.The Weiner Component V.2 #37 – Money & the Presidents: Part 3

(George H.W. Bush riding in a Humvee with Gene...

(George H.W. Bush riding in a Humvee with General Schwarzkopf in Saudi Arabia, November 22, 1990) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Ronald Reagan became President in 1981 the National Debt was $997 billion 885 million.  In 1989, when he left office eight years later, it was $2 trillion 857 billion 431 million.  If

Jimmy Carter had won the 1981 election it would still have gone up but, certainly, not as much.

 

President Ronald Reagan was followed into office by his Vice President, George H. W. Bush in 1989.  His initial goal was to lower the Nation Debt; but he had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.  They also wanted to lower the debt but their approach was totally different from that of the Republican President, George H. W. Bush and the Republicans.

 

Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress wanted to lower the cost of funding entitlement programs for the poor and middle class.  This was unacceptable to the Democrats who wanted to raise taxes, particularly income taxes for the upper echelon and reduce loopholes for the well to do.  During his presidential campaign Bush had stated once in exasperation: “Read my lips.  No new Taxes.”  In order to raise additional funds he had to go back on his word and raise taxes.  This alienated a large number of Republican voters.

 

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Germany was unified within a year after that.  By 1991 the Soviet Union dissolved.  For the United States President George H.W. Bush negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico which ended tariffs between the three countries.

 

The Gulf War broke out in August 2, 1990.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, invaded this oil rich neighbor, Kuwait.  With the United Nation’s approval President Bush announced operation Desert Storm.  A coalition of nations under U.S. leadership would liberate Kuwait.

 

On January 17, 1991 Allied forces launched the first air attack.  There would be 4,000 bombing raids by coalition aircraft for four weeks.  Then essentially American forces landed at Kuwait on February 24, 1991.  The offensive stopped at the border of Iraq after 100 hours.

 

The war was expensive.  When Bush left office on January 20, 1993 the National Debt was $4 trillion 411 billion 489 million.  President George H.W. Bush had just about doubled the Reagan National Debt.

 

In addition in 1991 there was a mild six month recession.  Unemployment edged upward.  President Bush signed a bill providing additional benefits for the unemployed.  Welfare increased at that time as more people lost their incomes.  Unemployment reached 7.8%.  Because of the negative economic conditions many corporations reorganized, laying off numerous employees.  Many of them were Republicans who had voted for Bush and had expected their jobs to continue indefinitely.  These people found themselves suddenly unemployed.  The Census Bureau reported that 14.2% of Americans lived in poverty.

 

Could the Gulf War have been avoided?  The answer is: Yes.  President Bush sent a plenipotentiary, who did not have much authority, to Iraq to meet with Saddam Hussein.  He chose a female to emphasis women’s rights, which meant to Saddam that Bush did not consider the matter important.  From what I understand the two verbally fenced for a while.  When she left Saddam assumed that Bush did not consider the invasion important and would ignore it.

 

When the invasion occurred Bush’s response was the opposite.  Saddam would attempt to get even later by unsuccessfully attempting to assassinate Bush.  And, of course his son, President George W. Bush would several years later get even by invading Iraq and spending another few trillion dollars on that.

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In 1992 Bush ran as the Republican Candidate for another term.  This election ended up having three candidates, in addition to George H.W. Bush, the Democrats ran William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton, the former governor of Arkansas, as their candidate, and Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire businessman, ran as an Independent.  He financed his own campaign.

 

Ross Perot received 18.91% of the popular vote, 18,943,321 votes, and zero electoral votes.  President George H.W. Bush got 37.45% of the popular vote, 39,104,550 votes, and 160 electoral votes.  Bill Clinton achieved 43.01% of the vote, 44,369,806 popular votes, and 370 electoral votes.  He became the 42nd President of the United States, serving from January 20, 1993 to January 20th 2001.

 

Clinton was the first Democratic President since Jimmy Carter.  He was the 42 when he became President; the second youngest man to assume the presidency, Theodore Roosevelt had been the youngest.  Clinton would preside over the longest period of peacetime expansion in American history.

