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Friday, February 27, 2009

Is Obama Bush's Thrall?

That's the impression left by the latest Josh Brown cartoon which is prominently displayed on the HAW frontpage. Brown's cartoon portrays our new commander-in-chief as a weak and clueless victim of a siren song from Bush, Cheney, and Rice in his Afghanistan policy. Nothing could be further from the case.

Obama is going into this with both eyes open. He ran to the right of both Bush and McCain during the 2008 campaign and repeatedly called for sending in more U.S. troops and even recklessly supported cross border attacks into Pakistan, with or without the permission of that government. Unfortunately, on Afghanistan policy, Obama is just keeping his campaign promises.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama Rattles More Sabers in Afghanistan and Iran

The bad news just keeps coming from Obama. In the last few days, NATO (U.S.) General John Craddock ordered his troops to widen the already futile Afghan War and kill all drug dealers (apparently on sight).

Now, we are told that an attack on Iran is "still on the table." When will progressives put aside their illusions about Obama?

An excellent move for HAW would be to demand that Obama stop the threats against Iran and publicly denounce Craddock's statements or, better yet, fire him.

Antiwar Americans were instrumental in getting Obama the nomination and electing him. They need to start demanding some reciprocity.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

George W. Obama Speaks (The Daily Show)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Has Obama Now Become a Murderer?

Congratulations, Pakistani children!  You too can sacrifice

That is the conclusion of HAW member, Roderick Long:

One reason power corrupts is that it puts people in a position to choose options with which they would ordinarily never be faced. Our new President has just passed a significant milestone on the road to hell, one that he would be unlikely to have passed in ordinary life: he is now a murderer

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama's War

Not good...but, unfortunately, not surprising:

Missiles fired from suspected US drones killed at least 15 people inside Pakistan today, the first such strikes since Barack Obama became president and a clear sign that the controversial military policy begun by George W Bush has not changed.

Security officials said the strikes, which saw up to five missiles slam into houses in separate villages, killed seven "foreigners" - a term that usually means al-Qaeda - but locals also said that three children lost their lives.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bovard on the "Craven Response" of American Politicians on Gaza

Over at Antiwar.com, Jim Bovard condemns members of the American political class, including President Elect Obama, for their silence on the Gaza carnage:

The craven response by the American political class to the use of American planes and weapons to slaughter civilians is what any reasonable cynic should have expected. Obama is maintaining his silence - perhaps because there is little hay to be made from victims outside of Darfur.

This conflict may be even more ludicrous than the typical Mideast carnage. The New York Times, in a front page story headlined, “Israel Reminds Foe It Has Teeth,” noted, “Israel’s military operation in Gaza aims to expunge the ghost of its flawed 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and re-establish Israeli deterrence.”

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Israel Attacks, Obama Says "No Comment"

As Israel attacks police stations throughout Gaza with our tax money, the President Elect has become uncharacteristically tongue tied.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Neocons in Progressive Drag

As Bush heads for a well-deserved retirement, peace progressives need to stop looking backward and start paying more attention to the pro-war plans of Obama and those around him.

According to Justin Raimondo, as Obama prepares to assume power, the epicenter of the war party has already shifted leftward from the American Enterprise Institute to the Progressive Policy Institute.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation Interviewed

In a fascinating give-and-take interview, Scott Horton and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher for The Nation magazine, exchange ideas about libertarianism and progressivism in the peace movement.

According to the description of the show, they also discuss "the incoming Obama Administration, the popular backlash against corporate power, the ethical and practical necessity of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how an escalation in Afghanistan would ruin the promise of change and hope from the Obama campaign, the impotence of conventional military power against the contemporary threats of asymmetrical warfare and piracy and why NATO should be disbanded and a new cold war with Russia prevented."

Listen here .

