Published 3 October 2014
America , Canada , Politics & Policy
Tags: air war, America, Canada, Canadian Forces, Colin Powell, ebola, epidemic, foreign policy, humanitarian, Iraq, ISIL, ISIS, Middle East, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn rule, Stephen Harper, Syria, US
The Prime Minister and Conservative Party are beating the war drums in Ottawa today, offering a motion on the floor of Parliament to have Canada supply warplanes in support of the US mission against ISIS. A vote on the resolution will pass sometime next week, enjoying the support of a broad majority of Canadians. It will commit more than 600 Canadian Forces, six CF-18 fighter-bombers, two CP-140 surveillance planes, one aerial tanker aircraft to a six-month “limited mission” of air combat. The cost of this war has not been estimated; but Canada’s seven-month air war in Libya, which involved similar force and equipment commitments (650 personnel and 7 fighter jets at the mission’s peak) cost Canada $347 million.
ISIS is hardly the only source of bad, scary news these days. The ebola epidemic is on-pace to kill more people than ISIS ever could and has the likelihood of a much broader global calamity. By all accounts, the international response has been way too small and way to slow. Canada’s contribution to “humanitarian and security interventions” addressing the ebola outbreak total a mere $5 million, although Canada pledged last week to spend up to an additional $30 million. The United Nations and World Health Organization have estimated that it will cost nearly $1 billion over the next six months to fight the spread of the epidemic.
Here’s an idea for Canada: take all the economic and military resources we are so ready to spend in Iraq and Syria and deploy them against the ebola catastrophe. Canada could exercise real leadership in this fight, thereby re-establishing its moral credibility on the global stage and demonstrating that it chooses its international engagements thoughtfully. Continue reading ‘Picking the Right Fight’
Published 11 September 2007
America , Politics & Policy
Tags: 9/11, activism, Al Qaeda, civic conscience, civil war, Colin Powell, Congress, David Petraeus, democracy, democrats, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Elektra Gorski, fear, free society, freedom, General Tommy Franks, George Tenant, George W. Bush, insurgency, Iraq, Iraq war, Jerry Brown, liberal democracy, national security, Nouri al Makili, Osama Bin Laden, Paul Bremer, Pottery Barn rule, protest, republicans, Saddam Hussain, sectarian murder, September 11, silence, terrorism, U.S. Constitution, war, Willie Brown, World Criminal Court
George W. Bush likes to say the world changed on September 11, 2001. He’s absolutely right, of course. But then, he should know. He and his administration were the chief architects of that change.
Six years later, it is fascinating and horrible to trace the course of those transformations, and to assess our culpability as citizens of a democracy. We have looked-on like a herd of docile sheep as the Bush administration emasculated Congress, radically altered our conceptions of life in a free society, and embarked on a war contrary to nearly every national value or policy objective one might have otherwise articulated.
Continue reading ‘The Quiet American and the Cost of Civic Disengagement since 9/11’
Before the Bush administration decided to go to war in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell urged caution in US policy, citing the apocryphal Pottery Barn Rule: you break it, you own it! Well, the mess has been made and, like it or not, America now owns it. But for how long?
The anti-war movement has become reenergized; and the hawks are only one step behind. The political debate in America is becoming familiarly polarized around the question of what to do next in Iraq. Everything is running true-to-form: liberals demand an instantaneous pull-out, conservatives spout dribble about “supporting the troops,” Republicans stay on-message to “stay the course,” and Democrats can’t decide what to think about anything.
The present situation in Iraq is terribly fluid. It is also terribly terrible. This latter aspect so captures our attention that we seem incapable of analyzing the dynamic complexities of the present – or of developing a strategy for the future. The cacophony of opinion does not impress me as helpful in framing the issues, much less in properly assessing how to move forward. Both the pro-war and anti-war factions need to reexamine their positions and, if they cannot constructively contribute to the formulation of policy, shut their pie-holes so that others can.
Continue reading ‘Reassessing the Pottery Barn Rule and the Way Forward in Iraq’
The political obituaries for Colin Powell nicely illustrate the myopia and forgetfulness of what passes for media scrutiny in this country. Like a Greek chorus reading from the same script, all the press commentary intones that Secretary Powell has been out of the loop on every high-profile issue of foreign policy since the decision to go to war in Iraq. Only since then? Hell, he was never in the loop!
In his very first week in office, Secretary Powell declared that the Bush administration would build on the substantial negotiations commenced by the Clinton administration to bring North Korea into the community of nations. He was promptly bitch-slapped by Vice President Cheney and was not heard from again for nine months. The 10 September 2001 issue of Time magazine asked from its cover, “Where is Colin Powell?”
Continue reading ‘Colin Powell: Unlikely Avitar of a Failed and Shameful U.S. Foreign Policy’