Dec 19 2014
Which means it is time to have fun. It is time to drink beer.
And then think about unwrapping presents!
Have a good weekend.
Dec 19 2014
Which means it is time to have fun. It is time to drink beer.
And then think about unwrapping presents!
Have a good weekend.
Dec 17 2014
I have been saving my comment on the revelations of last week for a while. I wanted to think through my thoughts and also to read other peoples take on them. Probably what is most disturbing out of all the reactions are the statements from the really callous people who actual support the practice of torturing people. Of course Dick Cheney is unrepentant, that’s to be expected. As Jon Stewart quipped: “Dick Cheney is so mean, his own heart ran away from him.” What’s truly depressing for me though, is to hear the ringing endorsements of the practice from the same people who will lecture me again and again on how the United States of America is “exceptional”.
I went back and looked through some of my old posts and I found one I wrote in June of 2008 right after the Supreme Court ruled that the US had to bring charges against GTMO detainees. At the time, the denizens of the zoo known as Lex’s commenting section went positively berserk at the notion that the United States should somehow have to abide by its own laws, if it is to have any credibility in the world. I wrote this paragraph.
The contention that the prisoners in GTMO have no rights because they are persons without status, so called “unlawful combatants” is weak. If they have no rights why bother to bring them to GTMO? Shoot them on sight. We don’t do that because we want to show ourselves to the world as being above that type of brute force justice and in so doing prove ourselves better than those we fight-and who attacked the US in 2001. The people coming unglued because the Supreme Court agreed with that premise hang that whole thread on the fact that they are not worthy of legal considerations because they are not fighting on behalf of a state.
And they call me naive? GTMO as currently set up makes for bad law and for bad PR. Given that we claim we have extracted lots of intel from these guys-then we have probably more than enough evidence to convict-the argument that it will expose intelligence is just flawed from the start, we have ways to get that out with selling the farm. The situation at GTMO makes a hell of a publicity problem even with our allies. Even if people are not being tortured there, a significant portion of the world believes they are-and so our moral authority is undermined, even with those who agree with us. Furthermore when exposed to deep scrutiny-most of the claims that valuable intel has been compromised in terrorist trials has later been proven to be a false claim.
I wrote that back in June of 2008. Now, six and one half years later it has become readily apparent how right I was then. And it convinces me even more that I was right to condemn the reactionary positions then and take the side of those who criticize our actions now.
Consider how much damage we have done to ourselves and our arguments that we are of a higher “moral authority”.
In a civilized society, there really would be no debate over this. And before 9/11, there wasn’t. Ever since, this country has slid and then fallen out of the civilized world and out of the core American traditions of humanity and legal warfare. Krauthammer can be seen as emblematic of that slide – someone whose early abhorrence at torture and defense of it only in its mildest and rarest forms has slowly succumbed to a full-fledged defense of a program that violated every rule he said should be in place to protect us from the abyss. This is not surprising. When you start to torture, the sheer evil of what you are doing requires that you believe ever more in its value. You can never admit error, because it would mean you have committed crimes against humanity without even the defense of acquiring any useful intelligence. You are revealed as monsters – and you cannot accept that of yourself or of those you know. And so you insist – with ever-rising certainty – that the torture worked – even though that’s irrelevant as a matter of morality and of law, and even though your own internal documents prove that it didn’t.
And so you become the monster you were supposed to be fighting. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
One final point too. The people who have seized upon the idea that Diane Feinstein was some sort of renegade who had no business publishing the report is itself, a flawed conclusion. The report need to be published for one reason-the US needs to start the process of recognizing its complicity and guilt in the shameful episode in our history.
The torture report is simply the latest and most graphic incarnation of an existential leadership crisis that has eaten through Washington’s moral authority and ability to govern, in the way road salt and rust eat through car mufflers in a Buffalo winter. “America is great because she is good,” wrote Tocqueville back in the day. “If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” We’ve got a lot of explaining to do, not just to the rest of the world but to ourselves. How much longer will we countenance the post-9/11 national security state, which Edward Snowden’s ongoing revelations remind us are constantly mutating into new forms and outrages?
