Dovish SOTU: Obama will Veto AIPAC Iran Sanctions, Pledges Afghanistan Wind-Down

(By Juan Cole)

President Obama’s State of the Union address addressed some key foreign policy issues–Afghanistan and Iran above all– though it was primarily aimed at domestic issues, and mainly at those where executive orders and policy might make at least a marginal impact.

Opinion polls show that US public support for the Afghanistan War, which began 12 and a half years ago, has fallen to 17 percent. Americans want out of that country. Obama pointed out that “When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He observed that all US troops are out of Iraq now, and he has brought 60,000 troops home from Afghanistan. (What he didn’t say was that he had sent 60,000 extra ones there early in his first term, so unlike with Iraq he is now drawing down his own war). There are still 39,000 or so US military personnel in Afghanistan.

About Afghanistan, Obama said, “Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.” This way of putting it is a little disingenuous. What the president means is that US forces won’t be doing active war-fighting and taking the lead in it after December.

He went on to clarify that “If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces, and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al Qaeda.”

This paragraph is like an iceberg, with 90% of the meaning not visible. First of all, Obama is implicitly acknowledging that Afghanistan may not sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US. The current president, Hamid Karzai, is declining to sign the agreement. His successor may not be elected, after run-offs, until summer of 2014. By the time a new president gets settled and studies the issue, the point may be moot. The US military will have to assume it is not staying, and initiate a vast movement of human beings and materiel out of the country. The US may end up with no troops in Afghanistan just because no one could get around to finalizing a SOFA before the clock ran out.

It isn’t even clear if the SOFA will need parliamentary approval, or if so, whether a majority of the Afghanistan parliament wants thousands of US troops to remain.

Karzai himself is increasingly unstable but may remain a power behind the new president, on the model of Vladimir Putin in Russia when he let Medvedev become president and made himself prime minister. Karzai most recently is accusing the United States of secretly being behind major terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, including the recent bombing of a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul. The US ambassador wondered if Karzai was using the allegations to keep the US off balance. But no, I think he is just as looney as the day is long and quite paranoid.

As for al-Qaeda, it has no purchase to speak of in Afghanistan. There is some danger of a major Taliban resurgence if the US departs altogether, but if a decade of building an Afghanistan national army and two decades of Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek opposition to the Taliban can’t forestall another fall of Kabul to extremists, it is hard to argue that another five years of US presence would make a difference to that outcome.

Obama acknowledged what many of his critics have been asserting, that “While we put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable those networks.”

Obama would have been more straightforward if he had mentioned the word “drones” here (he gets to it later) or if he had admitted that Sunni extremists have taken over Falluja and much of Ramadi in Iraq. Many Yemen experts believe his drone strikes there have actually caused al-Qaeda to grow, since civilians have been killed and people have been radicalized. Obama later said that he had “limited” drone strikes because of this danger. But it isn’t clear what the limitation is. A few weeks ago a US drone took out a wedding party in Yemen.

He added, “In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks.”

To toss off a single sentence about Syria in this speech was unfortunate, especially since the sentence isn’t practical. Something like 75% of the liberated territory in northern Syria is held by Sunni extremists, what Obama is calling al-Qaeda affiliates. The “moderate” Free Syrian Army (which has all along been at least 40% Muslim Brotherhood) has been the least effective fighting force. There is no prospect of the US turning that situation around any time soon.

He correctly added about Syria that “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.” This course was far preferable to bombing Syria last fall, which would have accomplished almost nothing but to create more enmity to the US.

Most of what he said about Syria serves to cover up the ambiguities of that country, where a brutal regime that has killed and tortured thousands is fighting guerrillas, many of whom have declared for al-Qaeda. There isn’t much to choose from here for the US, and for Obama to daydream in public about a military victory of moderates is a little sad. It certainly is no strategy.

Obama reiterated his general dislike of big Bush-style wars” “We must fight the battles that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us — large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.”

He called again for Congress to let him close the Guantanamo Bay prison (it passed a law forbidding the US of government funds for the closing).

Obama looked appreciatively at Secretary of State John Kerry when he praised American diplomacy’s promotion of talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. He said the talks were launched “to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel — a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side..”

