Posts Tagged National Security

WHO OR WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING IN THE MIDDLE EAST? WHY? WHAT DO WE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH? AND WHEN WILL WE KNOW IF OR WHEN ITS OVER?

The First Rule of Warfare is to “Know Your Enemy!”  But, after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, George W. Bush declared a Global War on Terror.  So, what does that mean?  Have we been fighting a tactic: Terrorism?  Are we fighting for Good, versus Evil?  What exactly is IT?  Also, is the fight, against this uncertain opponent, limited to the Middle East, or might it be global in scope?  Unfortunately, as the “Coalition” was gearing-up to invade, George Bush waved the red flag—citing the Crusades.  How damn ignorant can one man have been?

Ever since those terrorist attacks, many in Washington have attempted to assign the role of our new invisible adversary to Islam.  Why didn’t Bush confront the Saudis, since 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudi nationals?  By falsely accusing Global Islam to be our new Enemy, the Administration had enabled our real enemy to gain more strength, while America tilted at windmills!

Many of us in the more secular West have trouble understanding the role of Religion in other cultures.  Until approximately 1500 AD, Western Europe was considered to be somewhat of a cultural backwater, as compared go the Great Empires of the world.  The source of all power was universally thought to be the King, Caliph, Bishop, etc, who was believed to have received it from God.

Eventually, however, Europeans began to question the role of the Kings, as well as the Pope, as they also began to doubt that the Earth was the center of the universe.  As people began to think for themselves, an Intelligentsia evolved, which explored science, philosophy, geography, economics, etc.

As that transition occurred, Western Europe jumped ahead of the rest of the world in knowledge, in adventure, and in understanding how things worked.  So, while Europe had become more secular, the importance of Religion, however, had not changed among the other great civilizations of the world!

Muslims seem to have maintained a feeling of commonality with one another, around the world.  For instance, many of those who fought in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Croatia, toward the end of the Twentieth Century, have answered the call to Jihad in the Middle East. Similarly, Muslims from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, joined-in as well. Accordingly, how do we fight something that we cannot define, nor do we even understand?

We hoist our arrogance on our Military; but, two major powers have not faced-off in battle since the middle of the last century.  Frankly, American GI’s are: too weighed-down by all of the high-tech firepower that they carry on their backs; the sometimes unreliable air cover; conflicting command structures; and the lack of loyalty, by local soldiers, for the general that we propped-up to head the country.  Meanwhile, the enemy can travel light, knows he has little that can disappoint him, and he can blend in with the populace; BUT…he is also fighting for a cause!

Rather than funding a large invading army, with firepower out the gazoo, we should focus a sizable portion of the State Department budget on devising vital parts of the cultural infrastructure, which is so lacking.  By helping build that missing support structure, out in the villages, America can eliminate the environment in which terrorist groups and religious extremists thrive.

For instance, three or four decades ago, much of South and Southeast Asia had been in a  situation similar to that of the current Middle East.  Poverty and illiteracy were rampant! Also, that part of Asia has considerably more Muslims than does the Middle East.  Through the transformation, perhaps following Japan’s lead, the local infrastructures began to change.  Education, industry, viable health care, a functioning economy, and the standard of living began to rise.   A better lifestyle goes a long way in combatting terrorism and extremism.  Also, preventing war is more cost-effective than waging it, and it saves lives!

NOTE:  For a much more in-depth explanation of how western Europe transformed, here is the comment on my Books That I  Recommend tab:  A great historical and scientific explanation of Who we are, Where we came from, and How we got here. The obvious idea is to understand our past in order to contemplate our future. Namely, what We, as a Species, will become in the future?

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“I HAD BEEN IN RUSSIAN ARMY INTELLIGENCE, BUT I WAS NOT A SPY!”

The titled words were offered by Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-born lobbyist who, along with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, and one other Russian, met with members of Donald Trump’s Campaign, on June 6, 2016.  In fact, establishing a secret Kremlin-Trump communications link was allegedly mentioned during the meeting, along wth the attorney providing “dirt” on Hillary.

