A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall (by Philip Giraldi)

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2010/11/03/a-hard-rains-gonna-fall/

Posted By Philip Giraldi On November 3, 2010 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized |

Numerous commentators have noted the complete lack of any debate over foreign policy in the run up to congressional midterm elections, a curious omission for a country that is at war in at least two places overseas with prospects for more. Ironically, the lack of any discussion comes at a time when most Americans are weary of Afghanistan and no longer support the war effort.  Many observers would attribute the lack of any expressed concern over the issue of war vs. peace to a unanimity on the part of both Republicans and Democrats over the necessity to continue to wage the so-called “long war” against international terrorism.  That the struggle itself is based on a number of false premises and the tactics are questionable and even counterproductive does not appear to bother America’s Solons, who are first and foremost focused on getting reelected and are willing to say or not say whatever it takes to further than objective.

Tuesday’s Republican conquest of the House of Representatives might serve as a welcome rebuke for President Barack Obama if only the GOP were genuinely concerned with constitutionalism, the rule of law, and small government.  But they are not, and the downside is that the change in the dominant party in the legislature might well lead to an unmitigated disaster in foreign policy.  It has often been noted that the Democrats under Obama have largely embraced the Wilsonian policies of his predecessor, but it has been easy to forget that there is nevertheless a strong anti-war strain within the party, exemplified by the 102 “no” votes over the July 2010 war supplement funding bill for fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. When one considers that the White House lobbied heavily and sometimes threateningly to pass the measure and had to rely on Republican support to do so, it has to be conceded that a large bloc of Democrats is very uncomfortable with the Obama war policy. There is no such group among Republicans, just a scattering of contrary voices like Ron Paul and Walter Jones here and there without any real identity or ability to influence policy.

Make no mistake, Republicans have deliberately cast themselves as the party of war in hopes that the American public will feel threatened and rally round the flag.  Possible presidential contenders within the party, to include Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee all embrace endless war against the “Islamofascist” threat.  They all claim to support constitutionalism (though one has to wonder if any of them have actually read the constitution) but draw the line at what they define as national security, favoring military tribunals and uninterrupted destruction of civil liberties by the police and judiciary instead of a rule of law. 

And then there are the changes that will take place in committees and the pecking order in Congress, changes that will bring the long war advocates to the fore. It is where the real damage can take place.  Not coincidentally, the hawks are also calling for military action against Iran and are notable in their affection for the state of Israel.  The Israel connection is significant because Israel has long been at the heart of America’s foreign policy woes.  America’s misguided war on terror is in fact a complete adoption of Israeli security paradigms without any regard for the actual threats that confront the US, making Israel’s many enemies also the foes of Washington.  The Israeli Lobby might not have single handedly brought about the disastrous Iraq war but it certainly was a major factor in the push to invade, taking its cues from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.  And today Israel and its friends in Congress and the media are the most powerful advocates of a military conflict with Iran, which will only take place, if it does, because of them.  At the same time the Lobby is doing its best to sour relations with Lebanon and preempt any possible rapprochement with Syria.

Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia is poised to become the House majority whip, the second most powerful position in the House Republican hierarchy, and is frequently spoken of as the heir apparent to John Boehner as majority leader if Boehner opts to become speaker of the House after the Republican win.  The Jewish Journal reports that Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives.  On October 25th, Cantor told the Jewish Telegraph Agency that a GOP win in the midterm elections would lead to moves to decouple current assistance to Israel from the foreign aid budget, which has to be approved every year and which “includes nations that do not share US interests.”  Cantor explained that Israel would then receive its aid directly from the treasury or through some other mechanism, possibly the defense department budget, and the Republicans would be empowered to reject the entire Obama foreign aid request to punish the nations that it considers to be unworthy of the largesse without in any way harming Israel.  As Cantor explained it, the assistance to Israel would thereby be “protected.”

