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“It's time to stand up - not to cheer, but to fight back.”
--Senator Russ Feingold, On Executive Power. (Daily Kos, 2006-02-02)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Yet another failure of US intelligence and diplomacy

On October 27th, 2006 President Bush signed yet another Executive Order that once again clearly demonstrates why America needs a complete change of leadership. This Executive Order seemed straight forward enough, freezing the assets of “war lords and arms dealers” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One man, General Laurent Nkunda is singled out for particular attention and reveals the scope and depth of the breakdown of the American intelligence and diplomatic network. We must also never forget that an Executive Order from President Bush that gives him powers under the National Emergencies Act, can never be accepted as straight forward.

Most Americans know very little about the situation in the east of the DR Congo. According to the UN many very large American, British and German multinational companies have played an active, critical role in supplying arms and supporting many of the government and armed militias ability to carry out significant human rights abuses in this part of the world for many years. The international news media for its part will only print or report about stories in the DR Congo that confirm how the east of this country is a “lawless” place where people die. The last UN Human Rights Report, for the month of September 2006, reveals that the Integrated National Army of the DR Congo is the main perpetrator of the more than 60 Human Rights violations registered during that month. There were no violations attributed to the forces of General Nkunda.

So why did President Bush choose this moment in time to view General Nkunda as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.” This is the same President Bush who prides himself on being tough on terror and national security issues and who has been conspicuous by his total lack of concern for the results of the UN report implicating many well known multinational American, British and German firms in engaging in arms for minerals deals in the east of the DR Congo that have continued for at least the last 10 years. The timing of this Executive Order when there are no ongoing armed hostilities in General Nkunda’s area and coming so close to the American midterm elections, appears to reflect that intelligence is once again being used for partisan American political purposes. Over the last few months General Nkunda has expressed his heartfelt belief that there has in fact been far too much death and dying in his country and was willing to engage in discussions to resolve any outstanding issues. A reasonable American who has witnessed the unnecessary death and dying in Iraq must therefore conclude that President Bush’s Executive Order is more clearly linked to American domestic politics in the run up to the US mid term elections next week than to any US security threat posed by General Nkunda.

The reality of the situation on the ground in the east of the DR Congo is that there is a continuing human tragedy that needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner if economic freedom and prosperity is ever to come to this very troubled yet exceedingly beautiful land. America needs to be part of the process of developing economic and political solutions for the east of the DR Congo. The last thing the east of the DR Congo needs is instability that is driven by an American Presidents need to retain his majority in Congress.

General Nkunda is quite open in his willingness to discuss how investment and diplomacy can be utilized to help restore lasting peace in the DR Congo. The failure of American intelligence and diplomacy experts to be willing to consider any other option than the Iraq model of “sanctions turning into American military intervention” leads a reasonable American to conclude that we need a complete change of direction for America. The Bush/Rice Foreign Policy reality is to lead America into an endless series of hopeless Vietnam style quagmires much like what we are witnessing in Iraq. As Americans, are we willing to accept a continuation of the DR Congo tragedy so President Bush can retain his majority in Congress?

To help us understand how far we as a country have fallen from our ability to lead the world through diplomacy, let us compare the visions for America of President Bush and President Kennedy. Present Bush finds “threats” and National Security emergencies that require sanctions and military action when others are asking for a diplomatic solution. President Bush expresses his vision for America as an endless number of people and situations that “…constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.” President Kennedy referred to his vision for our nation with these words, “We are always conscious of the obligation which rests upon all members of the United Nations to seek peaceful solutions to problems of this sort.”

I hope that we as Americans have had enough of these constant “threat” declarations that are based on faulty intelligence and diplomacy. We are a nation of diplomacy and peace that has never been afraid to use force as a last resort and when necessary, but how many more American soldiers need to needlessly die in places like the east of the DR Congo or Iraq before we are willing to elect leaders who are not afraid to use diplomacy more often than sanctions and military force.

This current Executive Order can only be termed another failure of the US diplomatic and intelligence communities. President Bush by unilaterally and preemptively issuing his Executive Order before even attempting to discuss other options has once again chosen to lead America on a path toward instability and less security at home and in places like the DR Congo and Iraq. Places that have only known instability, death and dying for far too many years.
Background Links:
Link to the Executive Order
Link to the Monuc (UN) Monthly Human Rights Assessment: September 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How many failures will the American voter endure before they realize we need vastly different leadership?

As we approach the midterm elections it appears the total failures of American foreign and defense policy under the Bush reign needs to be brought to the constant attention of the voters. Hopefully we will not again resort, as a party to personal attacks that have become so wide spread the last few years.

This headline from today is only one of many pro-active and passive failures that have made us less secure at home and allowed the people who want to harm freedom loving people the world over experience a wholesale loss of peace and security under an America ruled by Bush.

Iraqi premier criticizes U.S. attack


Iraq's prime minister sharply criticized a U.S.-Iraqi attack Monday on a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad, breaking with his American partners on security tactics as the United States launches a major operation to secure the capital. more

Meanwhile now that the Democratic Republic of the Congo has recently held free elections for the first time in over 40 years and America has been AWOL from providing real assistance in the voting preparation and in the counting process. Now the results are in question because the ability to even count the results is seriously outdated.


Observers: Disorder plagues Congo count

KINSHASA, Congo - An unmarked ballot wafts in the breeze. Congolese election workers doze. Pieces of concrete weigh down stacks of vote tally sheets, keeping them from blowing away. A week after Congo's presidential elections unfolded in relative peace, experts say the disorder and chaos that has long hobbled the Central African country is creeping into the tallying — raising questions about the fairness of the outcome. more

Senator Feingold has always done so well at developing policy ideas that demonstrates his belief that people really do matter. We all need to work to be sure the voters understand that the total failure of America diplomacy in the DR Congo, Iraq and Lebanon has all contributed to make us less secure and at risk from those who would harm freedom loving people the world over.

At the midterm elections - Vote for change with a purpose - The Progressive way - vote to assist freedom-loving people at home and the world over.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Perhaps from all the death and destruction hope can be built but only with new leadership.

Today there were 2 articles from the Jerusalem Post and one from the Washington Post that could in fact mark the beginning of the end of the Bush ill-conceived "war on terror". We need to resolve to spend as much to develop “strategies for peace” as we do “strategies of war”.

In Israel, Questions About the Conflict

"After an extraordinary national surge of unanimity during the first days of the conflict, public support is starting to fray, with some of the nation's most influential voices criticizing political leaders and Israel Defense Forces generals for military strategies they say have failed to protect Israeli citizens." More

Analysis: Victory from the jaws of defeat?

For many Israelis, this was a weekend of stocktaking. The first wave of reservists arrived home for short leaves and supplied their families and friends with better reports than any newspaper can give. The impression was mixed.

"I'm still shocked by the amount of screw-ups I've seen at every possible level," was the verdict of one veteran company commander. More

Security and Defense: Marching backward?

IDF officers are beginning to come to terms with the fact that they may walk away from this war without a major victory. "Prepare for the possibility that we may not win," was how one senior officer put it this week. More


Then there was the news from Iraq this week:

U.S. General Says Iraq Could Slide Into a Civil War

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 — The commander of American forces in the Middle East bluntly warned a Senate committee on Thursday that sectarian violence in Iraq, especially in the capital, Baghdad, had grown so severe that the nation could slide toward civil war. The commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, also acknowledged that since the security situation remained so unstable, significant reductions in American forces were unlikely before the end of this year. More


How can any of this be good news you may ask? The answer of course lies in the ability of we the people to re-order the priorities of the Bush "war on Terror". How many failures of the "shock and awe" strategy do we have to endure before we really look for new leadership to develop new foreign policy strategies that are based on the premise that if people are not really valued then the strategies that are used, especially military strategies, will always fall far short of the intended result and always at the loss of too many innocent civilians. The issue in both the Lebanon and Iraq conflicts is not if one country has the right to defend itself from a viable threat from another country or group of terrorists. The question that has to be asked is has the country in question done absolutely every thing within its power to ensure these situations do not boil over into armed conflict. In our case we American have to ask it we have developed a diplomatic effort to objectively address the underlying issues of the conflict.

As we now know, US foreign policy under Rice, Rumsfield and Bush is an absolute and utter failure and our direction is basically and fatally flawed. As a country, we in the US must also accept full and complete responsibility of any other country that borrows the game plan for the execution of our "War on Terror" that results in the needless loss of life that we have witnessed in Lebanon and Iraq. As a country we Americans have totally forgotten the words of another American General – Eisenhower. He foretold exactly what would happen with unbridled militarism. Our real American leaders like Senator Feingold, have taken on the fight Eisenhower started in 1961 when he left office. Any country who relies exclusively on the military option will spell the beginning of the end of a free democracy. We in America have now begun to witness the wholesale loss of our freedoms. How much more are we willing to tolerate? We need solutions and we need real diplomats especially in the positions of Secretary of State and Defense. We all hold the ideas for the solutions if only we will listen.

Some possible solutions for American foreign policy in the region that would go a long way toward solving the current difficult situation are listed below. This is not a complete list, by any means, but any one of these ideas are a small step in the right direction for ending the present exclusive use of the military in both Lebanon and Iraq to solve the problems of people. The road is not easy and now the road is very long but we in America need to start the long trip of a thousand miles one step at a time.

This suggestion comes from the Tikkun community of Rabbi Lerner

“As the Tikkun Community has outlined in the past, the terms of that settlement should include:

1. Permanent boundaries for both states that roughly resemble the pre-67 borders, with some border adjustments mutually agreed to along lines developed in the Geneva Accord (Israel incorporating some of the border settlements into Israel, in exchange for Israel giving equal amounts and quality of land to the Palestinian State).

2. Sharing of Jerusalem and its holy sites, with each side entitled to establish their national capital in Jerusalem, Israel to have control over the Jewish and Armenian quarters plus the Wall and adjacent territory, and Palestine to have control over the Temple Mount with its mosques.

3. All states participating in the International Conference would dedicate at least .1% of their GDP toward an international fund for reparations for Palestinians who lost property, employment or homes in the period 1947-1967, and to Jews who fled from Arab states in the same period (however, reparations will not be paid to any Arab or Jewish family with current gross assets of more than $5 million dollars).

4. A joint Israel/Palestine/International Community police force will be set up to enforce border security for both sides. The U.S. and Nato will enter into a mutual security pact for both parties guaranteeing that each side will be protected by the U.S. and Nato from any assault by the other or by any assault from any other country in the world.

5. Creation of an Atonement and Reconciliation Commission which will unveil all records of both sides, bring to light all violations of human rights on both sides, bring formal charges against those who do not confess their involvement in those violations and testify to the details, and supervise a newly created peace curriculum for all schools and universities aimed at teaching reconciliation and non-violence in action and communication. The explicit goal of this Commission will be to foster the conditions for a reconciliation of the heart and a new understanding on the part of both peoples that each side has been cruel and insensitive, and need to repent, and that both sides have a legitimate narrative that needs to be understood and accepted as a legitimate viewpoint by the other side.”

This suggestion comes from Professor Prof. Eugène Richard Sensenig-Dabbous, MA PhD LibanLink DiversityCentre - MENA Bureau Lebanon

1) Israel must be aware that the world is watching. NGOs and civil society in general should prepare to put pressure on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the relevant human rights bodies to try both Hizbollah and the State of Israel for the crimes they have committed over the last few weeks.

2) Lebanon will be receiving huge amounts of international aid to rebuild the country. Following the 16 year Lebanese Civil War, between 1/3 and 50% of the aid received from abroad for reconstruction went into the coffers of corrupt war lords, corporate bosses and religious fanatics. Thus, foreign funding helped lay the foundation in the 1990s for the crisis we now have.

The solutions are not as difficult as our war President leads us to believe because Mr. Bush and his team have told us in word and deed that they are only interested in the war option. We the people must do all we can to encourage leaders like Senator Feingold to speak out and give out suggestions a voice.

We the people hold the keys to peace in our minds, all we must do is give them a voice before any more people have to die for a failed war strategy. Peace will work if we give it a chance. I thought we had learned that lesson many years ago in Vietnam.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Letter to Senator Feingold opposing the nomination of Ambassador Bolton

Letter that was sent to Senator Feingolds office earlier today.

Hello Senator,

I wanted to express my hope that you will oppose the nomination of John Bolton for US Ambassador to the UN. The words you used when Sec. Rice was nominated express the reasons.

"But I am deeply troubled by the signal that this nomination appears to send -- a signal suggesting that the modest moderating influence of the State Department over the last four years will disappear, and that the next four years will be guided even more closely by the voices that shouted loudest in the first term, and that led our country into seriously flawed foreign policies. Our country cannot afford to continue down the foreign policy path that was forged during the first term of the Bush Administration. Over the past four years, we have witnessed the greatest loss of a very valuable type of American power in our history: our power to lead, to persuade, and to inspire."

We now see that the effects of American foreign policy has resulted in far too many deaths because we have a "war President" who encourages war when peace could work if America engaged in real Diplomacy and not a return to "Gunboat Diplomacy".

Janis Joplin said it well many years ago "freedoms nothing more than nothing left to loose." When we don't engage in Diplomacy in a timely manner then we conclude that war is the only answer. If our Ambassador to the Un is not able to feel Peace is ever a real option how can this be called Diplomacy? Ambassador Bolton is not qualified because he does not understand how to engage in real Diplomacy.

One line of reasoning that is used during confirmation hearings says the President needs his own "team" well "We the people" also needs a team that represents real American values of Diplomacy that is able to also consider Peace as an option.

Ambassador Bolton has demonstrated in his government positions and over the last year that he does not have the ability to engage in real American Diplomacy.

Thank you for your consideration of my thoughts as you vote.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Feingold and development of a new golden age of American diplomacy

As we progressives work to finalize our policy and plans on our road to the White House with Russ as President, it is important to inform the American people that our progressive vision for America is based on well established principles and values that are practical and pragmatic. We believe that the best times in the history of America where when we have risen to the challenges we have faced as a nation and based our Diplomatic solutions on principles and values.

The press is full of many stories of voters being confused over the mainstream Democratic Party approach to any number of issues. When the official Democratic position of our candidates for President and Congress is – “As President I will fight the same war in Iraq but fight it differently”. I is no wonder the voters are confused. We progressives have been even more shortsighted when we say “the voters can surely see the problems of the Bush policies, all we have to do is show a candidate and we will win because the other side is so bad”. We now see how wrong this approach is. We need to articulate very clearly what our policies are and that we really offer the America voter solutions to the issues that really matter to them. There is probably no other place where our progressive approach will be vastly different than in the field of Foreign Policy and "The Art of American Diplomacy".

The events of the last almost 6 years in all parts of the world sadly demonstrate that America has totally abandoned the art of Diplomacy in dealing with any problem on the global front. It is now clear that Bush and his team are incapable of engaging in diplomacy and understanding how global diplomacy works.

