in the position has so far been steadfast. The president said this week that some of the CIA's actions after 9/11 were "contrary to our values." But he showed no sign of backing off what he said just a month after assuming office in February 2009, when he expressed "a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."
"At the CIA, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe," he said in February 2009. "I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up."

THE PEOPLE HAD A REFERENDUM ON TORTURE, AND WE'LL STAY THE COURSE LIKE THE PEOPLE WANTED.

YOU ASKED FOR IT! YOU GOT IT!

THE REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATE RE-APPEARS IN JANUARY.   YOU ASKED FOR IT; YOU GOT IT!

CONGRESS' JOB APPROVAL RATINGS.

Congress' Job Approval Ratings, Yearly Averages by Party

MOST VOTERS SAY "THROW THE RASCALS OUT--EXCEPT FOR OUR RASCAL!