Category Archives: International news

No debate on Holocaust

The dust-up that erupted the other day over that North Texas public educator/nitwit who suggested that teachers ought to provide “opposing views” on the Holocaust has brought to mind this thought: Just who out there actually espouses any doubt over what occurred during World War II?

I know the answer: It’s the right-wing crackpot wing of the great divide.

Gina Peddy is a director of curriculum for the Carroll Independent School District. She was overheard telling teachers that they need to provide instruction that includes those who might question whether the Holocaust actually happened.

Well … it did. It happened. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi henchmen sought to eliminate Jews from Europe. They killed as many as 7 million Jews during World War II.

There is no legitimate “opposing view” to the historical fact of what occurred.

Peddy’s employers at Carroll ISD were quick to disavow what was overheard in that teachers’ meeting. I don’t know what they’re going to do about Peddy and whether she should stay employed by the district. That is their call; my own view is that she needs to go.

As for any serious denial of what transpired at Hitler’s grimy hands, there isn’t any to be discussed.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Our border isn’t ‘open’

How many times do I have to say this: We do not have “open borders’? 

That is the mantra being recited time and again by far right wing opponents of President Biden, who continue to insist that our borders — particularly our southern border — have been flung wide open for anyone to pour into the country.

Let’s review what just happened along the border with Mexico near Del Rio, Texas.

Thousands of Haitians congregated under an international bridge. They were fleeing corruption in their country as well as fleeing the destruction brought by a killer earthquake.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deployed Department of Public Safety officers to the border to assist Customs and Border Patrol agents in managing the chaotic scene. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials were on it, too.

Now the crowd is gone. The migrants have been sent back to Haiti, sent to third countries or are being processed to achieve legal immigrant status.

Is that a signal that we have an “open border”? No. It isn’t!

Our borders are no more “open” than they have been during the terms of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter … I’ll stop there.

Yet the critics of Joe Biden seize on the chaos brought forth and are offering the canard about “open borders” as a weapon to use against him. One of those critics, former Housing Secretary Ben Carson, writes in Newsweek, “We are encountering more people at our southern border than any other time in the last 21 years. Two months in a row, the numbers exceeded 200,000; in August 2021, the numbers represented a 317 percent increase over August of last year.”

Biden Has Effectively Opened Our Border. He Is Once Again Vindicating Trump | Opinion (msn.com)

OK, Dr. Carson. How are they responding to that influx? We aren’t just letting ’em pour in, doc! Get a grip here.

Yes, the Biden team needs to do better. Yes, they need to make their response more efficient. And, yes, we cannot tolerate the sight of mounted CBP officers herding Haitians like cattle as they seek shelter from the misery they are fleeing.

However, the border isn’t “open.”

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Biden seeks to reassure allies, warn foes

Joseph R. Biden Jr. stood before the United Nations today and delivered the kind of speech Americans — and those around the world — hadn’t heard delivered from a U.S. president in some time.

He spoke of diplomacy, of global warming, of human rights, of an end to U.S. warfare. President Biden delivered a reasoned, rationale, coherent speech to the U.N. General Assembly that was devoid of name-calling — such as “Little Rocket Man” — and some of the curious statements that would fly out of the mouth of Biden’s presidential predecessor.

To be sure, the current president has a heaping plate full of trouble. We have a refugee crisis on our southern border. We are still trying to finish extricating ourselves fully from Afghanistan. The nation is battling a COVID-19 pandemic that many of us thought was whipped four months ago.

To hear the president’s tone, though, in a speech to the world’s No. 1 diplomatic body seems to signal a return to normal diplomatic procedure, the kind of thing he promised when he ran for president in 2020.

Yes, President Biden is struggling at home. The political forces that keep digging in against him are fierce, determined and dogged in their effort to torpedo everything the wants to do.

However, I remain determined to offer my support in the efforts this president is making to repair the wreckage left by his predecessor.

Today’s speech at the U.N. took us another step toward that end.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Biden gets blame for this, too?

President Biden no doubt knew he was jumping into a briar patch when he decided to seek the presidency in 2020.

Now he’s getting pilloried for something he couldn’t possibly control, which is the flood of refugees from Haiti; they are congregating on the U.S. border near Del Rio, Texas. The United States is sending thousands of them back to Haiti.

Wait, though, for the criticism that is going to come flowing toward the Biden administration.

Why didn’t they anticipate this flood of immigrants? Why are they being mistreated by border and immigration officers? How can they allow this monumental tragedy unfold?

I will continue to stand with the president as he seeks to deal with this newest crisis on our border.

Haitians are fleeing their country, which was torn apart with the assassination of its president. Then came that killer earthquake. I guess one would want out of a nation with no stable government, let alone a stable infrastructure to withstand Earth’s awesome power.

Where do they go? To the U.S. of A.!

