Obama’s war plans

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 Senator Obama speech

photo by radiospike

Hat Tip: Dan Balz, Washington Post

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama today pledged an aggressive war against Islamic extremists, calling for the deployment of at least 7,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to combat the growing Taliban influence and promising to order U.S. forces into Pakistan if necessary to seek out and kill known terrorists.

“When I am president, we will wage a war that has to be won,” Obama told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. He added, “I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to the United States.”

Obama’s speech represented the most comprehensive outline of his approach to Islamic terrorism. He said ending the war in Iraq is crucial to success in the broader struggle against terrorism.

“The terrorists are at war with us,” he said. “The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, but the threat is real.”

The Illinois senator offered a biting critique of President Bush’s foreign policy decisions after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, while seeking to reassure Americans that his long-stated opposition to the war in Iraq would not make him hesitant to vigorously pursue extremists who threaten the United States.

He repeated a pledge to double U.S. foreign aid to $50 billion, provide $2 billion to combat the influence of Islamic madrassas and launch a more ambitious public diplomacy initiative that he said he would personally lead. He also called for additional steps to protect the homeland from possible attack.

Obama said that, as president, he would make U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional on the success of President Pervez Musharraf’s efforts to shut down terrorist training camps and prevent the Taliban from using the nation’s territory as a staging ground.

“Let me make this clear,” Obama said. “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again . . . If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

Bush, he said, squandered national and international unity in a reckless war in Iraq that has compromised American values, undermined U.S. influence and left the country less secure.

“Because of a war in Iraq that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged, we are now less safe than we were before 9/11,” Obama said.

He also took a thinly veiled swipe at his principal rival for the Democratic nomination, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with sharp words of criticism for the Congress, which he said had “rubber-stamped the rush to war” in 2002. “Congress became a co-author of a catastrophic war,” he said.”

Clinton, who voted for the Iraq war resolution, last week had described Obama’s willingness to meet with leaders of rogue nations without pre-conditions as “irresponsible and frankly naive.” That sparked a days-long argument between the two about diplomacy and the presidency.

In his speech today, Obama said the “lesson of the Bush years is that not talking [to hostile nations] does not work,” and signaled his desire to take a different approach.

“It’s time to turn the page on Washington’s conventional wisdom that agreement must be reached before you meet, that talking to other countries is some kind of reward and that presidents can only meet with people who will tell them what they want to hear,” he said.

Obama accused the Bush administration of undermining American values and said that if he becomes president, “we will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers and that justice is not arbitrary.”

He said he would prohibit torture “without exception,” assure that any intelligence gathering adheres to the letter of the law and close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama said he would end the Iraq war as president if Bush has not done so by the end of his second term. That, he said, would free up resources for fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. He pledged at least two additional brigades for the effort there and said he favored sending the Afghan government an additional $1 billion in non-military aid.

Cindy Sheehan arrested in capitol protest

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Hat tip: WASHINGTON (AP) — Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested Monday at the Capitol for disorderly conduct, shortly after saying she would run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the California Democrat’s refusal to try to impeach President Bush.

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Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan says “Impeachment is not a fringe movement.”

Sheehan was taken into custody inside Rep. John Conyers’ office, where she had spent an hour imploring him to launch impeachment proceedings against Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Conyers, D-Michigan, chairs the House Judiciary Committee, where any impeachment effort would have to begin.

“The Democrats will not hold this administration accountable, so we have to hold the Democrats accountable,” Sheehan said outside Conyers’ office after the meeting. “And I for one am going to step up to the plate and run against Nancy Pelosi.”

Sheehan and about 200 other protesters had walked to Conyers’ office from Arlington National Cemetery. She said Conyers told her there weren’t enough votes for impeachment to move forward on the issue.

Forty-five of Sheehan’s fellow protesters also were arrested. Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said that after they are processed, the arrested activists could each pay a $50 fine to be released.

“Impeachment is not a fringe movement, it is mandated in our Constitution. Nancy Pelosi had no authority to take it off the table,” Sheehan told her group of orange-clad activists before they began their march from the national cemetery.

Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, has been saying for two weeks that she would seek to oust Pelosi from office by running against her as an independent in her San Francisco district if Pelosi didn’t change her mind by July 23 on trying to impeach Bush.

Conyers introduced a bill last term calling on Congress to determine whether there are grounds for impeaching Bush. Pelosi has steadfastly dismissed any talk of impeachment, saying Democrats should focus their efforts on ending the war in Iraq.

