17
Jul
[T]hose who defend war have invented a pleasant sounding vocabulary of abstractions in which to describe the process of mass murder.
21
Jun
I was born in Iraq and I’d never in my life been asked if I was a Sunni or a Shiite. And I didn’t know who among my relatives or neighbors or co-workers or colleagues at school were Sunnis or Shiites, because it wasn’t an issue. It’s not that people were tolerant toward each other — they weren’t aware of sectarian backgrounds. It’s similar to some areas in the US where you don’t necessarily know what Christian sect your friends belong to. You might know, or you might not know. That was before the US intervention. The US destroyed that Iraqi national identity and replaced it with sectarian and ethnic identities after 2003. I don’t think this is something that many Iraqis argue about, because you can trace the beginning of this sectarian strife that is destroying the country, and it clearly began with the US invasion and occupation.
17
Jun

The Iraq War…

Iraq was a disaster before we invaded it, it was a disaster while we were invading it, and it will be a disaster for many years to come. Enough already.

28
Feb
You will never find people who truly grasp the cosmic perspective…leading nations into battle. No, that doesn’t happen. When you have a cosmic perspective there’s this little speck called Earth and you say, “You’re going to what? You’re on this side of a line in the sand and you want to kill people for what? Oh, to pull oil out of the ground, what? WHAT?” … Not enough people in this world, I think, carry a cosmic perspective with them. It could be life-changing.
16
Jan
If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence…
24
Nov
Last week the Obama administration announced that it had reached an agreement with Afghanistan on a long-term bilateral security arrangement that, officials say, would allow up to 12,000 mostly American troops to be in that country until 2024 and perhaps beyond — without Mr. Obama offering any serious accounting to the American people for maintaining a sizable military commitment there or offering a clue to when, if ever, it might conclude.
-

The New York Times

"We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. And I’ve set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014.” - President Obama, September 2012

11
Nov

Engraved on a stone plaque in the small cemetery holding the Devonshire Regiment’s casualties…are the words survivors carved on a wooden sign when they first buried their dead:

The Devonshires held this trench
The Devonshires hold it still

In the cemetery’s visitors’ book, on a few pages the ink of the names and remarks has been smeared by raindrops — or was it tears? “Paid our respects to 3 of our townsfolk.” “Sleep on, boys.” “Lest we forget.” “Thanks, lads.” “Gt. Uncle thanks, rest in peace.”

Only one visitor strikes a different note: “Never again.”

19
Oct
War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war a physical force is to be created, and it is the executive will which is to direct it. In war the public treasures are to be unlocked, and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions, and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.
27
Sep
Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for?
16
Sep
If there is a lesson to be gleaned, it is that no person should succumb to brutality without putting up a resistance. Individually it can save one’s life; en masse it can change the course of history.
- Shalom Yoran, a Jewish resistance fighter who died last week at the age of 88
10
Sep

First and most importantly, an attack on Syria does not make the American people safer. Secondly, the possible death of innocent Syrian civilians as collateral damage from missile strikes may increase local and regional anti-Western sentiment and risks increasing the ranks of terrorists. Thirdly, the lack of a United Nations (UN) mandate or a strong global coalition in support of military action undermines our legitimacy to act.

Finally, we should be cautious in evaluating who we are assisting. While there are responsible elements among the Syrian opposition that want peace and democracy for Syria, extremists — some affiliated with Al-Qaeda — are growing stronger each day, and an American attack may inadvertently strengthen extremists while undermining support for more moderate forces.

[…]

One of the factors that led me to run for Congress was my opposition to the unnecessary war in Iraq, which was predicated by faulty intelligence and cost almost 7,000 American lives and, countless Iraqi lives. During my tenure in Congress, I have consistently voted against continued funding for the Iraq war and am proud to have been a part of ending the conflict. I am now in a position to stop another unnecessary war before it begins.

The President has chosen to ask for the advice and counsel of Congress, and with my voice and my vote, I respond: do not attack Syria.

