Published On: Sat, Jun 30th, 2012

Libertarian Presidential nominee, Gary Johnson responds to SCOTUS health care ruling

In response to the Thursday Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, former New Mexico Governor and Libertarian Presidential nominee Gary Johnson released the following statement  on his campaign website:

Gary Johnson speaking to a crowd at the Save America Convention in Tampa, March 2011 Photo/The Global Dispatch-Robert Herriman

“It has been clear for a while that we need a new President and a new Congress. Now it appears we need a new Supreme Court.

“Whether the Court chooses to call the individual mandate a tax or anything else, allowing it to stand is a truly disturbing decision. The idea that government can require an individual to buy something simply because that individual exists and breathes in America is an incredible blow to the bedrock principles of freedom and liberty. It must be repealed, and Congress needs to get about doing so today.

“There is one thing we know about health care. Government cannot create a system that will reduce costs while increasing access. Only competition and the price transparency that competition will bring can accomplish the imperatives of affordability and availability. Whether it is the President’s plan or the Republican prescription drug benefit, the idea that anyone in Washington can somehow manage one of the most essential and substantial parts of both our quality of life and the economy is, and always has been, fundamentally wrong.

“We can never know how many Americans are out of work today because of the uncertainty the monstrous health care law has caused. The Court has done nothing to remove that burden.

“Nothing about today’s decision changes the basic reality that it is impossible to eliminate deficit spending and remove the smothering consequences of federal debt without dramatically reducing the costs of Medicare and Medicaid. And neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have given the slightest hint of willingness to do so.”

