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We invaded Afghanistan to eliminate support for Osama Bin Laden and to capture the symbol of international terrorism. That is the last thing we did right. Having expelled, for the time being, the Taliban, and set a new government into action, we immediately let Osama Bin Laden slip through our fingers, pulled back our commitment to Afghanistan and embarked on a Middle East agenda that has led to disaster after disaster.

Iraq is in flames. Our troops and the Iraq government have been unable to quell the insurgency and now nearly two million refugees populate camps in Syria and Jordan. Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah gather strength by recruiting in these camps, the peace process for Palestine has long since died, the Gaza strip is again under attack, and an entire country, Lebanon, has had its infrastructure critically damaged and its citizens killed, maimed, and left homeless. Israeli citizens, too, have suffered greatly, and it now appears a majority of Israelis are as puzzled about the last month of hostilities as we are about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. We are not talking to Syria and it looks like Iran is set to be our next calculated misadventure.

What former administration can boast of such an unmitigated series of disasters? I can't think of any. The Bush administration has managed to alienate America not only to Arabs and Muslims, but it has mismanaged our international relations so badly that many of our allies are no longer standing at our side. Where in the world can we with any credibility point to any situation that is better now than it was in 2000, or even since 9/11? We have been set on a course of nation destruction, not nation building.

There is no easy solution for the many mistakes made by this administration, but we must start to deal with the complex problems our leaders have created. And unraveling this Gordian knot of miscalculations, missteps and misadventures is not the work of a month or of a year, but of perhaps of an entire generation. We must start with taking back the Senate and House of Representatives so that we can put the brake on any future disastrous efforts of this administration to further embroil us in international quagmires that make the solution to the complex problems more difficult to resolve.

That is why I am running for Congress and why I ask for your support. Not only for myself but for Fighting Dems, vets and non-vets, across the country to take back the helm of our ship of state and put us back on course to find placid waters out of harm's way from the storms we find ourselves in at present.

Here are some of the aims I would support as the representative of the people of Arizona's 8th Congressional District as a lifelong Democrat.


  • In Iraq, bring the troops home as quickly as possible. We need to reposition our forces out of Iraq, create a quick reaction force stationed nearby to deal with crises that will arise, and we need to emphasize the use of diplomacy over the use of force.

  • Recognize that we should never have put ourselves in the position of nation-building, but now that we have destroyed the previous governmental structure, we should shift responsibility for assisting the Iraqis from the Defense Department to the State Department, an agency far better equipped to deal with these tasks

  • Regain the trust of other nations with a goal of at least returning to the state of confidence and good will that existed immediately after 9/11

  • Work within the United Nations and NATO to build alliances to deal with continuing challenges in the Middle East, especially the immediate problem of how to deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability

  • Insist on the separation of powers and the responsibility of Congress for declarations of war. Congress must never again give the President blanket authority to go to do what he deems necessary and then be required to allocate funds to support troops that the President has sent to war.


I said before on an interview what I believe the crux of our Middle East problem to be and reprint what I said here again. And it is not just the Middle East that we speak of, but our environment and quality of life as well. Some of the following can be found in that interview, slightly misphrased.

We need to get off petroleum. How can I make my world a better place? We can start by trying to get this nation aware that we can have a better society without oil. Once you realize that, then you start seeing all the connections between national security, foreign policy, war and oil. Many of our problems over the past 40 years are connected to this one factor.

I honestly believe that if we would have followed what Jimmy Carter started, there would never have been all this military activity in the Middle East. He realized back then that our dependence on the region's oil was a national security issue. But then, Reagan moved into the White House, and gave us a shift toward corporate controlled America, and oil companies gained considerable political influence. The genesis of all our security problems now is based on our need to sustain our economy with oil.

At the heart of the Middle East problem, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, we have to reach out to Hamas in direct talks in the correct conditions and recognize they are the elected government of Palestine. Hamas must renounce terrorism so that we can deal with them, because they are going to make deals with Iran, Syria and Russia. We are pushing them toward the more fundamentalist side. The same is true of Hezbollah, but we do have to stop having a double standard. In Iraq we have not succeeded in disarming the militias, even those who have fought with our troops, and now they are part of the government there. Disarming Hezbollah is not an isolated case, but is true in Iraq and in Palestine as well. Dealing with these groups through negotiations within the governmental structure of the countries rather than through force is the only course left to us. Israel tried in 2001-2002 and in the recent Israel-Lebanon War to come down with an iron fist. In both cases they failed.
And certainly with respect to Iran, force is not the way to go. Bombing their nuclear facilities is only going to make matters worse. We need to fix the damage caused by the 'Axis of Evil' line from the President's State of the Union address. Military action would have only limited effect on stopping their plans. We have to have better dialogue with the Iranian. Just 6 years ago, we had made some progress toward to more liberal Iranian state, and that's gone now and we have alienated some of the reformers there. Iran should not be allowed nukes, but neither should Egypt, Israel, or Pakistan.
I support the following:


  • The use of diplomacy in dealing with any moves toward nuclear proliferation
  • Working with the United Nations to find a non-military solution to a supposed nuclear threat from Iran
  • Ensuring that any intelligence information about Iran's nuclear capacity is thoroughly documented and accurate
  • Assistance to Iran in developing non-nuclear energy resources so they will have little justification for developing nuclear energy capability that might be transferable to weaponry


I oppose:

  • A nuclear attack, which would unquestionably be a step into a world of global hostility where the rule of the last 50 years is thrown out the window
  • The use of other kinds of weapons to attack targets that are buried deeply and impervious to attack because of the reported depth and hardness of the shelters. Any attack would injure Iranian civilians and offer little or no chance of military success
  • Attempts to intimidate Iran that just impel that nation to further hostilities in fear of attack


That the Middle East is a morass is an understatement. And it will be hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after the mess the Bush administration has made in its dealings with the region. What we need, of course, is a new course for America. One that I would help steer if I am elected to the House of Representatives.

Please visit my Web site and offer any donation that you can manage.

Originally posted to Jeff Latas on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:08 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Welcome Jeff, we look forward to your (9+ / 0-)

    updates on the Middle East. And what is your take on the Katrina cleanup fiasco? Bush has not fulfilled his promises.

    •  Cronyism and Corruption (11+ / 0-)

      This disaster might not have happened if there were more people with technical degrees in control of our country. It was only a year prior to the disaster that Congress received a report stating that it would cost $60 billion if we didn't fix the levees. At the same time, they were debating the infamous bridge to nowhere for the same price. Guess which project won out in the earmark, pork-barrel spending war?

      In the last 3 1/2 years, Halliburton's contracts have increased by approximately 2,000% and their profits have increased by 400%. And yet they were awarded more no-bid contracts for the rebuilding.

      It's apparent that the cleanup is still left in the hands of the citizens who have returned to New Orleans, and many are still living in primitive condidtions. It appears that New Orleans continues to be ignored, just as it was ignored a year prior to Katrina.

      Jeff Latas for Congress www.jefflatas.com Candidate for US Congress, Arizona District 8

      by Jeff Latas on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:04:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cronys Is Cronys (5+ / 0-)

      It is interesting that some of the same construction firms profitteering in Iraq are also cashing in on Katrina.  I saw that a $33/cubic yard contract to remove debris goes through a series of subcontracts that ultimately pays a hauler $3 to actually remove that debris.  The rest?  Profit.  Apparently that's ok, since it takes a big international construction company to "clean up" in New Orleans.  

      Most of those dollars "spent in New Orleans" never even made it to Louisiana.

      Know when to seek common ground and know when to seek the high ground.

      by raoullynotnice on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:21:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why would anyone expect Bush to fufill promises? (5+ / 0-)

      Doesn't that come under the category of "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice...er... you can't fool me again."

    •  Patriotic Republicans? (3+ / 0-)

      If these flag-waving fans of the Iraqi occupation were half as patriotic as they claim to be, they would want to fully investigate the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal, and probably support impeachment.  

      There is one question I would really like to know.  Did Cheney's "energy task force" decide to take Iraq's oil before 9/11/01?  It seems clear to me that impeachable offenses have occurred.

      Know when to seek common ground and know when to seek the high ground.

      by raoullynotnice on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:37:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have you seen? (3+ / 0-)

        There's a Hummer H3 commercial bragging BRAGGING about the H3's great mileage--"They said it couldn't be done.  A Hummer that gets 20 mpg.  But we did it!"

        How about some of these patriotic Republicans use their damn bully pulpit and tell people it's patriotic to drive high mileage cars?  How about they clue people in that 20 mpg is NOT a high mileage car?

        If the flag waivers can get everyone to stick silly yellow ribbons on their cars, you'd think they could get them to shut off their cars when they run into the convenience store!

      •  I have a couple of opinions on this. (7+ / 0-)

        There are many economists who think that our invasion of Iraq was about oil, but not about taking it. It was about suppressing production so Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could continue to produce at high levels.

        I think there is more to this. In five years, we Americans will be affected by very high energy costs as the demand for oil in the global economy skyrockets. With 15 to 17 permanent military bases on top of one of the world's largest oil reserves, possession is nine tenths of the law. We then will open the oil floodgates.

        It's not practical now, since oil prices have quadrupled in the last five years and the corporate control of this market wants much more blood from this turnip. Suppressing oil production only benefits those who can produce and refine it.

