For a long time, people thought our solar system revolved around the Earth. Copernicus (or Galileo to some) came around and proved the planets revolved around our Sun.

Models are important - they are the perspective of an individual's perception of any given event. Models are always biased, but the objective should be to choose a model with the least bias possible.

How is this achieved?

Scrutinize opposing aspects, think critically, and have an open mind.

"All Truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

- Arthur Schopenhauer

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.

- Mark Twain

These opinions below may be my own or may belong to the authors whom I reference. They are posted for the benefit of mankind, so that we may collectively achieve a common ground and transition into a new golden era as seamlessly as possible.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goodbye Petraeus, Hillary, Panetta, Geithner, Holder, ...

Could Obama be the Godspend we've been waiting for?  Or will it be more of the same?  Seems like there will be new players in the game come January.

As President Obama is getting ready to start his second term, it seems that a number of prominent figures in his administration are leaving or will be leaving office.

Today, there was a bombshell announcement that General Petraeus has resigned from his post as the Director of the CIA, ostensibly because of an extra-marital affair. He has received some criticism recently because of the confusion over the Benghazi deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three former Navy SEALs who apparently requested assistance from the CIA when "terrorists" attacked the U.S. Consulate. He was scheduled to testify before Congress about the Benghazi affair, but now that testimony has been cancelled.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that she is leaving office either before or soon after inauguration day on January 20, 2013. There are speculations that she will try to run for president again in 2016. But, it is too early to speculate on this issue at this time.

There are also rumors that Secretary of Defense Panetta who at 74 is the oldest member of the Cabinet will be leaving soon.

Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner has also said that he plans to leave office after the national debt debate. But, it is not clear that there will be any end to the looming Washington debate about taxes, the "fiscal cliff" and the deficit. More than likely, a band-aid solution will be adopted. So, it is not clear when he will leave.

Finally, Attorney General Eric Holder also announced yesterday that he may leave office. He said, "That’s something that I’m in the process now of trying to determine.”

There are already speculations about who will take the places of the departing Cabinet members. Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano will likely replace Attorney General Holder according to the Washington Post.

Replacement candidates for Treasury Secretary Geithner include White House chief of staff Jack Lew and former Bill Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles.

Hillary Clinton's most likely replacement would be Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (a Republican) or Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

Potential replacement for Secretary of Defense Panetta include Ashton Carter, currently Panetta’s deputy, and Michelle Flournoy, the former undersecretary of Defense for Policy who was the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the Pentagon. Others mentioned include National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a senior member of Armed Services and West Point graduate, and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).

In conclusion, it is interesting to review the performance of some of the figures who are leaving office. General Petraeus was the architect of the "surge" in Iraq and had a critical role in turning the Iraq war from a disaster to a moderate success militarily. But, as the Director of the CIA, he has been responsible for a major expansion of the drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. By one estimate, a drone attack kills 49 innocent people on the average for every so-called "militant" that it kills.

Secretary of State Clinton has generally received praise for her wide travels and for her confident dealings with world leaders. But, during her tenure not much has been accomplished in improving the relations between the United States and many other countries in the world. Relations with EU have been good, but the financial collapse of Europe makes EU less important now. Relations with Russia have been at best poor. Tensions remain with China. Numerous leftist governments have come to power in Latin America so that the influence of the United States in the Southern Hemisphere is now probably lower than at any time in recent history. In particular, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Paraguay all have left-leaning governments now. Relations with Israel are tense. Absolutely no progress has been made in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the acrimonious relations with Iran have dragged on endlessly with the continuation of the silly carrot-and-stick policy that is going nowhere as stated in a previous article.

Secretary Panetta came to office at the Defense Department with little military experience. His initial months in office were characterized by a comedy of errors and misstatements. His more recent performance has also been lackluster considering the fact that the war in Afghanistan has become a quagmire from which there seems to be no escape.

Secretary Geithner has been criticized as an apologist for Wall Street by the former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Sheila Bair.

To consider one of the candidates to replace Hillary Clinton in the position of Secretary of State, Susan Rice has been one of the worst ambassadors to the United Nations in recent years, except of course for John Bolton, partly because of her tense relations with ambassadors from other countries.

Some members of Congress are already calling for her resignation because of her pronouncements about the Benghazi affair which have been termed as misinformation. Also, her pronouncements on Iran for the last four years have consisted mainly of the repetition of the phrase, "Iran must meet its international obligations." Of course, no one seems to know what these obligations are and how Iran can meet them.

Finally, Rice has been criticized for skipping the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during the recent General Assembly meeting. Apparently she went out to lunch during Netanyahu's speech. For all these reasons, it is certainly hoped that President Obama will not appoint her as the replacement for Hillary Clinton.

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