Articles by James Rowles

Biden’s disastrous decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistam–with links to best opinion pieces

The decision to surrender to the Taliban and abandon our Afghan allies and supporters is among the most craven and dastardly decisions in U.S. military and foreign policy history. One searches in history for a decision of such dishonorable magnitude.

The comparison that comes to mind is the agreement by Neville Chamberlain of England and Ėdouard Daladier of France with Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden in Bavaria in October, 1938. The agreement, known as the Munich Pact, has become synonymous with betrayal and appeasement

That will be Joe Biden’s legacy, unless he changes course, which seems unlikely.


Afghanistan: Biden’s Achilles Heel

More fundamentally, his failure to replace Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as head of the peace negotiations reveals he is inclined to continue Donald Trump’s “cut and run” policy, embodied in the February 29, 2020 surrender and withdrawal agreement in Doha, Qatar with the Taliban.

The Agreement does not provide even the slightest fig leaf to conceal the abject nature of the surrender to the Taliban.

By proceeding with the May 1, 2021 withdrawal date established in the Doha Agreement, or even postponing it by months, Biden would fail to recognize that the Taliban have not seriously engaged in “intra-Afghan” negotiations aimed at a peace settlement, and establishing a viable cease-fire, as called for in the Doha Agreement.

Biden is the prisoner of his 2009 thinking. He doesn’t recognize that conditions have changed. He doesn’t recognize that the current U.S. force posture and mission is essentially what he was arguing for in Barack Obama’s 2009 Afghanistan policy review.

If Biden continues on Trump’s “cut and run” course, he will be responsible for Afghanistan becoming another Iran, with the people–including those we have nurtured as advocates of democracy and the rule of law for the last 20 years–living under the harsh dictatorial rule of Islamic religious extremists, as in Iran.

Moreover, surrender in Afghanistan is not likely to enhance his negotiating position with Iran.

Biden must replace Khalilzad immediately, and conduct a fresh and new review of U.S. military and policy options in the region. He should listen to his democratic allies and, above all, to the people of Afghanistan as represented by their elected leaders.

He needs to develop a policy based on the facts on the ground today, and set aside the idea that the U.S. goal should be just to get out of Afghanistan.


China and Russia form common front against the West

One such mistake has been to grant unscripted interviews on television. In his interview with George Stephanoupoulis, on ABC-TV, Stephanapoulis asked him if he thought Vladimir Putin was “a killer”. Biden, unaccompanied by his handlers and off-script, naively answered, “Yes.”

The answer enraged Putin, who at a press conference, said,

“What would I answer him? I would tell him: be healthy,” Putin said. “I wish him good health. I say this without irony, no jokes. This is first of all.”
CNN

So, Biden’s first big mistakes vis-à-vis Russia and China were to publicly call Putin a “killer” and to adopt a confrontational attitude at the first bi-lateral meeting between foreign ministers with China.

In both cases, Buden and Blinken were playing primarily to their domestic audience. The point is not that Biden and Blinken should not have spelled out in detail their criticisms of China. The point is this was the wrong time and the wrong place.

The common front against the West should come as no surprise. Its timing has at least symbolic significance.


Biden’s looming foreign policy catastrophe in Afghanistan

The agreement is an abomination. It reflects a policy of Donald Trump which was aimed primarily at giving him an advantage in the 2020 presidential election.

It pursues the wrong goal, and was negotiated by the wrong people. It is strongly opposed by the Afghan Government of Ashraf Ghani, leading experts, and many allies whose forces (primarily from the NATO countries, in addition to the U.K and Canada ) have fought and died alongside American and Afghan soldiers, all in pursuit of what the U.S. held out to be the goal of establishing a democratic state governed by law.

Now, the United States has joined with Russia in convening a conference in Moscow attended by Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Notoriously uninvited and absent were the Europeans and the NATO members who helped make up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2001-2014, and its follow-on successor, “Operation Resolute Support”, which in principle has been focused on training.

The reason the Europeans were not invited is blazingly clear: They would never go along with a settlement which sells out the democratic government of Afghanistan, established pursuant to elections in 2018 (legislative) and 2019 (presidential), and made up of the two leading presidential candidates in 2019 and their forces. Nor would the Europeans be likely to go along with a settlement that surrenders the future of Afghan women to the Taliban.


Gov. Cuomo–Democracy and rule of law, or cancel culture: We must choose

The current campaign to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign may lead to his impeachment, but is not likely to lead to his conviction and imprisonment for a crime.

