Convicted Blackwater guards had become terrorists

April 14, 2015

When I saw the headline and the lead of the story that said one Blackwater security guard got a life sentence and three others 30 years for killing Iraqi civilians I had mixed emotions — at first.

I mean I detest the fact that the U.S. (my country) hired private mercenaries at higher pay than army soldiers and that the firm got the job because its founder contributed to the Republican Party, the party of the president who pushed us into a war of choice (his choice), but on the other hand this was war, and bad, ugly things happen in war. And could regular soldiers be prosecuted in similar circumstances?

But then I read some of the details. I mean I was not there. I only know what I read. But it seems as if these security guards got way too carried away and indeed thought there was no law for them.

And American soldiers have been prosecuted for wrongful deaths in war in Iraq, I recall.

It kind of reminds me of the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.

We go into a country ostensibly to help the people of that country. But those we send to fight get confused and the native people become the enemy.

Those security guards killed innocent civilians and in the process bolstered the message of the terrorists that Americans are the enemy.

Those sent to help fight the war on terror had become terrorists themselves.

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Three hundred a few days ago turns into 750 U.S. troops in Iraq…

July 1, 2014

Well that was quick. A few days ago we were sending a mere 300 troops or military advisors back to Iraq (plus drones), no boots on the ground, or at least not a substantial force. We were emphatically NOT getting back into the war — Obama promised that. Now we are bringing the total up to 750 for security reasons.

I think if you read the history of Vietnam (and I know I have constantly used Vietnam an analogy, but is so often fits) you will see that at one point we sent in Marines to guard airfields. Well strange thing, the enemy shot at them and then we went whole hog and at the height had committed a half million of our military there.

And ironies of all ironies, the news today is that Ahmad Chalabi, the character who misguided the George W. Bush administration about the apparently non-existent weapons of mass destruction and who used this device to siphon millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars via the CIA into his own pockets, is in the running to be the next prime minister of Iraq. So to use another Vietnam analogy, we would be put into the position of supporting another corrupt leader in an unwinnable war.

Iraq is not Vietnam. But it has the potential of being even worse.

(And today communist — but essentially capitalist in economics — Vietnam is a peaceful trading partner with the United States.)

I don’t for a minute question the danger to the United States and the free world of so-called Islamic militants getting more of a foothold in the region, but we should not again let ourselves be drug into the quagmire. We have to find other means of fighting the terrorists.

If the terrorists do take hold in the region, one day in the future the inhabitants will look around and wonder why the rest of the world has it so much better and cast off the yoke of oppression.

It happened in Eastern Europe. And in a peaceful way.

Really the people there have to make a decision.


Iraq crisis is shades of Vietnam…

June 19, 2014

 

UPDATE: Since first posting this it has now been announced that the U.S. will be sending in 300 military advisors in the current Iraqi crisis, and it looks like it has been concluded by the Obama administration that the current Iraqi leader, Maliki, cannot be the person to head a new unity government.

Also, President Obama now has repeated that he has no intention of sending in combat troops (beyond the advisors). But President Lyndon Johnson vowed not to send in American boys to do what Vietnamese boys should be doing. And then he sent in a half million troops. We have already lost 4,500 of our own in the Iraq War and thousands more were gravely wounded. We had declared it over (for us). The pressure will be intense on Obama not to make it a lost cause.

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Shades of Vietnam, kind of. We have a corrupt and non-representative government in Iraq we have supported. Meanwhile, the enemy is at the gates, and we don’t want to send in ground troops but it looks like we will send in military advisors. And what comes next? Well of course the enemy will shoot back and we will then send in more troops. Unlike Vietnam we have already fought this war. We just did not finish it — oh, like Vietnam. Over simplistic analysis and not right on I know. But on enough I think. I’ll try to write more later.

…Well jus time to add this: now there are reports that some factions within the Iraqi government have asked U.S. support to oust their present leader Maliki. Hope this does not turn out to be like the time we backed the murder of the head of the South Vietnamese government, Diem. But on the other hand, Maliki needs to go. He seems to be the cause of the current crisis.

The United States should have not got into the mess of nation building but we did, we just did not stick with it. What to do now? Whatever we do, half measures will not work. We either need to write the whole thing off or on the other hand be prepared to do it right.

Geesh terrorists taking over a major oil supply. That is not good.


