Friday, June 24, 2005

On the Iraq War....and How to send books to soldiers/sailors...

Reasonable people can have diverse opinions about the war in Iraq. I have expressed doubts here over the way we have fumbled around over there. (As I say below, those who shamefully left Saddam in power in 1991 have no right to preen over sending our troops back 12 years later, to correct their fantastic blunder. At best, they are atoning for a horrible stain on our honor.)

Still, despite grotesque political meddling and the bad apple behavior of some horrid rogues, most our soldiers and beleaguered officers are doing their best in a very rough situation. They deserve support, whatever we think of the War Plan they are forced to execute.

I have long made a habit of mailing crates of books to military units around the world, doing my small bit as an author and reader to help ease the draggy ennui that spans the intervals between episodes of danger and courage. (Lately, the Navy Department gave me a lovely wall chatchki for donating $2,000 worth of hardcovers to ships at the San Diego Naval Base.)

BooksSoldiersNow you can do likewise at very low cost! Drop by Books for Soldiers to see how FedEx now offers free shipping when you send books to a volunteer group that then redistributes where they are wanted most. This is an effort all literate people should get behind... especially if you question the unprofessional way these brave men and women have been committed to war."

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While we are on the subject, again, let me reiterate a point that nobody else seems to be making. I think liberals make a terrible mistake by expressing their objections to this war in leftist or pacifist terms. These is nonsensical, since two of our most successful wars were planned by Clinton-Clarke... The Balkans and Afghanistan interventions, which succeeded far better than anyone could have reasonably expected.

Until the World is Better, we are still in an era when some application of imperial power is a reasonable last resort... if it is done in the mature, responsible, adult, judicious and prudent fashion laid down by George Marshall, paying heed to alliances, costs, success criteria, exit strategy, securing readiness and mindful of winning the long range civilization struggle over hearts and minds..

For example, we don't accomplish anything by deprecating the military in general or suggesting that Iraqis were better off under Saddam! Instead, focus your attacks on:

1. hypocrisy, these are the same guys who fostered Saddam. Kissed him. Egged him on and supplied him against Iran.

2. hypocrisy. these are the same guys who had him in their hands, in 1991. Gen Schwarskopf begged for 12 more hours to rescue the people of Basra, who were being slaughtered, having rebelled AT OUR URGING. (Bush Sr. said " "We're on the way!")

imagesInstead (at Saudfamily orders) they consigned those people to 12 more YEARS of living hell. And now we expect love & kisses? (This is one of the worst stains on American honor in 200 years. Rent the movie THREE KINGS.)

3. The obscenely stupid and unprofessional WAY this war was and is being fought. Rumsfeld - the man who supervised our humiliation in Vietnam - has recently meddled vastly MORE than the politicians did in that failed disaster, overruling the professional officers who wanted to used proved techniques that worked in the fantastically successful campaigns in the Balkans and Afghanistan.

4. The plummet in readiness... the torching of alliances... and my personal harshest grivance, a fierce political purge of the Officer Corps.

And so on.... THESE are issues that a liberal could push and not sound like a wimp. Ditch the leftists and make clear that you are not against a sane and decent Pax Americana. Just the rabid, insane, alliance-destroying and hatred-generating version that those bright imbeciles, the Straussian neocons, have inflicted upon us and the world.

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Oh, recall the Commie aphorism about the Last Capitalist? They said "we will hang him with a rope we sold him. "

It occurs to me you could just change the cast of characters and reflect the essence of our present struggle against another fiercely determined enemy-meme, just as dedicated to plotting our downfall.

Replace "Capitalist" with "Westerner" and "hang him with a rope" by another phrase...

...."drown him in the last barrel of oil we sell him."

Ponder and pass it on.

142 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen about book donations.

Steve Jackson made a "Games for Troops" donation a year or two back. $5,000 worth of board and card games.

I've bugged him, now and then, to make this a permanent program that took donations.

Stefan

Miranda said...

I really appreciate your analysis
and I thank you for supporting
the troops.

-M

Dave Baker said...

Surely there's a position to be staked out somewhere between a pacifist objection to the war and the sort of view you've sketched here, that the only problems with the war had to do with the practicalities. I'm no pacifist, but I have a strong feeling that this war would've been wrong even if the people in charge had never propped up Saddam, and even if dumb strategic moves had not been made.

Besides which, the "hypocrisy" accusation is pretty weak. Thoughtful neo-cons will grant that we should've deposed Saddam in '91 and say the current war is an opportunity to fix that mistake. Meanwhile, nobody's going to get anywhere with the public by claiming we screwed up during the Gulf War. That war was extremely well marketed -- the public still looks back on it with fond memories.

If the war's opponents are going to make a case against it, they need a principled objection. Something like this: imperial power should only be applied as a last resort, after diplomatic measures, international law and threats of force have demonstrably failed to get results. By that standard, the Iraq war was wrong, period.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the address. I've sent the book donation URL to several friends with the heading "Books for the Troops", and of course, saved it for myself. Thanks again.

Pat

teru said...

Thank you very much for supporting the troops and hope war will be over anytime soon and everyone in all over the world will be happy.

GreedyAlgorithm said...

Dave Baker: "...the sort of view you've sketched here, that the only problems with the war had to do with the practicalities."

Careful, now... 'only' is a strong word. I don't think the view sketched came anywhere close to saying that the war's only problems have been implementation problems.

David Brin said...

I agree with Dave Baker that you can be a moderate without necessarily taking the Brin Party Line on the Iraq War.

Specifically, I have no patience for lefty nonsense - e.g. blanket hostility toward the military - as a response to righty monstrous abuse and misuse of the military. I suggest that we use the abuse and misuse to discredit the neo-right. Hostility to our brave defenders only discredits liberals - an unnecessary self inflicted political wound. The Iraq War has been perpetrated - start to finish - in ways that wrecked alliances, undermined readiness, savaged the budget, demoralized our troops, created vast new reserves of hatred and ill will around the world and created untold unnecessary caualties. THAT is the issue that takes a patriotic stand against imbecilles.

(And the latest 'victory" of Condi Rice's saber rattling campaign? The apparent victory of an Islamist hardliner as the new president of Iran. Yes there was pro mullah electoral cheating. But, as in the theft of the last two US elections, it could only have happened if things were close already. Driving the Iranian polity into the mullahs' arms can have been the only consistent aim of Condi's relentless campaign, since that has been the only consistent effect.)

But yes, Dave, just because you are a moderate who does not hate the US military, that does not mean you must agree with my version of moderation... my assertion that SOME kind of Iraq intervention was called for.

"Thoughtful neo-cons will grant that we should've deposed Saddam in '91 and say the current war is an opportunity to fix that mistake. "

True... but you miss the point. That failure in 91 undermines their credibility as leaders. They were doofuses then... they even admit it! Now our boys and girls are dying for that mistake. We must hammer that they are bellicose and warlike... AND WRETCHEDLY BAD AT IT!

"If the war's opponents are going to make a case against it, they need a principled objection. Something like this: imperial power should only be applied as a last resort, after diplomatic measures, international law and threats of force have demonstrably failed to get results. By that standard, the Iraq war was wrong, period."

I agree with everything you say here.. except for the "period". That punctuating word implies that your test simply cannot be met in a fluctuous and dangerous world.

Fact Dave. Saddam was very very bad shit. We were morally required to look for effective and efficient ways to remove this horror who was partly our fault. I totally agree that the diametrically opposite approach we used int the Balkans... agonizingly slow patience and maturity and diplomacy leading to a consensus among allies and locals that we should use utterly precise police-style (but overwhelming) force... would have been far far far far better to apply in Iraq. We did the right thing in toppling Milosevic and the Taliban. We should (prudently and carefully) do likewise to save the people of southern Sudan.

Moreover THE SURFACE RATIONALIZATIONS OF THE NEOCONS ARE NOT ALL WRONG! They hide their lunacy behind surficial statements that are actually pretty supportable.

Like the fact that there is a war of worldviews taking place*, and SOME degree of assertive promotion of democratic memes must be part of the strategy of the West. I do not want to sit around while a billion people suffer under dictators. America was born a revolutionary movement. We betray it if we sit around, fat and smug, shaking our heads and wringing our hands over bad guys far away.

The Enlightenment has to win, and win big, over the next 20 years, or it will lose forever.

Bill Clinton's biggest regret is not sending the 82nd Airborne to stop the Rwanda genocide. Liberals need to remember that stopping Hitler was THEIR idea, not the right's.

So was (believe it or not) an asserive movement to contain communism. The 1946 GOP wanted isolationism. Containment was invented by Marshall bu pushed hardest by (are you ready?).... the AFL CIO...!

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* Ironies abound. I perceive the neocons to be part of the anti-modernist and anti-American side in the struggle of world views. Their paternalistic, hierarchicical, top-down, secretive, platonist, pro-aristocracy views... using imperial power with relish instead of mature reluctance... exemplifies that real war. They mask this with "promoting freedom" while never defining that term by metrics that would really measure how well a policy liberates masses to become free individual competitors in a civil society.

Naturally, they would say I am one of the enemies of the West. ;-)

peter bland said...

Many extreme liberals are attacking the military because they see it as an extension of Republican power. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Apparently they did not learn the lessons agains this from the last election or the Vietnam era. Don't attack the troops if you have a beef with foreign policy.

The troops, while they do tend to swing to the right politically, are NOT an agent of any political party. They are by necessity an apolitical organization. they swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, not just the part that the Republicans like. A good thing that they are conservative! they want to preserve the US the way that it is, not remake it in their own image as some sort of demented Praetorian Guard. They swear to obey the orders of the president, regardless of the political affiliation of the man. They swear to defend the US from all enemies foreign and domestic.

Demeted leftists in moveon.org and Micheal Moore fans: STOP attacking the troops and START attacking the civilian leadership, which has ultimate control over the military anyway.

Message to the Democrats: STOP associating with these insane idealogues. If you lie down with dogs then you will get up with fleas. You may say that you do not take them seriously, but then why would you place Michael Moore in a position of honor at the DNC caucus right next to Jimmy Carter? These people are passionate, and passion is good, but remember that they do NOT represent the majority of Americans or even Americans in your own party.

I may be a simpleton, but I support the war for my own reasons:

I believe, as David put so well, that calling the shiites and kurds to rebel against Saddam and then leaving them to twist in the wind was a horrid mistake, one that still has repercussions. Many people in Iraq looked dubious at my assertions that we would not abandon them to slaughter THIS time. Not only that, but what happens the next time we tell people to rebel against their despots? How many revolutions were successful without a power vacuum and/or backing from a foreign power. (think of Lafayette and our own revolution as a case in point)

Again, as David pointed out, Saddam was and is a very bad man and had to go. Regardless of the reasons that were put forward to go to war, I have seen the barbarism and naked brutality with my own eyes. Rape rooms, torture chambers (REAL torture, not listening to Christina Agualera), mass graves and people shredders (which were machines used to reduce recycled plastic into pebble-sized beads. they fed people into these things when they were still alive), iron maidens (not the rock group, the coffin with spikes on the inside) and so on and so forth.

I am pleased that we have finally cast our cloak of reactionary isolationism aside enough for us to help millions of people manifest their own destiny. I only hope that we take this further and use our pre-eminent power to crush other tin pot dictators around the world. Many of these regimes do not care what we think about them, but they can hear sabers rattling oh so very well. The Sudan might be a good place to start. A couple of battalions of Marines would have scattered these butchers to all points of the compass, IMHO.

Let's not forget the nature of the people we are fighting against, either. The enemy we face is without borders, but wants to establish a pan-arabic state. They are fascists, basically. They share all of the classic characteristics of fascism, right down to the insane hatred of Jews and the desire to convert or kill anyone who opposes them. The sort of state that they would impose would be a blow to anyone who wants a "modernist" worldview to triumph.

Basically, they are brutal race-baiting fascists who would slice your throat as soon as shaking your hand. If you have any doubts about this, then remember how the people of Afghanistan were treated and how the people of Baluchistan now live.

While these people may not be much of a direct physical threat as the cold war "mutually assured destruction" detente was, they ARE a danger all out of proportion to their numbers. They have the ability to mold hundreds of millions of minds to their way of thinking and work on a pyschological and public relations venue, one that we are losing ground on rapidly even as we win every single battle we are in. What we need to do is improve our PR. Frankly, I do not see how this is possible when members of our own media are as quick to lie and slander to smear our military. Never mind the state-run media organs of Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and other Islamic countries.

As to the argument that we do not posess the training or equipment to combat a depply fanatical "insurgency", I say: huh? Who, then, is better able to combat these people? Really, the idea that the US military cannot adapt itself to this threat is silly. Who else is better able to do this? The UN? The French? The UN as it is now is a corrupt, contemtible organization that fails to live up to its own charter. The French have never been our allies in any real sense. Never mind that they were both in the pocket of Saddam in the first place.

Bottom line here is that I choose to serve because of my conviction that we have a unique and powerful message that has not taken hold in many corners of the world. Namely that the ultimate power of the state is best left in the hands of the people who live there. I will continue to support this simple but profound message with all that I am and hope to help spread the word to the people of Iraq and anyone else who needs help throwing off their oppressors.

Just one man's opinion.

peter bland said...

By the by, thanks for the URL for this site. It is hard to find time to read in Iraq, but any diversion is welome. It's good to know someone cares.

Question: do they take videos as well? I have about 200 DVDs that I want to donate (long story) and was wondering if they would take them.

Anonymous said...

David Brin pointed out that Condi Rice has driven Iran into the hands of the mullahs. Considering what I've been reading about Irani youth and their attitudes, their new Glorious Leader is about to find himself in a position vis-a-vis the young people as Richard Nixon was in 1974. May he have all they joy of it.

Pat

Joel said...

Brin said: "bellicose and warlike... AND WRETCHEDLY BAD AT IT!"

This reminds me of Neal Stephenson's characterization of worshippers of Hermes: brutish, incompetent, and willfully ignorant.

A lot of leftists claim to worship Gaia, but might actually follow Dionysus instead. He would say they're 'ashamed to be human' (was that from Snow Crash?), and identify with older or newer gods.

You're right that being savvy, disciplined, and *ready for* a fight is entirely different than *wanting* a fight. I'd probably vote for a politician that seems devoted to Athena myself, even if he'd never have the political guts to put it in those terms.

peter bland said...

The same "young people" who came out in droves to vote in the last election?

No, the mass protests against Vietnam evaporated into thin air as soon as the draft was lifted. I could agree with you about "young people" protesting a reinstatement of the draft, and I would agree with this wholeheartedly.

Not only that, but Nixon used the extremism that was rife in the mass protests of the era to good political effect. Why else would he carry EVERY STATE in the US against McGovern except for MA in 1972? If the mass protests of the time actually had an effect against Nixon, then why did his popularity increase? Granted, Nixon was a masterful politician AND a criminal), but this cannot account for all of his enduring popularity at the time.

Or are you referring to the impeachment proceedings that ousted Nixon (rightly) from office? What about the aftereffects of this? Remember when Congress nullified our treaty support of South Vietnam by refusing to abide by the peace treaty? As a direct result of this, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives to the communist north. And we did nothing.

Ironic indeed that several members of that same august body are recommending that we do the same to the Iraqis. A complete withdrawal of our forces would be disastrous to the area and would have a much greater negative impact than we could face by staying the course.

Which isn't to say that we should conduct the war as we have been: clearly we have not been doing a very good job of it.

Personally, I think that we need to be more agressive in pursuing the jihadists, instead of trying to conduct a PC war. You are either at war or you aren't.

Anonymous said...

Peter wrote:

"Demeted leftists in moveon.org and Micheal Moore fans: STOP attacking the troops"

After reading this, I stopped by moveon.org to read about the attacks they're making on the troops.

I couldn't find any.

Anywhere.

They object to the use of torture, but they seem to be blaming Alberto Gonzales, not the troops.

They certainly don't like the war . . . but they're not blaming the troops that I can see. They're blaming the Administration, just as Peter suggested.

OH! WAIT! I DID find something mentioning the troops:

Their "Archives" page has a link to Operation Phone Home, asking people to donate phone cards so troops can get in touch with the folks back home during the holidays. THOSE RUTHLESS BASTARDS!

Oh, and right on the front page there is a link to a place where you can donate frequent flyer miles to troops so they can more easily visit family during leave. WILL THE INFAMY NEVER END?

Peter, I suspect you have NEVER VISITED moveon.org, and probably ONLY KNOW ABOUT THEM through what other people have TOLD you about the organization.

Judge for youselves, all of you:

Go to their "archives" page and their "victories" page and tell me if anything there looks like the work of "demeted" leftists, as opposed to being typical Democratic positions.

I suspect that moveon.org is on the shit list of the right because they are EFFECTIVE.

Stefan

P.S. I just donated $50 to GiveBooks, because I'm too lazy to cull through my paperback collection right now. I will do that next time the weather is rotten.

Nate said...

Okay, honestly, peter bland, you'd be a lot more credible in your claims of moderation if you'd stop repeating Republican talking points.

Like anonymous said, MoveOn.org hasn't attacked any of the troops. I'm also curious to see where you think Michael Moore did. From what I recall, all of his ire has been directed at the person responsible for the soldiers being in there in danger and underequipped.

As for "real" torture, does raping somebody with a lightstick count? Beating them to death? Leaving them in a metal room with an air temperature of 120 degrees all day, without water or anything? How about siccing dogs on them, or hanging them from hooks for hours at a time? Trying to say "we're not as bad as person X, who did this even more horiffic thing" doesn't hold any water. Something doesn't stop being wrong just because people can do something WORSE.

And as for intervening in Darfur, or overthrowing other dictators, HOW? The President and Congress (and most of Europe and elsewhere) don't seem to be interested in doing anything about Darfur, and we don't have the military capacity to do much there, much less overthrow other countries, we don't even have enough troops for Iraq.

peter bland said...

Easy, easy. There are no wrong opinions, merely wrong ideas.

Perhaps I should have been more clear: when I say that moveon.org is anti-military, their press statements and donations to troops notwithstanding, it is clear to me from their actions that they clearly are a heavily partisan, biased group who think nothing of sliming the US military to attack conservatives.

