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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

More Wars for Peace Will Not Bring Peace

When Hamid Karzai, the man we installed and the leader of a land that is a nation in name only was the president of Afghanistan he accused the United States of colluding with the Taliban to keep the war going. According to his spokesman, “The people of Afghanistan ask NATO to define the purpose and aim of the so-called war on terror… (They) consider this war as aimless and unwise to continue.”  Even our so-called allies believe there are ulterior motives behind our foreign policy.  Yet most Americans swallow it whole.

I am a supporter of our troops.  I believe they are patriots and America’s best.  It is not the bravery or skill of our troops that I question; it is the imperial foreign policy which sends them as sacrifices on the altar of political ambition that I question.  The cruel calculations of political elites using our service men and women as pawns on their partisan game board are shameful. One shocking example of this was transparently obvious when President Obama announced a surge in troops at the same time he announced the exit strategy for leaving the country.  What could be more counterproductive than telling an asymmetrical partisan enemy that if they hang on long enough we leave and you win? Now, after fourteen years of blood, sweat, and tears we’re leaving, and they’re going to win.

Look at Iraq.  We went to war to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction which even President Bush eventually admitted were never there.  We went to war because our leaders intimated that Iraq had a hand in the sneak attacks of 9-11 based on a rumored meeting between an Iraqi agent and Mohamed Atta another claim that has since been repudiated.  Did we go to war to correct the partial victory we gained in Gulf War I under George I as claimed by some former Cabinet members?  Did we go to war as George II later claimed to make the Mideast safe for democracy?  Whatever the reason for invading Iraq, a nation we supported for years, a nation which had not and was not planning to attack us, what did we accomplish and what do we have now that we are gone?  We are faced with the Islamic State and Iran has a satellite.

What about Afghanistan?  After the sneak attacks on 9-11 we had every legal and moral right to attack the nation that harbored and protected Al-Qaeda.  However, to keep faith with the Constitution a declaration of war should have been obtained.  Our armed forces waged a brilliant campaign that dismantled the Taliban regime in short order.  Then instead of saying, if it happens again we will come back again, and leaving we have stayed for ten plus years squandering hundreds of billions building a nation for people who don’t see themselves as a nation.  They are a collection of tribes grouped together by the necessities of international politics surrounded by a porous border and a history of ungovernable conflict.

Does anyone doubt that after we leave Kabul the Taliban will return?  Does anyone doubt that the training and weapons that we have given to our Afghan allies which are turned against us on a regular basis will form the bedrock of future Taliban strength?  Does anyone doubt that as soon as we are gone Karzai and other Afghan patriots of his ilk will be leaving with 747s full of American tax dollars?

The Constitution gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war.  This limitation on the prerogative of our chief executive to commit America to war without the consent of the citizens was considered one of the most important strengths of the document.  The founders of our nation came from a society in which autocratic kings had often plunged their nations into wars based on their own desires, whims, and political machinations.  Those who wrote the Constitution to be the framework for a new type of nation determined that we should never go to war unless it was the expression of the people through their elected representatives.

There hasn’t been a declared war since World War II, and yet our sons and daughters have fought and died in countless battles around the world.  With the war in Afghanistan set to end next year the Neocons and Progressives are beating the war drums daily for intervention in Syria and war with Iran, and even push for war with Russia.  Remember WWII?  That was basically the whole world against the fascist powers of Germany, Italy and Japan.  What is being offered here is a world war with us against everyone else.

Look at the debacles this aggressive policy is inserting into American History.  The prime example is the disaster in Benghazi.  I believe once the truth is known it was the CIA implementing the Obama Administration’s on-going policy of supporting Islamic Radicals supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels to overthrow another Arab dictator as we had just recently accomplished in Libya.  I contend that the Mission in Benghazi and its satellite CIA Safe-House were in reality a conduit for transferring untraceable weapons from the captured Libyan arsenal through Turkey to the rebels.  So when it comes to Syria we have instigated and supported this war for years.  Now we are pouring money down rat holes training soldiers who melt into the enemy weapons in hand at the first opportunity.  And even this isn’t enough.  The Neocons want us to play the proxy army for the Sunni against the Shia in their long war of religious fratricide.

The same goes for Iran.  There has been a shadow war raging for years between Israel and Iran with American support.  This shadow war consists of assassinations of nuclear scientists, bombing nuclear facilities and uploading computer viruses into computers used to control the cyclotrons used to enrich uranium on the part of the allies.  The response has been attacks against Israeli citizens around the world and even a bombing attempt in Washington D.C.

This was not enough.  America led the world in imposing draconian sanctions against Iran.  Sanctions which if imposed on us would be consider acts of war.  Once again this is not enough.  Now the Obama administration has concluded a deal with Iran that takes a step back from war.  The billions of dollars that we are supposedly giving Iran are in reality Iranian dollars we have been holding up around the world due to the sanctions.  Our own intelligence agencies continue to insist there is no evidence that Iran is even trying to build a bomb and yet the Neocons are working day and night to get us to deliver some shock and awe all over Iran all in the name of peace.

Iran has not attacked another country in the memory of anyone who is alive today.  Or in the lives of the ancestors going back hundreds of years.  America’s intelligence agencies unanimously tell us, Congress, and the Administration that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.  Iran is a signer of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and as a part of that treaty it is guaranteed the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes.  I know none of this will endear me to my more doctrinaire readers.  The truth often does not fit into the insulated scenarios of ideology, which according to the law of paradigm thinking means that anything that does not fit is wrong.  I am prepared to be wrong to get this right.

As part of the big push to get us into another war we are told that with regard to Iran “Containment is off the table.”  Usually soon after we are told “All options are on the table” war is on the table.  Why is containment off the table?  It worked during the Cold War when we faced off with an enemy many times larger with thousands of nuclear weapons on delivery systems aimed at our cities.  Why won’t it work against a nation that at this point has no nuclear weapons?

Why is it acceptable for North Korea to have nuclear weapons but not Iran?  Does anyone think the Ayatollahs are crazier than the new boy dictator of the Kim dynasty?  There is no doubt that the United States military has the ability to destroy Iran’s conventional defensive and offensive resources within a short time.  It is obvious we could, “Bomb them back to the stone age” as the saying goes.  However that wouldn’t necessarily mean that some of the stones thrown later in the contest might not hurt.  Iran has an unknown asymmetrical war capability.

It is believed that their allies in Gaza and Lebanon would immediately attack Israel.  The Iranians would also do all they could to interrupt the supply of the oil upon which we continue to allow ourselves to rely.  They would attempt to attack the oil fields of their neighbors, to close the Straits of Hormuz, attack nearby American bases, and possibly stir up rebellions in Sunni ruled countries with either sizable Shiite minorities or in some cases majorities.  We might even face terrorist attacks here in the Homeland.  This war would not be a cake walk.  The military and economic consequences would be immediate and they would be dire.

However, as dire as these consequences would be these are not potentially the most troubling. War opens the door for domestic changes that would not be possible during normal times.  While we have been and are engaged in a multi-generational seemingly endless series of wars this war might be different.  While all our other wars have been fought over there the civilian population continued to live as if Americans were not in harm’s way even though our sons and daughters were.  In other words we managed to have both guns and butter, war overseas and peace at home.  In the case of a war with Iran we might face a situation that could bring the war home to America in multiple ways.

Economically gas could skyrocket causing dislocation in our fragile economy.  On the military front terror sleeper cells could be activated in America or terrorists could come in through our porous southern border, or we could import them ourselves through refugee relocation.  Both the economic impact and terrorist activities would open the door for drastic government action which could well negatively impact our lives.  Rights are often curtailed in times of emergency.   The cost of war is often seen in the growth of government power and the loss of freedom at home.

Our worldwide military presence is not keeping us safe and in many ways it is provocative.  Peace and equitable trade with all is the course recommended by our founders.  It was the foreign policy of every administration until McKinley and the default position until FDR.  Let us return to our traditions and reject these endless wars for peace.  Let us quit supporting other economies with our foreign bases.  Let us end the many entangling agreements that bind us to fight for others who should instead fight for themselves.  It is time for patriots to see that more wars for peace will not bring us peace.  What we need is real peace not a phony peace at home and endless war abroad.

