President Obama’s Security Speech

Remarks by the President on the Administration’s Approach to Counter-terrorism

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release-December 06, 2016

MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. Well, thank you so much.

Good afternoon, everybody. I was just told that was going to be the last “Hail to the Chief” on the road, and it got me kind of sentimental. I want to first and foremost say thanks to all of you. Just before I came here, I was able to visit with some of the men and women from MacDill Air Force Base, Central Command, our Special Operations Command to thank them for their extraordinary service. And so to you and your families, and to the extended family of American servicemembers, let me say that our nation owes you an unbelievable debt of gratitude. We are grateful for you, and will be praying for you over the holidays. (Applause.)

As you know all too well, your mission — and the course of history — was changed after the 9/11 attacks. By the time I took office, the United States had been at war for seven years. For eight years that I’ve been in office, there has not been a day when a terrorist organization or some radicalized individual was not plotting to kill Americans. And on January 20th, I will become the first President of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war. (Applause.) Now, we did not choose this fight, but once it came to us, the world saw the measure of our resolve.

Continue reading “President Obama’s Security Speech”

President Obama's Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

The Bible tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Ten years ago, America confronted one of our darkest nights. Mighty towers crumbled. Black smoke billowed up from the Pentagon. Airplane wreckage smoldered on a Pennsylvania field. Friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – they were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty. On September 12, 2001, we awoke to a world in which evil was closer at hand, and uncertainty clouded our future.

In the decade since, much has changed for Americans. We’ve known war and recession, passionate debates and political divides. We can never get back the lives that were lost on that day, or the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars that followed.

And yet today, it is worth remembering what has not changed. Our character as a nation has not changed. Our faith – in God and each other – that has not changed. Our belief in America, born of a timeless ideal that men and women should govern themselves; that all people are created equal, and deserve the same freedom to determine their own destiny – that belief, through tests and trials, has only been strengthened.

These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear. The rescue workers who rushed to the scene; the firefighters who charged up the stairs; the passengers who stormed the cockpit – these patriots defined the very nature of courage. Over the years we have also seen a more quiet form of heroism – in the ladder company that lost so many men and still suits up and saves lives every day; the businesses that have rebuilt from nothing; the burn victim who has bounced back; the families that press on.

Last spring, I received a letter from a woman named Suzanne Swaine. She had lost her husband and brother in the Twin Towers, and said that she had been robbed of “so many would-be proud moments where a father watches their child graduate, or tend goal in a lacrosse game, or succeed academically.” But her daughters are in college, the other doing well in high school. “It has been 10 years of raising these girls on my own,” Suzanne wrote. “I could not be prouder of their strength and resilience.” That spirit typifies our American family. And the hopeful future for those girls is the ultimate rebuke to the hateful killers who took the life of their father.

These past ten years have shown America’s resolve to defend its citizens, and our way of life. Diplomats serve in far-off posts, and intelligence professionals work tirelessly without recognition. Two million Americans have gone to war since 9/11. They have demonstrated that those who do us harm cannot hide from the reach of justice, anywhere in the world. America has been defended not by conscripts, but by citizens who choose to serve – young people who signed up straight out of high school; guardsmen and reservists; workers and businesspeople; immigrants and fourth-generation soldiers. They are men and women who left behind lives of comfort for two, three, four or five tours of duty. Too many will never come home. Those that do carry dark memories from distant places, and the legacy of fallen friends. Continue reading “President Obama's Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11”

Uri Avnery’s peace proposal

MEMO FOR OBAMA ON ISRAEL

For: the President-Elect, Mr. Barack Obama.

From: Uri Avnery, Israel.

The following humble suggestions are based on my 70 years of experience as an underground fighter, special forces soldier in the 1948 war, editor-in-chief of a newsmagazine, member of the Knesset and founding member of a peace movement:

-1- As far as Israeli-Arab peace is concerned, you should act from Day One.

-2- Israeli elections are due to take place in February 2009. You can have an indirect but important and constructive impact on the outcome, by announcing your unequivocal determination to achieve Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-all-Arab peace in 2009.

-3- Unfortunately, all your predecessors since 1967 have played a double game. While paying lip service to peace, and sometimes going through the motions of making some effort for peace, they have in practice supported our governments in moving in the very opposite direction. In particular, they have given tacit approval to the building and enlargement of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories, each of which is a land mine on the road to peace.

-4- All the settlements are illegal in international law. The distinction sometimes made between “illegal” outposts and the other settlements is a propaganda ploy designed to obscure this simple truth.

