Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Efficiency of the Inefficient American Constitution.

The Efficiency of the Inefficient American Constitution.

It has been said the Democracy isn't efficient.

It may all depend on your vantage point. 

I'd like to make the case that our form of Representative Democracy with its checks and balances is the most efficient model out there that furthers a nations chances of becoming successful.  It does this by limiting the power any one person or branch of government can have.  In the long term it has served America well.  In the short term I agree that by limiting the power of a President for example it can become extremely hard to pass and enact a law which that President “knows” is right and in which he believes “everyone else” “knows” is “right” too.

The main theory which makes the Constitution unique was that the Founding Fathers believed when power is too concentrated in too few hands, that power will corrupt those who hold it.  They believed in that as a basic human nature.  Therefore they wrote the Constitution and created a government model that separated the power among three branches of government.  To do this they in effect put the three branches at odds with one another. 

That is why our government sometimes seems so inefficient with “grid-lock” all over the place.
This “inefficiency” however has kept us from falling prey to the popular spur of the moment uprisings from both the liberal and conservative antagonists or just the mass greediness of our human natures.  Our country does not for example in a fit of self-righteousness be-head those who don’t agree with whoever is the current President.  Nor does it blindly follow a popular uprising in the US House or Senate.  In the past it was only after much debate and a battle of give and take we would create legislation and the President would sign it.

History is full of governments who for the best of reasons ran off unchecked into the nightmare of mass killings and tyrannical oppression of the people they were trying to “better” and the countries they were trying to make great.  The Chinese under Mao, the Communists under Stalin were very efficient at mass killings for what they alone deemed was the common good.  To them what they did was so obviously good that it was beyond debate.  When I hear the phrases, “everyone knows”, “we all believe”, “no one would disagree”, or “we are beyond debate”, I start to get worried.

If it were not so inefficient we would have the trains running on time as Mussolini claimed he was doing in Italy before murdering thousands who stood in his way, or how about those wonderful sounding 5 year plans the Communists in Russia and China had.  Or the totally efficiency of a one Party State we found in Nazi Germany which managed through trial and error to kill millions of people not of their own kind in the most efficient way.
The reason I’m writing this is because of an interview I listened to through Rudaw, an internet newspaper coming out of the Kurdistan Regional Government. 
If you read my blog you will note that I’m one of their biggest fans in their fight for independence from Iraq and in forming a homeland around their Kurdish communities.  Their problem is that they have to take land from not only Iraq, but Iran, Turkey and Syria to form this country.  

Watching the interview, it soon became apparent that while the Kurds for the most part are great friends with America and they say they want a secular government modeled after the US Constitution the interviewer really had a very limited knowledge of what makes our Constitution unique.  They are fighting for their very lives, so it is understandable why they seem to put a high price on efficiency.  Why they want a strong leader to lead them with the powers to make the hard decisions quickly is again understandable.  

Looking back on our Revolution, we too almost fell into that trap.  We knew George Washington was an honorable man and a good leader, why not keep electing him President?  That would have probably happened if Washington had not after his second term set the precedent and stepped down.  A peaceful transition went forward and has ever since.  A point to this is discussion is to show how it took an honorable man with a vision firmly in mind for his country and all its people to ensure the US Constitution and its underpinning logic was cemented in place through his actions.  

What America and its leaders did was to sacrifice their personal goals and ambitions to create a Constitution and then abide by it long enough for that government to follow them and take on a life of its own.

I truly hope the leaders of Kurdistan forget not that lesson.
I just read a George Will article which mirrors the Rudaw interview and of course he does it far better than I or them.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative

Friday, November 28, 2014

Speak Softly, Carry a Big Stick

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

That phrase we associate with Teddy Roosevelt, incidentally he said he picked it up on Safari in West Africa.  That saying along with, Peace through strength, trust but verify and others simply mean that when people have a “big stick” to wield they can afford to talk softly.  

American Presidents have used these phrases for their benefit to achieve foreign policy objectives. These all carry the message that they were willing to use physical force to back up what they wanted to do.  But the key to that working was that their opponents believed they would use that “big stick” if needed.  The physical force when it’s threatened to be used by a super power is clear and understood.  

The phrases above are clever and catchy linguistic tools to get the point across in negotiations.  Our opponents believe we will use that force because we have in the past and proven we are willing to do it again and they know it.  We are saying to them, “Do what we want or we’ll smack you down”.  It usually works in our case because our opponent decides they don’t want to risk it and withdraws.