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gates: U.S. Troops May Stay "for Decades" in Iraq

The bad news keeps coming from Obama and his hawkish "team of rivals." As I said before, the peace movement needs to raise a ruckus about this now rather than later when it may be too late. Here is what Robert Gates told George Will in a recent interview :

"Regarding Iraq, Gates is parsimonious with his confidence, noting that ‘the multisectarian democracy has not sunk very deep roots yet.' He stresses, however, that there is bipartisan congressional support for ‘a long-term residual presence' of perhaps 40,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and that the president-elect's recent statements have not precluded that. Such a presence "for decades" has, he says, followed major US military operations since 1945, other than in Vietnam. And he says, ‘Look at how long Britain has had troops in Cyprus.'"

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Benjamin Netanyahu Praises Obama

First Max Boot, now this:

"President-elect Obama spoke to me about his view that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons is unacceptable," Netanyahu told Reuters in a brief. "I say that what counts is the goal and the result that he envisions and the way that he achieves that goal is less important," said Netanyahu, a former prime minister.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Are Antiwar Progressives Giving Obama a Free Pass?

The answer is yes according to today's story in the New York Times:

To date, there has been no significant criticism from the antiwar left of the Democratic Party of the prospect that Mr. Obama will keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for at least several years to come.

Okay, fellow peace activists. What do you have to say? Is the New York Times right? Are antiwar progressives giving Obama a free pass?

If so, what does Obama have to say or do before antiwar progressives finally start rousing themselves? In answer to those who say we "should wait" and give Obama "a chance," I'd answer that if we don't raise a ruckus now, we will lose any claim to have a place at the table or influence policy.

When are antiwar progressives going to stop worrying so much about a lame-duck president and start trying to influence the future?

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Say No to NATO Expansion

Ivan Eland urges President Elect Obama to reverse his dangerous course of supporting NATO expansion into territory of the former Soviet Union:

Threats against allies accepting missile defense hardware and naval exercises in the US sphere of influence are Russia's way of signaling that further NATO expansion to include Russia's key neighbors will meet stiff resistance. The up-to-now oblivious US government needs to finally heed these warnings. More important, the incoming Obama administration and the US public should ponder whether they want to ultimately hold their cities hostage to nuclear holocaust to preserve the territorial integrity of these two faraway and non-strategic states. The answer should be an emphatic "no."

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Neocon Advocate of "Empire" Praises Obama

Over at the neocon house organ, Commentary, Max Boot, best known for penning the infamous article, "The Case for American Empire," praises the Obama foreign policy team. Where can I get my "change" back?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama's "Chump Change" and the Retention of Robert Gates

In this interview, Ray McGovern covers a wide range of subjects including Robert Gates, who worked for him at the CIA. Gates, the chief architect of the surge, will now apparently be Obama's Secretary of Defense. McGovern does not have a high opinion of Gates' governing philosophy.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Appointing Hillary: Obama's Bizarro World Logic

Justin Raimondo offers the case for pessimism in Obama's foreign policy:

The outlook for the foreign policy of the new administration is not good. I foresee a protracted period of confusion and internal struggle, punctuated by periodic foreign crises in which Team Obama will be all too eager to prove their "toughness." Diverted by trouble on the home front, President Obama is likely to let the tremendous opportunities opened up by his international popularity and stature go to waste. Putting Hillary Clinton to work on forging a Middle East peace agreement is another example of Bizarro World logic in action: Obama might as well assign the task to Norman Podhoretz.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama's Clinton (and Bush) Hawkish Retreads

Obama's campaign for "change" included a promise not to hire "retreads." As Philip Giraldi points out in this interview with Scott Horton, he is already betraying this promise with a vengeance. His announced, and likely, appointments are not only retreads but pro-war ones at that. As of now, the peace wing of the Democratic Party, which was crucial to electing Obama, is being left out in the cold.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Krugman's Prescription for Disaster

Paul Krugman calls for Obama and his advisors to push an expanded version of the New Deal (see the link below by Mark R. Hatlie). According to Krugman, they should boldly throw caution to the winds and “figure out how much help they think the economy needs, than add 50 percent. It’s much better in a depressed economy, to err on the side of too much stimulus.”