-5- All the settlements since 1967 have been built with the express purpose of making a Palestinian state – and hence peace – impossible, by cutting the territory of the prospective State of Palestine into ribbons. Practically all our government departments and the army have openly or secretly helped to build, consolidate and enlarge the settlements – as confirmed by the 2005 report prepared for the government (!) by Lawyer Talia Sasson.

-6- By now, the number of settlers in the West Bank has reached some 250,000 (apart from the 200,000 settlers in the Greater Jerusalem area, whose status is somewhat different.) They are politically isolated, and sometimes detested by the majority of the Israel public, but enjoy significant support in the army and government ministries.

-7- No Israeli government would dare to confront the concentrated political and material might of the settlers. Such a confrontation would need very strong leadership and the unstinting support of the President of the United States to have any chance of success.

-8- Lacking these, all “peace negotiations” are a sham. The Israeli government and its US backers have done everything possible to prevent the negotiations with both the Palestinians and the Syrians from reaching any conclusion, for fear of provoking a confrontation with the settlers and their supporters. The present “Annapolis” negotiations are as hollow as all the preceding ones, each side keeping up the pretense for its own political interests.

-9- The Clinton administration, and even more so the Bush administration, allowed the Israeli government to keep up this pretense. It is therefore imperative to prevent members of these administrations from diverting your Middle Eastern policy into the old channels.

-10- It is important for you to make a complete new start, and to state this publicly. Discredited ideas and failed initiatives – such as the Bush “vision”, the Road Map, Annapolis and the like – should by thrown into the junkyard of history.

-11- To make a new start, the aim of American policy should be stated clearly and succinctly. This should be: to achieve a peace based on the Two-State Solution within a defined time-span (say by the end of 2009).

-12- It should be pointed out that this aim is based on a reassessment of the American national interest, in order to extract the poison from American-Arab and American-Muslim relations, strengthen peace-oriented regimes, defeat al-Qaeda-type terrorism, end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and achieve a viable accommodation with Iran.

-13- The terms of Israeli-Palestinian peace are clear. They have been crystallized in thousands of hours of negotiations, conferences, meetings and conversations. They are:

13.1 A sovereign and viable State of Palestine will be established side by side with the State of Israel.

13.2 The border between the two states will be based on the pre-1967 Armistice Line (the “Green Line”). Insubstantial alterations can be arrived at by mutual agreement on an exchange of territories on a 1:1 basis.

13.3 East Jerusalem, including the Haram-al-Sharif (“Temple Mount”) and all Arab neighborhoods will serve as the capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and all Jewish neighborhoods, will serve as the capital of Israel. A joint municipal authority, based on equality, may be established by mutual consent to administer the city as one territorial unit.

13.4 All Israeli settlements – except any which might be joined to Israel in the framework of a mutually agreed exchange of territories – will be evacuated (see 15 below).

13.5 Israel will recognize in principle the right of the refugees to return. A Joint Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, composed of Palestinian, Israeli and international historians, will examine the events of 1948 and 1967 and determine who was responsible for what. Each individual refugee will be given the choice between (1) repatriation to the State of Palestine, (2) remaining where he/she is living now and receiving generous compensation, (3) returning to Israel and being resettled, (4) emigrating to any other country, with generous compensation. The number of refugees who will return to Israeli territory will be fixed by mutual agreement, it being understood that nothing will be done that materially alters the demographic composition of the Israeli population. The large funds needed for the implementation of this solution must be provided by the international community in the interest of world peace. This will save much of the money spent today on military expenditure and direct grants from the US.

13.6 The West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip constitute one national unit. An extraterritorial connection (road, railway, tunnel or bridge) will connect the West Bank with the Gaza Strip.

13.7 Israel and Syria will sign a peace agreement. Israel will withdraw to the pre-1967 line and all settlements on the Golan Heights will be dismantled. Syria will cease all anti-Israeli activities conducted directly or by proxy. The two parties will establish normal relations between them.

13.8 In accordance with the Saudi Peace Initiative, all member states of the Arab League will recognize Israel and establish normal relations with it. Talks about a future Middle Eastern Union, on the model of the EU, possibly to include Turkey and Iran, may be considered.

-14- Palestinian unity is essential for peace. Peace made with only one section of the people is worthless. The US will facilitate Palestinian reconciliation and the unification of Palestinian structures. To this end, the US will end its boycott of Hamas, which won the last elections, start a political dialogue with the movement and encourage Israel to do the same. The US will respect any result of democratic Palestinian elections.