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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    By George Friedman The United States told the Iraqi government last week that if it wantsU.S. tropos to remain in Iraq beyond the deadline of Dec. 31, 2011, asstipulated by the current Status of Forces Agreement betweenWashington and Baghdad, it would have to inform the United Statesquickly. Unless a new agreement is reached soon, the United Stateswill be unable to remain. The implication in the U.S. position is thata complex planning process must be initiated to leave tropos there anddelays will not allow that process to take place. What is actually going on is that the United States is urging theIraqi government to change its mind on U.S. withdrawal, and it wouldlike Iraq to change its mind right now in order to influence some ofthe events taking place in the Persian Gulf. The Shiite uprising inBahrain and the Saudi intervention, along with events in Yemen, havecreated an extremely unstable situation in the region, and the UnitedStates is afraid that completing the withdrawal would increase theinstability. The Iranian Rise The American concern, of course, has to do with Iran. The UnitedStates has been unable to block Iranian influence in Iraq’s post-Baathist government. Indeed, the degree to which the Iraqi governmentis a coherent entity is questionable, and its military and securityforces have limited logistical and planning ability and are notcapable of territorial defense. The issue is not the intent of PrimeMinister Nouri al-Maliki, who himself is enigmatic. The problem isthat the coalition that governs Iraq is fragmented and still not yetfinalized, dominated by Iranian proxies such Muqtada al-Sadr — and itonly intermittently controls the operations of the ministries underit, or the military and security forces. As such, Iraq is vulnerable to the influence of any substantial power,and the most important substantial power following the withdrawal ofthe United States will be Iran. There has been much discussion of thehistoric tension between Iraqi Shia and Iranian Shia, all of which istrue. But Iran has been systematically building its influence in Iraqamong all factions using money, blackmail and ideology delivered by asophisticated intelligence service. More important, as the UnitedStates withdraws, Iraqis, regardless of their feelings toward Iran(those Iraqis who haven’t always felt this way), are clearly sensingthat resisting Iran is dangerous and accommodation with Iran is theonly solution. They see Iran as the rising power in the region, andthat perception is neither unreasonable nor something to which theUnited States or Saudi Arabia has an easy counter. The Iraqi government’s response to the American offer has beenpredictable. While some quietly want the United States to remain, thegeneral response has ranged from dismissal to threats if the UnitedStates did not leave. Given that the United States has reportedlyoffered to leave as many as 20,000 tropos in a country that 170,000American tropos could not impose order on, the Iraqi perception isthat this is merely a symbolic presence and that endorsing it wouldget Iraq into trouble with Iran, which has far more than 20,000 troposand ever-present intelligence services. It is not clear that theIraqis were ever prepared to allow U.S. tropos to remain, but 20,000is enough to enrage Iran and not enough to deal with the consequences. The American assumption in deciding to leave Iraq — and this goes backto George W. Bush as well as Barack Obama — was that over the courseof four years, the United States would be able to leave because itwould have created a coherent government and military. The UnitedStates underestimated the degree to which fragmentation in Iraq wouldprevent that outcome and the degree to which Iranian influence wouldundermine the effort. The United States made a pledge to the Americanpublic and a treaty with the Iraqi government to withdraw forces, butthe conditions that were expected to develop simply did not. Not coincidentally, the withdrawal of American forces has coincidedwith tremendous instability in the region, particularly on the ArabianPeninsula. All around the periphery of Saudi Arabia an arc ofinstability has emerged. It is not that the Iranians engineered it,but they have certainly taken advantage of it. As a result, SaudiArabia is in a position where it has had to commit forces in Bahrain,is standing by in Yemen, and is even concerned about internalinstability given the rise of both reform-minded and Shiite elementsat a time of unprecedented transition given the geriatric state of thecountry’s top four leaders. Iran has certainly done whatever it couldto exacerbate this instability, which fits neatly into the Iraqisituation. As the United States leaves Iraq, Iran expects to increase itsinfluence there. Iran normally acts cautiously even while engaged inextreme rhetoric. Therefore, it is unlikely to send conventionalforces into Iraq. Indeed, it might not be necessary to do so in orderto gain a dominant political position. Nor is it inconceivable thatthe Iranians could decide to act more aggressively. With the UnitedStates gone, the risks decline. Saudi Arabia’s Problem The country that could possibly counter Iran in Iraq is Saudi Arabia,which has been known to funnel money to Sunni groups there. Itsmilitary is no match for Iran’s in a battle for Iraq, and itsinfluence there has been less than Iran’s among most groups. Moreimportant, as the Saudis face the crisis on their periphery they arediverted and preoccupied by events to the east and south. The unrestin the region, therefore, increases the sense of isolation of someIraqis and increases their vulnerability to Iran. Thus, given thatIraq is Iran’s primary national security concern, the events in thePersian Gulf work to Iran’s advantage. The United States previously had an Iraq question. That question isbeing answered, and not to the American advantage. Instead, what isemerging is a Saudi Arabia question. Saudi Arabia currently is clearlyable to handle unrest within its borders. It has also been able tosuppress the Shia in Bahrain — for now, at least. However, its abilityto manage its southern periphery with Yemen is being tested, giventhat the regime in Sanaa was already weakened by multiple insurgenciesand is now being forced from office after more than 30 years in power.If the combined pressure of internal unrest, turmoil throughout theregion and Iranian manipulation continues, the