ANewDomain.net Exclusive: Fighting the Inhumanity

At signings people are asking me whether we should be at war against ISIS. Here, exclusive to ANewDomain.net, is my response:

Drawing comparisons to the Nazi Holocaust, corporate media (i.e., “mainstream”) pundits like New York Times columnist Roger Cohen agrees with President Obama’s argument that ISIS represents an existential threat to what they euphemistically call “American strategic interests in the Middle East” — oil, gas, pipelines, Israel, our pet dictators and autocrats — and to humanity. And humanism.

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, has created a cult of violence that makes the elimination of all nonbelievers the cornerstone of a movement whose avowed objective is a restored Islamic caliphate but whose raison d’être is the slaughter itself,” Cohen writes.

Citing Aushwitz survivor Primo Levi’s definition of the Germans’ behavior in the death camps as “counter-human,” Cohen concludes of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: “Presented with the counter-human, the human must fight back.”

When someone claims that someone else acts violently without cause — “senselessly,” “cowardly,” as its own “raison d’être — my bullshit detector goes off.

Read more here.

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Obama a “Reluctant Warrior,” My Ass

http://www.salem-news.com/stimg/june132013/obama-war-crimes.jpg

David Ignatius is to The Washington Post what Thomas Friedman is to The New York Times, the 50-yard line of the world as seen by political elites. Like Friedman (but minus the Mustachioed One’s tortured syntax and penchant for airport-to-Four-Seasons taxicab policy briefings), Ignatius mirrors the views of our wealthy, powerful and oblivious leaders at any given hour of the day.

Like the president and his advisors and Congress and the Pentagon brass, he never spies a crisis abroad that couldn’t be improved by firing explosives at it. Long after everyone, including even the media, tires of the carnage (in Iraq, in Afghanistan, etc.), he continues to defend it until the war’s approval ratings dip into fractions of a percentage point, at which point he pivots, bravely arguing that intervention is a mistake.

At this writing, we are at the start of America’s war cycle: (post-beheading video) anger, bombing, more bombing, withdrawal.

Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Syria is in its larval form. Which means Ignatius is cheerleading what the U.S. does best: turning living human beings into corpses.

Ignatius, a right-winger, is more pro-war than pro-Republican. Which earns the president official Ignatian praise as — no, really! — a “reluctant warrior.”

Obama, writes Ignatius, “certainly didn’t go looking for another war in the Middle East.” He “contorted himself almost to the breaking point to avoid one.” He “had no choice.”

Ignatius approvingly cites fellow Iraq War neo-con Stephen Hadley (last seen in the desert searching for Saddam’s WMDs, rather than in prison where he belongs): “Hadley noted that Obama’s stance as a reluctant warrior will help him reassure foreigners and Americans alike that this isn’t a reckless, unilatateral U.S. crusade,” Ignatius writes.

Beware of warmongers bearing the “no choice” argument. In matters of war, especially against a foe like ISIS deemed by U.S. government’s own professional intelligence analysts to pose no imminent threat to the U.S., there is always a choice.

To war or not to war?

You might also want to be wary of warmongers whose last war, and the one before, and the one before that, didn’t work out well — guys who are always, reliably wrong. Though, to be fair to Iggy, that’s also true about most of his colleagues.

More galling than Ignatius’ Lucy-and-the-football “no, really, this time really will be awesome” here-we-go-again shtick is this “mainstream” columnist’s belief that Americans can’t remember the last five years of U.S. history.

When it comes to killing, Obama is anything but reluctant. To the contrary — he makes George W. Bush look like a dirty peace hippie.

Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 by running against the “stupid war” against Iraq. Once in office, however, he issued order after order extending said stupid war with tens of thousands of soldiers and U.S. private “contractors” (corporate mercenaries).

Obama doubled down in Afghanistan with the failed “surge” of additional troops.

It’s pretty much forgotten now, but in 2011 Obama went in deep against Libya, assassinating dictator Col. Moammar Gaddaffi with a drone. The collapse of Gaddaffi’s government opened a vacuum instantly filled by Benghazi-based radical Islamist militias and sparked a civil war that has reduced a formerly viable nation to a failed state.

Speaking of drones…

Does anyone need reminding that Obama aggressively expanded Bush’s illegal program of drone assassinations in Yemen, east Africa and Pakistan, killing thousands of people, 98% or so of whom have been innocent civilians? Or that, rather than grant the victims of the 9/11 attacks justice in the form of a trial, he ordered the assassination and midnight body dump of Osama bin Laden?

From Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya to now Iraq all over again, Barack Obama is as much of a “reluctant warrior” as Genghis Khan.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of the new critically-acclaimed book “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan.” Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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Can anyone identify this foot problem?

Every now and then, I reach out to my readers, the most intelligent people in the world, to help me unravel the mysteries of the world. On one occasion, for example, an entomologist who reads my column was able to identify the male dobsonfly I found in central Pennsylvania.

Today’s challenge concerns the attached photos. (No, these are not my feet.) If you know what this is, please comment.

Fungus? Athletes foot?

Thanks. (It may help the medically inclined to know that the feet are attached to someone whose immune system has been significantly compromised.)

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If You’re in San Francisco

It would be awesome, as far as I’m concerned, were you to come meet me at my book signing at the Book Passage at the San Francisco ferry terminal on the Embarcadero. This event is this coming Monday evening.

Specs:

Monday, September 22, 2014
6:00 PM
Book Passage
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

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LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Why the Fuzz Pulled You Over

Know Why I Pulled You Over?

