Archive for Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Column: Declining Iraq situation reflects poorly on Obama

June 14, 2014

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Who calls the shots, and how are major decisions made in Washington?

How many of these decisions are based on what is best for the country as opposed to what will win the most votes and elections?

It is assumed the president, as this country’s commander in chief, who won the vote of the public to move into the Oval Office, makes the final call. However, considering all possibilities relative to major, dangerous issues, are members of his support staff given the opportunity to freely express opinions that may differ with the president’s? And, if there are such situations, do these military and intelligence leaders back down and support the president’s decisions or do they go public and tell why they resigned or were fired? This doesn’t happen.

The current situation in Iraq offers a case study as to what has gone wrong and why the situation has turned so sour so quickly and so dangerously.

Iraq is thousands of miles away. The fighting caused the deaths of approximately 4,000 American troops and left 32,000 wounded.

Again, who makes the decisions? The game of finger-pointing is going wild these days, but, as the late President Harry Truman said, the buck stops on the president’s desk.

Those in the White House either were blind to the current situation in Iraq or didn’t think it could blow up into such a dangerous situation. Vice President Joe Biden went so far several years ago to say the manner in which the Iraq war was brought to a close, the peaceful climate and the likelihood of Iraq transforming into a reliable, stable nation was one of the successful hallmarks of the Obama administration. What does he have to say today?

Did our military leaders mislead the president? Did they support his plans to pull out all troops, or did they differ with Obama? Did the president go against the advice of those who are supposed to be the most knowledgeable about war and the consequences of war?

What happened to our intelligence community? It appears Obama and his inner circle have been caught flat-footed by the sudden organization and deployment of the radical and ruthless “insurgents.” In a matter of days, they have taken over the nation’s largest city and now are only a few miles from Baghdad.

This situation alone verifies the concern of many in the intelligence community that it is essential to have boots on the ground, individuals who have extensive, up-do-date knowledge and training relative to the history, religion, government, language, politics and culture of a country and can keep Washington officials alert to the potential problems. Obviously, this is lacking in Iraq, or the White House and maybe military advisers ignored this information or didn’t give it any credence. Spy satellites cannot get the job done.

Friday, Obama made a brief statement about the Iraq situation saying no U.S. troops would be sent to Iraq. He also said it would be several days before any decision would be made about what actions may be taken to help the Iraqi government. This offers proof the president and his advisers were blind to what is going on in Iraq. It also suggests they don’t realize just how fast the insurgents are moving and that a delay of several days could make a critical and fatal difference.

Perhaps the president has been so focused on the upcoming and 2016 elections and raising millions of dollars for those races that Iraq was not at the top of his agenda.

The same can be said about this nation’s media. Aside from the Fox Network, the major networks — ABC, NBC and CBS — and major newspapers have been blind to the situation, apparently buying into the White House contention that everything is good and safe.

The fact is, Uncle Sam, the Obama administration and the major media have been sucker-punched by the insurgent forces in Iraq.

This should make Americans wonder about the wisdom and thinking of Obama’s decision to free five terrorists from Guantanamo. In doing so, the president, the secretary of state and other senior Obama advisers have said their release would not endanger the U.S. Rather, they said, they will be a danger to the countries in the area. Who is to say they will not be active in planning future actions that could be deadly to Americans?

Will the U.S. make as many mistakes in ending its presence in Afghanistan as it obviously did in Iraq? We’ve disclosed specific dates when the majority of U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan, giving radical insurgents a timetable to prepare their assault.

Those who served in Iraq, relatives of those who were wounded or killed and growing numbers of Americans must be mystified and angered by what is happening in Iraq.

• • •

Just as the Iraq situation is a tragedy, so is the situation along this nation’s southern border, where tens of thousands of youngsters, without their parents, are being allowed to come into the U.S., actually welcomed and promised shelter, health care, food and education. Already the federal government has called for $2 billion to be directed to helping these children. Consider how many potential terrorists may be planted in these numbers, as well as representatives of drug cartels.

This situation, although not grabbing the headlines or Obama’s concern, is, in its way, just as serious as the humanitarian crisis. It’s evidence of a misguided policy by the White House, a severe fiscal challenge for the states where these young people are being dumped and a method for bad people and bad operations to have a clear, safe path into the United States.

Comments

Larry Sturm 1 year, 2 months ago

Maybe mister Simons cn become president and call the shots. We have been fighting a war over there way to long that really isn't changing anything.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

This war began under Reagan/Bush. Then Bush/Quale. Then came a Clinton/Gore No Fly Zone.

The No Fly Zone was not enough for Bush/Cheney so they invaded and occupied. Yep built 50 bases,a billion tax $$$$$ American Embassy in Baghdad while war was underway and Halliburton was ripping off taxpayers for their services. Thousands of weapons have gone unaccounted for. Billions of tax $$$$$$ loaded on pallets were being flown into Iraq in which a fair amount could not be accounted for.

Why Obama decided to adopt the BUSHCO war policies is a mystery to me.

34 years later the USA is still bogged down in Iraq,Afghanistan,Pakistan,Yemen,Qatar and other points.

The USA has no business in Iraq waging war not to mention the greater majority of citizens do not support the war and never have. The world wide population has never supported this war mongering.

Meanwhile the trillions of tax $$$$$ invested thus far would finance Medicare Single Payer Insurance for all in America for 8-10 years. A much more fiscal responsible investment.

Dick Sengpiehl 1 year, 2 months ago

Agree with your remarks, Mr. Heckler. I appreciate all that Mr. Simons has done for the city of Lawrence but this diatribe is ridiculous. W Bush , Cheney, and other neocoms got us into Iraq because of false pretenses. And trying to legitimize Fox Network? It's only a political organ for the far right. Yes, President Obama has made mistakes. But American public opinion is strongly in favor of us getting troops out of the Middle East. He's trying to do just that.

Ken Lassman 1 year, 2 months ago

Dolph, you should be ashamed of yourself for writing that last part of your editorial about the unaccompanied children crossing the border. To characterize them as predominantly terrorists in waiting and gang/drug cartel members is incredibly misguided and borders on bigoted if not racist. Have you done any reading on the topic or are you just listening to the AM radio hate mongers too much? If you had cared enough to do some digging, you'd have found out that most of these children are fleeing their home countries in order to GET AWAY from the increasing violence and gang activities they are finding in their home villages and cities. Others are trying to rejoin their parents who have been cut off from them by the increasingly tight border controls that have been imposed by the US. In both situations, your attitude would create policies that would drive these young people into exactly what you seem to be afraid of, and I think the Obama Administration is making the best of a very difficult situation.

A good place to start to begin to understand the really unfortunate situation is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/us/answering-readers-questions-about-immigration.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C[%22RI%3A8%22%2C%22RI%3A13%22]

Bob Smith 1 year, 2 months ago

Meanwhile, President Bystander is off to the links...

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Exactly!!!! If Obama had decided to send our troops back into Iraq, Bob and Dolph would suddenly be peaceniks and saying how dare he. It was kind of funny to watch them switch support so they could always be against Obama, but it's really got old. I wish all tea partiers would just buy an island (they all claim to be rich, don't they; even the ones collecting disability Social Security?) and start their own rough and tough, everyone packing heat, pollute all you want, government. Just to watch their island turn into chaos, I would even be willing to keep sending them their Social Security disability checks, but no food stamps.

Kendall Simmons 1 year, 2 months ago

Because, of course, he's supposed to be at his desk working 24/7, right??? How dare he spend 3 hours taking a break and playing golf?

And God forbid he sleep at night. How DARE he sleep when he's supposed to be controlling the entire world!!!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

And I'm sure you are posting this from the airport, ready to fly off and fight for Iraq, right?

Phil Minkin 1 year, 2 months ago

Compare Obama's vacation day to those of Dubya. BTW, he's in Calif. to deliver the commencement address at Cal. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/aug/13/who-vacationed-more-bush-or-obama/

Ken Lassman 1 year, 2 months ago

Nice example of shooting the messenger, taking no time to actually contest the message. If you have no evidence that contradicts the message, then you missed the point, didn't you?

Ken Lassman 1 year, 2 months ago

Well, then, be careful who you're shooting if you find shooting the messenger to be your pastime. because Politifact clearly sources their information as coming from Mark Knoller, who has been tracking presidential vacations since he started covering presidents with Gerald Ford and is the go-to expert on the topic. He has also received the Aldo Beckman award for sustained excellence from the White House Correspondents Association, one of the top prizes in journalism.

