Archive for April, 2011

“Mideast and African Roundup” (TIMES, 4/23/11)

April 25, 2011

This regular feature of the TIMES has become something of a scorecard of popular protest against the authoritarian governments of what used to be called the “Middle East.” There are presently six countries listed therein: Syria, Bahrain, Libya, Oman, Yemen, and Egypt.

While the precise identities of the rebels (traditionalist or progressive?) are not always clear, they are challenging the long-ruling governments in power, most of whom have been supported by the United States.

Thus, can we view these popular uprisings as attacks on the “new world order,” that oft-vaunted blueprint of U.S. foreign policy?

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“Patients Are Not Consumers’ by Paul Krugman (TIMES, 4/22/11)

April 25, 2011

Kudos to Paul Krugman for his critique of commercialized medicine.

Better the medical profession be overseen by “expert review” than the Chamber of Commerce. People who need medical help should not be viewed simply as “consumers.”

Medical merchants motivated by the greed for ever more profits cannot be in charge of the health care of Americans.

“Talks on U.S. Presence in Afghanistan After Pullout Unnerve Region” (TIMES, 4/19/11)

April 25, 2011

Is the United States establishing “permanent bases” in Afghanistan or is it only a “long term framework” for bilateral cooperation?

There had been mention of a U.S. withdrawal  beginnning in July 2011 but that expectation seems to have been dashed. Then, it would be a pullout in 2014 (meaning no more U.S. troops in the country after that year.) Now, we are to view the 2011-2014 period as a transitional stage. In other words, U.S. troops will still be stationed in Afghanistan after 2014, which rules out any negotiations with the Taliban.

          And Donald Rumsfeld said he didn’t do quagmires!

“U.S. Relations With Pakistan Falter in Rift Over Drone Strikes” by Jane Perlez (TIMES, 4/18/11)

April 25, 2011

Kudos to Jane Perlez for another exposé of the uneasy alliance between the United States and Pakistan in the struggle with the Taliban. They are obviously working at cross purposes.

At the Pakistani Army headquarters, they even mock General Petraeus’s “perceived political ambitions” by referring to him as “Mr. Pretaeus.” And, because of mutual distrust, the U.S. and Pakistan “have refused to share information on targets” for drone strikes.

They also disagree about the size of the Afghan army, with the U.S. wanting it to be four times as large as Pakistan wants. Meanwhile, 1519 U.S. service members have died in the Afghan War.

With the situation going so badly, will the U.S. really begin to withdraw its forces this year?

“Ultimate spoiler Alert” by David Brooks (TIMES, 4/15/11)

April 25, 2011

“Moderate” (?) conservative David Brooks thinks President Obama should invite Congressman Paul Ryan to lunch so they can understand their differences better!

Obama understands Ryan’s position and, like most objective economic thinkers, he sees that it is not serious. As Paul Krugman pointed out: “The only real things in (Ryan’s budget) were savage cuts in aid to the needy and the uninsured, huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Medicare privatization. All the alleged cost savings were pure fantasy.” (Emphasis added)

Why does Hamiltonian Brooks identify himself as a moderate conservative? His faith is the so-called “free market” is reminiscent of Herbert Hoover and Andrew Mellon (the secretary of the treasury for three Republican presidents from 1921-1931, a kind of economic tsar who was never really called to account for the collapse of the capitalist system that in great part he directed). 

“Pakistan Pushes For Drastic Cuts In CIA Activity” (TIMES, 4/12/11)

April 25, 2011

           Though “more than $1 billion in American assistance a year” goes to the Pakistani military, little progress has been made in defeating “a host of militant groups” operating in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border region. Despite that fact, Pakistan is demanding drastic cuts in CIA operations there, especially in the use of drones.

          If the Pakistani military restrains the CIA and restricts the use of drones, it will ultimately lead to more casualties to the regular U.S. forces. To date, “1515 American service members” have died in this so-called “necessary war” and there is still no light visible at the end of the tunnel.

          How much bad news does the U.S. need to realize that an exit strategy from the Af-Pak-Iraq region is the only course of action remaining?

“The President Is Missing” by Paul Krugman (TIMES, 4/11/11)

April 11, 2011

Kudos to Paul Krugman for calling attention to Obama’s unwillingness to take a stronger stand against the Republican attack dogs in the House of Representatives.

Indeed, if he doesn’t put up more of a fight soon, we maybe lookig at another one-term president. After what happened in Wisconsin and other mid-western states, there appeared to be an opening for a stronger stand fron the administration. Alas, that has not happened!

Of course, Obama will lose any vote in the House, what with the Reublicans voting in lock step against progressive legislation, but making the effort will keep his supporters in the fray, which could be a long one.

It would help if perceptive writers like Krugman would clarify the actual condition of the U.S. economy. When it is being asserted that the recovery began in the Spring of 2009 (though is still anemic!), the impression is given that the economic downtuwn has been halted.

 

“Gates says U>S> Could Keep a Force in Iraq” (TIMES, 4/9/11)

April 11, 2011

Why do the Iraqis “need American troops beyond 2011”?  To hold casualties down, they are kept out of harm’s way.  That being the case, how can they help the Iraqis?

At a time like this, when useful government services are going to be cut in order to lower the deficit, Obama could finally extricate the U.S. from that unnecessary war.  In doing so, he would be removing 47,000 of our troops from a potentially dangerous situation and significantly  reducing the current deficit at the same time.

“Obama Is Set To Redo Team on War Policy” (TIMES, 4/7/11)

April 11, 2011

Obama should consider redoing the policy, not the team, and he should do it now.

  Little has been accomplished by the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and there is “no clear path to defeating the insurgency” in Pakistan. Moreover, the rebel insurgents in Libya are obviously not up to the task of ousting Qaddafi and there are more uprisings rumbling just over the horizon. Can the USA deal with all this with a military solution?

Meanwhile, 4436 Americans have died in Iraq and 1508 in Afghanistan. Enough is enough. It is time to devise an exit strategy from the quagmire created by the shadow presidency and that cou

“Moment of Truth” by David Brooks (TIMES, 4/5/11)

April 11, 2011

“Ryan has his budget. Where’s yours?” challenges conservative columnist David Brooks.

The expectation of Republican Congressman Paul Ryan that $4 trillion can be cut from the federal budget “over the next decade” is completely unrealistic. 

Rather ethan cutting the budget, the government needs to invest money to bring down the unemployment level, tax the very wealthy for the revenue it needs and wind down the expensive U.S. military entanglements abroad.

Such measures would go along way in halting the economic downturn that the vaunted pr