Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama: Lays down case against McCain

Among the pantheon of great conservative/Republican men and women there is one person who still garners the respect of most Americans, that's Colin Powell. To say that the man has "gravitas" is as obvious as saying that water is wet. Inspite of his role in bringing forward the case for the Iraq War, the level of respect he has been afforded by liberal America is unprecedented. This strange contradiction is due to the fact, as reported extensively by administration insiders, that as Secretary of State, Powell engaged in a vehement one man campaign inside the White House to restrain the Bush Administration. His resignation from the post in 2005 was however the only public sign of disagreement with Bush and his neoconservative cadre.

Since, his voice has been peculiarly absent from the growing critical chorus against Bush as his military sense of loyalty has bound him to the Bush Administration. Others who have left the administration over the years have nevertheless written much on the topic and have thus given voice to a man who to this day will not speak ill of the Bush administration, but whose opposition to the Bush doctrine has only been matched by his loyalty.

Today, Colin Powell broke his silence and spoke before the national television audience of NBC's Meet the Press giving an unambigous endorsement for Senator Barack Obama while equally denouncing Senator John McCain's campaign and personal judgment. While he does not go after his former boss in the White House, Powell nevertheless gives the impression of a man whose consciousness and intellect forbid him to follow the party line any longer.

Here it is in his own words:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bush Policy: Aid to Cuba Depends on Politics

On Friday October 10, President Bush met with leaders of the Cuban American community in Coral Gables, Florida to discuss his the Bush Administration's response to Hurricane Ike in Cuba. In the process Bush made a few remarks that are, at the very least, interesting for their hypocrisy.

As part of his remarks Bush said:
"You know, recently Ike hit Cuba very hard and all Americans, whether they be Cuban Americans or otherwise, grieve deeply about the damage done to the average Cuban citizen. And so my government, under the leadership of Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, offered aid from the United States to the Cuban people. But that aid was rejected by the Castros, which should tell the people of Cuba and the people around the world that the Castro people are only interested in themselves and their power, and not to the benefit and welfare of the Cuban people."

First of all lets address the hypocrisy in this here statement. According to Bush, the denial of American aid is proof of Raul and Fidel Castro's selfishness and indifference towards the people of Cuba. If that logic is correct then we can only assume that back in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and FEMA was nowhere to be found, that Bush's decision to reject Cuban medical aid was similarly selfish and proof of Bush's own indifference towards the people of New Orleans. After all, the US seemed utterly incapable of managing the situation and while people drowned, Cuba had a ship with 500 medically trained personnel ready for deployment offered to the US without preconditions. An offer rejected by the Bush Administration.

So either Bush and Castro are equally heartless towards their people or they both placed national security concerns above the immediate crisis. Either logic can be applied, but only hypocrisy leads you to assign logic to one but not the other.

In other remarks Bush hints at something more important from his point of view:
"You know, our government has been very clear about our strategy, and that is, is that we will change the embargo strategy only when the government of Cuba lets the people of Cuba express themselves freely. We will change our policy when the people running Cuba free people of conscience from the prisons. But until then we won't change, because our message is to the Cuban people, you're being repressed by a handful of elites that are holding back your great potential. And we will not put policies in place that allow them to benefit personally at the expense of the Cuban people."

Here he is referring to an issue that has been at the forefront of Cuban American issues, while being careful not to betray the image of the US for American voters while equally addressing the complaints of the group. What is he referring to?

Immediately after Hurricane Ike hit Cuba, the Cuban American community sprang into action amassing aid packages for the people of Cuba. Everything from clothing to building supplies and food were carefully collected and prepared for shipment to the island. This was however a futile effort as the Bush administration moved to block all aid from Cuban Americans to Cubans in the island. This is the policy Bush is referring to when he speaks about not changing the Administration's Cuban Policy which has limited the ability of Cubans to communicate and send money or aid to the island nation.

In short what Bush was saying to this group of Cuban Americans is that 1) despite the crisis in Cuba, American foreign policy is more important than the people's welfare, 2) that aid can only be sent to Cuba by the hand of the American Government or its agents in the island, 3) that change to this policy as well as others will only come once Cuba accepts American preconditions.

It is true that Cuba rejected aid, aid from the American government that is, not aid in general. In fact, not only did Cuba appeal to the US government to allow the Cuban American community to send aid, but it asked the international community as well. In all Cuba has thus far received over 2,500 tons of relief from 230 international relief aid shipments worth 17 million dollars out of the 478 offers worth 51 million dollars.

Cuba asked for aid, the Cuban American Community responded admirable, the International Community responded as well, however it was the United States, Bush's Administration specifically, which turned this crisis into a political volleyball by offering aid only if it came under the name of "USAID". Now Bush takes a victory lap in Cuban neighborhoods while playing to the well-worn ears of the Cuban American elite in Miami who seem at times more interested in a photo-op with Bush than calling him out for his hypocrisy against their own brethren.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Case for Disbanding NATO

As a collective security agreement, NATO is dead.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was first organized to counter the threat (whether real or imagined) of an expansionist Soviet Union. Seventeen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union however, NATO still exists and far from providing collective security it now serves as a tool of American expansionism.

If the NATO treaty is to be interpreted as it has historically been presented whereby NATO allies are required to act in the defense of any other ally, then the foreign relations of the United States present an ever growing threat to the peace and security of European nations. While it is undeniable that NATO did serve its purpose, NATO has transformed Europe into a buffer zone for the protection of the United States.

European security experts in whole must be considering already the threat posed by American diplomatic recklessness. After all, if the United States is going to continue with a foreign policy that has it provoking war against Russia, igniting conflict in Pakistan, threatening Iran, stoking Venezuela, interfering in Bolivia, and unilaterally invading two countries, Europe must reassess its membership in this organization for its own good.

Surely it did not escape the attention of those in the know that the United States has repeatedly shown an utter disregard for the founding principles of NATO cooperative arrangement. Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is the most clear example which states:
"The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

In just those two lines I have bolded we find Iraq and Iran respectively. If the goal is that “peace and security and justice” be preserved, the United States has made a joke of this document’s original intentions. Surely, any such action by any European nation would have immediately been visited by anger from its members, but the way in which the U.S. carries itself across sovereign lines and against United Nations resolutions has only been met by a deafening silence from the European Community.

Lets be clear, any treaty which endangers the territorial peace of Europe and binds European armed forces to an American command and American foreign interest policy, is an ill-conceived treaty.

Currently NATO Allies are playing a game of chicken against Russia. Would any one of these nations other than the United States, really believe that they would be in the same situation otherwise. Russia can be a bully, but it’s an honest bully. You know when Russia is bullying you, I’m afraid however that Europe has lost the ability to tell when the U.S. bullies them.

Take the installation of the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The U.S. claims these are meant to deter an Iranian attack against Europe, which is simply nonsense. Anti-Iranian missile facilities should be in Turkey, not Eastern Europe. The placement of these has been widely derided as an anti-Russian defense, but Europe has remained silent on the issue tacitly approving it all the while making themselves a target should US-Russian relations break down into war.

Meanwhile, the US has actively pushed for the addition of Georgia and Ukraine as full members of the NATO Alliance, a decision which will be NATO’s last. Ukraine, a nuclear power is too close for the comfort of Russia. Despite Russian protests the United States is intent on moving forward. Nevermind that the US would not tolerate a similar move by Russia in the Western Hemisphere, nevermind that the US promised not to expand NATO or that both Ukraine and Georgia are only nominal democracies. Europe remains silent as the continent bows down to America’s most aggressive foreign policy since its invasion of Mexico in 1846.

NATO as an American strategy surely served to benefit Europe when it was most needed. Now that strategy simply ensures that the only viable opposition to the US is dressed up as a threat to all European nations.

Europe must remove itself from NATO and reorganize itself as a third-party military alliance. European security and peace will only be ensured by European military independence. Let NATO die, before it kills us all.

Richard Trumka: We can't sit silent or look the other way

AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka speaking at the united Steelworkers convention in July of this year. This is an excerpt of the speech. This is a call to arms for all workers who as he says "can't stay silent or look the other way".