Case in point: Abu Ghraib. The moveon crowd, with ample assistance from the press, used this rather tame scandal to push their agenda forward. If it has an impact on the mission the troops are in or places them in more danger by fanning the flames of fanatacism, then that is just too bad.

Not to say that I wasn't shocked by the actions of the soldiers involved with Abu Ghraib. I was. But my uniformed experience enabled me to place it into context. I knew that such behavior was not officially condoned, if for no other reason than it would cause embarassment in the court of public opinion and damage our ability to conduct the war.

Furthermore, I knew after reading more in-depth analysis of the scandal that it was the fault of a criminal breakdown of command and control structure combined with a lack of clear orders detailing exactly what the acceptable standards for interrogation are. You will always have your 10% of any organization that do not meet the requirements of the group. The military is certainly no exception, unfortunately.

But I was also disgusted with the rabid anti-Bush elements in the media and in places like moveon.org used this as a flail against the Bush administration over and over and over world unto end amen. Meanwhile they chose to ignore more horrific abuses by UN peacekeeping troops in the Congo. On this issue there is almost total silence.

That is the basis for my accusation of an anti-military slant. The hysterical advertisements from this PAC that placed a bag over the head of lady liberty was in poor taste...and certainly did not go unnoticed by our enemies. More than anything else, we are deeply in a media war here and any bad press, especially bad press about the military, needs to be packaged with the disclaimer that all American troops do not behave in this way and the overwhelming majority are decent people.

IMHO, the Abu Ghraib mess would have been elevated to true scandal status if the Pentagon had attempted to start a cover-up. Since that clearly is not the case, the hysterical rantings of moveon.org, Micheal Moore, Amnesty International, Dick Durbin and many press outlets is disgusting. It is not what these people do not say outright, but the way that they package their messages that is disturbing to me.

Again, all I ask for is to bring back the ethos of "loyal opposition".

But hey, if I disagree with the things that these people say, I will defend to the death their right to say them.

peter bland said...

Nate, name calling is not nice. I do not merely repeat "Republican talking points" and do not appreciate the underhanded insult that I am unable to think for myself.

I am not even a registered Republican. I am conservative, there can be no doubt of that. My previous statements make this clear.

But is there no room in the Democratic party for conservative, patriotic members? Or am I a pariah for my beliefs?

Not that I am a registered Democrat either. I try to vote my beliefs, tempered by my research into the issues. I freely admit my own experience give a patina of conservatism to my ramblings, but I like to think that I am able to be persuaded and enegage in intelligent discourse.

Stop attacking ME and try to confine your comments to the framework of my remarks. I hate to think that you are capable of the kind of partisan rhetoric that we hear all the time.

Lindy said...

Thanks for the tip about the books and Fed-Ex. I've passed that along to everyone on my list. I have never had anything but respect for our troops, even during Vietnam, though I have NO respect for the present leadership in our country.

I was curious to learn that the President was interested in and supported the space program until it dawned on me (horrifying thought) that maybe he's looking for an escape route after he and his friends trash this planet.

peter bland said...

Now that is funny.

I read a piece online (someone else penned it, of course) that said Saddam ate up the oil for food purchases, based on the fact that he downs an entire bag of Doritos all at once.

The only real question I have is this: is interstellar space cold enough to cool all the hot air from a politician?

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps I should have been more clear"

NO, Peter, you were PERFECTLY clear. You wrote:

"Demeted leftists in moveon.org and Micheal Moore fans: STOP attacking the troops and START attacking the civilian leadership, which has ultimate control over the military anyway."

. . . and then, faced with evidence that moveon.org does NOT "attack the troops," you take them on for attacking the civilian leadership . . . which is exactly what you suggested that all those "demeted leftists" should be doing!

For cripes sake be consistent!

Do you realize how insulting it is to be told to "stop attacking the troops!" when no one, no one outside of the flakiest, most marginalized, ludicrous, anachronistic socialist fringe groups would even dream of wishing harm on our troops?



You've managed to make lucid and informed statements in this forum, but if really you want to be taken seriously, quit using that inane, unfair, cheap, and dishonest "attacking our troops" rhetoric.

Stefan

Nate said...

Peter Bland said:

" Nate, name calling is not nice."

"Stop attacking ME and try to confine your comments to the framework of my remarks. I hate to think that you are capable of the kind of partisan rhetoric that we hear all the time."


I didn't call any names. I said your claims would be more credible if you weren't pushing the Republicans' talking points, then went on to enumerate the methods of "real" torture that US troops have used, at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. Which you haven't commented on. And half the point of the things Dr. Brin has been saying is that anyone is capable of "partisan rhetoric". But it should also be noted that just because something is partisan, that doesn't mean it's not true.

And on your other comment...

"Case in point: Abu Ghraib. The moveon crowd, with ample assistance from the press, used this rather tame scandal to push their agenda forward. If it has an impact on the mission the troops are in or places them in more danger by fanning the flames of fanatacism, then that is just too bad."

Wow. Just wow. On so many levels, wow. First, the assumption that the people who are outraged about the fact that US troops are torturing people are doing it to "push their agenda" (of not tortuing people? What a horrible agenda) and the assumption that opposing torture is going to put the troops in more danger than the actual fact of torture, which the people in Iraq could easily find out about without the Washington Post or CBS, because they live there. How on earth is opposing the fact that we're torturing people putting troops in danger? Seriously.

Can you cite any other actions by MoveOn.org that show "from their actions that they clearly are a heavily partisan, biased group who think nothing of sliming the US military to attack conservatives."? Seriously. What, opposing the war? If you think a war is wrong, badly planned, and going to be a waste of lives, wouldn't you be supporting the troops by opposing it?

"More than anything else, we are deeply in a media war here and any bad press, especially bad press about the military, needs to be packaged with the disclaimer that all American troops do not behave in this way and the overwhelming majority are decent people."

Or, y'know, we could... not torture people, so there wouldn't be the bad press, and deal with it when it's discovered, and put a stop to it, and hold the people responsible accountable, instead of hysterically screaming about "AI SAID GULAG!" or "SENATOR DURBIN SAID NAZI!" If we want to be seen as the good guys, then maybe we should act that way. Seems simple.

And if you don't believe me about torture, still, a long list of links.

US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo and Iraq, Afghanistan: UN source

"In the view expressed by the Justice Department memo, which differs from the view of the Army, physical torture "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." For a cruel or inhuman psychological technique to rise to the level of mental torture, the Justice Department argued, the psychological harm must last "months or even years."

The ACLU's archive of torture documentation released under the Freedom of Information Act

General Taguba's Report on Abu Ghraib, including such gems as "Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick."

Military says prisoner deaths were homicides which starts off with "The Army has concluded that 27 of the detainees who died in U.S. custody in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002 were the victims of homicide or suspected homicide, military officials said in a report released Friday."

Katherine's exhaustive series on "extraordinary rendition" over on Obsidian Wings, start with #1. Extraordinary rendition is when we send a suspect to another country such as Egypt, or Syria, to be tortured. This happened under Clinton too, and has expanded under Bush, and is just as wrong both times.

A summary with pictures of Abu Ghraib, from rotten.com (I'd advise not clicking on links to other portions of that site, though, they tend to post the most disgusting pictures they can, that's the point of much of the site)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld revealed Friday that videos and "a lot more pictures" exist of the abuse of Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison. ""The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters after Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee."

It's not just "a few bad apples" or a "breakdown in the chain of command" that we're talking about here. Not even close.

Seriously, the whole "You can't say we do anything bad, that's helping our enemies!" line is bullshit, especially when we ARE doing bad things, and THOSE help our enemies far more than the words used by Senator Durbin or Amnesty International or even, yes, Michael Moore. Saying that we can't point out mistakes our country is making, especially in wartime, is the exact opposite of what Dr. Brin is saying.

Also, we're torturing people. It's wrong, it doesn't work, and it makes us evil, too. Maybe "not as bad as" our enemies, but that's no kind of explanation, or excuse. We should aim to be better than, not just not as evil.

Lindy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Okipunk said...

I am not saying that we cannot criticize the actions of our troops.

But I have to object to the tone of the articles and choice of speech that administrations gadflies chose to use in regards to Abu Ghraib. It was, in a word, disgraceful. I know what kind of bell jar the servicemen live under every day, and I can tell you that we are tired of all the negative propoganda out there.

I feel strongly about the carping on troops because I AM a troop. Frankly, what you see in the media does not begin to approach the true situation on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As an example, look up this name: Didier Bourgeut. then count how many articles there are in regards to his actions versus how many there are regarding, oh say, PFC England.

I was merely trying to point out how I feel that the military is being attacked every day by the press and extremist groups like this moveon.org. You never ever hear about the good things the troops do and the efforts they make on behalf of the people of Iraq every day.

Let me make something else plain: I do NOT condone the actions of the troops involved in this thing any more than I appreciate the huge propoganda campaign that was launched in an effort to remove the president. It is easy to point to individual cases where soldiers did something horrible. Unfortunately, our efforts over there get buried under mountains of this hysterical nonsense.

Another case in point: Everyone has heard of LT Calley. But much less famous is the actions of Hugh Thompson Jr. that saved the lives of many people. This illustrates that in the military, as in all things, you will find the good as well as the bad.

I think that our military is so outstanding in its day to day conduct that any misdeed of any soldier is automatically a news item. This alone speaks volumes about the conduct of our troops in that such horrors are not so commonplace that they fail to get mentioned, every time and in extreme detail.

It could also be that the consumers of the news do not care to hear about the soldiers risking their lives to save people they do not know. "If it bleeds it leads" could be part of the reason for the coverage this scandal received.

It is easy to point at photos of Abu Ghraib, but how many times did you see the grisly photos of people hanging from bridges? Or the videos of prisoners being executed with dull knives?

Look, all I ask is that the news outlets make it plain that they know that the conduct of the troops in question does not reflect the individuals who serve in the military in general, nor does is it tolerated. This message could be condensed down to one sentence. It is not that hard.

People went to jail. People were demoted. What more do you want?

Now, I feel that we are concentrating too much on this particular issue when I meant it only as an illustration of how troops are slandered day in and day out by partisan media, partisan attack groups and partisan politicians who all have an agenda.

I also do not like it when other people wrap themselves in the flag as a way to deflect criticism away from themselves. If you were to sum up my feelings in this matter in general it would be this: shut up and let us do our job.

Here is the real question: what concrete, constructive alternatives does anyone have to the detention centers we have now?

How would you conduct the war against the islamists differently?

Peter

DoctorB said...

I have seen from Dr. Brin as well as many of the more righty posters on this forum the comment that leftys show "blanket hostility toward the military" or that they "attack the military." These comments always seem to be taken as a priori true requiring no proof of any kind. Such blanket attacks call for a high standard of proof (not isolated incidents). The only specific example I have seen here was Peter Bland's accusation against MoveOn, which Nate effectively debunked.

If we are to have an intelligent discussion and not simply hurl talking points at each other, we must be careful about characterizations of people we politically disagree with.

Conclusions require evidence, lest we fall into the trap of the current administration: Selectively search for (or invent) evidence to fit our ideological predisposition.

Okipunk said...

Again, I do not mean my remarks as a specific indictment of moveon.org, merely as an illustration of how the military is used as a whipping post by the media and groups like moveon.org.

The videos of the twin towers were removed from the public discourse after about a month after September 11th, when we saw entirely too much of these videos.

The press did not let go of this story for months.

We never see the gruesome pictures from the suicide bombers or head choppers.

And groups such as moveon.org, which is manifestly an attack machine for the far left, used this as a pretense to attack Bush. They were and are totally heedless of the damage this did to morale of the troops or the damage it did to our prestige internationally.

They may not hate the military, but they show no mercy in vilifying it.

It is partisanship at its worst and I am sick to death of it.

Nate said...

"We never see the gruesome pictures from the suicide bombers or head choppers."

Yes, we do. The Nicholas Berg video was spready widely through the internet. Photos and video of the aftermath of suicide bomber attacks are not uncommon in the news.

"And groups such as moveon.org, which is manifestly an attack machine for the far left, used this as a pretense to attack Bush. They were and are totally heedless of the damage this did to morale of the troops or the damage it did to our prestige internationally."

Once again, I have to repeat this. Whatever Moveon.org, or anyone else has said about Abu Ghraib has done far less damage to us internationally and at home, than the fact that torture happened, and continues to happen, at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. IF we weren't torturing people, then if somebody accused American soldiers of torturing people, it would be laughed off. But it's not. Because we are torturing people.

And you have yet to back up your attacks on Moveon, other than saying they attacked Bush.

"Here is the real question: what concrete, constructive alternatives does anyone have to the detention centers we have now?"

Well, for one, how about detention centers where we don't torture people. And we have trials, to determine if somebody's actually a terrorist, or insurgent, or cab driver, or civilian, or whatever, before we lock them up for years. And torture them. Detendion centers where we keep people locked up and show them that Americans aren't the caricatures they've been exposed to in propaganda, that we're not out to attack their religion, their women, or to torture people. By not doing those. Just like we did in WWII. And most of our other wars.

And how, precisely, is it partisan attacks, slander, or so on, to say we're tortuing people, when we are?

"Let me make something else plain: I do NOT condone the actions of the troops involved in this thing any more than I appreciate the huge propoganda campaign that was launched in an effort to remove the president. It is easy to point to individual cases where soldiers did something horrible. Unfortunately, our efforts over there get buried under mountains of this hysterical nonsense."

"People went to jail. People were demoted. What more do you want?"

I want the United States of America to stop torturing people in my name! I want the people who tortured, ordered torture, and allowed it to happen punished and removed from the positions that let them do it. I want the whole affair investigated in the open, and dealt with. I want the torture to stop, and stay stopped, not just have a few people to take the blame for something more widespread. I WANT US TO STOP TORTURING PEOPLE. I want to be able to think of my country without being sick at heart at the things people are doing in our names, things that make a mockery of everything our country stands for.

donald said...

David
I just came across your BLOG for the first time tonight, and want to say thanks for the information about sending books. I've got a couple of shelves of paperbacks that are looking for a good home.

I haven't read all of your postings on your opinion about the War in Iraq, but I have read a good deal tonight to offer an opinion or two.

The political activities of the Middle East nations and there style of warfare (terrorism, religious fanaticism, economic sabotage, etc) has not been successful addressed by any previous US or western governments administration since its inception in the 40’s and 50’s. The steady increase in the boldness and bloodiness of the attacks pre-dating 9/11 were not being curtailed by any amount of diplomacy, patience, or economic incentives attempted. The one lesson that most people overlook about the 9/11 attacks was that all of our previous attempts to address these issue did not work.

The Afghanistan and Iraq wars were the first major change in the direction of US policy that has been attempted in decades. That’s it in a nut shell. The entrenched powers in those area’s, those on the throne and those “behind the throne”, were not being impacted by the previous policies. Actually they were using any misstep in implementing those previous policies to fuel the emotions of those people being ruled.

Admittedly there are so many factors that intertwine in describing why the peoples of the Middle East hate anyone that is “western”, and why some of the previous activities of various US (or Western) policies seems to have had some form of affect. The factors about the 91 Iraq war has its own unique issue. Bush 41 did something that no one seems to remember. He stayed within the implied constraints of the UN. If a nation invades another to “take it over” (imperialism?), they should be pushed back, freeing the invaded nation. To one of the (probably) hardest decisions on policy interpretation, Bush 41 was not going to do “nation building”. The idea that the local populace should handle there own problems (revolution) was acceptable and encouraged. And as history has shown, it was wrong. The Iraqi people have paid for that mistake, and the US military today is paying for that mistake.

It all comes down to “does a policy effect the change for the better”. The last 50 to 60 years of policy created the situation, and the current administration changed that policy.

Anonymous said...

"You never ever hear about the good things the troops do and the efforts they make on behalf of the people of Iraq every day."

You are wrong.

The local paper, The Oregonian, is no great shakes, but it does run articles about work being done on water treatment facilities and other infrastructure projects.

Just last night, on Oregon Public Radio, the City Club of Portland ran an hour-long interview with two Oregon soldiers who'd recently returned from Iraq. The site below has a link to the MP3.

http://www.pdxcityclub.org/forums-events/friday-forums.php#ListenOnline

Stefan

Paul Weeks said...

Woutldn't it be great if all the letter-writers and book-senders would pack their sons and daughters, and maybe themselves off to Bush's war instead?

No, at age 84, I've seen wars and people who would rather go to war than figure out before hand there are better ways to spend money for developing cultural relations, understanding of other religions, economies,and people everywhere.

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Okipunk said...

Well, let's take a look at some of the members of moveon.org, shall we?

'The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not 'insurgents' or 'terrorists' or 'The Enemy.' They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.'' Michael Moore on his website April 14 2004

The above is not very sympathetic to our troops.

''You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.'' MIchael Moore to a Crowd in Cambridge

Yep, that's me all over. I love how Moore went into this spiel about how he respects the troops in farenheight 9-11...and then lampooned them as "teenagers addicted to violence and rock and roll".

"The [Bush] administration works closely with a network of rapid responders, a group of digital brownshirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors and publishers and advertisers, and are quick to accuse them of undermining support for our troops." Al Gore at a June 24 2002 speech at Georgetown university.

Sign me up for that!

"When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans. My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me." George Soros to the Washington Post.

I just LOVE being called a storm trooper.

Oh, and who can forget the ads on the moveon website in January of 2004. Wish I studied German to live up to the part. They may not have called me a Nazi directly, but what happens when someone hears this ad and then hears me support our decision to go to warm, for my own reasons? What conclusion are they going to come to?

Harping on the casualties, the cost and other attendant issues swirling around the war in Iraq is fine; comparing Bush, and therefore anyone who supports him in any way a Nazi is not.

That is what I object to.

Well, then, I guess the bell tolls for me.

David Brin said...