 

The National Debt was 4 trillion 400 billion 489 million when he assumed office.  During his last three years in office he was able to reduce the debt.  In 1998 there was a $69 billion surplus at the end of the fiscal year.  In 1999 it was $126 billion and in 2000 it had grown to $236 billion.  All of this reduced the debt slightly for the first time.

 

Somehow he thought that the military was large enough and that he didn’t need to increase it or maneuver it into a major war activities.  While he utilized the military in United Nation activities in the Near East to try to lessen genocide and violence he did not involve the U.S. in any actual wars.

 

President Bill Clinton signed the North American Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico which President Bush had initiated.  He attempted early, during his first term. Unsuccessfully to pass a national health care bill.  Interestingly the Democrats had a majority in both House of Congress at this time but lobbying prevailed against it.  The slogan that defeated it was: “There has to be a better way.”  He did later get a State Children’s Health Program passed.

 

During his first term (1993 – 1997), within two months of becoming President, Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave bill that allowed unpaid leave for pregnancy or serious medical conditions.  The Bill had bipartisan support.

 

He revised restrictions on domestic and international family planning, allowing programs that Reagan and Bush had restricted or gotten rid of.  He allowed abortions which declined during his administration by 18.4 percent.

 

He also signed the Omnibus budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.  This bill cut taxes for the 15 million lowest income people.  It made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses in the country and he raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers.  The Bill passed without getting one Republican vote.

 

Following Nixon’s initiation of relations with Communist China, Clinton signed the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000; this law granted permanent normal trade relations and trade status to the People’s Republic of China.

 

In the Midterm Election of 1994 the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives which they kept thereafter through the rest of Clinton’s presidency.  After that it was very difficult getting any legislation he supported passed.

 

Newt Gingrich, as Speaker of the House of Representatives initially led the campaign to impeach President Bill Clinton.  He was tried shortly after the seating of the 106th Congress on February 1999.  But the charges against him were brought by the 105th Congress in late 1998.  By the time the vote was taken Newt Gingrich, for legitimate reasons had resigned from the House of Representatives.

 

The process of impeachment is that the House of Representatives votes a Bill of Impeachment against the President and a 2/3d vote is required by the Senate after functioning as a jury to impeach him, that is 67 votes.  Bill Clinton was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.  On the perjury charge, 45 Republicans voted guilty and 55, practically all Democrats, voted not guilty.  On the obstruction of justice charge the vote was 50 for and 50 against.  It missed finding him guilty by one vote.

 

Clinton served out the rest of his term in office.  He was a very popular President before, during, and after his trial.  There was a lot of animus against him by the Republicans, particularly those in Congress. To a large extent they were able to vent their spleen though the attempted impeachment.

 

The National Debt, when Clinton left office, was $5 trillion, 678 billion, and 178 million.  It had been $4 trillion, 411 billion, and 490 million when he became President in 1993 and for his last three years as President, Clinton had lowered the debt almost a half-trillion dollars.  Actually the Clinton years were good years for the American public.

The Weiner Component V.2 #30 – Trump & Afghanistan

On Monday, August 21, 2017, President Donald J. Trump gave a foreign policy speech dealing with Afghanistan.  It stated that there would be a continuation of our troops being there and that at some near point in the future more troops would be added to our presence.  The Afghanistan War, if it is a war in the strict sense of the term, is to date the longest war or military action in which the United States has ever been involved, it has now lasted 16 years.  Of course one could argue that we are still at war with North Korea since we have had troops stationed at their border since 1953 when a truce was declared.

 

The issue with Afghanistan is rather complex.  President Trump edited out a lot of information in his presentation.  It will be useful to consider some of these facts.

 

Shortly after the terrorist assault and destruction upon the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11/01 the U.S. military attacked Afghanistan which was then ruled by the Taliban.  The terrorist raid upon America was organized from there.  While that war was going on the U.S. also attacked Iraq, a country which presumably had weapons of mass destruction.  To President Bush, his Vice President, Dick Cheney, and his Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, this was an ideal opportunity to remake both of these nations into copies of the United States.

 

Unfortunately by the American leaders there was no understanding of either of these countries or of their cultures or people.  Iraq was then ruled by Saddam Hussein, a dictator.  The country was quickly militarily taken over and a new government was established by the U.S.  One of the major problems of the new Iraqi government was that it functioned by favoritism, nepotism, and corruption.  For another thing the new government instead of treating all its citizens equally favored the Shiites over the Sunnis, one major religious sect over the other.

 

These forces that existed in both the military and the government put people in positions of authority regardless of their capabilities.  In the army it chose its officers in this fashion, meaning the military corps were essentially led by incompetents.  Given a combat situation they would probably be the first to run, leading to mass desertions during battles, particularly against determined fighters.

 

The Iraqi example of corruption that stands out was a large building put up by an Iraqi contractor and paid for by the U.S. government on the edge of the desert.  The building, when finished cost millions of dollars and was never used.  It’s probably become part of the desert today.  It seems that the builder, in order to increase his profits, minimized the amount of concrete mixed with the sand to such an extent that when water hit a part of the building it dissolved the concrete.  And it does at intervals rain there.  It was never safe to enter the structure because any part could dissolve at any time.  The probability was that the builder pocketed his profits without any complaints.  This is one blaring example, there are countless others.

 

In battle, when the Iraqi military faced determined fighters like ISIS, they would throw down their weapons and flee the scene.  The Iraqi President demanded that if the Americans stayed in Iraq they came under the legal jurisdiction of the Iraqi civilian legal system.  The American army has its own code of military laws which would try American soldiers for infractions of the laws.  They would not put their men under Iraqi jurisdiction.  Consequently, as the Iraqis wished, the United States began removing its army from Iraq.

 

Essentially the same thing happened in Afghanistan.  Under President Barack Obama the troops were being removed from that country.  Both Iraq and Afghanistan had been able to order the U.S. around but their governments were not strong enough to hold their territories against the Taliban, ISIS, and Al-Qaida.  This has necessitated the return of American troops and the continued war in these countries.

 

Presumably today, there have been improvements.  The American troops serve as advisers.  President Trump, in Afghanistan, wants them to kill members of the terrorist groups, that is, to go back to a combat mission and win the war.

 

Is it really a war?  Or are we holding these territories for governments that are not really capable of controlling their own land?  If this is true then we are stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration, however long that may be.

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Trump’s new strategy for war in Afghanistan is very similar to Obama’s old strategy.  A large number, possibly 4,000 or more American soldiers will be added at some point in the near future bringing our military forces there to just over twelve thousand men.  The U.S. will, according to President Trump, presumably quickly kill the enemy and win the war.     The actual probability is that the enemy will then fade away, essentially leave the country during the American buildup and then return when the U.S. removes most of the troops.  They’ve done this before.

 

What will it take to change this pattern?  And is it possible?  Can the Afghanistan’s stand up to their radical forces?  This was President Obama’s plan.  If we again take up the war and fight it will we be actually doing Afghanistan a favor or encouraging their traditional position?

 

In point of fact, is it really a war that is being fought in Afghanistan or are we just maintaining the status quo?  Will these countries ever be strong enough to maintain their own security?  That’s an interesting question.  Can it be answered at present?

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a ...

The Weiner Component #83 – The Middle East & Ieaq

Nouri al-Maliki meets with George W. Bush.

 

Just before mid-June 2014 the Iraqi Shite Government had almost reached the point of total collapse.  Many of the soldiers holding the major city of Mosul threw down their weapons and their uniforms and deserted or fled.  The Sunni rebel forces were 70 miles north of Bagdad.  The Malaki Government seemed to be falling apart.

President Obama is examining the situation and has stated that all options are on the table but that he will not send troops back into the country. Senator John McCain is demanding that we send troops, which were withdrawn 2 1/2 year ago, and he does not want them to leave this time until we have won the war. Among other things he seems to have forgotten that it was President George W. Bush who signed a treaty with Iraq arranging for the withdrawal and he has not mentioned who we have to defeat in order to win the war.

(As a footnote: it seems the Republicans are willing to spend billions of dollars refighting Bush’s Iraq War but not one nickel on creating jobs in the United States or in rebuilding the U.S. infrastructure.)

