Chuck Hagel

44 Retired US Senators Speak Out On Constitutional Crisis, Including Principled Republicans

The Washington Post published two days ago an op-ed editorial by 44 retired US Senators, calling on the present members of the Senate to show guts and courage and speak up to defend democracy and the Constitution, from the threats presented by President Donald Trump.

Eleven of those 44 were Republicans, of all stripes and beliefs, including Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado; William Cohen of Maine; Alfonse D’Amato of New York;  John Danforth of Missouri; David Durenberger of Minnesota; Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; Richard Lugar of Indiana; Larry Pressler of South Dakota; Alan Simpson of Wyoming; John Warner of Virginia; and Lowell Weicker of Connecticut.

The other 33 were Democrats, including such luminaries as Evan Bayh of Indiana; Bill Bradley of New Jersey; Tom Daschle of South Dakota; Chris Dodd of Connecticut; Russ Feingold of Wisconsin; Bob Graham of Florida; Tom Harkin of Iowa; Gary Hart of Colorado; Bob Kerrey of Nebraska; John Kerry of Massachusetts; Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; Sam Nunn of Georgia; Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia; and Mark Udall of Colorado.

America needs Republicans in the Senate, now 53 of them, to stop defending Donald Trump, and start concerning themselves with the preservation of American democracy.  They need to speak up and challenge and confront Donald Trump and stop accepting his violations of the Constitution.

If they do not, they will  be relegated to the dustbin of history, and the Republican party of Lincoln, TR, Ike, Reagan, Ford, and H. W. Bush will die of lack of principle and commitment.

Obama And The Anti War Cabinet: First In American History In Modern Times!

This week, when President Barack Obama spoke before journalists about his wish for a Congressional resolution to give him limited authority to expand war against ISIL (ISIS), he surrounded himself with two former Democratic Senators and one former Republican Senator, who made up his top cabinet advisers in the past two years—Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

As Senators from Delaware, Massachusetts, and Nebraska, these three former Senators were clearly skeptical about war resolutions. Biden voted against the Persian Gulf War Resolution in 1991, and all three were critics of the Iraq War and how it evolved. Also, Kerry and Hagel were Vietnam War veterans who were always skeptical about war prosecution by different Presidents.

In many ways, one could say that the four men, including President Obama, make up the most anti war group ever to govern together, and this is refreshing, as all four, while seeing the need to fight against ISIL (ISIS), do not wish to send combat troops back to the Middle East, after failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have caused 6,500 deaths combined, over 30,000 wounded veterans, and a reality that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become a major problem, with 22 veterans every day committing suicide, and hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans.

The American people have made clear in polls that while they are ready to fight ISIL (ISIS), they have no desire to become engaged in a long, drawn out war with American troops fighting and dying, when it should be the people of the area to fight to protect themselves, with appropriate American financial aid and weapons, but not large numbers of American troops committed to a ground war that goes on endlessly!

Meanwhile, there is the pro war element in the Republican Party, led by Arizona Senator John McCain and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, with much of the party joining their war chants, but with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul representing the anti war group, that wishes to avoid major ground troop involvement, setting up a major conflict within the GOP for the next Presidential election.

Cutting Military Spending A Good Step, Since We Have As Much Spending as Next Twelve Nations Combined!

The world is an unsafe place, and yes, we have to be prepared for any eventuality, but does that mean that we need to spend as much as the next twelve nations combined?

Can we possibly match the two nations with bigger armies, China and India, when they both have3-4 times our population?

Do we really need so many aircraft carriers, and more nuclear weapons, and more bombers than we have now, which cost billions upon billions, while the ranks of the poor and the near poor continue to grow?

Can we intervene in every international crisis, even if the cause is good and moral, or do we have to pick our battles, and only engage militarily when the urgency of intervention is clear cut?

The plan, announced this week by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, to scale down the military to the smallest number of troops since before World War II engagement, in a world where technology, including drones, is going to be used more and more, makes total sense, as future wars will not be fought like World War II or even the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

We will still be number one, but have extra funds available to help promote the “American Dream” for future generations, emphasizing health care, education, housing, and the revival of the flagging middle class!

The Republican Party will have a “knee jerk” reaction to any proposal to scale down the military, but it can and must be done in a sensible, rational way, or else the national debt increase, much fueled by defense spending out of all control in the past decade, doubling over that time, will suffocate American democracy!

The Founding Fathers did not wish a defense behemoth as the Pentagon has become since World War II, and the Cold War is over, and the whole strategy of defense can be modified safely, and save trillions of dollars over time!

A Very Dangerous Time: The Iran Nuclear Deal

One cannot easily decide if the announcement of the Iran nuclear deal last night is a moment to celebrate or to condemn. The US, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany came to an agreement which is being much questioned by many diplomatic observers.

