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Obama Follows Bush's Iraq Playbook

Barrack Obama George Bush 1

U.S. politicians are exploiting the gruesome beheadings of two American journalists to whip up war fever against ISIS, the “criminal gang” masquerading as an organization of devout Sunni Muslims that controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. The American propaganda campaign seems to be working if recent polls are accurate.

No decent person is anything but appalled by those executions. But are they grounds for the United States to go to war?

No, they are not. Barack Obama says his job is to protect Americans wherever they are, but he doesn’t cite the source of this power. No such power is implied in the president’s oath of office, which obligates him only to “faithfully execute the Office of President” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

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Obama: I Do Not Need Congressional Approval To Go To War With ISIS

Obama Who Cares

President Obama is again asserting his right to act unilaterally and without congressional approval in going to war. In what has become a mantra for this Administration, Obama reportedly told members of Congress that he does not need congressional approval to unleash a comprehensive military campaign against the Islamic State. The President informed a few members at a dinner — a striking image of how low congressional authority has become in our tripartite system of government.

We have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area. I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. 

In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing. As with his approach in Libya, Syria and other combat operations (and most recently on whether he will resume the war in Iraq), Obama is again asserting his extreme view of executive power.
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Mr. President, The Less You Do Overseas The Better

Obama

“We’ve got to stop ISIS… al-Qaida… Syria’s Assad… Hamas… Hezbollah… Taliban…

Shebab…the wicked Ruskis in Ukraine…those Yemeni Houthis…Iran…Sudan…Islamists in Libya and Mali…Boko Haram in Nigeria… the Red Chinese in Asia. Oh yes, and defend Latvia and fight the Lord’s Army in Uganda.

That’s the view in Washington where international police fever and growing hysteria over ISIS, the latest Mideast bogeyman, have gripped the nation, as elections near and politicians talk more nonsense than usual.

Listen to Republican windbags and you’d believe the hordes of ISIS are about to put Cleveland to the sword.

My question is: which “we” is going to stop all these malefactors?
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Iraq Has WMDs and Russia Has Invaded!

Iraq WMD

How did they imagine they’d get away with it, claiming that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and even nuclear weapons?

Defectors had made clear the chemical and biological weapons (some of them provided by the United States) had been destroyed. Inspectors had searched almost every inch of Iraq and said they’d get to the last few inches if given a few more days. Iraq was screaming that it had no such weapons. Numerous nations around the world were agreeing with Iraq. Colin Powell’s own staff warned him that his claims would not be deemed plausible.

And yet, they got away with it to such an extent that most well-intentioned people in the United States to this day maintain that nobody can possibly be sure that Bush, Cheney, et alia, knew their statements were false when they made them.
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US Boots in Iraq and Baltics, Authorization to Attack Syria...and US Troops in Ukraine!

Boots

It has been a busy week for US military planners.

As the NATO summit in Wales kicks off today, with an expected agreement to create a "spearhead" force of up to 5,000 troops to rapidly deploy to any "hotspot" in eastern Europe, we learn that the US will also send several hundred troops to participate in NATO military exercises in Ukraine later this month. The exercises, provocatively named "Rapid Trident," are said to be "a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine..."

As the civil war rages on in Kiev, with US-backed troops from Kiev fighting to suppress an independence movement in the east, the presence of US troops on Ukrainian soil sends a perhaps dangerously clear message of US willingness to become further involved in Ukraine's internal affairs. Russia has been accused of military involvement on behalf of those seeking independence from Kiev, but Moscow denies any official Russian role.
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The Mother of All Blowback

ISIS

President Barack Obama is being lambasted by US Republicans for admitting that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the rise of the militant group, ISIS, or Islamic State, as it’s now known.

Given that the US had made an unbelievable mess of its Mideast policies, the president is right to pause and think, something his shoot –from- the- lip Republican critics rarely do. They are demanding the US attack both Iraq and Syria without asking “what then oh brave Washington warriors?” These are the Republicans who ardently supported George Bush’s catastrophic invasion and destruction of Iraq.

