We are rushing toward a World War I-like calamity but in the nuclear age; two crazy men face off…

July 30, 2017

The news is so bad, so depressing, so scary, about all I do is read the headlines — every now and then going in for more detail.

If ever there was a bad time to have a crazy man at the helm of our nation it is now. We have a nuclear arms buildup something akin to the arms and  war ship building race between Germany and Britain leading up to World War I and the rivalries among nations with conflicting alliances that could blow up like a power keg set off by a spark.

North Korea is rattling is sabers and threatening to hit the U.S. We had been told until just recently that North Korea was several years away from being able to threaten us but now seemingly overnight the story has changed to they could possibly hit all or much of the U.S. mainland and may already have or are close to having the capability of arming missiles with nuclear warheads.

And I am sorry to say all you Trump supporters, whoever you may be, we have an incompetent fool as president who is in way, way over his head. He is certainly not a leader; he has created disarray in his own political party and daily, mostly in the wee hours, dashes off silly and threatening statements via Twitter.

There is another mad man at the helm in North Korea — Kim Jong whatever his name is. Both men deserve each other but none of us deserve them.

At the same time, with the U.S. weakened to the point of near impotence due to the lack of leadership, we have Iran going ahead with its nuclear missile program, and even our ally South Korea reversing its previous position and looking to build up a missile arsenal. And did not Trump suggest that Japan should build up a nuclear arsenal itself and not depend upon the U.S.? Imagine, the only nation to have ever suffered a nuclear attack, at our hands at that, having to resort to building up a nuclear defense program. Yeah that’s what we need nuclear proliferation.

And don’t even talk about domestic politics. While I can understand some sentiment for returning to more conservative values (although turning back the clock is out of the question and impossible), Trump is just making a mockery out of human decency.

He needs to be stopped. Impeached. Removed for being mentally incompetent, or something (and I do not mean violence).

This is not politics talking. I don’t care what your political philosophy is. This what we are going through, and if it continues it cannot have a good ending.

The only good ending is an end to the Trump administration.

Actually he seems to be losing power, not being able to get anyone of import on his side anymore. Maybe he will self destruct.

I can only hope.

Okay, this was somewhat of a rant. And I did not go into specifics. No time. I am at work, at my real job, just taking a break. Maybe later I’ll get specific. But if you follow the news you have to know what I mean.

The World War I analogy was something like if we strike North Korea then China will feel obligated to strike us. And there could be other such disastrous chains of events as well.

We are rushing toward a World War I-like calamity but in the nuclear age. It might not be survivable.

 

 

 

 

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The wrong-way armada; loose lips sink ships, but loose tongues start wars…

April 19, 2017

I know President Trump has said that he is giving the military a freer hand rather than micro managing its actions in our ongoing conflicts but according to reports Tuesday it would seem either he did not know what the Navy was really doing or he and his administration spokespeople just lied.

More than a week ago the president claimed he was dispatching an armada of ships to the waters off North Korea in reaction to that wayward nation’s missile tests and continued nuclear arms development.

Working off the official word, news outlets reported it like this excerpt out of a USA Today story of April 9:

………………The aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships had been scheduled to leave from Singapore for port visits to Australia on Saturday, but Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, ordered the strike group to head north toward Korean waters instead.   ……………

But now we are being told there was some kind of confusion between the ships’ officers and the Pentagon and the administration and the press and therefore the American people (and the world) were misled. Instead the naval task force headed the other way, toward Australia after all, and only now is it headed toward North Korea.

If the ships really are headed there now I am not sure what difference it all makes but it makes one wonder how much control Trump has (and the president, a civilian, is at the top of the chain of command over the military by our constitution).

Now I realize it might not be a good tactical idea to broadcast the position of our ships but I think the American people have a right to know what is being done in our name and while I would generally applaud the idea of a president not micro managing the military as presidents have done since LBJ, I would like to think the president knows where our warships are going.

