Wednesday, February 28, 2007

U.S. fatalities at 3-year high for this period

As the chart shows, U.S fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan have reached a 3-year high for this period of time. With deployment of the surge proceeding in spite of Congressional misgivings and Non-Binding Resolutions, it is apparent that with more troops in theater comes more deaths and casualties. It appears as though the Congress has backed off its initial intensity and has concluded by default to let the surge take place and see the result in a few months. Meanwhile, soldiers follow their orders and we continue our daily lives. It is sad that we have come to the place of feeling impotent as a society and carry on as if nothing had changed. Such naivety and complacency will come back to haunt us.

Labels: , , ,

Italy, CIA renditions and U.S. arrogance

U.S. State Dept. legal advisor in Brussels, John Bellinger, today criticized European attitudes to the U.S.-led war on terror, stating that some statements could undermine U.S.-Europe cooperation. This was in response to proceedings in Italy regarding CIA renditions on Italy's soil of a Muslim cleric back in Feb. 2003.

Is it any surprise that now even Italy, one of our few coalition partners in the war in Iraq, has misgivings about U.S. rendition program? I think not. The Italian people were against their government's support of George Bush's war of choice in Iraq. And since there is little stomach for turning the government upside down in Italy, their judicial system is demonstrating its power over its executive branch by moving these charges forward. Don't be surprised when Italy does officially request to extradite CIA officials responsible for the renditions. And don't be surprised when this Administration fails to do so. I applaud the Italian courts for taking this matter up in spite of the embarrassment of its senior government officials.

Democracy works when various branches of a government exercise their function of checks and balances. Maybe we could learn something from the Italians on this matter. Unfortunately, our Judicial Branch may be complicit in supporting this Administration's flagrant violation of International law. The ultimate question for our branches of government is as follows: If our elected leaders deliberately violate laws and treaties and someone brought charges up at the World Court requesting they be on trial for their crimes, would we as a people and a government support this by turning them over to the Court for trial? It is a valid question, as we find the idea congruent with our belief when other countries leaders are believed to have violated laws and committed crimes against humanity. One could make the argument what is good for the Goose is good for the Gander. But I do not think we have matured as a people to accept world authority over any leader of this country. We think we are above the very laws and treaties we expect others to uphold. And if they don't we are willing to let the World Court decide the appropriate justice as we did in the case of Slobodan Milosevic. Now do you understand why the world says we are an arrogant people? Well, in my humble opinion, at least this current crop of leaders are.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A U.S. Foreign policy fit for the 21st Century challenges

U.S. Foreign Policy for the past several decades and longer, has been based upon the notion of trying to get governments and their leaders to change behaviors to be more in line with U.S. positions on issues. These methods have not worked. Permanent changes can only be created when people's mindsets change, which drives their behaviors. Our Government has tried to use diplomacy, often using the carrot and stick approach, which is defined as rewarding good behavior (carrots as a metaphor for rewards and incentives) and punishing bad behavior (sticks as a metaphor for imposing trade and other sanctions, with the implied use of Military force should the sanctions not be enough to discourage the bad behaviors). Looking back as to whether that approach works, one can site examples both for and against those approaches.

The same is true on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we have captured suspected terrorists or other "bad" guys, we have used both the carrot and stick approach in our interrogation of prisoners. Much has been written on this subject after it was revealed that the U.S. Government used torture in Abu Ghraib prison, as revealed by those pictures we all were shocked in seeing and were embarrassed as conscientious people of all political parties. Many have written about torture and that it has been shown not to produce the desired result and often cause people to tell you anything you want to hear. We have examples of this with even one of our 2008 Presidential hopefuls, Senator John McCain, who made statements during his confinement as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Senator McCain has apologized for his comments during that time and we have forgiven him. But the data is strong in showing that behavioral measures to change behavior have a mixed result at best and much evidence can be presented which shows it often works to our own detriment and against our National interest.

I have studied how to influence people and change behavior most of my adult life having given 30 plus years to a profession as a coach of other leaders in mostly business but in I have in rare occurrences influenced some political leaders as well. History provides some clues to us for other means to change behaviors of people and influence them in ways that has garnered us much admiration from all corners of the earth. But we have not paid attention to the effects those means have played much longer than the mere two decades I speak of here. Remember what affect the Peace Corps. has had in projecting America's image across the globe. Remember the Marshall Plan after World War II and the effect it had on our adversaries after the war. Even today, as badly as we have treated our friends around the world, there is still remains admiration for us. How did this occur?

It is because we endeavored over the past 100-200 years to change the "mindset" of people, not through carrots and sticks, as we tend to use too often. But by leading by example and letting our way of being positively influence the mindset of those less fortunate than those born or living here. President John Kennedy did much to change the mindset of many people in the world. His way of speaking transcended our limits and called upon us to think more globally. I still remember when I was young and he was delivering that speech, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." This is a clear example of Kennedy's influencing mindsets here in America. What followed was the Peace Corp., the race to the Moon and a whole planet in awe of our achievements, instead of our shortcomings. I yearn for those days again. That may partly account for why Senator Barack Obama has begun to ride such a wave of popularity. He connected to that theme when he chose the title of his book, "The Audacity of Hope".

Al Gore is the best recent example of the goal of changing mindsets. Today he will most likely receive an Oscar for his work on behalf of the world by raising our awareness and acceptance of the notion that Global Warming is real, is here, and we must come together as a world and act collectively to save the planet. President Bush and VP Cheney for the past 7 years have dismissed this as not real. They have ordered government agencies to not report findings in support of Global Warming, criticized scientists who have, and they pulled out of the Kyoto accord.

U.S. Foreign policy needs to reconsider methods of inspiring and influencing mindsets, rather than forcing temporary behavioral change with carrots and sticks. We are in the 21st Century and yet we are using prehistoric tools to solve current problems. I suggest Americans wake up and ask ourselves if we want to change how we are perceived in the world, forge new relationships based upon common visions, not react to every dictator that wants to pull our chain and start to develop policies which will attract others to follow because of our model of leadership. It speaks to the spirit in all of us, as one thing President Bush has spoken about correctly; freedom speaks to everyone, as it is an innate spirit and embodied in us by God. Wake up America! We The People need to take responsibility for what we have allowed to happen in our name by our leaders. Only then will we be as great as we once were.

UPDATE: 8:30pm P.S.T. Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, has won the Oscar for Best Documentary. He has indeed changed mindsets without shooting a single bullet, but shooting instead many thought provoking scenes.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chris Mathews on Senator Biden's plan for Iraq

Chris Mathews, of MSNBC's Hardball, today told Senator Joe Biden he agreed that the Senator had the only plan for Iraq that made sense and acknowledged the realities on the ground, not based upon what Iraqi's say but on what they are doing. The Senator's plan has been shown in an earlier post below and may gain more support, as his new Resolution to limit the power of the President and repeal the 2002 vote which authorized the war gets more attention in the press. Get informed and read Biden's plan and press your local Senator's to embrace it.

Today the Administration tried to influence many by challenging the proposed idea of Biden to limit the President's authority. This eventually will be headed to the Supreme Court and Biden is right; pressure is building.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The real reasoning behind the Surge" of troops in Iraq

BritsThe question as to why the "surge" was really needed in Iraq hasn't made sense to many Americans, as the politicians in Washington have worked to show their objection to the President's plan. Since I know we don't get straight talk from this Administration about anything, I decided to do my own investigation into possible reasons and I came up with a very interesting hypothesis, which is based on real facts.

The reason for the surge, is to bolster U.S. forces in Iraq. This is true. But the real embarrassment for the Bush Administration is the reason this is taking place. That being that Countries supporting the mission in Iraq have withdrawn troops to the tune of about 17,000 in Iraq and the region. And the recent announcement by the Brits of further withdrawal of their forces would require the U.S. to increase its troop size just to be able to do the same job as when we had more coalition support.