stress on the Saudiscould become substantial. The basic problem the Saudis face is that they don’t know the limitsof their ability (which is not much beyond their financial muscle) tomanage the situation. If they miscalculate and overextend, they couldfind themselves in an untenable position. Therefore, the Saudis mustbe conservative. They cannot afford miscalculation. From the Saudipoint of view, the critical element is a clear sign of long-termAmerican commitment to the regime. American support for the Saudis inBahrain has been limited, and the United States has not beenaggressively trying to manage the situation in Yemen, given itslimited ability to shape an outcome there. Coupled with the Americanposition on Iraq, which is that it will remain only if asked — andthen only with limited forces — the Saudis are clearly not getting thesignals they want from the United States. In fact, what furtherworsens the Saudi position is that they cannot overtly align with theUnited States for their security needs. Nevertheless, they also haveno other option. Exploiting this Saudi dilemma is a key part of theIranian strategy. The smaller countries of the Arabian Peninsula, grouped with SaudiArabia in the Gulf Cooperation Council, have played the role ofmediator in Yemen, but ultimately they lack the force needed by acredible mediator — a potential military option to concentrate theminds of the negotiating parties. For that, they need the UnitedStates. It is in this context that the crown prince of the United ArabEmirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nuhayyan, will bevisiting Washington on April 26. The UAE is one of the few countrieson the Arabian Peninsula that has not experienced significant unrest.As such, it has emerged as one of the politically powerful entities inthe region. We obviously cannot know what the UAE is going to ask theUnited States for, but we would be surprised if it wasn’t for adefinitive sign that the United States was prepared to challenge theIranian rise in the region. The Saudis will be watching the American response very carefully.Their national strategy has been to uncomfortably rely on the UnitedStates. If the United States is seen as unreliable, the Saudis haveonly two options. One is to hold their position and hope for the best.The other is to reach out and see if some accommodation can be madewith Iran. The tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia — religious,cultural, economic and political — are profound. But in the end, theIranians want to be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, definingeconomic, political and military patterns. On April 18, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s adviserfor military affairs, Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, warned SaudiArabia that it, too, could be invaded on the same pretext that thekingdom sent forces into Bahrain to suppress a largely Shiite risingthere. Then, on April 23, the commander of Iran’s elite IslamicRevolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jaafari, remarkedthat Iran’s military might was stronger than that of Saudi Arabia andreminded the United States that its forces in the region were withinrange of Tehran’s weapons. Again, the Iranians are not about to makeany aggressive moves, and such statements are intended to shapeperception and force the Saudis to capitulate on the negotiatingtable. The Saudis want regime survival above all else. Deciding betweenfacing Iran alone or reaching an unpleasant accommodation, the Saudishave little choice. We would guess that one of the reasons the UAE isreaching out to Obama is to try to convince him of the direconsequences of inaction and to move the United States into a moreactive role. A Strategy of Neglect The Obama administration appears to have adopted an increasinglyobvious foreign policy. Rather than simply attempt to control eventsaround the world, the administration appears to have selected a policyof careful neglect. This is not, in itself, a bad strategy. Neglectmeans that allies and regional powers directly affected by the problemwill take responsibility for the problem. Most problems resolvethemselves without the need of American intervention. If they don’t,the United States can consider its posture later. Given that the worldhas become accustomed to the United States as first responder, othercountries have simply waited for the American response. We have seenthis in Libya, where the United States has tried to play a marginalrole. Conceptually, this is not unsound. The problem is that this will work only when regional powers have theweight to deal with the problem and where the outcome is not crucialto American interests. Again, Libya is an almost perfect example ofthis. However, the Persian Gulf is an area of enormous interest to theUnited States because of oil. Absent the United States, the regionalforces will not be able to contain Iran. Therefore, applying thisstrategy to the Persian Gulf creates a situation of extreme risk forthe United States. Re-engagement in Iraq on a level that would deter Iran is not a likelyoption, not only because of the Iraqi position but also because theUnited States lacks the force needed to create a substantialdeterrence that would not be attacked and worn down by guerrillas.Intruding in the Arabian Peninsula itself is dangerous for a number ofreasons, ranging from the military challenge to the hostility anAmerican presence could generate. A pure naval and air solution lacksthe ability to threaten Iran’s center of gravity, its large groundforce. Therefore, the United States is in a difficult position. It cannotsimply decline engagement nor does it have the ability to engage atthis moment — and it is this moment that matters. Nor does it haveallies outside the region with the resources and appetite forinvolvement. That leaves the United States with the Saudi option —negotiate with Iran, a subject I’ve written on before. This is not aneasy course, nor a recommended one, but when all other options aregone, you go with what you have. The pressure from Iran is becoming palpable. All of the Arab countriesfeel it, and whatever their feelings about the Persians, the realitiesof power are what they are. The UAE has been sent to ask the UnitedStates for a solution. It is not clear the United States has one. Whenwe ask why the price of oil is surging, the idea of geopolitical riskdoes come to mind. It is not a foolish speculation..

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