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has essentially set up a Shite government, basically refusing to share power with the Sunnis. His “so called” democratic government, which was inadvertently set up under U.S. supervision, is a variation of the old Sunni dictatorship that Saddam Hussein ruled under. Maliki has and continues to rejected all U.S. attempts to reform his government and make it a real democracy.

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Prior to World War I the entire Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire, which eventually became Turkey. They were a decaying medieval monarchy on the losing side. Shortly after the end of World War I (1918) the kingdom was divided up by the European allies as mandates, an anachronism for the colonies these states would rule. The boundaries were set arbitrarily for their convenience by the European victors with no real consideration being given to the people within these colonial nations. Neither ethnicity nor religious differences were considerations.

Shortly after World War II, most of these colonial countries, gained their independence either peaceably or through revolts and became sovereign nations. Generally they were now ruled either by absolute kings or military dictators. The boundaries were still those that the Europeans had imposed some thirty years earlier and they continue to exist today.

Iraq became a British mandate (possession). It includes most of Mesopotamia, bounded on the north by Turkey, on the east by Iran, on the south by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and on the west by Jordan and Syria. It has extensive oil deposits.

The kingdom of Iraq was established in 1923, becoming independent in October 1932 under King Faisal I. Actually it became a semi-independent state in alliance with Great Britain and, interestingly, was admitted into the League of Nations. Between 1950 and 1952 Iraq signed oil agreements with foreign oil companies and received 50% of the oil profits.   In 1953 Faisal II became the playboy king of the country.  In 1958 Iraq became a republic and the monarch was killed. In 1979 Saddam Hussein became Iraq’s president, succeeding and earlier dictator. On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, an oil rich principality.

Prior to the Kuwait invasion President George H.W. Bush sent a plenipotentiary, a roving ambassador, to Iraq to meet with its president. Bush and his advisors had very little knowledge of Iraq and its culture or were overly arrogant. Bush sent a woman (presumably striking a blow for equal rights) and gave her general instructions but no real authority.

To Saddam Hussein the fact that a woman had been sent was both an insult and an indication that the mission was of little consequence to the United States. Apparently, obliquely he asked her what the U.S. response would be to an invasion of Kuwait. She equivocated giving Saddam the impression that there would be no real U.S. reaction. After she left the country Iraq invaded Kuwait. The U.N., under the leadership of the United States, engaged in operation Desert Storm. Bush was wise enough not to invade Iraq after the Iraqis had been pushed out of Kuwait.

Unfortunately his son did not inherit that same wisdom. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld must have wanted a positive victory for the American People after 9/11. They felt the United States should have a great moral and political triumph. With virtually no knowledge of the Middle East, its people, culture and values they decided that an invasion of Iraq would be a win, win situation; that if we served as an international sheriff and invaded Iraq and got rid of its evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, both the Iraqis and the Americans would cheer the greatness of the U.S. Government, their administration.   Unfortunately they were wrong, it ended up being a lose, lose situation.

On March 20, 2003 the U.S. and Great Britain invaded Iraq. The Iraqis were never too pleased with having the United States occupy their country and wanted us to leave, eventually passing numerous resolutions in their Parliament to that effect and finally refusing to allow American forces to be exempt from their law and only under American law. On 2008 a “Status of Forces Agreement” was signed by Bush and Maliki. U.S. combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 and all U.S. forces would be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. Also any soldiers committing felonies or other heinous crimes would be subject to Iraqi law.

Bush left it to President Obama to enforce this agreement, which he obviously did to all sort of derogatory comments from Senator John McCain and other Republicans blaming him for the withdrawal.

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The Kurdish people, who make up about 32 to 37% of the population are located in the northeast along the Turkish border. The other half of their population is in Turkey north of Iraq. The W.W.I Europeans had split them into two roughly equal parts. On March 18, 1988 Iraq is believed to have used chemical weapons, poison gas, on the Kurds in a dispute with them. The Kurds have consistently wanted to form their own nation

Of the remaining population in Iraq there are two major Muslim groups. The Shi’a that makes up 60 to 65% of that population and the Sunni which consists of 32 to 37%. Both these groups came into existence in 632 A.D. when the religious founder, Mohamed, died. They spit over the question of political and religious succession. By and large the Shia live in the south of the country and the Sunni are in the north. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim while Nouri al-Maliki is a Shite.