Trump confidantes at that meeting included: Donald Trump, Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and Campaign Manager Paul Manafort.  Ironically, Donald Trump began touting Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing Emails on June 9, just three days later.

This meeting has been reported, reprinted and denied ad nauseum; however, I wish to take exception with Mr. Akhmetshin’s response, assumably to a reporter’s question as to whether he had been in Soviet Intelligence.  It was a poorly worded question, a somewhat evasive answer was given, and a skilled journalist should have asked a follow-up question.

Back in the late (pre-Digital Age) 1960s, I also was in Army Intelligence, as were at least two readers of this blog.  I’m quite sure that none of us were spies.  Now, that was the US Army Security Agency.  But first, what is a spy?

There are two primary types of Military Intelligence: HUMINT, or Human Intelligence; and COMINT, or Communications Intelligence.  The National Security Agency, by the way, was established after WWII because the Army and Navy COMINT agencies preferred to compete with each other, rather than collaborate. (The Air Force and Marines were not separate military branches, as yet.)  Spies, per se, would fall into the HUMINT category.

James Bond, perhaps the most well-known spy, thanks to movies based on Ian Fleming’s novels, was merely for the box office.  Forget the Aston-Martin, beautiful women, and dinner jackets he wore at the Monte Carlo casinos.  Real spying is not flashy:  it includes gathering many bits and pieces of information—yes, thats Intel!—and then, connecting the dots.  That’s even how the real Ian Fleming did it, “back in the day!”

Let’s get back to the Q & A, between Rinat Akhmetshin and the unnamed reporter. The Trump-Russian Collusion Investigation is not based on HUMINT; rather, it’s about COMINT. Really Cyber-Intel, which might be handed-off to a new (if ever formed) Intel Agency, refers to Electronic Intel.  Tapping telephone lines, hacking Email and web sites, data subterfuge, fake news, and the like, surely don’t fall into the “Spy” category.  The person who is force-feeding false information onto an adversary, or collecting it from them, by accessing their computers, is usually sitting at a desk, thousands of miles away!

So, leave the spies alone; because they are a dying breed—becoming more obsolescent as I write this!

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DO THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF PLAY ANY ROLE IN THE PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF TRUMP’S MILITARY POLICY? DOES HE EVEN HAVE A PLAN?

Sure, this question might seem counter-intuitive, since Donald Trump has three generals (two retired and one active) in his Cabinet!  In fact, that might be a major cause of the problem!  But, let me take you through my scenario.

Donald relies on a very small group of trusted loyalists, basically his children, and his son-in-law.  Others seem to move into his orbit—like Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, KellyAnne Conway, Jeff Sessions, etc.,—and then, just as quickly, they’re gone!

There are few Cabinet Officers who have any key staffers—Presidential Appointees—since only a few Deputy and Assistant Secretaries, throughout the entire Regime, have been Confirmed by the Senate.  Is there a hearing backlog or, perhaps, qualified people just don’t wish to Pledge their Loyalty to Trump?  Isn’t Country and the Constitution sufficient?  So, who can the Secretaries delegate responsibility to, or leave in charge when they’re away?

When President John F. Kennedy took the Presidential Oath of Office, in January of 1961, he brought-in a younger, highly educated group of key advisors—which he deemed the New Frontier—perhaps as compared to President Eisenhower’s Old Guard.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff, working with the bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and bogged-down in their intra-service rivalries, could not respond to Kennedy’s requests for ideas and plans as quickly as his analytically minded Cabinet cronies could!

In time, President Kennedy replaced the Old Guard at the JCS; however, the new, younger group of Chiefs had the same problems in providing the advice and planning, which the President had wanted.  Kennedy pal, Secretary of Defense, Robert S, McNamara became the intermediary, between the President and the Chiefs. Eventually, however, McNamara pushed the Chiefs off into irrelevance.  Then, when JFK re-activated retired general Maxwell Taylor, to be his Special Military Advisor, the Joint Chiefs were truly no longer even a consideration, other than for occasional public display.

