A great deal of my knowledge of history, politics, and international affairs comes from the books I read. I highly recommend them, especially in the age of Trump:
A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn: By my junior year of college, my politics had shifted from relatively conservative (yup, I leaned Republican for most of my life) to moderately liberal. After reading this book, I was firmly liberal. The sheer amount of information Zinn presents that you never learn in school is incredible. I consider this essential reading for every single American.
The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy, Howard Zinn: An indispensable collection of Howard Zinn’s writings on everything from race, to war, to social justice. Some of the best essays: Machiavellian Realism and US Foreign Policy: Means and Ends, Law and Justice, The Problem Is Civil Obedience
Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, Noam Chomsky: Written in 1983 after the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, Chomsky utilizes primary sources (translated from Hebrew and other languages by Chomsky himself) hardly, if ever, presented to an American audience to reveal the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Any Jews who support the Israeli government would do well to read this, and then try to justify themselves.
Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, Michael Isikoff & David Corn: An indispensable book about the failures and crimes of the Bush administration that led the US into a costly, unnecessary war in Iraq. Everyone needs to read this book. Absolutely jaw-dropping.
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003-2005, Thomas E. Ricks: Written in 2006 in the wake of the disastrous invasion of Iraq, this book gives extraordinary military insight to complement the focus on the political end of the Iraq War. A good companion piece to Hubris, and great insight into military strategy for those of us who haven’t studied it before.
Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, Radley Balko: Astonishing and infuriating, and absolutely essential. This book is no liberal anti-cop smear: It is a bold and honest look at the government’s dangerous practice of preparing our police across the nation to violate all of the constitutional rights we hold dear, and denying accountability.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander: A companion piece to Rise of the Warrior Cop, focusing on the racism that underlies nationwide law enforcement.
Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.
Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.
But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.
At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.
But at the highest levels of government, among those responsible for managing the crisis, the first moment of true foreboding about Russia’s intentions arrived with that CIA intelligence.
The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid.
It took time for other parts of the intelligence community to endorse the CIA’s view. Only in the administration’s final weeks in office did it tell the public, in a declassified report, what officials had learned from Brennan in August — that Putin was working to elect Trump.
[Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump, report says]
Over that five-month interval, the Obama administration secretly debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could “crater” the Russian economy.
But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues — expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds — with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic.
Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.
In political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy. It was a case that took almost no time to solve, traced to the Kremlin through cyber-forensics and intelligence on Putin’s involvement. And yet, because of the divergent ways Obama and Trump have handled the matter, Moscow appears unlikely to face proportionate consequences.
Those closest to Obama defend the administration’s response to Russia’s meddling. They note that by August it was too late to prevent the transfer to WikiLeaks and other groups of the troves of emails that would spill out in the ensuing months. They believe that a series of warnings — including one that Obama delivered to Putin in September — prompted Moscow to abandon any plans of further aggression, such as sabotage of U.S. voting systems.
Denis McDonough, who served as Obama’s chief of staff, said that the administration regarded Russia’s interference as an attack on the “heart of our system.”
“We set out from a first-order principle that required us to defend the integrity of the vote,” McDonough said in an interview. “Importantly, we did that. It’s also important to establish what happened and what they attempted to do so as to ensure that we take the steps necessary to stop it from happening again.”
But other administration officials look back on the Russia period with remorse.
“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” said a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia. “I feel like we sort of choked.”
The post-election period has been dominated by the overlapping investigations into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia before the election and whether the president sought to obstruct the FBI probe afterward. That spectacle has obscured the magnitude of Moscow’s attempt to hijack a precious and now vulnerable-seeming American democratic process.
Beset by allegations of hidden ties between his campaign and Russia, Trump has shown no inclination to revisit the matter and has denied any collusion or obstruction on his part. As a result, the expulsions and modest sanctions announced by Obama on Dec. 29 continue to stand as the United States’ most forceful response.
“The punishment did not fit the crime,” said Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia for the Obama administration from 2012 to 2014. “Russia violated our sovereignty, meddling in one of our most sacred acts as a democracy — electing our president. The Kremlin should have paid a much higher price for that attack. And U.S. policymakers now — both in the White House and Congress — should consider new actions to deter future Russian interventions.”
The Senate this month passed a bill that would impose additional election- and Ukraine-related sanctions on Moscow and limit Trump’s ability to lift them. The measure requires House approval, however, and Trump’s signature.
This account of the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s interference is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue.
The White House, the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.
The secrecy extended into the White House.