-15- The US will aid the government of Israel in confronting the settlement problem. As from now, settlers will be given one year to leave the occupied territories voluntarily in return for compensation that will allow them to build their homes in Israel proper. After that, all settlements – except those within any areas to be joined to Israel under the peace agreement – will be evacuated.

-16- I suggest that you, as President of the United States, come to Israel and address the Israeli people personally, not only from the rostrum of the Knesset but also at a mass rally in Tel-Aviv’s Rabin Square. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt came to Israel in 1977, and, by addressing the Israeli people directly, completely changed their attitude towards peace with Egypt. At present, most Israelis feel insecure, uncertain and afraid of any daring peace initiative, partly because of a deep distrust of anything coming from the Arab side. Your personal intervention, at the critical moment, could literally do wonders in creating the psychological basis for peace.

This article was published in the current issue of the progressive Jewish-American monthly TIKKUN.

How not to win a war

Report Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders By JAMES GLANZ and T. CHRISTIAN MILLER

BAGHDAD — An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”

Continue . . .

“Gonna be a Bumpy Ride”

The Central Virginia Progressive-The DAVISReport sends us

Foreshadowing the “R” Word- A Day Late and Many Dollars Short

Our Government is finally admitting what seems to surprise only them, that we are in a recession and have been for some time. “Duh”?! The following is a re-posting of a previous entry on this blog originally dated July 11,2008. Read in today’s light it seems like a 1,000 years ago and a lot more unsettling . . .

I just got back from a trip to California, going from Mexico to San Francisco, and other than the shore line, it is one big brown state. And the smoke, when you see all that dry dessert grass on the mountains, you get an understanding of their fire risk and why that state won’t stop burning.

In Mexico I learned two things I didn’t know. First California was named by early Mexican natives and it means “hot oven” and second it is a statement of accepted fact there that the U.S. is in a recession. My personal, though admittedly limited, international focus group collection data revealed that our international neighbors throw the fact of our recession around pretty comfortably and seem unaware that our own administration states we aren’t in one.

(“Oh Amigo, tourism is down due to American recession”; “The artisans will barter as business is down due to the American recession”). Is it important what the rest of the world observes about our economic health? I think so.

Continue reading ““Gonna be a Bumpy Ride””

Worth a try, right?

You’ve got to give these folks credit for trying:

Victory in Iraq
On this November 22, 2008, join us in observing Victory in Iraq Day.

Let us honor the sacrifice, dedication and sheer determination of American, coalition and Iraqi troops who have brought freedom to the nation and people of Iraq.

Although our governments have chosen to not name any official day marking the end of this war, we the people have taken it upon ourselves to commemorate November 22, 2008 as the day of victory over the forces of tyranny, oppression and terror in Iraq.

And, of course, the raping and pillaging of our civil liberties and our national treasury really didn’t happen.

I say four years too late.

Worth a try, right?

You’ve got to give these folks credit for trying:

Victory in Iraq
On this November 22, 2008, join us in observing Victory in Iraq Day.

Let us honor the sacrifice, dedication and sheer determination of American, coalition and Iraqi troops who have brought freedom to the nation and people of Iraq.

Although our governments have chosen to not name any official day marking the end of this war, we the people have taken it upon ourselves to commemorate November 22, 2008 as the day of victory over the forces of tyranny, oppression and terror in Iraq.

And, of course, the raping and pillaging of our civil liberties and our national treasury really didn’t happen.

I say four years too late.

A perspective on Obama’s election

The Central Virginia Progressive-The DAVISReport sends us The Ethnicity of our President Elect and how it changes the paradigm

A friend sent me the essay below and when I read it I knew I had to share it on this blog. The author, Mr Robert J. House, in his 70’s, is a retired professional man of Black African descent,who came of age before, during, and through the civil rights 1960’s.
His thoughts on the election of Barack Obama and how it changes the paradigm:
Some have asked what I think, so I thought I would add my two cents worth. I’m amazed at how calm I was when at 11PM election night, MSNBC made the announcement.
Of course there was a great sense of pride, but true to my nature after a pause, the wonderment came, what will it all mean? When Barack Obama walked out with his family, my emotions were a misting in my eyes, and a chill, followed by a warm glow of fulfillment. I was amazed at how much he has aged, coupled with the sadness etched on his face by the loss of his grandmother.
Women shaped his life, as is the reality for many of the black men of our generation who “amounted to anything” . I know that was the case for me – it has been both a blessing and a challenge.
For America, and the world, his election is a daunting task. We all know about the Two Wars, the economy, failing education, crumbling infra-structures and a health care system that borders on genocide for the poor and disenfranchised.
All this coupled with our damaged reputation around the world. My question is, will America “step up” and support this new young president and begin to seriously address and fix these problems or will some Americans, particularly those out of power,or those possessed with racial and cultural hatred coupled by fear and fueled by lack of economic opportunity, rather see this country fail than give this “n***** ” a chance to succeed?
The thing is, those who would strongly withhold their support fail to take into consideration that when they had power and access, they failed, because they could not or were not equipped to handle the issues.

