Thursday, August 28, 2014

How U.S. Interventionists Abetted the Rise of ISIS

As the murderous, terrorist Islamic State continues to threaten Iraq, the region and potentially the United States, it is vitally important that we examine how this problem arose. Any actions we take today must be informed by what we’ve already done in the past, and how effective our actions have been.

Shooting first and asking questions later has never been a good foreign policy. The past year has been a perfect example.

In September President Obama and many in Washington were eager for a U.S. intervention in Syria to assist the rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s government. Arguing against military strikes, I wrote that “Bashar Assad is clearly not an American ally. But does his ouster encourage stability in the Middle East, or would his ouster actually encourage instability?”

The administration’s goal has been to degrade Assad’s power, forcing him to negotiate with the rebels. But degrading Assad’s military capacity also degrades his ability to fend off the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Assad’s government recently bombed the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria.

To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn’t get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS.

This is not to say the U.S. should ally with Assad. But we should recognize how regime change in Syria could have helped and emboldened the Islamic State, and recognize that those now calling for war against ISIS are still calling for arms to factions allied with ISIS in the Syrian civil war. We should realize that the interventionists are calling for Islamic rebels to win in Syria and for the same Islamic rebels to lose in Iraq. While no one in the West supports Assad, replacing him with ISIS would be a disaster.

Our Middle Eastern policy is unhinged, flailing about to see who to act against next, with little thought to the consequences. This is not a foreign policy.

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Congress proposes new law prohibiting body armor in the Land of the Free

By the late 1920s, Joseph Stalin became the unchallenged leader of the Soviet Union after having eliminated his opposition.

He topped it off in 1929 by serving a decisive blow to anyone that would dare to oppose him by outlawing private gun ownership in the country.

From that year on until 1953 when Stalin died, it’s estimated that more than 20 million Soviet citizens that were seen as a threat to the country’s leadership.

People were rounded up and either murdered outright, or sent to infamous gulag labor camps.

Stalin is an extreme case. But history is ripe with examples of governments which disarm their citizens, only to engage in serious oppression afterwards.

Communist China. Nazi Germany. Cambodia. Guatemala. Uganda. The list goes on and on. Pacification of the citizens is almost always a prerequisite to totalitarianism.

There have been a lot of attempts to disarm, or at least partially disarm, people in the US throughout history as well.

Each time there’s a major shooting somewhere, the chant to ban firearms grows louder.

But the latest proposal is especially telling.

H.R. 5344 is a bill currently going through Congress that would ban the purchase of body armor.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

County will not pay medical bills for toddler hurt in Habersham raid

Habersham County officials say they do not plan to pay for the medical expenses of a toddler seriously injured during a police raid.

Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as “Baby Boo Boo,” spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team’s flash grenade exploded near his face. The toddler was just 19-months-old and asleep in the early morning hours of May 28. SWAT officers threw the device into his home while executing a search warrant for a drug suspect.

Habersham County officials are defending their decision not to pay, but the child’s family isn’t giving up.

After weeks of recovery at two different hospitals, Channel 2 Action News was there in July as the little boy walked out of a hospital with his family.

He is doing better, but late Friday afternoon, his family’s attorney told said the family’s medical bills are mounting.

“But at this point, the county is refusing to pay,” said attorney Muwali Davis.

Habersham County’s attorney provided the following statement, saying: “The question before the board was whether it is legally permitted to pay these expenses. After consideration of this question following advice of counsel, the board of commissioners has concluded that it would be in violation of the law for it to do so.”

The attorney for Boo Boo’s family insists that is not good enough.

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Gov. Nixon Calls For ‘Vigorous Prosecution’ Of Darren Wilson

Not content with a regular prosecution or a vigorous investigation, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he hopes that Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson will receive a “vigorous prosecution” in the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

“A vigorous prosecution must now be pursued,” Nixon said in a five minute video address posted to his website Tuesday.

“The democratically elected St. Louis county prosecutor and the attorney general of the United States each have a job to do,” said Nixon, a Democrat.

“Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly,” said Nixon of investigators.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to visit Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with federal law enforcement officials and community leaders. Forty FBI investigators traveled to Ferguson over the weekend to interview witnesses.

Nixon has not directly justified his call for a strong prosecution. He has not indicated that he has any information on the shooting that has not been made public.

Wilson, a six-year police veteran with a clean disciplinary record, has not even been arrested or charged with a crime. A grand jury is set to convene on Wednesday to determine if he will be charged.

Wilson, who is on paid leave during the investigation, has reportedly claimed that he shot Brown after the man hit him in the face and struggled to gain control of his service weapon.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson

The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarization” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”

The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.

It is the destructive by-product of several decades of deliberate militarization of American policing, a trend that received a sustained (and ongoing) steroid injection in the form of a still-flowing, post-9/11 federal funding bonanza, all justified in the name of “homeland security.” This has resulted in a domestic police force that looks, thinks, and acts more like an invading and occupying military than a community-based force to protect the public.

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