Tag: afghanistan

U.S. Soldiers Kill Afghan Civilians for Sport, Collect Fingers as ‘Trophies’

Othman Mekhloufi | @othmanmekhloufi

In 2010, twelve U.S. soldiers were accused of deliberately killing Afghan civilians for sport and collecting their fingers as trophies. They, along with a Staff Sergeant, composed a secret “kill team”. The soldiers allegedly killed the civilians at random by blowing them up and/or shooting at them. These attacks occurred various times throughout the year, The Guardian reported.

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Anti-Trump Hysteria is Turning Democrats Into Warmongers

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

The ghost of John McCain has risen to possess the most unlikely host: the Democrats. Trump’s magical aura seems to automatically turn anyone with a (D) in front of their names against him. This occurs regardless of his policy decision. Orange man is always bad. Doesn’t matter what he did, has done, or will do. Orange man is bad, even when orange man is creating a world where fewer people die.

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Tulsi Gabbard: The Ideal New Face of the Democratic Party

Ian Brzeski | United States

Both the Democratic and Republican parties need a change in leadership. They both need to break away from the establishment and become the parties they claim to be. There was a point in time where the parties stood for principles they truly believed in; however, this piece has long since passed. Though both parties are guilty of this, The Democratic party has specifically failed to live up to its promoted ideal of being the “anti-war” party.  Through the party leaders’ continual lying and corruption, the Democratic Party needs a fresh face to restore some of the party’s integrity, and that face should be Tulsi Gabbard.

The Democratic Party has failed when it has fallen under the control of those who think in terms of dollars instead of human values – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tulsi Gabbard and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Once a party that seemed to care for the citizens, the Democratic Party has now become a joke due to deceitful politicians who have succumbed to the evils and temptations of the establishment. Power corrupts and money talks, and these colloquialisms are more relevant now than ever before.

The Democratic Party needs to replace the outdated and corrupt leaders of Pelosi and Schumer with the new. If they want to align with their boasted ideology they claim to have, they have to replace them with the likes of Tulsi Gabbard and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who care for the welfare of the people and maintain consistent values without compromise.

Of course, I am not saying you have to agree with Gabbard or Ocasio-Cortez on political issues. In fact, you could disagree with any one of them on virtually every single point they stand for. However, even feeling that way; you cannot dispute that they care for their constituents and seem to uphold values the Democratic Party claims to prioritize. I have respect for both, but Tulsi Gabbard is better suited to lead the party.

An Ideal Figurehead

Gabbard is a better fit than Ocasio-Cortez for a few reasons. First of all, Gabbard makes more of an effort to stress pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan. She also vehemently advocates for allowing Venezuela to maintain its sovereignty. Ocasio-Cortez does not make as much of an effort to talk about these issues, as she seems to focus her efforts on internal matters.

With people like Gabbard at the forefront, the Democratic Party would start to become more respectable by bringing back their “anti-war” values. Another reason Gabbard is a better fit is that she is more of a moderate Democrat while Ocasio-Cortez states that she is a democratic socialist. As intriguing as radical ideas are, they are not usually politically wise to promote. There would be more tension amongst people in the party. Most importantly, though, Gabbard holds steadfast to her beliefs and doesn’t succumb to pressure from political parties.

Values Over Party Politics

Tulsi Gabbard is not afraid to call Donald Trump out when he does something wrong, but she also is not afraid to praise him when she feels it is right to do so. People like her are next to impossible to come by today, not just in politics but also in everyday life.

Take, for instance, never Trumpers who will cry about every little thing he has ever done. Believe it or not, the man sometimes makes good decisions. You also have the people who worship Donald Trump in the same way that the poor people in Medellin worshipped Pablo Escobar. To them, the man can do no wrong. Famous conservative pundits who sometimes criticize Trump often suffer bitter blowback.

