Monday, February 11, 2013

The Republican Dilemma, Benghazi Hearings and Terrorism

   Happy Valentine's Day !
Thursday, February 14 !   
All Day !

                                 
                                    



The Republican Dilemma

What the Republican party needs is a President who is favorable to business, one who is ready to assist companies, or even industries, to make our economy thrive and contribute to an increase in the gross domestic product, reducing unemployment at the same time. 

What the Republican party needs is a President who, while willing to reduce our costly overseas military commitments, is still dedicated bringing our weight to bear in order to protect our interests throughout the world. 

What the Republican Party needs is a President who is willing to fight terrorism on all fronts, even if it occasionally means overlooking civil rights guarantees for Americans.

What the Republican Party needs is a President who is not for a government takeover of our health care system but prefers to aid the insurance industry in privately providing coverage for all Americans. 

What the Republican Party needs is a President who will try to reduce the nation’s debt by cutting spending, and with great reluctance, proceed with unavoidable tax increases taxes only in areas which will be the least painful.

Hold on a minute.  We have such a Republican President and his name is Barack Obama.     
  
His policies have saved the automobile and banking industries.  He has brought back our troops from Iraq and is in the process of doing so in Afghanistan.  He has sought out and killed terrorists, often by drone attacks.  He has promoted health care, mandating that all have it via traditional insurers.  And the stock market isn’t doing badly either.   

If the Democrats were wild-eyed liberals, truly hell-bent on turning the country into a European style “nanny” state, the Republicans could easily elect a G.O.P. candidate espousing just about what Barack Obama’s programs include. Someone like Ronald Reagan?  But the Democrats are not wild-eyed liberals nor closet socialists.  That went out the door in the 1940’s when FDR chose Harry Truman rather than Henry Wallace to be his Vice-President.  Many Republicans choose not to recognize this.
   
Henry Wallace                              Harry Truman


So the Republicans oppose the Democrats by positioning themselves to the right of the clearly centrist positions of Barack Obama.  Doing so will guarantee their defeat in elections on a national and statewide basis.  But for a while, it still may bring them some successes in electing congressmen and state legislators (who apportion congressional districts), where a narrower appeal to voters on such emotional issues as abortion, gun control, welfare and schooling can swing elections. Clearly, unless the Republicans change their focus and de-emphasize positions far to the right of the President and the Democratic Party, even these successes which manage to give them control of the House of Representatives will ultimately wither away.

How successful they are in making such changes will next be manifested in the 2014 Senatorial contests, where extreme right wing Republicans such as those who went down to defeat in Indiana and Missouri in 2012, ought not be on the ballot.  If they are, the outlook for the G.O.P. will be grim.

The United States Senate in Session

The following states will elect Senators in 2014.  Elections marked “special” are to fill vacancies caused by death or resignation.  The others are to fill the 33 six year terms expiring in 2014. 

Alabama,  Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii (special), Illinois, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Carolina (special), South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.

It is far too early to make any predictions but it is clear that the preservation of the two party system in the United States depends on the G.O.P.’s nominating potentially electable candidates and not right wing extremists, who, while possibly able to win a state legislature seat, or even a congressional seat, would fail miserably in a run for the Senate in many states with Democratic majorities.

Jack Lippman             


                                                  

 Benghazi Hearings, Terrorism and "Black Ops"



After watching the most recent Congressional hearings on concerning what happened in Benghazi, where four Americans including the Ambassador were killed, I conclude that the failure of our government to instantly respond to the assault on the Consulate there, and the fact that the facility was not protected in the first place, were unavoidable errors.
             General Martin Dempsey testifying before Senate Committee


As General Dempsey, Chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified, there were potential dangerous situations in many diplomatic facilities throughout the world, and Benghazi was only one of them.    Military preparedness at all of them beforehand wasn't possible, or timely intervention at the time of an attack at any of them if requested by the State Department, while desirable in hindsight would not have been instantaneously attainable either.   Obviously, it took a painful lesson to teach us that there has to be better coordination between the State Department and the military and that local governments in newly emerging countries cannot be expected to protect diplomatic facilities in the same manner as is done in established nations.



What is disturbing about the hearings is that the tangle of communications channels involving the State Department and the military, and the rules and hierarchies they involve, seems to have played a role in preventing a quick response.  Still more disturbing, however, is the role of the Republican Senators who see this tragedy as an opportunity to pin the blame on the President, as if he were sitting at a phone, taking a call from the besieged consulate, and callously

refusing to act instantly.  Hearings are to develop ideas for better laws, not to run around seeking to place blame on political opponents.

Anyone with experience in the military or in other governmental structures knows that things do not happen instantly, and authority to act is necessarily repeatedly delegated.  Those with World War II experience know the meaning of the acronym “SNAFU.”



The opinion that the President who was in the midst of a re-election campaign, or his staff, intentionally soft-pedaled the idea that the attack was pre-meditated terrorism … and instead attributed it, at least partially, to a virulent anti-Muslim video in circulation at the time, might have some merit.  Of course, it was not possible at the time to have confirmed that the attackers were terrorists rather than a mob gone violent, so the latter attribution was as good as any.  



And while on the subject of those who use terror as a tactic, in fighting them sometimes it is necessary to ignore “rules” that are normally followed.  This applies to the use of drones to attack terrorist targets, sometimes resulting in ‘collateral” civilian deaths, as well as enhanced interrogation techniques (torture) and violation of the civil rights of Americans such as the assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki involved.  As reprehensible as these things are, they are more than just a matter of fighting fire with fire.  When your opponent is willing to kick you in the groin, should you refuse to respond in kind because it is unsportsmanlike and against the rules?  Whose rules?  


   
                 9-11 attack  -  2001                                             Drone attack - 2013



It would be na├»ve not to suspect that our government and most other nations have super-secret and well-funded “black” operations established which play by a set of rules which the laws of no individual nation nor world organization would justify.  But that is the way the game is played when the stakes are high.

JL


                                                        
                                                       


                                                               




                                                

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Jack Lippman

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