The President won't say that the reason he has had to deploy more troops is because other countries, while limited in numbers and in actual support mission roles, have decreased their support of the U.S. mission in Iraq. They fabricated and inflated the idea in the first place that they had built a coalition and now they can't admit that that coalition is abandoning the U.S. because they don't support the idea we should be there any longer. That's the truth that hasn't been told until now! It is an embarrassment to them.

Want to see who supports us and with how many troops? Go to this web site and read for yourself: Global Security Org

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

February 2007 U.S. fatalities in Iraq- so far!

Call it the wear factor, but because of the repeated sound on 24/7 news on the reporting of U.S. fatalities in Iraq, I have become numb to the reporting but realize that for every soldier who has lost their lives in this war of choice, a family will never be the same again. It is difficult to think about this in such a way to try to make it personal. The 24/7 news takes that sensitivity from us and gets us used to hearing this steady stream of death and destruction. It is difficult to gauge if the war is going better now than 3 years ago, as there seems to be less destruction this month, as it has been reported that many in Iraq to have gone underground and blended into their local population, according to 24/7 reporting. What seems lost is the fact that IT IS THE LOCAL POPULATION CAUSING ALL THIS DEATH AND DESTRUCTION BECAUSE OF OUR PRESENCE!

Here's the data on U.S fatalities for the first 20 days of this month compared to the number of total fatalities in February 2005 and 2006 for comparison. I have my own thoughts about this data but you draw your own conclusions. Comments?

February 2005 fatalities 58

February 2006 fatalities 55

February month to date 2007 fatalities 60, with still 8 days to go! When you look closely at the picture of the caskets remember you are only seeing about 18 caskets. Imagine what 3,144 caskets represent and how many families and friends are personally affected by the loss. Our leaders don't want you to see those caskets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as you did during the Vietnam War as they know if you do it will turn you against this war, make your blood boil in your veins and cause you to take up the cause to end this war of Bush and Cheney's choice.

UPDATE: February 25, 2007

The U.S. death toll has now reached 72 with 3 days remaining in the shortest month of the year.

UPDATE 3/2/07 Final numbers for February show 80 U.S. Fatalities. See newer post above titled,
"U.S. fatalities at 3-year high for this period"

Monday, February 19, 2007

Will Democrats use similar tactics on Republicans in the Senate?

Republicans have effectively used the filibuster to halt Democrats ambitions as it pertains to the Non-Binding Resolution against the surge, the President is moving forward on anyway. When roles were reversed and on an equally important topic, the vote out of committee of the Supreme Court nominees, the Republicans threatened to use the Nuclear option to stop the Democrats. The nuclear option was to eliminate from the Senate Rules the use of the filibuster to stop any actions by only one Senator opposing the action.

I can't wait to see if the Democrats now threaten to use the same tactics, should they be denied any votes of funding restrictions for the war, etc. Remember my earlier post, Democrats must be willing to go all the way if they are to succeed in changing the direction of this war before 2008. I can hear the whinning of a few Senators already.

The Biden-Gelb 5 point plan for Iraq and commentary

The Biden-Gelb plan for Iraq takes the culture of the area into account and works for a political solution to the Iraq war, rather than using only a military option. Here, from Senator Biden's web site is the entirity of the plan and media comments are included near the bottom:

February 7, 2007

Biden-Gelb Plan Emerges as Leading Option for Moving Forward in Iraq

U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) and Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb first laid out a detailed five-point plan for Iraq on May 1, 2006 in a joint op-ed in the New York Times. Since that time, the Biden-Gelb plan has sparked much intellectual debate - from left, right and center. The plan is a chance to achieve the objective most Americans share: to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind. After a month of hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee examining different options for Iraq and with the release of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq last week, the Biden-Gelb plan has emerged as a clear path forward.

The Biden-Gelb Five-Point Plan for Iraq:

1) Maintain a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis breathing room in their own regions. The Iraqi constitution already provides for federalism. The central government would be responsible for common interests, like border security and the distribution of oil revenues.

2) Secure support from the Sunnis - who have no oil -- by guaranteeing them a proportionate share (about 20 percent) of oil revenues, allowing former Baathists to go back to work and re-integrating those with no blood on their hands.

3) Increase economic aid, asking oil-rich Arab Gulf states to fund it, tie assistance to the protection of minority rights and create a jobs program to deny the militia new recruits.

4) Convene a regional conference to enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors and create a Contact Group of the major powers to enforce their commitments.

5) Ask our military for a plan to responsibly withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq by 2008 - enough time for the political settlement to take hold - while refocusing the mission of a small residual force on counter-terrorism and training Iraqis.


The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq - a consensus report of all U.S. intelligence agencies - makes clear the need for a political settlement based on federalism, as called for in the Biden-Gelb plan.

The NIE identifies developments that could "reverse the negative trends driving Iraq's current trajectory," including: "broader Sunni acceptance of the current political structure and federalism" and "significant concessions by Shia and Kurds to create space for Sunni acceptance of federalism." These elements are central to the Biden-Gelb plan for Iraq.

The NIE also warns of the danger of Iraq's civil war becoming a regional war, which underscores the urgent need for a regional diplomatic strategy that involves Iraq's neighbors in supporting a political settlement or containing the violence should reconciliation fail, as called for in the Biden-Gelb plan. [U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, 2/2/07]


Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: "I'm sympathetic to an outcome that permits large regional autonomy. In fact, I think it is very likely that this will emerge out of the conflict that we are now witnessing."

"If the Iraqis cannot solve the problems that have been described, I've told the Chairman privately, that I thought that this [a federal system in Iraq] was a possible outcome, and at the right moment we should work in the direction that will (inaudible) for maximum stability and for maximum chances of peace." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, January 31, 2007]

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "[T]he idea of the... constitution of Iraq [as] written, which allows for and mandates, in fact, a great deal of regional autonomy, is appropriate. I think there are certain central powers that a government needs. Some of it has to do with the oil revenue and various other parts. So without endorsing any plan, I do think reality here sets in that there will be regional autonomy."

[W]hen asked about Senator Biden's plan, I have said that, in fact, it is an attempt to keep the country together, which I do believe is what it is about. I'm just talking about in the long run what might happen that we do have to watch out for. But I think it is very clear from my reading of the plan that it is done in order to keep the country together. And I do think that is an essential point. [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, January 31, 2007]

Former Secretary of State James Baker: "...I was and still am interested in the proposal that Senator Biden and Les Gelb put forward with respect to the idea that ultimately you may end up with three autonomous regions in Iraq, because I was worried that there are indications that that might be happening, in fact, on the ground anyway and, if it is, we ought to be prepared to try and manage the situation. So we have a sentence in our report that says, 'If events were to move irreversibly in this direction, the United States should manage the situation to ameliorate the humanitarian consequences, contain the violence and minimize regional stability." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, January 30, 2007]


Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "The only thing I would say, though, as I've noted before, with 100,000 Iraqis being displaced a month, you're beginning to create the outlines of that on the ground [a federal system in Iraq]. So I was actually in favor of the idea before, and I think it may have more of a potential now because of that reality." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, January 17, 2007]