Many people in both groups here may not like Gabbard. She slams Trump often, so the latter group is likely to take issue. But she also applauds Trump sometimes. Thus, the former group also has reason to be wary. Regardless, Tulsi Gabbard is still able to maintain her values with her original thoughts. Without a doubt, we need more people like her representing the people of the United States. Whether you agree or disagree with them, the inherent value that comes from a genuine person who is committed to the betterment of society far outweighs any potential tiffs one may have over party affiliation.

Warranted Criticisms

I support Tulsi Gabbard simply because she is the best option for the DNC. Despite this, many people have claimed she is not who she seems. One common criticism is that Gabbard is not truly anti-war and really is in fact quite hawkishEvidence of certain statements she has made as well as evidence from her voting records supports this notion. Thus, it appears she is not unilaterally opposed to war.

However, she is better than the other democrat representatives. She has some foreign policy opinions that I feel hold weight. Tulsi brings a kind of non-interventionist background with her, unlike most Democratic leaders, and I think that this is what the DNC needs more of.

I am not a Democrat and I don’t agree with Tulsi Gabbard on many of her claims. Certainly, she is not my ideal candidate. Despite those things, because of her passionate emotional and logical appeals to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Syria and her unwillingness to back down when faced with pressure from those in and outside of her party, she has garnered my respect.

She is not afraid to critique people she historically agrees with when she truly believes they are wrong. She is certainly not one to shy away from praising her opponents when they deserve it. We need more of this in politics if we ever hope to diminish the hatred that comes with political polarization. Therefore, Tulsi Gabbard should be the new face of the Democratic Party.


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The American Constitutional Upside Down

Glenn Verasco | Thailand

If you’re not familiar with Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, don’t worry; I won’t reveal any major spoilers. A central theme of the show is that a portal into a parallel dimension opens. The terrors that lurk there are spilling out into a small town in our own world. Once the main characters discover this, they refer to the parallel universe as “The Upside Down.”

The Upside Down States of America

A bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators recently decided that America needs a taste of The Upside Down, too. By a 68-23 margin, the Senate affirmed a resolution to block any of Trump’s attempts to remove American troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The vote comes amid repeated announcements and tweets by the president that he will fulfill one of his central campaign promises by ending some of the U.S.’s endless wars abroad, particularly in Syria. This would fit in well with his America First slogan. Bringing our troops home would allow the government to focus on the country it presides over. Moreover, it enables it to respect the autonomy of the globe’s many states.

When the president began talking withdrawal, establishment members of both parties and a hostile mainstream media scoffed and presented lame justifications for our presence in both countries. Many claimed that Turkey, our NATO ally, would “slaughter” our Kurdish allies if the mere 2,000 US troops still in Syria went home. The Kurds and Turks admittedly have their differences. However, this would be a first in their shared history, not to mention the fact that Kurds are rough and tough; nobody will slaughter them.

Weak Reasons to Remain Abroad

It’s also worth noting that many of the same people who claim we need to protect the Kurds from Turkey lost their minds when Trump suggested the U.S. should leave the outdated and useless bureaucratic leviathan we call NATO. In a transparent display of idiocy, they simultaneously claim (1) we can’t leave NATO because it would be a betrayal of our NATO allies and (2) we can’t leave Syria because it would be a betrayal of our Kurdish allies who our NATO allies would slaughter. Talk about Stranger Things…

Other purported reasons to remain in Syria and Afghanistan are that leaving these aimless 10 and 17-year missions, respectively, would be “precipitous”. And of course, something, something, something, Russia.

Despite the contradictions and hollow fear-mongering, the real reason the situation is so upside down is that Congress never authorized the wars Trump is trying to end. On the other hand, the commander-in-chief’s power to withdraw troops requires no authorization at all.

Presidential Powers

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power “to declare war”. Article II, Section 2 names the president “commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States”. To me, “commander-in-chief” sounds pretty self-explanatory. Perhaps the Founders would have had to have written “Total Super Ultra Mega Boss of the Military” to get it through the thick skulls of today’s Democrats and Republicans.

