Tag Archives: war

Errors and Lies

by Paul Krugman, New York Times, 5/18/15

Surprise! It turns out that there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago.

But many influential people — not just Mr. Bush — would prefer that we not have that discussion. There’s a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

Well, let’s not — because that’s a false narrative, and everyone who was involved in the debate over the war knows that it’s false. The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time….

continue reading at New York Times

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Filed under Iraq, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War

War authority–why and for what?

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, March 2, 2015

I can’t find online my letter published in the Daily Local News a week or so ago. So let’s put it in the blog.

This letter builds on my thinking in “Responsibility in the country, responsibility in the world” (August 10, 2014), beginning: “How is President Obama like the United States? Answer: both get blamed whatever they do.”

In my view, if one has to be blamed, it is better to be blamed for not killing people than for killing them.

Of course I’m not in favor of ISIS killing people either, destroying whole societies, breaking up historical works of art, and terrorizing the Middle East. The question is: who is going to deal with them? …

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester

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Filed under Iran, Nathaniel Smith

“What did thousands of dead Americans get us?” Before granting war powers, let’s see where the last two got us

by Robert Hennelly, Salon.com Feb 22, 2015

As we plan another war, it’s time to ask: Just what kind of real-world results has our war machine produced so far?

President Obama’s new National Security Strategy and his move to extend his war powers to fight ISIL reflect the challenge of keeping alive the image of the United States as a guarantor of global stability as failed states proliferate and refugee populations swell.

While the administration projects the air of “no drama” inner serenity, the 24-7 news cycle streams video of a rising tide of bloody sectarian violence on the march from Africa, through the Mideast and into Eastern Europe. Last week the president’s proposed budget tipped his hand, in that even though he says he has brought home over 90 percent of the ground troops from the Iraq-Afghanistan theater, there was no peace dividend in the proposed FY2016 spending plan.

The president’s freshly minted National Security Strategy is first and foremost self-congratulatory and disconnected from reality. It reads like what could be the introduction to a sequel to the president’s “The Audacity of Hope,” which he could title “I Did My Best Under the Circumstances.”

“Globally, we have moved beyond the large ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that defined so much of American foreign policy over the past decade. Compared to the nearly 180,000 troops we had in Iraq and Afghanistan when I took office we now have fewer than 15,000 deployed in those countries,” the president writes. “We possess a military whose might, technology and geostrategic reach is unrivaled in human history.”

And so, the inference is those ground wars are over because, well, we say they are. Yet now, as the Times reports, the president has a new and improved kind of war he’s selling. Now might be the time to pause and ask just what kind of practical real-world results has our unparalleled military machine produced so far?

All the Beltway reporting about the prospects of new war powers for the president focus on the parlor politics of whether he can get it through Congress, not on the efficacy of his strategy. Funny, how we insist on results-based assessments on everything else but lose all reason when we hear the battle bugles blare…

continue reading at Salon.com

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Hoping Mr. Costello is inspired by Gen. Butler

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 1/14/15

I was happy to have a letter in the Daily Local News on 1/9/15.

Ryan Costello, is the just-elected member of the US House of Representatives for PA district 6. Michael P. Rellahan’s article “Ryan Costello set to take seat in 114th Congress” in the 1/3/15 Daily Local started out:

The politicians from West Chester who have served as U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District hold remarkable and sometimes colorful biographical histories.

Like the private in the U.S. Army during the Civil War (Smedley Darlington, who served from 1887-1891) and grew to be a banker and the eventual grandfather of a military man known as the “Fighting Quaker.” Or the businessman who began his career (William Everhart, 1853-1855) in Congress 30 years after surviving the sinking of the ship Albion off the coast or Ireland.

Or the war veteran (John Hickman, 1855-1863) who led the impeachment hearing of a federal judge from Tennessee in the 1860s; and the Everhart scion (James Bowen Everhart 1883-1887) who supplemented his work as a Harvard-educated attorney by publishing works of poetry, notably “The Fox Chase….”

Yes, Costello joins a distinguished and varied roster. Time will tell whether he will be serving the public or his party.

I felt called on to react after Mr. Rellahan mentioned Smedley Darlington Butler….

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester

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Filed under Nathaniel Smith, Peace, War