        Jeff Latas for Congress www.jefflatas.com Candidate for US Congress, Arizona District 8

        by Jeff Latas on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 09:13:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'll be hanging around... (9+ / 0-)

    Until about 10:00 Pacific time if you'd like to ask any questions.

    Jeff Latas for Congress www.jefflatas.com Candidate for US Congress, Arizona District 8

    by Jeff Latas on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:58:41 AM PDT

  •  are you for full funding of the VA to let (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Latas, Salette Latas

    veterans get complete health care or do you accept that the style of the last 60 years is acceptable and they should continue doing business as usual and do you support vets being able to use attorneys in their dealing with the VA claims process

    support change: http://securingamerica.com/ccn

    by testvet6778 on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:35:55 AM PDT

    •  Currently the VA is $4 billion underfunded. (7+ / 0-)

      We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of future problems concerning the last three years of misguided attempts to occupy Iraq. Afganistan is equally important, but Iraq still is littered with tons of depleted uranuim, which will affect many of our soldiers in the future. This is the new Agent Orange. Currently, out of the 500,000 troops involved in the intial invasion of Iraq in 1991, a staggering percentage have become disabled due to exposure to DU and nerve agents spelled after our destroying weapons bunkers.

      As of last year, it was estimated that one in four troops that will need long term healthcare after our current military blunder. After Vietnam, where over 55,000 US men and women died in combat, an estemated 120,000 veterans of that conflict committed suicide. Agent Orange victims have died from all forms of cancer and their numbers are in the hundreds of thousands.

      We need to start preparing for a new wave of combat veterans that will need nedical help in the future. We no longer can avoid this reality.

      Jeff Latas for Congress www.jefflatas.com Candidate for US Congress, Arizona District 8

      by Jeff Latas on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:55:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Jeff for some (8+ / 0-)

    sane discussion of this important region.  It will take a Democratically controlled congress to stand up to President Bush, instead of rubber stamping his failed policies, to make the necessary changes and avert further disaster.

    The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

    by mikepridmore on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 09:04:10 AM PDT

  •  Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies (8+ / 0-)

    Grow Up to Be Soldiers



    Jeff Latas during Operation Desert Sheild in 1990:



    Jeff Latas with 5-year-old son Jesse welcoming fellow troops home in 1991:

    (That's from a TV news clip. You can't see what Jesse is holding in his raised arm, but it's an American flag.)



    Jeff Latas on his fifth tour of duty in the Middle East, Operation Northern Watch, 2000:



    Jesse Latas in Iraq, 2005:



    Support the troops. End the occupation.

  •  One more (4+ / 0-)

    Jesse at Walter Reed:

  •  $1.21 a word challenge (6+ / 0-)

    I have already contributed the maximum $2100 to make sure Jeff Latas represents me in Washington.
    I challenge all Kossacks to contribute $1.21 to the Jeff Latas for Congress campaign (AZ CD8) for every word they post between now and Primary day, Sept. 12th, 2006. Each $1.21 means another voter will get a DVD from the campaign with Jeff's message. Put your money where your fingers are! ;)

    •  $1.21 challenge (3+ / 0-)

      All of the discussion above shows why Jeff is the right person to send to Congress!   He has the right ideas and the right kind of experience to be effective there since he has worked in the Pentagon and with congressional committees as well as spent a lot of time in the Middle East.  

      I would accept your challenge, but I too have contributed the max.   Everyone who thinks Jeff belongs in Congress please send what you can as soon as you can!   Contribute through the web site www.jefflatas.com.  And you can also see the groundbreaking DVD on the web site too!    

  •  STRONG LEADERSHIP NEEDED IN AZ CD 8 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Latas, Salette Latas

         Jeff Latas is the only Democrat who can win against the Republicans in November for AZ Congressional District 8.  Everything in his background shows that he is the candidate for this responsibility:
    Two successful careers: Air Force Pilot in the Gulf War (Ret. Lt. Col.)
    Captain for Jet Blue
    He is battle tested & able to stand up to any threat in November
    He has a flawless background of service to family and country.
    Only candidate with a background of rigorous study in engineering, reinforced with experience in the Pentagon
    A true Progressive (endorsed by both Progressive Democrats of America and Democracy for America-Tucson) Lifelong Democrat who believes the future is worth fighting for & knows how to provide for a secure United States

        It is time to choose representatives who have technical expertise in security and environmental matters. Now is not the time for on the job training!  

          I know Jeff Latas and trust me; we can count on him not to be a typical freshman Congressman.  Jeff Latas will hit the ground running to be the best Arizona Congressman ever.