It is true that Congress authorized former President George W. Bush to use military force against those responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Despite this, he did not get permission to occupy Afghanistan indefinitely for whatever reasons he and his successors could conjure up. The language in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists is admittedly vague. Thus, it might be fair to say that Congress and a gullible public are to blame as much as the executive.

On the other hand, President Barack Obama was outright denied authorization to invade Syria in a bipartisan fashion, but he did so anyway. Nice one, Barry.

Make Ending Wars Easy Again

Going to war should not be this easy, and ending wars should not be this hard. Our Founders were right to warn against entangling alliances and sticking our noses in other nations’ business. Engaging in either of these endeavors drains American lives, liberty, and treasure. It also prevents our neighbors abroad from learning to develop themselves. Neoconservatives can spend hours explaining why dependency upon welfare undermines an individual’s ability to develop. For some reason, they are too blind to see that dependency upon a foreign militia has the same result on nations.

However upside down our government is, President Trump cannot blame the potential failure to end the wars in Afghanistan and Syria on Congress. He has unquestioned authority to command the armed forces. No one can stop him from exercising his powers but himself. Playing politics by waiting a little while to accomplish this goal could be a forgivable strategic maneuver. But Trump will deserve total and complete blame if this promise is broken.

Mr. President, it’s time to grow a pair and order things right-side up.

***


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The Trump Administration Is Making the Right Moves

By Josh Hughes | United States

It is not uncommon to see many headlines that currently highlight President Trump’s shortcomings. Many of these accusations are warranted, and he has done some things that have been questionable. However, it’s time to give credit where credit is due. The President has made many decisions recently that are being praised by conservatives, liberals, and libertarians all over the country. In a time where the media is quick to point out the negative aspects of the Trump administration, let us take a look at the successes.

Foreign Policy

Over the past few weeks, big changes have come involving the United States’ involvement in the Middle East. Last week, the US announced it would be pulling its 2,000 troops out of Syria over the next 100 days. This came as a surprise to many and angered certain Republican leaders in Congress.

An even bigger surprise, however, came soon after when the President announced a reduction of US forces in Afghanistan, cutting the number of troops in half from nearly 14,000 to just 7,000. This shocked everyone, including Afghani leaders, and signaled a sudden change in Trump’s policy. During the campaign in 2016, the President promised to bring the troops home but reluctantly added 4,000 more overseas earlier this year.

With the drawback of troops, it is refreshing to see a promise kept by President Trump. Not everyone is supportive, however. Senator Lindsey Graham and other Congressional Republicans have publically expressed their disapproval of the decision. Secretary of Defense General James Mattis also suddenly announced his resignation from the spot after two years citing “disagreements” with the President’s foreign policy.

Hemp Legalization

For those who are unaware, the Farm Bill recently passed both the House and the Senate and made it to the President’s desk where he signed it into law. The bill contains many controversial elements, but one aspect is the federal legalization of hemp. Hemp, which is not to be confused with cannabis, contains little to no THC, rendering it non-psychoactive. However, it has many agricultural and industrial purposes including plastics, paper, oil, construction, and food. While it has yet to clear the FDA, there is a good chance the hemp industry will soon explode thanks to the passage of this bill.

Criminal Justice Reform

The First Step Act was signed into law by President Trump on December 21. The bill is designed to help those already in federal prison as well as those that commit crimes in the future. It eases minimum sentences for drug offenses, allows for more opportunity for getting out on good behavior, allows for more vocational training, and provides better feminine hygiene. The bipartisan support Trump mustered with this bill came as a surprise, but he proceeded in spite of opposition from leaders like Mitch McConnel and Lindsey Graham.

The President is far from perfect. He has done his share of terrible, hypocritical things that have outraged people from all sides in the country. However, during this holiday season it is a time for optimism, and as we approach the new year, everyone in the country is undoubtedly hoping President Trump will continue with this streak of common sense legislation and good policy.


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