Ambassador Richard Haass, President Council on Foreign Relations: "I've long admired the chairman's idea [Of a federal system in Iraq]....The problem is -- it's also put forward by my predecessor -- the problem is not the idea. The idea's a reasonable idea; it's a good idea. The problem facing the idea is that it's a reasonable idea that's been introduced into an unreasonable political environment. If Iraqis were willing to sign on to this idea of distribution of political and economic power and so forth, federalism, all Iraqis would be better off and a large part of the problem would fade. The problem is that we can't get Iraqis to sign on to a set of arrangements that, quite honestly, would leave the bulk of them better off. We can't force them to be reasonable. And at the moment, they've essentially embarked on a path which is in some ways self- destructive of a society. So again -- but the flaw is not inherent in the ideas; it's just, again, we can't -- the very reasonableness that's at the heart of the chairman's idea is rejected again by -- virtually across the board, particularly by Shi'a and Sunnis, because they can't agree on the precise balance, if you will, of political and economic power within their society. So at the moment, there's not yet a federal scheme they would sign on to." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, January 17, 2007]

Michael O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution: "It would be retain some level of multi-ethnic society... However, let's be clear about what the data show -- it's happening already. And right now, it's the militias and the death squads that are driving the ethnic cleansing, and the movement towards a breakup of Iraq. And the question pretty soon is going to be whether we try to manage that process, or let the militias alone drive it, because it's happening.100,000 people a month are being driven from their homes. Iraq looks like Bosnia more and more." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, 1/10/07]

Yahia Said, Director, Iraq Revenue Watch: "I think the constitution, the Iraqi constitution, with all its shortcomings, serves as a good starting point for dialogue. But the constitution needs to be transformed through genuine dialogue from a dysfunctional to a rational federal structure. Oil and negotiations on an oil deal, which have apparently concluded recently, also provide a model for the -- for that rational federalism.The main principles that the negotiators have agreed on is to maximize the benefit of Iraq's oil wells to all Iraqis, to use oil as a way to unite the nation, and to build a framework based on transparency, which is very important in a situation of lack -- of poor trust, and on efficiency and equity." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, 1/10/07]

Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke: "I urge [President Bush] to lay out realistic goals, redeploy our troops and focus on the search for a political solution. We owe that to the Iraqis who welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and put their trust in us, only to find their lives in danger as a result. By a political solution, I mean something far more ambitious than current U.S. efforts aimed at improving the position of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by changing ministers or setting timelines for progress. Sen. Joe Biden and Les Gelb have advocated what they call, in a reference to the negotiations that ended the war in Bosnia in 1995, a "Dayton-like" solution to the political situation -- by which they mean a looser federal structure with plenty of autonomy for each of the three main groups, and an agreement on sharing oil revenue." [Washington Post (10/24/06)]

Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith: "And, Mr. Chairman, if I may say, I am often asked what is the difference between the plan that you and Les Gelb put forward and the plan that I have outlined. And I would say that the central point is what they share is that we believe that the future of Iraq is up to the Iraqis. You and Les Gelb are more optimistic about what that future might bring. And if you're right, I think that would be terrific." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, 1/11/07].

Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, CATO Institute: "And I believe there is a regional -- there is a reasonable prospect of convincing even Iran and Syria that a proxy war can easily spiral out of control and it would not be in their best interests to tolerate that kind of development, that it is better to quarantine this conflict and allow the dynamics in Iraq to play themselves out. Perhaps at some point the various factions in Iraq will agree on compromise, either a reasonably peaceful, formal partition, or a very loose federation with adequate political compromise. But they have to determine that. We cannot determine that for them." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, 1/11/07].

Walter Russell Mead, Council on Foreign Relations: "I thought that the Joe Biden op-ed ... in the Wall Street Journal yesterday was also a very sober and thoughtful approach.

JIM LEHRER: For those who didn't read that, capsulize it for us.

Mead: Well, they were basically talking about a way forward in Iraq that would have some bipartisan support, and something that the administration could work with. And I think what we're seeing now is a sense that the country does need to try to move as united as possible." [PBS Newshour (10/25/06)]

Anne Marie Slaughter, Dean of Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University: "I think that the Biden-Gelb plan is the best option out there." (, 5/18/06)

Eric Leaver, Institute for Policy Studies Research Fellow: "The two alternatives that have been fleshed out most deeply are 'strategic redeployment' and plans for partition... The five-point plan of Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., calling for a virtual partition of Iraq has its roots in proposals made by Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador with a long involvement in policy on Iraq, and Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations... Both of these plans have merits... These measures would draw in Iraq's neighbors who are desperately needed for a long-term solution. [ (9/5/06)]

Juan Cole, Middle East scholar and prominent blogger: "You have to admire Biden for recognizing the mess and for thinking seriously about what structural programs could be implemented to provide a way out of this mess." [, 5/2/06]

David Phillips, Council on Foreign Relations, author of Losing Iraq: "What they are proposing makes absolute sense. By decentralizing power and giving regions control over governance, economy and cultural affairs, you have some chance of holding the country together." [The Guardian, 5/2/06]


Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA): "Our chairman has come forward with a vision of how this thing can end up in a place where people will stop killing each other, and yet keep together the country of Iraq, to do the things a country has to do, including making sure the oil is shared in a fair way. It's not three separate countries -- he's gotten a rap on that; never was -- always semi-autonomous; policing by your own people; trust built up in that kind of situation. It's just what's happening in Kurdistan." [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, 1/31/07]

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN): "My own view is that... we have to continually advise our friends in Iraq to get on with this question of the division of the oil money or the dedication of the various groups, as well as how a federation can work. [PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, (9/19/2006)]

It may not be an absolute division of the country into three parts, but at least some ways in which the Kurds, who already have a great deal of autonomy, are joined by a lot of Shiites that want the same thing and Sunnis that are worried that they're going to be left out of the picture. And that takes heavy lifting. Politically, a lot of objections even to bringing it up before their congress, but we have to keep insisting that they do. That has to be on the agenda."

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS): "I think this idea of maybe the three autonomous regions within one country may be the one that we start to move more and more towards." [The Hill, (10/24/06)]

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX): "Allowing the Kurds, Sunni and Shia to govern their own territories while sharing in Iraq's oil revenues through a national revenue stream could help quell the bloodletting." [Houston Chronicle, (10/17/06)]

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): "Mr. Schumer said, he hopes that a controversial plan strongly advocated by Senator Joe Biden of Delaware--which essentially calls for the dissolution of Iraq into three autonomous ethnic enclaves (and which Mr. Schumer quietly supported last year)--will emerge as a concrete Democratic alternative to current administration policy. "It may actually move into play," said Mr. Schumer. "I've always believed that the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds hate each other more than they will ever love any central government." [New York Observer, (11/20/2006)]

Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico: "I would also study Senator Biden's federation [proposal]. I think that may be ultimately the right solution." [Christian Science Monitor, (9/27/06)]

Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, National Security Advisor of Iraq: "I don't think Senator Biden has said that Iraq should be divided into three sections. What I think -- and I can't agree more with Senator Biden and his article, and I think he is a very well-informed person. What we are talking here -- and he's talking about Iraqi constitution. The constitution of Iraq has said very clearly that you can form provinces, regions, federal -- this is a democratic federal system, and any two or three or nine or 10 provinces can get together and form a region, and form a federal unit. And this is exactly what Joseph Biden is saying, or I believe when I read his article... I think Biden's idea is a good idea, with some modification because it's very compatible with our permanent constitution, which was ratified on the 15th of October last year." [CNN Late Edition, (5/7/06)]

Former Rep. Harold Ford: I side with one of your good friends, Joe Biden on this issue. I think he has one of the best and most thoughtful plans." [IMUS in the Morning, [(10/26/06)]

Congressman Chris Van Hollen: "Democrats have been making some of the most creative proposals. Senator Biden has a proposal for reconciliation in Iraq, but the stay the course rhetoric you hear from this administration clearly isn't getting us anywhere, things are getting worse not better. [T]he American people want a congress that's going to deal with this issue in reality not in the fantasy world." [MSNBC Live, (10/20/06)]