With real peace we could perhaps deal with the domestic issues that are tearing us apart and driving us into bankruptcy.  Every patriot should recognize the danger new fronts in our never-ending war will have on our current battle to maintain personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity here at home.  Consequently patriots should do everything in their power to stop the stampede to war.  Stand up for real peace and not for more wars for a peace that never comes.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

I’m Standing With Pat

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I am proud to say I have been a viewer, reader, and supporter of Pat Buchanan for decades.  I have watched all the different shows that he has either participated in or founded.  His career as a commentator has stretched from the 1970’s with his radio program the Buchanan – Barden Program and his commentaries for NBC.  His work in television has helped shape a whole industry of imitators.  He founded Crossfire on CNN and was a founding member of the McLaughlin Group.  He was also a founding member of the Capital Gang on PBS.

As a journalist he started at 23 as the youngest editorial writer on a major newspaper in America: The St. Louis Globe-Democrat.  He then became the first full-time staffer on Richard Nixon’s legendary comeback campaign in 1966.  He traveled with the future President in the campaigns of 1966 and 1968, served as special assistant through the final days of Watergate, and stayed on in the Ford White House until 1974.  He returned to the White House in the 1980’s as Communications Director for Ronald Reagan.

In his White House years, Mr. Buchanan wrote foreign policy speeches, and attended four summits, including Mr. Nixon’s historic opening to China in 1972, and Ronald Reagan’s Reykjavik summit in1986 with Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 1992 Pat made a heroic run for the presidency against President George H. W. Bush, seriously challenging Bush, and winning 38 percent of the votes in the New Hampshire primary garnering more than three million total votes in the primaries.  His speech, the Culture War speech, at the Republican Convention still stirs the hearts of Americans.

In 1996 he ran for the presidency again.  His opponents were Senator Bob Dole, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander, and publisher Steve Forbes.  Pat defeated Senator Bob Dole in the New Hampshire primary, he won three other states (Alaska, Missouri, and Louisiana), and finished only slightly behind Dole in the Iowa caucus.  He eventually bowed out of the race when it became apparent that Dole, the establishment candidate was going to win the nomination.

In 2000 Pat ran for President as the candidate of the Reform Party, which had been founded by Ross Perot in the 1990’s.  He lost this bid receiving 449,895 votes, 0.4% of the popular vote.

Pat has written ten books, including six straight New York Times best sellers A Republic, Not an Empire; The Death of the West; Where the Right Went Wrong; State of Emergency; Day of Reckoning and Churchill, Hitler and The Unnecessary War.  All of which I have read and highly recommend.  His newest book is The Greatest Comeback.

He is the founder of The American Conservative the flagship magazine for paleoconservative thought and his editorials are found all over the web.

In other words Pat Buchanan, in my estimation, is a national treasure and the Godfather of the Paleoconservative.  As I said, I am proud to identify as a follower of Pat Buchanan, his politics, and his thoughts.

In its effort to mobilize support for the latest round of Free Trade giveaways that bastion of Neocon Globalization, the Wall Street Journal has tried to use Pat Buchanan as a whipping boy. They have tried to lay the blame for their own pet policies at the door of the one man who more than anyone else has tried to warn us about the very consequences that are dragging us from the first world to the third.

In an editorial dated May 10th 2015 the Journal said:

Here we go again. In the 1990s Pat Buchanan launched a civil war within the Republican Party on a platform targeting immigration and trade. Some claimed Pitchfork Pat was the future of the GOP, though in the end he mainly contributed to its presidential defeats.

In the waning days of the Obama Presidency the GOP’s Buchanan wing is making a comeback, and in ways that are revealing about its ultimate agenda. The leader of this movement in Congress is Jeff Sessions, who has long railed against illegal immigration but since becoming chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on immigration has taken a more public stance against legal immigration.

Now he’s opposing the bipartisan effort to pass trade promotion authority and in the process showing that his objections aren’t only about the law or immigrants. They’re rooted in the same hostility to markets and globalization that animates the slow-growth Democratic left.

This is like the man who convinced you to sell your house for a bag of magic beans blaming the man who told you a house is worth more than beans for you ending up with a bag of beans.

Pat warned us about NAFTA, GATT and MFN for China.  He told us these things would lead to the gutting of American manufacturing.  The Wall Street Journal and the Amen Choir over at the Chamber of Commerce cheered them on.  What has been the result?  Between 2000 and 2010, 55,000 U.S. factories closed and 5 million to 6 million manufacturing jobs disappeared along with the middle class lives they used to provide.

Since these Free Trade boondoggles have been shoved down our throats we have consistently run multibillion dollar trade deficits with China. Last year’s deficit was $325 billion, or twice China’s defense budget. It is all this money draining from our economy to China’s that allows them to build a world-class military that is poised to challenge America for supremacy in Asia.

The Journal accuses Pat of being anti-growth. However as Pat points out,  “as trade surpluses add to a nation’s GDP, trade deficits subtract from it. Does the Journal think our $11 trillion in trade deficits since 1992 represents a pro-growth policy?”

Back in 1992 when there were 3 or 4 million illegals in America. Pat campaigned to secure the borders.  That didn’t happen and now there are 11, 12, who knows how many million illegals and more pouring in every day.  Is this good for America or is it bad?  The Journal and the open borders crowd call Pat a xenophobe.  I call him a patriot.

Pat has also called for a moratorium on immigration as we had from 1924-1965 so that those who are here can be assimilated and become Americanized.  I believe that one reason America is great, one reason why we have developed the most vibrant and lively society in the History of the world is because we have subsumed the best people from everywhere.  All of us except the Native Americans are immigrants.  We have come from every country on the globe.  And together we have morphed into one people.  We used to brag about the great melting pot of American society.  This is what Pat is urging we once again use to incubate our newer arrivals as they become us.  Instead the Journal and the other hyphenated American cheerleaders urge us to become a smelting pot leading to what Teddy Roosevelt called, a “polyglot boarding-house”

Now that 100% of the job growth since 2000 has gone to immigrants.  Now that illegals feel secure enough to emerge from the shadows and hold public demonstrations outside the White House as well as in the middle of major cities.  Now that schools are forced to teach in dozens sometimes hundreds of different languages. Now that more than 60.6 million or 20.8 or 1/5 of American households do not speak English in their homes.  Now that this is the reality we all face who was right about the open borders?  Pat who wanted us to take a break and assimilate our new arrivals or those who wanted the cheap labor and the support of undocumented voters?

What about our rapidly deteriorating foreign policy?  Pat supported the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan but counseled a quick withdrawal once its objectives had been met.  He opposed the invasion of Iraq pointing out that this country had not attacked us and did not pose a threat to our vital interests.  The Neocon leadership still has us nation building in Afghanistan, and Iraq has become the quagmire Pat predicted.

If we had been following Pat’s advice on trade, immigration, and foreign policy we would be safer, richer, and more secure.

If the Neocons are going to use Pat Buchanan as a whipping boy they should know there are those who see him for what he really is: a visionary, a leader, a patriot, and a great American.  So when it comes to the current debate over who lost America I’m standing where I have for decades.  I’m standing with Pat.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

Bowe’s Release: The Truth Exposed

By: Diane Sori
“The Qatari government has given us assurances that it will put in place measures to protect our national security.”
– Barack HUSSEIN Obama at Saturday’s news conference where he announced the release of Bowe BergdahlBowe

Our past presidents have always stood strong in saying that America does NOT negotiate with terrorists…but now it seems that America under this president does indeed negotiate with terrorists for this past Saturday Bowe Bergdahl’s long-hoped for release from five years of captivity at the hands of the Taliban was secured by doing just that.

Bowe’s release (to American Special Operations forces inside Afghanistan near the Pakistan border) was attained in exchange for five GITMO detainees who will now be free to rejoin their comrades in the killing of Americans…five enemy combatants exchanged for this one American who will now come home NOT only to parents who love and cherish him, but to a nation who while celebrating his release questions NOT only the circumstances of that release, but who questions the circumstances of his very capture.

And Bowe also comes home to a question of timing for was his release timed as a PR stunt by this administration’s media machine to divert attention away from the scandals Barack HUSSEIN Obama is awash in…timed for yet another photo-op and self-gratifying pat on the back…timed to make Obama the hero in Bowe’s release in the same vein that he made himself the hero in the ‘supposed’ take down of Osama bin-Laden.

But that is one question I think we all know the answer to.