The problem is that too many cooks in Washington are spoiling its Mideast soup. In his magnificent new book, “The Sleepwalkers,” Prof. Christopher Clark of Cambridge describes how World War I was in part ignited by small numbers of anti-German officials in France, Russia, Serbia and Britain who often undermined their own government’s moderate policies.

The same process occurred under President George W. Bush when cabals of neocon officials in the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and media drove the US into a calamitous war whose negative effects are still being felt.
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Obama's Skewed Policy Priorities in Middle East

ISIS

The US State Department has maintained that continuity rather than change in the American policy is what should be expected in the aftermath of the killing of photojournalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria early this week. 

The State Department’s media briefings insisted that there has been an “ongoing policy initiative”, an “ongoing effort” on the part of Washington to meet the ISIL threat and “we will continue doing what we’re doing in Iraq.” So, on Wednesday, the US military took an additional 14 air strikes around the Mosul Dam. 

Second, the US reserves the right to take action against Foley’s killer and won’t be “ruling anything in or out” – including military operations inside Syria. That is to say, the “principles that guide” will be the same that guided earlier occasions of a similar kind such as in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. 

Third, the Syrian regime remains a "pariah," no matter its hostility towards the ISIL, insofar as the US cannot forget that Damascus “allowed this group to flourish” and “facilitated their movement to Iraq.” Therefore, the US would rather focus on building “capable partners” in Iraq and among the “moderate opposition” in Syria that can take on the ISIL and will continue to seek the replacement of President Bashar al-Assad.
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Hagel and Dempsey: We Must Attack Syria! Get Ready!

Hagel

The Islamist ISIS/ISIL gang is providing the pretext for another major US war in the Middle East. Top US administration officials are turning up the war and atrocity rhetoric to full volume. Something is happening.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel turned up the fear machine Thursday, telling NBC news that ISIS poses an "imminent threat" to the United States. 

Hagel seemed in a panic as he essentially warned that an attack was on the way:
ISIL poses a threat greater than 9/11. ISIL is as sophisticated and well funded as any group we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology with a sophisticated strategic and tactical military prowess and they're tremendously well-funded. This is way beyond anything we have seen. We must prepare for everything. Get Ready! ... They are an imminent threat to every interest we have.
Not to be outdone, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey said that to defeat ISIS, the US would need to invade Syria!
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Obama, Democrats, Republicans, and NATO: Still Playing the Islamists’ Foil

ISIS Killing

Listening to President Obama speak of Iraq on 18 August 2014 underscores the point made above by Polybius, and it also validates the brilliant diplomat George F. Kennan’s argument that America is virtually incapable of conducting an effective foreign policy because of our leaders’ minimal knowledge of how the world works and the dominance of domestic considerations on the policies they pursue overseas. In Obama’s short statement on Iraq both of these negative factors were clearly evident.

Obama — as well as his lieutenants, the leaders of both parties, and much of the media — continue to call the Sunni Islamic State (IS) organization a “terrorist group.” In the 25-plus years since al-Qaeda initiated what has become a worldwide armed Islamist movement, U.S. leaders have never once tried to explain to Americans that we are fighting a growing international insurgency that can never be defeated by using counter-terrorism tactics such as Special Forces raids, drone and aircraft strikes, and capture and interrogation operations. 

If you use these tools to kill the insurgents one at a time you end up where we are today; that is, with a nice and well-publicized body count but also with an enormously bigger threat than we faced in 2001. Indeed, Americans ought to be told that there are indications that the IS insurgents are evolving into what the great guerrilla-war theorist Mao Tse Tung called the final stage of insurgency, the point at which elements of the insurgent forces begin to transition into units that are battle-hardened, well trained and led, well armed, and resemble conventional force units.
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