Friday, November 14, 2014

A trick, a con, call it what you will






US House Rep Walter Jones:  Mr. Secretary it's kind of ironic the last time that I heard, before today, a Secretary of Defense talk about military involvement in Iraq was Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  That got us into a war that was unnecessary.  I know ISIL is evil.  There's no question about it.  They need to be taken out.  But I looked at some of your statements from 2002 when you were a senator and how you felt about the obligation of a member of Congress to make a decision to send a young man or young woman to die.  I also looked at your statements  in 2007 when, like myself, you came out against the surge in Iraq.  Now we are going to possibly be asked by the President of the United States -- like we were by George W. Bush -- to authorize an AMUF.  This is nothing but an abdication of our Constitutional responsibility.  To give any president an AMUF.  We tried this past year in June when we had the NDAA bill, Adam Schiff tried to sunset out the AMUF that we gave to President Bush -- which is what was used by President Obama.  And I do not understand how we in Congress can continue to abdicate what the Constitution says is our responsibility.  Before I get to a brief question, James Madison once said this, "The power to declare war -- including the power to judging the cause of war  -- is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."  And I do not believe sincerely because when -- this happens to be President Obama.  He wants to have another AMUF or an extension of what we have.  I hope that the Congress -- both parties -- will look seriously at what is our responsibility because it's not going to be but so long.  You have sent more and more troops to Iraq to train.  Many of these [being trained] are former Saddam Hussein loyalists and now they're fighting with ISIS -- some are fighting for the other side.  It's very complex, I understand that and I agree with that.  But for goodness sake, why in the world should we make such a commitment?  And we don't even have an end point to it.  I would like for you or Gen Dempsey -- I have great respect for both of you -- to submit for the record two things very quickly: how does this new war end in your opinion?  And I realize that it's just your opinion but it's very important because of what you are.  What is the end state of what we're trying to accomplish.  The American people -- fifty -- over fifty percent of the American people do not want our personnel in Syria or in Iraq.  And I will be honest with you, I don't know how we can convince the American people that a nation that's financially broke  -- You sat right here, Gen Dempsey, and you were exactly right, sequestration and all the budget problems coming your way and yet you're asking for five or six billion dollars to drop more armaments in Iraq and in Syria?  Where is it coming from? Please explain to the American people and to this Congress how this war is going to end some day?  Whether we are advisors or we are fighting?  And I hope to God we are not fighting and I hope we do not give the president a new AMUF.  So if you'll get those into the Committee in written form [take the question for the record] then you won't have to answer them now.  But this, again, looks like we're going down the same road that Secretary Rumsfeld said we had to do -- we had to do! -- and yet there was no end point to that as well.  Thank you very much.

That was Jones from this today's House Armed Services Committee hearing where Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey testified.

Committee Chair Buck McKeon made clear from the start that any authorization he got behind would not be an open-ended one.

The hearing was often surreal (and what was up with the band aid Hagel had on the left side of his face?) and a demonstration of just how insane the government is.

For example, to listen to Dempsey, the Islamic State is nothing but a big pimple "We need to squeeze ISIL from all directions."

He also insisted, "There is no change, and there is no different direction."  Or when he declared, "I think progress purchases patience."  Were that true, the reality would still be that there is no progress.  A fact Hagel seemed to acknowledge when he declared,  "We are three months into a multi-year effort."  Not a reassuring statement.

Justin Raimondo ( offers:

So what’s our policy? You can’t really tell from here what this most "transparent" of administrations is up to, and what’s particularly scary is that one doubts whether even they know. Obama says one thing, and then does another. Dempsey says more, Obama says less. This game of seesaw between the President and Dempsey is a bit banana-republic-anish – I mean, who’s in charge here, exactly? Or are we being fooled into thinking Obama is the "reluctant interventionist," as he cynically plays the game once played by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the run up to our last world war?
FDR, you’ll recall, pledged "again and again" that "your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars" – even as he was scheming and plotting to get us in by doing everything possible to provoke a German attack on our trans-Atlantic shipping. While FDR pussyfooted around – or appeared to – his allies and advisors clamored for more decisive measures, to which he eventually and gladly gave in.

Whatever the President’s real views, we are sliding down the Iraqi slope pretty rapidly. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t hear of another few hundred GIs being quietly shipped to Iraq – "non-combat" troops, to be sure. Yes, they’re going over there to engage in some pretty dangerous and potentially lethal "non-combat" – and when they start getting killed in numbers high enough to notice, will they come back in non-bodybags? 

At one point early on, Chair Buck McKeon noted that Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes went on TV (PBS' Frontline) and stated that US President Barack Obama would not reconsider his decision re: sending in troops for combat on the ground.

Dempsey stated he was under no limitations with regards to what he recommends to Barack. and that there was nothing to stop him, if he felt it was needed, from recommending US troops accompany Iraqi troops on missions in Mosul and along the border, "I'm not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by US forces, but we're certainly considering it."

US House Rep Loretta Sanchez wanted to know what was different this time?  After all the training that had taken place, what was different in this latest 'solution'?

Hagel insisted one difference was the new prime minister (Haider al-Abadi) and how Iraq now had a Minister of Defense, "We haven't had a Minister of Defense in Iraq for more than four years -- [former] Prime Minister [Nouri al-]Maliki took that job for himself -- as he did the Minister of Interior."

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