The history of Iran’s dealings with the West makes one pause and wonder how anyone can trust the fundamentalist Islamic regime,

This is not an issue of the Iranian people, but rather the Iranian government.

With Israel and the Arab nations (including Saudi Arabia) for once in agreement, all of them alarmed at the growing influence of Iran in Syria, and their engagement with terrorist networks, the tendency would be to see any agreement with the Islamic regime as a ploy, and that we will soon face the reality that Iran is a nuclear power.

But if diplomacy does not work, then the likelihood of warfare in the Middle East beckons, and most Americans do not want our nation involved in another war.

The threat to the survival of Israel is a very worrisome aspect of all this, but it is more than that.

It is also an issue that Iran presents a threat to world peace unmatched since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 51 years ago.

The question is whether Barack Obama, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden et al know what they are doing, and whether in the future, we will look back on this as another “Munich”, when Great Britain and France made an ill fated deal with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy over the future of Czechoslovakia in the fall of 1938, which did not bring peace, but instead, within a short time, the outbreak of World War II.

So the author has a very mixed feeling, and a sense of foreboding, that the future is likely to be very gloomy, and lead to a dangerous, widespread war.

Obama, Biden, Kerry, Hagel (Syria) Vs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld (Iraq)

The tragedy of the Iraq War, an ill conceived and unnecessary war, which weakened the United States and emboldened Iran, is now haunting the Obama Administration, as it considers military intervention in Syria, as a result of the use of chemical weapons, believed to have been promoted by the government of Bashar Al Assad.

Chemical warfare is an illegal crime under international law, and a crime against humanity, and IF it is proved that Assad authorized this, rather than a renegade group, it is essential that the international community punish him for his war crime!

If nothing is done, then it will be seen as an endorsement of a war crime, a crime only done by a very small handful of government leaders in world history, including, of course, Adolf Hitler!

It will show that the world is again sitting by as they did when Hitler came to power in 1933 in what became known as Nazi Germany!

But the failures of the Iraq War, including the human cost and financial burden, is now burdening the Obama Administration as they plan strategy.

But to compare the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld led tragedy to what might be done under Obama, Biden, Kerry, Hagel is to distort reality, as the credibility of the first group is extremely different than that of the second group!

We are talking about three leaders who regularly lied to us, against four leaders with solid credentials and principles, who are reluctantly planning an intervention in a measured way!

The hypocrisy of Republicans who rushed to back the Bush Administration, while now opposing action by the Obama Administration, is nothing new, part of the continued attempt to undermine anything that Barack Obama and his colleagues want and believe in, whether domestic or foreign.

Obama wants a limited engagement, similar to Bill Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999, a 78 day bombing campaign against Serbia, with only a loss of one plane, and no human casualties.

While there is no way to know the reaction of Iran, Russia, China and others if there was an internationally led effort to punish Syria’s outlaw government, it is hard to conceive that intervention in Syria would lead to a wider war.

In any case, a chemical warfare Syria represents a threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and really, the civilized world, so to do nothing is simply unacceptable!

Let us pray for the good judgment of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel, as they face what could be the signature foreign policy challenge of the Obama Presidency, and hope that other nations, including Great Britain, whose Parliament just rejected any action, will come to support a necessary minimal intervention against an international outlaw government, which threatens the long range sanity of the world, if chemical warfare goes unpunished!

Appointment Of Susan Rice To Be National Security Adviser A Great Move!

President Obama has selected UN Ambassador Susan Rice to be his National Security Adviser, a great move for our foreign policy team!

Rice was shabbily treated in the aftermath of the Benghazi, Libya tragedy, and lost the opportunity to be considered for the position of Secretary of State, due to Republican attacks, denigrating her qualifications which are exceptional.

But now, the position of National Security Adviser is her new position, one which does not require Senate confirmation, and it is not only a good move, but also an appropriate smack in the face of the Republican critics, who cannot stop Rice’s elevation.

Obama’s foreign policy and national security team is now complete, with Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and American foreign policy is in good hands for the next four years!

The Korean Crisis Could Be The Most Important Foreign Policy Moment For Barack Obama!

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, along with other top administration officials, now face what is likely to be the most profound crisis in foreign policy of the Obama Presidency.

We could be on the edge of a major war in the Korean peninsula, with the potential for a massive loss of life in South Korea and Japan, and danger to our own troops, presently numbering 28,000 brave men and women.

Kim Jong Un is a young man who should not be in power, has nuclear capability, and is even worrying his neighbor, China, with his reckless statements and actions.

It will take all of the statesmanship and courage of our leadership to resolve this without a major disaster, and the prognosis seems grim indeed!

