Friday, September 25, 2015

If I had Not Taken the Road Less Traveled, I Would Not Have Met Muslims, Jews, Hindus - Or Been Qualified for Congress

If I had never gone to any place but a local church I would not know what I know about Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Charismatic churches, others.  And therefore I would not be qualified to sit in Congress of a diverse country like America.

As the pope said, I see these people as people because they are people I have talked to, across America and around the world.

If I had never been on the road less traveled, I would have never known...truths you never find any other way.  (You don't find out how your friends are when you are flush with cash, but when you are broke).

If I had not looked into the eyes of men and women who became friends around the world, I would have never much ALIKE all of us are.

"Better Times Ahead April Fool"

Global American Values blog

Because of the pope I will Stop Calling You a Moron....How about Genius?

These are historic times: a nuclear deal with Iran that may bring it "in from the cold" and avoid a war far worse than the lost decade and wasted trillions spent in Iraq. We have seen the  opening of Cuba after a half century of isolation that hurt the Cuban people more than its leadership. 

And now we have witnessed the first-ever speech by a pope to a U.S. Congress.  Pope Francis asked us, and Congress, that we not fear immigrants and refugees. He asked that we treat people as humans with faces who have hopes and lives worth listening to. He spoke of justice, equality, fairness.  These are basic American values.

Did the members of Congress feel the earth shake? Will a pope who believes in science and protecting the earth as much as the unborn have any influence on them?

Will anything the pope said to that body of "far left/far right" representatives soak into that body of ideologues? All of them are elected in a gerrymandered series of districts that have gutted the sensible center, you know, that middle ground that actually works out compromises like the ones that happen in our courts and in business every day instead of shooting each other over disputes.  

That truly would be Francis' first miracle. It's not a good sign that Speaker Boehner resigned right after the pope's homily to his colleagues.  So, don't hold your breath.

These are true American values that Francis spoke of. These are values that have made us unique and trusted in the world as the oldest democracy. We are the standard bearer of  freedom and liberty that has promoted the rule of law over the whims of despots, tyrants, dictators and their wars of aggression. We lost our way when we plunged into the Vietnam and Iraq wars. But we are lucky to have a president who believes in diplomacy, respect, caring for our "common home" and many of the same issues the pope has raised in his humble way.

I heard the pope request that we treat each other as humans deserving respect. He is so right. It is the motto of this Global American Values campaign that I wish all Americans would sign on to. From now on I pledge not to call anyone a "moron." Instead, I will use the word "genius" (which may be intended to mean the same, or not!)

Only when we stray from those great American principles and act unilaterally and unfairly do we stray off our solid foundations. We don't live under a Chinese one-party state (where party insiders get rich and everyone else is left out). Nor do we live in a Russian oligarchy where a presidents opponents are easily murdered in the shadow of the Kremlin and there are no Congressional hearings at all (much less ones that drag on for months for political purposes.)  But that doesn't mean we are home free. Quite the opposite.

Even our democratic system is under threat as we are devolve from democracy into an American oligarchy where votes of the poor are suppressed, media becomes propaganda masquerading as facts, and elections are controlled by a few billionaires spending multiple millions backing presidential and Congressional candidates who have kissed their ring and muttered the magic words they want to hear.   

Since the US Supreme Court ruled in "Citizens United" your vote is not as important as a billionaire who can give millions of dollars in one check to an incompetent candidate, or an indicted one, to be elected. Neither Gov. Perry nor Scott Walker were remotely ready to be president. Nor are many of the other presidential candidates who think fighting unions is like taking on ISIS and wouldn't know Albania from Zimbabwe, or Sunni from Shia.
Let us take up the pope's challenge to be nicer, smarter and do more global outreach in our efforts to promote fairness and justice in the world.  Let's stop the name calling of Muslims, Jews, Hispanics (illegals and otherwise), women, etc. (I was shocked Trump would refer to them as "fat pigs" or comment on any woman's appearance with a face like his!). 

Stop stereotyping. Start speaking respectfully to one another again. In other words, its better to say "You're Fired!" then "You're an 'illegal,' 'rapist,' 'Muslim,' 'ugly woman,' Mr. Trump!" That's a good way to get on the wrong side of God, I suspect.

