Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Here Is The Truth

Sometimes it is good to sit back and take a bi-partisan look at the major stories of the day.
The Debt Ceiling – The country will exceed its debt (credit card) limit next week.  If we don’t raise the debt limit we will default on our financial obligations.  The repercussions of such a default will be skyrocketing interest rates, a plummeting stock market and a historic degrading of our credit rating.  It will cost us more to borrow money and the affects of that will be felt in homes all across America. 
So what is the government doing about it?  The answer is …nothing. 
Naturally, the Democrats want to increase the limit.  They want to call the credit card company and request an increase in the country’s credit limit rather than inflict any economic pain on the masses. But they have no real plan on how to pay off the debt.  The Republicans are taking the “tough love’ approach.  They would allow the country to default unless the Democrats agree on drastic spending cuts that will hurt all Americans…except the wealthiest 2%.
The Treasury department says that “by juggling the books” they can put off the impending doom and extend the time before we exceed our credit limit to August 2. In other words they will do what millions of Americans do each and every month…decide whether to pay the electric bill of the car payment. 
Here is the truth.  The financial security and credit worthiness of the wealthiest country in the world is dependent upon the treasury department’s ability to “juggle the books” while our elected leaders kick the can down the road once more.  At some point this strategy will come to an abrupt, painful end.
Pakistan – The US finds bin Laden. But so distrustful is the US government of its’ Pakistani “partner” in the war against terror that it  invades Pakistani sovereign territory, kills bin Laden and returns to safety before notifying Pakistan about the operation.  So concerned are US officials over the violent reaction if the SEAL team is discovered they double up the force in anticipation of fighting their way out of the country.   
The Pakistan government is outraged at this lack of trust and this bold show of force.  They respond in a hissy fit by disclosing the identity of the CIA station chief in Islamabad; thereby making it more difficult for the CIA to operate in the region.
So if our relationship with Pakistan is so adversarial.  If there is so much distrust and tension; then why are they still considered our most valuable partner in the region?  And why do we continue to pay them $1.5 billion in aid each year? 
Here is the truth.  Pakistan has over 100 nuclear weapons and we are scared to death that they will end up in the hands of Al Qaida or some other terrorist organization.
Afghanistan – Now that bin Laden is dead many feel that is time for us to declare victory and pull out of Afghanistan.  ‘We did what we set out to do” they argue, “so let’s go home.”  Others argue that the Afghan government is not yet strong enough to defend itself and the country will revert back to the Taliban if we leave now.
Here is the truth.  The only thing keeping us in Afghanistan is politics.  No one wants to shoulder the blame for losing this war…especially going into an election year.  The fact is the Afghan government is corrupt, their army sucks and their culture is buried somewhere back in the 4th century. No one really believes anything will be any different if we leave now or twenty years from now.  Our leaders just don’t have the political courage to leave.  The harsh reality is that this war has no affect on our daily trip to Starbucks.  If we left tomorrow or stayed another ten years most of us would not care.
Meanwhile 51 US military personnel died in Afghanistan last month marking the deadliest month of this ten year war.
Commander in Chief – President Obama has established himself as Commander in Chief of the nation.  He has ramped up the number of troops in Afghanistan.  He has conducted drone strikes within the territorial limits of Pakistan.  He has ordered missile strikes in Libya.  He has authorized the bombing of Anwar al-Awlaki, and American citizen and key recruiter for Al Qaida.   And he has killed the most wanted man in the world, Osama bin Laden.  Wires are still being tapped, detainees are still being tried by military tribunals instead of civil courts and Gitmo remains open.  Much to the chagrin of his base he has maintained many of the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
But however concerned the Democratic base may be their outrage cannot hold a candle to the discomfort felt by the Republicans.  You would think that the Republicans would applaud the President’s strong stance against terrorism.  Not so.  While they politely acknowledge the President’s actions they worry about the political affects of his change in policy.  As NYT columnist Ross Douthart writes:  “But there are dangers in this turnabout as well.  Now that Democrats have learned to stop worrying and embrace the imperial presidency, the United States lacks a strong institutional check on the tendency toward executive hubris and wartime overreach.”   When Bush attacks Iraq Republicans see it as bold and patriotic.  When Obama continues Bush’s policies they see it as “executive hubris and wartime overreach”.
Here is the truth.  Obama has played the war card.  He has effectively eliminated the long standing belief that only a Republican President can adequately protect the country.   The Republicans have tried to paint the president as soft on national defense.  The killing of bin Laden alone destroys that argument. 
Nothing is left but the economy.  And while American’s are not happy with the way things are going they won’t stand for the Republican plan; a plan that places the economic burden on the poor and middle class while cutting taxes for the rich.  In the end that dog won’t hunt.

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