For we Americans of “Black African descent”, the days coming are going to be particularly challenging and life altering times. I’m reminded of Tavis Smiley’s annual forum on the “State of Black America” and how last year, he got “pissed” because Obama would not attend. My thoughts are that that forum dwindled in effectiveness (other than a place to complain) because the lack of jobs, poor education, poor infrastructure, the cost of energy and the overall economy now affected all ethnicity.

Our task will be to understand our particular place in American society and our responsibility to that place and ourselves. Unlike other “minorities” we are unique in that we do not have a typical ancestral and cultural core that we can identify and cling to.

The Latinos (not to be confused with Hispanics), Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc) Eastern Europeans, Middle Eastern (Iran, Iraq, Egyptians, Laotians, Syrians, etc) all have their separate cultural identity from dress, language, food, religious worship, role of women, etc. These immigrant minorities came here of their own free will. Whereas our ancestors, for the most part, came here against their will.
This stripped from us ancestral and cultural identity, aspects that would sustain us though generations. The vast majority of us cannot identify what country or continent we came from and only assume we must come from one of the west African countries. But we do have a uniqueness that sets us apart and makes us “first among equal” of the immigrant groups.
Our african ancestors built this country and we have the blood, sweat, tears and the scars to prove it. For me, for all of us, this is the country of our ancestors and Barack Obama’s election as it’s Chief Executive is the manifestation of our ownership, our pride of ownership, our inclusion.

With his election to the presidency, Barack Obama has shone the bright light on our ownership and it is our responsibility to do all that we can to protect and enhance it. We cannot, with any conviction, no longer say that we cannot succeed, not be responsible for and to our families (particularly our children), not be stewards of our communities, not establish meaningful and worthwhile relationships because “the man won’t let us”.

Truth be told, we are “the man” and it is past time (particularly for our men) to prepare and act like it!

Not all of us will go to college, achieve noteworthy status, or get rich, but all of us have something to offer.

It’s only when we fail to try and take our place in ensuring our ownership that we tear down those who work hard, sacrifice, get knocked down and get back up and keep on trying. In God’s time he sent the world Barack Obama, loaded his back like a country mule and told him to keep stepping. We can do no less.
The DAVISReport

That hero, McCain

The New York Times published a story on Sunday that had me scratching my head.

Timesman David D. Kirkpatrick’s piece, Response to 9/11 Offers Outline of McCain Doctrine, is not quite like the usual admiring pieces that we’ve come to expect from the mainstream media about McCain, explaining away obvious and prodigious faults while pumping up questionable actions as valorous. This piece contained actual criticisms of McCain, including from a retired general who was a former supporter of the Arizona senator before before breaking with him over the Iraq war.

Kirkpatrick, nevertheless, coated McCain in a heroic sheen. John McCain got to his Senate office in Washington, D.C. late on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, moments after terrorists flew the first plane into the World Trade Center.

McCain, that old warrior (at least, as the story would have you believe) immediately recognized this for what it was:

“This is war,” he was quoted as murmuring to aides, as the sound of scrambling fighter planes rattled windows and sent panic through the room.

I’m sure Mccain was not rattled. He is a war hero, remember?

“Within hours, Mr. McCain, the Vietnam War hero and famed straight talker of the 2000 Republican primary, had taken on a new role: the leading advocate of taking the American retaliation against Al Qaeda far beyond Afghanistan. In a marathon of television and radio appearances, Mr. McCain recited a short list of other countries said to support terrorism, invariably including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

“There is a system out there or network, and that network is going to have to be attacked,” Mr. McCain said the next morning on ABC News. “It isn’t just Afghanistan,” he added, on MSNBC. “I don’t think if you got bin Laden tomorrow that the threat has disappeared,” he said on CBS, pointing toward other countries in the Middle East.

Within a month he made clear his priority. “Very obviously Iraq is the first country,” he declared on CNN. By Jan. 2, Mr. McCain was on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, yelling to a crowd of sailors and airmen: “Next up, Baghdad!”

Kirkpatrick wrote this entire passage almost approvingly. He does not point out that none of the alleged 9/11 terrorists were Iranian, Iraqi, or Syrian, or that 14 or 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, and that the financing for this “Attack on America” was wholly from the Saudi coffers.