1. Athena? Cool metaphor. recommended: IN ATHENA'S CAMP by Arquilla & Ronfeldt

2. The biggest after effect of Watergate was the traumatization of an embittered core on the right, who first wanted revenge by impeaching Clinton. When he tefloned off ever charge (except his discharge on a blue dress) they upped the ante even more. The Culture War is pathological and insatiable revenge for Watergate.

3. Darfur & Sudan show how creaky is the unholy right wing troika now running things. The apocalypt wing seriously believes in rescuing africans from both AIDS and slavers. They want to take on Islamists. But they have a problem with the neocons and kleptos who actually run things and obey orders from a certain petroroyalhouse.

4. I must come down on the side of MoveOn.org. I don't agree with everything... and Michael Moore needs maturity that he will never find. But to compare them - or PBS - to Fox and CNN in the bias game is comparing a hen to a velociraptor... and I haven't even started on Limbaugh et al.

Let me make it clear that we are supposed to be made BETTER by transparency discoveries like Rodney King and Abu Ghraib. When these things happens do NOT blame the messenger for pointing in outrage at abuse of power. We are moving to an era when Imperial Power must look more and more like POLICE power... as it did in Bosnia and Afgh... and less like the stomping conquests of old.

As the last imperium, we SHOULD be answerable to world opinion. It is irritating and inconvenient... (I HATE being morally judged by the French and Germans)... but it is proper that we face this mature duty like grownups. By owning up and fessing up and doing better, we may wind up serving our stint as the Last Imperium in a way that will make Marshall proud.

That is not happening when we make excuses for torturers. The proper answer is "No excuse, Ma'am. It won't happen again."

donald: you could not be more wrong. The change was BETWEEN afghanistan (which was planned under Clinton and used the Balkans war plan) and Iraq, a war which primarily serves the purposes of an enemy state. We are today generating more terrorists daily than attacked us on 9/11. And that is an inherent part of the plan.

As is demolition of America's alliances. And destruction of our economy and budget. Evaporation of our military readiness. Abandonment of research into ways to avoid dependence on foreign oil. And so on. There are no positive effects for us. Only negative ones. Which can only have been planned.


sayethPaul Weeks... "Wouldn't it be great if all the letter-writers and book-senders would pack their sons and daughters, and maybe themselves off to Bush's war instead?"

All I ask is that the kleptos do what every other generation of elites were willing to do, when they sent other families' boys off to fight. At least tax yourselves to pay for it. This is the first time the aristocracy has flatly refused to do that. One more sign of their character.

Because this is not the smart wing of the aristocracy. The Warren Buffets of the world hate these guys as much as anybody. The rich folks who can see more than a year ahead at a time - who read science fiction or innovate or create new products and services - their Conservatism does not encompass this madness.

The kind delivered by frat boys.

donald said...

David
There have been a couple of comments that the Afghanistan War (design) is credited to the Clinton administration, but I’ve not heard that before. I’m sure that the pentagon had tapped into there “War Games / What If” archives that they are constantly doing to work up most of the War, but I don’t know that I would credit any particular administration for that. The most credit an administration should get for the execution of a war is to stay out of the military’s business, give them specific goals and objectives, and have them accountable for any “Code of Conduct” violations. If you have links or information outlining how the Afghanistan war should be credited to Clinton, could you please post them (or point out where in your sites you have it).

I’m not sure I would say there is an increased number of terrorist so much as an increase in the number of terrorist attacks. I think it is a direct response to a change in the power base within the region: those that had the power and have been displaced are trying to take it back, and the only weapon they have is the form of guerrilla warfare that terrorism represents (in this case anyway). Since there is no census (that I know of or that is public) of what the ranks of terrorist are, where they are located, and what there affiliations are, we are left with perceptions, not facts. An increase in the number of attacks, and its death toll, gives the impression of an increase in the number of terrorist. That impression is one of the goals (I would think) of a terrorist group.

You also mention a couple of times some type of “plan”. Whose plan; a foreign power or a domestic power? What do you think the plan is?

I’m not sure which “enemy state” you are referring to in your reply. Any enemy state that is currently in existence was probably an enemy state before 9/11, and there reactions are more due to the effect that the change in policy potentially has to unseating them than it does on some “moral grounds”.

Any of the disrupted alliances due to the Iraq war have been demonstrated to be from governments that had been violating established UN sanctions and were making money in Iraq. I don’t have an actual comparison laid out between the “oil for food” scandal and there opposition, but from what I recall it’s pretty much a one for one match. As the statement goes “follow the money”.

Our economic situation is a direct result of 9/11 and it’s after effects. I still don’t understand why people seem to forget that. 9/11 was a declaration of war against the US. It was an economic attack, a political attack, and a military attack. The US government has changed its “stance” to a war footing in response, and most of the current economic situation is a direct result to all of that.

As to the energy situation, there has always been an alternative to oil, but most people got scared of it in 1978, nuclear energy. There are reactor designs now that would prevent any similar situation, as well as retrofit designs of existing reactors that would do the same. Spent nuclear fuel can be recycled and any remaining waste has much shorter half-life after the recycling. All that remains to implement it is to change public opinion (with proof). Remember that France produces almost all of its power from nuclear energy, something like 90% if memory serves.

Ambi said...

@ Peter

Have I got that right: You support the Iraq war and want to protect the military against a media that presents only the bad apples and not the heroes?

This still leaves open many interpretations: You could be supporting the way the Bush administration handles it because there's no proven better way, you see a better way for them to handle things, and turn to them via petition, or you could critizise the administration publicly in saying the military is doing their job fine, but the administration is responsible for several mistakes, and should correct them ASAP.

What's your position?

Okipunk said...

My position is that I am tired of these stories being used to pound the military over and over while at the same time ignoring other more horrendous actions of the UN peacekeepers, for example.

In the last year we were treated to the following scandals, near scandals, lies and damn foolishness:

Abu Ghraib, which was terrible and should NOT happen on our watch. The people involved were punished, up to and including the general in charge of the prison (who is a miserable excuse for an officer). This was used as a cudgel by leftists activists who tried to beat resignations out of President Bush, Alberto Gonzalez, Donald Rumsfeld and anyone else that they did not like.

Again, no excusing the actions of the troops involved, but they went to jail and were dismissed from service if there was a good reason to do so and proof warranted the individual charges. But the enemies of the administration took the Navy credo of "it happened and you were there" entirely too far. They assumed that it was official policy to rape, maim and murder prisoners was the advocated policy, even when it was clearly not if you bother to read the memos and directives involved carefully.

I also object to the idea the the head choppers and suicide bombers be treated as POWs on for the following reasons:
Area bombardments occur when a number of clearly separated military objectives are treated as a single military objective, and where there is a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects. ( Protocol I, Art. 51 , Sec. 5a)

Area bombardments and other indiscriminate attacks are forbidden. ( Protocol I, Art. 57, Sec. 2b)

An indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population or civilian objects and resulting in excessive loss of life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. ( Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be subject to collective penalties or any other measures of intimidation or terrorism. (Convention IV, Art. 33)

Guerrillas who follow the rules spelled out in the Geneva Conventions are considered to have combatant status and have some of the same rights as regular members of the armed forces.

In international conflicts, guerrillas must distinguish themselves from the civilian population if they are preparing or engaged in an attack. At a minimum, guerrillas must carry their arms openly. (Protocol I, Art. 44, Sec. 3)

Under the earlier Geneva Conventions, which are more widely recognized, a guerrilla army must have a well-defined chain of command, be clearly distinguishable from the civilian population, carry arms openly and observe the laws of war. (Convention III, Art. 4, Sec. 2)

In the case of an internal conflict, combatants must show humane treatment to civilians and enemies who have been wounded or who have surrendered. Murder, hostage-taking and extrajudicial executions are all forbidden. (Convention I, Art. 3)

Area bombardments and other indiscriminate attacks are forbidden. If it becomes apparent that an objective is not a military one, or if an attack is expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects then the attack must be canceled or suspended. (Protocol I, Art. 57, Sec. 2b)

An indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population or civilian objects and resulting in excessive loss of life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

Civilians have special protections under Convention IV, Protocol I, and Protocol II.

They must be treated humanely, without discrimination based on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or other similar criteria.

Violence to life and person including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture are prohibited.

The taking of hostages is prohibited.

Outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating and degrading treatment are prohibited.

Sentences and executions without a judgment from a regularly constituted court and without benefit of the standard judicial guarantees are prohibited. (Convention IV, Art. 3)

Combatants must distinguish between civilian and military objects and attack only military targets. (Protocol I, Art. 48)

Weapons, projectiles and methods of warfare that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering are prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 35, Sec. 2)

If I may pause for a moment to say that we never ratified the provisions of the 1977 Convention and further say that we do not recognize the portion, Protocol I Acticle 44 section three of the 1977 accords. It was felt at the time that extending POW status to everyone, regardless of their actions, would be a mistake and make it harder to put down resistance.

A mercenary does not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war. (Protocol I, Art. 37)
This means that the foreign fighters and terrorists do not enjoy the benefits of the Geneva Convention.

Another thing that needs to be mentioned is the definition of "internee" as it relates to the conventions. Namely, these are common criminals that hold up gas stations or burglarize.

Ah, but are the holy sites protected under the protocols? Depends.
Hostile acts and reprisals against historic monuments, works of art and places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples are prohibited. Such objects must not be used in support of the military effort. (Protocol I, Art. 53 and Protocol II, Art. 16)

If such objects are attacked when they’re not located near a military target or used for the war effort, then the attack is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4d)

These objects are also protected by the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Murder of civilians is prohibited, as is sentencing and executions without benefit of a regularly constituted court affording all guarantees recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec. 1)

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be transferred to a country where they have reason to fear persecution based on their political or religious beliefs. (Convention IV, Art. 45)
Which means that "rendering" prisoners to hostile nations is not accepable and should immediately cease.

The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions are forbidden unless all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people have been met and a regularly constituted court has pronounced a judgment. (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec 1d)

Depriving combatants, prisoners of war, refugees, or medical or religious personnel of a fair trail is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4e)
Which is not to suggest that we should have a "catch and release" program. This only says that we have to give them a fair trial, which has been seen as a military tribunal for the purposes of this exercise. Not only that, but the prisoners involved must not breach the Convention.

Genocide is a violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

It is a crime under international law both in peace and in times of war and is defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including killing or seriously injuring members of the group, imposing measures indented to prevent births or forcibly transferring children.
Such as carbombing funerals, for example.

Guerrillas who follow the rules spelled out in the Geneva Conventions are considered to have combatant status and have some of the same rights as regular members of the armed forces.

In international conflicts, guerrillas must distinguish themselves from the civilian population if they are preparing or engaged in an attack. At a minimum, guerrillas must carry their arms openly. (Protocol I, Art. 44, Sec. 3)

Under the earlier Geneva Conventions, which are more widely recognized, a guerrilla army must have a well-defined chain of command, be clearly distinguishable from the civilian population, carry arms openly and observe the laws of war. (Convention III, Art. 4, Sec. 2)

In the case of an internal conflict, combatants must show humane treatment to civilians and enemies who have been wounded or who have surrendered. Murder, hostage-taking and extrajudicial executions are all forbidden. (Convention I, Art. 3)

Genocide is forbidden by the 1948 Genocide Convention, which covers acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such, as well as direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

The Geneva Convention, as well, prohibits murder and adverse distinction based on race, color, religion or faith, birth or wealth, or similar criteria. (Convention I, Art. 3)

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be subject to collective penalties or any other measures of intimidation or terrorism. (Convention IV, Art. 33)

A mercenary is any person who is specially recruited in order to fight in an armed conflict, who takes a direct part in the hostilities, who is motivated by money and is promised substantially higher pay than that paid to other combatants of similar rank, who is not a national of one of the countries involved in the conflict nor a resident of a territory controlled by any of the parties, is not a member of the armed forces of any of the parties, and who has not been sent by another country on official duty as a member of its armed forces. (Protocol I, Art. 47)

A mercenary does not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war. (Protocol I, Art. 37)

Female civilians in an occupied territory, internees and refugees must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. (Convention IV, Art. 27)

Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault is prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilians or military personnel. (Protocol I, Art. 75)
Unless you are a UN peacekeeper, then you are immune from all prosecution for this and anything else, unless your government chooses to punish you directly (yeah right).

Peter

Okipunk said...

Getting away from Abu Ghraib, lets review what else we were treated to:

Durbin's slanderous accusations against our troops at Gitmo, which compared them to Nazis, The kmer Rouge and the MKVD. While it may not have been his INTENTION to smear the troops, the effect was to do just that, a smear campaign that was picked up immediately and broadcast to our enemies via Al Jazeera. This accusation rested on a confidential memo from a secret source.

The weak Newsweek story that relied on a secret, unverifiable source to accuse our troops of "Koran Desecration". Again, it was picked up and broadcast this to our enemies via Al Jazeera. (beginnning to see a pattern here? how many times will people have to eat their word before we stop having to hear the ravings of a "confidential source".)

Eason Jordan, the head of CNN's news division, slimes my and my fellow soldier's honor by accusing us of deliberately attacking journalists. He then retracts and apologizes for his statements. His accusations are picked up and broadcast on, you get the picture.

A rabid communist working for the party rag in Italy accuses our troops of deliberately killing her rescuer and wounding her. Ditto on Al Jazeera.

Amnesty International Compared Gitmo to a "gulag", ignoring the irony of such a statement entirely.

There is a general smear campaign that is actively going on in journalistic circles. Putting links to mail books and frequent flier miles is nice(this is not an attack directed at David Brin by any means), but the ultra-left activists in groups like moveon.org do not do enough to counter the outrageous slander that is so prevalent in our biased media.

Isn't is revealing that the media refuses to use the word "terrorist", even when the actions of these people clearly qualify as such? These same people are not hesitant to destroy the image of our troops, but are afraid to offend terrorists by calling them out for what they are.

What I want, and am not holding my breath for, is the moveon crowd and Micheal Moore to say point blank that these sort of vile character attacks against the honor of our troops should not go unnoticed, nor should they be allowed. They should stand up for our troops, especially in times of war and limit themselves to what I like to call "loyal opposition". On this issue, silence is consent.

Meaning that they should concentrate on the particular points of foreign and domestic administration policies that they do not like, without endlessly carping on the rare instances where troops act dishonorably.

I object to the silence on this issue from the far left. Moveon.org and Micheal Moore, if they are at all interested in stating the truth instead of wild hyperbole, would eat these people for lunch. Sadly, the silence I hear regarding this leads me to believe that they do not really give a damn about me or anyone else in uniform. I object to the lack of context and the spin that is put on these things.

I support the war in the context of helping the Iraqis and Afghanis shrug off decades of oppresion. How can I not feel good about having a part to play in that? Why do you think so many troops still maintain a high level of morale?

I support the war but do not like the way that it is going. I want a few more things to happen:
- clamp down on the borders of Syria, Iran and other countries that are actively assisting the head choppers.

- more agressively pursue the terrorists where they hide, conducting house to house searches every day if needed.

- let the nations surrounding Iraq know that we will not tolerate any more support of the people who are killing our troops in droves.

However, do not take this to mean that I support eveything Bush does, or listen to that fool Limbaugh. Here are the main problems that I have with Bush:
- he does not articulate the reasoning for his decisions to the public very well, or at all

- for a "conservative" he spends money like a drunken sailor

- he does not do enough to tighten the border with Mexico.

Peter

Okipunk said...

I have a more practical reason for moveon.org and other extreme lefties to persue the program that I have outlined for them: it will win voters to your cause.

Most decent Americans understand that our military is above reproach most of the time. They also understand that a minority of servicemen are ****heads. They object to Senator Durbin's, Amnesty International, Eason Jordan, the reporter from "Il Manifesto" and others who would collectively defame our troops in order to sin support for their cause.

So then, if the Democrats want to pick up votes, they can do so easily.
- distance themselves from moveon.org and Micheal Moore (although since George Soros is the single largest contributor to the party, this may be diffifult to do)

- Preface all of their remarks regarding the war effort with the following: "While our troops are the best and most capable in the world, we feel that (insert blank) needs to be done to better prosecute the war on terror."

- Immediately and strongly denounce people like Eason Jordan, Mrs. Khan of Amnesty International and Dick Durbin for their outrageous comments.

The reason that they are losing elections is not due to some "vast right wing conspiracy", but goes more to the heart of what the Democrats are doing wrong in packaging their message. A lot of people are turned off by their rhetoric. I am not questioning their patriotism, but rather their sanity.

Doing and saying the same thing over and over while expecting the same results every time is a good working definition of insanity.

Or perhaps I am noting more than another "digital brownshirt", as Al Gore so eloquently put it.

Anonymous said...

as a soldier who has recieved thing through the mail from people i dont know containing things suck as books, mail writing suplies and sometimes just candy and a card. it is the greatest thing. when i first went to Iraq in '03 we didnt receive any mail for a few months but when we finally had settled and recived it its the only thing to look forward to besides going home. Thank you

Dave Baker said...

Just popping in to say that I pretty much agree with David's response to my earlier post. I certainly don't think that nasty regimes like Baathist Iraq have any right to govern people who haven't consented to their rule. But it takes a lot of oppression to jusify a war that will cause considerable death and hardship among the people we're trying to liberate. This wasn't such a big deal when we were planning our move against Afghanistan. That country was a disaster area anyway. But against a pretty much functional nation like Iraq (or Bosnia, for that matter) you need to be very careful in weighing the costs of your intervention against the benefits.

The other thing I would point out is that "supporting the troops" may be good advice overall, but must not be used to excuse any ethical missteps on the part of our soldiers in the field (or in prison camps). I certainly don't support the troops who were torturing people at Abu Ghraib, any more than I'd support the Sean Penn rapist character in Casualties of War. Just because they had orders, and are under pressure, doesn't excuse morally monstrous acts.

Another reason to be very cautious about using the wonderful tool that is the US military. War can make our troops fierce and afraid, thereby putting them at moral risk.

Frank said...

@Peter:

If your argument is that the (leftist ?) media are focussing to much on all the negative stories relating to the U.S. military, I think you are right. I would love to hear more about for instance all the successes in the Iraq war. Surely, there must be hundreds of success stories just lying around for the pickens ? Why don't we see more of those ? They can't all be top secret.