Is Iran on our side now? This is all crazy…

June 13, 2014

UPDATE: The news since I first posted all of this is that now President Obama has ruled out sending in U.S. ground troops but other options remain under consideration.

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This is all crazy. Iraq is disintegrating in sectarian fighting and now there is the prospect of Iran taking part and actually being on our (U.S.) side to protect the Shiite government they back, as opposed to the Sunni militants (who are the old Saddam Hussein people, arch enemy of Iran). You may recall the U.S. at one time backed Iraq (Saddam Hussein) in its war against Iran. Maybe we were on the wrong side. Whatever, mixed up in all of this are the Islamic terrorists who would impose harsh Sharia law on all — no rights for women, and no individual rights for anyone really. Whether we should have ever got mixed up in all of this is one thing, but mixed up we got. We spent millions of dollars and suffered much loss of human life with thousands killed and severely wounded (for life) and then walked away with nothing.

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Are we going back to Iraq?

The US’s war in Iraq was supposed to be over and now it was on to winding down our involvement in Afghanistan.

But militants are taking over, threatening the government there we helped create (albeit the one who for all intents and purposes kicked us out). But secretly it asked us recently for some air support against the militants.

And now after declaring our involvement Iraq over President Barack Obama says nothing is off the table, all options are being considered, in the crisis there.

Let’s see: Vietnam, Iraq (two times, now three?), and Afghanistan (where the Taliban is just waiting for us to leave in order to take over).

Is there something similar in all of these?

When you don’t fight a war to win you lose.

Don’t get into war unless you have the stomach to win.

How can our leaders look into the eyes on the faces of the loved ones of those who have died in these wars?

So much sacrifice. For what?

P.s.

It seems to me that the only sensible way to have handled things was to go for all-out victory and then impose rule by a transition government of our creation and stay engaged. If that was not practical then we should have not been involved in the first place. If we go back now I doubt half measures will work. It’s a tough decision. Do we have leadership here in the United States capable of handling it? Not sure of that at all…

 


Comparing JFK assasination to 9/11, and have our own security concerns turned us into a police state we’ve always fought against?

November 4, 2013

I’m not sure what has been the most momentous thing to happen in current events in my lifetime, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or the 9/11 attack on the U.S.

With the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination coming up (Nov. 22) I was thinking of those two events. In my life, perhaps, the JFK assassination has had more significance. I was a freshman in high school. I paid attention to current events and read a weekly news magazine and watched Huntley-Brinkley and Walter Cronkite newscasts on TV. I knew that not everyone loved JFK even if the hype in popular culture seemed to indicate otherwise. Still, he and his family were something different and exciting for much of the public. The president was relatively young (in his 40s), when compared to the previous presidents, and I guess JFK and wife Jackie and children Caroline and John John were the first mediagenic first family. And JFK had that strange but fun-to-listen-to Boston/Irish accent where he pronounced Cuba as “cuber”, and in his press conferences, of which he held many, he would flash that magic, magnetic smile, often along with some expression of wry humor often via innuendo, which to any guy seemed cool and probably to any girl or woman, well, whatever…

But when it came to things like the Cuban Missile Crisis when the nation was actually concerned that it might end up in nuclear war at any second with the standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, he presented himself as a steady reassuring hand as he soberly addressed the public. He just seemed to say the right thing.

They say he was not a top student at Harvard (I don’t know, maybe he kept up the “gentleman’s c”) but he was eloquent in speech and always seemed to make the well-reasoned and convincing case.

He was staunchly pro-civil rights but had to deal with the political realities of the times. It would take the older and much more seasoned congressional wheeler-dealer Lyndon Johnson, JFK’s vice president, to push the civil rights legislation through after he assumed the presidency, upon the assassination of JFK.

The assassination of JFK blew our whole world apart. While he had his detractors much of the nation seemed enthralled with him and his family. They were like royalty almost. And maybe that is what someone or ones were afraid of.

I’m not a conspiracy buff by any means. But I have to wonder if his assassination was not a CIA job. That theory has been posited before of course. I have a book by some woman who claims to have been a lover of Fidel Castro (I mean one of his lovers) and who claims that she was with the CIA and that they were mad about JFK’s abandoning the Anti-Castro forces in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs operation. I think her book is rather obscure and she may have well been just trying to make some money. You think? But still…

We know that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin. We also know that he did not just pop up out of nowhere. The CIA and the FBI already knew about him and yet why did they not make sure where he was that fateful day in Dallas? Well, back then maybe we did not have that much capability in tracking people? (We had a hard time finding Osama Bin Laden is nearly plain sight.)

And what made me think of all of this is the recent and ongoing revelations as to how much our own government via the National Security Agency and other intelligence branches is spying on its own citizens — eavesdropping on phone calls, emails, and other world-wide web data. It is also spying on friendly foreign leaders and in the process the president himself (which he claims not to have known about — and that is bad either way). I mean what possible reason or justification is there to spy on our allies? And is not an agency dangerous if it is spying on the president? J. Edgar Hoover, the late director of the FBI, was infamous for blackmailing high officials with the dossiers he held on them.

And then to 9/11. In the first direct attack on U.S. soil since the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a group of terrorists pulled off the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, hijacked four airliners, and ran one into the Pentagon. And the baffling thing is that our intelligence agencies had the names of these guys and I guess their descriptions on their watch list and yet they were allowed to board airliners. Okay probably too paranoid conspiracy-centric here, but did someone want this to happen? We know that forces behind the rather dim-witted former president George W. Bush were pushing for war in the Middle East and even published a paper that opined we needed a new Pearl Harbor to wake the electorate up — and along comes 9/11 with the numbers of dead very close, close to 3,000 in each.

The death of JFK put LBJ in office. I have no doubt that he had good intentions, but he was perplexed over what to do about the ongoing situation in Vietnam, threatened by an ongoing insurgency that would result in a communist takeover of South Vietnam. And it was simply understood at the time that we had to stop communism anywhere we could. While JFK was trying to keep from sending actual American combat troops there, while supporting the anti-communist side nonetheless — we only had military advisers in the theatre — LBJ eventually sent as many as a half million U.S. troops there, even though he knew from almost the start that the situation was hopeless. But ever since China was lost to the communists in 1949 during a Democratic administration, Democrats had to be on guard not to lose anything else. The fear of being weak in the face of the communist threat forced President Harry Truman to send troops to save South Korea (a highly unpopular move at the time).

And the lives of so may young Americans (and the their loved ones) were forever changed by LBJ’s actions. I probably would not have gone into the Army if it were not for the Vietnam. In some kind of twisted logic I joined the Army, figuring I would be drafted soon enough anyway. The draft lottery had not been put into place at that time. But I was sent to Germany. But one of my brothers was grabbed by Uncle Sam and put into the Army and sent to Vietnam. Fortunately he did his tour and came home safe and sound. But such was not the case for nearly 60,000 American troops who died and thousands more who were gravely wounded. And besides that: all the lives torn apart. Wives who lost husbands and parents who lost children and so on.

(Even though I joined the Army I was not much of a soldier, but I am glad I served if for no other reason than I can say I served. I am proud that all the boys in my family served. My oldest brother served 20 years in the U.S. Navy.)

So, anyway, the 9/11 disaster was used as a pretext to get our nation into war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We all know what that has wrought, nearly 7,000 dead Americans over a decade (thousands more wounded) with no discernible good to have come of it and trillions of dollars drained from our treasury. But of course we can’t afford to guarantee health care to our own citizens, the troubled Obamacare program notwithstanding, and have to cut back on aid to the poor, and we fail to invest in our infrastructure.

So, it is hard to choose as to which event was more momentous, the JFK assassination, or 9/11. There is no correct answer. It depends upon your age, really, and your own personal situation (you may have lost someone in the current wars).

And then again, with the result that intelligence agencies have been so emboldened to turn on the public they are supposed to protect, maybe 9/11 is the more momentous.

We are all so accustomed to giving out our Social Security number and our email address and we are so wired-in now with commercial interests knowing our personal tastes and information and every move, that we almost do not notice that we have become something close to a police state worthy of the old Soviet Union or East Germany or Hitler’s Germany. So far, no discernible ill effects, but overnight that all could change, the apparatus for the evil of control over all humans by a minority is already in place.

There is talk (or maybe it has already happened) of domestic use of drone aircraft by local law enforcement. We may not fear it as much when used elsewhere, but here?

We really need to pause and think about all of this.


The blunder of Iraq is back to haunt us this Halloween…

October 31, 2013

See what happens when you blunder into a war and then don’t fight to win?