And of course upon hearing of Bowe’s release Obama, as if right on cue, was quick to arrange a televised photo-op with Bowe’s parents where he said America “leaves no man behind,” yet he calculatingly forgets the four he did leave behind…the four he and he alone sentenced to die in a hell-hole called Benghazi.

And Bowe’s story in and of itself is one of contradictions as Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was NOT captured on the battlefield, thus some are claiming he left base camp on June 30, 2009 of his own free will after finishing a guard shift at the combat outpost in Afghanistan’s Paktika province where he was stationed, then turning up with the Taliban a short time later. Others say he just went for a walk near the base camp in a supposed secure area but was captured during that walk. The answer to that will NOT be known until he is debriefed…and know that Bowe will be questioned like few before him have been.

One scenario is that if Bowe had voluntarily went to the Taliban they would have used his desertion in a propaganda campaign bar none…and they did NOT because they could NOT. And if one studies the few pictures released of Bowe over these five long years one can clearly see his deteriorating physical condition, and that would NOT be the case if Bowe had become one of the Taliban’s own.

The other scenario…and I hope this is NOT true…is that Bowe went AWOL, converted to islam and now according to some reports…including that of a Taliban deputy district commander…is alleged to have been teaching the Taliban fighters bomb-making skills.

But neither scenario changes the fact that Bowe’s release was secured by negotiating with terrorists…terrorists who have long demanded that those particular five be released. And now by meeting the enemy’s demands, and doing so by overriding the fact that Congress needed to be notified beforehand…which they were NOT…Barack HUSSEIN Obama has placed a bulls-eye on the back of every American troop still left in the Afghan war theater…as in capture one of ours and we’ll trade them for at least five of yours…and that is one place where this president should NEVER have gone.

Now sending the Taliban an unmistakable message that we will do anything to leave the nightmare of Afghanistan behind, Barack HUSSEIN Obama has put a payable price on our leaving, and that price now dishonors all those brave American warriors who NEVER were given the chance to come home. And it also puts a bulls-eye on any and all Afghani’s who aided Americans in their quest to free Afghanistan from the hands of the very Taliban Obama now freely negotiated with.

Remember too that those five released from GITMO were NOT just ordinary Taliban fighters, as two of them were senior militant commanders connected to altercations that killed both American and allied troops. And one of those released is Mohammad Nabi Omari, a man with strong ties to al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network (one of Afghanistan’s most experienced insurgent groups with ties to the Pakastani security establishment and one of the deadliest threats to U.S. troops during the war). And two others released, Mullah Norullah Noori and Mullah Mohammad Fazl, have been directly tied to the murders of thousands of Afghani Shiites. But thanks to this deal, and after spending just a year in Qatar under the most questionable of security restrictions, including a mere one-year travel ban, they will be free to do what the Taliban do best…kill any and all who oppose them.

A great trade this was NOT when the ramifications could very well come back to haunt… ramifications possibly fueled on because Bowe’s dad, appearing in the Rose Garden with Obama, said in Arabic a phrase routinely used by muslims in praise of allah, “بسم الله، الرحمان، الرحيم،”… translation: “In the name of allah, the most gracious, the most merciful”…before speaking about his son’s release.

Why speak in Arabic…why address the American people in Arabic when one’s prisoner son was just released by those speaking Arabic…why…we need to know why…we demand to know why.

But when all is said and done, Bowe is finally free, but at a terrible price that comes complete with many mixed emotions…a price whose payment America will be making to the enemy for years to come for the Taliban have scored a propaganda victory as Barack HUSSEIN Obama bent to their will…or did he actually bend to the will of his own. And I dare NOT think of how our troops must feel knowing that five of the enemy…an enemy who killed so many of their brothers and sisters in arms…have now been released by their Commander-in-Chief to kill more of them yet again.

So unless new information comes to light proving otherwise…and it very well might…we should revel in Bowe’s release as one once left behind is now finally coming home.

In Part 2, running tomorrow, my good friend and RIGHT SIDE RADIO partner, Craig Andresen, goes into detail about Obama’s overriding Congress to secure Bowe’s release.

http://thepatriotfactor.blogspot.com/2014/06/op-ed-bowes-release-truth-exposed.html

War What is it Good For

The President of Afghanistan, the man we installed and the leader of a land that is a nation in name only recently accused the United States of colluding with the Taliban to keep the war going. According to his spokesman, “The people of Afghanistan ask NATO to define the purpose and aim of the so-called war on terror… (They) consider this war as aimless and unwise to continue.”

I am a supporter of our troops.  I believe they are patriots and America’s best.  It is not the bravery or skill of our troops that I question; it is the imperial foreign policy which sends them as sacrifices on the altar of political ambition that I question.  The cruel calculations of political elites using our service men and women as pawns on their partisan game board are shameful.  The most shocking example of this is President Obama’s announcing a surge in troops at the same time he announced the exit strategy for leaving the country.  What could be more counterproductive than telling an asymmetrical partisan enemy that if they hang on long enough we leave and you win?

Look at Iraq.  We went to war to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction which even President Bush eventually admitted were never there.  We went to war because our leaders intimated that Iraq had a hand in the sneak attacks of 9-11 based on a rumored meeting between an Iraqi agent and Mohamed Atta another claim that has since been repudiated.  Did we go to war to correct the partial victory we gained in Gulf War I under George I?  Did we go to war as George II later claimed to make the Mideast safe for democracy?  Whatever the reason for invading Iraq, a nation we supported for years, a nation which had not and was not planning to attack us, what did we accomplish and what do we have now that we are gone?

What about Afghanistan?  After the sneak attacks on 9-11 we had every legal and moral right to attack the nation that harbored and protected Al-Qaeda.  However, to keep faith with the Constitution a declaration of war should have been obtained.  Our armed forces waged a brilliant campaign that dismantled the Taliban regime in short order.  Then instead of saying, if it happens again we will come back again, and leaving we have stayed for more than ten years squandering hundreds of billions building a nation for people who don’t see themselves as a nation.  They are a collection of tribes grouped together by the necessities of international politics surrounded by a porous border and a history of ungovernable conflict.

Does anyone doubt that after we leave Kabul the Taliban will return?  Does anyone doubt that the training and weapons that we have given to our Afghan allies which are turned against us on a regular basis will form the bedrock of future Taliban strength?

The Constitution gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war.  This limitation on the prerogative of our chief executive to commit America to war without the consent of the citizens was considered one of the most important strengths of the document.  The founders of our nation came from a society in which autocratic kings had often plunged their nations into wars based on their own desires, whims, and political machinations.  Those who wrote the Constitution to be the framework for a new type of nation were determined that we should never go to war unless it was the expression of the people through their elected representatives.

There hasn’t been a declared war since World War II and yet our sons and daughters have fought and died in countless battles around the world.  With the war in Afghanistan set to wind down the Neocons and Progressives are beating the war drums daily for intervention in Syria and war with Iran.

I believe once the truth is known America, in keeping with the Obama Administration’s on-going policy of supporting Islamic Radicals, has been supplying weapons to the Al-Qaeda led Syrian rebels for years.  I contend that the Mission in Benghazi and its satellite CIA Safe-House was in reality a conduit for transferring untraceable weapons from the captured Libyan arsenal through Turkey to the rebels.  So when it comes to Syria we are already there, and now our Neo-con cheerleaders want us to directly intervene.

The same goes for Iran.  There is a shadow war that has been raging for years between Israel with American support and Iran.  This shadow war consists of assassinations of nuclear scientists, bombing nuclear facilities and uploading computer viruses into computers used to control the cyclotrons used to enrich uranium on the part of the allies.  The response has
been attacks against Israeli citizens around the world and even a bombing attempt in WashingtonD.C.

This is not enough.  America has been goaded into imposing draconian sanctions against Iran.  Sanctions which if imposed on us we would be consider acts of war.  Once again this is not enough.  The Neocons are working day and night to get us to deliver some shock and awe all over Iran all in the name of peace.

Iran has not attacked another country in the memory of anyone who is alive today.  Or in the lives of the ancestors going back hundreds of years.  America’s intelligence agencies unanimously tell us, Congress, and the Administration that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.  Iran is a signer of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and as a part of that treaty it is guaranteed the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful means.

As part of the big push to get us into another war we are told “Containment is off the table.”  Usually soon after we are told “All options are on the table.”  Why is containment off the table?  It worked during the Cold war when we faced off with an enemy many times larger with thousands of nuclear weapons on delivery systems aimed at our cities.  Why won’t it work against a nation that at this point has no nuclear weapons?