After President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, in-coming President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was kept mostly in the dark on most policy issues as Vice President, maintained JFK’s Cabinet, and his small advisory braintrust.  The Joint Chiefs were again primarily just asked to identify potential targets in Vietnam, rather than to participate in any military planning.  In fact, President Johnson was so involved with the 1964 Election, and his signature Great Society Legislation, that he appeared to wish that Vietnam would just go away.

The small group, who advised both Presidents JFK and LBJ were mostly academics and intellectuals.  They could grasp comprehensive problems, and possessed all of the necessary tools to arrive at viable solutions.  Donald Trump, on the other hand, has seemed to prefer loyalty, rather than competence and, unfortunately, they seem to have lacked the critical thinking, and analytical skills for their jobs.

Additionally, Donald Trump lacks the necessary management skills required to make timely, and relevant executive decisions.  Just leaving the general administration to the apparatchiks, has merely led to disruption, and mixed communications.  Confusion has been evident, in regard to both domestic and foreign policy!

Why did he tap Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to threaten North Korea with a pre-emptive attack, rather than National Security Advisor (and active General) H. R. McMaster or Secretary of Defense James Mattis?  Similarly, why were neither of them present when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, last week at the G-20 Summit?

Since Donald Trump seems to prefer his loyal group of trusted advisors, and appears to lacks any management skills in assigning tasks among his Cabinet Advisors, I doubt that the Joint Chiefs of Staff will ever have much, if any, input into his Military Agenda.  By having generals in his Cabinet, that gives the appearance of JCS involvement; but, that might be an incorrect assumption!  In fact, does Donald Trump even have a realistic Plan for any of the four wars currently going on in the Middle East?

Once Mattis and McMaster took the positions of Secretary and Advisor, respectively, in the Trump Cabinet, they began working at the pleasure of the President.  The soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen are no longer their constituency—but, that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  But, shouldn’t they still be represented too?

NOTE:  Welcome to our readers in the Dominican Republic and Serbia!

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WAS PUTIN’S “FAKE NEWS” END-GAME SOLELY TO PUT TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, OR SOMETHING EVEN MORE DEVIOUS?

As a socialist fighting in the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell developed a better understanding of Totalitarianism, than he had before.  While the Right was waging war against the Left, he realized that the Stalinists and Trotskyites were likewise trying to eliminate each other.  Eventually, he concluded that, whoever wins—whether Fascist or Socialist— will ultimately assume whatever group the wished to overthrow.

Orwell’s epiphany, as such, began to materialize in the first of his two major novels, Animal Farm.  The pigs led the upraising of the animals, and as they took over Mr. Jones’ Farm, Napoleon, the porcine leader, claimed that, “All animals are equal!”  Eventually, as the pigs moved into the farm house, and began acting more like humans, Napoleon then added: “but some animals are more equal than others,” to the mantra!

Recuperating from a serious neck wound and tuberculosis, back in London, George Orwell started to realize that even the most reputable of newspapers, the Times, reported on battles in Spain, which were never fought, and while omitting others where many were killed!  He then began to believe that even the press had managed the news, so as not to print anything that would offend Adolf Hitler; because, British aristocracy and the Intelligentsia preferred appeasement, to war.  Way back then, in the 1930s, Orwell dubbed his discovery, “Fake News!”

Managing the news, had been a primary component of Orwell’s second great novel, 1984, as he described the on-going evolution of “Big Brother” actually owning, managing, and disseminating the news, as is the case today in China, Russia, and several other socialist governments.  Whereas China has focused mostly on controlling its domestic media, Russia, however, appears to have risen to another level—using external thought control as a political weapon.

Europe has known of Russia’s various attempts for several years, both to sway elections and to splinter continental cooperation—specifically through the European Union and NATO.  I cannot say whether Putin’s cyber-warriors had a hand in the Brexit vote; which, might just have been due to frustration with Brussels, or the Independent nature of Great Britain.  But, the rest of the E. U., at least for now, has remained together, and willing to reconcile their differences.

The success or failure of thought control, I can only assume, might be dependent upon the basic human rights of the target country.  Countries with a strong tradition of free speech, the press and assembly, as well as a good public education, are harder to “reeducate!” The Trump Regime, however, in its dissemination of alternative facts, fake news and lies, appears to be playing into the hands of Vladimir Putin’s cyber-controllers.