There was no applause at the mention of an independent state for Palestinians. But when Obama capitulated to Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and called Israel “a Jewish state,” almost everyone on the floor, whether Republican or Democrat– were on their feet applauding. And some people say they don’t think AIPAC is powerful.

Obama defended his negotiations with Iran and pledged to veto any bill sent him by Congress that might derail the negotiations with Tehran.

It is sad that Obama felt constrained to issue this veto threat against a Senate-crafted bill that is being promoted by pro-Israel senators at the risk of sinking the negotiations and so leaving only war as an option for dealing with Iran. The reason for his veto threat, however, is that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been disciplining senators and congressmen and attempting to outflank Obama in his own city and even in his own party. So far, AIPAC has failed to stop the Iran initiative, but not for lack of trying. Among its victims have been Jewish Americans in the legislature, including Deborah Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL), the deputy Democratic whip, who has been working to support Obama’s Iran diplomacy. Since AIPAC toes the Likud line, they have attacked her as disloyal.

It isn’t actually clear, that Obama is right the severe US sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table. It seems to have rather been that pragmatist Hasan Rouhani won a power struggle with his rivals.

Then Obama did the bravest thing in the speech, he took on AIPAC. “But let me be clear: If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.”

Obama admitted his negotiations could fail, and that new sanctions might be warranted in that case. He added, “But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance — and we’ll know soon enough — then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.”

And that seems the keynote of Obama’s speech, the turn from war to diplomacy. He clearly sees himself as a transitional figure. Ironically, in many ways he is still mainly defined by the Bush administration, inasmuch as his accomplishments are winding down the Bush wars and defusing mines laid by Bush-Cheney that might still go off and drag us into more wars. In past speeches, Obama has even justified his drone strikes on the grounds that they are superior to conventional military engagements. (This argument however rests on the false premise that there are only two possible positions, pro-drone or pro-conventional war.)

Although he ended with a line that might have been taken from Bush’s democracy promotion strategy, his was merely rhetorical whereas Bush liked putting boots on the ground abroad. “From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and to have a say in their country’s future.”

I actually can’t think of anything Obama did for Tunisia after its 2011 revolution. In fact after Sept. 2012 when the US embassy was attacked by Salafis, he left a skeleton crew in Tunis. I don’t think they are able to get out much or to accomplish much.

In the end, Obama seems to see himself as primarily a domestic president. That position is remarkable because the Tea Party Congress won’t actually let him do much domestically. Many presidents seek foreign policy breakthroughs instead in their second term. Although Obama’s Iran talks may do some of that work, he doesn’t seem very confident of their success or terribly invested in them. He has never understood that Jimmy Carter got the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel by putting his presidency on the line and investing himself in the effort 100%. There isn’t any foreign policy issue about which you could assert that of Obama.

President Obama has never seemed to me all that interested in foreign affairs. His withdrawal from Iraq was provoked by the refusal of the Iraqi parliament to let US troops remain there. His Afghanistan policy was set by the Pentagon and both Vali Nasr and Bob Gates have wondered whether he was committed to the troop escalation imposed on him by the generals. He seems pretty happy at the prospect of getting out. He was briefly willing to bomb Syria but also seems very happy the Russians offered him a way out. He intervened in Libya but has done almost nothing for the elected Libyan government to help it strengthen its capacities. He praised Tunisia’s democratic transition but had little to do with it. The best you could say is that he hasn’t started any illegal wars, and has attempted to take the US off a war footing.

It is ironic that Obama is so disliked by peaceniks and on the left of his own party. As he points out, his policies have aimed at winding down wars and returning the US to peace. He cannot see the dangers of his undeclared drone wars, however. And while he praised the strength of the US relationship with Europe, he should have acknowledged that NSA spying has enraged our allies. He says the right things about conventional uses of the military, but in his actions he is a Covert War hawk.

—–

Related video:

AFP reports, “Al-Qaeda threat evolving, Obama says”

41 Responses

  1. It was amusing to see the camera’s pan down on one of AIPAC’s favorite senators, Bob Menendez, as President Obama stated he will veto the sanctions bill against Iran. It is unfortunate Obama’s successes, have been downplayed so much. He has disappointed me many times, yet he should be given credit for many policies, that are now taking effect, and easing the situation in the country. He has some achievements worth talking about, but you would not know if you hear the right wingers and those who want him to fail.