What happens however when a struggling region of a country that dreams of becoming a country in its own right says the same thing?  Usually they aren't believed and are attacked.  In their as in ours they have to continually prove that they are willing to go into harm’s way to achieve their end.  It is only after repeated victories in battles and strategic retreats from losses to re-group and fight again, that their opponents will start to pay the upstart of a people its due.

America started out in this way.  We had to fight battles with less troops poorly trained and equipped and we lost many battles.  But we won a few and we retreated to fight again, the point became clear that we were not afraid to fight and die if need be to achieve our dream of nationhood.  Not all countries survive that “trial by fire”.

But even though a country or people may fight the good fight and risk it all for what they believe; they may not win in the end:  However their willingness to die for what they believe strikes a chord in most people as a noble thing.  Something worth emulating.  A way we can rise above ourselves and find a higher plain.  Win lose or draw we gain from the effort. This type of action in a losing but heroic fight reminds us of our own loss at the Alamo, and as far back to antiquity of famous defeat of 300 Spartans who died saving Athens from the army of Barbarians who were threatening to wipe Athens/Greece from the face of the earth and in so doing wipe away the underpinning of the birth of Freedom which was built upon and from which Western Civilization flourished. 

When a people show this dedication to putting all else including their own lives on the line for Freedom we tend to say that they are fighting like Spartans.  In an Aljazeera article written by Michael Knights entitled Iraqi Kurdistan: the Middle East’s Next Little Sparta, Mr. Knights gives a nice account of why the military is starting to refer to the Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG’s) army the Peshmerga as “little Sparta”.  (Link to “Little Sparta”.  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/11/iraqi-kurdistan-middle-east-ne-2014112285055907550.html

This is a good article for background and to catch up in general with the news from Kurdistan.  This article talks to the respect the US military and the Washington power brokers have learned to afford this regional government of Iraq, and its army, and in the reverse the lack of respect the Iraqi Army has earned.  With the threat of the Islamic State in all its incarnations, it has been the Peshmerga which consistently laid down their lives to stem the tide when the Iraqi Army has thrown down their weapons and run off. 

The slant of most news articles is that this was made possible by US air strikes.  The real fact of the matter was that it was the Peshmerga and other Kurdish forces which stood up when others ran.  They stood up with inferior weapons and numbers, but like the Spartans they stopped the tide of the Islamic State giving time for the Iraqi government to save face and the US to start funneling supplies to the Kurds.  The land mass of the Kurdistani people as I pointed out in the previous articles includes parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran as well as Iraq. 
see map below.

They have their strongest most developed organization in Northern Iraq and their Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq is almost daily getting recognition now from not only foreign powers but even grudgingly from Iraq.  For example there are a couple of bills in the US House which will allow our President to give training and some pretty heavy weapons to the KRG.

With the likes of Senator John McCain saying to the KRG delegation: Not a day goes by that I don’t work with my colleagues to get you what you need to defeat these terrorists”. You know help is on the way.
I am too old in the tooth to believe this dream of Kurdistan wrested from parts of Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraqi will magically appear.  It may, and it will keep trying to form itself regardless of what I believe.  As long as their courage stays the course they have a chance.  The chance comes for them as with all of us from how they handle diversity not how they avoid it.  The human race from its beginning has prospered by overcoming adversity not from shrinking away from it. 
Perhaps the deciding factor of their future success will be ideological.  They like the Spartans are fighting for the ideology of Freedom for their homeland and themselves, not in conquering people, not in tyrannizing them.  Another phrase comes to mind.  I think President Regan would agree that the Kurds could be a “Shining City on a Hill” for all of those other Mid-East countries so downtrodden for centuries under the boot of tyranny.
Even when the Kurds say they are willing to die fighting, they are doing so because they are fighting for their homes and family and their very lives.  For them to give into the Islamic State (IS) means that they will be raped, sold into slavery, or beheaded.  Not much of a choice perhaps but it constantly amazes me how many people in that same situation were unwilling to face reality and at least put up a fight and were lead to the slaughter.

So when Masoud Barzani the leader of the KRG talks softly I know and I think the world is learning that when he is talking about the Kurdish homeland he does indeed carry a big stick.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Update on Kurdistan    

(Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq)

This all has happened since I wrote the previous article.