Nate said...

blandland said:
"Abu Ghraib, which was terrible and should NOT happen on our watch. The people involved were punished, up to and including the general in charge of the prison (who is a miserable excuse for an officer). This was used as a cudgel by leftists activists who tried to beat resignations out of President Bush, Alberto Gonzalez, Donald Rumsfeld and anyone else that they did not like."

This is false. I posted many links earlier about how it wasn't just Abu Ghraib, it hasn't stopped, and it wasn't just the seven enlisted people who're going to trial. The punishments I recall were on the order of a year in prison, or demotion, hardly approaching the level of the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and elsewhere.

If torture's not offical policy, why did the Justice Department redefine torture? And who was the White House Counsel who signed off on that memo? Alberto Gonzales.

And the military's own reports disagree with it being limited to Abu Ghraib, as in "The Army has concluded that 27 of the detainees who died in U.S. custody in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002 were the victims of homicide or suspected homicide, military officials said in a report released Friday."

I will admit there's no evidence that directly ties Bush to this, but there has been no full and open investigation, to find out who IS responsible. And that is Bush's responsibility. And ordering it to stop, and enforcing it, which is his job as CiC. And he has done more than not order it, he has tried to handwave it away, and ignore it. Those are not honorable actions.

Quoting a bunch of the Geneva Convetions to give why terrorists might not be covered under it doesn't justify us torturing them, even so, nor does it justify our not holding trials or tribunals to find out if the people we have been holding for years are actually terrorists.

blandland said:
"9/11 was a declaration of war against the US. It was an economic attack, a political attack, and a military attack. The US government has changed its “stance” to a war footing in response, and most of the current economic situation is a direct result to all of that."

It's a funny sort of war economy that gives trillions of dollars of tax cuts to the rich, concentrates on privatizing (and destroying) Social Security, and fails to pay for things such as body armor for the troops. A funny sort of government that doesn't call for any sacrifice on behalf of the war, to ensure it's won, but encourages people to just go shopping. Well, not funny, more bad. That's no way to run a war.

"A mercenary does not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war. (Protocol I, Art. 37)"

Aren't we the ones using mercenaries in Iraq? At pay scales much higher than our troops, which I don't understand at all. And yes, we are.


blandland said:
"Durbin's slanderous accusations against our troops at Gitmo, which compared them to Nazis, The kmer Rouge and the MKVD. While it may not have been his INTENTION to smear the troops, the effect was to do just that, a smear campaign that was picked up immediately and broadcast to our enemies via Al Jazeera. This accusation rested on a confidential memo from a secret source."

This is false. I quoted the section of the speech in question in the other thread. The second portion is also, false. Abu Aardvark listens to Al Jazeera, and speaks Arabic, and has heard no mention of Senator Durbin. And if you don't believe him, go go search Al Jazeera's webpage yourself.

blandland said:
"The weak Newsweek story that relied on a secret, unverifiable source to accuse our troops of "Koran Desecration". Again, it was picked up and broadcast this to our enemies via Al Jazeera. (beginnning to see a pattern here? how many times will people have to eat their word before we stop having to hear the ravings of a "confidential source".)"

Again, false. Yes, Newsweek backed off their story when the White House went on the attack. because they're as weak-willed as the rest of the media, lately. But nonetheless, the Pentagon itself said "The most recent, and perhaps strangest, case of mishandling was documented on March 25, 2005, when a detainee complained to the guards that urine came through an air vent in his cell and "splashed on him and his Koran while he laid near the air vent." The incidents seem to be relatively isolated, but both the Pentagon and detainees have interests in reporting, so again, this is something that would need to be part of an OPEN investigation. After we made sure, y'know, that it'd STOPPED.

"Amnesty International Compared Gitmo to a "gulag", ignoring the irony of such a statement entirely."

Which irony? That it's not named Gulag? That it's much smaller and more isolated? That we're not using it for forced labor? Or the part where we're locking people there up without evidence or trials for years, and torturing some unknown number of them?

"Isn't is revealing that the media refuses to use the word "terrorist", even when the actions of these people clearly qualify as such? These same people are not hesitant to destroy the image of our troops, but are afraid to offend terrorists by calling them out for what they are."

Okay, so, let me see if I have this straight, the media doesn't use the word "terrorist" often enough to describe the people fighting aginst the US occupation in Iraq, so they're aiding and abetting the enemy, and "afraid to offend terrorists". And this is the evidence of a slanderous, biased media.

blandland said:
"They object to Senator Durbin's, Amnesty International, Eason Jordan, the reporter from "Il Manifesto" and others who would collectively defame our troops in order to sin support for their cause."

Much of this is false, as I've already explained upthread, or earlier in this post. But here's an article from the time about Eason Jordan's speech. I confess I don't know enough about the Italian reporter to know if she's actually Communist, nor do I think it matters.

"distance themselves from moveon.org and Micheal Moore (although since George Soros is the single largest contributor to the party, this may be diffifult to do)"

Distance themselves because... why, exactly? You never gave any examples of Moveon "slandering" or "sliming" the troops, nor have you given any reason for the shot at George Soros.

"While our troops are the best and most capable in the world, we feel that not torturing people/actually equipping the soliders/planning for the aftermath/not giving trillions to your rich fratboy buddies/not leaving weapons dumps unsecured/not firing Arabic translators because they're gay/etc... needs to be done to better prosecute the war on terror."

Though I question its necessity, since NONE OF THE DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN ATTACKING THE TROOPS.

"Immediately and strongly denounce people like Eason Jordan, Mrs. Khan of Amnesty International and Dick Durbin for their outrageous comments."

Questionably false, false, and false. Which I've already explained numerous times.


"Doing and saying the same thing over and over while expecting the same results every time is a good working definition of insanity."

Now this, I agree with. But for completely different reasons than you, I suspect.

The problem the Democrats currently have is they don't seem to stand for anything, because too many aren't willing to stand up when attacked, even when they spoke the truth (I'm looking at YOU, Senator Durbin), or when somebody attacks them with outrageous lies (I'm looking at YOU, John Kerry), or they try too hard to not turn anybody off with their rhetoric, they don't give anybody anything to stand behind. Pick principles, and stand with them. Start with the Enlightenment, then look at the progress we've made, and see where we want to go from there, and what ties them together. That's our principles, and it's far past time more of them started standing up for them and fighting back.

Dreams said...

Excellent job.....keep posting.

Anonymous said...

David...
As a former Ship's Librarian, I must say thank you for the books. I donate my old books to ship's directly (I have connections), but I hardily encourage others to donate to the groups you mention. I appreciated it then, and I know people who appreciate it now.
HawkerHurricane
SM1, USN (ret)

pmusu said...

I hope for USA and all the troops in Iraq/Afganistan that Bush made the right decision.

However being a European, i have one thing to say. When Bush went to war (Iraq) he had the support of the majority of USA.

The best thing American people can do is express what they thing should be done since solving Iraq, will benefit everyone.

http://pmusu.blogspot.com

DoctorB said...

One of the things that amazes me about the administration's treatment of suspected prisoners from terrorist groups is their syllogism. It goes like this:

---------------------------------
1) These people are not prisoners of war. They do not qualify under the Geneva Convention as combatants.

2) They are not civilian criminals because they fight under the auspices of foreign governments or terrorist organizations.

Conclusion: Therefore, we can do whatever we want to these people without any restraint or oversight.

---------------------------------

I agree with the first two statements but could not disagree more with the conclusion.

We are a country that upholds the "rule of law." I take that to mean that we treat our justice system carefully and include checks and balances that prevent abuse. Abuse seems to be precisely what the current government of the USA wants to commit, not just in this matter but in legislative issues here at home. As Dr. Brin has stated repeatedly, one of the most damning things about the Bush administration is their systematic undermining of accountability and oversight.

If suspected terrorists cannot be classified as either POWs or as civil criminals then we must COME UP WITH A NEW CATEGORY. This is a democracy. We should have an open public and legislative debate about how to ensure resonable independent oversight of these prisoners while gaining whatever useful intelligence we can from them without the use of torture.

The current military tribunals do not pass the test of being independent because the judges and avenues of appeal are all controlled by the US military (so ultimately the CIC). We need to include the judicial branch in any terrorist trials, not just the executive.

I think Democrats are barking up the wrong tree when they call for treating these terrorist suspects as POWs. Let's get away from this duality and start thinking outside of the box rather than acting as imperialist tyrants like we are now. This is America. We are better than that.

Anonymous said...

To the former ship's librarian:

I'd love to know what KIND of books are best appreciated.

I'm looking over my bookshelves and seeing a lot of things I wouldn't bring with me on my next move, not because I don't like them but because I don't reread books the way I used to.

I've got science books, history books, dog training books, graphic novels, and scads of SF novels. There are hardcovers and mass-market paperbacks and big-format trade paperbacks.

What should go, or not go?

Stefan

mojoala said...

god save the hiliary!

Anonymous said...

Stefan;

I served on all male ships... we didn't care for romance novels. Action/adventure/westerns were probably the most popular, followed by science fiction and history. From your collection, I'd say that the Science Fiction and Graphic Novels would be best, followed by the history. The Science books, if they're above basic or popular sciences probably wouldn't... and we didn't do much (any) dog training out to sea.

Think of it this way: the vast majority of military people are young males. The ones who read do so for escapeism. Choose accordingly. The worst part of the job was when I was ordered to eliminate three bookcases of books... and ended up throwing some 60 books over the side, starting with the damaged ones and then moving on to the Harlequin Romances. I was able to save the business and science books by declaring them educational material.

You mentioned game donations... games for 4 players that fit on card tables are popular, especially the ones with easy rules... Think Axis and Allies, not Third Reich...
HHurricane

Okipunk said...

Excellent analysis of what military readers like....

I must take the time to say that the market for books is sadly shrinking in the military. I feel that this is a side effect of the huge variety of microprocessor powered gadgets. iPods, Game Boys, digital cameras, portable DVD players and other devices are now commonplace in the berthing areas and barracks of our modern military blunts the interest in books for a lot of people.

It is interesting what you can find in the smaller camp libraries around the world. I found that, unsuprisingly, "Soylent Green" was a horrid book. This one was in lying around the ROK Hard Cafe in Camp Muu Juk in South Korea. I read a copy of "Once and Eagle" and was captivated by it at a MWR library at Camp Babylon. And I was introduced to "Earth" at the MCAS Futenma Library.

A few more suggestions:
- guiness book of world records, any year is fine

- ripley's believe it or not

- any old copies of Maxim, Stuff or FHM, which are the modern day answer to the pinup girl

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

cheers

Michael Ruschena said...

If I could just hark back to a much older post...

This reminds me of Neal Stephenson's characterization of worshippers of Hermes: brutish, incompetent, and willfully ignorant.

This had me really confused, until I worked out that it was Ares, not Hermes. Stephenson doesn't progress the analogy, but I'd suspect that the Hermes worshippers would be amoral technocrats, selling their skills to whoever had the money and/or power... kinda like the vampire presentation recently referred to.

Tom Grey said...

[New here -- too much blogging to read much SF anymore!]

"as a response to righty monstrous abuse and misuse of the military."

It seems to me, after the Stanford Prison Experiment, that prisons have long been problamatic. The fact that the MainStream Media essentially censors current prison rape, common in so many US prisons, makes me want to challenge you:
How do you quantify abuse? Which prisons in the world full of suspected terrorists have better treatment?

Unreal Perfection is not an option.

So perhaps you say, I never claimed it is yada yada -- but you DO claim Bush has been "wretched".

How few Americans have to die for Bush to have done a good job? If you can't come up with a number, what kind of standard do you use for judging?

[My standard: 2500, about the number murdered 9/11. If Bush gets to a democracy for less deaths than this I'd give him an A.]

Anonymous said...

Uh, Tom?

Do Iraqi civilian deaths count?

Alex Ludd said...

Hey, are you related to Maia?

Tony Fisk said...

@Tom Grey:
Thank you! I was trying to compare Abu Ghraib and Baxter Detention Centre to the Stanford Prison Experiment here a week or two ago, but couldn't remember what the reference was! Anyway, I was using it to demonstrate how things tend to get ugly in a prison operating without accountability and public scrutiny. (Even good apples go bad in that environment!)

I can't agree with your thesis about the max number of lives that Bush can dispense in his 'War on Terror'. 'Counting coup' just leads to war everlasting: the books can never be made to balance (and just take a second to think what the currency is!!).

Besides, even if we do apply this standard, Bush is up to his eyebrows in weregild. At the start of the year, it was estimated that the number of casualties resulting from the invasion of Iraq is near thrice what would have occurred under Hussein (> 100, 000 vs 40,000)

Still care to compare that with 2500?

Frank said...

Tony Fisk said:
"near thrice what would have occurred under Hussein"

What are these figures based on since there is no way to know how many people might have died if we had let saddam continue doing his thing. Could have been fewer, could have been more.

---

"I'll hold off the solution for a bit"

How much longer?

Brother Doug said...

Brin said-
“I think liberals make a terrible mistake by expressing their objections to this war in leftist or pacifist terms. These is nonsensical, since two of our most successful wars were planned by Clinton-Clarke... The Balkans and Afghanistan interventions, which succeeded far better than anyone could have reasonably expected.
Until the World is Better, we are still in an era when some application of imperial power is a reasonable last resort... if it is done in the mature, responsible, adult, judicious and prudent fashion”

Here I have to disagree with Brin. I am a pacifist yet during the first gulf war I sent care packages to my childhood friend who was in the marines, even though I thought the war was a grave mistake. I bit my tongue to support Clark in hopes he would attract moderate Republicans and quelled my objections to vote for Kerry, in spite of his vote to go to war. But all his talk of force as a last resort did not convince the public to vote for him in numbers to counteract the neocons stealing the election. At least with Dr. King people respected him on both right and left, I did not see the same respect of Kerry by the right.

Anonymous said...

"those who shamefully left Saddam in power in 1991 have no right to preen over sending our troops back 12 years later"

Yeah. A bit misguided there Brin. Read Bush senior's biography. He at least had the intelligence to know what would happen if he took the troops into Baghdad. The current Bush was and still is completely clueless. He doesn't understand that America's occupation of Iraq is the precise reason it has turned into a terrorist breeding ground. The longer you stay, the worse it's going to get. Support the troops by demanding they be brought home now before more of them are needlessly killed.

Anonymous said...

Page 489 of Bush (Snr) and Scowcroft's book, A World Transformed (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), talking about not taking down Saddam, nor going into Baghdad.

We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and barren--outcome.

Anonymous said...

I think that conquest in '91 would have been a bad idea . . . but how about assisting the Shia uprising?

Bush the Elder all but promised aid if they tried to overthrow Saddaam. Instead, they got the shaft and died by the tens of thousands.

Stefan

Jundi said...

Praise to you for the book donations. The world would be better place if we had more people that were understanding and educated as you are.

Anonymous said...

Hi. David Brin here, posting as anonymous. I am up in the mountains so I have been unable to participate well. When I return I hope to comment on what gerrymandering has done to American political life.

But for now, I want to say this about the debate that has been raging here.

Romanticists - or those under the sway of romanticim - care more about symbols than pragmatic reality. I have long criticized the leftist ninnies who helped throw the last election to the neocons, by insisting on the symbolic word "marriage" for what the rest of the country was willing to give in fairness... contractual civil unions that offered all the same rights.

So I am balanced in my contrarianism.

We are seeing the same thing here among good old fashioned conservatives, who cannot allow themselves to see what's been done in their name by ninnies of the right.

Republicans desperately clinging to the idea that the democrats are somehow equivalent or equally as bad as the horrors who have taken over the GOP.

Yes, you guys admit that Bush and his frat boys are bad news. But you keep trawling for symbolic reasons to make dems equivalent...

...and it will not wash. Who CARES what one dingbat senator said? Did you care even remotely as much about on-the-record statements by Bolton or Kerrick etc?

This fixation on MoveOn... generally without even once visiting their site or reading their real positions... is simply sad.

Dig this. I have been very critical of Liberals for allowing the Left (and note the distinction!) to take a stance pushing away old allies in the churches and the military. (Both were huge helpers in the fight for civil rights.) I have groused against some Dems for reflexively turning their gaze away from the pain of our fighting men and women, especially the Officer Corps, as it endures the worst political purge in a century.

(Right now they should be DEFENDING our soldiers against Rummy and his crew.)

But don't you DARE extrapolate that I am saying democrats are AGAINST the troops! That is a red herring, nursed on slender rhetorical pretext, in order to support Bush as a "lesser of evils".

As I have said, the democratic party CONTAINS many romantic mystical jerks... but it is not RUN by those jerks... not yet.

It is the only american institutions still slimly led by modernists. By Clintonite pragmatists who fought our most successful war in history - the Balkans intervention in which NO AMERICANS DIED and we accomplished all war aims quickly, efficiently, resulting in a Europe at peace under law for the 1st time in 4,000 years.

The same Clinton Clarke team that planned an Afghanistan intervention that worked similarly well. (Don't believe it? Bush had time only to say Go! No time for Rumsefeldian meddling in the plan. A plan identical to the Balkans - (the Iraq Plan is opposite in every way) - leaving our military readiness untouched and respecting the professional officer corps.

THAT is what I holler at the liberals about. They cannot see that they should BRAG about being BETTER at Pax Americana than these jerks are!

Better at preserving our military readiness.

at repecting the officer corps...

at patrolling our borders...

at reducing the debt and governing like prudent adults...

at investing in our energy future (though here that's only "better" not "good")...

at respecting americans by reducing secrecy instead of multiplying it like a volcano...

Listen you guys. What the hell do you need? ON EVERY PRAGMATIC LEVEL... not rhetoric or incantations but actual pragmatic governance... there is no longer any straw for you to grasp.

DO WHAT LEFTY LIBERALS DID, WHEN THEY FINALLY COULD NO LONGER MAKE EXCUSES FOR STALIN.

They had to choke down their romantic illusions about a leftist horror.

