Finally! Congress Grows A Spine!

Yet Another Closing Thought!  14Dec18

I have been watching the Congress for decades and have seen a serious lack of a spine from any of them regardless of the Party in power…..my writings have labeled them as spineless toads….that may have changed…at least for now…..

The Senate on Thursday sent what the Washington Post described as a historic rebuke to the White House over Saudi Arabia. Actually, it delivered two rebukes. First, senators voted 56-41 to invoke the War Powers Act and demand that the US end its military support of the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen war, per the Hill. Neither the Senate nor the House has ever invoked the 1973 act previously. The Senate also voted—unanimously—to condemn Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and called on the Saudi government to “ensure appropriate accountability,” reports the AP. The details.

  • Only symbolic? Though historic, it’s unlikely the war resolution can pass the House this year. That chamber already has moved to effectively make passage impossible in 2018, reports the Weekly Standard. And even if it did pass, President Trump would likely veto it. Democrats could re-introduce it in 2019, however.
  • Why? Mounting reports of war atrocities and the killing of Khashoggi led to bipartisan anger among senators, per NPR. Seven Republicans bucked Trump on the war vote, including co-sponsor Mike Lee of Utah. Among other things, the legislation forbids the American refueling of Saudi jets and orders the US to scale back its military presence in the region, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Argument in favor: “It says to the country, it says to the world, the United States Senate … will not be part of this brutal, horrific war in Yemen led by an undemocratic, despotic regime,” said Bernie Sanders, another co-sponsor, before the vote. Particularly, he said the bombing of a bus filled with children in August, along with the murder of Khashoggi, gave the measure its necessary added support.
  • Argument against: Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan made the same argument: that the War Powers Act doesn’t apply because the US isn’t directly involved in hostilities. “If the Senate wants to pick a constitutional fight with the executive branch over war powers, I would advise my colleagues to pick a better case,” said McConnell, per the Washington Examiner.
  • US help: The US has provided logistical support to the Saudis, though Ryan points out that the US already has stopped providing air-to-air refueling for Saudi jets. Lee, on the other hand, said the US is providing bombs and helping determine where to drop them. “That’s involvement in war, and that’s pretty direct,” he said, per USA Today.
  • Focus on the prince: For the first time, senators have suggested they want the Saudi regime to remove the prince from power, notes Al Jazeera. “The current construct” with Saudi Arabia “is not working,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year. “You’re never going to have a relationship with the United States Senate unless things change.”

A bright spot: The Senate action came hours after opposing sides in the war met in Sweden and agreed to a cease-fire in the pivotal port city of Hodeidah, reports the Wall Street Journal. It’s a rare diplomatic breakthrough after four years of war.

Like I said….they finally grew a spine……but is it a permanent condition or just a passing fad?

More on the vote…..

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/13/historic-victory-senate-votes-end-us-involvement-unauthorized-war-yemen

I will be watching….and only time will tell.

But will this bill truly end the US role?

The bill, which will be voted on by the Senate this week, has been praised by many within the anti-war movement for its bid to “end” U.S. military involvement in Yemen. Passage of the bill would, however, do no such thing.

Yet, the text of the bill itself reveals that SJR 54 invokes the War Powers Resolution in name only. Indeed, while the bill claims to be aimed at achieving “the removal of United State Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress,” it contains a major loophole that will allow the majority of U.S. troops in Yemen – if not all – to stay.

https://theantimedia.com/yemen-bill/

Some think that the dynamic in the Middle East will change because of this vote…..

The six-page draft also holds Prince Mohammed accountable for the devastating war in Yemen that has sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, the failure to end the 17-month-old Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar, and the jailing and torture of Saudi dissidents and activists.

In doing so, the resolution confronts not only Prince Mohammed’s policies but also by implication those of his closest ally, UAE crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The UAE was the first country that Saudi leader visited after the Khashoggi killing.

By in effect challenging the position of king-in-waiting Prince Mohammed, the resolution raises the question whether some of his closest allies, including the UAE crown prince, will in future want to be identified that closely with him.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-senate-resolution-potentially-changes-middle-east-dynamics/5662090

Just a game being played with people’s lives…..what we do best.

Closing Thought–14Dec18

Today I must go to the hospital and let the doctors poke and prod….so this should be it for the day and I shall return tomorrow…..but tomorrow is my wife’s day with her cardio doctors…..so another light posting day as well.

I have written here on IST many times about the problem of suicide with our active duty service people and our Veterans…..there are many different approaches to try and curb this spiraling problem…..

The mounting toll of military suicides since 2003 — an intractable problem highlighted again Friday with a murder-suicide at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland — has surpassed the number of troops killed in Iraq.

The latest Pentagon statistics on suicides in all service branches, combined with previously-released data compiled by the San Antonio Express-News, brought the total to 4,839 for the years 2003 through 2015. In the same period, 4,496 American were lost serving in Iraq.

https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/amp/Suicides-in-military-since-2003-now-exceed-U-S-7237308.php

The military now has a novel approach for active duty personnel to try and head off this in advance……

The U.S. Army‘s top official said Thursday that he wants to see sergeants making regular visits to the barracks on weekends to help reduce the number of soldiers who die by suicide.

Suicide is a problem that every service struggles to prevent. In calendar year 2017, 509 U.S. military personnel died by suicide, according to Defense Department numbers. Of that number, the Army suffered 298 deaths by suicide across the active duty, National Guard and Reserve.

