Archive for category Foreign Policy

Afghanistan Update: Taliban Take Kunduz


Re-taking Kunduz, a former Taliban stronghold in northeastern Afghanistan, has been a strategic objective of the insurgents for a long time. The fall of the city counts as the biggest Taliban victory since 2001.

Via CNN:

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Afghan security forces started retaking parts of Kunduz from the Taliban, officials said, one day after the key city had largely fallen in a major victory for the insurgents.

“A big military operation to clear all Kunduz city is about to start,” Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said Tuesday.

U.S. forces joined in the military action, launching an airstrike in Kunduz on Tuesday, said Brian Tribus, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The Kunduz prison, a police compound and the neighborhood of Zir Dawra are among the areas Afghan forces have secured, Sediqqi said.

A day earlier, Sediqqi said Kunduz had largely fallen into “the hand of enemies.” Kunduz is the largest city to be overrun by the Taliban since 2001.

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for the Kunduz police chief, said Taliban insurgents seized the main roundabout in the city and made it to the prison, where they freed more than 500 inmates.

More info:
Battleground Kunduz: The city the Taliban seized
Afghan forces fight to retake Kunduz from Taliban

Coalition Forces Engage Insurgents In Combat Near Kunduz
U.S. Airstrikes Back Afghan Security Forces’ Efforts To Retake City From Taliban
Taliban emir seeks to reassure residents of Kunduz


Hillary: ‘I will not hesitate to take military action’

Hillary at warSeriously? As a senator, Hillary Clinton voted to authorize George W. Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq, an ill-fated invasion and occupation halfway around the word that led to enormous loss of life and ongoing chaos in the Middle East, and mind-boggling deficits at home.

Now she says: “I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

In other words, Hillary has learned nothing about what constitutes an illegal war of aggression. Fortunately for all concerned, Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and their theocratic government regards nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as un-Islamic. It’s an empty threat.

We can’t help wondering if Hillary thinks that the first woman president needs to take America to war again just to prove she’s a tough commander-in-chief – and never mind the consequences.

Bernie 2016!

Amanda Marcotte suggests the loud Tea-GOP freakout over peace with Iran is mostly if not entirely about political calculation for 2016.

[P]ainting Hillary Clinton as some kind of weak-willed surrender monkey, mostly by dropping the word “Benghazi” a lot, is clearly going to be the centerpiece of the anti-Clinton strategy.

This may explain, but certainly doesn’t excuse, Hillary doubling down on her hawkish foreign policy views.


The ’24-Day Delay’ And Other Lies About the Iran Deal

Via Media Matters (the entire article is worth reading).

Remember how the Tea-GOP took advantage of the complexity of the ACA to invent “death panels” and other fictional features they said were in the law? Political allies of Israel’s right-wing extremist government are trying to play the same game with the Iran deal.

Most people don’t understand the details, so liars such as Senator Chuck Schumer think they can get away with falsely claiming there is a “24-day delay” for nuclear site inspections, and other made-up reasons to be against peace and for an unprovoked attack on Iran. Senator Schumer vociferously supported the illegal invasion of Iraq, and apparently has learned nothing from that decade-long fiasco.

For the record, the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community and even the Israeli Mossad is that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Iranian government ruled out development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as inconsistent with Islam back in the 1980s.

Certain foreign governments would like the USA to start a war of aggression against Iran, a country of 77 million people that’s larger than Alaska and halfway around the world. And they want to sell us a bullshit story about nonexistent nuclear weapons. Americans would have to be breathtakingly stupid to go for that a second time.

More info:
Chuck Schumer is running from TV cameras for first time in his career after rejecting Iran deal

Josh Marshall explains why the so-called “24-day delay” is a phony issue.

The people making the biggest stink about this are phrase-makers from RNC, AIPAC and the various other billionaire-backed, stood-up advocacy groups fighting the deal. Virtually every nuclear expert and weapons scientist does not see it as a problem.


War of Aggression Cancelled?

Cartoon bomb

If all goes well, the U.S. military won’t have to invade Iran on behalf of Israel after all. I recall there were times during the Bush administration when I thought we were just days away from another illegal war of aggression – a really big one against a country of 77 million people.