The pragmatic result of that brave re-evaluation?

It was the freaking AFL CIO (!)that pushed the policy of containment-of-communism, my friends. They proved their agility by staying liberal, but savagely rejecting leftist monsters.

You can do the same. Staying conservative but doing your patriotic duty of rejecting aristocratic-fanatic-loony monsters.

You are smart. You are agile. You can do it.

I have faith in you.

db

Tony Fisk said...

@frank:
What are these figures based on
The estimated death rate prior to invasion (excluding natural causes). I was referring to a New Scientist article (29 Oct, 2004) which was, in turn, reporting on a study published by the Lancet.

For those not having a subscription, the report says:
'The invasion of Iraq ... has lead to the death of at least 100,000 civilians, reveals the first scientific study to examine the issue...The most common cause of death is as a direct result of violence, ... the risk of violent death just after the invasion was 58 times greater than before the war. The overall risk of death was 1.5 times more after the invasion than before.

The figure of 100,000 ... is based on "conservative assumptions", notes Les Roberts at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, US, who led the study.

That estimate excludes Falluja, a hotspot for violence. If the data from this town is included, the study points to about 200,000 excess deaths since the outbreak of war.'


On review, I see that 'thrice' was excessive. Still, if the death rate from unnatural causes is estimated at 1.5 that prior to the war, that leaves us with 30,000.

The basic point remains: 30,000 > 2500, although I repeat that I consider it childish to express justification of conflict in this way

(Spoiler alert!):
I thought I'd give folk time to check out Chris Lawson's story 'Written in Blood' before spoiling it. (Not that it's that great a revelation!)

But OK, since frank asked, To recap:
The protagonist, a young (and fairly enlightened) muslim geneticist comes up with an idea for encoding the Qu'ran into her junk DNA: a discrete mantra to God in an increasingly hostile secular environment (NB the story was written in 1999).

Having popularised the idea, she then realises, with horror, that the sequence is a perfect vector for anyone wanting to cleanse the world of 'undesirables' via a genetic plague.

The solution is to apply a personal encryption key to each person's sequence.

As I said, a good short story, but nothing profound. I only mentioned it as it seemed to mesh with David's comments about 'Jitterbug'.

Samuel Douglas said...

I think that your comments on better and more appropriate ways to oppose the events in Iraq have value for the political situation here in Australia as much as in the U.S. Many people that consider themselves 'respectable' players in the political scene here found themselves unable to oppose the war and how it was (and still is being)fought because they could not be associated with the far left. So now everyone right of the Democratic Socialist Party has to say that they support the war, or risk being associated with them. It seems a product of supreme manipulation that
this has come to pass.
I do have reservations about a 'Pax Americana', of any sort, as I do about our own pathetic Pax Australiana that we have tried, unsucessfully, to force upon our island neigbours. But I do appreciate it in the sense that we should say what we realy mean and stand up for what we believe about justice and the values that we hold, and that they are better than (at least some) others.

jomama said...

You join a gang of killers, don't
expect a rose garden.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Mr. Brin.
May one ask what set of mountains you're up in? My Father works as a park ranger in Yellowstone NP...
HawkerHurricane

Anonymous said...

Blogger and serviceman Terry Welch returns from a stint in Afghanistan:

http://nitpicker.blogspot.com/2005/06/im-back-it-was-long-year-in.html

Last year he asked online for donations of pens to hand out to local kids, and got pallete loads.

James Lincoln Warren said...

I was a young lieutenant in the Navy, waiting in Sigonella, Sicily, for my ship to arrive in the Mediterranean Sea in 1983 for duty off the coast of Lebanon -- the Marines had just been bombed at Beirut International Airport -- when I discovered a wonderful book called STARTIDE RISING. You can take it from me: never doubt the joy that a good book can deliver to a soldier or sailor far from home.

There is a great deal of difference between supporting men and women in uniform and acquiescing to the administration's hypocritical, and let's face it, basically evil false justification for the Iraqi war and occupation. I have several hypotheses as to why the administration was so hell-bent on invading Iraq, and none of them do credit to the basic decency of America.

However, having made a mess, it is our responsibility to clean it up. I only hope it is possible.

Anonymous said...

"However, having made a mess, it is our responsibility to clean it up. I only hope it is possible."

I think it is possible, but it won't be easy and it won't be cheap.

I'm not sure if the current gang of idiots is up to it. It would require a lucidity and sensitivity that the blustering neocon ideologues seem utterly uncapable of.

The fact that they seem constitutionally unable to admit their own mistakes doesn't help either.

We need to get rid of them, not only so the job can be done right, but so we can shine some sunlight on the corruption, graft, and profiteering that is going on.

Hey, how does this sound? To encourage whistleblowers, give every cent of the fines, judgements, and rebates squeezed out of Halliburton and its ilk to veterans of the war. They deserve it, for putting up with substandard meals, unarmored vehicles, and other manifestations of a supply system run by crooks.

Stefan

Okipunk said...

I have earlier stated my criticism of President Bush on this forum, mainly so that the following comments could be viewed fairly without unfounded accusations of pandering on my part.

Namely, that the war in Iraq, which is NOT as bad as tragedy TV and the leftist hacks in the mainstream media make it out to be, (see "Gunner's Palace" for a real description of the ongoing conflict against 7th century fanatics. or perhaps peruse http://michaelyon.blogspot.com for firsthand reports from an unafilliated writer) there have been some amazing diplomatic coups from the Bush administration.

First, it is remarkable that Saudi Arabia has made some moderate efforts to track down and neutralize terrorists in its own border. It is remarkable because, up until very recently, the Saudis have been extremely disclined to rein in these fanatical followers of wahabbism. Remember, Osama stated friendliness with America as his principle reason for starting his declared war against the US in the first place. It can also be said that the Saudis want to do this as a result of terrorism within their own borders, but American diplomatic pressure cannot be ignored.

In the same vein, it is also remarkable that Pakistan has gone after the terrorists in its hinterlands with any sort of zeal. This is clearly detrimental to the regime in place under Gen Musharraf (i hope I spelled that right!). While he is an absolute dictator, it is still extremely dangerous for him to be taking action against these terrorists (excuse me, I mean "insurgents") that hide in the mountainous Baluchistan area. He fights against these people at the risk of inflaming enormous amounts of groundswell opposition.

Both of these things would have been unthinkable a few years ago. No one predicted them, the same as no one was able to predict that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics could fall so hard so fast. They are remarkable achievements.

Now, if one can get past the day to day problems that are uniformly blown out of proportion in the press and look more to the long term strategic goals of our occupation in Iraq:
- intalling a friendly or at least neutral bastion in the middle of Southwest Asia is a brilliant move and has potential for a huge future political dividend, provided that we can stomach the cost politically

- provided we are successful, it will make every tin-pot dictator in the Middle East think twice about sponsoring the wild-eyed followers of a 7th century worldview to attack us

- it has and will continue to divert the attention of the throat slitters, head choppers, suicide bombers and assorted sociopathic maniacs from attacking Americans at home. Simply put, I chose to re-enlist in the military as an infantryman because I knew that a terrorist is going to find me a much harder target than someone at the Mall of America. That and the knowledge that I have done and will do more to elevate the position of the average Iraqi than any of the sign-wavers and nay-sayers puts a distinct shine on my day.

It is unfortunate that many of the war critics on the far left cannot acknowledge or even debate these things. They want to end the war NOW, and the long-term consequences be damned. If we pulled out of this fight and sent all of our troops home, do you think that the Islamists would hesitate to strike us again?

Getting back to the nature of the "insurgency" (what a pathetic whitewash!) and the differences between the "insurgents" in Iraq and the "insurgents" in Afghanistan, a pattern becomes immediately clear: our war against Afghanistan is understood in the Arab world and not resented as much as the one in Iraq. Mainly, this is due to Saddam's successful efforts to paint himself as the victim of American power for years. He spent years building up sympathy in the Arab world, and the dividends of this are now starting to show.

The masterminds of the terrorism campaigns in Iraq understand that there is less chance of sucess in the 'Stan because it is seen as a righteous war of vengeance against a government that sponsored the single deadliest attack against our civilians, ever. They do attempt to maintain an opposition to our occupation there, but their heart is not in it. However, I will say that if we had stopped with Afghanistan, then we would be fighting the same cast of characters in Afghanistan that we are now in Iraq.

Iraq, on the other hand, is much easier to use as a rallying cry for the crazed fanatics in the Arab world. Again, I would like to take this opportunity that no underground movement has ever been successful without 1) a weak or distracted occupying power and/or 2) another nation supporting the undergound. Imagine how long it would have taken us to put down the Werewolf underground movement in post-nazi Germany if they had been actively supported by all their surrounding nations?

The islamists see Iraq as the final battle for their dominance or crushing defeat at the hands of American power. If we leave now, all we will do is invite more attacks on our interests and people. If we can defeat these people here and now, then it will set them back decades, if not put them out of business permanently.

Anonymous said...

There is no way that I can praise too much Blandland, for illustrating what I am talking about so perfectly.

Every single statement that he makes (above) consists of arm-wavings and "logic", never facts. Cheerleading and ideological if-then statements.

Not once does he attempt toaddress the pragmatic facts.

- that these monsters have led us into a STUPID war of attrition, when the other style - clever use of superior intelligence and surgical professionalism, leveraged with local alliances - worked vastly better in the Balkans and Afghanistan.

(Liberals should not oppose toppling Saddam. They should point out that THESE are the bozos who created, fostered, suckled him, egged him to kill 2 million Iranians, and then LEFT HIM IN POWER to torment his people for 12 more years... and we should trust their competence now?)

- that they are deliberately and relentlessly RIGHT NOW purging the officer corps for their own political ends. Above all the pros, they are assigning more than a hundred political hacks to oversea all diplomatic, military, intelligence and homeland security agencies.

- that our alliances lie in tatters. The same alliances that won WWII and the Cold War are now smoking ruins. Even the British wish devoutly that this torment would end. THEY COULD NOT HAVE RUINED OUR LEADERSHIP OF THE WEST MORE EFFECTIVELY, HAD IT BEEN THEIR PLAN ALL ALONG.

- that our military readiness is RIGHT NOW lower (PROPORTIONATELY)than it was before Pearl Harbor, with nearly all of our forces committed to adventures and attrition and "nation building"... something that the right openly disdained when Clinton did committed 5% as much of our treasury to it.

-that our ability to respond is plummetting due to declining morale (Veterans of the Balkans REenlisted at unprecedented rates. Vets of Iraq are leaving in droves.)

- That we are being lied to AGAIN (as if that is a surprise after WMD?) The veterans' administration TODAY has said they face a BILLION DOLLAR SHORTFALL due to wounds and injuries in iraq that have gone unreported.

- that the word "freedom" has been debased to mean "YOU-ESS-HAY!!! Whoo-Whoo!"
Not once have W and his men tied that word to pragmatic aspects of freedom, like the absolute need of a citizenry to KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON!

Under Clinton, secrecy DECLINED. Under W it has skyrocketed. That's secrets kept away from US!
If you think you can defend that trend, then you are making excuses for a secular trend that in human history has always led toward tyranny.

- that a $trillion ripoff for the frat boys was supposed to result in an economic boom that would REPAY OUR CHILDREN FOR THE INCREASED DEBT!
Do you see a boom?
Do you see the debt being repaid?
CLINTON was repaying it. These guys have put our kids in hock.

- That the supposed benefits of this BADLY MANGLED invasion have never showed up. Islam is becoming MORE radical, fella, not less. Day after day...

...as Iraqi oil does NOT flow, resulting in $high prices for petroprinces out of our pocket.

...while the money expended on energy research has ben CUT...

... as W cut funding for the Border Patrol (Clinton doubled it).



Again, try the arm wavings elsewhere. Here we have a challenge on the table. FIND A METRIC BY WHICH THINGS ARE BETTER!

The only sins of the left that you have been able to cite have been RHETORICAL. You rage at liberal words, while neocon actions are tearing down everything we built.

Paramendra Bhagat said...

What do you think of this?
http://demrepubnepal.blogspot.com/2005/05/reorganized-un-proposed-constitution.html

Code said...

What an AWESOME Post!

GSM Cell Phones

Anonymous said...

That last post, from "Code," is spam.

Don't do the shills behind it the favor of clicking on the link.

Stefan

donald said...

David
At first I thought you had some intriguing idea’s that deserved review; but the more you keep ranting about W and neocon’s and political purges of the military, and… the more discouraged I’ve become with you and your “views”. Through the framework of your “word smithing” you imply that you are not a left leaning liberal, but all of your RANTS tell another story. I asked some questions in earlier post, and you never addressed them directly or indirectly in anything you’ve written since (other than to indicate that I was completely wrong, and then rant again). I offer you one more time to address some of these points:

Political Purges of the officer corps? What is your evidence? What articles or investigations are you referencing? It seems to me that during a time of war the last thing you would want to do is drop experienced officers. And who would actually be doing these purges but other officers? Taking that thought a little farther, wouldn’t that type of thing be a form of (or equivalent to) a civil rights violation (firing someone because of what they believe in)? Your accusation (by that thread of thought) is in fact an attack against the military (officers sacking other officers because of there beliefs). Having spent 6 years in the US Navy (79 - 85), I find it highly unlikely that THAT sort of prejudicial activity would be tolerated or kept quiet. The only time that I’m aware of when there was any purge of military personnel in recent history was under Clinton during his turn as CIC. If there has ever been a purging of people due to what they think, I’d start looking there. Like any company that goes through a down-sizing, those people that aren’t considered “in” have the tendency to be hit more. The argument could be made…

WMD? Grow up! They just recently found a tunnel crossing the border between Syria and Iraq (How many months since Baghdad fell). How easy would it be to hide a WMD in the desert, or ship it across a border to a like minded government? Oh, by the way, everyone was saying Iraq had WMD’s, not just W, so are you also calling Cinton, Gore, etc liar’s as well?

Military readiness is at an all time low? Is the only branch that counts the Army? How many Aircraft Carriers are deployed in an active role in the Gulf? Has all of the Air Force been shipped out of country to the region as well? There is still more military power that can be deployed in reserves than half the world has combined. And since most of the NATO countries have minimal troop levels in Iraq, they are also available if a crisis of enormous levels occurred.

And speaking of NATO and all of our destroyed relations around the world… The only reaction to our going forward in the Iraq war by our allies was embarrassment. They were caught in corrupt acts as the Oil for Food scandal is demonstrating, and they are embarrassed for there lack of action against a present day Hitler in Saddam. Has anyone brought up economic sanctions against the US in the UN? Has anyone backed out of a treaty, or dropped diplomatic relations with the US? Again, where is your evidence, news articles, or investigations?

As to the economy and the federal deficit, I think it has more to do with 9/11, shifting to a war economy, and similar activities. The tax cut was shown to actually increase the total tax taken in due to increased capital flow throughout the economy: at least that is the indication that was given during the campaign, and to which I haven’t heard a reliable counter statement otherwise. As to taxes and the deficit, I think another approach should be taken by the politicians, but it probably won’t. Scrap the tax code in favor of a flat income tax. The only deductions are if you make below X amount of dollars, and charitable contributions. No interest on a home loan, nothing. Everything that can be construed as income is taxed at the same rate: salary, dividend, capital gains, inheritance, etc. I had real hopes of seeing some action on this after W took office this term, but he went after Social Security instead. Speaking of Social Security and your attack on the private accounts, where do you think capital will have the greatest benefit on an economy, in government coffers, or in financial institutions (banks, stocks, investments, things like that)?

I’m not exactly sure how you could think to compare Balkans to Mid-East? Totally different mindset based from there different histories. The Balkans was not under some fanatical religious jihad. They just got out from under Soviet Union suppression, so the thinking and reactions from there are from a completely different perspective. As to Afghanistan compared to Iraq, well there are a couple of differences. Afghanistan doesn’t have oil (Iraq does), didn’t have the “real power” (Osama) sitting in the government, and hadn’t had a recent conflict with the US before (91). Completely different starting points from what I can tell. Also, with the taking of Iraq, the 2 main terrorist countries in that area now had US troops on there borders (Iran has US troops on 2 borders now, Syria on 1), where before that they were relatively undisturbed. With that in mind, they are going to do everything in there power to drive the US out that they can short of open warfare. That is why so many terrorist are attacking there; a major disruption in the power balance (against them) with in the region for the first time since WWII. Success in Iraq and Afghanistan could produce the tipping point to change the whole region from what it is today to one where the citizenry is in control of there governments, not the other way around.

So David, you attack Blandland for not using facts or references, but you do exactly the same thing. You have only provided accusations against the current administration, not facts. That form of response seems to be nothing more than a liberal screaming that its wrong for the political landscape in America to be leaning more and more to the right. As to facts regarding that shift, I can’t quote the exact news paper article, but I have read a comparison of the numbers (at many different levels of state and federal govenment) from the past (25, 30 years maybe) to today. If needed I’ll try and chase it down, but I think it’s pretty much accepted as happening.

Anonymous said...

" . . . shifting to a war economy . . ."

This really stood out for me.

What the HELL are you talking about?

Are millions of Americans toiling extra shifts in repurposed automobile factories to turn out arms? Have we instituted rationing of gasoline and raw materials? Encouraged people to buy War Bonds? RAISED taxes to PAY for a massive mobilization?

Bollocks. After 9/11, the president told people to go shopping and take a trip to Disneyworld.

The only thing we've sacrificed is accountability, openness, and honesty.

The primary reason we have deficit, and are increasingly dependent on investment by China and other nations, is that we CUT THE TAXES OF THE WEALTHY as a favor to the president's supporters.

Another reason we have a deficit is the shameless, egregious, uncontrolled PORK BARREL SPENDING authorized by the hypocrites of the "party of small government."

Real conservatives are concerned about this reckless path. They're starting to catch on that they placed their faith with a man associated with a clique of ideologues whose values would shock and disgust men like Goldwater and Reagan.

The path we are on is unsustainable, and there will be political hell to pay down the road.

Stefan

donald said...