Obama’s political expediency is showing

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Hat Tip: By Philip Elliott, Associated Press

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.

“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq.

“Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis,” Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. “There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.”

The greater risk is staying in Iraq, Obama said.

“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnate for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

The senator has been a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, speaking out against it even before he was elected to his post in 2004. He was among the senators who tried unsuccessfully earlier this week to force President Bush’s hand and begin to limit the role of U.S. forces there.

“We have not lost a military battle in Iraq. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they’re asking the wrong question,” he said. “We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade.”

Obama said the answer to Iraq — and other civil conflicts — lies in diplomacy.

“When you have civil conflict like this, military efforts and protective forces can play an important role, especially if they’re under an international mandate as opposed to simply a U.S. mandate. But you can’t solve the underlying problem at the end of a barrel of a gun,” he said. “There’s got to be a deliberate and constant diplomatic effort to get the various factions to recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.”

The Republican National Committee accused Obama of changing his position on the war.

“Barack Obama can’t seem to make up his mind,” said Amber Wilkerson, an RNC spokeswoman. “First he says that a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be ‘a slap in the face’ to the troops, and then he votes to cut funding for our soldiers who are still in harm’s way. Americans are looking for principled leadership — not a rookie politician who is pandering to the left wing of his party in an attempt to win an election.”

An opponent of the death penalty, Obama said he would make an exception for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”

Activist Cindy Sheehan to Challenge Speaker Pelosi

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HAT TIP: Associated Press, Washington Post

CRAWFORD, Tex., July 8 — Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan said Sunday that she plans to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unless Pelosi introduces articles of impeachment against President Bush in the next two weeks.

Sheehan’s deadline, July 23, is the same day she and her supporters are to arrive in Washington after a 13-day caravan and walking tour departing from the group’s war protest site near Bush’s Crawford ranch.

Sheehan said she lives in a suburb of Sacramento but declined to disclose the city, citing safety reasons. She added that she would run against Pelosi in 2008 as an independent and “would give her a run for her money.”

“Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership,” Sheehan said. “We hired them to bring an end to the war.”

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said the congresswoman has said repeatedly that her focus is on ending the war in Iraq.

“She believes that the best way to support our troops in Iraq is to bring them home safely and soon,” Daly said in an e-mail.

Sheehan first came to Crawford in August 2005 during a Bush vacation, demanding to talk to the president about the Iraq war, in which her son Casey was killed in 2004. She became the face of the antiwar movement during her 26-day roadside vigil, which was joined by thousands.

The CBC 6 who betrayed the black consensus on Iraq

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Six members of the Congressional Black Caucus have betrayed the black consensus on Iraq and voted tonight to endorse Dubya’s blank check for a continued imperial crusade in Iraq.

They are Rep. Sanford Bishop-D GA, Rep. G.K. Butterfield-D. N.C.,  Rep. Jim Clyburn -D. S.C., Rep. Kendrick Meek-D-FL,  Rep. David Scott-D Ga, Rep. Bennie Thompson D-MS. 

Can someone explain this to me?  Is there a delusional chorus of Negroes somewhere clamoring for a continuation of a war-without-end in Iraq?  Please tell me that there is some organized grassroots effort in the black community in rural Mississippi hollering, weeping and wailing for the Iraq War to continue so that they may continue to be neglected and forgotten by the white power structure.

Please tell me that as we mourn and funeralize the daughter of a King, these six have not chosen to willfully desecrate the King family legacy by voting for this Iraqi attrocity and war crime against humanity.  Please tell me that they suffered some kind of mental breakdown that could explain this.

SOMEBODY, ANYBODY, PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND THIS!

Was Dr. King not clear when he wrote, “Before it is too late, we must narrow the gaping chasm between  our proclamations of peace and our lowly deeds which precipitate and perpetuate war. We are called upon to look up from the quagmire of miltary programs and defense commitments and read the warnings on history’s signposts. 

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must persue peaceful ends through peaceful means. How much longer must we play at deadly war games before we heed the plaintive pleas of the unnumbered dead and maimed of past wars?”

It is getting to the point where all of the accumulated knowlege and suffering of generations of our people is rendered useless by the persistent and baffling shuffling of a few powerful elected handkerchief heads who refuse to see reason and commonsense.   All of these men have been around long enough to have experienced a taste of Uncle Sam’s tyranny. 

I am truly undone by this brazen act of contempt.   The only question that remains for me is whether or not “the Safe Negro,” Barack Obama, will man-up and vote No.

Vilsack chides Obama on Iraq

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Barack Obama

ABCNEWS POLITICAL RADAR

February 16, 2007

ABC News’ Teddy Davis Reports: Sen. Barack Obama’s, D-Ill., “out by March of ’08” Iraq war position came under criticism Thursday from a Democratic presidential rival who argued that Congress has a “moral responsibility” to immediately cut off funding for U.S. fighting.

Congress has a responsibility to get the U.S. out of Iraq, said former Gov. Tom Vilsack, D-Iowa, “not in March of 2008 — but now.”

Vilsack said that if Congress does not immediately act to cut off funding, the Bush administration will send more troops to Iraq and more Americans will risk dying.

Obama has introduced legislation in the Senate which sets the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by Mar. 31, 2008.

After his Chicago homecoming rally was disrupted earlier this week by protestors holding a sign that read “cut the funding,” Obama said: “We need to bring this war to an end but we need to do it in a way that makes our troops safe.”

DNC Winter Meeting: Hillary’s Resistance is Futile tour

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On yet another stop in her Resistance is Futile tour, Hillary Clinton,  the Borq Queen that reigns supreme as the Democratic front-runner, addressed the DNC Winter Meeting in her imperial style claiming to be entering into a conversation with the American people.  She gave a brief peroration to “Middle Class” America and lectured the assemblage about the practical realities of navigating a political system rigged to benefit wealth, privilege, and the fascist corporate interests to which every pretender to the presidential throne must pledge allegiance.

She used that reality as an excuse to support one of the toothless non-binding Iraq War resolutions.  She claimed to “want to go further” and cap troop levels.  She threatened the Iraqi government with sanctions for not shaping up and made the extraordinarily unbelievable claim that had she been President in 2002, “I would not have started this war” and further that if not ended by 2009, she would end the war in Iraq immediately as President.  Very interesting, considering the comments she made the night before to  AIPAC  regarding the so-called Iranian nuclear threat by saying ”We need to use every tool at our disposal, including diplomatic and economic in addition to the threat and use of military force.”

The Borg Queen is good.  She executed a perfect fascist pirouette by assuring the American people that she would swiftly end the war in Iraq if elected President and covertly start another in Iran on behalf of the same neocons who dreamed up the current quagmire.  She did it without raising a fuss and starting a media firestorm because the corporate media does not serve the public interest. 

Perfect in her political pitch, she smoothed over the hurt feelings of Howard Dean caused by her minion James Carville and thanked Dean and the DNC for their efforts to win back both houses of Congress.  She tipped her hat towards Nancy Pelosi, universal health care, ending genocide in Darfur, and castigated No-Child-Left-Behind.  She mentioned “fighting for” children, women, families and New York on 9/11.  

She spoke of the “fatalism” in political discourse about combating global climate change, “If we try to deal with global climate change we’ll wreck the economy-I reject that,” in a transparent sop to Al Gore to keep him out of this race. She then underscored her electability and told the DNC that “I know a thing or two about winning campaigns.”  She pledged to “fight back” and defeat the enemy because “I know how they think and how they act.”

Of course she does, because in reality, she is the enemy she claims to be fighting.

Obama introduces Iraq troop redeployment bill

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“Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war,” Obama said. “That’s why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence.”

Olbermann slaps down Dubya’s troop surge

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“Only this president, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic, certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq by offering instead an entrance strategy for Iran.  Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me, only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake in Iran.” 

“Only this president could extol the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and then take it‘s most far sighted recommendation, engage Syria and Iran, and transform it into threaten Syria and Iran, when al Qaeda would like nothing better than for us to threaten to Syria, and when President Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.” 

“This is diplomacy by skimming.  It is internationalism by drawing pictures of superman in the margins of the textbooks.  It is a presidency of Cliff Notes.  And to Iran and Syria, and yes, also to the insurgents in the Iraq, we must look like a country run by the equivalent of the drunken pest, who gets battered to the floor of the saloon by one punch, then staggers to his feet and shouts at the other guy‘s friends, OK, which one of you is next?” 

“Mr. Bush, the question is no longer what are you thinking, but rather, are you thinking at all?  …You, sir, have become the president that cried wolf.  All that you say about Iraq now could be gospel.  All that you say about Iran and Syria now could be prescient and essential.  We no longer have a clue, sir.  We heard too many stories.  Many of us are as inclined to believe you just shuffled the director of national intelligence over to the State Department because he thought you were wrong about Iran.  Many of us are as inclined to believe you just put a pilot in charge of the grounds wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because he would be truly useful in an air war next door in Iran.” 