“We are very concerned that Haitians who are taking this irregular migration path are receiving false information that the border is open or the temporary protected status is available,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “I want to make sure that it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States.”

Border patrol criticized for treatment of Haitian migrants in Del Rio | The Texas Tribune

President Biden is getting pilloried, pounded and pummeled these days for the crisis that erupted virtually without warning. How in the world does one prepare for such a monstrous development?

Joe Biden sought the presidency twice before finally winning the office in 2020. He has been involved with politics long enough — seemingly since The Flood — to know that the realm is fraught with peril. I spent the previous four years lamenting the fecklessness of a president who didn’t listen to any of the advisers with whom he surrounded himself. He sought to live up to the mindless boast that “I, alone can fix” whatever problems arose.

President Biden isn’t wired that way. He has surrounded himself with critical thinkers and individuals seasoned in the nuanced world of international relations.

They all have a huge problem on their hands at the moment. They need to find a solution quickly. If they fail, then they will deserve the pounding they are sure to receive.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Afghanistan: Will it get better?

A young friend of ours came over this afternoon to wish us a happy 50th anniversary.

We sat in the living room and he turned back to face me and asked: What do you think about Afghanistan?  He meant the withdrawal, of course, which he described as a “mess.”

I didn’t know quite how to respond. I did not — I do not still — want to offend our young neighbor; he is too sweet of a young man and I don’t want to end up on his “bad side.”

All I could come up with was that the commander in chief, President Biden, had no choice but to end a war that had dragged on for two decades. “To what end does he stay in the fight?” I asked. I reminded our young friend that we had fought there for more than two decades. Do they keep fighting?

My friend smiled. We both changed the subject.

The inglorious end to an inglorious war is bound to bring friends to a rhetorical dead end when the subject comes up. My young friend and I agreed that it will take time for this post-Afghan War period to sort itself out.

I will continue to hope for the best outcome, which I hope means we can keep our eyes and ears dialed in to the nth degree and listen and look for any signs of trouble from the Taliban or any terrorist organization that seeks to do us harm.

My hope, then, is that we keep the drones armed and ready to strike.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Putin has it right, strange as that seems

Leave it to Russian strongman/dictator/killer Vladimir Putin to put our Afghan War effort into some sort of semi-reasonable and rational perspective.

“The result is one tragedy, one loss… American troops were present in this region, and for twenty years they tried to civilize people, and to introduce their own norms and standards of life in the broadest sense… including in the political organization of society,” Putin said. “The result is zero, if not to say that it is negative.”

He should know. Putin was a big-time spymaster while Russia was known as the Soviet Union, and during the time the Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan to seek to defeat those who opposed the Marxist regime that ran the country in the1980s.

Putin: U.S. Has Nothing, “Zilch” To Show For 20 Years Of Occupation Of Afghanistan | Video | RealClearPolitics

The communists fared no better than our forces did during the 20 years Americans fought there.

Which to my way of thinking tells me that President Biden made the right call when he ended our military engagement.

Hmm. Imagine that. President Biden and Vlad Putin agreeing on something. Who knew?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Taliban ‘declare victory’

It is worth asking: Will the Taliban, who have “declared victory” against the United States, assume a more charitable relationship with their former battlefield adversary … in the manner that Vietnamese have done with former American servicemen and women?

Our military engagement in Afghanistan has ended. The Taliban have pranced around Kabul and other cities proclaiming that they “defeated” the United States. I get how they can make that declaration, even though their battlefield losses were horrific during the 20 years we fought them. Then again, so were the Vietnamese pounded on the battlefield back then, too. Yet they persevered and were able assume control of a government we fought to defend and preserve.

The Taliban have declared victory. Now they must reckon with a country freefalling into chaos (msn.com)

I don’t know about any parallels between then and now. The Taliban are driven by a deep religious fervor steeped in Islamic fundamentalism. The North Vietnamese were driven by a communist ideology that had nothing to do with religion. 

In 1989, I had the honor of returning to Vietnam 20 years after I reported for duty in that long-ago war. The editors with whom I was traveling and I flew from Bangkok to Hanoi for the first leg of our Vietnam tour. We then flew a few days later from Hanoi to what once was known as Saigon but is now called Ho Chi Minh City … named after Uncle Ho.

I remember getting off the plane, boarding a bus and then riding to our hotel. I got off the bus and was greeted — along with my traveling companions — by a gentlemen who asked some of us if we had served there during the Vietnam War. Some of us said “yes,” to which the gentleman said — while smiling broadly — “Welcome back to our country.” 

I found that to be a moving welcome and it portended the kind of relationships we were able to build during our brief time touring Vietnam.

Will any of that be available over time to returning Afghan War vets? Time will tell. I hope for their sake they are able to return to a country that so saw much hell over the span of time we fought there.

