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How Will the Republicans Deal With Turmoil Overseas?


New York, New York: What now?

We have all heard the apocalyptic forecasts as the GOP majority gets ready to take over the Senate and extend its control over the House.

In the leftist imagination, the sound of goose steps and more war can be heard as Tea party “wing nuts” assume control, claiming a mandate even though only thirty–five percent of the eligible voters even went to the polls.

We have seen a collapse not only of Democrats who reelected Obama in 2012, but the shrinking electoral impact of unions and progressives. Many activists are so estranged from conventional politics that they wanted nothing to do with the neo-liberals nominally in power, or apologists for the president’s foreign policy.

The split in the country is not just between the parties, but within the parties and the range of ideologies they represent. The right is no more unified than the left, and the battles to come will show that.

How quickly can we expect the policy shifts initiated by moronic fanatics? Calm down, advises political scientist Michael Brenner, especially on foreign policy. He writes, “The Republicans are not attached to any particular philosophy or committed to any particular strategy or doctrine. They do try to foster the image of being tougher in defending American national interests and more attentive to security threats. That is largely verbiage, though. The Obama administration pretty much has followed in the footsteps of its Bush predecessor, especially in regard to prosecution of the War on Terror which is the one issue that has a grip on the American body politic. On the outstanding questions of the moment in the Middle East, Republican leaders are as confused and uncertain as is the White House…”

The Republican priority will remain the obstruction and embarrassment of Barack Obama at every turn with an eye on the 2016 elections. Their aim to build a new Republican dynasty on the rubble of Obama’s ill-starred eight year tenure. Criticizing his foreign policy moves is just another step in that direction. There are a handful of items on the foreign policy agenda that could be affected by the turnover on Capitol Hill.”

There is already a consensus on fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria with more troops on the way, although the need to escalate – and we don’t know all the other foreign troops and mercenaries in the “theater”– is a sign that it is not going so well. Perhaps that’s why the Pentagon is now focused on targeted covert assassinations, not just bombing. Analysts say Syria’s Assad has been the beneficiary, so far, of our ISIS obsession in that country.

On other issues:

On Iran, Obama has written a secret letter to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei as the nuclear deadline looms. He argues they will do better with his Administration than their outlook. They don’t trust him any more than the Repugs and will not be pushed around.

Of course, Israeli pressure is behind the extreme anti-Iranian rhetoric. Already, Obama’s military brass is praising The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) while Hollywood millionaires donated $33 million to support its charities.

According to anti-war.com, “Not 48 hours after Amnesty International issued a report blasting Israel for its “callous indifference” to civilian deaths in the Gaza war, the Pentagon is openly talking about using the conflict as a model for their own wars.

Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey…is sending a “lessons learned team” to learn how Israel managed to limit civilian deaths to this extent (some 70% of overall deaths in the conflict), so that the US might follow their example.”

At the same time, provocateurs on the Israeli right seem hell bent in stirring up a new Palestinian intifada. Israel’s top Sephardic Rabbi says Jews Must stop visiting the Temple Mount. What is the GOP “answer” to that?

So far, Vladimir Putin seems to still be outmaneuvering the US in Ukraine with former US fave Mickael Gorbachev endorsing his policies and warning of another cold war.

Can the Republicans do much worse? The Guardian reports yet another claim by the oligarch-led Ukrainian regime, namely that “a Russian military column has entered east of country.”

What will the GOP do about Yemen where waves of protests confront US policy?

One downplayed danger is the impending passage of the Trans Pacific trade pact.

Explains Brenner, “This is the great under reported story. The draft proposals are the most radical move in the direction of an unregulated world market place in history.  In effect, states would relinquish a large slice of their sovereign authority to set standards in a variety of areas: environment, working conditions, etc.  That authority would not be transferred to a supranational authority a la the European Union but to the free market itself.  In effect, the authority to control would cease to exist. The envisaged appeal panels would be required to treat states and private businesses on an equal footing. In today’s environment, that entails a bias in favor of private parties. This conforms perfectly with the Republican philosophy which is shaped by business interests.  Such legislative opposition as exists has come from some progressive Democrats. On this score, Obama aligns himself with the Republicans. So we might expect to see a more energetic American push in the negotiations and a quick move to get ratification by the Senate.”

And, in America’s oldest war in Afghanistan, it is “assessment time” again with US commanders nervous about premature troop withdrawals, even as US forces dismantle bases and destroy billions in arms.

In fact, they are more embarrassed by all the corruption fostered by the Pentagon, as the Washington Examiner noted: “Mismanagement of a nearly $1 billion contract by major defense contractors and State Department officials has left the U.S. Embassy guarded by people who may lack security clearances and who wasted millions of dollars on work that wasn’t performed.”

We can’t blame that on the Taliban. They are having problems of their own, according to the local Afghan media at Kamma Press, “A group of Taliban militants were captured by local residents in northeastern Badakhshan province while they were having sex with a cow. “ News like this should outrage the Christian Right—and PETA—even as these practices are not exactly unknown in parts of the right-wing bible belt.

News Dissector Danny Schechter writes commentaries on politics and media. Feedback to dissector@mediachannel.org.

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