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Progressive Network to Bush: All Politics is Local January 18, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Resistance, War Policy.
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As state legislators grow increasingly opposed to an Iraq war that is stretching and weakening the National Guard and draining desperately needed funds at home, activists and legislators are launching a 50-state legislative response to stop President Bush’s Iraq escalation plan.

Katrina Vanden Heuval. The Nation (1-16-07)

One of the reasons for the nearly complete route of progressive thinking in the era of Bush II and before is that conservatives and neocons have been much better organized at the state and local level. Those opposed to current U.S policies have been slow to realize this, partly out of apathy and partly from a deep seated and wrong belief that some issues and candidates are not worth promoting in some places because they are bound to lose. I

If Irving Krystal and others on the neocon right had believed the same, instead of toiling away in their formerly obscure journals for the better part of three decades, their political representatives would never have come to power. The liberal opposition had finally made a belated but sorely needed start toward the rightful appropriation of some-not all, but some- of the organizational genius that has for a long time now, been almost the exclusive intellectual and organizational property of the right. Today, several organizations are joining together with the specific purpose of increasing the role of progressive state legislatures in countering Bush, and in encouraging those legislators to use their popular support to comment on national issues.

Not surprisingly, the first rallying point will be a concert of opposition to Bush’s Iraq escalation, and will argue the very good point that removing the restrictions on National Guard units will have a direct and detrimental effect on the availability of trained and dedicated citizens to respond to crises in their own regions, and that citizens will become increasingly wary of enrolling in a Guard where the terms of service can change almost overnight, not in response to a passing crisis, but as a stopgap for failed national policies. will create personnel problems for the National Guard in the long run by discouraging enlistment and reenlistment.And that will decrease our ability to respond to events both nationally and internationally. T

State and local governments can have a dramatic effect on world politics, as Matt Singer of the Progressive States Network claims. Citing the examplesof apartheid and more recently of Darfur, Singer believes that the states and locales can change the national debate on Iraq as well, but only with active citizen participation in bringing the campaign to change our policies to the counties, cities, and states where we all live.The emphasis on local and state governments is not entirely new, as the numbers of extant organizations now collaborating in the venture illustrates. But the left appears to have tapped a creative genius for exerting influence and using connections, and the power of this broadly collaborative spirit has yet to be tested. The best part of this effort is that it will allow volunteers to do something of national and perhaps world significance by asserting themselves in the not so distant state and municipal regions, and to advocate causes to people whose jobs are dependent on , among other things, the good will and trust of those volunteers. The legislators have a vested interest in listening to strong local voter lobby. truly, “all politics is local.” Karl Rove and company stole the spirit of that sentiment and took it to his organizational heart. It is time for the rest of us to reclaim it (minus the skullduggery of Rove and the gerrymandering of Delay) and use it to build organizations equally powerful, with better ideas.

Tags: weakening | stretching | Response | opposed | needed | LEGISLATORS | LAUNCHING | increasingly | funds | escalation | DRAINING | desperately | activists | progressive | president | Politics | Network | Iraq | GUARD | Bush


Bush. McCain: Euphemism for Escalation December 15, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in War Policy.
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The “surge,” as the troop increase is being called, has its greatest champion in Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, but almost nobody besides McCain, Bush and neoconservative diehards think it’ll work: Not the American generals in Iraq; not the Iraqis; not the American public

Washington Post

Were we to apply the terminology of the Vietnam war, a troop increase would be called an “escalation”. The Decider is on holiday, contemplating the various bunch of bad options he faces because of his bungled Iraqi policies. It appears that he has ruled out talking to both Damascus and Tehran, and several news sources indicate that he may be leaning toward increasing the number of troops in Iraq. With demands pouring in from almost every quarter for a troop reduction plan, Bush is probably going to attempt to increase the US combat presence after Christmas. One wonders why, given the generally grim assessments of any prospect for a successful escalation. Unless numerous news sources have been completely misled for spin purposes, the Saudis have expressed rather serious objections to US troop withdrawals, saying that if chaos ensues, the Kingdom might just have to throw its considerable financial support to the Sunni factions in the ongoing civil war.

Would the US populace put up with an escalation, even a temporary one? Is it possible for the US to even begin to draw down without risking the involved wrath of the Saudis, thus prolonging an already ongoing conflict and allowing regional interests to dominate it at the expense of the long suffering Iraqi populace?

We are in a familiar place. An escalation is necessary for peace. And we must continue to destroy in order to save. What a mess!

Tags: TROOP | tried | McCain | Israel | Iraq | hamilton | Bush | backward | Arizona | American | Africa

Gates outs Israeli nukes December 7, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in Butter and Guns, War Policy.
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Some Israelis were less pleased, however, to hear Gates mention with equal frankness what U.S. administrations have long avoided saying in public — that the Jewish state has the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

Dan Williams, Reuters


According to Robert Gates, one reason Iran might be seeking atomic
weapons is that the Islamic theocracy is surrounded by them : to the
east is Pakistan, to north are the Russians, in the Gulf are the
Americans, and in the West are the Israelis- except he wasn’t supposed
to mention that last bit, according to one of those strange silences
that the U.S. has brokered, in an unspoken way, with its single largest
recipient of military largesse. According to an ex Israeli diplomat
interviewed by Reuters, one can only assume that Gates has “yet to get
to grips with understandings that exist between us and the Americans.”.
The understanding referred to here is a policy of mutually agreed
silence which , according to documents cited by the Bullentin of the
Atomic Scientists, prove that as far back as the presidency of Richard
Nixon, the United States knew that Israel had the bomb, but decided
against pressing for disclosure and thus regulation.

By its policy of “strategic ambiguity”, Israel hopes to maintain its
arsenal but not to provoke an arms race. The dual conspiracy to avoid
mentioning the atomic elephant in the room allows Israel to skirt a
U.S. ban on funding countries that allow proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction. The policy also enrages many in the region who see
evidence, if there needed to be any , of U. S. hypocrisy. Shimon Peres
pointed out that the Gates statement makes no real difference, and that
whether or not Israel has nuclear arms is irrelevant because Israel
threatens no one.

Of course, it is true that the Israelis have not been as blatantly
threatening as has President Ahmadinejad. But don’t you wonder how the
U.S,. would react to a Mexican nuclear arsenal one border and a
Canadian one on the other, despite protestations of friendliness, a
common economic destiny, and the virtues of free trade?

It is not news that Israel has a bomb. What should be news is the
deadly duo of silence in the United States and strategic ambiguity in
Israel. And the worst part is that the nuclear arms race in the Middle
East appears to be virulently alive, at the expense of U. S.
credibility in the region.

Tags: piqued | frankness | saying | pleased | Nuclear | mention | confirmation | avoided | Administrations | Washington | Pakistan | Middle East | Jewish | Jerusalem | ISRAELI | Iran | Gates

Iraq Study Group report available for downloading Wednesday, December 6 December 4, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in War Policy.
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WASHINGTON: The Iraq Study Group will present its report to President George W. Bush and Congress, as well as to the public, at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday.

International Herald Tribune

The report will be available for downloading by the general public at the web site of the United States Institute for Peace.

Tags: reviews | report | Washington | Virginia | Standard | president | Iraq | george | eastern | Congress | Bush

Rangel Renews Call for Draft: Time to Ask Alfred November 20, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in U.S. Congress, War Policy.
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The incoming Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said yesterday that he will push to renew the military draft, as lawmakers in both parties sharpened their criticisms of the situation in Iraq and struggled for consensus and solutions.

Charles Babington, Washington Post, 11/20/06

It is clear that the war in Iraq is a resounding failure of both conception and execution. Yet Charles B. Rangel(D-NY) has been calling for a renewal of the draft for quite a long time now. That he has renewed his call after a narrow Democratic victory in the recent elections, a victory that was made possible by discontent with the war speaks to something- but what on earth could it be?

Rangel believes that if the risk of being conscripted is spread equally throughout society and not confined to the children of the poor (as it primarily is with our present volunteer system), lawmakers will be reluctant, out of sheer self-interest, to export their own youngsters to the combat zone. A politician as canny and experienced as Rangel probably does not believe his proposal will pass. His proposal is a consummate rhetorical and political gesture, designed to draw attention to the glaring fact that the children of the political elite do not face the same set of social circumstances as the rest of us. The argument seems to be that the prospect of their own children going to a modern war would be enough to cause legislators to be cautious.

This strikes me as a variant on one of the oldest, and least credible arguments found in the history of war. Alfred Nobel, for example, believed dynamite was a weapon so terrible that it might guarantee world peace. Rangel seems to believe the same of his policy.

Of course, as the Nobel argument and many like it illustrate, there is very little that puts people off war, and a draft is unlikely to do so, particularly in a polity where the chief legislators do not have conscript-aged children.. There are precious few instances in history where increasing the capacity to make war leads to peace. And political regimes, particularly enlightened ones susceptible to rational arguments of self-interest, are often in power for only fleeting moments, while the machinery of a bureaucracy such as is necessary to conscription is the very devil to eliminate. The last 12 years, and particularly the last 8, should be testimony enough , but if not, Mr. Rangel can go ask Alfred what the outcome will probably be of new weapons or fearsome policies designed to end war by increasing a government’s ability to wage it.

Tags: troops | struggled | situation | sharpened | Renew | Parties | levels | LAWMAKERS | incoming | Fighting | Draft | criticisms | consensus | chairman | Ways | uproar | Rangel | means | Iraq | DEMOCRATIC | Committee