News, 11/17/2014
Shows pretty much how the Peshmerga (Kurdish army) has been alone in the fight against the Islamic State.  Also the video tells of the problem of refugees and the strain on their economy and how some of the Sunni refugees are not necessarily friends to the Kurds.
Kurds repulse attack on border town.
More news, 11/19/2014
Talks of the economic problems the Semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq is having since the Iraq government stopped paying government workers because of the KRG going around the Iraq government to sell its oil.
Barzani, KRG leader claims they are doing most of the fighting and deserve to get heavier equipment from the coalition of forces now fighting the Islamic State.  They have been at the forefront of this fight.  They want some armed personal carriers and helicopters.
Breaking 11/19/2014
From the Newspaper of Erbil the capital of the Kurdish Regional Government.  Tells of the ISIS Governor of Mosul was killed in US air strikes.  The Kurds have been fighting and taking back territory the Islamic state has taken along their border with Iraq.  They are in the process of solidifying Kirkuk an oil rich city, and the biggest oil prize is Mosul.  Kirkuk is on their way to Mosul.
For up to date news from the Kurdish Regional Government their newspaper out of their capital of Erbil.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Steven Stockman, Congressman from Texas’ 36th

“I mean, these guys love America,”

“They’re tough people, but they can’t do it with sticks.”

Kurdistan a dream becoming a reality.
Article, 11/11/14.  WND exclusive by Garth Kant

I got this from the article above.
Map of what the Kurds are fighting for.  What they perceive as their homeland. Kurdistan.

As the map shows, what better place to have an ally?  Borders Iran Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
Turkey is our sometime ally and why wouldn't they want a Kurdistan as a buffer from Syria, Iraq and Iran?

From the article we see that Turkey is hostile to the Kurds.  Why?  Kurdish population in Turkey?  Find out.  Would the proposed map of Kurdistan include parts of Turkey and which parts, what would Turkey lose?  Find out.
Yes!  Map below shows Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran would all have to give up land to form Kurdistan.
Turkey being the largest loser.
What population of Kurds are in these countries and more to the point what is the population in these specific areas that would form Kurdistan?  Find out.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdish_population  This shows that Turkey also has the most Kurds at about 14 million, Iran and Iraq at 6 million each and Syria at 2 million.

Below a map from the CIA in 1992 of Kurdish populated areas which seems to roughly correspond to the map above of Kurdistan.

The Kurds are and have been fighting for a re-creation of their original home state.  The Kurds are situated in a hotbed of hostilities that is called the Middle East.  The ethnic Kurds have a majority in communities in SE Turkey, NW Iran, Northern Iraq, and NE Syria.  They have carved out a semi-autonomous region in Northern Iraq which is called the Kurdish Regional Government (NRG).  They have been fighting ISIS since ISIS’ beginning, along with Al Quaida. Before that they were the only ones Americans could count on in the fight to overthrow Sadam Hueisen, they were the fighters we could count on when all else failed.  As Iraq started falling apart with attacks from ISIS, they held strong. 
They have encountered resistance from the beginning from everyone including those who should be helping them.  This resistance is understandable since one or more of the above countries would have to give up some of their territory to enable the creation of a Kurdistan. Turkey which has the largest Kurdish population of the Mid East Countries was actively fighting the Kurds.  It is only recently since the rise of ISIS that they have come to see an armed Kurdish separate state in Iraq as something they could live with.   The other reason is that the Kurds control a lot of Turkey’s area and the Turks are tiring of the fight. 

The big news is that the Turks have allowed Northern Iraqi Kurdish fighters and weapons to cross Turkish land to reinforce Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria with weapons and soldiers.

Another bit of news just in hours ago is that the Iraqi government in Bagdad has agreed to pay the civil servant salaries of its northern Kurdish Regional Government civil servants for the equivalent of $500 million dollars of the North’s oil.  This is a major step showing that the Iraqi government in Bagdad is recognizing their Northern Kurdish region as a separate entity at least in regards to its ownership of its own oil.  It hasn’t in the past.  This also will help pay for the war on ISIS that the Kurds have been fighting long before Americans ever heard of the name ISIS.

All of this and the trip by Congressman Steven Stockman in the WMD Garth Kant article at the beginning of this article reminds me of the movie titled “Charlie Wilson’s War” starring Tom Hanks.  In that movie Wilson mobilized behind the scenes private and governmental efforts to fund the Afghanistan freedom fighters that eventually beat the Russians and forced them out of their country.  Both of these solutions seem so obvious it is no wonder that the powers that be would not use them;  but when bureaucrats who are experts at confounding others by splitting hairs,  have their minds faced with something so simple to understand they themselves seem confounded and refuse to act.
I am just happy to see that America and the President have been brought kicking and screaming to the same conclusion.  Our government is seemingly putting pressure on Turkey and Bagdad to help and allow the Kurds to do what they do so well, fight their enemy ISIS.  We have often times heard from this administration, “a crisis is too big to pass up”.  For once it is nice to see that phrase used as a reason to fight our actual enemies. 