Some important points:

Really, this whole brouhaha isn’t about nuclear weapons at all. It’s about regime change. Or you could also say, it’s about punishing ordinary Iranians because their government doesn’t like Israel.

More info:
Iran Nuclear Deal: World Powers Reach Historic Agreement to Lift Sanctions
Confused About The Iran Deal? This Cartoon Bomb Will Help
“Treason”: Right-Wing Media Lament Historic Deal To Curb Iran’s Nuclear Program
Lindsay Graham: Iran Deal ‘Akin To Declaring War On Israel’


‘Tyrant’ Season 2

Season 1 of the FX series “Tyrant” was focused on some naive and ham-handed efforts to bring American-style democracy to the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin, leading up to an attempted coup d’etat covertly backed by the U.S. embassy. The second season raises the stakes even higher.

Dominic Patten:

As the newly installed President of Abbudin, Jamal Al-Fayeed (Ashraf Barhom) was by far the most interesting thing about the first season, even as the focus seemed to be on his estranged, Americanized and now-returned brother Bassam aka Barry (Adam Rayner). Well now, with Barry’s coup plans having failed, Jamal has sought new powers and new allies, which has put pedal the dictatorship metal – all of which makes for a better show.

Tyrant Jamal starts off this season by using chemical weapons to wipe out the local anti-government insurgency, but co-producers Gideon Raff and Howard Gordon have introduced a new threat, in the form of a certain extremist jihadist group based in… Raqqa, Syria and led by the shadowy Abu Omar. They call themselves “The Caliphate,” and their pickup trucks fly red flags, but these guys are just as bloodthirsty as ISIS.

It will be interesting to see how successful the American-supported Abbudin military will be in defending the regime. And whether the show can keep from getting bogged down in soap-opera sub-plots.

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A Republican I Could Vote For

Bob Inglis

Never thought I’d say that, but this man has some good ideas and I’m sure that’s why the fake grassroots movement of the wealthy made sure he didn’t get elected again. Utahn’s should remember that “The Tea Party” defeated another Bob. Our long standing senator from Utah got gone because he wasn’t crazy enough. I guess you could call this other Bob from South Carolina an old style Republican.

Any Republican who puts himself on the air with Brad Friedman already has my admiration, but he probably knows Brad will be respectful, yet inquisitive. That’s his job as one of Americas best and most informed journalists. South Carolina’s Representative, Bob Englis had me on his side right away, when he admitted that for the first six years of being in office, he hadn’t done any research on climate change and opposed it because Al Gore was for it. He reconsidered his stance when his son said to him, “Dad, I’ll vote for you, but you have to clean up your act on the environment”. His other children and wife agreed. Yikes!

It’s easy to understand why the supporters of “citizens united” wanted this guy gone when he started to say that socializing cleanup for the industries who pollute was not the way to go. Since we all know by now that when industries on any continent polute, all of the planet is affected. The congressman was pushing for making corporations clean up THEIR act everywhere. If, for instance, China didn’t deal with the problem, and tax it’s corporations over there, it would face that cost when importing it’s products to this country. Pretty damn smart!

Listen to the interview on this post starting at about 16:00 minutes in. You’ll hear a promotional spot from Daniel Elsberg, who launched Brad’s new daily radio program with his appearance. I’ve already learned a lot from the program which can be downloaded for free from BradBlog. Please DONATE though. I’ve been donating for years. The revolution in media isn’t going to be free.

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Yemen: ‘Somalia is in better shape than us’

Protest against Saudi air strikes, March 26 in Sanaa

The news from Yemen is that a humanitarian disaster is rapidly overtaking the Arab world’s poorest country, which the USA helped to destabilize with drone strikes against Islamic militants. The Saudis are poised to finish the job, committing war crimes with U.S. – made weapon systems.

“It is a terrible situation and it is moving so fast,” Julien Harneis, the Yemen representative of the United Nations Children Fund, told The Associated Press. “We are heading toward a humanitarian disaster.”

…In the southern city of Aden, medical supplies are running out. Doctors Without Borders, which operates in the city, said it has received over 500 wounded, including more than 110 on the first day of airstrikes. UNICEF is giving out midwife kits to treat injured civilians because of lack of supplies.

