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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)

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 - http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060627/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_060627192828)

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 (http://feingold.senate.gov/~feingold/statements/06/05/20060519CSIS.html)
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 (http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-me-code27jun27,1,7657709.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 http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-na-torture5jun05,1,390159.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 http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html)

"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.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Security through Creativity

Recently Senator Feingold spoke before the Center for Strategic and International Studies and gave a talk entitled "Beyond Iraq: Refocusing our National Security Strategy".

(Full speech http://feingold.senate.gov/~feingold/statements/06/05/20060519CSIS.html)

As usual this speech was a masterful blend of current reality and a creative vision for America. Security, War, Peace and Defense are not topics that many Democrats are comfortable addressing in the same speech. Senator Feingold is both Progressive and able to address Defense and Security in such a pragmatic fashion that we can both feel safe and creative at the same time. Without safety our creativity cannot become real. As a country we have all become less creative because we have become compulsive about things we were never forced to confront.

We Americans need to rediscover what I call our "collective creativity". We need leaders and we need a President who will help us rediscover this creative side of America again. Russ has this quality of leadership.

We have turned a new corner in the history of our country. The same old ways of projecting our national identity - through an over reliance on our military might, will simply not work anymore. The Iraq war has now cost us over $320 billion and counting. We cannot buy our way out of the war on terror. Our budget deficit, that only 6 short years ago we thought was to be paid off by now, has growen to over $8 trillion and growing - fast. We need a new leader with creative ideas to challeng us all to find a new path for America. This speech demonstrates that Russ has the the qualities of leadership to develop with us pragmatic solutions for our security. As we have known, we cannot develop the creative solutions we need if we increasingly leave our security and intelligence gathering activities solely up to the military. We tried that in Vietnam and it didn't work there either.

In his speech the Senator said "To achieve success, it is critical to connect military and political assistance. I’ve called on the Administration to create a strategy that ties together new security assistance with critical reforms in these other areas. I have yet to see one, and I am very concerned. " We should all be very concerned and demand leadership at all levels of our country who will develop the creative strategies we need to be secure. We must also link economic strategies to help in this war. Increasingly American business solutions to countries around the world have do not have sloutions that allow people to learn how to creatively develop solutions for theor own wars on terror. We need to change this shortsighted view of corporate responsibility - the war on terror demands such an enlightened view. We cannot save the world by giving away money like we have seen fit to do in Iraq.

Creative solutions don't take money to develop but they do take a new way of looking at the war on terror. The current direction of America is to say we do not need creativity we just need a bigger defense budget. It this really the America we want?

Friday, June 02, 2006

The health of the American way of life...depends on us all

Today there was a message from Move-on about the results of their positive agenda poll. Here are the results of what some of us thought were the most important issues facing America today. Almost 97% of the more than 100,000 "voters" in the poll selected one of this items.

Health care for all
Sustainable energy independence
Restored constitutional rights
Guaranteed accurate elections
Global leadership through diplomacy
High quality education for all
Solutions to global warming
A guaranteed living wage
Publicly funded elections
A balanced federal budget

My personal favorite "Global leadership through diplomacy" came in a respectable 5th.

What is most interesting to me is the vast chasm in the direction of America, (I would even go so far as to say the health of America - see item #1), that has developed in such a very short period of time. These 10 items signify to me what are the real core values of America that we have all allowed to slip away on our watch. It is us "baby boomers" who have for the most part been responsible for the ill-health that afflicts our America today. Now our task will be how can we nurse America back to health. How can we once again value people over profits. Peace over War.

Perhaps we need to put the top 10 items from the conservative agenda across for ours and demonstrate with practical and pragmatic policy solutions that all of us Americans really do want the same things - we just say it differently. We need to show that the wide chasm that some have created for political reasons, is part of the real illness that is making our America sick today. We have all become part of the problem and not part of the solution. We need health care but we are not allowed to offer solutions

My feeling is that Russ is the one who has the experience and strength to lead our America WITH US. Make no mistake - it will not be easy. As with any serious illness the cure will take many different creative solutions from all of us. Russ is a perfect "President" to lead the way for America, but the cure depends on the creative solutions of "we the people" each and every day. We must all step up to the challenge today to make a difference tomorrow.

Don't be mislead and think it is the big things that will make the real difference in November 2008 - all effort is welcome and needed now. Perhaps all you want to do is join organizations like Move-On and work with them to create ideas, or you could become active with the Draft Russ effort and write a blog or you could suggest policy ideas directly to Russ at his Senate web site. The difference is not how many big efforts we make in 2008 that will make the real difference in the next President America elects. The real difference is the result of how many small efforts we will committ to each and every day for the next 900 days that will determine if we can create a more healthy America in the years to come. How badly do we want an American way of life that reflects our values and beliefs in a better life for all of us?
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