And if Trump just made that all up on the spur of the moment to put a scare into Kim Jong-Un — the totally savage and totally nutty leader of North Korea who is constantly threatening to send nuclear-tipped missiles our way — and risk war when really were not doing anything, we really have a problem. This is too serious. I mean even if North Korea’s last missile failed shortly after launching, going kerplop in the ocean, that nation has a tremendous conventional forces and might draw in China and Russia on its side.

Yeah, so maybe this having our ships go the wrong direction was a diversionary tactic and it was a good idea not to give the exact position — loose lips sink ships. But loose lips can cause war when the president makes am impromptu announcement he’s dispatching war ships to a country.

And if he dispatched the fleet in the name of a crisis of the moment that overrode congressional consideration then why did it apparently take a detour?

Now we know we cannot trust anything Trump says in this post-truth era and we know there is a problem of deliberate false reporting, and now we must suffer incorrect news coming out of our government either by design or incompetence.

Trump was lauded by many for his decisive action in the Syria bombing but now we find that it amounted to a tremendous waste of ordnance, at least I think, despite launching billions of dollars worth of Tomahawk missiles the airfield target was not rendered useless.

And then there was the mother of all bombs (short of nuclear bombs) dropped in Afghanistan this past week but are we supposed to believe it was worth it and civilian lives lost justified?

By all accounts the big bomb was a big success military wise, killing scores of the enemy — but then again the American people have been lied to before about how effective our military operations are.

And finally, congress needs to step up to the plate and reassert its constitutional authority on declaring war and presidents need to quit dispatching ships and drones and troops hither and yon like some geo-political board game.


World War III may already be in progress…

November 13, 2015

I don’t want to overstate the case, but when I was advised to check my computer for the news that as many as a 100 or more people were killed in a terrorist attack in Paris I thought really this is the beginning of World War III. Actually we may already be in it. It does seem to be the extremists in the Middle East vs. Western civilization.

—————-

UPDATE, 11-14- 15, Saturday morning: And now the day after, the death toll is put at 128, at the time of this writing, and more than that wounded, some gravely, in six attacks across Paris, the heaviest toll being at a concert hall.

With ISIS claiming responsibility for the Paris atrocities, and with it also claiming responsibility for downing a Russian airliner, and what with China coming out against the terrorists, and Great Britain promising solidarity with France and others targeted by ISIS, and of course the USA pledging continued support in the ongoing war on ISIS, could this be a coalition of both the East and West against ISIS?

————–

Don’t have much time to type here; I have an appointment to have my laptop checked out, for something minor I hope.

We really have not had any major terrorist attacks — well there was Ft. Hood, and am I forgetting any? — here in the U.S. since the biggie, 9/11. Strangely our mass murders have been inflicted by our home-grown crazies and are not political.

There may be something geographical — distance from Middle Eastern staging grounds — that makes Europe more vulnerable but I feel certain it is only a matter of time until it comes here or returns here.

So for what it is worth, no matter what your feelings about war, we are really already in a war.

And for at least the second time in this space, I ponder, was George W. right about the war on terrrrr, or however he pronounced it? If so, he did not seem to conduct it well, but then again he had poor advisors and no real military experience himself. Bush declared the war and suggested it had no end. I would say he did not need to actually declare it, it just is……….

More later, perhaps, I have to go to the computer store. Wish me luck please, I’ll need it….

And now back from the computer store. The good news is that I have a warranty but the not as good news is that I’ll have to leave the laptop with them for maybe two weeks (they have to send it out). My h key sticks. I’m getting a new keyboard. I have not turned it in yet but will soon. I’ll have to find another way to post or hold off for a while, we’ll see.

But of course my problem is minor. The terrorist problem threatens our very existence as a civilization.

A new president of the United States cannot solve it but must be up to dealing with it. The person will have to be someone who understands world affairs. But we actually have people in the race who have no clue. Strange, and somewhat terrifying in and of itself.

And to think this morning I paused like I always do when I notice it is Friday the 13th. And then thought of how many I have been through and nothing happened.

 

 


To fight too many wars not to win or to fight too many to win…

April 26, 2015

Sometimes I read something and think — Wow! Amen! I could not have said it better — this writer is right on. Or at least he makes an awful good case and excellent observations.