         I am certain that Karl Rove is plotting to lambaste the Democratic nominee.  Jeff Latas is, without a doubt, the strongest candidate to withstand those blows.  Jeff Latas declared his candidacy on November 11, 2005 and was willing to run against the incumbent because he is committed to getting our country on the correct track.
         It seems to me that there are forces working to support weaker candidates who would be easy targets in November.

         Please take a few minutes to view his DVD at www.jefflatas.com.
         If you want things to be different in Washington, we need to send a different kind of person to Washington.  
      I support Jeff Latas because of his intellect, integrity, experience and his sound solutions to the challenges that face our country.
       Don't be fooled by manipulated media.  It is the votes that count.
    Working to turn AZ BLUE

    •  amen to that!!! (0+ / 0-)

      jeff latas is the strongest candidate to beat a repug candidate for cd8..he has spent his life defending the constitution of the usa..and he will continue doing that in wa. d.c.  he is also the only democratic candidate that has on the ground experience in iraq (5 tours of duty) as well as working at the pentagon, and interfacing with congress..this makes him the most experienced democratic candidate...  he is hampered by other candidates having accumulated large $ war chests, a good deal of which comes from the dlc...which isn't your everyday progressive organization...anyone and everyone who wants to protect our civil rights, have a reasonable plan to withdraw from iraq and take our nation back, please send every dollar you can muster to help jeff get his message out, via tv and other media...

  •  Different conclusions, but same wrong premises. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldskooldem

    Jeff, while I am glad you oppose the occupation of Iraq, I have some serious problems with your positions here.

    First, this part, "Iran should not be allowed nukes, but neither should Egypt, Israel, or Pakistan."  One what grounds do you think we have the right to allow or not allow soveriegn nations to have what we ourselves have? Is this not exactly the same ruler-of-the-world attitude that has caused all the problems you talk about? Alienated our allies, and so on? Israel has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. We have no grounds whatsoever to try to hold them to it. Iran signed it, but I have to point out that we are far more in violation of said treaty than they are. Because the treaty stipulates that we, the US, will rid ourselves of all nuclear weapons "as soon as possible." We signed it over fourty years ago.

    We have no moral or legal grounds to allow or not allow any country in the world to have nuclear weapons. We are the only country to have used nuclear weapons. We have had at least three incidents since then where some in the government wanted to use them again (Korea, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crises). It is clear from our history and our broken treaty promises that WE are the country the rest of the world should not allow to have nuclear weapons.

    Then you say this about Israel,"Israeli citizens, too, have suffered greatly, and it now appears a majority of Israelis are as puzzled about the last month of hostilities as we are about the 2003 invasion of Iraq." This is just false. What the Israelis are puzzled about is that they went in inadequately supplied and with poor leadership. Very few do not support the action of going in. While here in the US the "reasons" to invade Iraq have dwindled to a mumble and a shrug, the Israelis are still repairing their homes and lives from the thousands of reasons that Hezbollah fired in their attempts to murder Israeli civilians.

    While you claim to be an expert on the region, statements here say otherwise."Hamas must renounce terrorism so that we can deal with them, because they are going to make deals with Iran, Syria and Russia. We are pushing them toward the more fundamentalist side. The same is true of Hezbollah, but we do have to stop having a double standard."

    Jeff, Hamas and Hezbollah are puppets and creations of Iran. They were created as fundamentalist organizations of terror and that is what they remain. It is as if you were talking about our need to keep the SS from allying with the Nazis and becoming extremist.

    And no Jeff, the issues between Israel and the Palestinians is not the source of all this instability. The source starts with the British colonial borders and continues with the US overthrow of democratic governments in Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. On their side it starts with the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia and the strong thread of aggression and violence that has existed in Islam since Mohammed set out to conquer.

    And the source of the conflict is the established fact that Jews cannot be safe living in all of the European countries, and the US refused to help us when we needed it during WWII. Of all nations, Israel is the most legitimate. The only one where the people have a legitimate proven need to live in their own nation. The solution then is not this rampant anti-semitism of the Left.

    You think you can allow or not allow Israel to have weapons it may need to defend itself? Fine. Send those 200 extra soldiers that are not committed to Iraq now and see what happens. Same thing for Iran

    And on the topic of Iran...we should trust your expertise and you talk about not "allowing" them to have nukes? I guess it is news that they have 800,000 men in a fairly decent military and just happen to be on the border with Iraq...I guess you do not know that they can easily close the straits and cut off our forces from supplies. We are at our limit trying to cope with the insurgents. What happens when 400,000 Iranians come in and the forces we have trained, who are allied to Iran, switch sides? You gonna go back and fight that one?

    Guess that would solve the question of when to withdraw though, as our troops flee, having been crushed by overwhelming attacks from all sides.

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