That will depend, of course, on whether the Taliban can set aside their religious fervor. Therein lies a fundamental difference between then and now.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Recalling an expert on Afghanistan

Charles Nesbitt Wilson’s name isn’t likely to pique many people’s interest.

If you say “Good Time Charlie,” or just plain ol’ “Charlie Wilson,” then we’re talking. I am thinking of Charlie Wilson today as the nation watches its longest war end in Afghanistan.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson was a Texas Democrat and a bona fide expert on Afghanistan, its politics, its people and its struggles against foreign powers. He died in February 2010 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

I knew Wilson because of my work from 1984 until 1995 as editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. Wilson represented the Second Congressional District, which at the time included vast stretches of Deep East Texas territory where the newspaper circulated. Thus, he was one of our sources for issues relating to Congress. He and I knew each other well. I respected him greatly; I hope he thought well of the work I did on behalf of our readers.

Before he died, and before he retired from Congress in 1996, Wilson spent much of his career in public life seeking federal assistance to fighters seeking to rid themselves of Soviet domination of Afghanistan.

Wilson rode donkeys through the Khyber Pass with fighters who — regrettably — became the precursors to al-Qaeda. They were called the mujahadeen. They wrote a book and later produced a film called “Charlie Wilson’s War”; indeed, Wilson told me he was thrilled to be portrayed by Tom Hanks in the title role.

In the days after 9/11, I called Wilson at his East Texas home to get his reaction to what happened to us on that terrible day. We spoke for a long time over the phone and Wilson warned me at the time that we were in for the fight of our lives if we chose to go to war in Afghanistan. He knew of which he spoke. He sought congressional aid for the fighters doing battle against Soviet soldiers who invaded their country to prop up the Marxist government.

What might he say about the end of our war in Afghanistan? I am guessing he wouldn’t be shy about saying something like: I told you so. I told you it would be a hard fight. I told you that the Taliban wouldn’t just surrender and disappear from face of the planet.

Charlie Wilson wasn’t particularly bashful about imparting the knowledge he accrued over his years in Congress. I bear him no ill will. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, Rep. Wilson earned the right to rub our noses in it.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s over … finally!

Say whatever you wish about the end of the Afghan War.

That we can declare an end to our fighting there is in itself a moment worth saluting. Our longest war came to an end this morning when the last C-17 transport jet took off from Kabul airport, cleared Afghan air space and we declared an end to our evacuation of all U.S. citizens and allies who wanted out.

I have said since we went to war in Afghanistan 20 years ago that there could be no way for us to “declare victory” in the way we were able to do, say, at the end of World War II. Our military brass accepted the terms of surrender of enemy forces in 1945; the fighting stopped and we danced in the streets from coast to coast.

There would be no such celebration after the Korean War, certainly not after the Vietnam War, nor after this war.

Indeed, our war against terrorism is likely to persist, but without the hackneyed “boots on the ground” fighting a cunning enemy.

I will stand with President Biden’s decision to end this war. He knew what his three presidential predecessors — George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump — couldn’t understand. It was time to end a war that had gone badly not long after it started in the wake of the 9/11 attack.

President Bush went to war after 9/11 intending to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban government. He succeeded. He vowed to get the men responsible for the attack on New York and Washington. That task fell eventually to Obama’s national security team that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Trump’s team got the leader of the Islamic State.

One thing remained constant. The Afghan War kept on going.

Joe Biden took over in January. He assessed the return on the investment we were getting in Afghanistan and determined it was time to end it. Now! So … he did.

Those who write the history of this big day will need time to evaluate all the nuance attached to it. I am going venture out on that limb and presume that history will look more kindly than President Biden’s critics are viewing this landmark day in real time.

It’s over. Thank God in heaven!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Biden deserves credit, not blame

“America’s longest war has been by any measure a costly failure, and the errors in managing the conflict deserve scrutiny in the years to come. But Joe Biden doesn’t “own” the mayhem on the ground right now. What we’re seeing is the culmination of 20 years of bad decisions by U.S. political and military leaders. If anything, Americans should feel proud of what the U.S. government and military have accomplished in these past two weeks. President Biden deserves credit, not blame.”

So says, David Rothkopf, a former senior government official and a writer in an essay published in Atlantic.

Biden Deserves Credit, Not Blame, for Afghanistan – The Atlantic

I happen to agree with him. That’s no surprise, right?

What I want to underscore, though, is that despite the mistakes and the seemingly stumble-bum effort that began the evacuation, the administration, the Pentagon, the CIA have been flying evacuees out of Afghanistan by the thousands. They are holding them in safe places and are processing the evacuees.

None of this will stop the critics from yapping and yammering about the president and his national security team. Has it gone flawlessly? No. Then again, must we expect flawless execution of a withdrawal from a war that was flawed almost from its outset?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com