On Thursday afternoon, the Washington Post sent out a news alert headlined "John Kerry Endorses Biden in 2020 Race, Saying He Has the Character and Experience to Beat Trump, Confront the Nation’s Challenges." Meanwhile, in Iowa, Joe Biden was also touting his experience. "Look," Biden said as he angrily lectured an 83-year-old farmer at a campaign stop, "the reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people know, and I can get things done."
But Kerry and Biden don’t want to acknowledge a historic tie that binds them: Both men were important supporters of the Iraq war, voting for the invasion on the Senate floor and continuing to back the war after it began. Over the years, political winds have shifted – and Biden, like Kerry, has methodically lied about his support for that horrendous war.
The spectacle of Kerry praising Biden as a seasoned leader amounts to one supporter of the Iraq catastrophe attesting to the character and experience of another supporter of the same catastrophe.
One of the leading co-sponsors of an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would end US support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen appears to be withdrawing his support.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) spoke at an American Enterprise Institute event on Thursday. When Smith took a question about his efforts to end US support for the war, he said, "There is nothing we are going to pass in Congress that’s going to stop the war in Yemen." Smith said Iran’s involvement in the war cannot be ignored and that he does not want to "cut off Saudi Arabia’s and UAE’s ability to deal with Iran."
In April, President Trump vetoed a bipartisan effort to end US support for the war in Yemen. In June, Trump vetoed resolutions that would have blocked arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Experts agree that the best way to end the war in Yemen is through this amendment to the NDAA.
TAC contributor Gil Barndollar calls attention to the damage that endless war is doing to the military:
The president has been rightly excoriated for these pardons, which dishonor the U.S. military and may degrade good order and discipline. But amid this uproar, Americans should note the bigger lesson: Endless wars, especially endless counterinsurgency or counterterrorism wars, slowly chip away at both a military’s ethics and its critical war-fighting skills.
These wars are particularly corrosive because they cannot be conclusively won, and for every enemy that is destroyed it seems as if two or three more appear to replace it. Futile, open-ended wars contribute to breakdowns in discipline. Barndollar continues:
However, keeping their honor clean becomes harder and harder the longer these wars drag on. Wars among the people, as all our endless wars now are, are inherently dirty. When even senior members of the foreign policy establishment concede that we are not seeking victory in Afghanistan, it becomes harder for soldiers to make hollow mission accomplishment a higher priority than self-preservation. Treating US soldiers like victims, as Trump implicitly does, also becomes more common.
When a war cannot be won, the rational thing to do would be to stop fighting it, but instead of doing that our political and military leaders treat endless war as a new normal that must not be questioned. It is bad enough when a government sends its soldiers to fight and die for a cause that it pretends can still be won when that isn’t possible, but to keep sending them over and over again into war zones to fight a war they admit is futile has to be discouraging and frustrating. This also has to widen the division between the military and the civilian population. While military personnel are called on to go on multiple tours in pointless conflicts, most people back home mouth empty platitudes about supporting the troops and do nothing to bring the wars to an end. The public’s failure to hold our political and military leaders accountable for these failed and unnecessary wars is bound to have corrosive effects as well.
So much for getting out of endless wars! President Trump has announced that he is sending 14,000 more US troops to the Middle East and may even send more. The reason is the manufactured “Iran threat” that Trump continues to delude himself over. Neocons are thrilled. So are Saudi Arabia and Israel, who would love nothing more than to have the US fight and die in their wars. But what about America first? Watch today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
The celebration in London of NATO’s 70th year has ended with a renewed purpose: the “challenges” posed by China. NATO is a military alliance, but the attendees were careful to point out that they do not view China as an enemy. So what is the point? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
Gideon Rachman tries to find similarities between the foreign policies of Trump and Obama:
Both men would detest the thought. But, in crucial respects, the foreign policies of Donald Trump and Barack Obama are looking strikingly similar.
The wildly different styles of the two presidents have disguised the underlying continuities between their approaches to the world. But look at substance, rather than style, and the similarities are impressive.
There is usually considerable continuity in U.S. foreign policy from one president to another, but Rachman is making a stronger and somewhat different claim than that. He is arguing that their foreign policy agendas are very much alike in ways that put both presidents at odds with the foreign policy establishment, and he cites “disengagement from the Middle East” and a “pivot to Asia” as two examples of these similarities. This seems superficially plausible, but it is misleading. Despite talking a lot about disengagement, Obama and Trump chose to keep the US involved in several conflicts, and Trump actually escalated the wars he inherited from Obama. To the extent that there is continuity between Obama and Trump, it has been that both of them have acceded to the conventional wisdom of “the Blob” and refused to disentangle the US from Middle Eastern conflicts. Ongoing support for the war on Yemen is the ugliest and most destructive example of this continuity.