    • ” It is unfortunate Obama’s successes, have been downplayed so much. He has disappointed me many times, …”

      The problem is not that whatever good Obama has done has been downplayed. The problem is that whatever good he has done has been overshadowed enormously by his seriously flawed actions.

      He pontificates about the obscene wealth gap, but he has been a party to policies encouraging that wealth gap. One of those policies is fast track on TPP that will make matters worse.

      He has said, “No one is above the law.” Hands up anyone who believes that.

  2. I am against the US being a war machine and have contacted the White House to let them know I support Obama standing up to AIPAC. Here is the White House website you can go to in order to leave a message of support. We must stand up to these warmongers.

    link to whitehouse.gov

    • Hmm. I thought it was a subtle way of pointing out how excellent and unlimited medical care, with cost being no object, could restore a man who had been reduced to a pile of damaged tissue.

      Apropos of which, there was an autobiography of Dr. Stephen Hawking on PBS last night. Thank G-d for the NHS!

  3. i thought barry’s encomium to the sargeant who was castastrophically injured after his 10th deployment was offensive: exploiting the the misfortune of a soldier in order to provide a few feel good moments, the purpose i suppose was to assuage our guilt and drop the failed war down the memory hole. A moment of cheap grace for the folks.

    • He highlighted a badly-wounded veteran as a way to make people forget about the war and assuage guilt?

      Either you, or the Obama administration’s PR team, are not thinking clearly, because that doesn’t make any sense.

      • Doesn’t make any sense? Here’s one of many sources that offer an appropriately skeptical post-Pat Tillman view of the uses to which the injured body of Cory Remsburg were put Tuesday night:

        “The State of the Union’s Most Despicable Moment: All Americans can appreciate Cory Remsburg’s sacrifice — but our soldiers shouldn’t be used as political props”

        link to ideas.time.com

        Here’s another way our soldiers are being “recognized” and “thanked for their service:”

        “Disposable: Surge in Discharges Includes Wounded Soldiers” link to swords-to-plowshares.org

        And graphically it’s over the top, but regarding our President and his “PR” team, one might review and think about this testimony:

        link to hermes-press.com

        I wonder if Sgt. Remsburg will ever speak about how being featured in the SOTU really makes him feel.

  4. Just yesterday, Karzai included a new precondition before he signs the BSA – the US has to acknowledge that peace-talks with the Taliban failed.

    According to well-informed Afghans, Karzai might be personally negotiating an end-game with the Taliban and the recent release of Taliban fighters from prison (despite objections from Karzai’s Generals) is seen as a goodwill gesture by Karzai (but I doubt the Taliban will return the favor in kind). Or maybe he’s just releasing them because we learned that Karzai thinks most acts of terrorism in the country (even the ones the Taliban took responsibility for) is either the work of the CIA or the Northern Alliance.

    With regard to elections, there’s a debate in parliament over whether the National ID cards should record a citizen’s ethnicity (the ID card is necessary to vote). The Non-Pashtuns in parliament want the ID card to record ethnicity but the Pashtuns rejected the proposal fearing that the data will be converted into a census that may expose that Pashtuns aren’t the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan (back in December, this debate led to a brawl in Parliament). So I’m not even sure the elections will proceed as scheduled and there’s the possibility Karzai might cancel or postpone the elections.

    Even without the BSA, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that the Taliban will overrun Kabul. In 1995, they sought to take Kabul but were pushed back by rebel forces and they were only successful a year later because government rebels abandoned Kabul without firing a single shot. In fact, the Taliban was able to overrun many provinces (in the South and East) in the 90s without anyone putting up a fight. This time around they have to worry first about Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s fighters and a dozen other Pashtun militias in the south and east standing in their way before they encroach towards the non-Pashtun north and west.

    • having a little trouble wrapping my mind around the concept of “government rebels,” though.

  5. About the best thing one can say about Obama is that the Republican alternatives would have been much, much worse. There is no reason to believe that a Hillary Presidency would have been any better. That is about as weak an endorsement of a President as one can find. There are a lot of bright Millennials who voted for him and who have since dropped out of politics in disgust. I don’t blame them.