Susan Rice, Avril Haines and White House homeland-security adviser Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the Situation Room to weigh the mounting evidence of Russian interference and generate options for how to respond. At first, only four senior security officials were allowed to attend: Brennan, Clapper, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and FBI Director James B. Comey. Aides ordinarily allowed entry as “plus-ones” were barred.
Gradually, the circle widened to include Vice President Biden and others. Agendas sent to Cabinet secretaries — including John F. Kerry at the State Department and Ashton B. Carter at the Pentagon — arrived in envelopes that subordinates were not supposed to open. Sometimes the agendas were withheld until participants had taken their seats in the Situation Room.
Throughout his presidency, Obama’s approach to national security challenges was deliberate and cautious. He came into office seeking to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was loath to act without support from allies overseas and firm political footing at home. He was drawn only reluctantly into foreign crises, such as the civil war in Syria, that presented no clear exit for the United States.
Obama’s approach often seemed reducible to a single imperative: Don’t make things worse. As brazen as the Russian attacks on the election seemed, Obama and his top advisers feared that things could get far worse.
They were concerned that any pre-election response could provoke an escalation from Putin. Moscow’s meddling to that point was seen as deeply concerning but unlikely to materially affect the outcome of the election. Far more worrisome to the Obama team was the prospect of a cyber-assault on voting systems before and on Election Day.
They also worried that any action they took would be perceived as political interference in an already volatile campaign. By August, Trump was predicting that the election would be rigged. Obama officials feared providing fuel to such claims, playing into Russia’s efforts to discredit the outcome and potentially contaminating the expected Clinton triumph.
Before departing for an August vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Obama instructed aides to pursue ways to deter Moscow and proceed along three main paths: Get a high-confidence assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia’s role and intent; shore up any vulnerabilities in state-run election systems; and seek bipartisan support from congressional leaders for a statement condemning Moscow and urging states to accept federal help.
In an envelope from the CIA shown to just former President Obama and 3 other aides of his in August 2016, the letter revealed that Putin had a gameplan: defeat (or least severely weaken) Hillary and elect Trump as the 45th President.
AFGHANISTAN. Kandahar Province. December 17, 2011. U.S. Army Sgt. Lidya Admounabdfany writes down information from a local woman at the Woman’s Centre near the Zhari District Centre outside of Forward Operating Base Pasab. Admounabdfany was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1990, living through the 2003 U.S. invasion, hiding in a basement with her family. Her mother, a widow who spoke some English, met and married an American security adviser and the whole family soon moved to Oklahoma City. When she was 17, she graduated High School and enrolled in the U.S. Army, hoping to go to Iraq. As the wars changed priorities, Admounabdfany ended up learning Dari and Pashto, and was deployed to Afghanistan as a member of 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division’s Female Engagement Team.
please teach us about 20 dollar nose bleed and the bush administration
all of folie is just a big fuck you to the bush administration courtesy of pete wentz and is basically a period piece you need some background on to really appreciate. it kinda gets lost in translation with younger fans who don’t remember 2000-2008 because a lot of them hadn’t even been born yet (which is fine) but it’s interesting to see folie pushed aside as just a declaration of psychosis when it has more layers than that.
just the united states army itself between 2001-2011 sent around 1.5 million troops into both afghanistan and iraq, 2.8+ million in total. it was full of fear mongering to promote a search for something that didn’t exist and it was a war that benefited off of vulnerability that only ended with far more death than what the united states even started it over. no one really talks about civilian deaths, entire cities bombed as collateral damage, and the endless manhunts to dead ends. it was all built on the pretenses that all of this was going to be worth something and it built up to the violence we still see today.
as for 20 dollar nosebleed i’m not going to go into too much detail but take the lyrics “when i look at the man who would be king / the man who would be king / goes to the desert the same war his dad rehearsed / came back with flags on coffins and said, “we won, oh we won.”
i would recommend reading about the invasion of kuwait and operation cyclone. george h.w. bush (sr) essentially started the “first iraq war” and in the end abandoned pakistan which gradually led to the formation of al-qaeda. al-qaeda being the reason why george w. bush, his son, later started war once again in iraq and afghanistan.
so it’s all pretty straight forward and i would definitely recommend evaluating folie more underneath that specific lense
Your defense of the protests is laughable. When Obama was elected you had a handful of people act out violently (which was bad, and condemned). But now you have Liberals doing that, protesting, AND rioting. Besides, a protest is usually to some end. When the Iraq War was protested, the end was not to go to war. What's the end in this case? They're either trying to get the democratically elected president removed, or just screaming in the street like children throwing a tantrum.