Why is it acceptable for North Korea to have nuclear weapons but not Iran?  Does anyone think the Ayatollahs are crazier than the new boy dictator of the Kim dynasty?  There is no doubt that the United States military has the ability to destroy Iran’s conventional defensive and offensive resources within a short time.  It is obvious we could, “Bomb them back to the stone age” as the saying goes.  However that wouldn’t necessarily mean that some of the stones thrown later in the contest might not hurt.  Iran has an unknown asymmetrical war capability.

It is believed that their allies in Gaza and Lebanon would immediately attack Israel.  The Iranians would also do all they could to interrupt the supply of the oil upon which we continue to allow ourselves to need.  They would attempt to attack the oil fields of their neighbors, to close the Straits of Hormuz, attack nearby American bases, and possible stir up rebellions in Sunni ruled countries with either sizable Shiite minorities or in some cases majorities.  We might even face terrorist attacks here in the Homeland.  This war would not be a cake walk.  The military and economic consequences would be immediate and they would be dire.

However, as dire as these consequences would be these are not potentially the most troubling. War opens the door for domestic changes that would not be possible during normal times.  While we have been and are engaged in a multi-generational seemingly endless series of wars this war might be different.  While all our other wars have been fought over there the civilian population continued to live as if Americans were not in harm’s way even though they were.  In other words we managed to have both guns and butter, war overseas and peace at home.  In the case of a war with Iran we might face a situation that could bring the war home to America in multiple ways.

Economically gas could skyrocket causing dislocation in our fragile economy.  On the military front terror sleeper cells could be activated in America or terrorists could come in through our porous southern border.  Both the economic impact and terrorist activities would open the door for drastic government action which could well negatively impact our lives.  Rights are often curtailed in times of emergency.   The cost of war is often seen in the growth of government power and the loss of freedom at home.

Our worldwide military presence is not keeping us safe and in many ways it is provocative.  Peace and equitable trade with all is the course recommended by our founders.  It was the foreign policy of every administration until McKinley and the default position until FDR.  Let us return to our traditions and reject these endless wars for peace.  Let us quit supporting other economies with our foreign bases.  Let us end the many entangling agreements that bind us to fight for others who should instead fight for themselves.

With real peace we could perhaps deal with the domestic issues that are tearing us apart and driving us into bankruptcy.  Every patriot should recognize the danger new fronts in our never-ending war will have on our current battle to maintain personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity here at home.  Consequently patriots should do everything in their power to stop the stampede to war.  Stand up for real peace and not for more wars for a peace that never comes.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

 

Is America a Republic or an Empire?

Over the years in this column I have written about the American Empire.  I have advocated jettisoning the Empire to save the Republic.  This topic has sparked debate and controversy even among the most dedicated readers.  Usually the argument runs like this, “America is not an Empire, never has been and never will be,” or “America’s far-flung military deployments are not the garrisoning of an empire it is instead a forward defense of the homeland.”

In my most recent column along these lines, aptly entitled, “Republic or Empire?” in several publications there was spirited debate about whether or not America could be called an empire.  Some people seemed to take offense at the very idea.  Others who usually agree with my political stands find this and my other foreign policy positions such as bringing our troops home, concentrating on defending America, and equitable trade with all unacceptable.  I present and promote these foreign policy positions as requirements for restoring limited government. It is my belief that as long as we are involved in endless war there is no real possibility to re-gain control of our government, our budget, or our future.

What I propose to do in this column is examine the hallmarks of empire and ask my readers to honestly ask themselves, “Is America a republic or an empire?”

First, it makes no difference whether it is the President, the Paramount Chief, an Augustus, the First Citizen, the Dear Leader, the Great Helmsman or der Fuehrer.  It doesn’t matter if it is an executive branch, a Politburo, a Central Committee, the Cabinet, or the collective leadership.  Whatever form it takes, an empire is always dominated by a highly centralized executive power.

America was designed not to be an empire but instead to be a federal republic made up of a central government and state governments which were the precursors and creators of the central government.   This central government founded upon and constrained by a written constitution originally presented the world with something new, a national government made up of divided co-equal powers.  The Congress to make the laws, the executive to enforce the laws, and the judicial to judge if the laws conformed to the Constitution: the guiding light and touch-stone of American limited government.  This worked well to establish and maintain a republic but it would not foster nor perpetuate an empire.

Thus the Constitution established the framework of what became known as the system of checks and balances.  Only congress could make laws, but the President could veto them.  Congress could over-ride a president’s veto, but the Supreme Court could declare laws unconstitutional making them null and void.  The president is in charge of foreign policy and is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, but the Congress controlled the purse and could cut off funding.  Upon petition the Supreme Court could declare the actions of the president unconstitutional yet the president could appoint justices to the Supreme Court.

Did this work perfect?  No, there were always swings one way or another.  There have been powerful Supreme Courts such as under Chief Justices Marshall or Warren that changed the complexion of the country.  There have been powerful Congresses such as the one from 1865 to the mid 1870’s that virtually ignored presidents and set policy.  There were powerful presidents such as Jackson or Lincoln.  However the pendulum always swung back and forth.  If you examined all three institutions there was one thing missing.  Where was the sovereignty?  Who was the nation?

In the highly centralized state, which is an empire whether personal or national, the leader or leadership operates according to the sentiments of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France who said, “I am the State.”  During the birth of the American system, our Founders had spent more time debating this than any other aspect of the government, who would be the sovereign power.  They had just fought and defeated one tyrant and they did not want to exchange one for another.  They didn’t trust the sovereignty of the nation in the hands of an executive because of the long and bloody history of Europeans with absolutism and divine right.  They didn’t trust an assembly after their recent history with the tyranny of the British Parliament and their Stamp Act, Quartering Act and other attempts to bring the colonies to their knees.  They couldn’t place it in the hands of the Supreme Court for that body would be merely judicial.

Instead they came up with a new idea in the world.  They placed the sovereignty of the nation in the hands of We the People.

The Constitution is designed to empower the people not the government.  Though today it is stretched and interpreted to give the government the power to do whatever it wants whenever it wants originally it was constructed to limit government.

We the People could vote the Congress in or out, we could choose our own president, and if the Supreme Court said something was unconstitutional that we wanted we could change the Constitution using a mechanism embedded within the document itself.  For the first time no leader or oligarchy owned the state, instead the state belonged to the citizens.

What do we see in America today?  We have a president who says, “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.”  When Congress after deliberation decides not to pass the Dream Act giving amnesty to millions, the President uses an executive order to make it law by decree.  When the Congress refuses to pass a cap-and-trade law that many believe will hamstring our industry and hobble us in the race with other nations, the president orders his EPA department to enforce it anyway.  Without consulting Congress the President takes us to war against Libya and deposes a government.

These are the actions of an executive out of control.  Under the original American system if anyone would have asked, “Who speaks for the people?” the answer would have been the House of Representatives because they were elected every two years and were thus closest to the people.  It wouldn’t have been the Congress as a whole because under the original system the senate was chosen by the various state legislatures and was designed to represent the states.  It was the House which spoke for the people.  Today it is the President who uses the bully pulpit magnified by a subservient press and a thousand government media pressure points and outlets saying in effect, I have a mandate from the people.  I am the embodiment of their will.  I am the state.

The next hallmark of an empire we will look at is that domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign policy.  The American President is constitutionally in charge of foreign policy so there is no better place for the holder of that office to act without any restraint.  Treaties must be ratified, so our presidents began in the 1940’s to forge personal agreements with the leaders of other countries that had all the force of treaties with none of the messy Senate confirmation required.  Using their power as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces modern presidents have also used their authority to start wars as in Kosovo and Libya, to sign cease fires as in Korea, and to commit America to the support of dictators and tyrants through deployments and equipment transfers, all without any Congressional oversight.

If we ask ourselves, has domestic policy really become subordinate to foreign policy think about whose infrastructure are we being taxed to rebuild?  In Afghanistan and Iraq our money and our companies are building new schools while ours fall apart, we are building new roads in Afghanistan while we watch our own bridges crumbling.  We give billions to countries and governments that despise us.  We borrow money to give it away and then sometimes borrow it back all in a bizarre dance balancing foreign interests at the expense of We the People.