Stefan; have you actually looked up the definition of “war economy”? This link "http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&client=ig&oi=defmore&q=define:War+economy" provided the following:
“War economy is the term used to describe the contingencies undertaken by the modern state to mobilize its economy for war production. Philippe Le Billon describes a war economy as a "system of producing, mobilizing and allocating resources to sustain the violence". The war economy can form a political-economic system termed the "military-industrial complex”. Many states increase the degree of planning in their economies during wars.” Here is the link "http://www.geog.ubc.ca/~lebillon/ to Philippe Le Billon to determine who he is. The references you made to the great sacrifices of the WWII generation is not yet necessary. If the free world doesn’t address the current situation of pseudo-governments that are the terrorist organizations, we very well could be in that situation in 20 years.

As to the deficit, I find myself quoting Ronald Reagan “well, there you go again”. In my search for specific articles to quote or reference, I came across this January 2005 article from NRO "http://www.nationalreview.com/kudlow/kudlow200501131420.asp" that indicates that the deficit is shrinking, this March 2005 article from ASA "http://www.atr.org/content/pdf/2005/mar/asa_budget_03-15-05.pdf", and then the Bureau of the Public Debt website "http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/" that provides all of the details regarding the federal budget and deficit. By using this link you can get a day to day running of the deficit. I pulled the numbers from 1995-01-01 to 2005-06-30 and dumped them into Excel, made a pivot table against the results, and produced a graph showing the average daily debt for each month. Since the beginning of the year, the deficit started to slow its climb, and since March has flattened out. It started the climb to its current amount in September 2001. Those are the facts; they just don’t make the news for some strange reason. I would like to post the pivot chart showing you these results, but this BLOG doesn’t support file uploads. However I’ve given you the sites and the instructions on how you can pull your own data.

As to the tax cut going to the wealthy, what number of tax paying entities are individuals versus S-corps. I’m researching that for a later posting, but I’m under the impression that more tax is collected from S-Corps than individuals in those tax brackets targeted by the Bush Tax Cut. Tax cuts to small businesses get more capital flowing in the economy, thereby producing more tax for collection (even at a lower rate). In my research on this, I did come across the information regarding the Tax Freedom day "http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/52.html", that day of the year when your income would have finished paying your taxes and the remainder goes to you. If you look at the trend, it has comes in mid-April for the last 3 years, but continuously climbed under Clinton, starting at April 21st and ending at May 3rd.

I posted my comments about what I would like the tax system to be like (flat income tax, no deductions). If neither side of the aisle can get a decent conversation going about the Social Security overhaul, they definitely aren’t going to address such a major change in the tax code.

As to your reference to Pork Barrel spending, I agree. It’s been like that for the entire history of this Government. You’re just ranting about it because the Republicans are the majority party in the legislature (notice I didn’t say “controlling”). It was the same thing when the Democrats had the majority. It’s essentially a flaw of the budgetary process of the federal government; you can’t point a finger at an individual and say “you’re to blame”. I understand that some people seem to think that the president is that individual, but it just isn’t so. The president “suggest” a budget in the beginning, the congress laughs at it, then does what it wants. Afterward, they send it back to the president to sign. If the budget is too excessive the president might veto it, but that doesn’t happen all that often. The reason why is because the president is trying to get other things worked out with the Congress, and they have the tendency to get upset when he veto’s something of theirs. Personally, I’m of the opinion that the whole system needs to be redesigned (something like a balanced budget amendment).

Stefan, those are the facts and details as I can locate them. Where are yours?

BlackOps said...

Interesting commentary.

Allan Doodes said...

A few random comments from the UK:-

Afghanistan a major success? Err ... not anymore. The good work that was done is now being slowly lost due to lack of the money needed to keep it going. And where is that money now going? Iraq.

There was a comment about how Afghanistan was supported by the Muslim world because it was clearly a response to an attack on the USA. True. It is also a fact that much of the hostility to the assault on Iraq - both within the Muslim world, and outside it - was due to the (totally true) perception that Saddam had nothing to do with that attack, and that (regardless of what the Bush Administration said - or says) the reason for the attack was something else.

I don't know what the truth about purging the officer corps is, but it is blatently obvious that, under Bush, the proffessional intelligence community has been pushed aside for failing to provide the information required to support the Administration's objectives.

This even extends to someone committing the extremely dubious (not to say highly illegal) act of revealling the identity of a CIA agent. Who is unclear, but the evidence suggests that they were someone with high level contacts within the Administration.

Left-wing Socialist Democrats? Pardon? From where I'm standing, mainstream Democrats are fairly right-wing. Indeed, the only seriously and consistantly left-wing mainstream party I am aware of in US history is the Republican Party of the Lincoln era.

Someone - I forget who, said that maybe 10% of any organisation will be rotten apples. Well, 7 people do not make up 10% of the US Army in Iraq. And why on Earth did they think it was OK to 'photo what they were doing? Did they think they should provide evidence for the Prosecution? Or did they think that what the were doing would be tolerated? Or what?

Interesting thought, the area around Basra (which is under UK control) is a lot more peaceful than the rest of the country - though still too violent. Why? Might it be because the British Army is approaching the Iraqis differently. And if so , how and why? Actually, the why is simple. Northern Ireland. In essence the Army has been there before and has learnt - the hard way - how to deal with this kind of insurgency/terrorism fueled by religious belief (Roman Catholic vs Protestant) and funded by foreigners (USA citizens supporting the "auld country"). I'm not saying the British Army is doing a perfect job (it certainly isn't - we have our own scandals, including possible torture) but we do seem to be avoiding the worst of the problems the American Army is having.

Can someone please explain to me how ripping up treaties entered into by your government helps you? Surely, all it does is force the rest of the world to conclude there is no point in making, or keeping, treaties with you. Afterall, you'll rip up the new ones if it suits you, just like you did the old ones. Come to think about it, didn't your original constitution require you to honour your treaty obligations? Or was that just applicable to certain financial ones made during the War of Independence?

Nixon won the election in 1972 by selling South Vietnam to North Vietnam. This meant the soldiers could come home. The war was "over" (at least, until 1975 when the North Vietnamese collected their prize for helping Nixon win - after which it was too late). And this makes Nixon the hero who brought America peace. It's as simple as that.

For those spelling errors that I have made, I apollogise (except for spelling honour with a "U", that's not an error but correct English), and any grammatical errors ditto. But it's 10 to midnight here, I should have gone to bed an hour ago, and I'm lousy at proofreading my own stuff when I'm fully awake (I know what I meant to write, and that's what I see).

Anonymous said...

"Can someone please explain to me how ripping up treaties entered into by your government helps you?"

Easy!

It impresses hard-liners who see multilateralism as a weakness, ensuring their support for you and your party in your next election.

Oh . . . by "you," you meant the country as a whole, correct?

In that case, it is a pretty stupid move.

Mae said...

My friend. Indeed no one is right in this matter over in Iraq. Having been there first hand and having my love there now I understand the misunderstanding that sheilded individuals have. If they only knew, lived it, tasted it, touched that hot sand they would think diferently about why we are there. I only wish that people could support their fellow Americans and not the politics behind all of it. You nor I sent us to war, but we both face it every day. I feel badly for the blind public and there screwed up information. If you could see the faces of the many, many people that want and need our help most people would think differently. They would stop counting the bodies of American soldiers, airman, marines, and seamen and start thanking them for the life they lived and served.
Thank you for the support, it always seems to come from dark corners and for us military it is what we need to get through each day that we come to work and fight in honer for the things that we Americans take so much to heart.

Anonymous said...

to make your point shorter, this war is good

allison said...

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Zija said...

Zija = drink life in

Frank said...

Anonymous:
"to make your point shorter, this war is good"

Apparently Death has a bright side to look on.

Anonymous said...

yes, thats what the war in Iraq is about. painting schools and handing out candy and fighting th eterrorists over there so we dont have to fight them here.

oh, whoops!

Anonymous said...

David, your advice on how to critisize the War on Terror is poor and will not do anything to repudiate the Left's image as being soft on terror nor help the Democrats regain power.

Let's go through them one by one:
"1. hypocrisy, these are the same guys who fostered Saddam. Kissed him. Egged him on and supplied him against Iran."

OK, mistake made in the past, being corrected now. How does this help decide what to do next?

"2. hypocrisy. these are the same guys who had him in their hands, in 1991. Gen Schwarskopf begged for 12 more hours to rescue the people of Basra, who were being slaughtered, having rebelled AT OUR URGING. (Bush Sr. said " "We're on the way!")"

Ditto. Let's make sure we don't repeat this mistake by cutting and running now.

"3. The obscenely stupid and unprofessional WAY this war was and is being fought. Rumsfeld - the man who supervised our humiliation in Vietnam - has recently meddled vastly MORE than the politicians did in that failed disaster, overruling the professional officers who wanted to used proved techniques that worked in the fantastically successful campaigns in the Balkans and Afghanistan."

Is this Afghanistan, the quagmire that buried the Soviet Army, and the Balkans, which went ahead without UN intervention? Or some other Afghanistan and Balkans? Please enlighten me.

But look, I am open to better ways to fight terrorism in Iraq. The only thing I've heard from you is that we were wrong to do it because we were friendly with Saddam in the past, and that was a mistake.

"4. The plummet in readiness... the torching of alliances... and my personal harshest grivance, a fierce political purge of the Officer Corps."

I would argue that we are far better at fighting terrorists in the Middle East now that we have allies in the Iraqi armed forces and experience with counter insugencies. I am also not sure what you mean by fierce political purge of officer corps. The army is much better at fighting these guys now than it was before.

You seem to beleive that the only alliances worth preserving are those with France and Germany, and that the US was most ready when it had the bulk of its troops in France and Germany. There is a new alliance now with Iraq, and a redeployment of troops from France and Germany to Iraq.

To fight terror, I think the latter set of deployments and alliances are more important than the former. For one thing, WW2 was 50 years ago. For another thing, France and Germany don't speak Arabic and our enemy does.

Really pathetic, David.

Rob said...

Mae said:
If you could see the faces of the many, many people that want and need our help most people would think differently. They would stop counting the bodies of American soldiers, airman, marines, and seamen and start thanking them for the life they lived and served.

I will never stop counting the bodies of American soldiers lost. Especially when they are sacrificed on a hopeless fools' errand. I'm sure there are Iraqi people who are happy to have us there, promising to bring freedom and prosperity to all. Such is (or was) our reputation. But when the days of occupation turn into weeks, months and years, and things aren't getting any safer or freer or more prosperous, I imagine they start to wonder if we're going to be able to deliver on our promises. No longer will they be as willing to inform on the terrorists and "insurgents", risking lethal retaliation against themselves and their families. Instead they'll just wait and see, and the burden on our forces increases. The memory of 1991 is still fresh for them I'm sure, when we asked them to take the chance of rebelling and then didn't come to their aid. They got slaughtered for listening to us. Why should we expect them to help us out now? Instead, all I see is years and years before us of American troops being killed, a few at a time, for no good reason. The Iraqi people are going to have to resolve this on their own. All we're doing is putting off the inevitable civil war by sacrificing American lives. I don't see it as a good trade.

I support the troops. The best thing that can happen for them is for this situation to be resolved. So we should either do what it takes to pacify the country in short order, or get out. Standing in the middle of an anthill just gets you stung.

Rob said...

Quoth Anon:
"1. hypocrisy, these are the same guys who fostered Saddam. Kissed him. Egged him on and supplied him against Iran."

OK, mistake made in the past, being corrected now. How does this help decide what to do next?


First off, this "mistake" (consciously made, in fact intentionally done) was "corrected" as soon as Saddam was deposed. It's not "being corrected now", it's long been corrected. What we're doing now is "nation-building". And nation-building was something we weren't supposed to do, according to Candidate Bush in 2000:

(quote)
"The mission was changed, and as a result, our nation paid a price," Bush continued. "And so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building."

Bush declared that it was up to those who live in the liberated lands to rebuild them.
(end quote)

Here's a link to the Helen Thomas editorial from 2003 I pulled that from. And I remember speeches in Congress about how we weren't supposed to be nation-building in Somalia and Haiti and the Balkans and on and on in the Clinton years. So if it's Democrats trying to do nation-building, it's wrong, but if it's Republicans, it's a-OK?

So what to do next? Don't create more Saddams! Think about the long-term implications of dealing with the people you're getting in bed with. We propped up Saddam in his war against Iran because we were mad at Iran, and didn't care about whether Saddam might oppress his own people (also we didn't want him going to the Russians for support, because in the 1980's we still were opposing Communism, which also took precedence over what Saddam might do). We prop up oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan because they serve our purpose. See what happens if one day you wake up to find your purpose no longer being served by these jokers, and you go to try a little "regime change" only to find that the local people hate your guts for propping those birds up all those years! Learn the lesson!

"2. hypocrisy. these are the same guys who had him in their hands, in 1991. Gen Schwarskopf begged for 12 more hours to rescue the people of Basra, who were being slaughtered, having rebelled AT OUR URGING. (Bush Sr. said " "We're on the way!")"

Ditto. Let's make sure we don't repeat this mistake by cutting and running now.


Except there's a big difference. In 1991, we had an uprising of people ON OUR SIDE. But we left them to twist in the wind, and Saddam massacred them while we stood around next door like a bunch of saps (to borrow a great Bogart line). So now here we are asking those same people to cooperate with us, and we expect all to be forgiven and they'll just jump on our bandwagon? And it's been over a year now, how would a pullout be "cutting and running"? How long do we have to stand there taking it, how many soldiers have to get blown to smithereens before it's no longer "cutting and running"?

Is this Afghanistan, the quagmire that buried the Soviet Army, and the Balkans, which went ahead without UN intervention? Or some other Afghanistan and Balkans? Please enlighten me.

OK. This is the Afghanistan where with a handful of advisers and Special Forces troops working in support of a local rebel movement we overthrew the repressive Taliban regime, destroyed Al Qaeda's bases and came within an ace of catching Osama. Read all about it. The Balkan campaign may have gone ahead without UN intervention, but it was done in concert with our NATO allies. Read about it too. So what's your point? You said nothing in opposition to Dr. Brin's point, namely that the bozos we have in charge now have horribly bungled the Iraq operation, in contrast to how the Afghan and Balkan operations which were planned by the Clinton administration were handled. It's not a question of fighting terrorism in Iraq; it's a question of fighting terrorism EVERYWHERE. Invading Iraq was never and will never be the solution.

"4. The plummet in readiness... the torching of alliances... and my personal harshest grivance, a fierce political purge of the Officer Corps."

I would argue that we are far better at fighting terrorists in the Middle East now that we have allies in the Iraqi armed forces and experience with counter insugencies. I am also not sure what you mean by fierce political purge of officer corps. The army is much better at fighting these guys now than it was before.


Lame lame lame. I guess 9/11 was a good thing too, because now we're much so much better at so many things: detecting and preventing hijackings, disaster response by police and fire departments, etc. It's all good! Barf.

Our "allies in the Iraqi armed forces" (which armed forces are those, by the way?) appear to be unable to prevent our troops or their citizens or even themselves from getting blown up, more than two years after their country was liberated from Saddam. And you make a mistake if you equate counterinsurgency fighting with counterterrorism; the two are fundamentally different concepts. Our counterinsurgency experience in Iraq didn't mean squat to those people killed in London today. I'll say this again and again: it's not the military that's going to defeat terrorism. I don't care how experienced or well-trained or well-supplied it is, they could kill millions of islamic fundamentalists and still not defeat terrorism. It's up to the people who decide to become terrorists, to make the decision to NOT be terrorists. That's how the war will be won. Not by conquering land between lines on a map.

Timotheus said...

"I think liberals make a terrible mistake by expressing their objections to this war in leftist or pacifist terms. These is nonsensical, since two of our most successful wars were planned by Clinton-Clarke... The Balkans and Afghanistan interventions, which succeeded far better than anyone could have reasonably expected."

Agreed on both counts. But you (IMHO) must recognize the fact that we now live in a propaganda era, wheer mass media are used to slander and pander, and not to inform.

There are no liberals on TV or radio (bar 1 soon to be satellite radio station), no opposing or even questioning points of view.

We live in a society which makes a coward out of a war hero and a war hero out of cowards, where invading a sovereign country and occupying it a la 19th century colonialism is somehow related to the war on terrorism, where a presidents puppeteer can say that liberals want to give terrorists therapy and no one from New York walks up to him and smashes his fat, beady eyed face...

need i go on?

Anonymous said...

"There are no liberals on TV or radio (bar 1 soon to be satellite radio station), no opposing or even questioning points of view."

This is not quite accurate, although if you'd said "major radio outlets TV" you'd be dead on.

There is Air America, which ranges from loud jackasses who are the mirror image of right-wing Talk Radio (although without its depths of hatred and intolerance) to a few thoughtful hosts.

There is the far-flung Pacifica Radio archipelago, with its mix of ideosyncratic minority reporting (what I call Black Lesbian Wiccan Hour programming), tedious ideologues, and a few actual old-time Lefty progressives. The two Pacifica stations I am familiar with have / had some AMAZING specialty shows, on computers, Sci-Fi, and old-time radio and such.

And then there are many low-power College stations, which tend to slant to the left and have more than their share of eager beaver ideologues.

* * *

Of course, outside of major cities and college towns, you won't find any of this. In most places bland commercial pap with packaged news segments, and the pugnacious rantings of Talk Radio, are all you will find.

peg said...

David,
So very cool that you have a blog! Just found it. I've been a BIG fan of your books for a long time. Keep up the good work.
I'm off to read the archives.

peg
www.haikuvenue.com

thordora said...

I'm enjoying your blog David because I appreciate the diverse views on this issue in particular, as for the most part, it isn't degenerating into "DID NOT!" "DID TOO!"... for the most part.

Perhaps it's the little hippy part in me, but I was raised to believe that with a certain level of power comes a certain level of responsibility-the kind a parent has for their children. I look at the USA right now as someone with MASSIVE, FRIGHTENING amounts of power. And what happens?

People spend their time, picking away at little details like what absolutely qualifies as torture, what so and so MIGHT have said on some website. Is anyone REALLY pressuring your government to be accountable for it's acts? Because I tell you, from the outside looking in, it doesn't seem so.