  6. Thank you for the review. According to a CNN poll 60 percent of the people didn’t watch Obama’s speech or the GOP response. I was one of that 60 percent. Neither he, the GOP or the Democratic Party has any credibility in my book.

  7. “The US military will have to assume it is not staying, and initiate a vast movement of human beings and materiel out of the country.”

    The US military is initiating a vast movement of human beings and material out of the country anyway, with the withdrawal of the combat forces. What would be left would be a few hundred individuals, not engaged in war fighting. The difference between the withdrawal that would happen without a SOFA, and one that would happen with a SOFA, is minimal, in terms of the scale of the withdrawal operation.

    “The US ambassador wondered if Karzai was using the allegations to keep the US off balance. But no, I think he is just as looney as the day is long and quite paranoid.”

    I can never figure out if Karzai is crazy, or crazy like a fox.

    “Obama acknowledged what many of his critics have been asserting”

    Huh? Far from the splintering of al Qaeda in response to defeat being a point of his critics, it’s been the core reality his counter-terrorism policy has been built around for the past 2-3 years.

    Obama later said that he had “limited” drone strikes because of this danger. But it isn’t clear what the limitation is.

    I’d say the figures posted in on this site about the fifth year of Obama’s drone war made the recent changes pretty obvious.

    It isn’t actually clear, that Obama is right the severe US sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table. It seems to have rather been that pragmatist Hasan Rouhani won a power struggle with his rivals.

    Why the false dilemma? As we saw in 2008 and 2010, a bad economy leads the voters to “throw the bums out,” and vote against the incumbent party or faction. The hawkish faction, embodied in Ahmedinejad, were the incumbents, and they lost in an election carried out during a bad economy.

    “I actually can’t think of anything Obama did for Tunisia after its 2011 revolution.”

    The US was one of the first countries in the world to recognize the new Tunisian government. That must have had an effect on the French, who were the old regime’s big ally.

  8. “President Obama has never seemed to me all that interested in foreign affairs.”

    Virtually all of his 2008 campaign was based around foreign affairs – primarily the Iraq War, and Afghanistan/Al Qaeda.

    “His withdrawal from Iraq was provoked by the refusal of the Iraqi parliament to let US troops remain there.”

    His withdrawal from Iraq began in January 2009, and continued uninterrupted until the last troops left in December 2011. Here, look at this chart:

    link to cnn.com

    Was the decline between January 2009 and the fall of 2011 caused by the Iraqi Parliament, too?

    “He was briefly willing to bomb Syria but also seems very happy the Russians offered him a way out.”

    Any by “way out,” you mean “allowed him to achieve his core foreign policy goal.” How does threatening war, preparing for it, pursuing a diplomatic track to achieve that goal, and succeeding amount to a lack of interest in foreign policy?

    “He intervened in Libya but has done almost nothing for the elected Libyan government to help it strengthen its capacities.”

    The first part would seem to indicate a level of interest in foreign policy, no? The second part is mainly a consequence of the Libyan government not wanting such help for reasons of domestic politics, no? It seems that the point above about the Iraqi parliament would be more appropriate here.

    “He praised Tunisia’s democratic transition but had little to do with it.”

    And that, Professor Cole, is a Bid Deal. What would any president between FDR and Obama have done when faced with a situation in which an American-allied dictator was being challenged by a populist domestic protest movement or rebellion?

    “Hands off” is a policy, too, and in the context of the history of American foreign policy, standing by and doing nothing while allied dictatorships fall is a major policy change.

  9. He cannot see the dangers of his undeclared drone wars, however.

    Except that earlier, you pointed out his statement, “Obama later said that he had “limited” drone strikes because of this danger.”

    Can he not see the dangers? Or can you not see the other side of the scale, and that he is involved in balancing competing concerns?

  10. Well, if Obama “says the right things about conventional uses of the military, but in his actions he is a Covert War hawk “, then why is it “ironic that Obama is so disliked by peaceniks and on the left of his own party”? It’s only “ironic” if he really is NOT a covert war hawk. And no one seems to know the answer to that, maybe not even Obama himself.