…In al-Houta, a city north of Aden, people are fleeing fighting to nearby villages for safety and to find goods and produce, said 28-year old resident Ahmed Rageh. The local gas station has been closed for nearly three weeks. “It is a disastrous situation. Somalia is now in a better shape than us,” he said.

It’s heartbreaking to see catastrophe overtake a beautiful country with such a rich history and friendly people. I lived there for two years in the early 1990s, traveled to visit ancient ruins and poor but architecturally fascinating villages. There was virtually no crime. But many problems were waiting to surface, particularly the disenfranchisement of Shiites and the uneasy relationship with Saudi Arabia – which has invaded Yemen in the past.


Rudy Giuliani: ‘I do not believe that the President loves America’

Dog whistle

Via Politico:

NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

…“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

When you start out with, “I know this is a horrible thing to say…” maybe you should not say it?

I think it’s time to question whether the Tea-GOP “loves America.” The Bush administration failed to defend us from the single worst terrorist attack in history. They sent millions of Americans to fight unwinnable wars halfway around the world. They ruined America’s reputation as a defender of human rights, replacing it with wars of aggression and torture. They put the NSA to work spying on all of us. They abandoned New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They topped themselves by crashing our economy, causing millions of Americans to lose jobs, homes, and retirement savings. Then they waged a years-long campaign of economic sabotage in a failed attempt to stop the Obama administration from helping America recover from Bush’s Great Recession, including a government shutdown, a near-default on the National Debt, and the so-called “sequester” (aka austerity budgeting). Now they are trying to take away health insurance from 13 million Americans, and prevent millions more from getting any in the first place.

I am NOT feeling the love!

Congressman Defends Outrageous Giuliani Remarks: Obama ‘Views America Differently’
Gov. Scott Walker: ‘I don’t know’ whether Obama is a Christian


Draft AUMF ‘Intentionally Fuzzy’

Countries bombed by USA
Source: The Daily Mirror

The Constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.

George Washington


President Obama asked Congress on Wednesday for new war powers to go after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The draft resolution (PDF) asks Congress to enact a three-year Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. The resolution notably restricts the use of American ground troops and seeks to avoid a prolonged conflict.

Obama announced his plan to launch airstrikes against ISIS back in September, and the White House’s AUMF resolution seeks to formalize the U.S. military campaign to “degrade and defeat” ISIS.

The draft AUMF has already been criticized as imprecise. For example, it defines the enemy as “ISIL [sic] or associated persons or forces.” But that would include the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels (armed by the U.S.), who routinely fight alongside ISIS. Like the 2001 AUMF (which would remain in effect), there is no geographical limitation in the new draft AUMF. Potentially it could authorize attacking Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Asked today if he agreed that language was “fuzzy,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied with a firm yes, saying it is “intentionally” fuzzy “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander-in-chief.”

I left the Army with the rank of captain, but it doesn’t take a four-star general to realize you can’t fight a war intelligently unless you know who the enemy is, and where to find them. Oh, and by the way this draft AUMF is probably a violation of the U.N. Charter – though that’s somewhat debatable.

Hill Progressive Leaders Come Out Against Obama’s AUMF: ‘Too Broad’

“The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said.

“Unfortunately, the authorization proposed by the president this week is too broad. In order to ensure meaningful limits on executive branch authority, an AUMF should at a minimum contain a clear objective and geographical limitations. It should also include an enforceable ban on the deployment of ground troops with exception for only the most limited of operations, unambiguous language, and a repeal of the 2001 AUMF,” they said.

State Dept. Official: US Can’t ‘Kill Our Way Out Of This War’ With Islamic State


All Your ‘No Go Zones’ Are Belong To Us

Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down. The amazing Faux News Channel lie about the supposed existence of European “no go zones” where Sharia law applies and non-Muslims can never set foot wasn’t simply a mistake by one so-called “terrorism expert.” They are professional liars, it’s what they do!

To be fair, after two weeks of repeating the “no go zone” lie across multiple programs, Faux News offered an extremely rare on-air apology admitting there is “no credible information” for what they claimed was an everyday fact of life in England and France. But not before Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal latched on to this, with incredibly bad timing.