I don't pretend to know every terrible detail. I know that your people, are dying in Iraq. And anymore, I believe they are dying because the US government, who was all hot and horny to despose Hussain (rightfully so) is NOT quite as eager to help build a society back up.
If I lived somewhere that "freedom" meant no power, water, food or money, I might start to "insurge" as well. And yes, I do know it's not that simple. But it is your governments responsibility to help fix the problem FULLY before purchasing "mission accomplished" signs.
I mean, how will I explain this war to my children in 10 years while the spectre of Rwanda or The Congo hangs in the air. I'm an adult and I don't get it either.

Thanks for thr provocative post, and all the comments. With two kids, I don't get to read as much as I'd like anymore...

R2K said...

Thanks for your efforts here!

R2K said...

Thanks for your efforts here!

kizzie said...

I enjoyed your statements. I thank you for supporting our troops. Why is that some people don't understand how you can support the troops and not agree with the war at the same time?

MagsMays said...

I want to thank you for posting this. My youngest son is Air Force, has done his time over there, and every time I ask him what I can do he says "Leave them alone, Mom."

After all the years he has bitched and moaned about the boxes and boxes and boxes of books, you would THINK he would jump at a chance to see me unclutter what once was his room! LOL!

To quote Golda Meir: Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.

Men make war. Women birth children. When we love our children more than we hate each other, war will cease.

Monkey Migraine said...

Here's the problem I've always had with the "support our troops" philosophy...what if you don't support what they're doing? The military, by definition, kills people. Whether those people are bad or good is a relative term, but the fact that they die is not.

And what if the troops are doing objectionable things like raping, torturing, and stealing? Forget the argument that the US military isn't doing that in Iraq. Imagine a hypothetical army that is killing innocent children, torturing babies, raping women, and burning the countryside. Now imagine a bumper sticker that says "Support these troops." Would you do it? Hopefully not.

So if I find what the troops are doing morally objectionable, then I can't support them. Period. I know this argument can be debated, but hopefully this will present another point of view.

Monkey Migraine said...

Dear Monkey Migraine,

You love the Iraqis so much, go live there. Or maybe go join al-Qaeda. Somebody needs to nuke you and your whole family.

Signed,
Ignorance

TC said...

I’m a recently retired Army officer after 23 years of active duty service and have to echo David’s sentiments with regards to the current administrations treatment of our service men and women. I began my service in the early 80’s which saw the last of the Vietnam era mentality of “if we wanted you to have a family we would issue you one”. Through out the late 80 and 90’s we became a kinder and gentler service that encouraged family values, this became an absolute necessity during the economic heydays of the mid to late 90’s. Following the attacks of 9/11 the rate at which Secretary of Defense dismantled 15 years of positive change in our all volunteer force was stunning, many top notch military professionals with families where essentially given the harsh choice of family or country. Among those whom attempted to balance there professional careers with the needs of there family a recent report indicated a divorce rate of greater than 40%. The current mentality that top-level uniformed officials have towards anyone who chooses family is “we have two types of people in uniform patriots and quitters”. After 23 years, 3 combat tours and countless deployments I was compelled to become a “quitter”.

If you live your life left of center and want to attack this administrations choices please to so, in the terms David outlines. If its done in a manner that does not depreciates our men and women in uniform I promise you they will be your biggest supporters.

Frank said...

For those who are interested here are a very nice couple of graphs depicting the US deficit and National Debt over the years. Wow, trillions in borrowed money. How much interest is that ?

Also, here is a fun article called "The Bush Budget Deficit Death Spiral". Enjoy while you can.

Anonymous said...

'Here's the problem I've always had with the "support our troops" philosophy...what if you don't support what they're doing?'

ARGHHH! Monkey, you are falling into the trap of absolutism.

It is true that many people DO equate supporting the troops with supporting the war. And there are cynical people who COUNT on a natural sympathy and concern for our service people to bully people into de facto support for the war.

To heck with them! You can do things to make life easier and less boring for people doing a very tough and thankless job without approving of their overall mission. That is the very point of Dave's post!

I think cleaning out Afghanistan was a good idea, and think the Iraq war is a shabbily run, cynically promoted, costly, needless distraction that may be hurting more than helping our efforts against Al Queada. This doesn't mean I'd hold back care packages and books from the guys (and gals) in one theater and not the other.

Be bigger than the jingoists.

Stefan

R2K said...

People who question the president, or other leaders, or who question a war, can be even better supporters of our troops or even more patriotic.

If you care enough to wonder, to debate, that means you are thinking about the best for your nation. The typical conservative line "just trust the president" (B. Spears for example) shows a lack of concern for the future of our country, our armed forces, and frankly (hoping not to offend anyone) a lack of education. All of which lend well to typical patriotism, love of a country for no particular reason, with no work involved.

Cheesus Crust said...

The actual quote is:

"When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope." -- Joseph Stalin

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

civilised world indeed

curtisgardner said...

Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.

This quote by Ronald Reagan was ignored by the Clinton Adminstration, and becasue of that, we had the attacks on America. Bill and Hillary were too busy going to fancy parties and living it up with the rest of the liberal elites to be bothered by Osama bin Laden and the huge terrorist problem the world was facing.

James said...

Frank asked how much interest there is on the national debt. The answer is 322 Billion dollars a year as of 2004 (and estimated to be 348 Billion in 2005). These figures can be found at the Congressional budget office (www.cbo.gov) under the listing of current budget projections. That makes interest the third biggest budget item after social security (492 Billion - paid out of special withholding rather than general tax revenue) and defense (486 Billion if I read the tables correctly).

And as David has pointed out, this is the first time we have lowered rather than raised taxes in wartime despite the greatly increased costs. Where have all the fiscal conservatives gone? What happened to the idea of financial responsibility? Did they join the Clinton democrats, or are they just biding their time trying to wait out the kleptocrats, or what?

Effi said...

As a former soldier (not U.S. though..) books can really make time fly.

You pointed out my number one philosophical problem of the day - what are the limits of tolerance in a liberal society. I think it's easy for Americans to forget that most people in this planet don't share your level of freedom. But is freedom something that can be imposed? Can liberalism be forced on someone? People are dying daily over these things...

the Witch said...

"....drown him in the last barrel of oil we sell him."

Wow.

You've got this liberal's ear.

the Witch said...

Timotheus,

I'm liberal, oppose the war but sure as hell ain't no pacifist.

The real nonsense is the Bush admin. and the right leaning media selling us the war in Iraq while we sat with our thumbs twiddling in Rwanda. We should have gone in and knocked the crap out of 'em. Don't get me started on Sudan...

Apparently, these people don't need our help?

mtreiten said...

As a soldier in the "other war," books made a huge difference for me. In Afghanistan last year I had the opportunity to read again (only a few distractions) and there were some outstanding SF/F donated to the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation system.

The books do get there and they are read. The vast majority of the troops are young and don't go out of the wire.

Thanks to everyone supporting this effort.

Anonymous said...

"The War on Terror" isn't a war. It's a political blank check.

64 years ago, America went to war. America put over ten million boys in uniform. America rolled out war material by the kiloton. In only four years time, America, China, the Soviet Union, and the British Empire crushed European fascism and Japanese millitarism. In four years time, we outmatched both the most elite land army ever fielded and the most advanced navy in the world.

(To give credit where credit is due, we couldn't have pulled it off if it wasn't for the devestation suffered by the Chinese and Russians, who soaked most of the casualties of the second world war.)

Flash forward to 2001. America has over twice the population and many times the GDP that it did in 1941. Not only that, America has just come out of an unprecidented era of economic growth and technological development, whereas in 1941, America was just emerging from it's worst economic depression in history.

In four years, we won World War II.

In four years, we've barely begun to fight the War on Terror. We're bogged down trying to occupy and rebuild two third-world countries with barely 50 million citizens between them. We're struggling to keep 150,000 soldiers deployed, equipped and supplied, forced to call up reservists and dragoon enlistees into serving extra tours of duty. We're running budget deficits maintaining a millitary barely big enough to manage our global committments, one far smaller than even our Cold War force, let alone the force we deployed in WWII. In four years, we have no endgame, no coherent direction in this struggle, no established plan for how we're going to defeat Islamofascism.

Now, I'm not Michael Moore. God forbid. The threat of terrorism and islamofascism is very real. We should be fighting it.

But we're not.

Given how much richer and more populous America is now than we were sixty years ago, why can't we put another half a million soldiers in uniform? Just another 500,000 (by WWII numbers, we should be capable of building a wartime force of upward of 15 million troops)? I know there is the argument about how much more expensive our equipment is today, but really, shouldn't it be proportional, given that our economy is almost eight times as large as it was in 1941 (adjusted for inflation, the per-capita GDP of the United States in 1940 was $8,750, vs. $37,000 today. Given that the population in 1940 was around 150 million, and America's population today is somewhere in the range of 280-300 million, that leaves us with an economy roughly eight times as large. Plenty of money for equipping a millitary the fraction of the size of our WWII buildup!)

If we were fighting a war, it would be over by now.

We aren't fighting a "war on terrorism". We're just fanning the flames for the conflict that is coming.

Every day, the "moderates" in the Islamic world lose just a little bit of their grip on power. While they talk about democracy, Islamists salivate at the possiblity. Why overthrow the government when you can get elected?

Every day, "friendly" nations in of the Islamic world continue to arm themselves. Whether the weapons are from America, Europe, or China is irrelevant- what is relevant is that potentially unstable and belligerent nations, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Malaysia are arming to the teeth. (The Saudis are the worst offenders in this regard, especially given that we're the ones arming them. This could easily come back to bite us.)

Every day, our oil reserves run a little lower.

Every day, we creep just a little closer to World War III.

Sometimes, I despair for the West. Europe hides it's head in the sand, America fights an ill-planned war that is ultimately more political bluster than policy, and the only world leaders I have much respect left for, Tony Blair and Junichiro Koizumi, seem hamstrung by their own citizens and parties.

Maybe 9/11 wasn't enough of a shock to wake us up to the ideological and geopolitical crisis that is coming. But if it wasn't, I fear what it will actually take to shake us from our complacency...

Nicq MacDonald said...

"The War on Terror" isn't a war. It's a political blank check.

64 years ago, America went to war. America put over ten million boys in uniform. America rolled out war material by the kiloton. In only four years time, America, China, the Soviet Union, and the British Empire crushed European fascism and Japanese millitarism. In four years time, we outmatched both the most elite land army ever fielded and the most advanced navy in the world.

(To give credit where credit is due, we couldn't have pulled it off if it wasn't for the devestation suffered by the Chinese and Russians, who soaked most of the casualties of the second world war.)

Flash forward to 2001. America has over twice the population and many times the GDP that it did in 1941. Not only that, America has just come out of an unprecidented era of economic growth and technological development, whereas in 1941, America was just emerging from it's worst economic depression in history.

In four years, we won World War II.

In four years, we've barely begun to fight the War on Terror. We're bogged down trying to occupy and rebuild two third-world countries with barely 50 million citizens between them. We're struggling to keep 150,000 soldiers deployed, equipped and supplied, forced to call up reservists and dragoon enlistees into serving extra tours of duty. We're running budget deficits maintaining a millitary barely big enough to manage our global committments, one far smaller than even our Cold War force, let alone the force we deployed in WWII. In four years, we have no endgame, no coherent direction in this struggle, no established plan for how we're going to defeat Islamofascism.

Now, I'm not Michael Moore. God forbid. The threat of terrorism and islamofascism is very real. We should be fighting it.

But we're not.

Given how much richer and more populous America is now than we were sixty years ago, why can't we put another half a million soldiers in uniform? Just another 500,000 (by WWII numbers, we should be capable of building a wartime force of upward of 15 million troops)? I know there is the argument about how much more expensive our equipment is today, but really, shouldn't it be proportional, given that our economy is almost eight times as large as it was in 1941 (adjusted for inflation, the per-capita GDP of the United States in 1940 was $8,750, vs. $37,000 today. Given that the population in 1940 was around 150 million, and America's population today is somewhere in the range of 280-300 million, that leaves us with an economy roughly eight times as large. Plenty of money for equipping a millitary the fraction of the size of our WWII buildup!)

If we were fighting a war, it would be over by now.

We aren't fighting a "war on terrorism". We're just fanning the flames for the conflict that is coming.

Every day, the "moderates" in the Islamic world lose just a little bit of their grip on power. While they talk about democracy, Islamists salivate at the possiblity. Why overthrow the government when you can get elected?

Every day, "friendly" nations in of the Islamic world continue to arm themselves. Whether the weapons are from America, Europe, or China is irrelevant- what is relevant is that potentially unstable and belligerent nations, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Malaysia are arming to the teeth. (The Saudis are the worst offenders in this regard, especially given that we're the ones arming them. This could easily come back to bite us.)

Every day, our oil reserves run a little lower.

Every day, we creep just a little closer to World War III.

Sometimes, I despair for the West. Europe hides it's head in the sand, America fights an ill-planned war that is ultimately more political bluster than policy, and the only world leaders I have much respect left for, Tony Blair and Junichiro Koizumi, seem hamstrung by their own citizens and parties.

Maybe 9/11 wasn't enough of a shock to wake us up to the ideological and geopolitical crisis that is coming. But if it wasn't, I fear what it will actually take to shake us from our complacency...

Ash said...

some people have waaay 2 much time on thier hands

Rob said...

Someday, Ashley, I hope you'll be one of those people. But since according to your blog you're 12, there's plenty of time between now and then. In the meantime, if you read over 100 posts of a blog like this one, you're well on your way to growing up into a responsible adult. Keep up the good work.

Rob said...

By the way, nice post, Nicq. I completely agree with you.

Call Emily said...

Good post. Needed to be said.

Rik said...

The great "isms" (socialism (its bastardchildren: communism and national-socialism), fascism and liberalism) fell, in the periode between 1914-1989. What was left of (classical) liberalism after 1945 in the West didn't have a chance against even a few counterculturalists. It too went the way of the dodo. That leaves the entire West (even the US apparently) without ideas about a better future. We don't believe in any future anymore. There must be a need for, what I call, "a positive philosophy of action", but no one seems capable of dreaming it up. It certainly isn't in sf, or fantasy for that matter. Of course it isn't in literature at all. I'm currently reading 'The Faerie Queene' by Edmund Spenser. It's an allegory (no one does that anymore), but its just amazing how much stuff there is in there, to (ab)use for someone else. In most literature I know, there's nothing there. The same applies to sf and fantasy. In allegory you can pack an idea and a rolemodel into a person.

I'm not making sense, am I?

ps. I don't care about the WOT at all... have you seen www.werenotafraid.com?

Ninos said...

Mr. Brin, I agree whole heartedly. Howard Zinn once said that war of any kind is unneccessary. Even World War II was considered a "good" war. "But I have come to the conclusion that war solves no fundamental problems and only leads then to kill and torture, and poisons the soul of the nations....Then war...cannot be accepted as a way of solving problems."

I believe this even more. Yet I am torn by your opinion as well as Zinns'. I see this "war" as a partially a "good" one. We need to stand and wipe these extremist fundamentalist, who want to take everything we hold dear. Yet, for some this war is not even about that. The military industrial complex is at it again. Money needs to made, America's economy thrives on war. So what is the correct answer?

We should not blemish those who fight for "us." We should support them as much as we can, for the fact that thier in a living hell. We must criticize the government, for handling the this war incorrectly and illogically.We must point out the underlying hypocracies that are the substance for the cause of these mujahadeen fighters. We (our foreign policy) is to partially blame for this extremeist movement across the world. The people must finally come out and speak to deteriorate the frail alliances that we currently have. The true "axis of evil" Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt are to blame for the current bombings and daily deaths. Underground funding from heirarchy's within these countries are to blame for the suicide bombings and other strife. The peoples of these countries hate us for what we are, Osama bin Laden hates us for what we do. These are the countires where most foreign fighters are coming from. Yet we hold hands with them dearly.

These and other reasons are what leftist liberals must speak out on. We should not demoralize the soldiers who are there. We must also be careful what to publish and what to criticize about the US. Some of our media and publishings fuel the ongoing hatred these terrorist's carry.

For more info and blog please see

www.peerthrough.blogspot.com

Thank You.
PS I am also a huge fan of science and SETI, astronomy in general as well as Science fiction. From which you will see in my blog.

HadesGigas said...

Yeah, uh, go to my blog for the same stuff...yeah

www.funwithdarts.blogspot.com

dark_resistance said...

visit http://www.darkresistance.com!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Thanks for the tip about FedEx!
I'm glad Blogger featured your page.. Hubby (#2) and I have read all your stuff... and Baer and Niven etc. You've come a long way from Lloyd! Bravo and best wishes from the past.

Donny said...

Congratulations on being listed on the "Blogs of Note" list. Your blog deserves it!

Alexander said...

I think that you have a great blog here and I thank you for supporting our troops. Although i have never supported the military, I understand that they are just people doing their jobs (a very hard one).

I think that in every single situation, there is always an alternative to violence. The only good way to stop your enemy is to convince him to not want to fight you.

Sean from DocintheBox said...

Wow, a hundred and 23 comments? As someone that was over there, I just wanted to say thank you for your support. My book connection was in Iraq was www.booksforsoldiers.com I was recieving boxes of books every month. Kept me very happy. You're bringing up some great points, I'm glad more people are coming over here to read you.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that Rumsfield, et al are being financially compensated to a degree far beyond the wildest dreams of their US military subordinates by the oligarchs of the "military-industrial complex" that President Eisenhower warned us about. They are the Bush adminstration's real constuients. The old money people and their lackeys want to return the US society and economy back to the way things were before FDR and the New Deal. The "war on terrorism" is another means to that end.

penny stocks said...

Hello Brin. I spent 12 months in Iraq, and I cant say if were changing things for the better. We build it, they destroy it. We destroy it, then we rebuild it. I only wish I was getting a 1% cut of the Halliburton/KBR revenue. Anyhow we were stationed in Camp Speicher Iraq just out side Tikrit city. If you want pictures, you can visit campspeicher.com.