Another hallmark of an empire is that the military mindset becomes ascendant to the point that civilians are intimidated.  Think about the Defense budget.   In 2012 it was over 600 billion dollars.  Does anyone believe Congress or anyone else really knows where all that money is going?  The size, scope, and unbelievable waste in the defense budget stagger the imagination.  However, to even question the defense budget will immediately get someone labeled as an isolationist who wants to gut our defense and surrender to the enemy.

Many people will argue that we are in a war and that during war of course the defense budget will be bloated.  Can you remember any time since 1942 that we haven’t been in a war?  Yes, there were the brief days of the “Peace Dividend” under Clinton after the Soviet Union dissolved which actually became the rational for increased defense spending.  And during those brief days of peace back in the 1990’s we fought a war and enforced a decade long no-fly zone in Iraq, attacked Serbia, sent troops, planes or other assets to Zaire, Sierra Leone, Bosnia (numerous times), Herzegovina, Somalia, Macedonia, Haiti, Liberia, Central African Republic, Albania, Congo and Gabon, Cambodia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Afghanistan, and East Timor.  And this was our only decade of peace since the 1940’s, and to question any of this is considered tantamount to treason.  We must ask ourselves, “Has the military mindset become ascendant to the point that civilians are intimidated?”

Perpetual war for peace has led the peaceful American people to be ensnared in the clutches of the military-industrial complex as president Eisenhower warned it would in 1961.

All empires develop and maintain a system of satellite nations.  When we hear of this we immediately think of the old USSR and their slave states in Eastern Europe.  Advance the idea that America has satellite nations and people become irate.  “How could you say such a thing about America?”  Look at our so-called allies.  Do they fit the description as satellite nations?  A satellite nation is one that the empire deems is necessary for its own defense.  It is also one that feels it cannot stand alone and wants the empire’s protection.

That is the deal.  The empire commits to protect the satellite and the satellite agrees to stand with its back against the empire facing a common foe.  Add to that the fact that we supply money and material to build the national defenses of our satellite/allies as well as economic aid and a preferential trade system.  Think about these ideas and decide for yourself whether or not America has satellite nations ringing the heartland of the empire.

Another hallmark of empire is that a psychology or psychosis of pride, presumption, and arrogance overtakes the national consciousness.   We are all familiar with the twenty-first century incantation of “Too big to fail.”  That was applied by our bailout happy leaders to their pet banks and companies during the opening days of the Great Recession.  It is also an apt description for the way in which most Americans view our position as the most powerful nation on earth or as the silver tongued talking heads like to say, the world’s sole superpower.  Since the end of World War One the United States has been the unchallenged mega power among the western block of nations.  Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union we have towered like a colossus over the rest of the world.  In the memory of most people now alive it has always been this way.

To most people the way it has been is the way it shall be.  We speak of embracing change and of realizing that change is the only constant but few can really think that way.  The familiar seduces us into thinking that the momentary circumstances of today are the unshakable foundations of tomorrow.  To the children and grandchildren of the greatest generation the world will always gaze in awe at the great American eagle soaring above the world.  Our navies rule the waves, our masses of fighters, bombers, and drones can reach out and touch any corner of the globe, our troops are the best trained, best equipped, and best led armies the world has ever seen, so such a mega power could never fall.

So it seemed to the inhabitants of Rome the eternal empire.  So it seemed to the British when the sun never set upon the union jack.  And so it seems to us.  Even though a rag-tag group like Al Qaeda defies our attempts to destroy them and continues to grow and multiply around the world.  Even though the Taliban not only have withstood more than a decade of war they stand poised to reclaim their country as soon as we leave.  Even though our deficit spending and the national debt it creates is leading us to a financial collapse that our own military leaders have identified as the greatest threat to our security, and our leaders only answer is more spending.  This pride, presumption, and arrogance blinds us to the enduring truth of what comes before a fall.

Finally an empire is the prisoner of history.  A republic is not required to act upon the world stage.  It can pick and choose its own way seeking its own destiny as a commonwealth of citizens.  An empire must project its power for fear that if it doesn’t another leviathan will arise to take its place.  A free republic that has maintained its independence is able to decide where and when it will become involved.  An empire is always the leader of a center heavy coalition comprised of the imperial core and the associated or satellite nations.  As such it is the collective security against the barbarian, the other that drives the actions of the empire.

In the parlance of our day it is our turn.  It is our turn to be the policeman of the world, our turn to keep the peace, to guard civilization from the unwashed hordes who seek to turn back the clock and bring darkness into the world.  We are a vanguard of stability in a world beset by chaos, and so were the British and the Romans before them.

Other writers may say something has been left off these hallmarks while others may say some of these don’t apply.  To all I would recommend a study of former empires to see if they agree these properties are found in all of them.  Then ask ourselves, “Are these properties present in America today?”  Once we have completed this process we will be able to answer the question for ourselves, “Is America an Empire?”  If we decide, yes it is, we have to realize that there is a trajectory all empires follow: they rise and they fall.

We might decide that,we as the first empire that is not set-up to plunder wealth but instead to distribute wealth, are different, and therefore we will break the mold.  We will stand while others have fallen.  One look at our debt should persuade anyone that what we have built is as unsustainable as the British, the Roman, or any other empire we wish to use as a standard.

Do you say, “We can’t be an empire because our president is elected.”  So were the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, so were the kings of Poland. It is the empire that empowers our executive.  Do you say, “We can’t be an empire because we have a Congress.”  So did Athens, Rome, and Britain.  Do you say, “We can’t be an empire because we have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, why we even have the freedom to own weapons.”  So did Athens, so did Rome, and so did Britain.

While we are yet on the glory side of the fall let us abandon the empire to save our republic.  Let us resign from the great game of thrones, rebuild America, secure our own borders instead of those of Korea, or Afghanistan, and reaffirm our dedication to be the last best hope of mankind: a federal republic operating on democratic principles, securing our God given liberties, providing personal freedom, individual liberty, and economic opportunity to all its citizens.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Republic or Empire?

Historians spend their lives looking backwards.  Futurists spend their lives looking forward.  My goal has been to blend the two disciplines into one seamless panorama. For if you don’t know the past you have no context for the present, and if you have no context for the present the future appears to be whatever those who shape the present portray it to be.  Those who believed the Eternal Empire was truly eternal, those who believed the sun would never set on the British Empire, those who believed in a 1,000 year Reich, and those who believed the USSR was the vision of the future proved those who shape the present always project a future which shows their empire as the one that will never fall.

When I was studying to become a Historian I came to a point where I had to declare a field of special study. This is where my obsession with current events intersected with my love for History.  This is when I realized that current events are the forever unfolding always receding conveyor belt of reality.  This is when I first verbalized the perception that as the future slides into the present and the present slides into the past our lives are the history of the future.   Therefore in my writings I seek to frame the flow of today with knowledge of yesterday to create a window into tomorrow.

History tells us that Imperial Republics fall.  We have the examples of Athens and all the other grasping Greek republics that followed her.  We have Rome the example always deferred to of a republic that allowed an empire to stifle freedom.  The list however does not end there, we can look at Venice and the various republics of Renaissance Italy, and of course the First Republic of France which was birthed in blood and died in fire.  The siren song of empire has seduced republics down through history to trade in their freedom for power which eventually cost them both their freedom and the power.

It is time to re-think America’s international military commitments.

Though settled by European kingdoms seeking empires, the United States wasn’t founded to become an empire.  Individuals fought against the empire building tyrants until their determination and resolve won independence against all odds.  Then, although the world was filled with despotic kings, our Framers gave us a Republic.  However, it is worth remembering the exchange that took place between Ben Franklin, the elder statesman of the Constitutional Convention, and an unknown woman.  As he left Independence Hall he was asked, “Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?”   Appealing to his legendary wit Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”   We and our ancestors have been blessed by the Republic for hundreds of years.  We’ve benefited from the liberty to live our lives and pursue our happiness.  Now we’ve arrived at the “if you can keep it” phase of our journey.

At the cost of hundreds of billions and thousands of lives we doubled-down in Afghanistan.  At the cost of over a trillion and thousands of lives we conquered Iraq and deposed Saddam.  We spearheaded the bombing campaign in Libya.  Our drones strike suspected enemies far and near including American citizens.  Troops have been dispatched to central Africa.  And the perennial war drums still beat at the very mention of Iran.  We are committed to treat any attack on dozens of countries from South Korea to Lithuania as an attack on our homeland.  In other wards we are committed to send American troops to fight and die for countries which in the case of South Korea are well able to defend themselves, and in the case of Lithuania and many others that are of no strategic importance to the United States.