Dec 14 2014
It's been two weeks since I have been back-and I have been busy. Spent the first week of this month in Colorado Springs on yet a another working trip that will not be adequately rewarded. Its like a stuck record-the morons just don't get it.
And this week-well the less said about it the better.
But we did get to go and visit the Stuttgart Christmas market which happens to be ranked as one of the best in Germany. ( I'm not so sure-but it is big).
So here are pictures for your viewing pleasure" (click to see properly)
Stuttgart's claim to fame is that it has large decorations on top of each booth:
And few others:
The City Hall at night:
Walking down the rows and rows of booths:
And some close up shots of the decorations:
Anybody need a hat?
Nov 26 2014
Listen up boys and girls, because contrary to the opinion of some ( and you know you are), I can , in fact, be critical of the President of the United States. And today is a good day to be critical of Mr. Obama, since just two days ago-he made a rather large blunder:
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned under pressure on Monday after President Obama determined that he had to shake up his national security team in the face of escalating conflicts overseas and hawkish Republicans reasserting themselves on Capitol Hill.
It was a striking reversal for a president who chose Mr. Hagel two years ago in part to limit the power of Pentagon officials who had repeatedly pushed for more troops in Afghanistan and a slower drawdown of American forces from Iraq. But in the end, Mr. Hagel’s passivity and lack of support in Mr. Obama’s inner circle proved too much for an administration that found itself back on a war footing.
Aides said Mr. Obama made the decision to remove his defense secretary on Friday after weeks of rising tension over a variety of issues, including what administration officials said were Mr. Hagel’s delays in transferring detainees from the military prison in Guantánamo Bay and a dispute with Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, over Syria policy.
This is to put it as nicely as I can and to paraphrase Joe Biden, is "a big fucking mistake".
Lets start with the fact that, after the mid-terms where your party took a thumping in the mid-terms, it is a huge proclamation of weakness to chuck your SECDEF overboard and head into a new Congress spoiling for now 2, not 1 nasty confirmation fights. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
Hagel could not seem to win. He has been both condemned as being too hawkish and not hawkish enough. Which is it? Plus how about acknowledging that protracted wars in the Middle East are an express ticket to nowhere.
Nov 23 2014
Back yesterday from a very busy week in Tel Aviv. Experienced at least one or two near death experiences on the Ayalon Expressway-where I expect it, and one in a place where I did not expect it at all. There was a lot of tension due to the murders in Jerusalem at the Synagogue. So much so, my plans to visit Jerusalem had to be scrubbed when my employer placed the Old City off limits. Which was indeed a disappointment.
And then there was that one night in Mike's bar on the beach, when this happened:
Seems some patron finished his beer, grabbed his keys and walked out to the car-and then promptly put it in reverse and gunned the gas. The beer had nothing to do with that I am sure. (sic).
Inside the place felt like a bomb had gone off-it made a really loud noise. since Mike's has been the recipient of a terrorist attack-the idea of it being a bomb is not out of the realm of possibility. Its lucky there were not other people on the other side of the window.
Mike's being Mike's-they pressed on and continued to sell drinks. IN fact by the end of the week I was there-they had the damage repaired. As for what happened to the driver-I have no idea.
Tomorrow it is back to the normal grind again.
Nov 14 2014
America's dumbest Senator distinguished himself the other day by tweeting this:
Thanks a lot dickhead! By tweeting this, you proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you know nothing about health care OR Net Neutrality. Any one who is buying the latest Fox News BS about the issue-clearly does not understand the issue.
So, as a Public Service-the American Porn Industry came to the rescue. Explaining Net Neutrality in a way even Ted Cruz can understand.
