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October 19, 2006

Olbermann and Buchanan: Left, Right and Sound Advice
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

I'm travelling this week, so this will be short and eclectic. We're taking our first trip with our nine week old baby to see his New England cousins. (This explains also why I've been so flakey posting lately, my apologies) I was so entranced by 3 a.m. Senate hearings on CSPAN that I couldn't do much else.

First, kudos to Keith Olbermann. He blisters the administration  and their "talk to the hand" treatment of the constitution, the founding fathers, and millions of Americans with the signing of the Military Commissions Act. I've been so upset by this bill that I've started a netflix anarchy list. So far I've re-watched Fight Club, Brazil and V for Vendetta. Suggestions welcome.

I had a good discussion with a sailor last weekend and he told me about a new organization  for members of the active duty military who want to protest the Iraq war. Military professionals have rigid restrictions on their ability to talk publicly about policy, and don't have the same constitutional right to express themselves as civilians do. Yet there are specific ways to speak out. Rights under the U.S. Constitution, laws passed by Congress, and the military's own regulations provide direction for those who want to voice an opinion about what's going on in Iraq. Here is the website of this movement. Here's a link to "Sir! No Sir!" -- a film that documents similar actions during VietNam.

Finally, a network for security progressives-- the National Security Network -- is up and running. It seeks to bridge the divide between the foreign policy experts and politicians in Washington aka "wonks" and local community leaders and the general public.
An affiliated organization provides a communications hub where you can sign up and discuss ideas.

And in recognition of how wacky politics have become, I'm going to end with an entire article on the U.S.-North Korea policy impasse by Pat Buchanan. I can't believe I'm saying this. But it's is pretty sound advice.

Wed Oct 18, 5:59 AM ET

by Pat Buchanan

Between Sept. 11, 2001, and his State of the Union Address in 2002,
George W. Bush had America in the palm of his hand.

But in that speech, Bush blew it. Singling out Iran, Iraq and North
Korea as state sponsors of terror seeking weapons of mass destruction,
Bush yoked them together in an "axis of evil" and issued this
ultimatum: "I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not
stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of
America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten
us with the world's most destructive weapons."

Neoconservatives celebrated this bellicosity as neo-Churchillian. Yet
all it accomplished was to fracture the U.S. and foreign coalitions
that had united behind Bush. As some of us wrote at the time, to call
Iran and Iraq, mortal enemies in the eight-year war of the '80s that
took a million lives, an "axis" was absurd.

Bush's speech was a blunder of the first magnitude. First, he had no
authority to attack any of those nations, as Congress had not
authorized war. Second, he had neither the plans nor forces in place to
do so. Yet he had put all three on notice this was what he had in mind.

When the United States invaded Iraq, North Korea and Iran got the
message. Both accelerated their nuclear programs.

By issuing public ultimatums, Bush left these regimes no way out. Even
tiny Serbia felt its national honor required it to fight rather than
submit to a U.S. ultimatum to let NATO march through the country to
occupy Kosovo.

Now Kim Jong-Il, though his July 4 test of the Taepodong-2 missile
seems to have Roman-candled and his plutonium bomb may have misfired,
has openly defied the Bush Doctrine. Arguably the world's worst regime
has acquired the world's worst weapon.

Bush's response? He went to the United Nations to plead for sanctions.

Will the sanctions work? Why should they? As columnist Tony Blankley
has argued, this is a regime that, to ensure its isolation and
ideological purity, allowed millions of its people to starve to death.
The cruelties the Hermit Kingdom has imposed upon its own to guarantee
that America will not be tempted to attack are astounding. This is not
a crowd that will give up its atom bomb for BMWs.

Because of the bluster-and-bluff of President Bush, the United States
is today eyeball-to-eyeball with Iran and North Korea over their
nuclear programs, and neither of these regimes appears ready to blink.

Are we headed down the road again, as we were in the Balkans and Iraq,
toward wars that will be even bigger and bloodier?

It need not happen, for the most basic of reasons. Neither Iran nor
North Korea could survive all-out war with the United States, and
neither has crossed any red line to start such a war.

What do these nations want, and can America accommodate them, without
imperiling our security or accepting an intolerable loss of strategic

What North Korea wants is what President Nixon gave Mao Zedong in the
1970s. Recognition, security guarantees, aid, admission into the
international community and an end to the U.S. policy of regime change.

What does America want from North Korea? No more atomic tests, the
return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into all of
North Korea's nuclear facilities and no export of nuclear materials to
hostile states or non-state actors that could use nuclear devices as
instruments of terror, mass murder or nuclear blackmail.

The six-party talks have failed. North Korea has rejected U.S. offers
and resisted U.S. demands, and South Korea and China have balked at
using their leverage to back us up. If Beijing and Seoul wish to play a
separate hand with Pyongyang, we should play one, too.

We should engage in direct negotiations with the North, warning them
that any export of a nuclear device to a hostile regime risks an attack
by the United States and any nuclear weapon used against Americans,
anywhere, traceable to North Korea will bring certain and massive
nuclear retaliation.

However, in return for iron-clad assurances they have opened up all
nuclear programs to inspection and given up further development of
nuclear weapons, we should offer the North Koreans diplomatic ties,
economic aid and a security pact sealed with a U.S. withdrawal of
forces from the Korean peninsula.

Great though its crimes, Kim's regime will never equal in evil those of
Josef Stalin or Mao, both of whom had nuclear arsenals greater than Kim
can ever achieve -- and America never went to war with either.

Meanwhile, put the bellicose bluster on the shelf. It has done less
than nothing to advance America's security.


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Where have you been? Pat Buchanan has been great on foreign policy since 2002 at least. He realized what was going on early and has been denouncing neocon adventurism and plans for war from the start. Read his magazine, "The American Conservative", or look up his archived columns on the web.

Agreed. Pat Buchanan has been awesome from the beginning. A bright, lucid man with an unbelievable knowledge of history. He's too good for this country, alas.

I hope Brian and MQ are kidding. Buchanan is an isolationist, American First-er. Just because he opposed this war (as he does all U.S. engagements abroad) doesn't mean he's right on foreign policy, just as Bob Dole's support of lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia didn't make him "right" in general either.

I hope you will expand on the uncanny resemblance of the direction the US is headed in with our terror of "terrorists" and the world of "Brazil."

Well, let's see, the stripping from Americans of the right to habeus corpus guaranteed by the Constitution with the endorsement of thirty-two Dem reps and thirty-four (THIRTY FOUR) Dem senators forces you to turn to Republican Pat Buchanan and his essay against bluff and bluster within which he says that if the NORKS export a nuke to another country and it's used against us, for whatever reason, we will kill everyone in North Korea, despite the fact that the average North Korean has about as much influence on her government as we do on ours. More or less. Sounds reasonable to me. I never did like North Koreans. Their kimchee stinks. South Koreans are okay though. I hope the nuclear cloud from the "massive nuclear retaliation" doesn't drift south.

Buchanan makes the oft-repeated point that the Iraq invasion was not authorized by Congress when, let's face it, it really was. Congress, including most Dems, knew what Bush was up to, authorized him to do it, and have continued to support and fund the war in Iraq. Anyhow, Congress authorizing the war doesn't make it right, does it? Except to those who profit from it, that is.

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The U.S. Constitution, laws passed by Congress, and the military's own regulations provide direction for those who want to voice an opinion about what's going on in Iraq.

North Korea has rejected U.S. offers and resisted U.S. demands, and South Korea and China have balked at using their leverage to back us up.

South Koreans are okay though.I hope the nuclear cloud from the "massive nuclear retaliation" doesn't drift south.

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