“Your assurances, sir, and your demands that we trust you, have lost all shape and texture.  They are now merely fertilizer for conspiracy theories.  They are now fertilizer indeed.  The pile has been built slowly and with seeming care.  I read this list last night before the president‘s speech, and it bears repetition, because its shape and texture are perceptible only in such a context.” 

“Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said nation building was wrong for America.  Now he says it is vital.  He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control.  Last night he promised to embed them in Iraqi units.  He told us about WMD, mobile labs, secret sources, aluminum tubes, yellow cake.  He has told us the war in necessary because Saddam was a material threat, because of 9/11, because of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, terrorism in general, to liberate Iraq, to spread freedom, to spread democracy, to prevent terrorism by gas price increases, because this was a guy who tried to kill his dad, because 439 words into that speech last night he trotted out 9/11 again.”

Damn, Keith, I almost feel like I need to help Dubya find the shattered pieces of his face you sent crashing to the floor.  Another example of why Keith Olbermann is the real “King of All Media.”

Secretary Jemima defends Bush surge plan before Congress

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Condi Whitey

Svelte, stylish, and perfectly coiffured, Condoleezza Rice came up to the Capitol to face the music in front of the Senate as Dubya’s dutiful right-wing stromtrooper and foreign minstrel. She has perfected the act of keeping calm under fire with a horrifying stepford wife precision.

Yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing featuring the Secretary of State and Aunt Jemima impersonator, was a coming out party for GOP Senators that had stopped imbibing the Administration Kool-Aid regarding Iraq.  GOP Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was most vociferous by saying “I think the speech given last night by this President represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”

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Not to be outdone in the fashionable fury department, GOP Senator George Voinovich of Ohio told Secretary Jemima “I send letters out to families and tell them about how brave their sons were and that the work they’re doing there and the deaths were as important as what we had in the Second World War, but I have to rewrite the letter today.”

Secretary Jemima was left defenseless because her opening statement of passionless state-department-speak didn’t mollify anyone’s concerns or clarify a damn thing.  “As I come before you today, America faces a crucial moment. We all know that the stakes in Iraq are enormous. And we share a belief that the situation in Iraq is unacceptable. On this we are united.” 

Ineptly, the whole opening statement places the emphasis on the incompetent and divided Iraqi government to live up to its own rhetoric to quell the violence while U.S. forces play a secondary support function. “The new way forward President Bush outlined last night requires us to do things differently. Most Importantly, the Iraqis have devised their own strategy, and our efforts will support theirs.”

The rest is nothing more than the same old boilerplate we’ve heard before, dressed up as something new.  The tough talk about Iraqi benchmarks is just that-talk.  Its just more White House spin concocted to save face in light of the quaqmire we’re sinking in.

Her obvious lies and general fatuousness makes Barack Obama’s vote for her confirmation all the more galling.  I don’t really know what is worse, watching Condi Rice lie, or listening to a ponderous blowhard like Committee Chairman Joe Biden, an Iraq war supporter, shamelessly campaign for President?

Kennedy introduces bill to kill Bush surge plan

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Our old warrior, Teddy Kennedy has suited up, manned up, and introduced legislation to stop the ignorant patrician’s attempt to escalate the war in Vietraq.

“The President is Commander-in-Chief, but in our democracy he is still accountable to the people. Our system of checks and balances gives Congress – as the elected representatives of the people – a central role in decisions on war and peace.”

“Today, therefore, I am introducing legislation to reclaim the rightful role of Congress and the people’s right to a full voice in the President’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts will introduce similar legislation in the House of Representatives. Our bill will say that no additional troops can be sent and no additional dollars can be spent on such an escalation, unless and until Congress approves the President’s plan. Our proposal is a straightforward exercise of the power granted to Congress by Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. There can be no doubt that the Constitution gives Congress the authority to decide whether to fund military action. And Congress can demand a justification from the President for such action before it appropriates the funds to carry it out.”

“This bill will give all Americans – from Maine to Florida to California to Alaska and Hawaii – an opportunity to hold the President accountable for his actions. The President’s speech must be the beginning – not the end – of a new national discussion of our policy in Iraq. Congress must have a genuine debate over the wisdom of the President’s plan. Let us hear the arguments for it and against it. Then let us vote on it in the light of day. Let the American people hear – yes or no – where their elected representatives stand on one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Call your Senators and Congressperson and tell them to show Senator Kennedy’s bill some love.