Obama should reject this advice. If he listens to Krugman, the likely result will be a wave of stagflation that makes the experience of the 1970s look mild by comparison. Such a prescription would both continue and accelerate Bush’s fiscally reckless policy of propping up malinvestments through massive increases in spending, deficits, and easy credit by the Federal Reserve. As the continuing fall of the stock market and the rise of unemployment indicate, more bailouts and more “shock socialism” do not work. Obama made a fatal mistake in failing to oppose the aptly described billionaire bailout.

This call for a hyper New Deal rests on a flawed view of history. According Krugman, the only reason Roosevelt failed to bring recovery was because he spent too little, not too much. At the same time, he tries to have it both ways by stating that the crisis of the 1930s would have been “much worse” without the New Deal.

A key problem with Krugman’s analysis is that it does not adequately explain why the decade-long New Deal era depression lasted so much longer than previous depressions. Prior to the 1930s, depressions (as in the sharp and short downturn of 1921 and 1922) had typically lasted for two to three years. The predominant anti-depression policy before Hoover and Roosevelt was to cut spending, balance budgets, and let prices, profits, and wages readjust to more sustainable levels. Yet Krugman regards this older approach for curing depressions as “much worse” than the New Deal. The logical implication of his argument is that the New Deal, modest as it was, would have made the Great Depression at least somewhat shorter than previous downturns. The fact that it did not stands as a stunning indictment of FDR’s policies.

The unprecedented duration of the depression also represents an indictment of Herbert Hoover’s approach. This was because Hoover intervened too much not, as Krugman would have it, too little. Krugman’s article neglects the relevant point that Hoover had pursued a mini-New Deal from 1929 to 1933 via programs such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Federal Farm Board. It was Hoover, not Roosevelt, who was the first president to reject the advice of the “leave it alone liquidationists.” Instead of letting malinvestments (or toxic assets in today’s parlance) readjust at a lower level, he desperately propped them up. In great part because of Hoover’s high wage policies, real wages were actually 12 percent higher in 1932 than in 1929! Meanwhile, of course, unemployment advanced to record levels as businesses saved on payroll costs by laying off workers. Perhaps if Hoover had listened to the advice of the so-called “liquidationists,” the depression would have been over by 1931.

More troubling, at least for opponents of war, is Krugman’s dubious contention that “What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.” The evidence does not support the view that that war was beneficial for the economy. In a seminal article for the Journal of Economic History, Robert Higgs convincingly challenged the Keynesian theory of World War II as put forward by Krugman and others.

While unemployment disappeared during the war, it was hardly a step forward. Moving men and women from the unemployment lines to the killing fields of Anzio did not represent economic progress in any meaningful sense. During the war, Americans at home suffered from rationing, shortages, more accidents on the job, longer hours, and many other measures of economic deprivation. Moreover, as Higgs points out, “real personal consumption declined. So did real private investment. From 1941 to 1943 real gross private domestic investment plunged by 64 percent; during the four years of the war it never rose above 55 percent of its 1941 level; only in 1946 did it reach a new high.”

According to Higgs, genuine prosperity did not begin to return until the last months of 1945 and 1946. This prosperity occurred under a policy of reverse Keynesianism which included massive reductions in spending because of demoblization, rapid steps toward price decontrol, and scaled back deficit spending.

Higgs sums it up:

World War II, the so-called Good War, has been a fount of historical fallacies. One of the greatest—and one of the most pernicious for subsequent policymakers—is the notion that prosperity prevailed during the war. Although Americans might have been dying in the Pacific and European theaters of war, people on the home front actually benefited from the war, because it propelled the economy at long last out of the Great Depression. This view of the war would be sufficiently egregious if it were true, but despite the claims of historians for the past half century, it is not true.

