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 14 May 2008
America , Bio , Blogs & Blogging , India , Media , Politics & Policy
Tags: Bangalore Mirror, Dipti Lamba, Guantanamo, Iraq, Letter to the Editor, New York Times, suicide bombing, Washington Post
This has been a lucky stretch for me in getting letters to the editor printed in major daily newspapers. Today the Washington Post ran a badly edited version of this letter I sent in response to Josh White’s report of a former Guantanamo prisoner involved in a suicide bombing in Iraq.
To the Editor:
Your story, Ex-Guantanamo Detainee Joined Iraq Suicide Attack (8 May 2008) states that “the Defense Intelligence Agency has estimated that as many as three dozen former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of having returned to terrorist activities.”
This characterization begs the question which is absolutely central — and completely unaddressed in your report — as to whether this activity is, indeed, a “return” to terrorist activities or an initiation into terrorist action prompted, at least in part, by resentment based on the Guantanamo imprisonments. In a system which puts habeas corpus, not to mention release, beyond the reach of most detainees, is it plausible to believe that the DoD had evidence of prior terrorist participation on those it had released?
Mark B. Jacobs
San Francisco, California
Continue reading ‘Posted’
Published 11 May 2008
America , Politics & Policy
Tags: Annapolis, Beirut, Bush, civil war, Condoleza Rice, diplomacy, fighting, foreign policy, George Hawi, George W. Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Middle East, Rafiq Hariri, Rice, Samir Kassir, Syria, unilateralism
Photo: Associated Press
Beirut is once again in flames as Iranian-backed Hezbollah militias and Lebanese government forces clash in the worst outbreak of violence there since the end of the fifteen year civil war in 1990. The underlying political stalemate between the government and Hezbollah-led opposition parties, which has left the country without a president for nearly a year-and-a-half, is still unresolved. And, once again, America stands idly by and watches.
Continue reading ‘Lebanon Once Again Ignites While on America’s Back-Burner’
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’
Published 13 August 2007
Politics & Policy
Tags: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, America, Bush, George W. Bush, illegal war, Iraq, Kabul, Kharzai, military, military finding, military strategy, Muhammed Kharzai, opium, religious fundamentalism, Taliban, United States, war
In May of 2006, I posed the question: how could the United States allow the pointless and probably illegal war in Iraq derail the imperative and morally justified conflict in Afghanistan? Mine was not an up-to-the-minute, breaking news sort of analysis. It had long been clear that Mr. Bush’s war in Iraq was draining precious resources from the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda, and, more importantly at that point, the reconstruction projects which would create the economic and social stability to allow the feeble Kharzai government to consolidate political authority throughout the county. The game had already turned by the time I wrote:
America failed to eradicate the Taliban, failed to deliver development aid in the amounts promised, and diverted troops which might have helped to secure the problematic southern provinces — all to focus on Iraq. Any reasonable semblance of a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan would have been cheap and easy, especially when compared against the invasion of Iraq. Now, Afghanistan is under siege by a resurgent Taliban and religious fundamentalism again dominates social behavior in Afghanistan’s cities. The appallingly corrupt Kharzai government has never been able to exert its authority much beyond Kabul. Opium production is at record levels. The people of the country are poor, hungry, and frustrated. Each day the situation gets worse.
Continue reading ‘Good War Gone Bad’
As anyone who takes even a cursory look at this blog knows, I generally like to post original ideas — or at least my own take on ideas already in circulation. Some memes are so helpful to our understanding of the world, however, that they deserve a nod and a link — on my blog and elsewhere.
That’s how I feel about David Leonhardt’s column in a recent edition of the New York Times, entitled “What $1.2 Trillion Can Buy.”
Continue reading ‘$1.2 Trillion: Build a Great Future or Destroy One’
At the end of May, I posed this question: why would the neoconservative narcissists choose Iraq as domino-one in their design to remake the Islamic world, when Afghanistan was so much easier, available, appropriate, and economical a target?
A year before I posed the question about Afghanistan, in June of 2005, I commented on the astonishing non-response of the Bush Administration to the political assassinations that were decimating Lebanon’s fledgling democratic government. Syrian operatives had murdered both Prime Minister Rafique Hariri and influential anti-Syrian politician George Hawi, as well as a prominent anti-Syrian journalist Samir Kassir. Despite the administrations macho rhetoric toward Syria in those few heady days of the illusory “mission accomplished”, it seemed that they were missing an opportunity to control a situation that had spun well out of control. One of my points at the time was that Condoleza Rice — who must surely be the worst Secretary of State in the history of the institution — not only fucked up by pursuing policies that were wrong-headed; she also fucked up by failing to pursue the few administration policies that made good sense.
Allow me to tie these two threads together and suggest that Lebanon offered another perfect fixation for neoconservative wet dreams of secular – pluralistic, even! – democratization of the Islamic world.
Continue reading ‘Lebanon: Overlooked Centerfold of Neoconservative Wet Dreams’