“It’s a tragedy that we have suicide in our ranks, but it’s coming into our ranks from society writ large,” Army Secretary Mark Esper told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute. “Every week, I am signing letters to families offering my condolences for soldiers who have taken their lives.”

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/11/08/army-wants-sergeants-barracks-weekends-prevent-suicides.html

Something needs to be done for this problem….but I think this approach is a band-aid for a sucking chest wound…..I do not think that this approach will do much to lessen the attempts of suicide to be honest…..

Anyone have anything they would like to add?

An Education Of A President, Et Al

I make NO mistake that I do not think that this president has any idea what he is doing when it comes to the proper use of the intel gathered by our agencies…..now to be fair I do not know if he is just lazy and ignorant or he truly believe some of the spineless crap he is doing and saying…..

But as usual the old professor is here to help (even if it is for someone that I do not support in any way shape or form)…..there is now a short paper on the use of intel for policymakers……

It’s 9:00 pm somewhere in the trenches of the national security bureaucracy. You are a mid-level policymaker and are scrambling to prepare for the big National Security Council meeting in the morning, when principals will debate and decide the U.S. course of action for the crisis du jour. You need to write a ‘read-ahead’ paper and be able to convincingly brief your principal and maybe even the National Security Council on the state of play in the conflict, policy options based on that analysis, pros and cons of each option, and to ultimately make a recommendation. You, however, have not been reading your intelligence — and you do not even know where to start.

Sure, your intentions were good. But the time-sucking reality of recurring crises, endless paper churn, non-stop meetings, and ensuring you are invited to said meetings (with the correct location and a speaking role) overwhelmed you. You have cancelled more morning briefs than you have held. Piles of unopened daily intelligence readbooks spill out of your safe. You can barely remember the names of the analysts supporting you, let alone how to contact them (they went home for the night hours ago, FYSA). You’ve skated by through weeks of interagency meetings with your three trusty talking points, but now, when the analytic rubber hits the policy road, you realize you do not sufficiently understand the issues at play, nor what options the United States could or should pursue to address them. You, my mid-level policymaking friend, lack intelligence.

https://warontherocks.com/2018/11/intelligence-and-you-a-guide-for-policymakers/

This should be required reading if you are a policymaker……someone has got to step up and insert some sanity back into the policies that this country is embracing…..and at the same time dragging it into the pit.

I will be sending it to my representatives….not that it would do much good…..but at least they cannot claim ignorance as they often do.

Right?

Outlook For Foreign Policy

I have nit taken a close look at our foreign policy in the last month or so…..and as we get closer to the end of the year I would like to look at our policies…..

We must look at our foreign policy under Pres. Trump…..his administration, his foreign policy…..

President Donald Trump’s recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/u-s-foreign-policy-has-no-policy/

Trump’s lack of experience at foreign policy and hiring yes men instead of experienced international relations people has made our foreign policy unexceptional…….

President Donald Trump’s campaign and years in office thus far have elicited plenty of pre-mortems on his foreign policy, as well as postmortems on the “liberal international order,” on which he is allegedly turning his back. International relations scholars, foreign policy think-tankers, and journalists continue to debate the nature of this order, whether it actually existed and was a force for good, and Trump’s influence on American grand strategy.

In the last two months alone, four books on the subject have been released, all of them by renowned scholars. Arguing that the U.S. grand strategy of the last three decades has failed and is ripe for re-thinking are Harvard University’s Stephen M. Walt with The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy and the University of Chicago’s John J. Mearsheimer with The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities. On the liberal internationalist side is the Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan with The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World and Ivo H. Daalder’s and James M. Lindsay’s The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of Global Leadership.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/making-american-foreign-policy-unexceptional/

Dear Supreme Leader has tried doing the same things as past admins have done and expecting a different outcome simply because he is Trump…..

After a week of insisting that a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina was going to happen, President Trump at the last minute sent out a Tweet explaining that due to a Russia/Ukraine dispute in the Sea of Azov he would no longer be willing to meet his Russian counterpart.

According to Trump, the meeting had to be canceled because the Russians seized three Ukrainian naval vessels in Russian waters that refused to follow instructions from the Russian military. But as Pat Buchanan wrote in a recent column: how is this little dispute thousands of miles away any of our business?

https://original.antiwar.com/paul/2018/12/03/trump-foreign-policy-doing-the-same-thing-and-expecting-a-different-result/

The Midterms are over and now time to look at the foreign policies that should be coming to a president near you…..

On the day after the U.S. midterm elections, European politicians and analysts are bracing for disruption from Donald Trump that will be even greater than what he has perpetrated so far. Their concerns are well-founded, for reasons related both to the election result and to Trump’s methods of operation.

Some now-familiar characteristics of Trump’s presidency, especially pertaining to foreign relations, are relevant. Trump places highest priority on applause from his political base, which means he cares little about damage to national interests so long as the applause keeps coming. He has become, with much practice, a master in the art of distraction and diversion through manufactured crises and outrageous statements. Crisis and outrage have positive value for him. And his overall approach to foreign relations has largely been one of knocking down and destroying things, especially anything institutional or multilateral. Even when a constructive result finally comes, as with North American free trade, it is only after the storm and stress of a Trump-manufactured crisis.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/post%E2%80%93election-foreign-policy-trouble-35477