I’ve heard of worse when someone’s baseball team wins a game. And the last time I checked, it was a Trump supporter who shot and injured a protester. I haven’t been watching too closely, but I’ll join you in condemning violence done by the protesters.
A lot of this is vocalizing opposition, ineffectual yelling and screaming. But it reminds me of the ineffectual 99% protests. Or to a more cynical extent, the BLM protests. Protesting doesn’t always have a point except for expressing mass disagreement. And it’s part of the fabric that makes up people, needing an outlet to be heard and to say “hey we STILL oppose all those policies that are about to be enacted.”
There is a new president elect. But by protesting, much like protesting the Iraq War, they are saying “You do NOT have a mandate to enact these things you say you will do.” To name a few, the intention to privatize Medicare or to deport 2 to 3 million undocumented, these things would be worth protesting in their own right. They just happen to have a singular name to scream about.
You scream in the street to tell people, No. I don’t want that. They screamed when Bush brought us to Iraq. They’ll scream now as they pick and choose what parts of their progress they’ll repeal.
Neither side won a real majority of the vote. 24% or 26% of all voters doesn’t quite give people the right to tell the losing party to shut up and take it.
The road-trip comedy of Farah Goes Bang follows a woman in her twenties, Farah Mahtab, who tries to lose her virginity while campaigning across America for presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
Farah and her friends K.J. and Roopa follow the campaign trail across historic Route 66 on their way to Ohio, the central battleground state of 2004, seizing control of this charged moment in their lives and the life of their country. Roopa aspires to a job in politics, K.J. brawls her way through a personal motivation to end the war in Iraq, and Farah struggles to locate not just her desirability, but her desire.
If a body is what you want, then here is bone and gristle and flesh. Here is the clavicle-snapped wish, the aorta’s opened valves, the leap thought makes at the synaptic gap. Here is the adrenaline rush you crave, that inexorable flight, that insane puncture into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet, here is where I complete the word you bring hissing through the air, here is where I moan the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have inside of me, each twist of the round spun deeper, because here, Bullet, here is where the world ends, every time.
Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: How the Senate voted
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (cc by-sa 2.0)
The United States Senate voted Wednesday to kill an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul that would have repealed the 14-year and 16-year-old Authorizations of Use of Military Force in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been used by three different Presidents to launch wars in seven countries without the constitutionally-required approval of Congress.
Had the amendment been passed, the Senate could take up debate on the wars in those two countries and adopt new strategies and goals.
“Today’s vote can be seen as a proxy vote for the Constitution. Today’s vote is not really a vote for or against any particular war,” said Paul before the vote. “Today’s vote is simply a vote on whether we will obey the Constitution. Today’s vote is a vote on whether Congress will step up and do its job.”
The vote to kill Paul’s amendment and continue the wars without review or debate was 61-36.
This president has now been at war longer than any other in history. That must end. …
In his last months in office, you would think President Obama might be trying to wind down these seemingly never ending and growing series of wars. You would be wrong.
President Obama said he was ending the War in Afghanistan, but he had to expand it before he could end it; and yet it has not ended. Together Bush and Obama have now spent more than $100 billion on nation-building in Afghanistan, and still many doubt the ability of the Afghan government to stand on its own two feet.
While our bridges crumble here at home, President Obama continues the cycle of bombing and then replacing their infrastructure.
Whether our next President is the hawkish Hillary Clinton or a more unknown in Donald Trump, the next Presidents should have their constitutional bindings restored. All presidents should. The limits imposed by the Constitution were meant to be bipartisan. The Founders were very careful not to vest something as important as the decision to go to war to the whims of one person.
In 2013, President Obama said he wanted to get the U.S. “off a perpetual wartime footing” and that he looked “forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.”
I agree. So let’s have a debate about the current AUMF. We should end them. And we certainly should at least stand up and say if you want new wars, you need new congressional authority.
Protests and demonstrations built this country, they have forced
progress, justice, equality, and unity, they have given birth to the
greatest movements (Women’s rights, Native American rights, Latino
rights, LGBT rights, Muslim rights, ending the Vietnam and Iraq wars,
Raising the minimum wage, making our workplaces safer) and some of our
greatest leaders, from Dr. King to Bernie Sanders. Protests are the most
American way to hold those in charge accountable and expand
representation. Protests are our greatest form of checks and balances. I
proudly protest because silence is solidarity with the oppressor.
And so, Donald Trump has won the american election.
These next four years are going to be very, VERY interesting.
And reminder for those who think he’s going to become Hitler 2.0: Obama said he would close Guantanamo, end the war in Iraq, and many other things that to this day continue, so keep that in mind before doing something completely stupid.