Since Inauguration Day (January 29), the White House seems intent on:  discrediting any information that comes from reputable media sources; attacking journalists, corporate media outlets, and anyone with opposing points of view; dumbing-down the Public School System through charters and vouchers, which would revert back to the “Segregated and Unequal” Era of some 60 years ago; and Trump’s deemphasizing the value of factual content and individual curiosity.  In fact, Donald Trump boasts that he doesn’t even read!

I have no idea as to whether Donald Trump’s Team did, in fact, collude with the Russians. The Great America, which he claims that only he can build, just portrays an idiot’s style of demagoguery, and it possibly—purposely or not—lays the ground for a Russian cyber-invasion.  The beauty of any form of cyber-warfare is much more cost-efficient, since troops and equipment don’t need to be transported.  Also, consider that our whole system of knowledge—books, education, media—can be easily controlled or edited, on-line.

The 2016 Presidential Election needs to be Invalidated, and all nominations made by Trump must be revoked.  Impeachment or Resignation would be insufficient—especially if there was collusion with the Russians, or manipulations by them—because those actions would merely cut-off the head—and leave the corpus in-tact.  Recently, the Regime has asked for the Voting History of every American! Can the Thought Police and Book-Burners, from Orwell’s 1984, be far behind?

The Trump-Republicans have gone along with much of Donald Trump’s attacks on our very Democracy, possibly because he seems willing to sign their Draconian legislation into Law.  But, what happens when the GOP in Congress transforms to whatever Trump, or perhaps Vladimir Putin, has in mind?  With control of all three Branches of Government, Trump’s Party would be the most likely targets.  Back in the early 1930s, no one thought that Naziism would arise within Germany, but it did!

 

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ISTANBUL ON THE POTOMAC!

Donald Trump, that fellow who resides in the White House, appears to be as narcissistic as The Sun King, and he has the vindictive nature of a small child, who just won’t quite! Donald is so spoiled that he only sees or hear things, which only he “knows” to be true, and his actions bespeak only those that are in his best interest.  So, after five and a-half months, holed-up in the Executive Mansion, is he now ready to make Washington into His Kinda Town?

During his time in office, with numerous sabbaticals at his various resorts, he has seemed to be mad at the world, attacking everyone in sight.  Here’s the Short-List of his targets:  Obama and Clinton; all three major Intel Agencies; members of any and all minority groups; both the DEMs and the GOP; the print and broadcast media, at every opportunity; Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, perhaps as a corporate leader who just won’t kowtow to him; and on, and on.  Equally as bad, is the mass disruption, which Donald has spread overseas, in our name!

Donald Trump acts as if HE owns the place, and that anything that he does, while in office, should be whatever he wishes; because, you see, Donald John Trump is above the Law—or so he seems to thinks!   Now, we can consider Trumpie to be just another loose cannon; but, his actions certainly appear to be more evil than that.  Remember that Donald has literally offended every one of the nations which we have long-term alliances with, while cozying-up to some of our most dangerous adversaries.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are too ensconced in their long-term leadership roles, as Communist dictators, in systems that have been in existence for some 70 years.  But, Donald Trump did invite Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, to visit him in the White House, about six weeks ago.  Turkey had been founded in 1923, as a secular democracy, and over the course of time, it had transformed itself into a Western-style nation.  It is also a NATO ally Istanbul, its largest city, is strategically located west of the Bosporous Strait, which, separates Europe from Asia.

Erdogan had been thrown out of office in 1998, and imprisoned, when he was the Mayor of Istanbul.   e was sacked for trying to spread his conservative Islamic views.  He returned to political life as Prime Minister in 2003, and became President of Turkey in 2014.  Ever since then, he has once again, been trying to instill his conservative Islamic fervor, and thus transform the nation into one more to his liking.

Just consider any of today’s authoritarian nations—China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Turkey—and the many commonalities are quite obvious.  Trump is possibly observing how President Erdogan has been re-building Turkish Society, and perhaps getting ideas, but with an American twist.