David Brooks, New York Times columnist: "Senator Biden is the one exception. What happened Friday was significant with this intelligence report. It drove a missile right into the Bush policy. Because what it said was these two people, Sunni and Shia, will never get back together. That destroys the Bush policy. It drove a missile to the Democratic policy because it says we can't get out. So what's the other option? To me it's the soft partition idea that Joe Biden, lone among the leading Democrats, has been in favor of..." [ABC This Week, (2/4/07)]

"As Joe Biden points out, the Constitution already goes a long way toward decentralizing power. It gives the provinces the power to have their own security services, to send ambassadors to foreign countries, to join together to form regions. Decentralization is not an American imposition, it's an Iraqi idea. ....In short, logic, circumstances and politics are leading inexorably toward soft partition. The Bush administration has been slow to recognize its virtues because it is too dependent on the Green Zone Iraqis. The Iraqis talk about national unity but their behavior suggests they want decentralization. Sooner or later, everybody will settle on this sensible policy, having exhausted all the alternatives." [New York Times, Parting Ways In Iraq, (1/28/07)]

"There is one option that does approach Iraqi reality from the bottom up. That option recognizes that Iraq is broken and that its people are fleeing their homes to survive. It calls for a ''soft partition'' of Iraq in order to bring political institutions into accord with the social facts -- a central government to handle oil revenues and manage the currency, etc., but a country divided into separate sectarian areas to reduce contact and conflict. When the various groups in Bosnia finally separated, it became possible to negotiate a cold (if miserable) peace. Soft partition has been advocated in different ways by Joe Biden and Les Gelb, by Michael O'Hanlon and Edward Joseph, by Pauline Baker at the Fund for Peace, and in a more extreme version, by Peter Galbraith." [New York Times, Breaking the Clinch (1/25/07)]

"The liberals who favor quick exit never grappled with the consequences of that policy, which the Baker-Hamilton commission terrifyingly described. The centrists who believe in gradual withdrawal never explained why that wouldn't be like pulling a tooth slowly. Joe Biden, who has the most intellectually serious framework for dealing with Iraq, was busy yesterday, at the crucial decision-making moment, conducting preliminary fact-finding hearings, complete with forays into Iraqi history." [New York Times, The Fog Over Iraq (1/11/07)]

Philadelphia Inquirer, Editorial Board: "One shining exception to 'slogans over substance' is U.S. Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.). Gutsily, he's put forth a plan for dividing Iraq into semi-autonomous Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni zones, with Baghdad as a federal city; a fair division of oil revenues; and U.S. troops nearby as a watchdog against neighbors' mischief. You can name a dozen ways Biden's approach could collapse. But at least he has put a reality-based proposal on the table. That's more than most of the people seeking your vote right now seem willing to do." [Philadelphia Inquirer, (10/1/06)]

David Broder, Washington Post columnist: "At a time when most people see nothing but hopeless discord in Iraq, it is healthy to have someone offering alternatives that could produce progress." [Washington Post, (5/4/06)]

Jackson Diehl, Washington Post columnist - "Instead, the time may finally be ripe for some of the ideas that have been doggedly pushed for most of this year by Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, who has been one of his party's most serious and responsible voices on Iraq... It's easy to find holes in this strategy, as with any other plan for Iraq... But Biden's basic idea -- of an external political intervention backed by an international alliance -- is the one big option the Bush administration hasn't tried." [Washington Post, (10/2/06)]

David Ignatius, Washington Post columnist - "The Democrat who has tried hardest to think through these problems is Sen. Joseph Biden. He argues that the current government of national unity isn't succeeding in holding Iraq together, and that America should instead embrace a policy of 'federalism plus' that will devolve power to the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions. Iraqis are already voting for sectarian solutions, Biden argues, and America won't stabilize Iraq unless it aligns its policy with this reality. I disagree with some of the senator's conclusions, but he's asking the right question: How do we fix Iraq?" [Washington Post, 9/30/06)]

Bill O'Reilly, Fox News- "See, I favor Biden's -- Senator Biden's solution of the three regional areas. Because you've already got one, the Kurds in the north that's autonomous. If you could carve the two out, divide up the oil revenue, have a central government protected by the Americans to make sure that the Iranians don't come in, I think that might work." [The O'Reilly Factor, (9/29/06)]

George Packer, The New Yorker "[The premise of Biden - Gelb proposal] is, admittedly, the logic of desperation, raising a thousand questions and provoking as many vexing problems. Nor is it entirely a new idea. But, after three years of war and a chronic inability of leaders in both countries to think beyond next month, a fundamental change of policy deserves to be taken seriously. If there are no more Wise Men in Washington, can there at least be wisdom?" [The New Yorker, (5/8/06)]

Portland Press Herald (ME) editorial board - "Biden's scenario opens the door for Congress to conduct a needed discussion about options that fall between the status quo and immediate withdrawal." [The Portland Press Herald (ME), (5/9/06)]

Delaware News Journal editorial board "Sen. Joseph Biden has done the country a service by forwarding a thoughtful, realistic plan for the future of Iraq." [Delaware News Journal, (5/3/06)]

The Barre Montpelier Times Argus (VT) editorial board "Let's hope someone in the White House reads the Biden-Gelb essay and draws Bush's attention to a solution he can embrace." [The Barre Montpelier Times Argus (VT), (5/2/06)]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board "Together with incentives (i.e., a share of oil revenue) to attract the Sunnis, a phased American troop withdrawal and a regional non-aggression pact (Iran and Syria, stay out), the Biden-Gelb plan offers at least a semblance of hope. You could even call it a turning point." [St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), (05/02/06)]

The Journal Standard (IL) editorial board "Sen. Joe Biden... [is] among the few Democrats offering something resembling a plan. On Sunday, he floated the idea of separating Iraq along sectarian lines into three largely autonomous states under the umbrella of a weak central government. That may or may not be the ideal policy. The point is we need to do something radically different. The alternative is a mission perpetually unfulfilled and ever more costly in American blood and treasure." [The Journal Standard (IL), (5/2/06)]

Marilou Johanek, Toledo Blade (OH) columnist "Mr. Biden's plan may not be the way to stem the ethnic and religious violence among competing Iraqi powerbrokers, but at least it's an alternative to the administration's failed Plan A and deserves more study than speedy dismissal." [Toledo Blade (OH), (5/5/06)]

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Biden has it right on Iraq says Real Time's Bll Maher

Update: Bill Maher on his season's opening HBO show tonight said Senator Joe Biden is the only one who has it right on Iraq and says Americans must be more tolerant of gaffs, referring to the one Biden made about Barack Obama.

I agree with Bill Maher. Senator Biden is the only one who has had it right about a solution for Iraq for the past 3 years or so. Finally some prime time recognition Joe. See previous post on the Senator's views on Iraq by clicking here.

Policy on Iraq is about Oil but not what you think

The Bush/Cheney policy that drove us into Iraq was not WMD or other stories about a terrorist haven there. It was about OIL. But it wasn't that we had hoped to capture a source of oil for ourselves, nor did we want to really help the Iraqi's share in the profits of their oil supply revenue. It was about keeping the Middle East in turmoil so that Oil prices would stay high.

As you look to the chart shown here you can see the effect of the years of this Administration on the price of Oil on the right of the chart. It has gone above the 1979 spike in the center of the chart. Add to this the fact that both Bush and Cheney are Oil men and add to the mix that 2006 brought the highest profits in history to big Oil companies and their executives. That is why the President is rattling his saber with Iran. That is why there is no diplomatic effort to get the Iranians and Syria involved in talks. Because as long as there is turmoil, war and sectarian violence, Oil prices will continue to climb, as will gasoline prices.

