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    25 February 2006

    There is no Iraqi Army

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    Touched on below.

    The reason I can not condone an American pull out is simple, there is no army. I mean, not one single batillion capable of standing alone without US assistance. The sectarian militias rival any grouping we could hope to put together over there.

    In order to pull out we must be replaced with an army, or better yet a police force. However, we will not find or train one. If we leave for November, then Iraq will split and war will rage in the Middle East. Millions of lives will be threatened. Without help we can not pull out. Not for the elections in 06 or 08. Republican ploy or Democratic demand, with no alternative we are stuck.
    The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

    The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.

    The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.

    Posted by Geoff

    22 February 2006

    The real story behind this bombing

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    [UPDATE] changed title and actually typed what was in my head
    I'm sure the traditional media is gushing about the symbolic significance of this most recent attack in Samarra. But the real story holds a significant truth about the war: We can not pull out. We've pulled out of the city three times so far and each time the so-called police/military we've been supposedly building vanish. Why a war president would force a withdrawal from a city like Samarra is a question every one should ponder. The most likely answer is for political purposes

    The only thing we can do now is stay bogged down in a war we can not win or reach out to our allies and various NGOs. We must look failed foreign policy directly in the face, realize it, accept it, and fix it.

    Posted by Geoff

    Drinking Liberally - Charleston, SC

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    The Army Men have arrived! Those who like to work while you drink, feel free to help tag our little green men during this week's DL. And we hope you've marked your calendar for March 13-17, when Drinking Liberally will blitz Charleston with our message to bring those men and women home!

    Larry's looking for input from you libs who bowl! If you think a different night or different bowling alley may spice things up and please more bowlers, please let Larry know.

    Charleston County Democrats will hold precinct elections on Saturday, February 25, at 10 a.m. If you'd like to help build and strengthen the Democratic Party, please attend the precinct meeting in your part of town. Check http://www.charlestondems.com/ for locations and phone numbers.

    Come out to Voodoo for a straight shot, pint or pitcher as we talk about politics & more at our weekly democratic drinking club!

    Voodoo Lounge
    15 Magnolia Dr
    Every Thursday
    5:30 pm until the thoughts run dry

    Bowling Liberally
    Elks Lodge
    Sam Rittenberg
    Friday night
    7:30 until 11 (if you want a chance to win $$)
    $1.75 games, free shoes, $1 beer
    larry_carter_center at yahoo dot com

    Reading Liberally
    ... getting to be a serious possibility!

    Liberally yours,
    marilyn, Leslie & Sadie

    Posted by Geoff

    21 February 2006

    C of C NORML Chapter to Take on Ignorant Administration

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    [UPDATE] Bumped up

    A change took effect at our college this semester, a student code was passed that made it an offense punishable with a minimum of one semester suspension from the College of Charleston for any accused association with controlled substances, including marijuana. This is universal; if I'm in Ohio I'm compromised. Why the school thinks they can monitor my intake of anything is beyond me, but it is a common law across the country.

    The administration is not my parent, not my guardian, and certainly not a group containing one person whom I would model my life around. As a student and employee at the College of Charleston I, as sternly as possible, say that the administrations opinions and edicts are taken as irrelevant. I have little say in who they are and they hold no influence over how I run my life. I pay a high price to attend their college; I pay their salaries, and the upkeep of some of their houses. They work for me and therefore they must listen to us. In this contract I see no language requesting their advice or their rules directed upon me, and it is therefore rejected.

    Should the College wish to police the dorms, the campus, and adjacent neighborhoods so be it. But once I am off the clock, off the campus, and on my own time, my activities, honest or not, have zero effect on events at the College and is none of anyone’s business. The concern is appreciated but not necessary or desired. It will do little to hinder drug use or quell the security problems in Charleston, plus it will severely compromise the future of many students. This code should be rewritten or omitted from the student handbook immediately.

    Fortunately, our local chapter of NORML is fighting back. A large and highly organized group of students with the support of certain faculty is organizing protests and other acts of protest. At 12:30 tomorrow (22 Feb. 2006), the willing student body will converge "in the parking lot behind the fraternity houses (next door to McConnell Dorm)." I think this is on Wentworth St. Anyone from the College of Charleston, or in the area, is requested to bring signs, noisemakers, comfortable shoes, and good spirits to show this administration that we don't like this flawed policy. The members of NORML ask you to not bring any drugs or other illegal items (you know what they are). This will be a peaceful and fun event!

    Posted by Geoff

    An Apology From a Neocon

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    It's about time. Lang has more and is certainly more qualified to comment.

    Now for some excerpts...