We have sent our fellow citizens to fight long hard slogs in countries whose names are the very synonym for Quagmire.  As our economy was being outsourced, our debt monetized, and our infrastructure crumbled we meekly followed our leaders deeper into thankless nation-building campaigns in nation after nation including one that’s resisted and foiled every empire from Alexander to Moscow.

Instead of using our cruise missiles and stealth capabilities we fell into the trap announced and laid by Bin Laden.  Whose strategy was as Lawrence Wright told us in his seminal book Looming Towers to, “lure America into the same trap the Soviets had fallen into: Afghanistan.”  How did he plan to do it?  “To continually attack until the U.S. forces invaded; then the mujahedeen would swarm upon them and bleed them until the entire American empire fell from its wounds. It had happened to Great Britain and to the Soviet Union. He was certain it would happen to America.”

There were twists and turns on our journey from republic to empire.

George Washington warned us to avoid foreign entanglements.  Thomas Jefferson outlined the essential principles of our government which included this advice concerning foreign affairs, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations entangling alliances with none.”

For more than one hundred years we concentrated on using our liberty to build a mighty nation.  Then the temptation of empire captured the American imagination in the 1890s, a time when Europe was rushing to gobble up the last places open for colonization or carving up those areas unsuited for colonies into spheres of influence.  Under President McKinley the United States entered the scramble for colonies in the Spanish-American War winning Puerto Pico and the Philippines

Teddy Roosevelt followed McKinley walking softly while carrying a big stick in the form of the Great White Fleet and multiple intrusions into the sovereignty of Latin American countries.  After being re-elected on the promise to keep America neutral President Wilson proclaimed America must fight World War I to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.”  An adventure which cost over 300, 000 casualties and which actually expanded the empires of England, France, and Japan.  After the war, the Congress of the United States re-asserted control by rejecting the international entanglements of the League of Nations Treaty returning to the traditional American foreign policy of freedom of trade and freedom of action.

Under FDR America fought an undeclared naval war against Germany in 1940 and 41 and imposed draconian embargoes against Japan prior to Pearl Harbor.  Once we were attacked we had to defend ourselves.  However, when World War II ended not with the defeat of totalitarianism but instead with the expansion of it in Eastern Europe the guiding light of American foreign policy seems to have been permanently extinguished.  As the British Empire sailed into the sunset we filled the void taking up the role of leader of the West in the Cold War.   For forty-six years we faced the Soviets until they collapsed under the weight of their own  empire  Then instead of coming home we spread our wings even further embracing Eastern Europe promising to send young Americans to fight for Estonia and Slovakia among others, and now the sun never sets upon the American Empire.

Not only is it against the founding principles of America to establish and maintain an empire of far-flung outposts, we cannot afford to be the Policeman of the world.  We cannot afford to build nations for people who don’t want them. How did a peaceful nation of free citizens become the advocate of pre-emptive attack and endless occupation?  How much blood and treasure did we invest in Iraq, and what is the result?  A Shi’a ally for Iran.  The war in Afghanistan was obviously defensive and retaliatory in nature given the Taliban’s support for Al Qaeda.  But ten years later what’s it all about?  Are we really dedicated to building a modern nation for tribal people who have no sense of nationhood?  Or have we walked into the same trap that brought the Soviets to their knees?

Currently the United States has armed forces in over 130 countries.  We’re committed to defend most of these countries against aggression.  Where were all these allies on 9-11?  Where are they in Afghanistan?   Why do we have treaties binding us to go to war to defend those who refuse to support us when we’re attacked?  If these policies are counter-productive are there any alternatives?

Close the foreign bases and bring our troops home.  Station them on the border to protect us from the on-going invasion of illegal immigrants who’re overloading our systems.  We can seal and secure the mountainous border between the Koreas and we can secure our own borders if we have the wisdom and the will.  If we need to project American power use the carrier battle-groups designed for that purpose.  Protect America and rebuild our infrastructure instead of everyone else’s.  When asked what to do with the American Military after World War I Will Rogers said, “Get ’em all home, add to their number, add to their training, then just sit tight with a great feeling of security and just read about foreign wars. That’s the best thing in the world to do with them.”

If we want to save the Republic we need to lose the empire, or we can cling to the empire and lose both.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

Praetorian Progressives and Their Imperial Dreams

 Under President Obama we doubled-down in Afghanistan?  We sent more of our fellow citizens to a long hard slog in a country whose synonym is Quagmire while announcing the eventual date of their withdrawal at the same time.  In an unprecedented action Mr. Obama announced our attack as he heralded our retreat in a calculated political decision that has cost lives, squandered treasure and told the Taliban to wait in the wings for the second act.

As our economy was being outsourced, our debt monetized, and our infrastructure crumbled we meekly followed the leader deeper into a thankless nation-building campaign in the Little Bighorn of nations.  A nation that is more of a Western construct than an actual nation-state, and the tribes which inhabit this mountainous waste have resisted and foiled every empire from Alexander toMoscow. 

There is a fundamental difference between a republic and an empire.  Republics are based upon the consent of the governed.  Empires are imposed from above.  Republics foster a community of equals each with the opportunity to achieve.  Empires exalt the ruling class at the expensive of everyone else.  Though settled by European kingdoms seeking empires theUnited Stateswasn’t founded to become an empire.  Individuals fought against the empire building tyrants until their determination and resolve won independence against all odds.

It is time to re-thinkAmerica’s international military commitments.  It is our world wide web of foreign commitments and entanglements that has been used by the self-righteous Progressives and their cronies in the military industrial complex in their efforts to transform theUnited Statesfrom republic to empire.  They have used the never ending wars for peace to regiment our society and create a centrally-planned bureaucratic mega government.

 George Washington warned us to avoid foreign entanglements telling us, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world…”  He warned us about allowing the military to grow to big, “Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”

Thomas Jefferson outlined the essential principles of our government which included this advice concerning foreign affairs, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations entangling alliances with none.” 

For the first 100 years of our existence we followed Washington’s great rule, “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

The temptation to empire captured the American imagination in the 1890s: the beginning of the Progressive Era.  This was a time whenEuropewas rushing to gobble up the last places open for colonization or carving up those areas unsuited for colonies into spheres of influence. 

Under President McKinley the United States entered the scramble for colonies in the Spanish-American War winning Puerto Pico and thePhilippines as well as a long war against those in thePhilippines who wanted the independence they had expected when liberated from the Spanish Empire by theAmericanRepublic. 

Teddy Roosevelt the great grandfather of the Progressives followed McKinley walking softly while carrying a big stick in the form of the Great White Fleet.  He used America’s new found industrial might and military power for multiple intrusions into the sovereignty of Latin American countries.  While better known for his war against business, or trust busting as it was then called, the first President Roosevelt extolled war as a means to national greatness, “No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumph of war”

After being re-elected on the promise to keep Americaneutral President Wilson proclaimed America must fight to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.”  An adventure which cost over 300,000 casualties and which actually expanded the empires ofEngland,France, andJapan while sowing the seeds of an even greater war. 

After Wilson’s war the Congress of the United Statesre-asserted control by rejecting the international entanglements of the League of Nations Treaty returning to the traditional American foreign policy of freedom of trade and freedom of action. 

Under FDR America fought an undeclared naval war against Germany in 1940 and 41 and imposed draconian embargoes against Japan prior toPearl Harbor.  Once we were attacked we had to defend ourselves.  However, when World War II ended with the defeat of German, Italian, and Japanese totalitarianism and the vast expansion of Soviet totalitarianism, the guiding light ofAmerica foreign policy seems to have been permanently extinguished. 

As the British Empire sailed into the sunset we filled the void taking up the role of leader of the West in the Cold War. For forty-six years we faced the Soviets until they collapsed.  Then instead of coming home we spread our wings even further embracing Eastern Europe.  We made a vain promise to send young Americans to fight for Estonia and Slovakia.  We coaxed color-coded revolutions all around Russia while our allies moved the EU to the East.  All of this rebuffed the hand of the Russians and made them instead of friends bitter foes who realized America had exploited their weakness and attempted to surround them with enemies.  This is the exact scenario which has haunted Russian paranoid dreams for centuries.