Instead, he is the latest object of a phenomenon in the United States, and some other places, which seeks to bypass legal and constitutional processes to achieve the immediate objective of a frenzied mob, often made possible or strengthened through the internet and social media. Non-public and dark forces may be behind some of these campaigns.

In the United States, at least three different “mobs” have contributed to what is often termed “cancel culture”, the abuse of power to achieve goals without due process and without following legally-established procedures for determining the truth of allegations, and determining appropriate and proportionate sanctions for crimes or infractions that may be found to have occurred.

(T)he critical distinction between predatory sexual conduct–the coercion of a woman by a man to engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct, on the one hand, and sexually inappropriate speech or other conduct (measured by contemporary standards), such as touching or verbal comments, on the other, has frequently been lost.

The Democrats, and their cancel culture mobs, are serving up a powerful cultural wedge issue for the Republicans to exploit.

So, small-minded and cynical Democrats are now endorsing mob action and circumvention of rule of law procedures to not only ascertain the veracity of the allegations against Cuomo–including those concerning nursing home death statistics, but also the nature of the punishment that would be proportionate and appropriate for the alleged infractions, should he be found guilty as charged.


Fighting the American fascists: Just imagine they are wearing Nazi military uniforms

They tell monstruous lies. They are not acting in good faith. They are silent in the face of violence. For two months they were complicit and co-conspirators with Donald Trump to overthrow the election and the Constitution.

They pay obeisance to Donald Trump, even today, after his attempted coup d’état and the Capitol Insurrection.
We should simply imagine that they are all wearing Nazi military unifirms.

When you see Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Ron Johnson,
in the Senate, for example, just imagine they are wearing Nazi military uniforms. It will clear your mind.


Truth or Consequences: “A Boycott for Truth”

The idea is simple: If you invite a guest on your program who has been telling big lies anywhere, or if you invite a guest back who has lied on your program, we will boycott all of the advertisers who support your program with their ads.

In a word, we propose a program of Truth or Consequences. The Consequences will be that millions of Americans will boycott your company and all of its products, because you support a program that spreads lies.

If the idea catches on, it could have a huge impact.


In Memoriam: The Republican Party (March 20, 1854-February 13, 2021)

While severely ailing for the last four years, The Republican Party entered its death throes and died on February 13, 2021.
This constitutional argument had been twice rejected by the full Senate, which under the Constitution has the sole authority to determine how it will proceed in impeachment cases.

Consequently, not only did the 43 Republican Senators violate their oaths of office and their oaths to do impartial justice, but they also violated the Constitution’s provision that the Senate is the sole arbiter of how it should proceed in an impeachment case, and the decision on constitutionality the Senate reached in exercising that power.
Journalist’s have been too intellectually lazy to understand and
report these details. Instead, they glibly write that Republican Senators who voted to acquit Trump justified their actions on a “technicality”.

Far from being a “technicality”, the bad-faith argument these apologists for Trump used to try to hide their craven cowardice involved fundamental precepts of the Constitution, including binding Senate determinations of whether the trial was constitutional or not.
Although the House Impeachment Managers lost their case for conviction in the Senate, they put forth a brilliant case, which convinced 57 of the 100 Senators to vote to impeach Trump.

Now, the battle must be taken to the court of public opinion, and to the polls in 1922, 1924, 1926, and beyond.


Democrats blow huge opportunity at impeachment trial, losing 57-43. But work must continue to tear down Trump’s propaganda wall.

The great political challenge we all now face is to find a way to dismantle Trump’s propaganda bubble and alternative universe, so that rational people, no longer fearful of fascist mobs and voters, can resume a politics of reason.
Yet let us not lose sight of the great success of the House Impeachment Managers in presenting a compelling case,  Let us also not lose sight of the fascist challenge that America faces, and the hard work that remains to be done to overcome it.



The Republican cancer on the American body politic

Let there be no doubt about it. The American body politic is infected by a cancer. That cancer threatens the existence and survival of American democracy. Currently all of the antibodies and forces defending the body politic are fully engaged in fighting the cancer.

The cancer on the American body politic must be killed, with the political equivalents of chemotherapy, radiation, and even surgery where necessary.

Unlike a human body, the American body politic does not have the expected lifespan of a single human life. In the case of an individual fighting cancer, remission for five or ten years might, in some cases, be regarded as a “success”.

This is not the case with the American body politic, however. A five or ten year remission of the cancer would not be sufficient to save the life of a democracy that is already 244 years old.

The cancer is represented by the current Republican Party, and most but not all of its Senators and Representatives in Congress.
Now, 50 Republican senators face a similar moment of truth.

Will they honor their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution and to defend their country against all enemies foreign and domestics, “so help me God”?