Equally dangerous is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is poised to take over the House Foreign Affairs committee.  Ros-Lehtinen is Cuban born and can be relied upon to block any moves to improve relations with her homeland, a political position mired in the 1960s and completely counterproductive today.  She also is strongly in favor of selectively trimming foreign aid, though, like Cantor, she will take whatever steps are necessary to protect Israel’s slice of the pie.  She has already called for cutting funding for the United Nations and aid to the Palestinian Authority.  Ros-Lehtinen has been a consistent critic of what she sees as the Obama Administration’s “cool approach” to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

It is reasonable to assume that Ros-Lehtinen’s zeal for Israel is at least somewhat motivated by her desire to maintain support for her primary objective, which is sticking it to Fidel Castro.  She knows that in Congress being perceived as a strong supporter of Israel makes up for other shortcomings and, in this case, results in tolerance of her totally ridiculous and counterproductive views on Cuba.  This produces a double whammy for the American people, who are thereby forced to endure a ridiculous foreign policy in both the Middle East and in Latin America.

Neither Cantor nor Ros-Lehtinen is troubled by giving more than $3 billion of taxpayer money annually to a relatively wealthy country whose policies damage US interests and place US citizens at risk worldwide.  With friends like Cantor and Ros-Lehtinen in key positions in Congress it is the American people who should be in despair.  The GOP embrace of a permanent blank check drawn on the US Treasury for Tel Aviv coupled with a foreign policy that is to say the least Israel-centric should be a terrifying notion for anyone who actually cares about the United States.  The only remaining question is whether the White House will oppose Republican moves, an unlikely prospect as Obama has consistently folded his tent whenever confronted by the power of the Israel Lobby.  But if Obama does develop some gumption or even if he just becomes tired of being pushed around it might lead to two more years of gridlock in government, which might be the best outcome.  If Congress and the White House can’t do anything they will be unable to make things worse.

Read more by Philip Giraldi


Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com

3 Responses to “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall (by Philip Giraldi)”

  • Patriot says:

    Cut, Cut, Cut the budget (just don’t touch Israel)!:

    http://america-hijacked.com/2010/10/25/cut-cut-cut-the-budget-just-don%e2%80%99t-touch-israel/

    U.S. midterms: AIPAC lauds re-election of pro-Israel stalwarts

    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/u-s-midterms-aipac-lauds-re-election-of-pro-israel-stalwarts-1.322729

    Press TV talks to James Morris on Yemen Bomb Scare Scenario

    http://www.tinyurl.com/yemenbombscarescenario

  • Patriot says:

    Election Over, Neocon Republicans Talk War
    November 4th, 2010

    (KurtNimmo) – It is time to get down to business now that Republicans are flush with victory. You’d think that business would be dismantling Obamacare or moving to outlaw the Federal Reserve. For establishment Republicans and their neocon buddies, however, the first item on the agenda is to make sure the war agenda moves forward.

    Buck McKeon promised to take the forever war agenda into the 112th Congress.

    Hours after the Republicans realized their historic victory, U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, who is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, wasted little time revealing the “broad vision for national defense policy that emphasizes winning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while also investing in the capabilities and force structure necessary to protect the United States from threats of tomorrow,” according to The Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

    McKeon was elected as Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee in 2009 and is looking for the chairmanship of the committee for the 112th Congress. The United States House Committee on Armed Services is responsible for funding and oversight of the Department of Defense and the United States armed forces.

    McKeon and the neocon Republicans want to sock your kids and grand kids into the misery of eternal debt in order to pay for the invasions of small backwater countries where there are recalcitrant Muslims who have problems with international banksters and world government organizations running every minute detail of their lives.

    “Our citizens have spoken, and they want a defense budget that is sufficient to address the challenges of today and the threats of tomorrow,” McKeon said. “One percent real growth in the base defense budget over the next five years is a net reduction for modernization efforts which are critical to protecting our nation’s homeland” from dazed and confused underwear and stupendously inept barbeque grill canister non-bombers.

    Mr. McKeon promised to take the forever war agenda into the 112th Congress, but also said “there is still work to be completed this year,” namely passing a National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 “that is not weighed down by the current majority’s social agenda items,” or for that matter the demands of millions of Americans who told the Republicans they want fiscal responsibility from the government and a return to the constitutional principles the country was founded upon, including the cherished principle of noninterventionism as spelled out by George Washington.

