Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Last Call For Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

As Russia beefs up its border forces with Ukraine ahead of conflict and possible sanctions against Moscow and 3,000 US troops in Eastern Europe are now on high alert, Republicans here in the States are suddenly very interested in seeing President Biden take Vladimir Putin's position that Ukraine should drop any hope of NATO membership.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is calling on the Biden administration to drop longstanding U.S. support for Ukraine's eventual membership in NATO, arguing that a binding commitment to defend the country would undermine efforts to counter China.

Why it matters: Hawley is staking out a position increasingly supported by the Republican base but historically at odds with the mainstream GOP consensus still backed by his Senate colleagues.

Context: Former President George W. Bush and all NATO leaders agreed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine and Georgia "will become" members of the alliance — though no specific roadmap was offered at the time. 
Russia, which vigorously opposed the accession of either former Soviet republic, went on to invade Georgia later that year, and Ukraine in 2014. As Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens to renew his invasion of Ukraine with a massive military buildup on its borders, he is demanding legal guarantees that the country will never be allowed into NATO. NATO has no plans to admit Ukraine any time soon but has refused to allow Putin to set limitations on its foundational "open-door policy."

Driving the news: Ahead of a pair of all-member Ukraine briefings for the House and Senate on Thursday, Hawley is asking for "clarity" from Secretary of State Antony Blinken on how Ukraine's future membership in NATO would serve U.S. interests, according to a letter obtained by Axios. 
Hawley said he supports sending assistance that Ukraine needs to defend itself, but contends that the U.S. interest "is not so strong" to warrant going to war with Russia.
Biden himself has ruled out sending troops to Ukraine but plans to deploy forces to eastern Europe to bolster NATO's defenses — a position overwhelmingly supported by Senate Republicans.

What they're saying: "Such a deployment can only detract from the U.S. military’s ability to ready and modernize forces to deter China in the Indo-Pacific," Hawley writes, arguing that "Americans’ security and prosperity rest upon our ability" to curtail Beijing's dominance. 
"But those opportunity costs pale in comparison to what would be expected — indeed, required — of the United States, were NATO actually to admit Ukraine as a member."
Pointing to the failure of NATO member states to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, Hawley called on Biden to rethink "basic assumptions" about U.S. foreign policy that have been "collapsed" by the rise of China.


Yeah, that's the GOP argument: NATO membership for Ukraine -- or for the United States mind you -- is pointless because of China.  It's a dumb argument even for a dim bulb like Hawley.

This is nothing new of course. Trump said for years that the US would be better off without NATO.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

We're now to the point where the whitewashing of history by screaming "CRITICAL RACE THEORY!!!!" every five seconds in order to "protect" kids from being made to feel "uncomfortable" about the origins of American slavery has reached the point where the First Amendment is being dismantled in the name of America's armed forces.

A Tennessee state legislator introduced a joint resolution to "reprimand" the Associated Press (AP) for publishing an article highlighting racism within the military's ranks, saying the outlet "engaged in the lowest form of yellow journalism."

The bill, reported by a CBS/ABC-affiliate, was proposed by Republican state Rep. Bud Hulsey, who objected to an AP story that ran back in May, entitled "Deep-rooted racism, discrimination permeate US military."

In the article, AP reporters Kat Stafford, James Laporta, Aaron Morrison and Helen Wieffering interviewed "current and former enlistees and officers in nearly every branch of the armed services" who "described a deep-rooted culture of racism and discrimination that stubbornly festers, despite repeated efforts to eradicate it."

Additionally, the AP found that the military "processed more than 750 complaints of discrimination by race or ethnicity from service members in the fiscal year 2020 alone."

Hulsey's resolution contends that because the AP found 750 complaints – when there are 425,000 members of the active-duty military – racism in the ranks, by his accounting, is "uncommon and not a largescale problem."

