Category Archives: Mess O’Potamia (Iraq/Iran/Israel/Palestine)

Middle East

Obama’s failure? Syria

In 2013, Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people. President Obama had to figure out what to do with Syria. He could have bombed Syria. He could have tried to do some sort of joint military action with our western allies. There was a lot of hand wringing, as there should have been. We are talking about life and death. Instead of making the decision to bomb Syria, Obama threw the decision to Congress, which did not give him authorization to strike Syria. I’m not sure that he was truly all that whipped up to strike Syria. He turned to Russia; who helped (Russian help is kind of an oxymoron) broker a deal for Syria to destroy all of their chemical weapons. Well, we know that this “deal” wasn’t what anyone would have hoped, since al-Assad just gassed his own people again. It is completely unclear whether al-Assad has more chemical weapons or not. We have to assume that he has.

Many Americans have applauded Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria. I’m not so sure. I think that Donald Trump took the only option that was open to him. He couldn’t make another deal. That was out. There is no coalition of “the willing.” No one wants to invade Syria. With that option off the table, what was left? Bomb them. That was the only other option.

I just don’t know how bombing Syria will help the problem. As far as we know, there were no significant military leaders killed. I think that we know we did not kill -nor even injure- al-Assad. So I’m not sure that we have changed any behavior.

Our schizophrenic attitude toward war

It wa just a couple of years ago that we were still stinging from starting the never-ending Iraq war. We didn’t want to invade anybody. We didn’t want to bomb anybody. We wanted to get out. That attitude was so yesterday. According to a new CNN poll, we are ready to R-U-M-B-L-E with ISIS.

I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t have any good answers for ISIS or Syria, or for Afghanistan for that matter. All of these places look like black holes in which we can throw both troops and money at the problem for years without resolution. Our money isn’t infinite. Our resources are limited.

If we are to believe the press, ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is a threat to the United States. They aren’t a threat some time in the future. They are a threat today. We’ve gotta do something. Now.

Glenn Greenwald points out the obvious. In 2003, six months after we invaded Iraq, a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents thought that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. The press and the White House have led us down this road before. Hopefully, we are older, smarter and wiser now. We can listen to Senator John McCain or we can sit back and think. How can we really neutralize or eliminate ISIS without throwing trillions of dollars into the Middle East money pit and killing thousands of innocents?

News Roundup – Gaza, Impeachment, Stephen A Smith

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I truly wish that I had something original and thoughtful to say about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. There are no right answers. Gaza is in flames. I believe that any reasonable, rational individual would look at all of the aspects of this conflict and throw his hands up in frustration. Hamas, a terrorist group, is lobbing rockets into Israel. This is a fact. The rockets are currently ineffectual, but they are rockets nonetheless. Israel has tried to take out these rockets with selective precision bombing (isn’t precision bombing an oxymoron?). There were high civilian casualty rates. The rockets kept coming. Israel has launched a ground offensive in order to destroy these rockets and also destroy a number of tunnels which have been dug into Israel. Again, the civilian casualties are high. Personally, I don’t see any reasonable short-term or long-term solution to this problem. A two state solution is basically apartheid for the Palestinians. A single state solution would be disastrous for the Israelis.

Impeach the president. We’ve heard this rallying cry from conservatives since the day that Barack Obama took office more than five years ago. The exact reason for impeachment has always been fuzzy. The bottom line has always been that they don’t like Obama and therefore we need to get rid of him. There is a reason that Barack Obama has not been impeached. He hasn’t done anything to be impeached for (at least not that I know of). By now, impeachment is a rallying cry from both conservatives and liberals. Both sides are able to rake in money to support Obama’s impeachment or to defend him from it. The whole thing is simply crazy. By the way, while both sides are raking in money, the average American is still struggling to make ends meet.

ESPN commentator Stephen A Smith has been suspended for saying uninformed, misogynistic and, frankly, wrong comments about domestic violence. Mr. Smith suggested that women do something to provoke their attackers. As I sit here in my office in 2014, I cannot think of anything that a woman can do to provoke the beating that Ray Rice inflicted on his then fiancée. Oh, and that brings me to the NFL, which has suspended Ray Rice for two games. I don’t understand how you get suspended for two games under a “zero-tolerance policy” for beating someone within an inch of their lives, but you get suspended for four games if you break the substance abuse policy. The priorities of the NFL continue to be screwed up. Ray Rice needs to be kicked out of the league and Stephen A. Smith needs to do a week-long segment on domestic violence sports.

Last member of the Enola Gay has died.

No signs of the inflation fairy. I know that conservatives were yelling that the injection of $800 billion would cause disastrous inflation. The good news is that they were really, really wrong.