    —–

  11. Joe, almost all of your points are wrong and you are cherrypicking what Juan said. Here are two examples.
    1- US wanted to keep up to 10, 000 forces in Afghanistan not few hundreds. I don’t know where your sources are.
    2 – The schedule to withdraw Iraq was drawn under Bush. Iraqis cleverly deceived Americans who had built huge fortresses and embassies to stay permanently. Do you remember several trips that Biden took and our ambassodors begging Iraqis to let a residual force stay?
    3- Your analysis of change of government may cause you to be laughed out of town. If each time economy is not doing well a party loses power then why was Obama reelected in 2012.
    4 – Your last statement “can he not see hte dangers?…” implies that if he is a little better than Bush we should jump up and down. Don’t you see that is exactly why people are disappointed in him?

    • “US wanted to keep up to 10, 000 forces in Afghanistan not few hundreds. I don’t know where your sources are.”

      That’s been off the table for some time.

      “The schedule to withdraw Iraq was drawn under Bush.”

      And it couldn’t be changed? Virtually the entire 2008 campaign was fought over whether the US should stay in Iraq, or leave. Throughout 2009-2011, this site was full of confidence assurances that the United States would never leave those “permanent bases.” It was only after the fact that the narrative changed to asserting the inevitability of what had previously been called an impossibility.

      “Do you remember several trips that Biden took and our ambassodors begging Iraqis to let a residual force stay?”

      You don’t have your facts correct. The proposal to extend the SOFA was made by Malaki, who wanted American back-up. The American response was to insist on legal immunity as a pre-condition for even beginning negotiations for extending the SOFA.

      “Your analysis of change of government may cause you to be laughed out of town.”

      Wow. Have you never taken a political science class, even at the undergrad level? “My analysis” that bad economic conditions harm incumbents in elections would “laughed out of town?” What town is that, exactly? BTW, economic conditions in 2012 were sufficiently good that political prediction formulas based on the economy predicted an Obama victory.

      “Your last statement “can he not see hte dangers?…” implies that if he is a little better than Bush we should jump up and down.”

      I have no idea how you managed to read that into my comment, beyond what is obviously a passionate desire on your part to do so. The section you quoted was a challenge to Professor Cole’s assertion, not agreement with it. The word “or” is commonly used to separate to contrary points between which one must choose.

      Thanks.

      • “US wanted to keep up to 10, 000 forces in Afghanistan not few hundreds. I don’t know where your sources are.”

        “That’s been off the table for some time.”

        It is not off the table at all. If a SOFA were to be concluded that exempted US forces from local legal and judicial jurisdiction, the total of 10,000 US troops is the likely number who would remain in Afghanistan.

        The US commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., has recommended that the stay-behind U.S. force total 10,000 troops, complemented by several thousand more from NATO allies.

    • Here are a couple of stories about those 2012 election predictions:

      link to washingtonpost.com

      link to theweek.com

      Note that the relationship between economic conditions, incumbency, and election outcomes is, rather than being “laughed out of town,” so well understood by political scientists that they incorporate it into highly-successful mathematical models.

    • Story on the state of residual force talks: link to stripes.com

      Vice President Joe Biden has resumed a push to withdraw virtually all U.S. troops from Afghanistan at year’s end, arguing for a far-smaller presence than many military officers would like to see, officials briefed on the discussions told The Wall Street Journal…Biden’s arguments for a smaller force, likely of 2,000 to 3,000 troops, have gained traction within an administration

      There, right of return, now you know what my sources are.

      • That VP Biden wants a far smaller residual force than does the military brass does not mean the possibility of 10,000 troops is “off the table.” It just means there are differing viewpoints within the Administration. In the end, Obama will make the call.

        • “The article I linked to from stripes dot com goes into the current state of the debate within the administration.”

          Exactly, but it is an element being debated. It is not “off the table.”

  12. Here’s an interesting take on Obama’s SOTU speech, the only one I have come across with this viewpoint – Obama in search of lost credibility – “Obama, en busca de la credibilidad perdida” – link to internacional.elpais.com

    It appears he might finally have realized the old saw also applies to him: You can fool some of the all the time, all the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time.