05
Sep
If we could end suffering in Syria through a military strike, that would be a decision worth thinking about. But no one is suggesting that’s going to happen here. No one is suggesting this will end the dictatorship. No one is suggesting this will defeat the al-Nusra rebels who want sharia law and no rights for women. No one is suggesting this will actually prevent a gas attack in the future. No one is suggesting this will do much of anything except give a slap on the wrist to [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad in hopes that maybe something good will come out of that. I actually would support humanitarian aid to the refugees. There are 2 million of them in Jordan and Turkey right now, and I think they could use our help. My concept of humanitarian aid is food, medicine, shelter, clothing, not bombs. The concept of a humanitarian war, humanitarian bombs, humanitarian missiles, is bizarre to me.
05
Sep

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.
The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”

The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.

This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.

As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in April, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.

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Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West

President Obama intends to provide these same rebels with “small arms, ammunition and perhaps anti-tank weapons" in order "to keep the Syrian opposition going…” 

In another time, country, or scenario, these rebels might be the targets of U.S. opposition or perhaps even U.S. drones. Our false hope that all who rebel against dictators must in some sense embody the spirit of ‘76 has repeatedly led us to support criminal organizations. This game we play of propping up a Middle Eastern dictator one day only to demand his ouster the next (Mubarak, Gaddafi, Hussein, etc.) clearly hasn’t altered the systemic problems that have long existed in those countries. If our cause is truly humanitarian, we should heed the International Crisis Group’s counsel, and avoid the further horror that would surely result from flooding Syria with our own bombs and weapons. 

04
Sep
Assuming the U.S. Congress authorises them, Washington (together with some allies) soon will launch military strikes against Syrian regime targets. If so, it will have taken such action for reasons largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people. The administration has cited the need to punish, deter and prevent use of chemical weapons - a defensible goal, though Syrians have suffered from far deadlier mass atrocities during the course of the conflict without this prompting much collective action in their defence. The administration also refers to the need, given President Obama’s asserted “redline” against use of chemical weapons, to protect Washington’s credibility - again an understandable objective though unlikely to resonate much with Syrians. Quite apart from talk of outrage, deterrence and restoring U.S. credibility, the priority must be the welfare of the Syrian people. Whether or not military strikes are ordered, this only can be achieved through imposition of a sustained ceasefire and widely accepted political transition.
03
Sep

Text of draft legislation submitted by Obama to Congress

jakke:

Whereas, on August 21, 2013, the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria, killing more than 1,000 innocent Syrians;

Whereas these flagrant actions were in violation of international norms and the laws of war;

Whereas the United States and 188 other countries comprising 98 percent of the world’s population are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons;

Whereas, in the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, Congress found that Syria’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States;

Whereas the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1540 (2004), affirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

Whereas, the objective of the United States’ use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction;

Whereas, the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, and Congress calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process; and

Whereas, unified action by the legislative and executive branches will send a clear signal of American resolve.

SEC. ___ AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES

(a) Authorization. — The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to —

(1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors), within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or

(2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements. —

(1) Specific Statutory Authorization. — Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) Applicability of other requirements. — Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

So here’s actually what Obama is proposing. This is not necessarily just airstrikes and not limited to Syria in particular. Rather, this resolution looks quite a bit more like the post-9/11 authorization in terms of open-endedness.

The bit about the War Powers Resolution is intended to address previous legislation that says the President can’t do indefinite military actions without Congressional approval. (Short military actions are allowed, which is what most people thought Obama was planning before he started talking about Congressional approval.) So basically that part says that this is a formal authorization to carry out military actions and the time limit and related restrictions don’t apply.

Legislators are all talking about amending the resolution but it’s not clear how much support they’ll have. Expect the legislative process to begin next week, because (not even kidding) Congress members haven’t deigned to return from summer vacation to start talking about authorizing a war just yet.

If the planned attack is proportional…limited,” and “does not involve boots on the ground,” as the President keeps promising, then why isn’t similar language present in this proposal? Obama is promising restraint but requesting excessive power.