This conclusion flows from both a practical and pragmatic analysis of the current state of American diplomatic efforts around the world. If we talk about the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the US has cut back what little assistance was flowing in the same year a peace treaty was signed. Hallow words flowed from the President and the Department of State that now that a peace treaty was signed America will be there and stand with the DR Congo as you build a democratic society. Or the situations in Indonesia or Malaysia where according to Senator Feingold the US has totally abandoned any diplomatic effort to bring about real solutions to the problems the ordinary people encounter as they try to build or rebuild their lives.

The words Senator Feingold used prior to the confirmation of Secretary Rice convey these thoughts much more clearly:

"But I am deeply troubled by the signal that this nomination appears to send -- a signal suggesting that the modest moderating influence of the State Department over the last four years will disappear, and that the next four years will be guided even more closely by the voices that shouted loudest in the first term, and that led our country into seriously flawed foreign policies. Our country cannot afford to continue down the foreign policy path that was forged during the first term of the Bush Administration. Over the past four years, we have witnessed the greatest loss of a very valuable type of American power in our history: our power to lead, to persuade, and to inspire."

As we now see from the Bush approach to Foreign Affairs from the war in Iraq, Africa, trade and Israel/Lebanon policies, America has lost its ability to influence the events taking place in the world today.

Then came the story out of St. Petersburg of the open microphone :

Bush curses Hezbollah during G-8 luncheon

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - A microphone picked up an unaware President Bush saying on Monday, Syria should press Hezbollah to "stop doing this shit" and that his secretary of state may go to the Middle East soon." "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over, said Bush."

Is the problem the fact that the President uses words such as "shit" when discussing matters of great and grave importance? No, the problem is we would hope that our President would be a bit more dignified in his choice of words just as we would hope that our President would not be engaging in sexual activities in the Oval office. Neither activity is in keeping with the job the American public elected them to do.

The significant issue is also the fact that the US does not have the necessary Diplomatic influence to call the leader of other heads of state and engage in wide reaching diplomatic efforts in many of the explosive regions of the world.

One case in point is the American support of the Shah of Iran. A ruthless dictator who committed untold human rights abuses including "disappearances” or outright murder in order to suppress opposing views. Is it any reason the seeds of a fundamentalist state grew up in its place?.

The development of a new golden age of American Diplomacy and the new model of American Foreign policy needs to be one founded on what Rabbi Lerner terms the "new bottom line". The US must be willing to encourage people to see each other as fundamentally valuable. Currently Bush says it is acceptable to preemptively unleash the full fury of the US military against any country for any reason. The state of American Diplomacy is now focused on the fact that war is the only answer to all foreign policy issues.

The issue of course is the increasingly narrow focus of a diplomatic effort and the complete lack of urgency to develop a diplomatic effort that does not involve the usage of force. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo for instance there are elections coming up next week and yet there is still a serious problem according to NGO’s and the UN of arms smuggling in exchange of raw materials by internationally well-known companies. There is no comprehensive Diplomatic effort to address the problems in this part of Africa.

We progressives have the policies and Diplomatic skills to create a secure America and global community. It is time to move away from a diplomacy that is solely based on war to solve all foreign policy issues our world faces today.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Russ is right! If we want peace in Iraq we must leave ASAP.

This headline required some comments......

U.S. says Baghdad crackdown moving slowly

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military issued a sober assessment Tuesday of the Baghdad security crackdown, saying violence had decreased slightly but not to "the degree we would like to see" in the two weeks since 75,000 Iraqi and American troops flooded the capital.

(Full Link -

The scope of the problem in Iraq is lost in some of the details - 75,000 combat troops cannot stem the violence. Ponder the number for a moment 75,000 additional troops to try to stop the violence.

As anyone who has worked with gang violence in the criminal justice system in America will tell you - superior firepower will NEVER retake areas where gang activity has gotten a foothold. Remember the LA riots of 1992 over 200 simultaneous fires burned out of control. What stopped the violence then? Was it police action? Was it the action of the President of the time? No - it was the actions and activities of the local community that stopped the violence then and it will be the activity of the local Iraqi communities that will stop the violence in Bagdad and throughout Iraq.

Of course since our own CIA lost 200,000 AK-47 assault rifles the task of peace and stability will only be that much more difficult. How can we feel safe and secure if 200,000 assault rifles from a US military base in one country is lost in route to another country that is under the complete "control" of the US military.

We need a new plan a "Progressive Security Plan" for America and the world. We desperately need the CIA and the US military to be on the side of "We the people". Senator Feingold talks about Americans global security shortcomings and failures and lays out a plan of action (
We must educate ourselves and develop critical thinking skills about the real threats we face. And the threats we face are real just like the threats we face from some gang members who populate our Supermax prisons (,1,7657709.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage)

Unfortunately in the case of Iraq we have turned a very bad situation into a nightmare and it is time we utilize good riot control procedures and stop the violence in ways that involve the community and will work - just like in LA in 1992. The violence will stop when we de-escalate the cycle of violence we have helped create. Our Progressive Plan for Peace and Security in Iraq is not to avoid or run away, but to use a little "tough love" and build the only type of peace that will help make both Iraq and America more secure. We need security that is based on the belief that people really do matter.

Russ wants all of us to develop a plan for America!
If we believe people really do matter then we need our next President to be Russ.
If we want a more secure America then we need out next President to be Russ.

Monday, June 05, 2006

How can we allow the continued militarization of our American way of life?

In light of our compulsive need, as a country, to spend more for Defense while becoming less secure as a nation, it is not surprising to read the following from the LA Times.

Army Manual to Skip Geneva Detainee Rule

June 5, 2006
WASHINGTON The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

Full story,1,390159.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

This type of news of course forms the foundation of my objection to the appointment of a military General as head of the CIA - see my earlier post. It is good to hear that the State Department has strongly objected to this new "Policy" direction, but this is not enough. The real issue, and a sad one I might add, is the fact that so many Americans fail to see this expantion of the military culture or the "militarization of the American way of life" as a bad or undesirable consequence in a post 9/11 environment.

I am again reminded of the statement I heard during my own service to my country as a GI during the Vietnam war - "The senior military officers of this country are the only ones who are holding this country together." This statement did not come from some Military Junta member but from a senior member of the United States military intelligence gathering community.

By today the military has already discovered the financial benefits of invading business and securing excessive a war dividend for themselves and their shareholders. Can we forget the words of warning from President and General Eisenhower in his famous "Military- Industrial Complex Speech" of 1961. It should be required reading by all Americans and especially Progressives (full text

"Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."

Why do we Progressives cower in the corner whenever Defense or Security policy is mentioned? Are not these our very thoughts? How many more years do we watch the militarization of the American way of life before we find the words to inform the American voting public that our policies are based on a solid Defense and Intelligence gathering plan that was developed by one of Americas most well known Generals? We Progressives should have learned that it is not enough to simply say we have a better plan. How much better would our message be accepted if we show a plan that is has a foundation in the proud tradition of one of Americas best known, respected and Republican Generals? The words Eisenhower said and we are saying are the same - it is just the phrasing that is different.

When do we wake up and stop being afraid? Remember "Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose." As much as some of us are opposed to war as the main US foreign policy strategy, we must be willing to develop new directions for the militarywe have helded create a world that is unsafe at any level. But why do we only think of the military as the developer of arms? If the Department of Peace concept is too advanced for America today why don't we work to develop a plan and policy for a new Defense Department that is based on "intelligent and decent purpose"? A Defense Department that looks to the United States Institute of Peace for ideas at least as much as the Military Industrial Complex? Why should we continue to allow the CIA to spend tax dollars funding dubious arms dealers so thay can "loose" 200,000 AK-47 assault weapons and spend nothing on ways to develop new strategies for people to life their lives in peace?

We have a lot of work to do but one thing is certain - "Russ and us in 2008" is the best hope we have as Americans to cease the militarization of the American way of life and achieve real security.
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