Crime is falling in California. Yet the state’s police agencies have one of the highest concentrations of surplus military hardware in the United States. People started paying more attention to a post-9/11 Defense Department program to transfer military gear used against Afghanistan and Iraq to civilian police departments here in the United States in the wake of racially charged clashes between demonstrators and heavily armed police in Ferguson, Missouri.

California law enforcement agencies began seriously taking an interest in military style hardware after a February 1997 shootout between bank robbers and overwhelmed cops in North Hollywood. In most places at most times, however, police rarely confront criminals with that much high-powered weaponry. That’s why California Police Chiefs Association president Christopher Boyd’s claim that “all of this equipment is needed…Most police departments cannot afford to buy them” seems a bit, well, over the top.

When you have to go back nearly two decades in order to justify the need, it looks more like a reaction to a quantum singularity than a genuine necessity – and given what happened in Ferguson, there is a real concern that police militarization widens the chasm of trust between law enforcement and the communities they are supposed to serve.

You can’t blame police for wanting the most powerful weapons and the strongest defensive capabilities in order to protect officers. But policing is at least as much about politics as it is about protection. Not politics as in Democrat or Republican, but the politics of a tense relationship between free citizens, most of whom are law-abiding and pay the salaries of the cops, and municipal employees who were supposed to be more concerned about protecting the public than themselves.

After Ferguson, many of my white friends defended the police’s use of military style hardware as just good sense given the dangers of the streets in that St. Louis suburb. Then I would ask them: if you trust the police, if you’re not afraid of them, if you feel that the ultimate defense is not having done anything wrong, then how you feel when you see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror? Happy? Completely unafraid? None could honestly answer yes.

It seems counterintuitive, but this is one of those cases in which civilian oversight necessitates protecting the police from themselves by prohibiting them from protecting themselves too much.

For today’s cartoon, I push the “what if this trend continues?” envelope – but really, truly, I don’t think that we are really all that far from the dystopian nightmares portrayed by countless science-fiction novels and films. I’m 51 years old. If you’d told me, when I was 21, that the United States would become a country whose government and law enforcement officials were terrified of their own citizens, that they would treat us like surly victims of a foreign occupation army, I would have rolled my eyes. I was a cynical punk rocker back then, but things have gotten worse than I ever imagined.

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: A Hillary Clinton Candidacy is an Incredibly Depressing Thought

Women of a certain age are thrilled by the prospect of a possible President Hillary.

Over-50 females are so overjoyed that one of their own might finally achieve the nation’s top political post — better two centuries late than never — that they’re willing to overlook the former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State’s not-so-minor defects.

Like her very long resume, minus significant achievements. Like the blood of a million Iraqis dripping off her warmongering claws. (She voted in ’03 for a war she ought to have known would soon become unpopular. What was she worried about? That New Yorkers, liberal as they come, wouldn’t reelect her in ’06?) Like the ugly optics of America’s first woman president having to be a former First Lady because we can’t find a woman who made something of herself on her own merits. Like the nasty truth that, aside from her chromosomes and body parts, she’s not one of them at all — just another slimy influence peddler. Not to mention, she doesn’t stand for anything, or have a vision that differs from the status quo.

For the rest of us, a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign is an incredibly depressing thought.

Starting with her much-vaunted Inevitability. Doesn’t anyone remember that we went through this in 2008? Democrats didn’t want her then; we don’t want her now. Can’t we do better than this tired old warhorse?

When I see Hillary’s chipmunk-cheeked countenance, I see old. Part of this is primal physicality, the sexist social conditioning that says guys age more gracefully than women. (How much you wanna bet that’d be the opposite under matriarchy?) But Hillary is actually old: she’ll be 69 on Election Day 2016. Her supporters point out that that’s the same age as Reagan when he took office. Considering the fact that the Gipper went senile in office, they might want to hush up.

For years, Clinton has played it hush-hush about her not-so-awesome health. This is one of those times, as with John McCain, where you’d have to pay close attention to the candidate’s veep pick.

More than calendar years, Hillary is spiritually old. She’s a throwback to another time, one that’s never coming back.

Like Reagan, Hillary Clinton is a cultural hiccup. Disconnected. Passé.

Post-Obama, who for his many shortcomings managed for a time to project a youthful vigor, an elderly President Hillary would mark a grim, dutiful restoration, a political return to the 1970s and 1980s, when she toiled as a talented if sketchy corporate lawyer. She harkens to the presidency of her husband, a conservative who banished liberals from the Democratic Party, severing the last connection between Washington’s political classes and the people they were supposedly sent to serve, never to be seen again after post-9/11 Bush went insane right-wing and Obama codified and expanded it all.

I don’t mind that she stayed married to Bill after he cheated on her. What’s unforgivable is that she stayed married to him after he destroyed American politics.

I hate Hillary — if you think about the million Iraqis she voted to kill, how can you not? — yet I don’t feel contempt for her.

What I feel is bored.

Bored, tired and sad. We have so many pressing systemic problems (economic decline, endless war, national purposelessness); is it really possible we’re going to have to endure another four-to-eight years of a presidency that doesn’t even try to address what ails us?

Because, let’s face it, there is no universe in which a President Hillary kicks ass. There is no chance, not even a remote one, that she is interested in decisive action on climate change (her “plan”: hope for young people to form a “movement“), bold moves to reduce unemployment or raise wages, putting an end to NSA spying on Americans (she’s in favor of it), or slamming the breaks on Washington’s kneejerk reaction to anything that happens overseas: blow it up (she’s really in favor of war).

You only get one thing by electing a President Hillary: a first woman president.

An old, tired, unimaginative, uninspiring, boring, useless, first woman president.

Yay.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of the new critically-acclaimed book “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan.” Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

 

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