Monthly Archives: May 2013
President Thomas Jefferson, in his inaugural address, famously called for “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” Today, Jefferson is likely rolling in his grave. This time, the problem is Barbara Boxer, a liberal Senator from California. And while conservatives love to promote themselves as the only defenders of Israel, Boxer is busy promoting the good of the State of Israel even at the detriment of citizens of the United States. The United States currently participates in a visa waiver program with 37 countries that are deemed to be friendly with the United States. The visa waiver program allows citizens of signatory nations enter the United States without visas. This makes it easier for citizens of those nations to enter the United States, for business or pleasure, and thereby participate in our economy. In exchange, signatory nations offer the same favorable treatment to Americans.
It’s a win-win scenario. But Boxer wants Israel to be different. You see, there are American citizens who Israel thinks may be security risks. And Israel does not want to allow those citizens to be able to waive in so easily. Instead, Israel wants to be given a special visa waiver deal: they want it to go only one way. While all Israelis would be able to waive into the United States under the Boxer bill, not all Americans would be given the same treatment.
The Wall Street Journal published an article last week reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the dead “Suspect Number 1″ in the Boston Marathon Bombing, was in the Caucasus last year unsuccessfully trying to infiltrate an extreme Islamist mosque and attempting to forge a relationship with a rebel group by offering “to act as a financial go-between for an organization based in the U.S.” Tsarnaev has been reported as having no outside connections and limited if any financial resources, so either his offer of U.S. funding was an empty promise or the official account of his connections and resources is wrong.
Perhaps it informs the answer to know that the offer Tamerlan Tsarnaev was making was for the same service his uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, known at the time as Ruslan Tsarnaev, is reported to have provided to Chechen radicals in the mid-1990s.
On September 14, 2001, Ron Paul took to the House floor and offered a summary of the American position that, over a decade later, has proven to be almost prophetic. He stated that “for the critics of our policy of interventionism in the affairs of others, the attack on New York and Washington was not a surprise. Many have warned of its inevitability.”
He continued by warning that “for us to pursue a war against our enemies, its crucial to understand why we were attacked,” for “without this knowledge, striking out at six or eight, or even ten different countries could well expand this war of which we wanted no part.” Those words should give pause to a nation that has spent the last decade mired in Iraq, after having disposed of a dictator who posed no threat to the United States, and who acted as a buffer against Shiite Iran. Iraq is a majority Shiite nation that had been led by a Sunni leader. Today, it is a majority Shiite nation with a Shiite leadership that, not surprisingly, is friendly with our newest enemies, the Shiite Iranians. The death toll for US soldiers in Iraq beats the death toll for 9/11 by close to 1500 people. But that is nothing compared to the over 100,000 Iraqis who lost their lives as a result of the United States’ foreign policy.
Those words should give pause to a nation that has spent a decade in Afghanistan, and sacrificed 2000 brave members of our armed services there. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has tearfully pleaded with the US to stop killing civilian citizens of his beleaguered nation.
Those words should be meaningful to a nation that has been responsible for over 350 drone strikes in Pakistan, amounting to anywhere between 2000 and 3300 deaths. Of those, America estimates that as many as 884 of them were civilians, and 197 of them were children! These are the US’s numbers. Who wants to bet Pakistan has different numbers?
Those words should resonate with the nation that rid the world of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, an early supporter of the US in the “War on Terror,” so that he could be replaced by rogue elements that may have ties to Al Qaeda. By the way, we are on the verge of assisting Al Qaeda in removing the Alawite Shia leader of the largely Sunni nation of Syria. What a victory that will be for the American foreign policy, and for Al Qaeda leaders in Syria!
Those words should especially cause us to ask our leaders whether they really want to start a conflict either with Syria, or with Iran. The US and Israel have been saber-rattling with Iran’s democratically elected leader for years now. Zionist leaders in both nations have compared him repeatedly with Hitler. Neoconservatives have charged that the US needs to take military action before Iran obtains even the capability of building a nuclear weapon. Senator Lindsay Graham stated that Iran is looking at a “massive attack” that it “could not survive” if it continues its nuclear program (says a Senator from the only nation to ever use a nuclear weapon in combat). The US-led sanctions against Iran have had a crippling effect on Iran’s economy. That means that the people who are hurt the most by the US’s anti-Iranian policies are the innocent Iranians who wake up every day, and go to work in order to provide for their families – and those who, due to the US, do not have jobs, and are therefore unable to provide for their families.