  13. Obama is concerned about the wealth gap. Really?
    “Obama Administration Pushes New Trade Agreement That Would Further Enrich Pharmaceutical Companies And Discourage Lower Priced Generic Drugs” by Jonathan Turley – link to jonathanturley.org

  14. “There was no applause at the mention of an independent state for Palestinians……………”

    There should be no applause because the only Palestinian state Israel will agree to is comparable to the Bophutswana entity in South Africa. Palestinians would still be subject to humiliating West Bank checkpoints manned by the IDF.

    Former Israeli Labor Party Knesset member Colette Avital, a Holocaust survivor and reired career Israeli diplomat, has advocated the relocation of all Jewish West Bank settlers with compensation and a separate truly independent Palestinian state as the ideal final status between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Her voice is joined by many Israelis in the Labor, Meretz, and Hadash parties seving in the Knesset.

    Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid underscored the devastating economic effect of a European Union boycott on Israel if the Netanyahu government is unable to conclude a peace deal with the Palestinian delegation.

  15. elsewhere [http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/28/obama-s-new-guantanamo-deadline-unlikely.html]
    I read that the only new foreign policy position staked out was the promise to close Gitmo in a year.

    “In Tuesday’s State of the Union, President Obama again called for the closing of America’s prison at Guantanamo Bay, adding a new deadline—the end of 2014, when most U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan.”
    .

  16. President Obama left out of his State of the Union address discussion and solutions for the most important concerns and problems of most Americans, about 98% +/-.

    1. The US government does not represent nor relate to most Americans. About half of Congress are millionaires and the other half are becoming millionaires with inside information!
    Millionaires and billionaires cannot represent nor relate to most Americans. Even if they didn’t get healthcare coverage for life, they would never feel the costs increases, they’re too rich. Many live in gated communities which are “segregated” from the surrounding communities.

    SOLUTIONS: Prohibit millionaires, billionaires from holding any government and public office, federal, state or local.

    2. The US government is controlled by money.

    SOLUTION: Take the money out of politics, campaigning, special interests groups, etc. All qualified candidates get equal time, exposure in all media, speeches and appearances. No paid for or free idiot TV blast commercials which are prohibited in some European countries.

    All special interests meetings are to be recorded on video and made available to the public. No deals made on the golf course. TAKE THE SECRECY OUT OF OUR GOVERNMENT.

    3. End all antitrust violations, criminal control and propaganda by the news media conglomerates.

    SOLUTION: Breakup the conglomerates, prison time of at least 10 years and fines up to 50% of their wealth for the executives. The lack of real investigative news left Americans without real knowledge. The rich make money off of wars, possibly many Congress members wanted and want the Illegal wars.

    4. Americans are sick of illegal and/or useless wars.
    The Military Industrial Complex (MIC) is controlled by the billionaires and their puppets that get sickly rich on illegal wars.

    SOLUTION: Close down the Military Industrial Complex.

    And so on……Federal Reserve, a private corporation/consortium.

    • “Millionaires and billionaires cannot represent nor relate to most Americans. ”

      Indifference to fellow Americans is not limited to millionaires and billionaires. You can find similarly callous attitudes among all financial strata.

        • And he was good enough to care about that whole-nation thing, and smart enough to know that his class needed to give the rabble a reasonable share , to avoid a Bastille Day of their own. Who knows? He might have taken his oath of office and the stuff he learned in civics class seriously. He sure knew what an ugly evil hunch his Wall Street chums were…

  17. Dear Nobody, Great solutions, however totally unrealistic in that wolves governing the chicken coop do not vote to put sheep in charge. Few mice volunteer to bell the cat.

  18. “But no, I think he is just as looney as the day is long and quite paranoid.”

    In general I found this SOTU article to be useful, but you disappoint with the above quoted remark. Is that really all you can offer in analysis of Karzai? This website is still named “Informed Comment” isn’t it?

    Maybe this SOTU piece wasn’t the place for it, but somewhere you must be more probing and nuanced that this flat statement, which sounds like something Dennis Miller would say, implies.

    As a student, nay, scholar of Middle East history and politics, you must have more on your mind re: Karzai than this characterization suggests, no?

  19. The NCRI is comprised of 25 committees that act as shadow ministries. The committees are responsible for expert research and planning for future Iran. For more information visit link to ncr-iran.org

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