I've avoided this issue because the whole debate has degenerated into one of those inane partisan screech-fests, with right-wingers yowling that Obama wants us all to die because he's a Marxist or a Moooslim or a Marxist Moooslim. Trying to argue with the people who spew this nonsense is like trying to reason with Cujo.
Nevertheless, let's address the calls for a flight ban from Liberia and other nations suffering from Ebola. Nate Silver
points out what should be obvious: Such a ban would solve nothing, since there are no direct flights from "hot zone" countries. Travelers from Africa usually go through Europe. Riverdaughter
made much the same point a couple of days ago.
Also, as The New Republic
points out, a travel ban would make it difficult for doctors to get to (and leave) the hot zone. Further economic pressures would cause refugees to leave the country en masse
, thereby spreading the disease.
Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton.
The former CIA Director and Defense Secretary has written a book called Worthy Fights
, which I should read but probably won't. Apparently, the book offers tepid-but-telling criticisms of Obama while warmly praising Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton “is somebody that I’ve seen who’s dedicated to this country. She’s smart, she’s experienced, and she’s tough. What the hell else do you want?” in a president.
Simple, Leon: I want someone who favors the policies I favor. To be specific: I want someone who is as allergic to neoconservatism as I am.
Is that too much to ask for? Haven't the neocons done enough
damage to this country?
It all makes for a pretty tidy narrative, unless you actually read the book. That’s because Worthy Fights itself offers little specific evidence of Clinton’s smarts, toughness, or luminosity as secretary of state. Panetta notes that they agreed about (1) sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2009, (2) launching the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, (3) not swapping Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl, and (4) arming Syria’s rebels.
Let's take a closer look at all four of Panetta's points.
1. Hillary's hawkishness on Afghanistan, as outlined in previous "inside" accounts of the Obama administration, is the main reason I have begun to back away from Hillary.
2. Lots of people would have preferred a raid to capture and try
Osama Bin Laden. The fact that he was targeted for death from the get-go indicates that he knew secrets which would have embarrassed this government. "Embarrassed" may be too gentle a word...
3. In exchange for Berghdal, five prisoners were sent to Qatar, with restrictions on their movements. The Republicans spread a rumor that these prisoners became ISIS fighters, but that claim turned out to be a lie
. Here's the really
weird part: The five prisoners were key Taliban personnel who had been reported as released well before
the Berghdal swap. I smell something funky about this whole affair, and until that smell goes away, I can't agree with Panetta or Clinton or Obama or his critics or, well, anyone
4. "Arming Syria's rebels": Good lord, is Panetta kidding?
The Syrian disaster will go down in history as Obama's most foolish decision -- and Hillary, by her own admission, pushed Obama to pursue this disastrous course
Hillary Clinton favoured arming Syria's rebels early in the country's civil war but was overruled by Barack Obama, the former secretary of state said in her new memoir, according to CBS News.
She said she returned to Washington from an overseas trip convinced that the training and arming of moderates among the Syrian rebels was the best way to turn the tide against the country's president, Bashar al-Assad.
Once again: We had no business intervening against Assad. He posed no threat to us.
When we decided that Assad had to go, we were toadying to the Saudis, the Israelis and the neocons.
The "moderate" Free Syrian Army is a loose-knit grouping of bloodthirsty warlords who have often worked with ISIS and Nusra. Remember those beheading videos? The FSA captured
those guys and handed them over to ISIS. Those are Hillary's "moderates," folks: Even the Pentagon now confesses that they can't work with the FSA
Syria is a disaster -- a disaster caused by the neocons. I truly hate to admit it, but facts are facts: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listened to the neocons and must therefore be counted among their number.
Speaking of the neocons:
The brilliant Robert Parry, one of the few real
journalists left in this world, argues that neoconservative pursuit of empire and regime change now threatens the world economically
. I hope Parry won't mind if I quote him at length, because this is must-read material:
The neocons and their “liberal interventionist” junior partners have kept the “regime change” pot boiling with the Western-orchestrated overthrow and killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the proxy civil war in Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad, the costly economic embargoes against Iran, and the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.
All these targeted governments were first ostracized by the neocons and the major U.S. news organizations, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, which have become what amounts to neocon mouthpieces. Whenever the neocons decide that it’s time for another “regime change,” the mainstream U.S. media enlists in the propaganda wars.
Parry goes on to point out that this country would be far more prosperous if we didn't have to pay for the previous neocon disaster, the Iraq war. That was a very expensive old do: $2 trillion by this estimate
, and the actual cost may rise to $6 trillion
Back to Parry:
But Obama didn’t do himself (or the world) any favors when he put much of his foreign policy in the hands of Democratic neocon-lites, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Bush holdovers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus. At State, Clinton promoted the likes of neocon Victoria Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, and Obama brought in “liberal interventionists” like Samantha Power, now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
In recent years, the neocons and “liberal interventionists” have become almost indistinguishable, so much so that Robert Kagan has opted to discard the discredited neocon label and call himself a “liberal interventionist.”
How about "imperialist"? A little too on-the-nose?
Parry goes on to point out that the necons tried to engineer us into the war against Assad in 2013. Had Obama taken the bait, ISIS might now control all of Syria.
By late September 2013, the disappointed neocons were acting out their anger by taking aim at Putin. They recognized that a particular vulnerability for the Russian president was Ukraine and the possibility that it could be pulled out of Russia’s sphere of influence and into the West’s orbit.
So, Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to sound the trumpet about Ukraine, which he called “the biggest prize.”
But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself.” In other words, the new neocon hope was for “regime change” in Kiev and Moscow.
Across the Continent, populist parties from the Right and Left have been challenging establishment politicians over their inability to reverse the widespread unemployment and the growing poverty. Important to Europe’s economy was its relationship with Russia, a major market for agriculture and manufactured goods and a key source of natural gas to keep Europe’s industries humming and its houses warm.
The last thing Europe needed was more chaos, but that’s what the neocons do best and they were determined to punish Putin for disrupting their plans for Syrian “regime change,” an item long near the top of their agenda along with their desire to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”
Parry then tells the now-familiar story of the American-backed coup in Ukraine, which brought neo-Nazis to power.
Pressured by the Obama administration, the EU agreed to sanction Russia for its “aggression,” touching off a tit-for-tat trade war with Moscow which reduced Europe’s sale of farming and manufacturing goods to Russia and threatened to disrupt Russia’s natural gas supplies to Europe.
While the most serious consequences were to Ukraine’s economy which went into freefall because of the civil war, some of Europe’s most endangered economies in the south also were hit hard by the lost trade with Russia. Europe began to stagger toward the third dip in a triple-dip recession with European markets experiencing major stock sell-offs.
The dominoes soon toppled across the Atlantic as major U.S. stock indices dropped, creating anguish among many Americans just when it seemed the hangover from Bush’s 2008 market crash was finally wearing off.
Obviously, there are other reasons for the recent stock market declines, including fears about the Islamic State’s victories in Syria and Iraq, continued chaos in Libya, and exclusion of Iran from the global economic system – all partly the result of neocon ideology.
Let's return to Leon Panetta's question. What do we want from a President?
We want a President who openly decries neoconservatism. We want a liberal, not a "liberal interventionist." We want no more coups and needless wars. We want no more more hellish partnerships with neo-Nazis and Islamic jihadists. We want an end to the current madness.