The "allegations that members of the U.S. military are racist and that the military itself accepts a culture of discrimination are not only blatantly false," the resolution reads, "but an insult to the brave men and women who combat racism and discrimination at home and around the globe."

It also adds that "the AP has engaged in the lowest form of yellow journalism and should be held accountable by the American public and their elected officials."

The publication, for its part, has firmly stood by the article in question. Kat Stafford, one of its authors, tweeted weeks ago that she and her colleagues "spent nearly a year interviewing dozens of service members and experts – some of whom could not speak publicly out of fear of retribution. We poured over copious documents & FOIAs. We did our homework. No matter how much one tries [to] deny it, racism does exist."
The one thing that white Christian Republicans will not tolerate is the notion that systemic racism still exists in 2022 in the glorious, perfect land of God's America. Racism is a "barbarous relic of the past" that can't exist because America is the greatest country in world history. The notion that racism is still alive not only offends them, they turn to the punitive powers of the state to harm those who point out racism is in fact alive and well.

The GOP would rather pass legislation officially reprimanding a news organization's reporting on racism than actually dealing with the systemic racism in place. That's what it means to be a Republican in 2022.

And let's remember, a large majority of Christian Republicans believe they are the most persecuted group in US history. 48% of Republicans believe Christians are persecuted, more than any group in the US: Black folk, Muslims, LGBTQ+, everyone. They believe Black Americans are the least persecuted group in America, only 27% believe Black folk are persecuted.

So yes, using the power of the state to punish the messenger is exactly on brand for them. It's authoritarian and theocratic, as well as racist and furthering white supremacy's power.

The most American thing imaginable.

North Of The Border, Con't

Federal agents raided the home of a Homeland Security border official this week in Michigan, and there are a hell of a lot of questions flying around as to why.

Federal agents have raided the house of a high-ranking Department of Homeland Security official as part of an unspecified investigation, The Detroit News has learned.

Neighbors and law enforcement officials confirmed the raid happened Friday at the home of Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Vance Callender, who oversees operations in Michigan and Ohio. The search involved approximately 15 agents and lasted about six hours at a pea-green, Colonial-style home, east of downtown Royal Oak, according to an eyewitness.

News of the search has spread widely within the region's federal law enforcement community, raising questions about the conduct of a high-ranking federal official tasked with helping protect the nation's border with Canada. Callender heads a department that also investigates a wide range of crimes, including sex trafficking and child pornography, and enforces immigration and customs laws.

“First, it is important to emphasize that some rumors online about Special Agent-in-Charge Callender may be sensational; yet they are untrue," his lawyer, Nick Oberheiden, wrote in an email to The Detroit News. "With respect to allegations of an investigation, we refrain from further comments at this point — out of respect for SAC Callender’s credentials and his position.”

It is unclear what prompted the search, and Callender, 49, has not been charged with wrongdoing. He could not be reached for comment and a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not discuss Callender's job status.

“As public servants working for a law enforcement agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes allegations of misconduct very seriously," the spokeswoman said.

"Any allegations of misconduct are appropriately investigated, and any employee, regardless of rank or seniority, who has committed provable misconduct, will be held accountable. Where necessary, ICE works with federal and/or state and local law enforcement who may investigate such allegations. Per agency protocol, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) will also review the allegations.”

Callender has spent 26 years in law enforcement and overseen Homeland Security operations in Michigan and Ohio since January 2020. He previously served as the department's operations chief for Europe, Canada and Mexico. Most recently, Callender was tapped to coordinate Operation Allies Welcome, a department effort to resettle Afghan refugees. The operation is headquartered at Fort McCoy, a U.S. Army base in Wisconsin.
To recap, Mitch Callender is a career law enforcement professional who was in charge of major Homeland Security operations on the Canadian border. For all these federal agencies to be involved, the potential for wrongdoing must be sky high.

Feds don't raid the homes of career Homeland Security agents without a very, very good reason.

I suspect we'll have that reason soon.
Related Posts with Thumbnails