There are ample stockpiles in our strategic oil reserve, and this Administration is doing all it can to keep the conflict going because the big fear is that if there is a peaceful solution to this conflict, Oil will once again go below $30 per barrel and Middle East countries will feel the pinch, especially the friends of the Bush's; the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia.

You want to do something to help end this war? Try using less gasoline, start saving energy and start promoting higher gasoline taxes to cut demand. It is the American people that can truly make a difference here, not the politicians. Start now.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Senator Biden to repeal the President's authority regarding Iraq

Senator Joe Biden on Face the Nation this morning confirmed he is preparing a Resolution to repeal the original resolution and restate the Presidents authority which gave the president the power to wage war in Iraq. This indeed would put all on record as to where they stand on the Iraq issue, Democrats and Republicans. This is indeed a very good idea in my view. It would help change the debate with the Presidential primary hopefuls, and might form the basis for a bipartisan approach to Iraq and adding a diplomatic means to a solution there. Senator Biden has asked the President recently, "What's next" after the surge as there are only 3 possible solutions to the war. According to the Senator, either become an occupying force, have a strong dictator run the country or divide Iraq into 3 separate autonomous regions in the form of a Federal system of governance where Oil revenues would be shared. Diplomacy is the best hope for Iraq. Senator Biden makes good sense and it is obvious his ideas are an attempt to allow the President to save face and his legacy.

Senator Biden also commented on Rep. Jack Murtha’s plan to offer amendments to the Budget proposal request of the President which will try to impose restrictions of funding so that the Army & Marines will not become completely broken as it appears very close to that now. Biden said Murtha’s only thoughts are trying to save the military from a broken system, which these redeployments have caused, and especially with the National Guard.

Keep up the pressure Senator.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Machiavelli and the upcoming political battle over Iraq

The upcoming battle for the hearts and minds of the American people, and ultimately their vote for their Presidential candidates, is taking shape in the House of Representatives, not in the Senate and that difference is going to take its toll on these Senatorial Presidential candidates:

Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator John McCain
Senator Barack Obama
Senator Christopher Dodd
Senator Joe Biden
Senator Sam Brownback and
Senator Chuck Hagel

It will turn the voters away from Senatorial candidates and towards those not in Congress like:

Former Mayor Rudy Giulliani
Former Gov. Mitt Romney
Former VP. Al Gore

Because it is going to look like the Senate can't change anything with respect to this President's actions in Iraq and his threats to Iran.

Americans are going to be looking for candidates outside the Beltway as they are feeling frustrated at the impotence of the Senate and the lack of courage they are showing in this debate. Language is now being framed by Karl Rove and his minions to make this battle over direction in Iraq as one where Democrats are going to be characterized as "tying the hands of the President during war time" and "putting our troops in more danger and harms way," as reinforcements may need to be scaled back if funding is cut. It is classical Rove master manipulation of the guilty feelings for doing such and dividing the Democrats because they have been split as to what course of action they can support. So what to do, what to do?

If the Democrats allow themselves to be painted again in a corner by the rhetorical quips of the Rove machine, then they haven't learned a thing over the past 7 years. There is a reference Machiavelli used, in his book "The Prince", when faced with a decision, as to whether to strike back at an opponent. To paraphrase him: Never strike at an opponent unless you are willing to totally destroy them, their family and any offspring. The same is true here regarding facing up to Republican charges. The Democrats must now come together as one party and define the battle in terms that Americans can understand and support, so that in Nov. 2008, it's a slaughter of Republicans at the polls. It is better to stand up and lose the vote than to try to manipulate words in nuanced ways to garner limited support. The Congress was clear in the language in their Bill, which passed and gained 17 Republicans in support of the Bill.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bush Adminstration's Road Map for Peace in the Middle East

Condi Rice, supposed genius, and Madame Secretary of State, has a lot of explaining to do, as both Israel and the Palestinians are left to fend for themselves with the hands off approach of this Bush Administration. It's a shame so much time has been wasted and so much suffering endured. We owe more to them than a dismissal of their concerns. That is in part a result of the attention paid to Iraq at the expense of time on other vital interests of the United States. We have been out of balance as a nation and are going to be that way for some time to come. It seems we only care when bodies are blown up and Israel's security is threatened. Our policy is reactive, not proactive and are the result of President Bush and VP Cheney being consumed with their own interests. What a shame.

Pre-war planning failure for Iraq

Newly declassified documents for pre-war planning now shows that General Tommy Franks, President Bush's touted hero, used the most optimistic planning assumptions in planning the war and aftermath. For example, one estimate was that 4 years after the invasion we would have only 5,000 troops in Iraq versus the 160,000 we still have there now. Good planning General Franks! I wouldn't read your book if it was given to me free.

Back on October 20th, 2006 I wrote the following post on who to blame for the lost war in Iraq. Here's what I said back then:

"Who lost the Iraq war? U.S. Generals!

There is much blame to go around on this topic and some still naively believe we can still win this war. Most of the blame seems to be placed squarely on Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Some place blame up at the top with President Bush. Certainly both have their share of the blame. I would like to focus on some who have never been blamed. But first, here's an examination of the conditions leading up to where we find ourselves today.

When we first invaded Iraq, it was the fastest charge a country has made in history to conquer a territory. The military was praised for their rapid deployment and march to Baghdad with few casualties. As documented by the Center for American Progress, "In the march to war, Wolfowitz took the unusual step of publicly rebuking Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki for his estimate that "several hundred thousand troops" would be necessary to provide security in post-war Iraq. At the time, Wolfowitz dismissed Shinseki's estimate as "wildly off the mark" and said "the notion that it would take several hundred thousand American troops just seems outlandish."

The only General to give honest opinions as to the needed level of troops required for success in Iraq was forced into retirement or, as most of us have learned since, was fired. So much for the lies from President Bush that "whatever our military leaders need they will get from this Administration". With that single act of firing a General who told this Administration what they didn't want to hear, the President and the Civilian leadership of the Military sent a shot across the bow of all other Generals from speaking their mind, for fear of losing their lifelong careers in the service of their country. Rumsfeld's message to his Generals was clear.

When General Tommy Franks marched to Baghdad in record-breaking time, we were all both surprised and gratified to see that it was done with minimal loss of life. We were all happy that the Iraq forces decided not to fight but to retreat into the shadows of the population. We were all happy that there was no biological or chemical attack on our troops and that they were safe. However, what wasn't done was to secure all the weapons caches that were found along the way. Those weapons caches numbered in the thousands. We were too busy looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction to realize that the weapons caches were going to be used against us in an insurgency and in the resistance movement to follow. These weapons caches were used as IED's that have killed over 2,700 of our finest and wounded another 21,000. Who is to blame for this?

The seeds of the loss of the Iraq war were sown even before a shot was fired. It was with the Civilian leadership of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney and yes President Bush. And while we must not loose sight of this fact, there is another fact, which has not been a focus of our disappointment and anger. It is with the Generals who lead our armed forces of the Army and Marines and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their lack of courage to stand up for what they believed was needed- more troops from the very beginning. These are men who swore to give their lives to this country but haven't the guts to stand up and take on the Civilian leadership when they are and have been wrong. It is only in retirement that most have spoken out. They have been before Congress speaking out. They have been before the news media often CNN and various news programs. Or they have written books on the war. I dare say that they have not served their country well. But their brave men and women who serve under them can be proud of their service.

It is too late for more troops. We have lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and justifiably so. There is no turning back now. We must retreat and learn from this experience. One significant question that this war has raised for me is the following. Does the model of Civilian leadership of our Military really work? In the past 2 memorable wars in my lifetime, Vietnam and Iraq, I wonder whether it really works. Maybe it is time to reconsider every assumption we have made. Maybe we need to examine whether the Military should report directly to the President or to the Congress. The Congress is the only branch of Government authorized to declare war and to fund the wars. What do you think?"