Obama's best hope to bring lasting recovery is to let the economy go through a short, but sharp, readjustment. He needs to remove the malivestments not, contra Krugman, perpetuate them. Obama can faciliate this readjustment to a more sustainable level by cancelling the bailout, cutting spending, and pruning deficits. Another worthy goal would be to dismantle the Federal Reserve which helped to create this mess through its easy credit policies.

Most of all, however, Obama should end our costly empire by closing down our overseas bases and bringing home the troops. Only then, can we start to get our financial house in order and move towards genuine economic well being.

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Howard Zinn on the election of Barack Obama...

Historian Howard Zinn weighs in on the historical significance of the Obama election:


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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Susan Rice and the "Muscular Liberals"

The neocons have finally been driven from power. Thank God! But, amidst the celebrations, the antiwar movement still needs to be vigilant. There is a new threat on the horizon: the "muscular liberals." Ivan Eland has the story :

Obama's top foreign policy advisors include Susan Rice, a member of the "muscular liberal" crowd – you know, the same crew that includes the bombing progressives Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke. In a National Public Radio interview during the campaign, Rice decried President George W. Bush's invasion and nation-building adventure in Iraq, while at the same time advocating U.S. intervention and nation-building in Darfur, Sudan.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another of Obama's Hawks: Rahm Emanuel

We should all continue to hope that Obama will be a peace president, but that does not mean that we should ignore the considerable evidence that indicates otherwise.

For example, his new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is very much from the hawkish wing of the Democratic party. It was Emanuel who was instrumental in getting a clause dropped from the defense appropriations bill requiring Congressional approval for an attack on Iran. Scott Horton has compiled several revealing quotations about Emanuel from the last few years. For the links, see here.

Raimondo: “[E]xamine the CNN photo of Nancy’s coronation and notice its composition: Rahm Emanuel to the left of her, Hoyer to her right – a veritable Praetorian Guard that is little short of menacing. The former torpedoed antiwar candidates in the primary and snubbed them in the general election, while the latter defeated antiwar leader Jack Murtha – frowning in the background – for majority leader on the strength of a smear campaign of extraordinary proportions. Are the men surrounding Madam Speaker an honor guard, or a police escort? Who’s in charge here?”

Raimondo: “The Rahm Emanuel wing of the party – Democratic congressional campaign committee head Emanuel routinely opposed antiwar candidates in the party primaries – is determined to keep the party on a “centrist,” i.e., objectively pro-war course, raising all the old canards about the alleged “weakness” of Democratic candidates on issues related to national security.”

Raimondo: “I would point out that, in a year when the Iraq war is the major issue in races all across the country – and when opposition to the war is at an all-time high, representing nearly 60 percent of voters – the Democrats’ congressional campaign, led by Rahm Emanuel, opposed antiwar candidates with a slate of their own pro-war candidates in the Democratic primaries. In many instances, the Democratic candidate is more pro-war than the Republican.”

Lobe: “Turkey has been aided as well by an expensive lobbying campaign organized and led by a former Republican speaker, Robert Livingstone, and Richard Gephardt, who, as the former Democratic House Leader, had co-sponsored a similar resolution. They have also been joined by several key lawmakers considered close to the so-called Israel Lobby, including the influential Democratic Caucus chairman, Rep. Rahm Emmanuel.”

Safire: “What about Rahm Emanuel, the most powerful voice in the House of Representatives that agrees with Hillary Clinton on foreign affairs. He’s a hawk. And although he’s a rootin’ tootin’ liberal on domestic affairs, he is a hawk on foreign affairs. I was at the—a roast for him for Epilepsy Association, and Hillary Clinton was there, and I said, quite frankly, here you have the hawkish side of the Democratic Party. If they get together, the bumper sticker will read ‘Invade and bomb with Hillary and Rahm.’”

