Petraeus fell for the wrong reason

by Sheldon Richman

David Petraeus has fallen — but not as he should have. Before being disgraced by an extramarital affair, the retired four-star general and ex-CIA director should have been shamed out of public life for his horrendous military record in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Are we talking about the same David Petraeus who is said to have heroically saved Iraq with the famous surge and then salvaged a floundering military effort in Afghanistan?

That’s the one. But those “accomplishments” are merely the products of sharp public relations.

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War with Iran is next

If it wasn’t clear to Americans before, it should be clear today. After watching last night’s joint presidential candidate press conference, masquerading as a debate, no one should have any doubt that America’s state of perpetual and universal war will continue under President Barack Obama or a President Mitt Romney.

Regardless of which of these men is elected, America will go to war with Iran. Both said the a “nuclear-capable” Iran is a threat to U.S. “national security.” Both expressed unwavering, unequivocal – and unquestioning – support for Israel. “We stand with Israel,” said Obama. “We got their back,” said Gov. Romney.

As Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson noted, neither of them challenged the fundamental premise of endless foreign intervention.

“Rather, we have two candidates agreeing with one another about flawed foreign excursions we cannot afford,” he commented. “And remarkably, we heard a continuation of the fallacy that we can somehow balance the budget while spending more on defense. It doesn’t add up.”

Obama repeated the imperialist assertion that the United States is the “one, indispensable nation” in the world. They both claimed that one of their foreign policy goals would be to bring “democracy” to the Middle East, including Syria. But it was clear from the qualifications they outlined that they really did not mean democracy in the sense of government of, by, and for the people of that nation, but a government that complies with standards dictated by the United States.

Obama repeated the hubris that America is “the one, indispensable nation in the world.” Romney had some trouble geography when he said that Syria was Iran’s only ally in the region, and that give Iran access to the sea.

Interventionism serves no national interest

Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson believes, as I do, that the Bush-Obama-and-now-Romney interventionist foreign policy is getting Americans killed and contributing to the bankruptcy of our nation without clear sight of our national interests.

Writing in an op ed published in the Huffington Post, Johnson said, “Foreign policy is supposed to make us safer, not get Americans killed and bankrupt us.

“Yet, even as we mourn the loss of four Americans in Libya and watch the Middle East ignite with anti-American fervor, our leaders don’t get it,” he said.

As someone who grew up during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union vied for the allegiance of so-called Third World nations, seeing mobs attack American businesses and sack American embassies is nothing new.

It was the price the United States paid for supporting dictators and oligarchies who were supposedly “anti-communist,” no matter have much they oppressed, starved, imprisoned or murdered their people. When you support the “lesser of two evils” — either in foreign policy or at the ballot box – all you get is evil.

During the Vietnam War, and whenever American troops were sent to “restore order” or “secure democracy” in any foreign nation from Latin America to the Middle East, inevitably there were anti-American demonstrations.

Certainly, the Soviets encouraged and financed many of them, just as the State Department and CIA encouraged and supported anti-Soviet demonstrations, and helped overthrow foreign rulers who weren’t “anti-communist” enough.

But the root cause of most of these demonstrations was blowback from American interventionism, the inevitable result of the arrogance and hubris perpetrated by successive Republican and Democratic administrations.

The demonstrations now sweeping the Middle East are not about any video.

The real misbehavior was who paid for the trip

The real misbehavior that occurred when a group of Congress members visited Israel last year was who paid for the trip, not what they did.

The real misbehavior that occurred during this Congressional junket wasn’t that a Kansas represented allegedly went skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee. I’m sure that’s been done before.

The real misbehavior is that these supposed representatives of the people were on a junket paid for by a lobbyist group. According to Politico.com, the trip was paid for by the American Israel Educational Foundation, a group related to the prominent pro-Israel advocacy group AIPAC.

These Congressman were supposedly on a fact-finding mission, yet they were staying in a $1,000 a night hotel. Rep. Renee Ellmers told WTVD news that they were ‘working hard.’ If the work was so hard, why was her husband along? And what facts could they possibly find about anything related to their Constitutional duties in a luxury hotel?

I’m sure the donation was all legally reported, and least according to the very loose rules Congress writes for itself. So technically it can’t be called a bride. Since all the Congressman are already avid supporters of Israel, perhaps the lavish trip could be called more of a “reward” than a bride.

Either way, anyone with any common sense recognizes that such a gift is wrong. But as the eminent American philosopher Will Rogers once observed, “Common sense ain’t so common.” Especially not in Congress.

Anyway, Rep. Yoder probably just thought he could walk on water. After all, most Congress members think they have the power to do anything. This trip is a perfect example.

The mainstream media, political pundits, and late night comedians will undoubtedly delight in focusing on Yoder’s antics, and divert the public’s attention from the real outrage – the arrogance and abuse of power by elected elites.

America’s First ‘War of Choice’

As far as I know, there isn’t a book entitled “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the War of 1812.” There should be. This week marked the 200th anniversary of the beginning of that conflict, yet there has been barely a mention in the news media about it.

A cursory look at the background and history of the War of 1812 gives you a clue why. Despite being later billed as America’s Second War for Independence, it was no such thing. The War of 1812 was America’s first “war of choice,” notes Jefferson Morley. Richard Hofstadter, one of America’s most notable historians, called it a “a ludicrous and unnecessary war.”

It was instigated by the rabble-rousing of politicians and Congressman, who historians labeled “war hawks,” who wanted to conquer Canada and subjugate the Native American nations on the western border of the United States.

The alleged casus belli for war was the impressment of U.S. sailors by the British. Yet the British ended that policy five days after war the United States declared on June 18. And the first major American military action wasn’t at sea, but on land, an attempt to conquer Canada.