Seems to me that the facts speak for themselves and trying to sling mud at the messenger, in this case the most qualified messenger out there, does not change the reality.

Ken Lassman 1 year, 2 months ago

Um....I think that we both agree that Bush spent way more time than Obama has spent, so I'm not sure why you seem to be arguing with me, since Politifact in this topic was spot-on, used a reputable source, and was not spinning anything. You and Politifact agree on the same point. Can you accept the possibility that the Politifact organization isn't a black-annd-white organization?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 2 months ago

Yet another attack on the current black non-citizen president by the Koch Regime management of this newsrag.

If the president said the sun comes up in the east, Dolph Simons would say that it comes up in the west. If the president said that bananas are yellow, Simons would say they are blue.

I (and you should) disregard anything that you see as "opinion" from Dolph Simons, he is the trumpet section for the extreme right Koch Regime and nothing he says has any merit to reality.

Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 2 months ago

I think we should continue the pull out from Afghanistan as planned and to never send in armed troops anywhere again unless it is in a war declared by Congress or a military action created and sanctioned by the UN with UN troops with an equal number of troops from each country participating.

The Hoku Haram in Nigeria that has the kidnapped girls will never free them because they have the Nigerian police and military outgunned and outarmed. They are so extreme they have been denounced by the Taliban and al-Qaeda who they have denounced in turn as being too moderate.

Where does such religious severity and the need to impose it on other people come from? I don't think it is as simple as saying poverty and lack of education as those ae

Joshua Cain 1 year, 2 months ago

"I think we should continue the pull out from Afghanistan as planned and to never send in armed troops anywhere again unless it is in a war declared by Congress or a military action created and sanctioned by the UN with UN troops with an equal number of troops from each country participating."- LS

No...no...no. The UN is not representative of the American populace. Only congress can obligate our flesh and blood. I don't understand how you can on one hand argue to put the decision of military action in congress then completely be o.k. with handing it off to the UN? The UN is just a gang of nations that cuts deals among them selves to undermine a political process in any given government that they currently find unappealing.

Steve Swaggerty 1 year, 2 months ago

We should have NEVER been in Iraq in the first place. Just as in Vietnam the people DIDN'T want us there. This was going to happen unless we stayed there forever. Mr. Simons....if the President was a Member of your Republican/Tea Party, would you attitude be the same?

Michael Shaw 1 year, 2 months ago

This rash of unsubstaniated allegations adds nothing to the discussion of foreign policy.

Jock Navels 1 year, 2 months ago

If this was turned in as a ninth grade English assignment, it might garner a D- from a kind teacher.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 2 months ago

Ms. Swearingen's comment abou t"religious severity" deserved considerable notice.

Many wars have been fought between various groups who believed that their outrageous behavior was sanctioned by some sort of deity, "God is on our side" "God told me to capture Nigerian Girls and sell them or sex slaves" etc.

This attitude exists in the Koch Regime Kansas Government with our bible-toting governor.

Elected by similarly addled voters with the notion that religious fervor grants superiority over all else.

Darrell Lea 1 year, 2 months ago

Mr. Simons - please get out of the conservative echo chamber/bubble and learn a few things about real life. Your writing has become so tedious and cliche ridden that I can't even bring myself to read past the headline of this piece. It's as if you have no opinions of your own, and you simply waste ink re-writing and repeating whatever junk the major conservative mouthpieces of the day are spewing at any given moment. Yes, it's your ink; you bought it. You can do with it what you please. I would simply suggest that in this stage of your life you attempt to spread your wings and fly on your own a little bit.

Scott Quenette 1 year, 2 months ago

He doesn't have to, he's rich and owns a newspaper. People like him are completely insulated from accountability and reality.

Joshua Cain 1 year, 2 months ago

You can blame the President for continuing the Bush war.

Candidate Obama said that the first thing he would do as president is end the Iraq war. Not only did he NOT end it he tried to negotiate keeping US forces in Iraq after the 2008 status of forces agreement (SOFA) expired....an agreement that Bush actually signed. Thankfully the Iraq government was so unreasonable in their proposal that the complete withdraw happened on the Bush time table. But oh....wait more troops back in Iraq?

