Friday, July 4, 2008

The Declaration of Independence

I have a 4th of July tradition. It's not going to see fireworks (although I have done that). It's not eating barbecue (although I have done that, and will do that again today). My tradition is to actually READ the Declaration of Independence each year.

A few years back, I used to post on a certain message board. I put this quote from the Declaration, and then I asked folks to comment on it - especially the question, is our government "working" for us anymore:

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security"

A few people on the board accused me of being a traitor and calling for armed insurrection against the government (which I did not, nor would I ever advocate). Others said that since we had our independence, and now had a constitution, that particular line in the Declaration no longer mattered.

I have often wondered what Jefferson, Washington and Franklin would think of the state of the Federal Government, and what they'd say about the state of the Republic. A lot think they would be proud of our actions of late. Others aren't so sure. Since I don't know, they are all dead, I can only go by what they said and wrote when they were alive. Most of their writings indicated they were DEEPLY suspicious of centralized power, and were afraid of it accumulating. Others were deeply suspicious of militarism and standing armies and foreign entanglements. Still others were repulsed by an unholy unity of organized religion and the government.

Of course we are continually told 9/11 changed all of those quaint notions of a weak central government. We had to, in the words of the recently deceased Tim Russert "Go Get Em", before they got us. And, of course, since we were a "Christian" nation, it was all a righteous cause we needed to take to combat the evil in the world (meaning all those who don't believe as we do).

Washington is ruled (yes, ruled, not governed) by a specific class of elites, lobbyists and special intersts. I don't believe it is any longer by the people and for the people. I think there are good people up there, but I believe some go to Washington with good intentions and are co-opted by the system (lured by the power and riches). Others, like Congressman Ron Paul are trying hard, but are swimming upstream.

In asking the questions how our government is working, you have to wonder about the huge outlays of money (the most recent installment of $162 BILLION, almost all of it borrowed, thus mortgaging the future of our country) for continuation of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And recently the revelation of an authorised $400 million for covert operations against Iran (many thinking that it being a preparation for ACTUAL military action). They are spending obscene amounts of money which we don't have.

Meanwhile, our economy at home is hemorrhaging deeply. Many analysts believe that rumors of more war in the gulf against Iran add $40 to $50 dollars per barrel in risk assessment. In the event of an actual war, most analysts now won't even guess at what the price of oil will be. $200? $300? $400? Our infrastructure is crumbling. Many Americans are out of work. Many Americans can't get basic access to health care. This doesn't even consider the horrible misery caused in places OTHER than America due to rising petroleum and food costs.

When pointing out these discrepancies that the money we are spending for war could be used elsewhere, Americans are basically told to shut up and not question. It is traitorous to question. And, oh, by the way to give Americans access to health care and to help them out here at home would be Socialism. We are told that they should get a job so they can get all that stuff for themselves, and that personal responsibility would solve all the problems.

Never mind, a lot of them are working and still falling further behind. Never mind that a lot of people - good hard working people who obey the rules and have faith in the system - in the months and years to come will simply be swallowed up and will not be able to survive without assistance.

What then, am I thinking on this Fourth of July? A few days ago, I wrote about 6 points regarding freedom from fear of war. I think I shall consider those my personal "Declaration of Independence".

I see signs of hubris and arrogance where there is no evidence that we are in a position to be arrogant. We need to wake the hell up before it's too late.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It continues to amaze me

Lately, there is a lot of talk about an attack on Iran to stop their nuclear program, and their work on nuclear weapons (never mind that the administration has chosen to ignore the NIE which says that Iran is not working on nuclear weapons, and has not been for some time - they choose to believe Israeli "intelligence" or their own, which says that Tehran is only a few years from the bomb).

Hmmmm. Where have we been burned by bad, fabricated intelligence before?

The talk of late has been about Israel attacking Iran (although it is known that US decision makers are dabbling in the idea despite their weak protestations. Most certainly, we will be drawn in anyway, giving us the excuse of having to "defend ourselves"). Most believe that an Israeli attack would not stop the Iranian nuclear program in any way, shape or form - at the very best case, it would only delay it a few years. Most believe that it would be devastating to the world economy.

Where there is great difference is what an attack on Iran would mean, and what would the response be.