Human rights have been diminished during the Erdogan Era, as there are other civil rights violations, such as:  peaceful civil disobedience has been dealt with harshly; media has been forced to accept the government’s viewpoint; disloyal corporate leaders have been replaced, and many businesses have been nationalized; and Islamic Law is being gradually installed.  Also, he has made the Kurdish minority into a boogeyman for many of Turkey’s problems, and questions abound as to whether last fall’s unsuccessful coup was, in fact, staged–thus giving him the reason to take an even harsher stance!

Donald Trump has been moving on many of these same issues.  Consider just a few: his Regime is trying to diminish many of the human rights issues by continually attacking the media, and using fake news and falsified facts coming from the White House in order to shift public thinking; middle and upper-level civil servants have been denied work if they do not Pledge Loyalty to Trump; jawboning corporate leaders to follow his wishes; and why are there three generals in his Cabinet?

I cannot honestly say that Donald Trump is trying to transform America into an Authoritarian State; however, there are many similarities with various dictatorships, and  one one can be perceived as more insidious than the next.  At present, except for the Travel Ban, and the apparent over-active protection given to police officers—in very questionable circumstances—Donald hasn’t tried to change too many of our laws to meet his needs.  But, just let your mind wander as to what might be in store for Americans in the future!

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AMERICA, OUR ARMY IS ORGANIZED FOR PERMANENT WAR! IS THAT WHAT WE WANT? OR NEED?

Throughout America’s history, the U. S. Army had been composed of Citizen-Soldiers—at Concord and Lexington, Bull Run and Gettysburg, as well as Normandy Beach and Okinawa—but, that changed after Vietnam.  That endless, mindless war caused the American people to regret ever hearing the word, Vietnam, and the impact of that rebuke spread throughout the Army.

I do not use the term Army to suggest our overall Military.  The Army’s problems did not spread to the smaller, more focused Marine Corps, and it certainly did not tarnish the more technological Navy and Air Force.   It was due to the Army’s more labor-intensive military brand, that it bore the brunt of the Vietnam expansion–from the initial handful of Special Forces (“Green Berets”) Advisors, to 3,500 Marines in 1965, to the 500,000 man Military in 1967, when I arrived “In Country”.

As public sentiment waned, the enlisted men primarily felt used and forgotten, as the war dragged on!  Disrespect for authority, and following orders, were no longer an acceptable way of life for many GIs.  And, perhaps it worsened after the Tet Offensive of 1968, before which Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara refused to believe communications intercepts that enemy forces were building-up, all around the country.  Also, there were instances of “fragging”, live (safety pin pulled) fragmentation grenades being rolled into officers’ tents—killing some.

I just added Andrew J. Bocevich’s “Breach of Trust” to my Books That I Recommend Tab. Bacevich, a West Point Grad who spent 22 years in the Army, is a Professor of History and International Studies at Boston University.  His book provides an excellent analysis of how the Army, went about reacting to the Vietnam situation; but, it just made matters worse.  In fact, Breach of Trust is quite reminiscent of President Dwight D. Eisenhower—the General who led the Normandy Invasion in World War II—and his warning about the Military Industrial Complex, during his Farewell Address.

The Citizen-Soldier Army, of America’s first 175 years, was transformed into a Professional Warrior Class Army.  Whereas, up through Vietnam, the Army was of the People, and literally every American had skin in the game.  If your husband, son(s), or (now) daughter wasn’t in uniform, you knew someone who was.  Prior to Vietnam, wars were only waged when necessary, winnable and only for a reasonable duration.  But, as the U. S. sunk deeper, and deeper into that quagmire, the American People failed to Act.

And now, we have a Professional Army, which is no longer of the People, and no longer for the People.  After disbanding the Conscription, or Draft Concept, soldiers’ wages were raised by a fair amount.  In prior years, a small group of professional soldiers kept the Army functioning in Peacetime, and the Draft enabled it to expand when necessary and, then it would contract again, once the danger had passed.

But, once America formed a larger Army, composed solely of higher-paid volunteers, the Pentagon needed to justify the higher expenses of a large Peacetime Army?  Just like any organization—public or private—duties must be contrived, operations must be planned and missions need to be created.  Solution…Permanent Warfare!