More info:
Fox ‘Expert’ Totally Wrong But How The Internet Responds Is A Thing Of Beauty (Video)
CNN Correspondent Confronts Bobby Jindal Over False Comments About Muslims
Fox Host Apologizes For Letting Muslim “No-Go Zone” Myth Go “Unchallenged And Uncorrected
French Comedians Parody Terrified Fox Reporters In Paris ‘No-Go Zones’

The Man Who Spawned “#FoxNewsFacts” Also Advises the U.S. Government on Terror

Self-styled “terror expert” Steve Emerson set off a sort of global laugh track last week when he claimed that parts of the United Kingdom had been completely taken over by Muslims, and that the city of Birmingham no longer allowed non-Muslims to enter. Emerson’s fact-free rant spawned the Twitter hashtag #FoxNewsFacts, prompting users to conjure up outlandishly satirical tales that mocked with the farcical quality of Fox News analysis. “When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool’s Day,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said of Emerson’s remarks. “This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.”

…Emerson is a shadowy figure who levels ridiculously defamatory claims against Muslims on a regular basis, reaping millions of dollars in profits in the process. His analysis is highly suspect, and yet he has been repeatedly called upon as a knowledgeable witness by government officials. The question is whether the snafu that made him the object of global ridicule finally end his status as “expert.”

Maybe Emerson is a complete idiot, but he’s apparently smarter than the people who pay all that money to his “Investigative Project on Terrorism.”


Keystone XL Zombie Lie

Via Media Matters.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Virtually all the Republicans and 28 Democrats voted for this foreign-owned project, which is likely to impose significant environmental costs, cause an increase in American gasoline prices, and contribute to global warming. The proposed 1,200 mile dirty oil pipeline would carry bitumen — a tar-like substance mined from the Alberta tar sands, chemically diluted, and heated to improve flow — at high pressure across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Gulf Coast refineries. Existing pipelines of this type spring dozens of leaks every year, and the mess is much more difficult to clean up than a crude oil spill.

Why allow this? Right-wing propagandists insist that Keystone XL will create “42,000 jobs.” This is false.

The State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project will result in just 50 jobs, including “35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.” Further, their report stated that spending on the project would support only 3,900 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted one year and just 1,950 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted two years.

President Obama has threatened to veto the congressional attempt to force the issue, however he seems to be keeping the option open to ultimately approve this disastrous project.

Senate Advances Bill To Approve Keystone Pipeline Despite Obama’s Veto Threat


Normalizing Relations With Cuba

Viva Fidel


…and you are the kind of person who likes REALLY wild street parties, you want to get to Miami now.

Dave Barry, 2006

Communist holdout Cuba has long been ground zero for American dirty tricks (up to and including a military invasion in 1961). The CIA has tried to kill Fidel Castro so many times, he once said, “If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.”

The USA-only 54-year economic embargo of Cuba has hampered the ability of Cuban-Americans to help relatives on the island, and prohibited trade.

Automakers, agricultural conglomerates and telecommunications companies are among those that have long eyed Cuba as fertile territory. The country has nickel deposits and offshore oil reserves, and it produces widely coveted cigars. Only 5 percent of the population has access to the full Internet.

Meanwhile, its tropical climate and abundant beaches have made it a popular destination for Canadian and European tourists, just as it was for Americans before the 1959 revolution. Cruise companies, airlines and hotel operators are among those poised for the moment that Congress might lift the embargo.

Well, now it looks like sanity has prevailed at last.

“Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba,” Obama said at the White House. “Neither the American nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

Every morning MSNBC’s Cuban-American anchor José Diaz Balart brings on die-hard anti-Castro guests, some of whom suffered in Cuban jails as political prisoners. They don’t want normalization while Fidel and his brother Raul stubbornly live on. But a new generation of Cuban-Americans tend to vote for Democrats, and in 2012, President Obama won a majority of the Cuban-American vote.

Public Strongly Supports Opening Relations with Cuba

A new poll finds 68 percent in favor of ending the trade embargo with Cuba, and 74 percent support ending the travel restrictions to allow Americans to visit the island.


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