A Time For Foreign Policy Experts To Be Utilized Over Korean Crisis–Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Richardson, Jon Huntsman

The crisis that has arisen over North Korea’s bullying and nuclear threats represents a danger to international stability in Asia, worrying not only the United States, but also South Korea and Japan, and even next door neighbor China.

Kim Jong Un, 29 years old, is clearly a wild card in the greatest description of the term, and could incite a major war that could devastate prosperous South Korea, and endanger US troops there and in Japan and the American territory of Guam, along with what seems like crazy threats to Hawaii, California, Texas, and Washington DC.

The new Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, have their hands full, and rationality and balance in response is required of President Barack Obama in what could become the major foreign policy crisis of his administration.

In the past, former Presidents and Vice Presidents have been utilized as contacts with North Korea—meaning Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore, along with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Additionally, former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is an acknowledged expert on China and its neighbors.

It might be time to utilize Carter, Clinton, Gore, Richardson or Huntsman to figure out how to communicate with Kim Jong Un and resolve the tinderbox without war. President Obama would be wise to consider such diplomacy, in order to cut down the chance of war that no one can win!

Second Term Presidencies Taken Over By Foreign Crises: Will It Happen Again Now?

Three American Presidents in the last hundred years have been faced by foreign crises leading to war, and disrupting their domestic intentions for their second term of office. All three hoped to accomplish much more internally, but were distracted and diverted by major wars they could not avoid.

Woodrow Wilson had accomplished the most domestic reform in American history of any President until his time, but then World War I intruded, and his second term was dominated by the war and its aftermath.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had surpassed Woodrow Wilson in domestic accomplishments in his first term with his New Deal, but his second term became one of growing concern over the threat of the Japanese Empire to our territories (Hawaii, Guam, The Philippines) in the Pacific, plus the growing threat of Fascism and Nazism represented by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in Europe—leading to concern of its effect on our traditional European friends if not formal allies, Great Britain and France. Although America would not enter World War II until FDR’s third term, the threat of war was ever present, and divided this nation in a massive way between internationalists and isolationists.

Harry Truman had a much more difficult time domestically, and had to deal with the Cold War with the Soviet Union, but hoped to promote a Fair Deal in his second term, but instead had to deal with the Korean War.

Now, Barack Obama faces the growing threat of real war with two nations who have lunatic leadership, and are capable of provoking major wars, emboldened by their nuclear intentions—Iran and North Korea.

Iran moves ahead on nuclear development, unaffected by the major nations bringing pressure and economic sanctions on them, and still seen as potentially able to threaten the survival of Israel, and cause a major cut off of oil in the Straits of Hormuz. While President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is leaving in June, it is clear that the Ayatollah Khamenei and the extremist Shiite Muslim leadership really dictates policy, and that anything is possible, including war.

North Korea, under its new young (30) leader, Kim Jong Un, has now declared that the truce agreement which ended the Korean War sixty years ago is null and void; has been testing nuclear weapons against international outcry, including China; and has threatened this past week that it might launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on South Korea and the United States. This all seems bluster, but who can say for sure?

So our need as a nation to face the possibility of war with two international outlaws makes the whole budget issue much more complex, and makes the odds of more domestic reform activities all the harder to accomplish.

Much like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry Truman, Barack Obama may face being a war President against his will, and his Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be sorely tested over the next four years in their hope to avoid a war, just as we are trying to exit a war in Afghanistan, after having done just that in Iraq!

Republican Party Destroys Itself In Mad Dash To The Far Right, In Repudiation Of Chris Christie!

The Republican Party is destroying itself in its mad dash to the Far Right!

It convinced Maine Senator Olympia Snowe to retire, and defeated Indiana Senator Richard Lugar in his quest for another term,

It put former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel through hell, before he finally, with only four Republicans supporting him, won the Senate confirmation to be Secretary of Defense.

Now the party has declared war on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, because he worked alongside President Obama after Hurricane Sandy; criticized House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner; and showed his independent streak, which is anathema to the far Right!

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and other right wing talk show hosts have also attacked Christie, as if he is a liberal, despite his very conservative record as Governor, but showing a willingness to work across the aisle with the state legislature and the President.

Christie should be applauded as a man who has managed a massive public opinion rating in a strong “blue” state, but instead, he has been slighted, by NOT being invited to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference next month, while all kinds of characters, including Sarah Palin and Herman Cain and numerous others who are an embarrassment to intelligent people, were invited.

So Chris Christie, as unacceptable as he is to anyone on the left, is not good enough to be invited to a right wing conference!

Actually, it helps Christie in his reelection battle for Governor this fall, and makes him able to stand out as NOT being owned by the Far Right of the GOP, and it might just help him in future endeavors for public office, including being a sane alternative for the Republicans in 2016, if he can get past the Tea Party loonies!