Ross Douthat in the New York Times tells us about how on the one hand president Obama has us in a bunch of wars where the object seems not to win but to keep the enemies at bay and our friends, such as they are, in power, and on the other hand Republican presidential hopefuls, with maybe one exception, would have us in too many wars with the object of going all out (or at least they can criticize until they had to make the decision and see our limits).

But he says all this much better than I could. So I give you a link. It might not work, but you can check it out on your own in the NYT under the headline of Too Many Viennas:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/26/opinion/sunday/ross-douthat-a-case-of-too-many-viennas.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region

 

 

 

 


My Lai: war is an ugly thing, plenty of guilt to go around…

March 25, 2015

I just read a long piece by Seymour Hersh about the My Lai Massacre some 47 years ago this month. Several hundred unarmed civilians were killed.

Though lengthy I can boil it down by saying that U.S. soldiers murdered civilians in cold blood, men women and children, including babies. And it was not an isolated incident. It helped turn the American public against the war.

Not stressed but mentioned in the article, the enemy (and that is a question, who was the enemy? but that is a different story) committed atrocities just as savage (but of course that does not make immoral behavior right — nothing we could ever comprehend should make our own boys baby killers).

I found it interesting that the article describes My Lai of the time as a peaceful village and indicates that our intelligence mistakenly identified it as a Viet Cong base (the Viet Cong being part of the enemy). But later the article reveals that some of the men there belonged to the Viet Cong. Of course that is the problem, the United States unwisely interjected itself into a civil war, a war of insurgency, albeit one supported by the Soviet Union (to a lesser extent Red China) and its satellite then known as North Vietnam. It was not the good guys coming to the rescue of an innocent country from invading Nazis.

(Those of us who were not there were constantly informed throughout the war by journalists that it was not a war of territory and that there were no front lines actually. Many areas supposedly held by the South Vietnamese government (our ally) were controlled by the Viet Cong (some of them local villagers) by night. It was a civil war, with outside assistance, with the two world superpowers of the time, the United States and the Soviet Union, backing opposites sides in a proxy war, that was really an extension of the Cold War — and I give this background for the benefit for those younger than I or for those who just never paid attention, but then the latter probably would not bother to read this anyway.)

The article told of how our military covered the massacre up as long as it could and that once uncovered no one ever went to jail over it, although one lieutenant, guilty as he no doubt was, served as the fall guy for his superiors who surely knew what took place and in fact no doubt ordered it. (Okay some of this I am saying, in addition to what I read in the article.)

Some of those soldiers who took part claim they were directly ordered by their superior or superiors to kill everyone. And it may well be that not everyone there took part in the massacre.

I recall hearing the story of an American army  helicopter pilot who happened upon the scene and rescued civilians.

The incident occurred in March of 1968. I was in Army basic training at the time, and as luck would have it I was sent to Germany. My only connection if you can call it that was that when I was promoted to Specialist 5 or E-5 My Lai was the current events question.

And there was actually another massacre at a nearby village the same day and apparently many more, although smaller in scale, during the course of the war.

And it quotes North Vietnamese officials of that time saying that the massacre helped them eventually win the war by both supporting their own recruitment efforts within Vietnam and by turning the American people against what turned out to be a most immoral project for America.

We all know now that our leaders throughout that long war knew it was all hopeless and wrong but supported its continuance so they would not be blamed for losing. If you can make that kind of decision it seems to me you’re missing a moral compass.

Our current wars in the Middle East are by no means a carbon copy of Vietnam. But there have been atrocities committed by our soldiers and private mercenaries our government hires. And no doubt attempted cover-ups too.

Atrocities occur in all wars.

War is an ugly thing.

Why do some people love it so much?

p.s.

When I was growing up and playing army I always thought only the bad guys committed outrageous acts, certainly not our side. I was naïve.

P.s. P.s.

And this was not meant as a comment on our current foreign policy which must include what to do about ISIS (and Al Qaeda), except we can’t become ISIS or terrorists or wanton murderers in the process.

p.s. p.s. p.s.