Say it isn't so....can we put the most recent deployment on the President or is this somehow Bush's doing?

Mike Edson 1 year, 2 months ago

No it doesn't. It was going to decline over there no matter what. Really, what did anyone expect? A democracy of fairness and equality?

Scott Quenette 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm sure this has been going on for a long time as I just moved here last year but the absurdity of these editorials is downright comical.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Just like Yugoslavia, the powers that be put boundaries around countries with no rhyme or reason. They probably weren't even smart enough to look at the different ethnic groups they were mixing together. While Tito, a ruthless dictator, was alive, he forced the peace. Pretty much the same with Sadaam. These countries do not have the long history of questioning authority like we do. I mean look at the difference between England and France about 800 years ago. France had "divine" kings, while the noblemen of England was forcing the king to sign the Magna Carta, basically saying "Hey, you are king, because we let you be king, not because God said so." Granted the middle eastern peoples at one time were educated and enlightened, but even then they didn't have a democracy. The people there who are educated would really like to have it, but you have to understand that many people there either are not educated at all or just sent to religious schools to properly brainwash them, eliminating critical thinking skills. You know, the thing that the tea partiers in Texas demanded not to be taught in schools? Hmmm. These people have to figure it out. If we had left VietNam alone, it would have changed years ago. If we leave these people alone, they will figure it out. And as for the oil, all the more reason to start increasing renewable energies and getting ourselves off the oil. Better to cut back our consumption than to send anymore of our boys over there.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

As for the "American" kids, and they are American, because the inhabit the same continent was we do, maybe we should start getting them adopted. I realize Republicans are more pro birth, not pro life. If they were really pro-life they would be stepping up to adopt these kids. Many of them are probably orphans.

Kendall Simmons 1 year, 2 months ago

Good grief, Mr. Simons. Your negative focus on either Obama or KU/the Board of Regents has gotten SOOOO old. Are you truly not capable any more of finding anything else to whine about? Or anything to be positive about?

Your pointless misused/over used "rhetorical question" style...particularly when you use it deceitfully...is also so frickin' OLD.

Want an example of deceitfulness? Your very first diatribe should NOT have just been "did Obama allow his staff to disagree with him...or did they back down...or, if they allegedly quit or were fired, did they go public?" There's an obvious additional alternative that you blatantly skipped right over. To whit, 'OR DOES OBAMA CHANGE HIS MIND AS A RESULT OF THEIR INPUT?"

I guess you wouldn't want to ask THAT one, because it would defeat your "This doesn't happen" bogus assumption. (My gosh. If you don't know how to use Google, then at least have one of the J-W staff fact-check for you!!)

You go off on how everything has "turned so sour so quickly and so dangerously"...then you, as "proof" bring up something Joe Biden said "SEVERAL YEARS AGO"!!! Oh yeah. That's soooo quickly. And are you seriously telling us that you didn't see this coming? Because the rest of us already knew things had gone to hell in a handbag. Yeesh.

Then you rant about "This situation alone verifies the concern of many in the intelligence community that it is essential to have boots on the ground, individuals who have extensive, up-do-date knowledge and training relative to the history, religion, government, language, politics and culture of a country and can keep Washington officials alert to the potential problems."

But you don't even know what "boots on the ground" means, do you??? Hint. It does not mean having spies. Not "individuals who have extensive, up-do-date knowledge and training relative to the history, religion, government, language, politics and culture of a country". The phrase refers to having TROOPS in the area!!! Sending our SOLDIERS back into Iraq!! Are you, Mr. Simons, out of your mind? Do you seriously want to send our young men and women back into Iraq??

And worrying about those 5 dumb Guantanamo prisoners exchanged for one of our troops? Do I really have to point out to you that Islamic nuts have done quite nicely without those guys? Of course, you're also shaking in your "boots" because there might be "potential" terrorists among the youngsters on our southern border.

How about starting to write PRODUCTIVE Saturday Columns? Columns talking about GOOD things happening in Lawrence? Columns making POSITIVE suggestions? No more negative rhetorical questions. No more negative focus on Obama or KU/Regents. After all, just because you're old doesn't mean you have to be crotchety all the time!

Julius Nolan 1 year, 2 months ago

Dolph lack's the skills necessary to write "productive" columns. After all his sources are Fox News and the Koch brothers memos.