    As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly. By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at. The United States still has a chance of creating a Shiite-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria. But it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the United States has spent on the project to this point.
    While they now assert that they knew all along that the democratic transformation of Iraq would be long and hard, they were clearly taken by surprise. According to George Packer's recent book on Iraq, "The Assassins' Gate," the Pentagon planned a drawdown of American forces to some 25,000 troops by the end of the summer following the invasion.
    Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.
    The idea that the United States is a hegemon more benevolent than most is not an absurd one
    There were other reasons as well why the world did not accept American benevolent hegemony. In the first place, it was premised on American exceptionalism, the idea that America could use its power in instances where others could not because it was more virtuous than other countries. The doctrine of pre-emption against terrorist threats contained in the 2002 National Security Strategy was one that could not safely be generalized through the international system; America would be the first country to object if Russia, China, India or France declared a similar right of unilateral action. The United States was seeking to pass judgment on others while being unwilling to have its own conduct questioned in places like the International Criminal Court.
    Much of the criticism of the Iraq intervention from Europeans and others was not based on a normative case that the United States was not getting authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but rather on the belief that it had not made an adequate case for invading Iraq in the first place and didn't know what it was doing in trying to democratize Iraq. In this, the critics were unfortunately quite prescient.
    Now that the neoconservative moment appears to have passed, the United States needs to reconceptualize its foreign policy in several fundamental ways. In the first instance, we need to demilitarize what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other types of policy instruments. We are fighting hot counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against the international jihadist movement, wars in which we need to prevail. But "war" is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle, since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a "long, twilight struggle" whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world. As recent events in France and Denmark suggest, Europe will be a central battleground in this fight.

    The United States needs to come up with something better than "coalitions of the willing" to legitimate its dealings with other countries.
    We need in the first instance to understand that promoting democracy and modernization in the Middle East is not a solution to the problem of jihadist terrorism; in all likelihood it will make the short-term problem worse, as we have seen in the case of the Palestinian election bringing Hamas to power. Radical Islamism is a byproduct of modernization itself, arising from the loss of identity that accompanies the transition to a modern, pluralist society. It is no accident that so many recent terrorists, from Sept. 11's Mohamed Atta to the murderer of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh to the London subway bombers, were radicalized in democratic Europe and intimately familiar with all of democracy's blessings. More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalization and — yes, unfortunately — terrorism.
    If we are serious about the good governance agenda, we have to shift our focus to the reform, reorganization and proper financing of those institutions of the United States government that actually promote democracy, development and the rule of law around the world, organizations like the State Department, U.S.A.I.D., the National Endowment for Democracy and the like. The United States has played an often decisive role in helping along many recent democratic transitions, including in the Philippines in 1986; South Korea and Taiwan in 1987; Chile in 1988; Poland and Hungary in 1989; Serbia in 2000; Georgia in 2003; and Ukraine in 2004-5. But the overarching lesson that emerges from these cases is that the United States does not get to decide when and where democracy comes about. By definition, outsiders can't "impose" democracy on a country that doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic. Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic conditions to be effective.
    Neoconservatism, whatever its complex roots, has become indelibly associated with concepts like coercive regime change, unilateralism and American hegemony. What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world — ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about.

    Francis Fukuyama is an old neoconservative; he has 2 degrees of separation from Leo Strauss himself.

    I wonder what Palmetto Neocon thinks? Oops! Blog for sale...

    Posted by Geoff

    20 February 2006

    Glenn Greenwald - NSA legal arguments

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    Something to archive
    I say all of this because now and then the accusation arises that I write from the perspective that Bush broke the law with his warrantless eavesdropping without setting forth the rationale for that view. I can't write a new legal brief every time someone new shows up who decides they want to recite the Administration's legal defenses. At some point, I have addressed each of these legal arguments (usually multiple times), as have many other people. If someone really thinks there are arguments I have not addressed, I'm happy to debate them, but I'd request first that you review the following posts I've written (or posts written by others to which I've cited) on each legal issue relating to the NSA scandal:

    The statutory arguments are addressed here, here, and here.

    The AUMF argument are addressed here, here, and here.

    The inherent authority/Article II argument is addressed here, here, here, here, here and here.

    The various FISA-deficiency-based defenses are addressed here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

    Replies to and critiques of the Administration's defenses are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

    The 4th Amendment argument is addressed here and here.

    The "harm to national security" claim is addressed here, here, here, and here.

    In addition, see: Eriposte at The Left Coaster, who has compiled many of the NSA arguments made against the Administration's position in the blogosphere (including many made on this blog) here, as well as the legal brief of 14 professors and former government lawyers as to why the Administration's legal arguments are frivolous, here.

    Ultimately, though, the entire legal debate in the NSA scandal comes down to these few, very clear and straightforward facts: Congress passed a law in 1978 making it a criminal offense to eavesdrop on Americans without judicial oversight. Nobody of any significance ever claimed that that law was unconstitutional. The Administration not only never claimed it was unconstitutional, but Bush expressly asked for changes to the law in the aftermath of 9/11, thereafter praised the law, and misled Congress and the American people into believing that they were complying with the law. In reality, the Administration was secretly breaking the law, and then pleaded with The New York Times not to reveal this. Once caught, the Administration claimed it has the right to break the law and will continue to do so.

    That's where we are in this country -- with an Administration expressly claiming it has the power to engage in actions which the American people, through their Congress, expressly made it a criminal offense to engage in.

    Posted by Geoff


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