And when I write something like this I always feel obligated to say with all sincerity I have nothing but total respect for military personnel who carry out lawful duties and orders. When I was in basic we had a class in which an officer told us we must follow lawful orders. He said we were not obligated to follow unlawful orders. But if we disobeyed something because we at the time thought it to be unlawful we could be punished if the authorities found otherwise after the fact. What would you do? The answer is you don’t really know until it is too late.

(Of course the atrocity at My Lai was unlawful on its face, but you had the fog of war, youth, incompetent leadership or higher-ups in the war zone who stayed far enough away, either in helicopters or back in air-conditioned headquarters, that they could collect their combat badges for future promotion to further their careers, while claiming ignorance of what was going on at the actual scene.)

A fellow platoon member over in Germany did a tour in Vietnam as a door gunner on a helicopter. When sober he would brag about killing everything that moved, and supposedly quite legally in what were called “free fire zones”. But when he had too much to drink he would cry about the same thing.

As bad as war is it may be a necessary evil at times, I suppose.

The Seymour Hersh article from the New Yorker magazine is worth reading:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/30/the-scene-of-the-crime


Tactics have no place in war authorizations…

February 15, 2015

BLOGGER’S NOTE: The following is the declaration of war against Nazi Germany congress adopted and President Franklin Roosevelt signed. It essentially reads the same as the one against Japan adopted after the surprise attack by that nation on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941:

 

Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

——————–

That’s what a declaration of war looks like.

That does not look like what President Obama has proposed to fight ISIS.

Mr. Obama seems to be of the mind that you can and should spell out your policy, tactics, and methods within such a declaration, even including provisions to limit warfare.

Nonsense!

I mean I realize this is not 1941, and we don’t seem to fight ultra large-scale wars as in the past (and I imagine we should be somewhat thankful for that), and I realize one size does not fit all in war resolutions, but when you limit yourself from the git go in the war resolution itself, as is done in Obama’s draft of a requested authorization to use military force against ISIS, how can you hope to have any military success?

We lost Vietnam for a variety of reasons, but number one was that we limited ourselves, in the terribly misguided notion that we could preserve lives of American soldiers — instead it turned out to be the opposite. Of course in that one it could be argued we never should have gone there. But we did, and the only honorable and moral course after committing so many of our children to battle would have been to use everything we had to win and get it done.

And I am not saying that every time we get into a dispute we have to immediately deploy large scale landings and combine air and ground assaults and put the public on war rationing, I’m just saying we have to be willing to do what needs to be done. And it would sure help if we did not telegraph what we plan or can do to the enemy.

As I understand it, the president is still using military forces in the Middle East under the authorization to use military force passed by congress as the result of the 9/11 attacks. And he says in reality that is all he needs, he just wants to clean things up and be a little more specific. He also says he would like to rescind the 2001 resolution.

I can see an argument for doing just that — I mean the 2001 declaration asked for and received by George W. Bush seems to allow for open-ended war forever.

So yes, there ought to be some specificity, but there is language in Obama’s draft that prohibits the president from deploying ground troops. But what if that becomes necessary? Better to just say we will use necessary force to get the job done — in the correct language of course, not verbatim as I just put it, maybe.

In the 1941 declaration the president was authorized to use the total resources of the military and the nation. That should always be left open. Just because a president can does not mean he will or should, he just needs to have all options open (well not nuclear war I don’t think — that would be a doomsday approach, but we should just keep mum on it and leave them wondering).

One thing, when we use military force, the president, the congress, and the American people should be on board. Confusion just costs lives and hinders success.

 

 

 


Was George W. Bush right after all with his war on terror?

October 11, 2014

I almost choke while asking this question but: could George W. Bush have been right all along to declare a war on terror? With the threat of what seems like the most diabolical enemy ever, at least in modern times, that is ISIS, with its beheadings and mass killings, it seems we need to confront this and do it now. I’m beginning to miss the good old days of the Cold War when it seemed there was less violence.