Little did I contemplate back in October that this President would be wanting to "surge" another 20,000 plus soldiers into the Civil war there and that the Democrats would be discussing a Non-Binding Resolution in opposition.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The real gameplan of this Neocon saturated Administration (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third posting on where I see we are heading in the next year or so. The first posting titled, "We The People, are way ahead of the politicians," discussed the Non-Binding Resolutions to stop the surge of troops in Iraq and how the American people want Congress to do something actually substantive to limit the power of this President, especially now with Iran the focus of the recent saber rattling rhetoric by a White House use to this drill from taking us to war in Iraq. The second posting titled, "Martial Law" was to describe who has the right to call for Martial Law, the powers of the President claimed by previous President's and how Congress, by not stopping a President, actually sanctions the process unless they object and pass legislation stopping it.

This post deals with when this hypothetical situation I have alerted you to which I truly believe could eventually take place. In the first place, the Democrats in Congress are now in the process of laying the necessary groundwork of arousing their base to see that they care about their views and are in the process of doing something about it by having the floor debate that the Senate has been unable to muster due to procedural actions taken by Republicans. When the House does vote against the surge the President is moving ahead on, (and against all counsel to do so), it will set the stage for the Senate showdown on the matter. It will take place in an upcoming Bill, which is necessary to vote to keep the government running, as the Republicans voted only for a temporary Resolution before the Nov. elections, to keep the government funded until March 15th. So the Senate can take a stab at passing the Warner Bill, which is in opposition to the President's surge. This could pass the Senate in light of what will pass now in the House.

This sets the stage for the American people to have their hopes that the President will listen to Congress and reconsider his actions to surge the troops. You know that neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney will acquiesce and reconsider. That sets the stage for many more demonstrations and a big march on Washington, which will do little to change the course that has been set. However, this next march will attract more people and start a real movement in opposition to the war, as was the case during the Vietnam War. This movement will build while at the same time deaths of American GI's will increase, as from previous recent troop buildups, we know and come to expect more deaths and more violence will follow. If you think that will not happen, then ask yourself what reaction do you expect by an Iraqi population which has experienced many deaths of their own people and an increase of revenge sectarian violence. It is inevitable. The increase in deaths of both Iraqi's but more relevant, Americans, will push the anti-war movement to make more noise in the streets on behalf of the families whose members are dying in Iraq with some skirmishes along the Iranian border and incursions into Iran, to be more angry and frustrated. It will be shown on 24/7 news outlets and it will infuriate Americans because it appears their government isn't listening to them. This is often the melting pot which comes to a roaring boil.

Now the situation is ripe for the imposition here of Martial law. Oh, and add in any, and I mean any, terrorist attack here on our shores, whether real or manufactured by our government to make us take notice of the real threat, and you the makings of a police state or a movie staring Denzel Washington. Oops, hasn't he made a movie almost exactly like this scenario? Watch for the second in the series to seem almost really happening! Stay tuned.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Martial Law (Part 2 of 3)

As a follow up from my last posting, I did some research on Martial law and what the Constitution has to say about its use. Here are some interesting points many are not aware of:

Article 1, Section 9 states, "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Habeas corpus is a concept of law, in which a person may not be held by the government without a valid reason for being held. A writ of habeas corpus can be issued by a court upon a government agency (such as a police force or the military). Such a writ compels the agency to produce the individual to the court, and to convince the court that the person is being reasonably held. The suspension of habeas corpus allows an agency to hold a person without a charge. Suspension of habeas corpus is often equated with martial law.

Because of this connection of the two concepts, it is often argued that only Congress can declare martial law, because Congress alone is granted the power to suspend the writ. The President, however, is commander-in-chief of the military, and it has been argued that the President can take it upon himself to declare martial law. In these times, Congress may decide not to act, effectively accepting martial law by failing to stop it; Congress may agree to the declaration, putting the official stamp of approval on the declaration; or it can reject the President's imposition of martial law, which could set up a power struggle between the Congress and the Executive that only the Judiciary would be able to resolve.

In the United States, there is precedent for martial law. Several times in the course of our history, martial law of varying degrees has been declared. The most obvious and often-cited example was when President Lincoln declared martial law during the Civil War. This instance provides us with most of the rules for martial law that we would use today, should the need arise.

For more detailed cases read this information by clicking the web site below. Also you can connect to the original source material from this site if you are interested:

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

We The People are way ahead of the politicians (Part 1 of 3)

And I might add on nearly every issue, but especially Iraq, the American people, voter and non-voter alike, are so far ahead of the politicians that it speaks to the significant flaws in redistricting legislation. We are not getting the politicians we need that know where we stand and can articulate and support difficult positions because the races have been neutered by both Parties.

Take Iraq for example, (no, please take Iraq!) :) 75% of the American people are against the surge, against the war and want the troops home. The best that the Senate can do is point fingers at each other as to which is to blame for not allowing debate on something as meaningless as a non-binding Resolution of the Senate. I think what it is going to take to change this dialogue is the same thing it took during the Vietnam War, Civil disobedience. It isn't until those that espouse getting out of Iraq with the same level of commitment, as our troops have, that things will change in the debate.

I ask myself, why is it that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are blatantly ignoring all the input from the Iraq Study Group, the former Generals and the Congress, Senate and the American people in overwhelming numbers. I have concluded that what they wish for the most is an unruly public, that takes to the streets in protest, causing much disruption and possible destruction, so that they could make the final move to secure their true purpose; to institute martial law and seize all government activities and throw away all laws in the guise of protecting the American people from anarchists and sympathizers of terrorists. God I hope it is not true and that this is all a reaction to the anger I feel at so called leaders impotence. That may be why Sen. Barack Obama is causing a stir as he provides some new politic. But America is ready and time is running out. The Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation Act, HR 770, will never get support by the Congress to pass. That is going to frustrate many. Remember the song, "The times, they are a changin!"

Even some States are ahead of this government when it comes to Healthcare. Massachusetts and California are changing the debate from what to do at the Federal level, to taking away all illusion that the Federal government is going to help at all. The same is true in the area of Global Warming, where California is taking a stand against carbon emissions. We The People are far ahead of the politicians and hopefully they are going to know it soon, too.

UPDATE: Nov. 5th, 2008

It looks like this post was prophetic as Barack Obama was elected President with a Landslide in the Electoral College votes winning 359 of the required 270 needed and also won the Popular votes. The times they are a changin!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith and the media

I'm sorry, it is tragic that she lost her life's battle. But I don't understand the 24 hour addiction the media has with this story. I wish the media covered more stories about a single death in the war in Iraq. The family, the impact the individual made on their family and with their friends is more deserving of the media's attention. I know those stories may not have the "glitz and sexiness" of the Anna Nicole story. Come on folks! Don't watch all the coverage. It isn't that there aren't news stories to cover. The Congress has a Bill, HR 770, on ensuring the President's powers are checked with respect to starting a war with Iran. Shouldn't there be more coverage of this. How about the story of the Palestinians coming to an agreement and what it means with respect to Middle East Peace efforts and the Roadmap proposed by the Bush Administration. Or maybe more coverage on the apparent change in tone and substance of the North Korea talks on the issue of Nuclear Weapons. Enough is enough.

Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation Act- Read it here

Finally some members of Congress with some much appreciated actions to stop the President and Vice President from getting us into a war with Iran. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in news reports today that they are turning the rhetoric down. I say not far enough! This Bill should help reduce the hubris of this Administration. Thank you Congressmen and especially my own Congressman, Ms. Woolsey, here in Marin County, CA.

1st Session
H. R. 770

To prohibit the use of funds to carry out any covert action for the purpose of causing regime change in Iran or to carry out any military action against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, in accordance with international law and constitutional and statutory requirements for congressional authorization.