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ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has emerged as one of the major groups fighting the Assad regime in Syria. They want to set up a Sunni caliphate in both Syria and Iraq.

The group is one of the most violent if not the most violent of all the jihadists. It is considered one of the world’s most deadly and active terrorist organizations which frequently and indiscriminately attacks large public gatherings for maximum casualties. They are credited with kidnappings, disappearances, and torture of opponents. Their soldiers keep their faces covered at all times. Al Qaeda has expelled ISIS for being too violent.

To Western nations there is the fear that Syria could become the next Afghanistan, serving as a training ground for jihadists to operate all over the world.

The group has also cultivated support among ordinary Syrians by providing aid to needy people in the form of free medical services, bags of food for the needy and below market fuel. Their gifts are always branded with the group’s black flag.

On April 27, 2014 Iraq military helicopters attacked and destroyed an ISIS convoy of eight vehicles inside Syria. June 5, 2014 ISIS militants stormed the city of Samarra in Iraq before being ousted by Iraqi airstrikes. On June 6 ISIS carried out multiple attacks upon the mostly Sunni city of Mosul in Northern Iraq. June 9 Mosul fell to ISIS control giving them, among other things, the central bank that contained about $429 million. Shortly afterward the ISIS leadership declared that they would pay each man in their army $200 a month.

On June 11, 2014 ISIS seized the essentially Sunni city of Tikit. The victors began seeking out and killing police, soldiers, and civilians who they perceived as being associated with the Shite government. June 15 they captured the city of Tal Afar. ISIS claimed that 1,700 Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered had been executed. They released many images of mass executions on the internet.

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What should the United States position toward Iraq be? It looks like a lose, lose situation. The Republican Hawks are demanding that President Obama act, do something. John McCain wants to send troops in to help the legitimate Iraqi government. Lindsey Graham wants to get rid of Nouri al-Maliki. Others are demanding immediate action.  Shite Iran has offered to cooperate with the United States in a joint operation.

Shortly before and after the U.S. occupation of Iraq its Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki arrested important Sunni political leaders. A return of the U.S. troops, whose exit President George W. Bush negotiated, would place the U.S. in a subordinate position in deciding policy and place us in the middle of a civil war. What should be the policy of the United States? It’s an interesting and scary question.

Meanwhile ISIS has been successful in taking mostly Sunni dominated areas in Iraq. Will it be as successful in conquering mostly Shite held areas?

President Obama has sent in an additional military group to guard the American Embassy in Iraq. He has also sent in 300 elite forces to act as advisors to the Maliki Government. What does the future hold?

As of Wednesday, June 25, 2014 Maliki, denounced anyone who wants him to step down as going against their constitution. He has categorically refused to step down and allow an interim government to be set up regardless of the level of ISIS’ military successes. This even though an election is coming up and a new government will be formed in July of 2014.

President Obama has stated that Maliki’s retirement is necessary if the Shite Government is to become truly democratic and be able to stop and possibly defeat ISIS. Maliki, on the other hand, has stated that the losses to Iraq are the fault of the United States because they did not deliver all the airplanes that Iraq purchased from the U.S.

Former Sunni soldiers, from generals down who fought against Al Qaeda, when the United States was in Iraq have been decommissioned or expelled from Iraq’s military. I suspect, if they were called, that they would not fight in a Shite dominated state where they are second class citizens. Also if ISIS becomes a benevolent ruler they may split Iraq into two countries, particularly in regions where they are Sunni majorities. We are, after all looking at a civil war. It is important to remember that the Shite Government under Saddam Hussein was not friendly to the United States and that an ISIS run state will hold the same attitude.

What should President Obama do? What would you do if you were in his position?

 

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The Weiner Component #35 – Plodding Along: The Iraqui War

George W. Bush

We seem to plod along through many of our crises, somehow working our way through the particular problem.  We get involved in wars without ever really understanding what we’re doing, being anthropomorphic about how our friends or enemies function, essentially blindly moving forward, too simple to realize that other people think and function differently from ourselves.  In essence we see the world and everything in it from our own prospective and values.  If anything, we are absurdly naïve, innocents trying to guide the world. 