    “As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad,” wrote Ron Paul in August. “We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.”

    “A return to the traditional U.S. foreign policy of active private engagement but government noninterventionism is the only alternative that can restore our moral and fiscal health,” said Paul.

    If the attitude of Buck McKeon and the establishment Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee are any indication, it looks like the neocons will rule the roost under Republican control of Congress and it will be business as usual.

    In addition to the never-ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we can look forward to new manufactured conflicts in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.

    ————————————————————————-

    Reuters.com

    November 3, 2010

    Republican Eyes Defense Spending, Not Afghan Deadline
    By Phil Stewart, Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A Republican lawmaker who is expected to play a central role in setting military policy in the new Republican-led Congress said on Wednesday he wanted to boost defense spending but would not alter President Barack Obama’s deadline to start pulling out of Afghanistan.
    Analysts say the Republican capture of the House of Representatives on Tuesday may stiffen U.S. resolve in the war in Afghanistan, but raises questions about a range of defense issues, from defense contracts to gays in the military
    Howard “Buck” McKeon, expected to become the next chair of the House Armed Services Committee, balked at Obama’s plans to potentially push through a repeal of the military’s ban on gays in the “lame duck” session before the new Congress takes power in January.
    “I think that’s unwise,” McKeon told Reuters in a telephone interview.
    “I think the only reason they’re trying to do it is political. And I don’t think the military should be used as a political football,” he said, adding decisions like repealing the 17-year-old ban should not be made by outgoing lawmakers who had lost their elections.
    Republicans in Congress, including Obama’s 2008 presidential rival John McCain, have pressed the president to back away from his July 2011 date to begin troop withdrawals, saying it has backfired and fueled Taliban rhetoric about waiting out the West.
    McKeon said he always had objected to the July 2011 deadline for precisely that reason. But when asked whether he would seek to change Obama’s mind or change the drawdown date, he said: “No. I think that’s installed.”
    “We just want to be very careful that this isn’t used as an opportunity to pull everybody out, and leave the Afghans hanging, and leave the potential for al Qaeda to come back in for another safe haven,” he said.
    McKeon added that any withdrawal needed to be conditions-based and informed by the commanders on the ground.
    McKeon also praised a crackdown on militants in Pakistan under the Obama administration, which has included covert strikes by pilotless drone aircraft.
    “I think that all we have to do is just make sure that we keep the pressure on and understand that we have to win in both places (Afghanistan and Pakistan),” he said.
    With Republicans controlling the House and focused on the economy rather than the war, which was not a major issue in the election, analysts said Obama could feel less pressure to make the more sizable reductions in U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
    “You could get, on Afghanistan, a little more space for the administration,” said Daniel Markey, an international security analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is not going to be the primary focus of the new Republican majority in the House.”
    The sheer size of the defense budget — about 19 percent of the total federal budget and half of discretionary spending not already mandated for a particular purpose — makes it harder to balance the budget without touching military spending.
    That tension between spending on the war and the need to trim the budget could lead Congress to target the billions of dollars in civilian spending going to Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the war effort.
    “You continue to have this strong right arm of the military and this increasingly spindly left arm of the civilian side and that gets further hollowed out,” Markey said.
    If there is an intraparty squabble over defense spending, McKeon will be on the side of bigger defense budgets.
    McKeon said he opposed the Obama administration’s plans to boost core defense spending by just 1 percent over inflation, a figure Defense Secretary Robert Gates is trying cope with by streamlining defense spending to free up more cash.
    Gates proposed a 2011 defense budget of $548.9 billion, not including war spending.
    The question has broad implications for the Pentagon’s largest suppliers — Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, BAE Systems Plc, General Dynamics Corp and Raytheon Co.
    “We have underlying costs that are taking such a high percentage of our budget that we’re not going to have enough to do the (necessary) R&D and do the weaponry spending,” he said.
    “I think we need more money in defense and I think we need to do a better job spending that money.”
    Additional reporting byDavid Alexander.

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