But attempts at finding the root cause of terror are typically rebuffed as anti-American – as if the decision to acquire knowledge is the opposite of patriotic. When Ron Paul opined, during the 2008 Fox Republican Presidential Debates, that “they attack us because we’ve been over there,” and that we ought to “listen to the people who attacked us, and the reasons they did it,” Rudy Giuliani (whose foreign policy experience is likely limited to riding the New York subway on occasion) called it an “extraordinary statement,” and accused Paul of claiming that the US was “inviting the attack.”
The University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism has conducted studies suggesting that 95% of suicide terrorism, like 9/11, is in response to foreign occupation. It is not surprising, then, that since 9/11, and since the massive uptick in the US’s occupation of, and involvement in, the affairs of Middle Eastern and Muslim countries, there has been a correspondingly massive uptick in anti-American suicide attacks. The vast majority of suicide terrorists come from exactly those regions threatened by foreign troops. And if that’s true, then our increased involvement in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and other nations will have one predictable result: more blowback from these nations!
Ron Paul preemptively criticized a policy of getting involved in conflicts with anywhere between 6 and 10 nations, without having a grasp on why anyone would want to hurt innocent Americans. Over a decade later, and the US is involved in armed conflicts with a host of nations. We are creating generations of people who will likely hate the US, who would have had no reason to do so but for the pain we have caused them by our military incursions, including drones, and through our occupations. Paul stated that he could not claim to be shocked at the terrible destruction that took place on September 11, 2001. “Many have warned of [the attack’s] inevitability.” Are we creating an inevitable blowback as we speak? If so, we ought to change course. That sure is the right thing to do; but more importantly, it would make us safer. There’s nothing unpatriotic about a foreign policy that promotes peace and security for all Americans. And there’s nothing admirable about our current trajectory.
Jonathan Lubin is a civil litigator in Chicago, Illinois, concentrating in Constitutional law and civil rights. Jonathan has studied at BrandeisUniversity, the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, NJ, and at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. He writes about politics, the law, and current events, at ReasonableInference.blogspot.com.
The official narrative of the events of Thursday, April 18, 2013, that led to the death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the grave injury of Boston Transit Officer Richard Donohue and the wounding and ultimate capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev raises many questions that remain unanswered.
This is the official story…
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lured MIT Officer Sean Collier onto campus and shot him five times execution style in his car to take his gun (which ultimately they were unable to remove from his holster) because they only had one hand gun and one pellet gun. This story, however, conflicts with the very clear account by the Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau that both brothers came out shooting, indicating that they had at least two guns when the firefight in Watertown commenced a short time later. Now, the official story is that only one gun was found at the scene in Watertown, but that new information itself raises a host of questions about the real nature of the “shoot-out,” and of the credibility of Chief Deveau.
After the killing of Officer Collier, the official account continues, Tamerlan Tsarnaev jumped out of an “old sedan,” which was originally reported as a Honda Civic, to hijack a black Mercedes SUV in order to get cash from its driver. The original report of the gas station clerk who gave refuge to the carjacking victim had described him as Caucasian, and as having claimed to be pushed out of his car by hijackers. Later, the carjacking victim was described as Chinese, and claimed he escaped from the two brothers, narrowly dodging one of the brother’s grasping hands.
The calls to war over Syria grow more insistent. Many of the usual suspects who are convinced it is better to destabilize entire regimes and regions than “lead from behind,” are joining the voices of human rights groups appalled by Syrian President Bashir Al-Assad’s brutal attempts to tamp down the various rebel forces. An analysis of Syria should leave aside the budget busting $6 trillion dollars we will have spent on Iraq because as has become clear, money is not considered an issue when it comes to grand ideological battles, however existentially or tenuously related to our own national interests. Senator Lindsay Graham persists in calling for boots on the ground in Syria. Sen. McCain does not want boots on the ground but demands the United States enforce a no-fly zone to help the Syrian rebels lest Syria becomes a failed state. Calls for war in Syria ignore the almost overwhelming odds that what we seek to achieve, may simply not be achievable, and a voluntary war fought at any cost may be a greater threat to our actual national interest than any existential or philosophical ones.
The unintended consequences of an Internet Sales Tax
Our tax code is broken. The only people who will disagree with that statement are those who personally profit from the broken system. While our government seems completely incapable of producing a positive vision to escape the multitude of current problems, their imagination knows no bounds when it comes to creative ways to create new taxes.
As far as taxes go, the sales tax seems to be one of the least intrusive and equitable. It’s far superior to the income tax, which demands government intrusion into every aspect of your life that involves the almighty dollar (read: everything).