It is against the traditional principles of American foreign policy to establish and maintain an empire of far-flung outposts.  Doing so has broken the bank and we cannot afford to be the Policeman of the world.  We cannot afford to build nations for people who don’t want them while allowing our own infrastructure to decay.  How did a peaceful nation of free citizens become the advocate of pre-emptive attack and endless occupation?  How much blood and treasure did we invest in Iraq and what will be the result: a precipitous pull-out resulting in a Shi’a ally for Iran

The war inAfghanistanwas obviously defensive and retaliatory in nature given the Taliban’s support and collusion with Al Qaeda.  But ten years later what’s it all about?  Are we really dedicated to building a modern nation for tribal people who have no sense of nationhood?  Have we blundered into the same trap that brought the Soviets to their knees?

And it isn’t only our current hot deployment that is problematic. 

The United Stateshas armed forces in over 130 countries.  We’re committed to defend most of these countries against aggression.  Where were these allies on 9-11?  Where are they inAfghanistan?  Why do we have treaties binding us to go to war to defend those who refuse to support us when we’re attacked?  If these policies are counter-productive are there any alternatives?

Close the foreign bases and bring our troops home.  Sell the bases and save the money.  Station our troops on the borders to protect us from the on-going invasion of illegal immigrants who are overloading our systems. Let the maintenance of the bases and the spending of the troops contribute to our domestic economy instead of the economies of other countries.  If we need to project American power, use the carrier battle-groups designed for that purpose.  ProtectAmericaand rebuild our infrastructure. 

When asked what to do with the American Military after World War I Will Rogers said, “Get ’em all home, add to their number, add to their training, then just sit tight with a great feeling of security and just read about foreign wars. That’s the best thing in the world to do with them.” 

We must jettison the Empire to save the Republic!  If we don’t the imperial power will swamp the republican nature.  We will retain the forms our Founders gave us as we find ourselves under the jackbooted heel of the Praetorian Progressives and their imperial dreams.  

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the Historian of the Future and the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

Imperial Republics Fall

Historians spend their life looking backwards.  Futurists spend their life looking forward.  My goal has been to blend the two disciplines into one seamless endeavor.   

When I was studying to become a Historian I came to a point where I had to declare a field of special study. This is where my obsession with current events intersected with my love for History.  This is when I realized that current events are the forever unfolding always receding conveyor belt of reality.  This is when I first verbalized the perception that as the future slides into the present and the present slides into the past our lives are the history of the future.   Therefore in my writings I seek to frame the flow of today with knowledge of yesterday to create a window into tomorrow. 

History tells us that Imperial Republics fall.  We have the examples of Athens and all the other grasping Greek republics that followed her.  We have Rome the example always deferred to of a republic that allowed empire to stifle freedom.  The list however does not end there, we can look at Venice and the various republics of Renaissance Italy and of course the First Republic of France which was birthed in blood and died in fire.  The siren song of empire has seduced republics down through history to trade in their freedom for power which eventually cost them both their freedom and the power. 

Is it time to re-think America’s international military commitments?  Though settled by European kingdoms seeking empires the United States wasn’t founded to become an empire.  Individuals fought against the empire building tyrants until their determination and resolve won independence against all odds.  Then, although the world was filled with despotic kings, our Framers gave us a Republic.  However, it is worth remembering the exchange that took place between Ben Franklin, the elder statesman of the Constitutional Convention and an unknown woman.  As he left Independence Hall he was asked, “Well Doctor what we have got a republic or a monarchy?”   Appealing to his legendary wit Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”   We and our ancestors have been blessed by the Republic for hundreds of years.  We’ve benefited from the liberty to live our lives and pursue our happiness.  Now we’ve arrived at the “if you can keep it” phase of our journey. 

At the cost of hundreds of billions and thousands of lives we doubled-down in Afghanistan.  At the cost of over a trillion and thousands of lives we conquered Iraq and deposed Saddam.  We spearheaded the bombing campaign in Libya.  Our drones strike suspected enemies far and near.  Troops have been dispatched to central Africa.  And the perennial war drums still beat at the very mention of Iran. 

We have sent our fellow citizens to fight long hard slogs in countries whose names are the very synonym for Quagmire.  As our economy was being outsourced, our debt monetized, and our infrastructure crumbled we meekly followed our leaders deeper into thankless nation-building campaigns in nation after nation including one that’s resisted and foiled every empire from Alexander to Moscow.   

Instead of using our cruise missiles and stealth capabilities we fell into the trap announced and laid by Bin Laden.  Whose strategy was as Lawrence Wright told us in his seminal book Looming Towers to, “lure America into the same trap the Soviets had fallen into: Afghanistan.”  How did he plan to do it?  “To continually attack until the U.S. forces invaded; then the mujahedeen would swarm upon them and bleed them until the entire American empire fell from its wounds. It had happened to Great Britain and to the Soviet Union. He was certain it would happen to America.” 

There were twists and turns on our journey from republic to empire. 

George Washington warned us to avoid foreign entanglements.  Thomas Jefferson outlined the essential principles of our government which included this advice concerning foreign affairs, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations entangling alliances with none.”   

For more than one hundred years we concentrated on using our liberty to build a mighty nation.  Then the temptation of empire captured the American imagination in the 1890s, a time when Europe was rushing to gobble up the last places open for colonization or carving up those areas unsuited for colonies into spheres of influence.  Under President McKinley the United States entered the scramble for colonies in the Spanish-American War winning Puerto Rico and the Philippines 

Teddy Roosevelt followed McKinley walking softly while carrying a big stick in the form of the Great White Fleet and multiple intrusions into the sovereignty of Latin American countries.  After being re-elected on the promise to keep America neutral President Wilson proclaimed America must fight World War I to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.”  An adventure which cost over 300, 000 casualties and which actually expanded the empires of England, France, and Japan.  After the war, the Congress of the United States re-asserted control by rejecting the international entanglements of the League of Nations Treaty returning to the traditional American foreign policy of freedom of trade and freedom of action.   

Under FDR America fought an undeclared naval war against Germany in 1940 and 41 and imposed draconian embargoes against Japan prior to Pearl Harbor.  Once we were attacked we had to defend ourselves.  However, when World War II ended not with the defeat of totalitarianism but instead with the expansion of it in Eastern Europe the guiding light of American foreign policy seems to have been permanently extinguished.  As the British Empire sailed into the sunset we filled the void taking up the role of leader of the West in the Cold War.   For forty-six years we faced the Soviets until they collapsed.  Then instead of coming home we spread our wings even further embracing Eastern Europe promising to send young Americans to fight for Estonia and Slovakia among others, and so the sun never set upon the American Empire. 

Not only is it against the founding principles of America to establish and maintain an empire of far-flung outposts, we cannot afford to be the Policeman of the world.  We cannot afford to build nations for people who don’t want them. How did a peaceful nation of free citizens become the advocate of pre-emptive attack and endless occupation?  How much blood and treasure will we invest in Iraq, and what will be the result?  A Shi’a ally for Iran.  The war in Afghanistan was obviously defensive and retaliatory in nature given the Taliban’s support for Al Qaeda.  But ten years later what’s it all about?  Are we really dedicated to building a modern nation for tribal people who have no sense of nationhood?  Or have we walked into the same trap that brought the Soviets to their knees? 

Currently the United States has armed forces in over 130 countries.  We’re committed to defend most of these countries against aggression.  Where were all these allies on 9-11?  Where are they in Afghanistan?   Why do we have treaties binding us to go to war to defend those who refuse to support us when we’re attacked?  If these policies are counter-productive are there any alternatives? 

Close the foreign bases and bring our troops home.  Station them on the border to protect us from the on-going invasion of illegal immigrants who’re overloading our systems.  We can seal and secure the mountainous border between the Koreas and we can secure our own borders if we have the wisdom and the will.  If we need to project American power use the carrier battle-groups designed for that purpose.  Protect America and rebuild our infrastructure instead of everyone else’s.  When asked what to do with the American Military after World War I Will Rogers said, “Get ’em all home, add to their number, add to their training, then just sit tight with a great feeling of security and just read about foreign wars. That’s the best thing in the world to do with them.”   