Here’s where Ike’s Military-Industrial Complex Admonition comes into perspective.  In fact, President Eisenhower wanted to dub it the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, during his televised Farewell Address; but, he dropped the “Congress” from the final version.  When his brother, Milton, asked him why, “General Eisenhower” (as he preferred to be called) replied: “It was more than enough to take on the military and private industry. I couldn’t take on the Congress as well.”

Only one percent of America has any involvement in the wars now Longer wars, however, raise the stature of the professional warrior class, and enable the generals and admirals (”flag officers”) to earn more stars and promotions.  The Defense Industry profits from supplying the Toys of War, which the Pentagon now needs in greater quantities, in its never-ending WarfareStrategy.  Besides the industry’s substantial campaign contributions, they are willing to spread the manufacture of weapons among a number of Congressional Districts—at reduced efficiency, but the added costs are just passed on to the Taxpayer.

In June of 2012, I wrote a post on this blog “Re-enact the Military Draft”, which is one of my most read posts.  We need to get the American People back engaged; because, the death and destruction, caused in our name, surely doesn’t reflect positively on America. Focus on the important, necessary wars and require Congress to provide the civilian oversight that was written into our Constitution, some 240 years ago.  Otherwise, we will just continue to spread mass death and destruction overseas, as we squander our resources—both our Treasury and our Future Generations!

NOTE:  Welcome to our readers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Costa Rica!

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DONALD, WITH FOUR WARS WITHOUT END, ALREADY GOING ON IN THE MIDDLE EAST, WE SURELY DON’T NEED YOU TO HELP START ANOTHER IN QATAR!

Does Donald Trump ever think before he opens his mouth, or fires-up his Tweeter?
We are already involved with four local wars in the Middle East, and now he is taking sides in a disagreement, between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the Emirates, on one side, against Qatar on the other, for sponsoring terrorism.  The Saudis had delivered an ultimatum with 13 demands, to be complied with in ten days, before a blockade would be imposed

Donald Trump immediately conveyed his wholehearted support for the blockade.  Why?  In May, the Saudis had feted Trump, and lavished great praise on him; but, that surely couldn’t justify his taking sides in this disagreement!  Consider as well what else has changed since Donald’s trip to Riyadh, just 35 days ago.

Within the past week, Saudi King Salman al-Saud, who has failing health, named his 31 year-old son Salman bin-Abdulaziz al-Saud to be the new Crown Prince, and heir-to-the-throne.  Previously, Prince Salman had been the bellicose defense minister, who sent the Military to attack Yemen, resulting in numerous Yemeni civilian deaths.

Trump’s unfettered support for the blockade of Qatar appears to have prompted Secretary of State James Mattis to rush to Doha, in order for him to confirm our support for the Persian Gulf nation, and to sign a $12 billion arms deal with the Qataris.  The
U. S. Air Force provides air support for our actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, from al-Udeid air force base, just west of Doha.  We also have the Headquarters of both the U. S. Central Command and the Central Air Force Command, at that same Qatar location.   Why didn’t Donald Trump consider all this before he Tweeted-off this?

Secretary of State Rex Tellerson warned the Saudis, and their allies, to make sure that the demands on Qatar are “reasonable and actionable”.  National Security experts confirm that it is not uncommon for State and/or Defense to be on different sides on some issues, from the White House; but, in this case, it is quite peculiar.  In fact, Donald Trump appears to be out of the loop, and there appears not to be any coherent rational policy.

Congress, which has the sole authority to Declare War has certainly shirked its duty in the Middle East!  Out of the four nations in which we are using military force, War Powers (Act) Resolutions have only been issued for Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), and those are grossly outdated, and should definitely be revoked immediately.  The American People should demand more from our Congress, especially with a hands-off President, than to accede to open-ended military actions, without having a defined mission and end-date!

NOTES:

1. The attached article from The Guardian (UK) provides a more in-depth description pop the Trump meddling in the Saudi-Qatar controversy.
2. This recent post provides additional detail on our overall mismanagement of the military in the Middle East.

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