At one time in America it was Catholics who were the facing the prejudice that Muslims and immigrants face today. I remember them saying President Kennedy would be taking orders from the pope. He certainly wasn't calling Rome during the Cuban missile crisis. Changing the targets doesn't make the practice any less wrong. 

The pope's values are the same values that made our country great in the past. They are the only values that will provide America with a solid foundation in the future. We certainly don't need presidents who stereotype entire groups by calling them "criminals and rapists" just because they seek a better life here in America. We certainly don't need a political party that does the same either.

Americans want us to be great again. We can be only by following the American values that our founding fathers set out for us -- respecting all people regardless of color, religion or sex, with a justice system where all men (and women) are equal before the law. 

That is what made us a great democracy versus a twisted land of kings, nobles in the 1% and serfs in the 99% who obey the rulers without question or vote. The pope said it best: "God Bless America."

Let's earn that blessing. 

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Iran Deal Analysis - From a Terrorism Analyst Who Predicted 9/11

Iran Deal Analysis - From a Terrorism Analyst Who Predicted 9/11

If you want to see a war that could cost more of our military lives in five minutes than were killed in Iraq in ten years, then by all means, reject the Iran Deal. How do I know this? Don’t take my word for it. The U.S. military already knows this based on an exercise that was conducted in 2002 called “Millennium Challenge.”

Rejection of the deal means that the European sanctions would end and Iran would press ahead with full nuclear development.  There would be zero inspections.  There would be no reduction in centrifuges as contained in the agreement negotiated by John Kerry. War would be inevitable.  It would not end as most Americans expect.

In Millennium Challenge, the military simulated a mock war with Iran between a U.S. aircraft carrier group and the Iranian navy, which includes scores of small, fast boats. The military commander for the opposing forces approached the exercise like the Iranians would—and swarmed our ships. They called it off after we lost over 16 ships including an aircraft carrier. One aircraft carrier has over 5,000 personnel on board. We lost 4,500 military dead in over 10 years in Iraq.  That’s the real math in this equation.

Iran has a “Sunburn” missile that is so fast it can outrun our ship’s radar. In a short five minute flight, it could incinerate an aircraft carrier like the one Iran recently conducted a test on. I can’t imagine how many would die if we lost 16 ships in a real battle.

I was one of those trapped in Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis when Brown & Root wanted to send me to be a contract lawyer on a naval base they were building for the Shah. I was a TV terrorism analyst during the roll up to the Iraq war, on the Houston Fox news channel no less. I argued against that war because I knew Saddam was not involved in 9/11.

No one listened. That invasion opened Pandora's Box, found no weapons of mass destruction, and cost Trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives. It created ISIS that threatens to take over a region that has fallen apart from the aftermath created by Bush's blunder.

I am now hearing the same arguments against the Iran Deal, including “we can’t trust them.”  This is by members of Congress, a majority of whom do not have a passport, meaning that they have not been outside the U.S. and have no clue what it’s really like. Ronald Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union, whom he had called “the evil empire” In order to shrink the size of their nuclear forces. His motto was “trust but verify.”  While we really didn’t trust them, the Soviets honored the agreement.

Rather than learn from that experience in Iraq, I now see Americans being misled about Iran by the usual suspects (who supported war against Iraq) now opposing the Iran nuclear deal.  Israel is not a midget power; it is the largest military force in the Middle East. Experts believe that it has a minimum of 80 nuclear bombs of its own. Even if Iran got one nuclear weapon, it would be no match. It would be instantly vaporized.

Perhaps Millennium Challenge in 2002 is why Bush picked Iraq to attack it instead of attacking Iran in 2003. Even Bush knew that we were screwed if we went into Iran because of the weapons they had back then—with 2002 technology! Remember, Iran held off Iraq and Saddam for 8 years of war!

Do we really have to get hit upside the head again to finally get it? Another war is not the answer, unless you are totally in favor of your kid being blown up on a ship in the Persian Gulf.

This nuclear deal needs to be approved, just like Reagan's nuclear deal with the Soviet Union was approved. Both unwind a march towards mutual destruction and open the door to diplomatic solutions that could bring Iran in from the cold.

If not, then get ready for another unpaid for war a thousand times worse than Iraq. Just don't be as surprised as you were by the mess in Iraq that is still spitting out evil because we were foolish and naïve and believed it would be “solved” with a war instead of diplomacy.

Michael Fjetland, BBA/JD