Nov 12 2014
LTG Daniel Bolger (Citadel Class of 1978) has a very good book out chronicling the truth that a whole lot of people don't want to admit. For them, the wars were lost when the President of the United States decided to :1) not hang US troops out to dry with a worthless Iraqi government when they refused to negotiate on a SOFA treaty and 2) the day Obama gave a speech at West Point that acknowledged what many Americans already knew-that there was a limit to how much we could do for people who over the last 8 years had proven themselves completely worthless and unworthy of the sacrifices being made on their behalf. And that a lot of Americans were sick of it.
Fortunately for us, there are some military professionals, who actually fought in the war, who know better:
As a senior commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, I lost 80 soldiers. Despite their sacrifices, and those of thousands more, all we have to show for it are two failed wars. This fact eats at me every day, and Veterans Day is tougher than most.
As veterans, we tell ourselves it was all worth it. The grim butchery of war hovers out of sight and out of mind, an unwelcome guest at the dignified ceremonies. Instead, we talk of devotion to duty and noble sacrifice. We salute the soldiers at Omaha Beach, the sailors at Leyte Gulf, the airmen in the skies over Berlin and the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and we’re not wrong to do so. The military thrives on tales of valor. In our volunteer armed forces, such stirring examples keep bringing young men and women through the recruiters’ door. As we used to say in the First Cavalry Division, they want to “live the legend.” In the military, we love our legends.
Here’s a legend that’s going around these days. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and toppled a dictator. We botched the follow-through, and a vicious insurgency erupted. Four years later, we surged in fresh troops, adopted improved counterinsurgency tactics and won the war. And then dithering American politicians squandered the gains. It’s a compelling story. But it’s just that — a story. (Emphasis mine-SS)
Clearly this will get many "surgeaholics" riled up. Devotees of the theory of ever continuing warfare, and of never blaming the people of Iraq or Afghanistan themselves for the mistakes they made, just does not fit the narrative. Troublesome facts are not the things they wish to hear:
We did not understand the enemy, a guerrilla network embedded in a quarrelsome, suspicious civilian population. We didn’t understand our own forces, which are built for rapid, decisive conventional operations, not lingering, ill-defined counterinsurgencies. We’re made for Desert Storm, not Vietnam. As a general, I got it wrong. Like my peers, I argued to stay the course, to persist and persist, to “clear/hold/build” even as the “hold” stage stretched for months, and then years, with decades beckoning. We backed ourselves season by season into a long-term counterinsurgency in Iraq, then compounded it by doing likewise in Afghanistan. The American people had never signed up for that. What went wrong in Iraq and in Afghanistan isn’t the stuff of legend. It won’t bring people into the recruiting office, or make for good speeches on Veterans Day. Reserve those honors for the brave men and women who bear the burdens of combat. That said, those who served deserve an accounting from the generals. What happened? How? And, especially, why? It has to be a public assessment, nonpartisan and not left to the military. (We tend to grade ourselves on the curve.) Something along the lines of the 9/11 Commission is in order. We owe that to our veterans and our fellow citizens
Reviews for Bolger's book, Why We Lost, are mixed-I agree with his conclusion- while I agree also with those who think he doesn't place enough strategic blame with our top level civilian leadership. Furthermore, its clear he thinks we had to invade-and that is a conclusion that is not borne out by history. The invasion of Iraq is the biggest Foreign Policy mistake in the last 30 years. Nonetheless he gives an objective and necessary telling of how we far exceeded our original needs and objectives after 9-11 and plunged into a global rat hole. That alone makes it worth the read.
Nov 09 2014
Well the reunion has come to an end. A good group of guys made it from my company-and from the Corps in general. On Thursday there was a cigar and scotch social at the Yacht club that was marvelous. I was supposed to play golf on Friday-but events took a different path. Here is why:
On the morning after I got here-I went for a run. Was cruising along OK, coming down Calhoun street with the intention of hanging a right at Marion Square and heading down to the Battery. When all of a sudden, I tripped and went skidding across the concrete. My left and right hands were bleeding, my chest was scarred up and my elbows had a couple of nasty scars too. Thought I would just shake it off and keep going. After about 4 blocks-realized my hand hurt like hell. Fearing I had broken something, and knowing I had gone past an ER, I reversed course and headed back to the ER. I did not break anything-but the left hand was sprained. The next morning I had a very nasty bruise to show off.