But then again, there was Korea and Vietnam and other hot wars. There is always war. But the Cold War with the two super powers did seem to keep some things in check.

Mostly it was just two super powers, the U.S. and the now defunct Soviet Union, threatening to annihilate each other with nuclear missiles, meanwhile each controlling or having hegemony over their respective halves of the world.

But America has grown soft in its wealth and luxury (financial crises notwithstanding).

Presidents cannot even think of asking or urging Americans to really sacrifice.

In a previous post I said something to the effect that there is no value in shedding any more American blood in Iraq, or did I say the whole Middle East? No difference. I don’t think there is, either way, especially since this nation quit fighting wars to win after World War II.

Well actually I would consider Korea a sort of win in that we did push the communist forces back across the 38th parallel.

I don’t believe in the concept of “limited war”. I don’t think you can limit war. You either fight to win or you end up losing. But fighting to win can be a major investment and a major risk. Victory is not guaranteed. So you have to pick your battles.

Right now the forces of ISIS do indeed seem to pose a threat to the whole world. So it would seem that it would be worth it to go at it with them head on. But President Obama is fighting back only reluctantly and in a limited fashion for now.

He has committed air power in Iraq and finally into Syria, after initially backing down from his promise to not let the Assad regime cross a red line — and actually that is separate from the current threat by ISIS, except related in that all of it has to do with an ongoing civil war in that nation that pits disparate forces against Syrian strong man Assad and each other — all very complicated.  Meanwhile ISIS takes advantage of the power vacuum and confusion in Syria, and of the weakness and internal struggles in Iraq. ISIS (a split-off from the more familiar Al Qaeda) is the real threat now (and I guess there are other similar factions, but let’s not get into that). This group of thugs appears to want to take over the Middle East and then maybe the whole world. And with modern transportation and technology this is a serious threat.

Obama seems to think that only our air power alone in some limited fashion is the best way to go, and let indigenous forces, on our side (do they even exist?), do the ground work. We tried letting the South Vietnamese ground forces do the dirty work once upon a time, but they wisely decided that it was better to live and let the other guys die (that is Americans). And I apologize to the families of any South Vietnamese soldiers who did give up their lives. I’m just talking the big picture. But we soon found out we had to commit our own forces in Vietnam, for it was really our war (we had chosen to make it our war already).

I doubt the American public, although spooked no doubt by the beheadings and massacres inflicted by ISIS, is in the mood to commit large numbers of troops in the fight at this time. And the public is never asked outright to pay for war, it is all but hidden in special appropriations. I think it must be hard to wage a successful war when you have to almost secretly fund it.

Enemies of the free Western world have only to look to the history of the past few decades to see that America has lost its resolve to fight battles and win.  An example. In the first Iraq War we did not defeat Saddam Hussein in that we did not go all the way to Baghdad and arrest and hang him then and there. In the second war with that nation, we finally just left without actually finishing the whole job (although the Iraqis themselves did hang Hussein), only to have problems flare up all over again.

And, according to Wikipedia, we lost almost 5,000 American troops between 2003 and 2014 in Iraq, and of course thousands were severely maimed or wounded. And still we left without finishing the job it seems. It could well be argued that we should not have gone in there in the first place, but the fact is we did and we put a major investment into the job. Talking dollars and cents, what is the figure? More than a trillion dollars spent on the project over the past decade.

I think it is a crime to commit any forces, be they air or ground or both, if you do not have the resolve to do what is necessary to win. I think that is more of a crime than choosing to go to war for questionable reasons. The justification of wars can always be debated. But there is no justification for asking or forcing people to die or be maimed for life for no reason.

We need to confront the threat of ISIS (and other such groups). Military strikes might not be the answer or only part of the answer. We need to go after the economies or economic entities or people who support our enemies.

But again, as to military action, we need to have the resolve to fight to win. If we can get by with a limited response, well good. But we have to be willing and able to be in for the long haul.

P.s.

And whatever action we take it should be in our own interest. I mean we lead the free world, but we always have to look out for ourselves first.