FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Just Ask Boehner

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

A savage-creating stubborn-pulling fellow. . . .

— Aristophanes, Frogs 405 B.C.

There are many unkind things one can say about John Boehner, all of them true, but there must be a limit.  It is unfair to compare him to Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq or Hamid Kharzai of Afghanistan.  Not that the comparison is not almost irresistibly tempting.

Because of Mr. al-Maliki’s intransigence when negotiating with President Bush in 2008, Iraq and the United States were unable to enter into a status-of-forces agreement that the two countries had hoped to arrive at by July 31, 2008. Mr. al-Maliki refused to agree to the terms insisted upon by the United States the most important of which pertained to granting legal immunity to U.S. troops and Defense Department personnel from Iraqi prosecution for alleged crimes.  Mr. al-Maliki and his government were under great pressure to reject any agreement that was perceived to infringe upon Iraqi sovereignty.  On November 27, 2008 the Iraqi Parliament ratified a Status of Forces Agreement with the United States that provided all U.S. combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30,2009 and all U.S. forces would be out of that country by December 31, 2011.   In December 2011 U.S. forces withdrew. It all worked out as Mr. al-Maliki hoped but for one small detail.  Iraqi forces cannot keep the peace. Since the agreement was signed and through September 2013, 10,864 Iraqis have been killed and 10,394 Iraqis have been injured as a result of conflicts between Sunnis and Shiites.  During the first six days of October, 135 Iraqis were killed including 12 school children whose elementary school was attacked.  On the 7th day of October 59 people were killed.  No one has died because of Mr. Boehner’s intransigence.

It is not fair to compare Mr. Boehner to Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai.  Just as Mr. Boehner and the administration have reached an impasse in their talks, so, too, have the United States and Afghanistan reached an impasse in their talks as to the future of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2013. Mr. Karzai wants U.S. forces out of the country in 2014 but wants the United States to guarantee the country’s security.  If following the withdrawal of forces by the U.S. the Afghan forces are unable to control the violence or insurgents from Pakistan, Mr. Karzai wants a guarantee that the U.S. will return to help.  Another sticking point is the U.S. insistence that it wants to continue to hunt down al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan.  Mr. Karzai doesn’t want U.S. troops hunting in Afghanistan unless specifically invited to do so by Afghanistan.  He wants the U.S. to turn over information about al-Qaida operatives to the Afghan forces and let those forces deal with the problem.  Those are the same forces that Mr. Karzai thinks will be unable to maintain peace and security in Afghanistan and, therefore, wants the U.S. to guarantee that it will return to help out if those fears are well founded.

Just as Mr. Boehner keeps going back to his Republican caucus to see what to do to resolve the impasse in the U.S.  Mr. Karzai has announced that he will convene the Loya Jirga assembly of local representatives to see what he should do.  Explaining his reasons Mr. Karzai sounds like Mr. Boehner talking about the Republicans in his caucus.  Mr. Karzai said: “The people of Afghanistan are the rulers, the decisions of the country lie with the people of Afghanistan, so whatever the people of Afghanistan decide, the government will obey.” Mr. Karzai explains he will submit “all aspects” of the agreement to the assembly.  Like Mr. Karzai, Mr. Boehner cannot make any decisions without consulting with his caucus.  As Mr. Karzai explains when contemplating the possibility that NATO troops will all be withdrawn absent an agreement he said:  “The agreement has to suit Afghanistan’s interests and purposes.  If it doesn’t suit us and if it doesn’t suit them then naturally we will go separate ways.”

Mr. Boehner is also going his separate way.  No one has died because of his actions.  Of course more than 7,000 children enrolled in head start programs have no place to go, employees at those schools are left without incomes.  If the shutdown lasts through November 87,000 children will be impacted. Michigan plans to eliminate cash and food aid to the poor.  Nutrition aid programs for women and children in North Carolina have been closed.  Those are just tiny examples of the effects of the shutdown.  And, of course, none of that compares with the level of violence that will certainly hit Afghanistan if NATO forces pull out of that country without an agreement for its security in place. In the U.S. no one will be killed because of the shutdown.  A few might starve but that’s a small price to pay for living in one of the best-run countries in the world. Just ask John Boehner.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail