Even though soldiers should follow orders and keep their mouths shut, you can’t blame the general for being resentful and a bit incredulous about the attitude of Afghanistan…

November 5, 2011

Soldiers are supposed to know how to take orders and move out smartly and otherwise keep their mouths shut and definitely not to step out of the chain of command. Of course a general is not just any other soldier, but their duty is much the same when it comes to following the civilian leadership. They can always resign if they cannot follow the program.

Nonetheless, you can hardly blame that general in Afghanistan (not the top one, but a general nonetheless) for telling it like it is and being incredulous, or more precisely, resentful of the attitude of Afghanistan’s leader Hamid Karzai for saying such things as Afghanistan would take the side of Pakistan if the U.S. went to war with that nation. And he is resentful of the whole attitude of the Afghans he is trying to train.

Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander for the NATO training program in Afghanistan, has been relieved of his command for his outspokenness (I link to the story at the bottom of this post).

Too many thousands of lives of U.S. servicemen and other personnel have been lost there already and the U.S. is going bankrupt in what is a quagmire of epic proportions.

If the United States was not spread so thin, it might do well to simply make Afghanistan a protectorate and quit the nonsense of nation building in a land where the inhabitants are either unable or unwilling to govern themselves in a peaceful manner. Now it is their right to live tribally like they have for so many thousands of years, except by aiding and abetting the Taliban in 9/11 they made it our business.

But Osama Bin Laden is dead, and of course he was caught hiding in plain sight, not in Afghanistan, but our fake ally Pakistan.

However, the U..S. is not in any shape to make Afghanistan our 51st state or whatever.

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

We should leave now and give thanks to those who died or were gravely injured for the cause — it may not have come out as we wished it, but we did keep Al Qaeda tied up and we will continue to deal with them and any others under the mantra: If you attack or threaten the U.S. you can run but you cannot hide”.

We should also leave Iraq altogether. Our combat mission there has been given the boot by an ungrateful nation.

They’ll make do. They have oil. I hope they drown in it.

And to Afghanistan, I say, go back to your tribal affairs and just don’t help terrorists attack us, thank you.

A lot of innocent people, millions, in that part of the world have been killed due to our actions. But as backward as some of them are, there is plenty of communication these days and they have to realize that they can’t just hide behind their sometimes backwards culture as if it were in a vacuum. When it affects us, we feel forced to act, and yes, we may have overreacted.

Maybe East is East and West is West after all.

The story about the fired general:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/04/peter-fuller-fired_n_1077204.html

P.s.

Yes I know they had culture, and sometimes a very advanced culture, in the Middle East before there ever was a European civilization, but in some ways they failed to progress, at least by our western standards. But again, that’s okay as long as they don’t attack us.

And we really do need to find alternative sources of energy.

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IRAQ: What a way for U.S. to end war, it gets the bum’s rush…

October 21, 2011

So the good news is that the U.S. military will essentially be out of Iraq by the end of the year, President Barack Obama announced today.

But it is a strange way for us to end a war. We are for all intents and purposes being kicked out by the country we invaded, help set up a new government in, and occupied for nearly a decade.

It’s as if either Japan or Germany had kicked us out before we had decided our occupation after World War II was done.

Besides the fact that it was probably a needless war, it shows how we began from a position of strength and then wimped out (the civilian leadership, not the soldiers) then how we almost lost the whole enchilada for a while and then how we came on a little tougher in what was called the surge and then how we wimped out (the civilian leadership again) and are now being run out the country with its government, which is supposed to now be on our side, telling us it can no longer guarantee immunity to our soldiers and contractors. We let them tell us that?

The upside to our modern wars is that not as many people (on our side anyway) die (although a lot do — too many), but the downside is that they don’t seem to settle much and they are a severe financial strain on our economy.

And what is really exasperating in all of this is that anyone knows that the overriding reason we went to war in Iraq in the first place was to secure our oil supply. But we did not even do that. We had a good excuse to take the oil fields over as spoils of war.

Now Iraq is subject to the influence of Iran.

Afghanistan, after a decade remains a quandary and a quagmire.

While our recent adventure in Libya was pulled off without our troops on the ground being involved and no cost of American lives — NATO and the Libyan rebels did the heavy lifting — it is hard to know what will happen there now. Obama took a gamble on that one, bypassing congress, and seems to have won.

But my own position on war continues to be avoid it at nearly all costs, but once there is no way out, do it, go for total victory and unconditional surrender by the forces you face (although with non-state connected terrorists that might not exactly be possible) or at least annihilation of them as far as possible if they do not surrender, and then any occupation for as long as it seems necessary.

As I understand it, we will still have some military and contractors remain in Iraq to train them how to use the weapons we sold and/or gave to them (which they with the help of Iran may one day turn on us).

Hey, but if it all works out for the good, fine. I have my doubts. And the cost has been high — some 4,200 of our troops dead and thousands more gravely wounded and a trillion dollars that could have been spent on health care, business investment, environmental cleanup or just mad money in the pockets of American consumers.

P.s.

I often compare the military actions we have taken since World War II with WWII itself, as if that were the model of how we handled everything in the past — I realize, and perhaps sometimes conveniently forget, that throughout our history we have made various military interventions around the world, to include an unsuccessful one early in the last century into Mexico going after Pancho Villa, as well as sending troops to help put down the Boxer Rebellion in China, and our occupation of Haiti back in our own Hemisphere and other interventions. But I feel that simply using our military as a tool for international relations is generally not good (although as Madeline Albright quoted herself as saying in reference to opposition to intervention in Kosovo: what good is a military if we can’t use it? — I suppose she does have a point). I think we should do our best to practice what we preach — peace.


The very suggestion Iraqis would now attack our troops makes my blood boil…

September 4, 2011

In my opinion our United States military should be for defense and defense only (or for emergency rescue or aid of the public), not as a tool of international policy, geopolitical strategy and intrigue.

It instantly made my blood boil when I read a story in the online Washington Post that Maryland National Guard troops readying to deploy to Iraq have to worry that if we are there past the deadline for us to be out of there they might be attacked by Iraqis (oh, and I also don’t think the National Guard should be sent overseas except in dire emergencies).

Part of me wants to say: how dare anyone in Iraq might suggest or do such a thing. And part of me wants to say: if they think our previous occupation was bad, just wait till we really take over.

Then again, part of me wants to say: we had no business being there in the first place, what did we expect?

Let’s stop the nation building and let’s pack up and come home.

I am not at all sure that the pre-World War II isolationists were so wrong. We goaded Japan into attacking us by cutting off their oil supply. Look what we do for oil nowadays.

Germany did not attack us (at the beginning of WWII). We tried to help right things in Europe in WWI, but the folks there just could not get along. So we had to pull their chestnuts (our allies) out of the fire once again in World War II.

The Germans were working on the atomic bomb. That would have been a problem. But maybe if we had not gotten into the war there would be no reason for them to develop the bomb and we could have developed it anyway. Maybe the Germans and Russians would have taken care of (destroyed) each other — others have suggested as much.

Fortress America may not have been such a bad idea.

I for one do not believe in one-world government.

The United States has used NATO (and the UN) as a cover in the past and most recently in Libya has let it go out in front. But I ask this: what happens if one of these multi-nation organizations of which we are a member decides it does not like what we are doing in this country and decides to take military action against us?

Cooperation among nations certainly is required for world peace, but a nation is not a nation when it gives up its sovereignty.

The story that provoked this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/mission-for-md-soldiers-unclear-with-iraq-exit-in-limbo/2011/09/02/gIQARxO5zJ_story.html?hpid=z4

Let’s keep America strong by staying right here and defending America.


Some positives in WikiLeaks, but the motives are questionable…

December 1, 2010

 

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Add 1:

It’s interesting enough when government secrets are divulged. But now WikiLeaks is promising to shed light on the dark secrets of corporations, a major bank by early next year, some have speculated Bank of America — now that would be big, seeing as how corporations pretty much are the real power behind the power.

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What with being in the age of the internet, it’s just not easy to keep secrets these days — by anyone anywhere. That is continuing to be proven by the shadowy and somewhat amorphous web-based organization known as WikiLeaks.

There were the revelations about the Iran and Afghanistan wars some months ago and now in the last many days all kinds about world-wide diplomacy, with everything from important strategies to sniping about personal traits of world leaders being exposed (if we can believe it all) .

WikiLeaks purports to send out what were supposed to be secret or confidential or otherwise sensitive documents over the web. The targeted governments include the US. , Russia, China, Middle East countries, and others. The organization seems to be an equal opportunity leaker.

It is usually referred to as a whistle blower, but that suggests exposing corruption or other wrongdoing, but in these latest diplomatic leaks it seems like just telling what others said behind the backs of still others.

When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers back in 1971, he exposed the duplicity of the U.S. government toward its own citizens, including the fact that the government knew we were not winning the Vietnam War and that the cause was all but hopeless, all this while it let thousands of troops continue to be killed and gravely wounded.

In some way the WikiLeaks episode has resembled the Pentagon Papers, but it does not seem to be the same thing.

I’m still trying to figure out the motive for the whole thing. Ellsberg was trying to, and did,  expose the big lie being put on the American people at the time.

In the current case, some guy from Australia, one Julian Assange (who incidentally seems to be in hot water over alleged sex crimes in Sweden) seems to be spearheading an effort to embarrass and discredit nearly everyone in the world.

However things such as the continued revelations (as far as they are credible) of the corruption and the mishandling of and lack of efficacy in our Afghanistan effort are things the public should certainly be apprised of.

I used to work as a journalist. And while I appreciate true investigative reporting where you don’t always please those in high places, to say the least, I was taught that one has an ethical responsibility toward the good of the public in the whole thing. Just reporting secrets or gossip for the embarrassment of people or the titillation of the readership does not qualify for ethical or responsible investigative reporting.

And one also has to keep in mind, you still should not believe all you read.

All in all, though, so far it seems like a somewhat healthy thing. It certainly keeps the powers that be on their toes.

P.s.

All that having been said, I would say that if it can be proven that anyone or any group is disseminating vital defense secrets, as opposed to things that would just embarrass someone, then the full force of the law should be used against them, although in this anonymous internet world that may prove difficult to do, not to mention the fact that this all includes multiple and competing international jurisdictions.


War on Terror continues with thwarted attacks on U.S., but conventional tactics don’t work for us…

October 30, 2010

I guess when times are good foreign policy is the hot political issue, but when times are bad it’s all about the economy.

But the thwarted attack on America reported over the last 24 hours, with airplanes carrying printer cartridges with hidden explosives coming out of the Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen, are a reminder the War on Terror or the threat of terror, presumably from the seemingly loose-knit organization Al Qaeda, persists, with the Christmas underwear bomber attempt still fresh in our memory, not to forget the foreign- inspired attack by one of our own military officers at Ft. Hood last November, as well.

Maybe not THE reason, but certainly an important reason, or contributing factor, for our ailing economy is the tremendous monetary burden our current war effort in Afghanistan and our continuing efforts in Iraq cost us — trillions of dollars. And we are doing this all in the name of a War on Terror, as our just-previous President George W. Bush declared it to be.

Living in the Northern California rural hinterlands as I do, I feel as if I am in a kind of foreign policy vacuum. I seldom hear anyone even mention the war effort in the Middle East, except to say we ought to “support the troops”, but even that line is delivered as some kind of generic utterance, meaning simply, be proud to be an American, support the home team, or when you’re running down my country man you’re walking on the fighting side of me (copyright credit to Merle Haggard on the latter). No one seems to even be concerned as to what is really trying to be accomplished. Some people have children or spouses or other loved ones in the war. All they can logically think is that is their job that they were sent by our government to do.

The war is usually reported as being unpopular — well then why are we still fighting it?

It’s as if we have realized it is a losing proposition but are reluctant to quit because then we would lose and that would dishonor those who have sacrificed and make us all look bad. Call it the Vietnam syndrome. We know how that turned out.

I have not heard the Tea Party say much about the war, except “support the troops”, equating that with patriotism, but failing to address the underlying policy that has put us where we are.

While I still think George W. Bush has to be one of the worst presidents the United States has ever had, I reluctantly have to admit we are seemingly forced into the War on Terror, even though I once noted in a blog that instead of fighting another nation, as usually is done in wars, we are fighting a concept or a noun (the word terror, being a noun).

How we choose to fight back in this war is open to question or debate. Personally I could not argue with our original invasion of Afghanistan. As I recall, the government there, run by the Taliban at the time, was harboring Osama Bin Laden, et al, and refused access to him. So we had an identifiable leader and force that had just killed some 3000 people on our own home ground (homeland sounds kind of Hitleresk) holed up in a country overseas that was refusing to cooperate so it became an accomplice to this Pearl Harbor-like attack (and remember, that neocon group with direct ties to the Bush administration the Project for the New American Century who wanted us to take control in the Middle East said we needed a Pearl Harbor. Curiously we got it — but forget that, I just had to mention it). But it seems conventional military tactics don’t work in things like this — we find out a decade later.

Of course it didn’t help we inexplicably let ourselves get sidetracked in Iraq, which I feel obligated to mention had nothing to do with 9/11 (at last I have heard). And it did not help that the Bush administration inexplicably gave up on the hunt for Bin Laden, by its own admission, that is Bush admitted looking for Osama was not really that important to him anymore about half way into it all — he did not say why, as I recall. I mean it was important enough to go to war over in the first place.

But along comes President Barack Obama (not Osama, as his detractors like to call him), condemning our effort in Iraq but vowing to continue our already-lost effort in Afghanistan (Bin Laden and much of Al Qaeda already reportedly having long fled to Pakistan) and in fact upping the ante with thousands more troops and much more money to throw at the corrupt government and local strongmen there too.

And we are still losing.

Perhaps if we had gone directly after Al Qaeda in the first place and with a larger force we might have been more successful, but that would have taken leadership, civilian, in the form of a president who could urge sacrifice for the war effort, rather than urge us all to go shopping, and generals willing to offer their military knowledge rather than just what they think their commander in chief wants to hear so they can move swiftly on to retirement at full rank. But I hate to be too hard on the military, it is subject to the whims of and subordinate to civilian authority.

We can have some comfort that our security apparatus, with the help of that of other nations overseas, does seem to be helping us thwart subsequent attacks. And it is apparent that we will have to continue our efforts in the War on Terror, but conventional military actions may not be the answer, and I do not mean new type military strategies, such as counter-insurgency or surges or whatever are the answer.

To me the answer is what the public really wants — that is to rebuild our own nation. Maybe that is why foreign policy is not an issue in these mid-term elections.

Yemen is a hotbed of terrorism because for one thing it is one of the poorest nations on earth.

We can spend our time trying to bring the rest of the poverty-stricken parts of the world out of their misery or we could spend the time rescuing ourselves.

Charity begins at home. And if we do not get serious about rescuing ourselves, we won’t even be able to send foreign aid to anyone, much less wage war.

P.s.

Yes. I believe in “supporting the troops”. Not supporting the troops is sending them to war but failing to define what victory is and failing to go all out, to include sacrifice from the civilian sector, but instead letting things drag on into stalemate and letting troops die or get gravely injured for no purpose in the end.


Iraq war is over until in flares up again and is it a law that the president must be Christian?

September 1, 2010

George W. Bush put his foot in his mouth by declaring the Iraq War was over when in truth it was just beginning.

Now President Barack Obama, who said it was the wrong war and that he never supported it, has put his foot in his mouth saying the same thing — that the war is over.

Or as Keith Olbermann says “Combat operations are still over in Iraq”.

That war can be over for us (the United States) if we want it to be, but that remains to be seen. Many or at least some Iraqis I hear on TV indicate the internal struggle (helped along by outside forces) there will continue big time once we actually pull the last troops out. We still have some “non-combat troops”  in Iraq and that is an oxymoron if there ever was one — if you have ever been in the service, particularly the army, you know there is no such thing as a non-combat soldier. While not all soldiers wind up in combat, the first duty of all soldiers is to fight the enemy — there really is no other reason for an army.

Poor Obama — the left says he’s not liberal or progressive enough. The right says he is not conservative. That would seem to indicate he is somewhere in the middle. But I guess no one trusts someone who won’t go on record as being an extremist under conventional political norms.

Maybe it’s like journalism. If everyone is mad at you, you must be doing something right.

I don’t really believe the poll numbers that suggest a large percentage of people believe Obama is a Muslim — and when did belonging to a certain religion in a country that has freedom of religion become a crime anyway (yes, I guess the criticism is that he is just pretending to be Christian)?

It could be he is not an active Christian either — as I recall the first family never did pick a regular church to attend (we don’t see video or photos of him or them attending church). And don’t a large number of people either not attend church at all or not often?

John Kennedy broke the barrier against Catholics being able to be president. But so far no one has broken the unwritten law, at least in modern times, that you have to at least nominally be a Christian.

Could a Jew become president (or vice president; ask Joe Lieberman)? A Mormon (ask Mitt Romney — don’t bother Glenn Beck)? An open homosexual (don’t ask, don’t tell)?

Just some random thoughts as I prepare to go to bed and get ready to go back to my day (and night) job in the morning (today by the time most would read this).

P.s.

My Sony Vaio computer running on an AT&T DSL hookup puts me on the internet instantly, if I wait several minutes before pushing the key that puts me on the internet. It does work rapidly with wi-fi, so if I hang out at Starbucks or a Best Western Motel I should have no problem. If I use that AT&T sim card I never know what will happen, except that it is not always good.


We need to regroup in the struggle between East and West…

August 21, 2010

I wrote this the other night and due to a continuing problem with my computer, especially when I’m mobile, that is remote, away from a landline connection, I could not post it. I note this because as I was driving today (which is now already yesterday on my blog time) and listening to the Ronn Owens show on KGO Radio, San Francisco they were talking about the Saudi eye-for-an-eye method, among other things, and many people were appalled as I was at such backwardness. Also, while the thesis of this post is that we should pull back from the Middle East (I guess that’s what it is, anyway), I also remember now that in the real world what happens is that if one power draws back another steps in. In this case, the Russians are apparently helping the Iranians with their nuclear program. Even though they are supposedly trying to safeguard from the Iranians getting bomb capability and only helping them to create power — well, if you really think that will be the case…. And if we withdraw from Afghanistan, others will step in, to include the Chinese, and grab the abundant minerals that are supposed to be there. And anyway, now that I’ve written this long preamble, I realize that I was writing about the ongoing struggle of East vs. West, so I don’t mean we should quit, rather we need to be more circumspect in our actions going forward.

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First it’s the execution of young lovers  by stoning them to death for the “crime” of trying to elope, done at the direction of the Taliban in Afghanistan; that was a few days ago.

Now today I read that our nominal ally Saudi Arabia may punish a man who took after another with a meat cleaver and left him paralyzed by having doctors paralyze him, the attacker, by damaging his spinal cord.

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ADD 1:

And we mustn’t forget the pending case against a 43-year old Iranian mother who was sentenced to be stoned to death but who now, thanks to the mercy of the Islamic government of Iran,  may only face death by hanging — she is accused of being an adulterer, something she claims she was forced into confessing by means of torture (well, the West, or at least the U.S., is not completely off the hook on that one — i.e. our torture of Islamic prisoners — make ’em talk, do anything to make ’em talk!

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While having to note our own aberrations from civility, I have to wonder: Why do we even deal with cultures who behave in such barbaric ways?

Yes, once upon a time our ancestors in the Western World did things like this, but we have moved beyond this, for the most part, executions in the U.S. notwithstanding.

In Afghanistan the latest stoning was done at the behest of the Taliban insurgents who were once in control of that country and who well may take over completely again. While some in Afghanistan may not approve of the Taliban action, from what I read many Afghans do — it’s part of their religion and culture.

I know we, the U.S., need oil in the region, and I know we can’t just avoid everyone and everything in the world because it does not always agree with our sensibilities, but it seems we should draw the line somewhere.

I am uncomfortable with the cozy relationship we have with Saudi Arabia. By being on its side we support cruel social practices such as administering justice via goulash operations, amputations and a severing of a spinal cord?

And I always recall that the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabians, although supposedly not sponsored by that kingdom itself — but it does seem strange.

There is an ongoing culture clash between East and West.

I for one hope the West wins.

But I am not sure taking the East head on is the way to go. I fear we are being sucked in:

The war in Iraq that is over, but not really over; the quagmire that is Afghanistan; the taunting by Iran, building a nuclear capability and thumbing its nose at us and threatening all the while to annihilate Israel, which for better or worse we are sworn to protect; the temptation for the U.S. or Israel or both to pre-emptively attack Iran, thus threatening global war; the ongoing unprecedented flooding of Pakistan, which adds to the chaos of a nation that has the bomb and is under internal threat by Muslim and anti-American extremists.

It seems to me that we are being played the sucker by our enemies and with the aid of mother nature in the case of Pakistan.

Instead of constantly shifting our forces from one place to the other in the Middle East, we might do better to pull back and regroup into a more defensive posture.

There are far more of them (the hordes of the East) than there are us (the civilized West).

At one time I am sure that the thinking was that we would slowly but surly transform the backward East into a modern civilized (western-styled) society. But while some in the East want to and do follow our ways, a larger number may not.

The Crusades of old were about religion.

The struggle today has religion in it, but it is more about survival of civilization as we in the West know it.

We do face a threat from within as well from the forces of something that amounts to a kind of reactionary right-wing neo-Nazism. But we can’t even defend ourselves against that if we get sucked into a trap in the East.

Right now we are dealing with our own economic and culture change and it is quite painful. And we are extremely vulnerable because it seems our middle class is disappearing. It was the middle class that brought us the form of democracy that we have today.

Technology is moving at an accelerated pace, leaving millions with nothing productive to do.

There is a deep threat to western civilization as we know it.

We need to regroup at home in order to withstand the onslaught of the East.

The proposed building of a mosque or cultural center some blocks away from ground zero of 9/11 is not a threat in and of itself, probably, but it is a symbol nonetheless.

While I think constitutionally the backers of the mosque have every right to go ahead, I would hope some kind of compromise could be reached.

It may be that Islam poses no real threat to the West, but rather some of its factions or some who misuse its name do. But I have not seen enough evidence that such is the case. It seems Muslims are too quiescent in the debate on whether their religion is attempting to take over the West.

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ADD 2:

My newspaper tells me that the Imam who wants to build the mosque near the 9/11 ground zero is now saying that religious extremism is posing security threats all over the world — amen to that. Also there was a story about some American Muslims condemning Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism (they had just returned from visiting former death camps in Germany) — that’s encouraging.

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(Well of course we know good Christians want to be predominate, but they already are in the West — like it or not it is ingrained into our culture, even if you are not Christian.)

The U.S. and others in the West have certainly done things over the decades to bring on some animosity and resentment — kicking out Palestinians to create Israel, as an example (and I know it‘s a long and complicated story, really).

But overall the West has tried to do good, sending much foreign aid to nations of the Middle East and East and all over the world.

Come to think of it, we probably should not have tried to help Afghanistan all those years ago in fighting off the Soviets. In the first place they apparently did not really need our help. In the second place, what did we get? The 9/11 attack on us.

They used to say “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.”

In this modern world that is not exactly true. But there is a divide and we need to keep up our end.

P.s.

I don’t know maybe that last sentence was a kind of mixed metaphor — I just go stream of consciousness sometimes, nearly all the time.