Breaking new now is that the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Quaida have joined forces.  See Article linked below.

The Kurds as previously reported were given permission to cross Turkey land to travel from Arbil Iraq to Kobani Syria to reinforce that beleaguered city and help stop the Islamic State tide.  American arms are going with them.  The latest map is below showing the Islamic State encroachment upon Syria, Iraq, Turkey and most pertinently to this article upon the newly formed Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq.  Reminder from the other maps before that there is a large Kurdish population in nearly all this contested area and in Kobani.

In looking at the map above I see the city of Sinjar and I remember the stranding of thousands of Kurds on the mountain top there.  Mosul just to the east had fallen to ISIS and the refugees fled to Sinjar’s mountain top.  A helicopter made it in with guns blazing and back out with guns blazing and saved 20.  The following link tells what happened to the rest.  If you have any sympathy for ISIS read that article.  Genocide pure and simple.  If you wonder if the Kurds are fighting for their life read that article.

This new map raises the question of how involved the Syrian regime is with the Kurdish fighters and who exactly are the Syrian rebels.  Find out.
The latest fighting in and for the border town of Kobani shows the confusing and convoluted coalitions being set up.  The Kurds in this battle have aligned themselves with the FSA (Free Syrian Army) which is battling both the Assad Syrian government forces and the Islamic State (IS).  Assad in this article condemns the Turkish action of letting Kurdish forces from Iraq backed by American war planes cross their border calling such forces “terrorists”. 
The Kurds of Syria are after a piece of Syria and indeed Assad should worry about losing some of his former country, however IS or ISIS is after the total of Syria and Iraq and all bordering countries in an effort to set up an Islamic caliphate.  I know what I’d fear more.
Although America’s current President has been vocal about the “Arab Spring” and is slow to see the reality of the Islamic Caliphate and its intolerance and brutality, the US Congress may not be, as evidenced by the efforts of Steven Stockman (TEXAS) as I related earlier in this article.
The Kurds have taken control of the Northern section of Iraq and formed a semi-autonomous region.  The area is predominantly Kurdish in population.  They are doing the same in the North of Syria.  While their aim is for a Kurdish state, they have proven the old adage that any enemy of my enemy becomes my friend.  Assad should realize the greatest enemy to him is not the Kurds, but the Islamic State.
The Kurds are all in against the Islamic State.  When I say all in I mean it.  They prove it by their deeds.  Much like the Israelis the Kurdish women have taken up arms and in large numbers.  Remember these people are defending their own families and villages.  http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/29/world/us-newest-allies-syrian-kurds/  The names they give their different groups reflect that desperate fight to the death attitude of a proud people.  The Kurdish Regional Government fighters are called the Peshmerga (translated – Those who Face Death).  They are not afraid of death.  They have seen what the Islamic State does to the women and children it captures.  These Kurdish women would rather face death than be sold into sex slavery tortured etc. 
This next link gives insight into the Kurdish Regional Government and the fight they are up against from all sides as they try to find and fight for their existence.  I think it is safe to say that they have earned the respect of American military leaders and their own people.
The biography of Masoud Barzani the President of the KRG taken from the above link, is an example of the depths and desperation of the Kurdish people to survive and form a home state for their self-protection.
“Barzani has fought for the Kurdish cause for fifty years. During that time, the Kurds endured successive waves of calamity, mostly at the hands of Saddam Hussein: the genocidal onslaught of Anfal, which killed as many as a hundred and eighty thousand people; chemical-weapons attacks; and an unrelenting campaign of torture and imprisonment that touched nearly every Kurdish family. Barzani himself lost thirty-seven family members.
If you want to keep up with the latest stuff on Kobani check out this twitter feed https://twitter.com/hashtag/kobani Check out the Canadian girl fighting in Kobani for the Kurds.  Remarkable.  I saw a call from ISIS for a cease fire.  Don’t know if that is confirmed but the Kurds seem to reject it.  Bravo Kurds.  If I’m in a fight for my life, I’m not going to let my attacker off so they can go out and get reinforcements.
Regards, Live Dangerously be a Conservative