January 31, 2007

Ms. LEE (for herself, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. KUCINICH, Mr. CONYERS, and Ms. WATERS) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Armed Services and Select Intelligence (Permanent Select), for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To prohibit the use of funds to carry out any covert action for the purpose of causing regime change in Iran or to carry out any military action against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, in accordance with international law and constitutional and statutory requirements for congressional authorization.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the `Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation Act'.

Congress finds the following:
(1) Numerous bi-partisan commissions and study groups, including the Iraq Study Group co-chaired by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, a 2004 working group established under the Council on Foreign Relations and co-chaired by Robert Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and a 2001 Atlantic Council of the United States Working Group, co-chaired by Lee H. Hamilton, James Schlesinger, and Brent Scowcroft have called for various forms of dialogue and engagement with Iran in order to achieve United States strategic interests in the Middle East region.
(2) Implementing effective strategies to deflect or deter Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or pursuing the development of nuclear weapons capabilities, is an important United States strategic interest.
(3) Establishing a diplomatic dialogue with the Government of Iran and deepening relationships with the Iranian people would help foster greater understanding between the people of Iran and the people of the United States and would enhance the stability and security of the Persian Gulf region, including by reducing the threat of the proliferation or use of nuclear weapons in the region, while advancing other United States foreign policy objectives in that region.
(4) The Iraq Study Group Report states `Iran's interests would not be served by a failure of U.S. policy that led to chaos and the territorial disintegration of the Iraqi state', and therefore, the Government of the United States should build upon this mutual interest to develop a diplomatic dialogue with the Government of Iran concerning deteriorating conditions in Iraq, which can become a basis of broader future United States-Iranian engagement.
(5) Given the dispersal of Iran's nuclear program at sites throughout the country and their proximity to urban centers, the use of military force against Iran would be extraordinarily difficult and probably ineffective, the immediate consequences and loss of life would be drastic, and the long-term instability generated would be against long-term United States interests in the region.
(6) Any military action designed to eliminate Iran's capacity to produce nuclear weapons would run the significant risk of reinforcing and accelerating the desire of the Government of Iran to acquire a nuclear deterrent and compounding nationalist passions in defense of that very course, and would most likely also generate hostile Iranian initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(7) Together, the ongoing efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) along with corresponding multilateral sanctions recently adopted by the United Nations Security Council offer a viable path for steering Iran's nuclear efforts along peaceful lines, provided that there is close multilateral coordination and steadfastness in the adherence to the sanctions and firm United States leadership in support of the multilateral effort.
(8) According to the most definitive United States intelligence reports, Iran is likely a decade away from acquiring the know-how and material to have an option to build a nuclear weapon, and even the most pessimistic analysis by outside experts puts the timeline at least three years away, assuming Iran suffers no setbacks during development, which would be unprecedented.

It is the sense of Congress that--
(1) full diplomatic, political, and economic relations between the United States and Iran cannot be normalized unless and until enforceable safeguards are put in place to prevent weaponization of Iran's nuclear program and the Government of Iran ends its support for international terrorist groups, but the attainment of these policy objectives should not constitute preconditions for any diplomatic dialogue; and
(2) no congressional authorization for the use of military force in any Act of Congress enacted before the date of the enactment of this Act constitutes, either implicitly or explicitly, an authorization for the use of military force against Iran or its nuclear program.

It is the policy of the United States not to enter into a preemptive war against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, and then only in accordance with international law and constitutional and statutory requirements for congressional authorization.

No funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense or any other department or agency of the Government of the United States may be used to carry out any covert action for the purpose of causing regime change in Iran or to carry out any military action against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, in accordance with international law and constitutional and statutory requirements for congressional authorization.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Reconstruction dollars for Iraq - Oversight? Overdue!

Congress has Paul Bremer, former Administrator under the Bush Administration from 2003-2004, giving testimony on what happened to the Billions of dollars of taxpayer money set aside for reconstruction in Iraq. It appears there were only 2 people with oversight roles assigned by our government and obviously they couldn't and didn't do much. So it appears we are looking at whom to blame for the lost money. This is the first time any oversight has been done by the Congress. The difference being that now there is a Democratic majority in charge in Congress. Before it was the Republicans in charge and they held no hearings. So maybe we should stop going back to folks like Paul Bremer and Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Reconstruction in Iraq, and start going after those Republicans who in Congress were in charge and they neglected their responsibility. I know, many Republicans were replaced in the last election. The problem is that 2/3rds of the Republicans who were in charge are still in Congress!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 05, 2007

Non-Binding Resolutions hung up by Republican procedural votes.

Many wanting to debate the Iraq War and planned surge were left frustrated today by Republicans and the Administration. First the news and then the comment:

A segment from
"Senate Republicans used a procedural maneuver Monday to keep Democratic leaders from moving forward with a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq.

A motion to proceed with the debate and vote on a bipartisan compromise measure failed on a largely party-line vote of 49-47."

It seems obvious to me and to others that while the Democrats have gained the Majority in the Senate, they haven't learned a thing from the Republicans over this past 6 years in how to manage Senate Rules to get what they want. A toothless Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, had better start playing Hardball with the Republicans or the Democrats are going to be reduced to impotence. They need a shot of Viagra in their spines.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Biden: The Bipartisan Iraq Resolution and a pathway to stability.

What follows are excerpts of Senator Biden's statement on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, Feb. 1st and reiterated in part through public venues this weekend.

"There was one critical difference between the Biden-Levin and the Warner amendment. Senator Warner's resolution, in one paragraph, left open, I think unintentionally, the possibility of increasing the overall number of American troops in Iraq -- just not in Baghdad. So from our perspective it wasn't enough to say don't go into Baghdad with more troops; we wanted to say don't raise the number of troops, as well.

The provision in the Warner amendment that allowed for that, if read by the President the way he would want to read it, I believe, would have allowed an increase in troops. We believe very strongly -- Senator Levin, myself, Hagel, Snowe -- that would send the wrong message. We ought to be drawing down in Iraq, not ramping up. We ought to be redeploying, not deploying into Baghdad. We should make it clear to the Iraqi leaders that they have to begin to make the hard compromises necessary for a political solution.

A political solution everyone virtually agrees on is the precondition for anything positive happening in Iraq. Now, I make it clear, I and everyone else in this Senate knows that it is not an easy thing for the Iraqi leadership to do, but it is absolutely essential.

So we approached Senator Warner several times to try to work out the difference between the Biden and the Warner resolutions. I am very pleased that last night, through the leadership of Senator Warner and Senator Levin, we succeeded in doing just that. The language Senator Warner removed from his resolution removed the possibility that it can be read as calling for more troops in Iraq.

With that change, I am very pleased to join Senator Levin, now known as the Levin-Warner resolution, as a cosponsor of that resolution."

And this explanation of a possible course of action for the United States and the government of Iraq:

(Senator Biden speaking)"While no unanimous prescription has emerged, there is remarkably broad consensus on three main points: First, American troops cannot stop sectarian warfare in Iraq, only a political settlement can do that; the second point of consensus, we must engage in intensive regional diplomacy to support the settlement among Iraqis; third, the U.S. military should focus on combatting terrorists, keeping Iraq's neighbors honest, training Iraq's troops -- not on policing a civil war. Indeed, combat troops should start to redeploy as soon as our mission is narrow."

And this:

(Senator Biden speaking) I believe, and have believed for some time, something much bolder is necessary. Les Gelb, the chairman emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Defense Department official, and I put forward just such a proposal 9 months ago. It is premised upon our conviction that the heart of the administration's strategy -- building a strong central government -- will, in fact, not succeed. As a matter of fact, in the testimony we heard, most pointed out where countries have been drawn by the slip of a pen by world leaders after World War I and World War II -- the Balkans, Iraq, and many other places we could name -- there have basically only been two models that have brought stability. A straw plan, a la Saddam, or a Federal system, a la the Iraqi Constitution.