All three attempts on Canada were utter and complete failures, primarily due to the ineptness and incompetence of the American commanders, but also because many of the state militias, to their credit, refused to invade another country.

If someone were to write a politically incorrect guide to the War of 1812, it would include some of these points as well:

Impressment was a common practice of the Royal Navy, especially during wartime, and most men impressed were taken off British merchant ships. But the practice was also used by the Continental Navy during the American Revolution.

The Battle of New Orleans, the most famous battle of the war which made Andrew Jackson a national hero, was fought after the peace treaty had been signed.

Both the French and the British harassed American shipping during the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, in the early 1800s, other war hawks were clamoring for war with France.

By European standards of war, the United States lost because the British burnt our capital.

The first attempt by a group of states to secede from the Union occurred during the war – in New England.

The treaty of peace did not mention impressment, the alleged cause of the war, or involve any territorial changes. It was basically a status quo ante bellum (return to the state of things before the war.)

The Guilford County Courthouse flag, popularly thought of as having flown at that Revolutionary War battle in North Carolina, actually was probably a state militia flag used during the War of 1812.

 

Further reading:

America’s First Neocon War
Happy Birthday, War of 1812
War of 1812 on History.com

The Myth of Defense Cuts

BURNET, Texas (Jan. 21) – Despite all the hysteria, wailing and gnashing of teeth from Washington warhawks, there are no spending cuts proposed in the defense budget nor is there any change at all in our defense policy. Typical of the frenzy was the comment by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) that the “massive cuts” and supposedly new strategy “ensures American decline.”

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People must want to be free

“Man loves liberty, even if he does not know that he loves it. He is driven by it and flees from where it does not exist.” – Jose Marti

BURNET, Texas (Dec. 10) – Politicians are very adept about making excuses for their failures. The greater the failure, the bigger, more absurd the excuse. Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, while Americans were still reeling from shock, our political leaders very quickly conjured up a canard to cover up their failure to predict, deter, or avoid the attack. Rather than accept any responsibility at all for the tragedy, or even to acknowledge that American foreign policy was at least partly to blame, the ruling elites resorted to the mantra: “They hate us because of our freedom.”

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The sun never sets on the U.S. military

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”– Plato

R. Lee Wrights

BURNET, Texas (Oct. 22) – Once again, President Obama has ordered U.S. soldiers into harm’s way unnecessarily. Last week, he quietly told the U.S. Congress that he had sent 100 U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers into Uganda to help governments in central Africa fight a rebel army that’s been rampaging through the region for more than 20 years. This is the way the Vietnam War started, with U.S. special forces sent to “assist” a barely democratic government cope with a guerrilla war and a president promising they would not be going into combat. Ten years later, with more than 58,000 American lives and untold hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives lost, we had learned a brutal lesson — war is too easily escalated by those who do not have to fight or die.

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Wrights joins Americans calling for an end to U.S. militarism

BURNET, Texas (July 6) – Lee Wrights has joined with a group of eminent Americans from across the political spectrum who have put aside political differences on other issues to send a letter to President Obama and Congress urging an end to U.S. militarism. The letter, spearheaded by Come Home America, cites a combination of events that present a “historic opportunity to redirect U.S. foreign policy down the pathways of peace, liberty, justice, respect for community, obedience to the rule of law and fiscal responsibility.”

“I’m proud to join such distinguished company as Daniel Ellsberg, David Cobb and Michael Badnarik and add my voice to theirs in calling President Obama and Congress to stop all wars,” Wrights said. “That is exactly what my campaign for the Libertarian presidential nomination is all about.”

The letter urges a “fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy away from domination of others through military strength and damaging sanctions.” It calls for the end to “these unconstitutional wars (which) have been justified on false premises … fueling hatred abroad for Americans and undermining the rule of law.”

“I urge everyone to go to ComeHomeAmerica.us and add their name to the list of signers,” Wrights said. “Just as our Founding Fathers pledge their ‘lives, fortune and sacred honor’ to defend liberty 235 years ago, Americans today must pledge today to demand our elected leaders stop all the immoral, unconstitutional and unnecessary wars which threaten our liberty and freedom.”

Go here to read the full letter and add your name to the list of signers.

Wrights 2012 press release

Wrights comes home to open his campaign for the Libertarian nomination for president

HICKORY, N.C. (April 16) – R. Lee Wrights, a longtime libertarian writer and activist, announced today at the N.C. Libertarian Party State Convention that he will be seeking the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. Here is his statement:

“I’m returning to the place where this campaign began … ten years ago. North Carolina is where I was born, where I grew up and where I became involved in the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement. It’s here in North Carolina that the seed for this campaign was planted and nourished.

Wrights 2012“For the past two years, as I’ve traveled around the country visiting Libertarian groups, people — especially young people — have been asking me: ‘Why isn’t the Libertarian Party out front in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why isn’t the LP anti-war? Why aren’t we demanding that we bring the troops home.’ I heard this over and over again, and the message was quite strong at the 2010 national convention in St. Louis.

“After hearing from all these activists, it was clear to me that they were right. It was clear to me that the Libertarian Party — and our nation — is tired of war. It became clear to me that it was time for someone in the Libertarian Party to start talking about this issue. And it became clear to me that that someone must be me.

“On July Fourth, appropriately, I formed a presidential exploratory committee because I believe the Libertarian Party faces a critical test in 2012 and I want to make sure that we’re up to the challenge. The Libertarian message in 2012 must be loud, clear, and unequivocal — stop all war! Stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop the war on drugs and alternative lifestyles, stop the war on civil liberties. Stop All War!!

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