George W. Bush’s war in Iraq was a prime example of this.  A cruel and evil dictator, Sodom Hussein, who, in their opinion, totally oppressed his people and was hated by them, ruled Iraq, in the opinion of Bush and his major advisors, Dick Cheney and Donald Runsfield.  In addition he had threatened George W’s “daddy.”  .  Also, presumably, Iraq had and was producing weapons of mass destruction to use in the future.  If we invaded the country and freed its people they would be grateful to us and we could set up a democracy similar to the one in the United States.  We would also be getting rid of a potential danger to the Middle East and the rest of the world.  It would be a win, win situation, which couldn’t fail.  A war of liberation!  Using the 9/11/01 situation as an excuse the United States, for the first time in its history, began a preemptive attack on a country looking for “weapons of mass destruction” that did not exist. 

Our intelligence was falsified or non-existent.  It took a while to discover this fact.  Under George W. Bush we used enhanced interrogation, a euphemism for torture.  The United States had only used torture once before, shortly after the Spanish American War while we were subduing the Philippines, so that they could enjoy our enlightened rule. In both cases water boarding was used.  It had been more extreme in the Philippines than what was used on the Iraqis because in the early 1900s the military technique was to fill the lungs of the victim with water, drowning them and then pumps it out.  No doubt some died horribly in the process.  With the Iraqis the interrogators used the water to stop them from breathing but left the lungs alone.  Obviously a milder form of the torture!

George W. Bush, in his speech announcing the invasion of Iraq, stated that he had made the decision after conferring with his “higher father,” God.  He never communicated how God had contacted him. 

The amount of corruption that went along with that war was massive; billions were lost.  The dishonesty was not just among the Iraqis it also came from the Americans.  Halliburton, an American corporation, whose ex CEO was the Vice President of the United States, acted as though the U.S. Government was Father Christmas with endless amounts of money that could be billed.  They charged one hundred dollars for a hammer and similar amounts for other tools.  They fed thousands of troops at a time at the rate of twenty dollars per man.  And they used their imaginations in finding other things to bill the government.  There was an investigation, which for a while looked like it would end up with indictments.  Then somehow the investigation fizzled out and ceased.  Apparently it really paid to have the Vice President as your former CEO, especially since he was getting a substantial retirement package.

Perhaps the most disgusting dishonesty came from a number of American manufacturers who sold the government faulty equipment that ended up costing lives.  Various bulletproof apparatuses were sold to the government and used in combat that did not work causing innumerable deaths, bulletproof clothing in particular.  The manufacturers were sorry; but I don’t remember hearing of any instance where they returned the money for the faulty items they sold to the government.  Here we had profit over lives!

To me the most frightening and bizarre element in all of this was that the death of our soldiers and of the Iraqis was an abstraction to our leaders.  Bush served safely in the National Guard, Cheney and Rumsfeld never served in the military.  These people and their families were safe; they never were even near combat situations.  Yet these were the people who sent thousands of American troops in harms way to be maimed and killed, and never really felt the reality of what they did.  They never accepted responsibility for their actions or decisions.  They saw death as an abstraction, which never really affected them

After ten years, five thousand American casualties, and well over a hundred thousand Iraqi casualties we had created a government that was democratic in name only, rife with corruption and not much different from the government that had existed before the invasion.  In fact the day after President Obama removed the last of the American troops from the country the President of Iraq had the vice president, who belonged to a different Muslim sect arrested. 

Two presidencies prior, George W. Bush’s father George H.W. Bush had gotten the United States in a war with Iraq through sloppy diplomacy where he gave Sodom the impression the U.S. would take no action if Iraq invaded Kuwait.  That error caused the U.S. to go to war with Iraq.   Dwight David Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, set up a situation in 1954 when a solution had been worked out by a European Conference solving the Viet Nam problem which two years later brought about that war that lasted until 1975 and was resolved the same way it would have been in 1956. 

All these wars were examples of the United States plodding blindly through situations that should have been handled differently.  We elect presidents and assume they are component; then we are stuck with their decisions

 

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