The reason a strong central government will not work, although desirable, is there is no trust within the Government, no trust of the Government by the people of Iraq, no capacity of the Government to deliver services, no capacity of this new Government to deliver security.

In a sense, it is understandable. Indeed, we must bring Iraqis' problems and the responsibility of managing those problems down to local and regional levels where we can help the Iraqis build trust and capacity much more quickly and much more effectively.

We have proposed that the Iraqis create what their constitution calls for: three or more "regions" they call them -- not republics -- three or four more regions consistent with their constitution. We call for Iraq's oil to be shared equally with a guarantee that the Sunnis get their share and have some international oversight to guarantee it. We call for aggressive diplomacy -- which, again, most every witness called for, including the Iraq Study Group -- we call for aggressive diplomacy in the creation of a contact group consisting of Iraqi's neighbors and the major powers in the world, including large Islamic countries to support a political settlement.

We believe we can redeploy most, if not all, of America's troops from Iraq within 18 months under this plan, leaving behind a small force in Iraq or in the region to strike at terrorists, the jihadists, the al-Qaidaists, keeping the neighbors honest, and training Iraqi forces. The time has demonstrated this plan is more relevant and inevitable than it was even the day we put pen to paper and set it out 9 months ago. It takes into account the harsh reality of self-sustaining sectarian violence; it is consistent with Iraq's Constitution; and it can produce a phrase used by a New York Times columnist in describing our plan. It can produce "a soft landing" for Iraq and prevent a full-blown civil war that tears the country apart and spreads beyond its borders.

I might also add, as people have come to understand, what I am calling for is not partitioning, not three separate republics; what I am calling for is what the Iraqi Constitution calls for: decentralization of control over security and local laws with the central government having responsibility for the Army, distribution of resources and currency and other things that a central government must do.

As that has become clearer and clearer, some of the most powerful voices in the American foreign policy establishment have come forward to suggest it makes sense.

Secretary Kissinger told our committee yesterday: "I'm sympathetic to an outcome that permits large regional autonomy. In fact, I think it is very likely this will emerge out of the conflict that we are now witnessing." Former Secretary of State Albright said: "..the idea of the... constitution of Iraq as written, which allows for and mandates, in fact, a great deal of regional autonomy, is appropriate."

Senator Baker, former Secretary of State, coauthor of the Baker-Hamilton commission report told us that there are indications that Iraq may be moving toward three autonomous regions, and "if it is, we ought to be prepared to try and manage the situation."

Time is running out. We are going to have as a consequence of the compromise reached between the Biden-Levin resolution and the Warner resolution, now known as the "Levin-Warner whoever else is attached to it" resolution -- we are going to have for the first time a full-blown debate in the Senate.

I hope the administration will be listening. I suggest we are coequal -- Congress, along with the President -- in deciding when, if, how long, and under what circumstances to send Americans to war, for shedding America's treasure and blood.

(To read all of Senator Biden's comments click here.)

The Senator's ideas make sense and, if they are the possible solution to this mess, we owe him our heartfelt thanks and support. Time will tell, but for now, thank you Senator.

Is Robert Gates, Sec. of Defense, on the right or wrong track?

Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, appears to have lost his copy of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report. He was a participant in the group of bi-partisan citizens well respected by both Parties. However, since Mr. Gates has taken over the helm from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, I have not seen the wisdom of his participation in the Iraq Study Group have any effect on his comments. Most recently his participation in putting Iran on notice that we mean business and have ordered Battle group Carriers into the Persian Gulf. This is causing much additional stress and worry over what course of action we have planned for Iran and whether our President and Vice President want to start another war in Iran. I share those concerns, as do many others. Most recently 3 former retired military chiefs, 2 Generals and an Admiral, have written an editorial in the London Sunday Times (click for story here) to warn President Bush and Vice President Cheney of the "disastrous consequences" such a policy would have on the entire region and our military. They said that the current crisis must be resolved through diplomacy.

Robert Gates said that Washington is not planning for war with Iran. I don't believe it, as I didn't believe our President when he said he would use all diplomatic means to get Saddam Hussein to allow Inspections by UN weapons inspectors. Then Bush didn't give the UN enough time to verify the truth and instead chose to go to war with Iraq. One thing everyone has learned these past 6 years; you can't trust the President and Vice President to tell the truth and do the right thing. That is a very scary conclusion indeed.

But there was hope with Robert Gates and my hope of his being a different Secretary of Defense is fading quickly. I might suggest to Mr. Gates that he reread the Iraq Study Group report and be a force with Condi Rice and within the Administration for pushing diplomacy with Iran and Syria and the other regional players.

Labels: ,

This President needs a Tough Love intervention

The pace of U.S. fatalities for February is already ahead of 2004-2006, as more of our human treasure is lost, to say nothing of our treasury. It seems history repeats itself for this President George Walker Bush. This is the same man that when he was going bankrupt in his Oil business threw more good money after bad, until he was finally bankrupt and Mommy and Daddy bailed him out with the help of the House of Saud. When a bailout is really needed, the House of Saud is nowhere to be found. I guess they too have learned their lesson with our President and aren't willing to finance his pleasures again.

With the Budget process here, the President has the audacity for asking this Congress for over $625 Billion for the Military. I pray and hope this Congress can clip his wings and send him cup in hand to the Saudi's for a handout. We sure could use it!

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Saving Tibet

China hopes to put on a good face to our world during the coming 2008 Olympics. If you've the time, kindly read the in-depth "Rolling Stone" article below (click on URL), entitled "The End of Tibet," which points to 6 things YOU can do to help make the 2008 Beijing Olympics a catalyst for change in occupied Tibet.

The End of Tibet

UPDATE: Feb. 4th, 2007

Do you wonder if writing on this topic gets any attention from the Chinese? Let me put that answer to bed. The highest number of visitors today and every day are from the U.S. So I decided to see which was the next most frequented country citizen that visited my Blog. Surprise, surprise, it was China. Glad you folks over there are keeping up on who's writing what. I know it isn't the people of China who are reading this, so it must be government officials. That's OK, because in America you have a right to read it. So enjoy the visit and don't forget to read the full 7 page story of the Rolling Stones article.

A hope in the war effort in Iraq.

I was away facilitating a retreat for a client yesterday and was having the group of around 18 executives list the 3 people who have been the greatest people who had inspired them in their lives. One executive said, Dave Petraeus (current General in charge of all operations in Iraq). I then asked each of them to identify the core qualities of these people. When it was this executive’s time to respond to my question, he said it was Petraeus's ability to get results, reward those results and inspire creativity from those he led.

If we ever needed those skills, this is the time. No matter the public discourse on this war, I felt a little reassured that this leader is someone who is admired still from his former troops. Let's all pray for his success, for us, the Iraqi people and the world, as long as we happen to be there.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Senator Biden- the gaff and other matters of importance

The last thing in the world you want when matters such as War and who's the decider are front and center, is the distraction of a mistake in words spoken by someone you have high hopes for. That is where I find myself today with Senator Joe Biden and the gaff regarding his comments referring to Barack Obama. Now the discourse is off matters of life and death, and on misspoken words, different interpretations of what was said etc., etc, ad nauseum. Add to this that your guy is about ready to announce he is running for president and all of a sudden you want to go hide someplace quiet.

Here's hoping we can get back to the Non-Binding Resolution of the Senate on this war and that the voices quiet down for us to think about where we stand with it and how will the president respond. Come on Joe, be a Statesman.
Technorati Profile