That McCain was wrong in his analysis of every aspect of the situation, that he was wrong on the prescription to remedy the situation, was also not part of the story. It was just another mainstream media piece that took pains to mention that McCain was “Vietnam War hero.”

“Now, as Mr. McCain prepares to accept the Republican presidential nomination, his response to the attacks of Sept. 11 opens a window onto how he might approach the gravest responsibilities of a potential commander in chief. Like many, he immediately recalibrated his assessment of the unseen risks to America’s security. But he also began to suggest that he saw a new “opportunity” to deter other potential foes by punishing not only Al Qaeda but also Iraq.

“Just as Sept. 11 revolutionized our resolve to defeat our enemies, so has it brought into focus the opportunities we now have to secure and expand our freedom,” Mr. McCain told a NATO conference in Munich in early 2002, urging the Europeans to join what he portrayed as an all but certain assault on Saddam Hussein. “A better world is already emerging from the rubble.”

To his admirers, Mr. McCain’s tough response to Sept. 11 is at the heart of his appeal. They argue that he displayed the same decisiveness again last week in his swift calls to penalize Russia for its incursion into Georgia, in part by sending peacekeepers to police its border.

His critics charge that the emotion of Sept. 11 overwhelmed his former cool-eyed caution about deploying American troops without a clear national interest and a well-defined exit, turning him into a tool of the Bush administration in its push for a war to transform the region.

“He has the personality of a fighter pilot: when somebody stings you, you want to strike out,” said retired Gen. John H. Johns, a former friend and supporter of Mr. McCain who turned against him over the Iraq war. “Just like the American people, his reaction was: show me somebody to hit.”

I mean this is a nightmare. Would America really let this happen? Elect McCain, a man even more unsuitable than George W. Bush, to the presidency?

The Obama campaign seized on a motif early in the campaign, saying that a vote for John McCain would be a vote for a third term for George W. Bush.

Let me offer another scenario: Karl Rove’s brass knuckle attack on McCain–you know, the one about him fathering a child with a black prostitute–did not work (after which Rove would have rolled out the crazed Manchurian candidate attack–they had already questioned Mccain’s patriotism, although not quite loudly yet; I would have loved to see what Karl Rove would have done to McCain’s hero status up close, in a hard-fought contest that the 2000 election would have been) and McCain emerged with the nomination and occupied the White House the last seven plus years.

What this Times story told me is that–and hard as this may be to imagine–America with McCain as president would have made all of the same mistakes that the administration of George W. Bush made in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

Our foreign policy would have been just as bellicose, if not more so. A president McCain would still have countenanced torture, shredded the Constitution, violated civil liberties, would have run just as inept a federal bureaucracy, betrayed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and been just as befuddled a steward of the economy.

The polls say McCain is within a striking distance of winning the presidency, an event that I find alarming.

Frank Rich: 'How Obama Became Acting President'

IT almost seems like a gag worthy of “Borat”: A smooth-talking rookie senator with an exotic name passes himself off as the incumbent American president to credulous foreigners. But to dismiss Barack Obama’s magical mystery tour through old Europe and two war zones as a media-made fairy tale would be to underestimate the ingenious politics of the moment. History was on the march well before Mr. Obama boarded his plane, and his trip was perfectly timed to reap the whirlwind. CONTINUE . . .

Tony's Nobel grovel

I don’t remember who started it, or when it started, so let’s blame it on Jimmy Carter. The former president rehabilitated his public service record by becoming a world do-gooder in chief.

He built homes for the homeless, cured elections, and generally did whatever he could to expunge from the public mind, his four years of failure as president of the United States.
Today, more people remember Carter for his Nobel than for his presidency. Which is just as well. Carter was a decent man who was ill-suited for the presidency.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is another case. Blair had noticeable successes and following until he crawled into the lap of George W. Bush. He went to incredible lengths to help Bush sell a fraudulent war, eternally damning himself in the process. His once stratospheric popularity in England evaporated. He was soon chased from office.

Blair now wants to reconcile the world’s religion in the service of . . . globalization? What a crock. This effort might still win him the Nobel Peace Prize. It’ll still be stupid and fraudulent.

Memorial Day

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:

On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes, and I see many of them in the audience today, our sense of patriotism is particularly strong. Because while we gather here under open skies, we know that far beyond the Oregon Mountains, in the streets of Baghdad and the outskirts of Kabul, America’s sons and daughters are sacrificing on our behalf. And our thoughts and prayers are with them.