The general who set up the prison at Guantanamo Bay says it’s about time that we shut it down. It’s interesting to see how much he’s flipped sides on the issue, and how willing he is to admit that the prison was opened out of fear– a fact that everybody should know. The United States was extremely scared after 9/11, and we acted as a nation who’s extremely scared would act by jumping to extremes. We failed to realize that the interrogation strategy largely seems to fail and that there would be negative perceptions of us throughout the world by opening the prison. Hopefully the government will also flip sides on the issue and start to understand exactly why the prison needs to be shut down.
Obama and Kerry struck a deal with the Afghani government to keep US troops in Afghanistan until sometime beyond 2014 last month. There is a slight possibility that the deal won’t actually go through, but it’s looking like it probably will. It seems like a good idea for us to maintain a small ground presence in Afghanistan, but the article cited above indicates that we’ll probably keep roughly 8000 troops in the country, which seems a bit excessive. Luckily the government of Afghanistan seems largely okay with the action, so it shouldn’t be detrimental to our relationship with the country’s government. And it seems like we’ll be using our forces to mostly fend off Al Qaeda and train the Afghani National Forces, which hopefully means the troops will be focused on more defensive actions than offensive actions. While it seems like 8000 troops is a bit excessive, it seems like an overall good thing for the US to keep some troops in Afghanistan for the next year.
The Onion is my favorite parody news site, and they’ve published several articles about drone strikes over the past year. If you’re interested in laughing at the misfortune that is the United States’ drone policy, check them out.
http://www.theonion.com/articles/sweating-obama-admits-drone-strikes-have-been-happ,31219/ — “Sweating Obama Admits Drone Strikes Have Been Happening on Their Own”
http://www.theonion.com/articles/obama-takes-out-romney-with-middebate-drone-attack,30055/ “Obama Takes Out Romney With Mid-Debate Drone Attack”
http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-england-patriots-now-using-drones-to-take-out,34602/ “New England Patriots Now Using Drones To Take Out Offensive Threats”
This article makes the claim that Putin is now the world’s most powerful leader instead of Obama (as ranked by Forbes). Does this mean the end of the American unipolar era? Only time will tell, however, it’s doubtful, considering the massive military and economic might that the US musters. It’s definitely a blow to American dominance worldwide– but that doesn’t mean it has to signal the collapse of our leadership. Let’s just hope that the United States and Russia can continue along with reset policies and keep the relationship growing and strong.
About a month ago, the NSA got caught spying on foreign leaders. In response, the Obama administration has publicly stated that they weren’t aware of the wiretaps being conducted. This almost scares me more than if the wiretaps had been conducted under the orders of Obama because it raises the question– who the hell is in charge of the NSA? Being an executive agency, you’d assume it’s the Obama Administration, but apparently not. Either the administration has lied to the public and foreign nations, or the wiretaps were conducted under the orders of somebody else. Either way, figuring out exactly what happened and why it happened is a good idea, considering the downward spiral that an event like this could send international relations into.
I know this is only tangentially related to the topic of presidential war powers, but I think it’s important enough to discuss– the status of Iran’s nuclear program. While the recent deal doesn’t complete halt Iran’s nuclear program, it limits it enough that we can relax, at least a little bit. Even John Kerry says the deal isn’t completely comprehensive, and we still have work to do. But we’re certainly one step closer to resolving these issues and the world is at least a little bit safer now.
It’s interesting to see how the media portrays presidential actions regarding war powers depending on what side of the political spectrum they fall on. For example, this article cites a Fox News Analyst (Andrew Napolitano) who criticized President Obama for seeking Congressional authorization on Libya once he started asking for the authorization, yet criticized Obama for not seeking Congressional authorization before he asked for the authorization on the issue. It’s especially interesting when one thinks about the audiences who only focus on news from one side of the political spectrum and not the other, and how incomplete that education is about that issue.
This is why it’s especially important to develop your own research skills– the media is bias, and only getting news from one source definitely makes the information acquired incomplete. Alternatively, acquiring information from several different sources (from both sides of the political spectrum) would hedge back against a lot of the media bias along these issues, although probably not all of it. Bottom line is to take things the media says (especially in terms of war powers and the drone program) with a grain of salt, especially if it’s only from one news organization.
Edit– This article is also an excellent example of this topic.