If we want to save the Republic we need to lose the empire or we can cling to the empire and lose both. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

Ride to the Sound of the Guns

He graduated with the highest number of demerits and at the bottom of his class. He was the poster child for graduating by the skin of your teeth. Yet he also became the youngest Major General in American History and the man General Sheridan believed did more than any other to win the Civil War. He was a fighting commander whose standing order in combat was, “Ride to the sound of the guns!” Perhaps it flowed from the fact that while at West Point George Armstrong Custer didn’t study very much, that he had only one strategy, and only one tactic. The strategy was victory, and the tactic was charge.

Although our current crop of military leaders are made up of politicians who have learned how to pull the levers and work the system in a way they resemble the always ready for action Custer. They appear to be a one trick pony. Unfortunately that trick is kowtowing to the political leadership telling them exactly what they want to hear when what they need to hear might be the exact opposite.

For a decade between 1979 and 1989 the United States military and Intelligence establishments were intimately involved in supporting the Mujahedeen insurgents of Afghanistan battle against the invading Soviets. We supplied weapons, training, Intel, and logistical support. We had many field operatives, soldiers, and analysts who were deeply conversant with all the nuances of the military and political realities in Afghanistan.

Yet when our leaders decided to invade the country to flush out Al Qaeda and punish the Taliban for sheltering them, military leaders who should have known better presented and approved plans that even a layman could see would lead to a new insurgency against America as the next invaders. These leaders bowed to the dictates of modern America post-Vietnam strategy delivering a campaign with minimum casualties and victory in name not in fact. Instead of using the expert professional American forces needed to produce a real victory they relied on mercenary indigenous warriors who with the help of our firepower pushed the Taliban to the wall and then let them walk out the back door.

What is the result? Ten years later we are still fighting and taking casualties in a war scheduled to end like a bad movie in 2011 or 2014 or…? Having never sealed the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan we are fighting an enemy that can not only melt into the civilian population it can rest and regroup in safe havens attacking our isolated and exposed garrisons almost at will.

Even at this point, after President Obama’s surge, an army of less than two hundred thousand trying to pacify a nation the size of Texas with the most forbidding terrain on the planet isn’t going to work. After the investment of half a trillion dollars and more lives, limbs, and blood this mission teeters on the brink of failure. Our only allies in the country are hopelessly compromised and corrupt characters who have little relevance outside their palaces and little interest beyond funneling our money out of the country for their post-war retirement.

Where are the military leaders with the courage of Custer? Where are the ones who will hazard their career to speak truth to power? If an untutored armchair general with no more information than is commercially available can see that if we don’t seal the border and provide enough troops to hold the territory we capture we will never win why can’t military experts? Where are the generals who demand what they really need to win and ready to resign if they don’t get it? If General Petraeus had done this he would have had a lock on the Republican nomination and the White House in 2012.

What about our fearless media? Where are the nightly counts of the fallen that graced the network newscast when Bush the Younger was in office? Where are the anti-war demonstrators who stood guard outside his Texas ranch and dogged his speeches? Where are the American people? Why is no one asking how can it take more than a decade to train an Afghan army to protect their own country from their own people? In WWII we trained and deployed more than ten million soldiers, sailors and marines. We equipped armies, air forces, and navies and defeated all comers. Now we cannot secure one country in ten years?

I am not saying that after the sneak attack of 9-11 we shouldn’t have responded. We should have immediately devastated our enemies and their allies telling the Taliban if it happened again it would happen again. Al Qaeda had been attacking us for a decade, and we knew exactly where they were. With B-2s and cruise missiles we had the capability to decapitate them without the necessity of boots on the ground. We needed to strike hard and fast. We should have had the political and military leadership to take them out within twenty-four hours. Instead we dithered around until Al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts were dispersed and disappeared. We didn’t do what we should have done and instead did do what we shouldn’t have done producing a decade long occupation in a land that has defeated or outlasted every invader.

How should we have dealt with the on-going threat of Al Qaeda: a non-state enemy? Instead of fighting undeclared wars we should have followed the Constitution and granted Letters of Marque and Reprisal which would have granted compensation and legal authority to private firms or individuals to exact retribution upon the perpetrators of the attack. Such action is not only authorized by the Constitution it is recognized by International Law. Send in the military equivalent of Dog the Bounty Hunter.  Let Blackwater do the job, and see what free enterprise can accomplish.

What we need are military officers with the bravado of Custer. We need military leaders willing to hazard all, even their careers. Officers who are willing to walk into the Oval Office and say we’re fighting the wrong war, the wrong way, in the wrong place, and at the wrong time. We need officers who remember that they have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States not an administration, not a career, and not a pension.

What we need is another Custer. Without one what we may get is another Little Bighorn.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens.

 

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over

The Civil War didn’t end at the First Battle of Bull Run or at the Second for that matter. World War I didn’t end at the First Battle of the Marne or at the Second.  World War II didn’t end at Midway.

After what we now knowingly call Gulf War I we celebrated with ticker-tape parades and fireworks as if we had defeated Hitler, Tojo, and Stalin all wrapped up in one.  Yet a little more than ten years later we had to go back into Iraq to finish the job, and we’re still trying to finish it today.  What should have been an incursion into Afghanistan has lingered on for more than a decade. The sad result of our nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan will end with Iraq as Iran’s most powerful ally and the Taliban back in power in Kabul. 

One persistent question after politically directed wars is, “How do you win every battle and lose a war?”  After sending the brave into Harm’s Way the generalissimos of the home front drag the fighting out by hamstringing the warriors than when war is no longer a vote getter they throw the victory away through peace-at-any-price diplomacy.

I deeply appreciate the heroic scarifies of our troops, and I’m thankful they’ve provided a life of peace and safety for myself and my family.  I celebrate the victories just as I mourn the losses in this long war.  The death of an enemy leader can have momentous impact upon a war.  The death of Attila ended his empire; the death of Hitler would have ended World War II earlier and did end it when it came.  But the death of FDR did not end the war or change the strategy, and the death of Osama Bin Laden will not bring the end to this undeclared war.

The history of irregular warfare didn’t begin with Al-Qaeda.  It didn’t begin with the Viet Cong.  Irregular warfare has existed as long as there has been ill-equipped resistance to far-flung empires.  The United States has battled irregular forces at home and in the far corners of the world since the Indian Wars. We fought irregular forces the first time we faced Islamic terrorists on the shores of Tripoli.  After we conquered the Philippines from Spain we fought irregulars for years finally winning a war the Spanish never could.  We’ve faced irregular forces in Lebanon, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  In some places we’ve prevailed in others we’ve withdrawn.  At times we’ve even used irregular tactics ourselves such as the 3000 volunteers of Merrill’s Marauders who fought behind Japanese lines in Burma during World War II.

A traditional military organization fighting irregular forces is more like trying to herd snakes than nail Jell-o to the wall, it may be hard but it isn’t impossible.  However, the initiative is on the side of the irregulars because they can strike here, there, and everywhere while the regular forces must protect important components of the infrastructure.  Revolutionaries and other disaffected groups using irregular tactics have instinctively followed the advice  of Sun Tzu, “The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”  As the regular forces move into an area the irregulars melt into the population.  The disruptions in the lives of civilians create recruits for the irregulars.  This is the force multiplier of the irregulars.  Every action at suppression brings fresh resources to circumvent future actions.

This will be the inevitable result of the death of Osama Bin Laden.  The immediate aftermath was wild jubilation on the part of a segment of our population, electioneering on the part of the administration, and a gross overestimation of the military significance.  One man does not make a movement and one leader does not encompass the enemy in an irregular war.

This is especially true in the case of Bin Laden and his brain child Al-Qaeda.   This organization is post-modern or perhaps pre-modern in style.  It doesn’t have a pyramid shaped flow-chart.  It doesn’t have a top-down command structure.  In many ways it’s more like a pyramid scheme where every franchise spins off new franchises and they spread out subdividing like amoebas into multiple places and shapes. These autonomous groups and rogue individuals are tied together by beliefs and ideology, united by tactics and strategy but each independent, separated and, anonymous.  No leader knows all the followers and few followers are connected directly to any leader.  These international conspirators are not united by personal contacts or unified by strategic planning; instead they’re forged into an inter-active whole by solidarity of purpose and continuity of world-view.  In such a structure the death of any one person no matter how highly placed or inspirational will not have more than a marginal impact.

As omnipresent and as faceless as the internet and as private and personal as family relations the tenuous filaments of the interlocking terror networks will prove more resilient than expected and more tenuous than imagined.  One man’s life can make a difference in the world, one man’s death rarely does.  Grave yards are filled with indispensable people.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

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