After losing nearly 5,000 troops in Iraq we up and left Iraq, well after the government we helped install there virtually kicked us out. Some may have said that was the best decision, kind of like the doves or anti-war people said during our hopeless endeavor in Vietnam — just declare victory and go home. President Barack Obama did just that in Iraq, saying it was a war we never should have gotten into in the first place. Well he is probably right on that. But you know, since we went to all the effort, a few trillion dollars and lives (American sons, daughters, mothers, fathers) that can’t be counted in dollars, it seems like we should have gotten something. We did not even get a lock on its oil reserves, which was the overriding reason for going in there in the first place.

Now to add insult to injury, the Iraqi government wants us back — well initially they want weapons and other assistance to fight an ongoing insurgency, said to be as bad as the worst days of our involvement there. But they also mention that maybe some military advisors might be useful as well.

And as pressure Iraq is using the old developing-nation blackmail routine. If you (the U.S.) won’t help us, we’ll just have to go elsewhere, such as Russia or China. The Iraqi prime minister is meeting with President Obama Friday.

So, yes, going into Iraq in the first place was not a well thought out move. But we did, and in a big way. Just not big enough. We stopped way short of victory. And what would victory have looked like? I guess all-out control of the nation by the victor, for a time, and then maybe an exclusive agreement on oil in return for some return of sovereignty. Well, too late for that. But if we start pumping money into there again — not to mention lives — we better get something for it.

The problem with trying to help those who might be friendly and amenable to Western ways in these areas is that we always seem to end up decimating their infrastructure and killing off innocent people. We have a hard time making friends that way.

Whatever we do, we better think this one out.

It seems the blunder of Iraq is back to haunt us this Halloween.

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The news story that inspired this post: http://www.armytimes.com/article/20131030/NEWS08/310300028/Iraq-seeking-new-aid-after-pushing-out-U-S-troops

I


Trying to salvage positives from Iraq; war without victory…

December 18, 2011

So American troops have left or are leaving Iraq after some nine years and 4,500 U.S. dead and thousands more wounded (not to mention millions of Iraqis).

So what was that all about?

This is not the conventional end of a war with the enemy signing surrender papers in a railroad car or on the deck of a ship and in fact it would be hard to say who the enemy was.

If this is what it takes to get rid of one man, Saddam Hussein, someone the U.S. once supported, it certainly was not worth it.

It is true that the real basis for the U.S. to involve itself in armed conflict over there was to keep the Mid East oil supply open. But we did not even get a firm lock on that. The Chinese get oil from there and committed not one troop.

It seems we have set a precedent or a pattern for our modern warfare. We do not go for victory in the traditional sense but instead just bumble along and finally quit. Part of the problem is that we get ourselves into things which promise no real solution from the beginning. This is not a criticism of those who fought and those who died or were wounded. It is a criticism of our leadership and maybe of the American people (of which I am one) as a whole.

Without the acquiescence of the American people (not me, not you, but the people as a whole) we would have never gotten involved.

We are still at a stalemate in Afghanistan. We might do well to just leave now — declare victory and leave, as it were.

The good news is that if we leave these places no more troops die and we could potentially save billions to trillions of dollars to be used much more productively somewhere else.

All of this does not mean we become cowards or complete isolationists or we let our military power deteriorate. We have to be involved in the world as we are still the world’s super power and the leader in democracy. We do need to use our power more wisely and selectively.

I wonder how we recruit people to be in the military when they see the history now is that they are called to sacrifice for lost causes.

Iraq may or may not turn out to be a better place, but that is up to and always has been up to the Iraqis. There is a freedom movement going on in that part of the world. It may not exactly look like what we would prefer at all times, but with modern communication people will not be held down forever. Our interventions at times may do more harm than good and besides they are just too expensive in blood and treasure for us.

There still may be times where we have to act. For instance we could not allow Iran to block the straits of Hormuz. We could not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon — by their deeds and words that nation has proven it is not responsible enough to handle such awesome power.

And if in the future we deem it necessary to intervene militarily anywhere in the world, we should first have a clear and realistic strategy for complete victory. To fight a war and settle for less, while allowing young (and not so young) men and women to die for the cause, is almost as immoral as fighting an unjust war.

I heard one pundit interviewed (didn’t catch the name) who when asked if Iraq was worth it answered that you can’t think of the initial reasoning for our involvement, you just have to see what positives you can salvage from it.

That’s depressing.