Mike Ford 1 year, 2 months ago

Somewhere one writes a column to generate readership. Readership is a hard thing to come by in print media these days. Facts don't matter. Neither does reality or facts in a partisan state like Kansas. We shouldn't react to low fact columns like this one. Let it fall like a tree alone it the woods. The only thing that causes a change is no response to bad or incorrect journalism. Has anyone noticed at different times during the week how little the top commenting stories change? I have. That's a sign that these kinds of stories don't generate the traffic they used to. Don't react to boo anymore.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Sorry, I disagree. There is a lot of this "low fact" stuff going around everywhere - social media and supposedly "real" journalism. It's time to call it out. It's time to say, if your opinion is based on non truths, then you are a liar. When I am on Facebook, and someone posts something that is "low fact" (no matter what side of the political spectrum), I fact check it and ask the person to please help to stop the spread of lies. It's my new crusade. It has actually worked with many people I know; the others have "unfriended" me, which is ok. I don't like hanging out with liars anyway.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 2 months ago

From the college course Logic 101, an example of a perfect syllogism:

1) Premise 1: The United States needs crude oil.
2) Premise 2: The Middle East produces crude oil, and not much else, with only one notable exception.
3) Conclusion: It therefore follows that the United States must get involved in the Middle East to secure a somewhat stable supply of crude oil.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Or we could try and lower our consumption and live within our means, and tell the middle east to, well you can finish this sentence.

Julius Nolan 1 year, 2 months ago

Someday Dolph will write a Saturday column that doesn't attack KU `or Obama.

MerriAnnie Smith 1 year, 2 months ago

The guy who wrote this should educate himself on cliches. "The buck stops here," is a cliche and it means nothing.

If you want to analyze a situation and figure out definitively who did what and how it turned out, you don't just run to the first cliche you can think of that supports your bias. You actually go back to the beginning of a process and determine who did what.

Most boring opinion I've seen lately in the LJW.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

I often go over to the CNN forum which is full of a lot of nasty people, but comments almost exactly like Bob Smith's above about Obama going golfing are quite prevalent. It's almost like they are communicating with each other telepathically. It's been suggested that the tea party is actually paying trolls to go around making the same comments, but it's also been shown that the tea party is very good about getting out their talking points to their puppets, who just mimic the same thing everywhere. Either that or their all part of the Borg hive mind. Anyway it's just weird.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

Bring the troops home and stop spending money. Our soldiers are dying or becoming disabled,our soldiers are having to kill innocent people, no one knows what happens to weapons once they arrive in Iraq and this has become a $6 trillion tax $$$$$ war.

$6 trillion tax $$$$$$ would fund medicare single payer insurance for all in America for nearly 10 years. Or that money could put a lot of people through college and/or Vo-Tech schools.

War is a money hole. Our military people warned the white collared BUSHCO and congress that what is happening would happen.

Again: Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions http://www.antiwar.com/orig/odom.php?articleid=10396

White collar big time special interest demand increased defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global protection for Wal-Mart,Oil,Coca Cola,Pepsico,diamonds,gold etc etc etc.

Joshua Cain 1 year, 2 months ago

Richard,

I agree with your entire post above. How do you feel about Senator Obama's votes to fund the war?

"As a candidate for his Senate seat in 2003 and 2004, Obama said repeatedly that he would have voted against an $87 billion war budget that had been requested by President Bush.

Article http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/03/22/obama_defends_votes_in_favor_of_iraq_funding/

"When I was asked, 'Would I have voted for the $87 billion,' I said 'no,' " Obama said in a speech before a Democratic community group in suburban Chicago in November 2003. "I said 'no' unequivocally because, at a certain point, we have to say no to George Bush. If we keep on getting steamrolled, we're not going to stand a chance."

Yet Obama has voted for all of the president's war funding requests since coming to the Senate, and is poised to vote in favor of the latest request when it comes to the Senate floor this spring. Liberal groups have demanded that lawmakers cut off funds for the war as a way to force its end, but Obama has joined most Democrats in the House and Senate in saying he would not take such a move."

Ralph Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Actually, Vietnam was a proxy war with one purpose ... to show Russia and China that we could fight a protracted land war in Asia ... plain and simple.

And then again.

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