Will they honor their solemn oaths to do impartial justice in accordance with constitutions and laws in the impeachment trail of Donald J. Trump, “so help me God”?

Or will they betray their oaths, the American people, and their country, kowtowing and genuflecting instead before the false god who threatened our democracy, who attempted to stay in power through a coup d’état, the last act of which was the Capitol Insurrection?
…But you know that they have sold their souls to the Devil, that they have entered into Mephistophelean bargains they hope will give them continued political life, just as Goethe’s Faust sought to prolong his life.
These 50 Republican Senators have one last shot at redemption: they can honestly evaluate the charges in the Article o impeachment and weigh the evidence, which will lead them ineluctably to a decision to convict Donald Trump for the his attempted coup and the Capitol Insurrection on January 6, 2021.
Their decisions will mark their lives and careers for all time. It is as if their children and grandchildren, and further descendants could read on their tombstones, “He (or she) voted to honor his (or her) oaths and to save the Republic,” or “He (or she) voted to betray the Constitution and his (or her) country, and for the false god Donald Trump.

Throughout their lives, they will have to face their children and grandchildren, and every one they know or may come to know, and answer that question.

If they make the wrong choice, the shame of that choice will mark them for the rest of their days.




SECRET BALLOT: Potential Democratic maneuvers to secure a secret vote in Impeachment Trial

The Senate Democrats have the power to establish by a vote of 50+1 that the vote on whether or not Donald Trump is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors” shall be taken BY SECRET BALLOT.

But Article I of the Constitution provides that 1/5 of the members present can require a recorded vote. So even a Democratic-imposed secret ballot might not really provide a secret vote.

No one said any of this simple. Nonetheless, Democratic Senators need to figure these details out, and use them to their full advantage.

Democratic Senators need to overcome their fear of Trump and his supporters, and USE THEIR RAW POWER TO ENSURE A SECRET BALLOT on the vote to convict or acquit Trump.

A SECRET BALLOT could give Republican Senators an opportunity to rid their party of Trump, to redeem their party from its current position of being THE PARTY THAT IS THE ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY, and to start rebuilding a Republican Party based on principles of democracy and the rule of law.


Will “godless” Senate Republicans break their oaths to God, and acquit Trump?

Will “godless” Senate Republicans break their oaths to God, and acquit Trump?

If they do, they shall be forever known as the godless Republican Senators who broke their oaths to God, in abject service to the false god Donald Trump.

Their party, with their votes and those of the godless Republican Representatives in the House of Representatives, who have similarly violated their solemn oaths of office, has become the godless party of idolaters who worship Donald Trump.

May their erstwhile supporters never forget these facts, when these godless Republicans come up for re-election in 2122, 2124, or 2126.

For all history, let them be known as the godless Senators and Congressmen of the godless Republican Party who  worshipped the false god Donald Trump, and who bore false witness against their neighbors in their idolatrous support of this  false god.



“So help me God”–U.S. Senate Oath of Office and Oath as juror in impeachment trial

Therefore, there are two critical questions being addressed in the Senate trial of ex-President Donald J. Trump.

First, will all Senators honor their oaths of office and their oaths to serve as impartial jurors?

Second, is Donald Trump guilty of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” charged in the Article of Impeachment approved by the House of Representatives?

The first of the two questions may well be the more important of the two.



Democrats, use your power: Act boldly, and forget bipartisanship–for now

The Democrats have the power to act. They should act now, decisively.

The time will come for bipartisanship on some bills in the future.

But first the Democrats need to take firm control of the Senate, and seek bipartisanship in the future when the Republican goals are to solve the country’s problems, and not simply to withhold support for obstructionist and partisan ends.


The Democratic base must push back on impeachment trial against weak-kneed Democratic Senators

The Democrats in Congress now propose to hold a quick trial in the Senate which will neither convict ex-President Trump nor educate the American people as to the nature of his crimes, and his attempted coup d’état.

What will future authoritarian leaders learn from the Senate trial, and the zeal with which the Democrats prosecute the case against Trump?

The Republicans’ greatest weapon over the years has been the stpidity and cowardice of their Democratic opponents, who never seem to lose an opportunity to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.

Any Democrat who supports a motion of censure against Trump to hold him to account for his attempted coup, and the numerous crimes that it involved, should never be re-nominated or re-elected to legislative office.

Real Democrats need to stand up and call out the stupidity and cowardice of Democratic colleagues who support censure or a quickie trial that fails to present the evidence, educate the American people, and burst Trump’s propaganda bubble for what it is: Appeasement of the fascists* in our midst.