Thanks.

desertdiamond said...

What a great debate...I have learned a lot here...when are you all running for office??

Seriously though, as a veteran who served in the Vietnam Era, never went there but knew many who returned, I was glad to read Nicq's remarks, but disheartened a bit to read Alexanders. As a member of a unit sent to Egypt, and the position I was in, it was our 'job' to make sure that everyone knew what they were supposed to do on a daily basis. I didn't always agree with everything that happened, and Egypt was a very eye opening experience for me in many ways, BUT, I had sworn to defend my country. To me that meant defending the rights and priveledges that we have all taken so much for granted and in fact under several administrations have so willingly traded away in the name of peace and fair trade. Americans don't really know what all we 'don't' get anymore because of all the treaties signed and so on. And so our 'rights' become muddied as to what it is we are really defending. Add that to watching kids today playing games in their living rooms where the whole idea is to kill for the sake of killing, then send them off to war and tell them that they need to be nice...isn't that an oxymoron of sorts? I don't pretend to know as much politically and theoretically as all of you on here, but I know that it is hard to be out there in the field, not knowing when you will be coming home, and then sitting in a room with one other person waiting for the 'bomb' to drop and waiting to hear what will happen next, be ready to destroy your own site and get the heck out...and then to think that what you are doing is REAL and causes death and pain and suffering, and then go home and expect someone who is worried about how much money to spend for Christmas presents...well, it is an unreal world that you come home to and when they look at you and tell you that they don't support you and what you were there for...it puts you in a tailspin that you hope you can ride through and not take it personally.

And for those who think that it is just those outside the military who condemn you...be sure that there are plenty in the military who are very willing to jump on that bandwagon as well. I was condemned many times over in the 70's for taking a 'job' away from some man somewhere supporting a family...when I myself had to support me. I also was basically harrassed to get out of the service as I did the awful thing of getting pregnant, and my commander didn't believe me...there's a whole story there that I won't get into. Suffice it to say, I chose to get out, when I could have stayed in and been retired after another 7 years.

I think supporting the troops is the least we can do....and yes, they ARE defending our right to voice an opinion, as so eloquently expressed here throughout this blog, and then yes, give them something worth fighting for. One comment from a serviceman said that he thought there should be more done in other ways. Why isn't he being listened to by his chain of command. Sometimes you send the low guy out there, tell him what to do and then tell him not to think....a total diservice because the information he can give is invaluable to the ultimate ending of the conflict you are in.

I don't know, maybe I'm making no sense here at all...but I do remember how it felt to be out in the desert, living in a tent, eating C rations that were packed in 1942 with no showers for weeks, and getting phone calls and letters that made me sane again. And also, once our 'job' was done, we were gone, we came home. I know my life changed because of the experience, as were others. I am glad that I was in the service, would not trade that for anything. It did make me more politically aware, and I do think that for anyone to think that we are not heading down a dangerous path now, they just aren't paying attention.

I don't know that I trust anyone in politics and have thought many times that maybe a clean sweep...get them all out and start over...might not be such a bad idea, but that's really naive and I know that, so don't yell at me for that one :) But I do think some new ideas and some fresh blood in the upper echelons of politics might be a good thing.

funkysmell said...

interesting

Okipunk said...

Look, the problem is not a simple matter of numbers. The enemy we face does not require us to mobilize on the level that was needed for WWII, where large set-piece battles of divisions, squadrons and whole navies were the order of the day.

We face an enemy without borders, nationality or political allegiance beyond their own ideas of a pan-arabic state. At the beginning of WWII we were unable to float a navy capable of fighting the Japanese, unable to field an army able to do more than defend our own soil and unable to fly an air force capable of more than little propoganda raids against the Japanese. In short, we were totally unprepared for any wartime effort.

What solved the problem was political will, not merely a matter of raw numbers. Our political, media, industrial and private sectors all got behind our war effort 100% because everyone knew that the war was one of survival. Period, full stop. the politcal will was there at all levels to win. While there was a draft, it was mostly a form a bookkeeping, a way to get more people, who were willing to serve in the first place, into uniform.

We may be able to put many millions of men into service, but not without cost. Politically, I do not believe that we have the will to do so. Not only that, but it is not possible to wave a wand at millions of men and tell them "OK boys, you're now soldiers! Go get em guys! 'Cause Congress said so! Rezpek mah authoritah!" The will to fight comes not from external sources but internal ones.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Pentagon does not want slave soldiers and has said so repeatedly, these should be good enough reasons against a draft.

Our warfighting philosophy has always been that it is better to expend things instead of people. That is why our small (by historical standards) armies sent against Afghanistan (does anyone remember that we used only two divisions against a country that defeated the entire Soviet Red Army and crushed the opposition) are so successful. We send out a small land army....supported by billions of dollars of hardware in a state of the art air force and navy. If we were to shift our focus away from that and put our military efforts into a mass land army, then we would give the advantage to the enemy.

Not only that, there is the tricky problem of logistics. All of those troops would need to be paid, fed, housed, cared for medically and pyschologically and supplied with our hardware. Fools think in terms of tactics, damn fools think of strategy. The professionals think in terms of logistics. If we were to expand the Army as dramatically as some would suggest, then our expenses in this war would go up exponentially.

Bottom line here is that we do not lack the manpower or the resources to prosecute this war to a sucessful conclusion, but lack the political will. That is precisely the angle that Al-Fascists attack us on. Realistically our combat losses, while regrettable, pale in comparison to other conflicts in the past. We lost tens of thousands of people in the Pacific campaign in WWII. Can anyone tell me that our enemy is our match militarily?

I do not know about the political purging of officers. I deliberately avoided talking to officers whenever possible. But it is and interesting concept, one that goes into the relationship between the military and its civilian masters. My own opinion is that there should be a disconnect between the warfighters and the politicians. The politicians should decide when it is needed for us to go to war, what the grand strategic goals are (think war resolutions) and give us what we need to win. It is the job of the military to make sure there that we win.

When a general says that we need 50,000 more troops or this many more aircraft, that is well and good. When said general says that we cannot win without his own pet demands, then it becomes counterproductive. as Mr. Rumsfeld put it, you fight with the Army you have, not the one you want.

My main concern with the war we are in is that we are not doing enough back here in America. We need to immediately repeal all tax cuts, offer war bond programs and work to put us on a war footing. We are either at war or we aren't. Make no mistake about it, the enemy considers this a war, and to the death. We simply have to win this fight.

The alternatives are too horrid to think of.

desertdiamond said...

Blandland....I couldn't have said that better....that is how I think as well, but you put it into words a lot better than I could have. You can't have a military, expect them to win, and then politically not give them the tools..figuratively and realistically. Micromanagement does not a good military make. That's why there are men and women in those top positions to put into action what has been asked by the political leaders...then the leaders should step aside and let the military do it's job. And I agree, we ARE at war..one with no boundaries, and the conviction of those people is just as real as ours, we just don't think that way. Having been in Egypt...yes, they are families just like here, but they are also soldiers in a war that they want to win at all cost...and will. We Americans need to stop thinking that we are the only ones who determine how another country's people feel.

Okipunk said...

As an interesting literary sidenote:

A truly horrifying book, The White Plague is about a genetic researcher who visits Dublin with his family...who are killed by an Irish terrorist.

He gets his revenge in a novel way...by developing a plague that kills women exclusively. A scary, and topical, discussion of the role of science in today's world. Not to say that I am an anti-modernist nutbar, but he does put down soem interesting ideas. Worth reading, and not well known outside of Herbert's fan circle (better known for his Dune series.

Later

Nate said...

We don't really need more troops. Well, that's not quite true. We don't need more soldiers. What we need right now are military police, and rebuilding specialists, who can speak the language. We also need the Bush Administration to stop making things WORSE, after all they've done to make it bad. But that doesn't seem very likely, so.

But in the long run, in the "war on terror", our best assets are going to be the ones we keep neglecting, or actively harming, our diplomacy, our ideals, and our media/propaganda. And the current military is not set up for occupying and rebuilding countries, you can't do that with cluster bombs and jet fighters. You need people, who're trained to help rebuild countries. Who can earn the trust of the locals (which requires us to not do things like, oh, TORTURE PEOPLE), and so on. The current US military is mainly set up to overwhelmingly defeat any conventional army, which it can do pretty easily, almost anywhere. But we're not fighting a conventional army that can be defeated.

And trying to use army-beating tactics on an insurgency doesn't work. When we bomb a neighborhood to take out a group of insurgents, every civilian that dies has a parent/sibling/friend who swears vengance and takes up arms, and more who don't go that far, but stop reporting the ones who do.

But that's not as "tough" as bombing, I guess. And there's no political will here lately to actually solve things, the "war on terror" has been used far more to try and drown out political opponents.

Anonymous said...

The "War on Terror" is no longer operative.

The current phrase for the current emergency is "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism."

Please update your banners and other collateral material before the next spontaneous demonstration.

The chocolate ration has been increased to 20 grammes.

Okipunk said...

Here is the problem:

Training some of the specialties that we need in the active duty forces, particularly foreign language experts, takes a good long time. Anywhere from a year to 2 years or more, depending on MOS.

We already have the civil affairs, translators, etc in the reserve formations, but their overuse is sure to result in hard feelings. So, IMHO, we do need more of these specialties, but they will not just pop out of the ground instantly.

As far as the purely physical reconstruction goes, I do not know of a better way to make it happen than to utilize the existing combat engineers/seabee units that we already have. They have the tools, materials, know how already in place. Better yet, they know how to defend themselves, if at least in a rudimentary fashion.

I feel the need to remind everyone here that the Seabees were created to keep civilians as far away from actual battle zones after Pearl Harbor. It was discovered that your average civilian is unable to help at all when the bullets fly and are almost useless in any sort of hazardous duty. Duh. If we could hire people to do these jobs, then that is typically what is done.

I am not sure that training, say, 10,000 new MPs and rushing them to Iraq will be able to help significantly. Considering that every trooper, regardless of MOS that goes to iraq gets several weeks of instruction for the area. The combat arms personnel also get extensive training in search and seizure, arresting procedures, MOUT training and other useful skills.

Nevermind that approaching bloodthirsty 7th century savages armed with bombs, RPGs, assault rifles, grenades and other assorted tools of mayhem could be "policed". After all, your typical hood in the ghetto in, say, Washington D.C. typically is not armed with such weaponry or ideological bias. We cannot treat these people as "criminals". After all, most criminal types do not subscribe to a vicious ideology bent on world domination, do they?

I remain skeptical of the "treat the war on terror as a criminal action" argument, particularly since there has been little success with this philosophy in the past. By any realistic analysis, we have been staggeringly successful in our prosecution of the war on terror so far. Abu Ghraib notwithstanding (are there still people harping about that out there? why?) the successes have far outweighed the setbacks here. Not to say that the situation is completely rosy or anything. But, to suggest that our troops are serial torturers who are also abject failures is somewhat hysterical.

But don't take my word for it, from the guys actually there:
http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/
http://www.madeucegunners.blogspot.com/
http://www.dixiesappers.org/hhc/journal/archive.html
http://thunder6.typepad.com/
http://strengthandhonor.typepad.com/
http://www.uppermansblog.blogspot.com/
http://texasaurus.blogspot.com/
http://www.thegreenside.com/

Besides, what we REALLY need are those hardworking fraggles from Fragglerock. Those little guys never quit!

LIC said...

funny, check my blog

Nate said...

blandland, I explained several times in this comments thread why Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, and all the other places we're torturing people matter. But maybe you'd like to listen to the military's JAG, in their memos on interrogation? (More analyisis here)

Air Force Major General Jack Reves wrote:

"2. (U) Several of the more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law and the UCMJ (e.g., assault). Applying the more extreme techniques during the interrogation of detainees places the interrogators and the chain of command at risk of criminal accusations domestically. Although a wide range of defenses to these accusations theoretically apply, it is impossible to be certain that any defense will be successful at trial; our domestic courts may well disagree with DoJ/OLC's interpretation of the law. Further, while the current administration is not likely to pursue prosecution, it is impossible to predict how future administrations will view the use of such techniques."

...

[T]he use of the more extreme interrogation techniques simply is not how the U.S. armed forces have operated in recent history. We have taken the legal and moral "high-road" in the conduct of our military operations regardless of how others may operate. Our forces are trained in this legal and moral mindset beginning the day they enter active duty. It should be noted that law of armed conflict and code of conduct training have been mandated by Congress and emphasized since the Viet Nam conflict when our POWs were subjected to torture by their captors. We need to consider the overall impact of approving extreme interrogation techniques as giving official approval and legal sanction to the application of interrogation techniques that U.S. forces have consistently been trained are unlawful.

I think that's enough to avoid spamming Dr. Brin's comment thread with all that argument again.

But on the other points I made, you misinterpreted me, but I may have been slightly unclear. Suggestions relating to more translators, more training, and so on, are not aimed toward Iraq. Iraq's Bush's mess, since he never bothered to plan for the occupation. They were suggestions for preventing it from happening again. (Besides, y'know, invading countries on false pretenses with no plans for occupation.) Many of the uses the US military is likely to be put toward in the future AREN'T simply defeating other standing armies. (And if we do get into one of those wars, then the world's already in big trouble for lots of other reasons).

Much of what the military's gonna be called on to do is peacekeeping/nation building. So we should be training extra units to do that, for the long term. Or create a group under the UN trained to do that, but that'd require restructuring some of the UN, and isn't very politically likely. Anyway. We should be training and expanding units for peacekeeping and rebuilding, since that's what we're likely to need. And training them to work with the locals, and understand them, to cause less problems.

And, really, what great successes have we had so far? Where's Osama Bin Laden? Where's his lieutenants? What about Afghanistan, where the warlords are coming back, and drug growing is the main source of income? What happened to rebuilding Afghanistan? If we'd done that, and well, it'd be as much of a beacon of democracy and happy puppies as the Bush administration claims Iraq is going to be, Real Soon Now. Did our War On Terror/Struggle Against Global Violent Extremism/Whatever stop London or Madrid from being bombed? You can't treat it as a "war", because it doesn't act like one. When the people we're looking for are hiding with civilians who're friendly because we bombed the civilians' friend/neighbor/family, what good is a smart bomb or jet fighter? That's work for police, or Special Forces, or small groups of infantry. And even then, that's not all there is. There's a lot more than shooting, because we're, apparently, fighting an ideology, which you can't kill with bullets. We have to stop making enemies, and convince the civilians to trust us, or at least not distrust us so much they won't turn over terrorists. And take away the sources that create new terrorists, which are manifold. That's not something you can do by blowing things up.

Anonymous said...

Peter asks:

"(are there still people harping about that out there? why?)"

Because criticism is the only antidote to error.

Because you reap what you sow.

Because what goes around comes around.

Abu Ghraid wasn't about a few out-of-control sickos, it was about a few out-of-control sickos whose abusive behavior was sanctioned by people way up the chain of command:

From:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8731855/

'Official: Using dogs at Abu Ghraib sanctioned

Former Iraq prison warden testifies at hearing for two dog handlers

FORT MEADE, Md. - The commander in charge of Guantanamo Bay prison visited Abu Ghraib in 2003 and recommended the use of military dogs during interrogations, the former warden in Iraq testified Wednesday at a hearing for two Army dog handlers accused of prisoner abuse.

“We understood that he was sent over by the secretary of defense,” Maj. David Dinenna testified.

He said teams of trainers were also sent to Abu Ghraib “to take these interrogation techniques, other techniques they learned at Guantanamo Bay, and try to incorporate them in Iraq.”'

And then there is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/28/politics/28abuse.html

'Military's Opposition to Harsh Interrogation Is Outlined'

'WASHINGTON, July 27 - Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show.

Despite the military lawyers' warnings, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism.

In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members.'


The people up the chain of command whose policies have shamed and endangered the men and women in the armed forces have to be held to account.

Ron said...

Why do you say that Afganistan was planned by Clinton? He had an urge to do so, I know, but it was planned and orchestrated under Bush.

I agree with Dave Baker.

A pacifist opposes all war on principle. I agreed, for example, with the Afgansitan War--Omar and Bin Laden had set up a Terror, Inc. operation, giving Terror graduates jobs as Air Afganistan flight attendants, making them exempt from customs inspections. It COULDN'T be allowed to go on.

However, I seriously question whether the Iraq war had made the world any safer.

In fact, we have accidently created a kind of "Terror U." of out own. Islamic terrorists, flocking to Iraq, have a chance to hone their skills in battle against the top western army. True, Newsweek estimates we have killed 15,000 insurgents. But they also estimated that another 15,000 remain. The CIA calls these the 'class of '05' and projects problems with them for the next decade.

The previous generation of terrorists sharpened their teeth in Afganistan against the Russian Army. The results were felt for over a decade. Now, a new generation are honing their skill in Iraq, using us, against our will, as their 'teachers.'

They're learning from the best, and it scares me.

All our intelligence indicates that there was no significant Al Quaeda presence in Iraq. Only one agent resided there, in the hospital.

How many are there now?

Are we safer now because of this war?

funkysmell said...

interesting

Dan Monroe said...

As a verteran, I'm completely on board with supporting the force. Support the fight, but put together a plan and get those boys out of there. I also agree with Dave Baker. By unilaterally invading a sovereign nation (albeit one led by a ruthless dictator) under false pretenses (and it seems quite obvious that we knew the truth about WMD but ignored i)t, we have proven ourselves no better than the regime we invaded. This was not a "last recourse." Our president was settling an old score and he did it hamfistedly.

C Black - My old hacker alias said...

Support the troops!

http://secman.blogspot.com

Monkey Migraine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

David,

Thanks for the info on donating books to the troops! Having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan; SF, mysteries, etc., including many of your fine works, are in high demand.

That said you analysis of the war and its causes are shallow and simplistic at best. Clinton/Clarke did not plan Afghanistan and had nothing to with its success. Bosnia was over when we got there (yep, I've been there too). And Iraqi Freedom had little to do with Desert Storm.
Stick to writing great SF and don't believe everything you see on CNN.

regards,

tired soldier