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dennis Ross: Obama's Top Neocon Advisor

Philip Giraldi has an excellent analysis of Obama's foreign policy team. If Dennis Ross represents Obama's version of "change" on issues of war and peace, we are in big trouble.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Is Obama Telling the Truth on Foreign Policy?

Will Obama carry out his foreign-policy campaign promises? Given the Democratic candidate's stated hawkish views, Justin Raimondo hopes that Obama has been telling us a pack of lies but fears that he will give us the awful truth:

Obama lied – people died! How long before we see that slogan emblazoned on a placard at a rather sparsely-attended antiwar rally?

But of course he didn't lie, and isn't lying now. He's telling us he wants to confront Russia and Iran. He's telling us he wants to increase a military budget already larger than the total military expenditures of all other nations combined. He says he won't hesitate to invade Pakistan – and, presumably, any nation anywhere – if we have some reason to believe Osama bin Laden and his cohorts are in the vicinity. I think he's telling the truth – and I challenge the Obamaoids, especially the ones who claim to be sick of eight years of constant warfare, to prove otherwise. If Obama is indeed giving us the real story, and if he actually implements his foreign policy proposals, we are in a world of trouble.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cockburn on Obama's Pro-War Record: The Dead Hand of the Past

Alexander Cockburn breaks ranks with many of his fellow progressives who support Obama. Here's why:

Obama invokes change. Yet never has the dead hand of the past had a "reform" candidate so firmly by the windpipe. Is it possible to confront America's problems without talking about the arms budget? The Pentagon is spending more than at any point since the end of the Second World War. In "real dollars" – an optimistic concept these days – the $635bn (£400bn) appropriated in fiscal 2007 is 5 per cent above the previous all-time high, reached in 1952. Obama wants to enlarge the armed services by 90,000. He pledges to escalate the US war in Afghanistan; to attack Pakistan's territory if it obstructs any unilateral US mission to kill Osama bin Laden; and to wage a war against terror in a hundred countries, creating a new international intelligence and law enforcement "infrastructure" to take down terrorist networks. A fresh start? Where does this differ from Bush's commitment on 20 September 2001, to an ongoing "war on terror" against "every terrorist group of global reach" and "any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism"?


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Atrocities in the Country of Georgia

The BBC finds evidence that Georgia, a country which is backed uncritically by both McCain and Obama, may be guilty of war crimes.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Al Qaeda Endorses McCain

Yes, that's right. To find out why, see here.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Feeling a Draft from Obama

Is Obama planning to impose a military draft? He says he won't but statements like this don't inspire too much confidence:

But it’s also important that a president speaks to military service as an obligation not just of some, but of many. You know, I traveled, obviously, a lot over the last 19 months. And if you go to small towns, throughout the Midwest or the Southwest or the South, every town has tons of young people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s not always the case in other parts of the country, in more urban centers. And I think it’s important for the president to say, this is an important obligation. If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Robert Taft and the Case Against NATO

As McCain and Obama call for admitting Georgia and Ukraine to NATO, it is worth remembering that another candidate who opposed creation of that alliance in the first place, once came within a hair of winning the Republican presidential nomination. His critique still makes sense today.

In 1950, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio firmly explained to dumbfounded interviewers on “Meet the Press” why he opposed sending more U.S. troops to Europe. He condemned the deployment as encirclement and warned that it needlessly provoked the Soviet Union. To hear the entire audio of the interview, go here.

Be patient, the audio might be slow in loading and you'll have to listen a couple of vintage 1950 commercials but it is well worth the wait.

Kudos to Scott Horton at Stress for putting up the audio link.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Have No Illusions about Obama

As last night's debate again illustrates, the differences between the candidates are mostly paper think on foreign policy issues. The antiwar movement (and HAW) is in for a long-hard fight, no matter who wins. Justin Raimondo has this to say about the dreary state of affairs:

As the campaign progressed, however, it soon became all too obvious that a candidate raised up by the "antiwar" wing of the Democratic Party was and is a committed interventionist – and, not only that, but one who is still maintaining some of the hoariest old clichés of interventionist dogma, such as the apparently intrinsic aggressiveness that animates the Russian elite, the supposed centrality of Israel's security to our policy in the Middle East, and the moral imperative of "humanitarian" interventionism, starting in Darfur and ending God knows where.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Richard Milhous McCain Debates John Fitzgerald Obama

In the debate, I kept expecting Obama to echo Kennedy's warning from 1960 in his debate with Nixon about the need to close the non-existent "missile gap." While he was more restrained than McCain on Iraq and Iran, his differences on other foreign policy issues were generally paper thin.

Like McCain, Obama endorsed the General Jack Ripperesque move of admitting Ukraine and Georgia to NATO (thus potentially obligating the U.S. to escalate to World War III in case of a border dispute with Russia) and a "surge" of more U.S. troops into Afghanistan. Obama's statements on U.S. military incursions into Pakistan made McCain look almost cool-headed by comparison (no small accomplishment).

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The McCain/Obama Echo Chamber (Part 2)

Both Obama and McCain almost simultaneously endorsed an expanded military. Now, both candidates have echoed each other again (see here and here) in calling for a surge of U.S. troops into the worsening Afghan quagmire.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama's Janus-Faced Foreign Policy

Obama lays out his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan in an op-ed for The New York Times. It reveals on full display a proposed foreign policy of confusion and contradiction.

With the notable exception of calling for a "residual force" to fight Al Qaeda and train troops, Obama sensibly argues that the best policy is to wean the Iraqis from dependence on the United States and create "a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country."

Not recognizing the contradiction, however, Obama proposes the exact opposite solution for Afghanistan. Instead of letting the Afghans take "responsiblity for the security of their country," he wants to make them even more dependent on American welfare:

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Robert Higgs on the McCain/Obama Call for a Bigger Military

Economic historian Robert Higgs has this to say about proposals by both McCain and Obama to increase the size of the military:

We hear much talk of “the burden on our troops.”

First, what’s the meaning of “our” in this construction? They’re not my soldiers. Are they yours? It seems to me that these soldiers are the hired hands of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the other leaders of the gang that styles itself the government of the United States of America. None of this has anything to do with me, except that I am compelled by threats of government violence to pay a portion of the expense of maintaining and deploying these troops.

Second, what’s the sense of the “burden” they are supposedly bearing? They hired themselves out to work as soldiers; they are now working as soldiers. What could be more natural? People who hire themselves out as prostitutes expect to provide sexual services, and they do. People who hire themselves out as bakers expect to make cakes, cookies, and bread, and they do. People who hire themselves out as soldiers expect to kill people and destroy property as instructed by their officers, and they do. None of these classes of workers is any more burdened than the others: each type of worker makes a voluntary contract to supply services, and each fulfills the contract. There’s nothing especially burdomsome about the fulfillment of a voluntary contract.

Of course, we are constantly told how beholden we all are to the soldiers’ selfless services. Nonsense. I am not beholden in the least. Indeed, I devoutly wish that they had confined themselves to earning a living honestly, peacefully, and productively, rather than in a fashion so manifestly fruitful of senseless mayhem, death, and destruction.

And now, to top the evils that already exist, both major presidential candidates propose to employ even more people in this evil fashion. According to St. Matthew (26:52), Jesus declared that “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” On the strength of this declaration, one would seem well advised to decline the sword or, if one has already taken up a sword, to put it down before somebody gets hurt.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

The McCain/Obama Echo Chamber

In the last two days, both Obama (here) and McCain
have called for a bigger military. Here is what Obama said:

But we need to ease the burden on our troops, while meeting the challenges of the 21st century. That’s why I will call on a new generation of Americans to join our military, and complete the effort to increase our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama's Hawkish Speech on Iran/Israel Before AIPAC

Obama's sabre-rattling claims in this clip are debunked by running commentary from George Galloway who, ironically, is an Obama supporter.

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