Many of those advocating an attack have written that Iran doesn't have the ability to mount any kind of resistance, and the attack would be met with very little resistance. They want you to believe that it would be a "cakewalk".

What amazes me is that people continue to pay any attention to Kristol, Bolton, etc. They have been so wrong, for so long on virtually everything they've said on Afghanistan, Iraq. Why any American would believe them now is as mystifying as anything has ever been to me.

Let's review a little history.

A quick "victory" against the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is what the administration touted. Others said that the Taliban was only stopping the war for a season. Regrouping. Many felt that they would defend Afghanistan, and that Afghanistan was very important psychologically.
Afghanistan is psychologically important because of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Well, a few years have gone by and Afghanistan is as hot as ever (not to mention being a major source for the flow of illegal drugs into the United States) - casualties even eclipsing the casualties in Iraq.

After the quick "defeat" of the Taliban. The Administration moved on to Iraq (never mind that they quit looking for Osama bin Laden, the guy who actually attacked us on 9/11. Never mind that they again left Afghanistan in the lurch as they had done 20 years before when the Soviets left, creating the climate of civil war and anarchy that enabled the Taliban to come to power).

The things they were wrong about in Iraq have been well documented. A few worth remembering is their prediction of the shortness of the war, the President declaring Mission Accomplished, no weapons of mass destruction or any evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program, an insurgency that was unexpected (although it was expected by some. The rag tag insurgencies both in Afghanistan and Iraq have fought the worlds finest Army, essentially to a draw - and the question is really pondered, what could the Iranians do?). The list literally goes on and on.

What's interesting is that after it all, they try to go back and rewrite history - like they expected it all to go down the way it did. Unfortunately, there is that pesky historical record of what they said and how they voted.

So now we come to Iran. The NIE says no nuclear program. Well, the administration of course knows better. They have their own "intelligence". There IS a nuclear program. And the Iranians ARE building a bomb. It exists because we say it exists. Like connecting Saddam to 9/11 and continually saying he had weapons of mass destruction (despite inspection evidence to the contrary), they seem to think if you say it enough it becomes truth.

Then there is the speculation on the Iranian response to an attack. Bill Lind (every American should read Bill Lind has said that an attack on Iran could literally lead to the loss of the Army in Iraq. How that could happen is well explained by Mr. Lind in his "On War" columns.

Today, the US Navy said that no matter what, the Persian Gulf would be kept open. Of course a lot of Americans believe that the Navy is entirely capable of this. What could a bunch of Iranians in little speed boats do to us (sort of along the same lines as what could 19 guys with box cutters do to the mighty US of A). Americans should read about a man named General Van Riper and a war game called Millennium Challenge 2002. This is certainly one avenue available to the Iranians.

All of the other empires in history (and yes, I know. We are not an "empire". Right) have had these cataclysmic, empire changing, or ending events. Usually this occurs when the hubris and arrogance has gotten to the point where the empire thinks itself completely invincible.

I see signs in the government, in the media and in the people, that we are there, or getting close.

Up till now, our entanglements in the war on terror have been much worse than predicted (but apparently not bad enough to give most Americans pause and question what is being done in their name). 4000+ dead Americans (and an untold number of Iraqi's) tells us this is true.

We haven't yet had that cataclysmic, empire changing (or ending) event. But, just because it hasn't happened to us, doesn't mean that it isn't possible. It could happen with any foreign policy misadventure the administration decides to take.

I PERSONALLY believe that an attack on Iran will happen. I have believed it for a long time (just as I have always believe that Saddam's fate was sealed on 9/12/01 if not sooner, despite the Administration's claims they wanted to solve the Iraq problem diplomatically - DOES THAT SOUND FAMILIAR??????) I also believe that no amount of debate or protest will stop it. The media and Congress are compliant co-conspirators in any attack on Iran because they have FAILED to critically ask the questions (and in certain cases they have voted on bills to make it easier to justify an attack). Just like most of them FAILED to ask the questions in the run up to the Iraq war (not that it would have made a difference there either).

What can you do. You just pray, write, talk about peace and hope for the best. You hope you are being paranoid about the things that the Bill Lind's and the General Van Riper's are saying (although you suspect that at some point, our luck is REALLY going to run out).

This gang is going to do what they want to do regardless of the will of the people.