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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/29/15

The Republicans' Secret

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The Republicans' Secret
The Republicans' Secret
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In the past few days, US voters has been reminded of the reasons why we don't trust Republicans: Representative Trey Gowdy's Benghazi committee demonstrated that the GOP abuses congressional power for political purposes. The Republican threat to not raise the debt limit indicates they don't understand how the Federal government works. But it took GOP candidate Donald Trump to reveal the darkest secret of all, Republicans don't keep American safe.

Even though Republican Congressional Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had already admitted the purpose of Representative Gowdy's Benghazi committee was not to ascertain the facts and prevent further security breaches at our embassies but rather to drive down presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, it still came as a shock to witness the Republican's abusive questioning of Clinton. This was standard Republican demagoguery. As political commentator Bob Cesca reported, the GOP has a long history of going after individuals and groups it perceives to be its adversaries: Planned Parenthood, ACORN, the IRS, peace activists, political commentators, and on and on.

It's one thing to abuse government process and quite another to refuse to pay its bills. That's what the debt-limit crisis is about. According to the US Treasury Department, "The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments." When asked if he would approve raising the debt limit, Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson responded, after repeated prodding, "What I'm saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt." Like most Republicans, Carson appears to be unable to differentiate between the federal budget (where we run up debts) and the debt-limit (where we set a boundary on paying debts already incurred).

But the most devastating of the Republicans' dirty secrets was revealed during a testy exchange between Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Goaded into defending his brother, George, Jeb responded, "He kept us safe!" Trump responded, "The fact is we had the worst attack in the history of our country during his reign. Jeb (Bush) said we were safe during his reign. That wasn't true." For once, Trump was right.

CNN security analyst, Peter Bergen, observed: Before 9/11 senior Bush administration officials did not see al Qaeda as the serious threat it was, despite the fact that the group had blown up two American embassies in Africa in 1998, killing more than 200 people, and had also bombed the USS Cole warship two years later. Also, they ignored multiple, clear warnings from the CIA during the summer of 2001 about a likely al Qaeda attack""

George W. Bush did not protect the US from the horrendous 9/11 attacks. To make things worse he then launched an unnecessary war in Iraq. Newsweek observed: "After September 11, forcing a regime change in Baghdad made good political sense for the Republicans" the administration needed to be seen as doing more in its declared global war on terror. By going after Saddam they would be well positioned to "wrap themselves in the flag" and compensate for missing the September 11 attacks."(The US Iraq casualties were 4493 dead and 32021 wounded; the estimated cost was at least $2 trillion.)

"Dubya" wasn't unique among Republican Presidents in failing to keep America safe and launching unnecessary military actions. In the modern era, this ineptitude began with Richard Nixon. As soon as he became President, in 1969, Nixon scuttled pending talks to end the Vietnam War and authorized bombing of North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. (More than 21,000 Americans were killed on Nixon's watch and more than a million civilians died.)

Ronald Reagan send US troops into Lebanon. In April 1983, 63 Americans were killed during an attack on the US embassy in West Beirut. In October of 1983, 241 Americans were killed in an attack on US troop barracks in Beirut. To restore his popularity, later than October, Reagan authorized the invasion of Grenada.

During the first year of his presidency, George H. W. Bush authorized the invasion of Panama, the first "regime change" war. Two years later Bush authorized the first Gulf War. Commentator Barry Lando observed: "[George H.W. Bush] sent American troops half way around the world to launch the First Gulf War--an error of tragic proportions; responsible in its own way for much of the horror that afflicts the Greater Middle East (and America) to this day."

Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II used the military to accomplish political objectives. They weren't focused on keeping American safe. It's no wonder that Bush II launched a poorly thought out war in Iraq and as a consequence destabilized the Middle East, creating ISIS and the current chaos. Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II did not govern by a strategic plan but rather a set of ad hoc tactics intended to improve their short-term political futures. These Republicans didn't keep us safe.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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