So much for golf.
It worked out well though. Met lots of great friends, saw the place that I started in, and we told the same old lies to each other. It is always amazing to me how I can meet these guys after five years-and pick up as if we had seen each other yesterday.
Pictures to follow.
Nov 04 2014
Greetings from Frankfurt airport! I am at the beginning of my every 5 year pilgrimage, wherein I return to the sacred soil in Charleston South Carolina. There to contemplate the journey that life took me on since departing Lesesne Gate for the last time as a cadet. To savor the joys of seeing friends again and to feel the sting of all the dreams you had that were later denied you. In their faces, those dreams appear and taunt you. It is at one and the same time a joyous few days and among the most bittersweet of my existence.
Reunions are a time of mixed emotions for me. For one thing, over time, my ardor for my alma mater has faded what it once was. I can no longer answer "yes" to the question, would I have done it again, knowing what I know now, if could go back and do it again? Probably, but then again, possibly not. In the long view of hindsight, and the path that I know, a different background life might have taken me to. Then again, one can say that about pretty much any experience in life, and my time at the Citadel prepared me well for the travails and joys that followed me through the curving path that has brought me to this airport lounge today.
I have a resolve to remain more quiet than outspoken this reunion, how well I stick to it, is something that remains to be seen. For one thing, it will be hard enough seeing some of the classmates, who by now are clearly what society terms " successful". 8 of my classmates became generals, (none of us became Admirals, although we do have one or two SES's, folks who connived that after leaving active duty), many who run their own companies, a successful newscaster on a major broadcast network and even two successful authors. And then there is me. Well traveled to be sure, literate and well informed beyond compare, but hardly what any would call, "successful" whatever the f*ck that means.
It is also through the lens of hindsight, that I have come to realize that many of the "facts" I was taught, but not the ideals, were just plain wrong when examined in the real world. My view of these has changed dramatically and I count for loss many of the things I used to believe were bedrock truth. I like to think it is the ideals that were instilled by the institution in me, but even that too may be a flawed interpretation of the situation. I just know its been a long journey and I am thankful I am where I am now, politically, philosophically, and mentally. To think were I could have been on my trajectory out of that gate makes me shudder.
So it seems, to be the (sort of) quiet observer is the way to go through the weekend. Wishing all well, remembering well those who will never make another reunion and giving thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Things could be a hell of a lot worse, and I would be well to remember that.
If you are in the whining states of America today, be sure to vote. It is your right, hard earned, even if some of you will squander it on fools.
10 years ago this week, I was again traveling to a reunion-having turned in miles to fly first class on ANA, NRT to IAD. First Class on ANA does not suck, but it was hardly the flat bed seat world we see now. Still it got me to DC all right where I had decided to break my journey thinking it would be cool to see an election from the standpoint of being in the nation's capital. It was made all the more edgy in my humble opinion because it was one of the first times I had voted against the GOP candidate, this vote being driven by my then and still current revulsion at the disaster that man had unleashed with his egregiously stupid invasion of Iraq. I ended the evening in a bar in Alexandria, awaiting them to call the results of Ohio-which would determine the election. Ohio goes Democratic, Kerry wins. If it goes Republican, the grey hair wins and we get four more years of war.
Well, you all know how that turned out, and the present gloomy world rose up to plague us all. The crowd in the bar was pretty evenly split so it was some interesting people watching, but the tea party had not been developed yet and the GOP had not yet descended into its current insanity, so the conversation over beer was reasonably civil.
I expect I will have reason to drink heavily tonight because the wrong side will win-but at least I will do it in my favorite world. That of the traveling man. Have a great day….AND VOTE!
Nov 03 2014
Tomorrow is election day in the United States. Since I will be on my 5 year pilgrimage to the sacred soil in Charleston, I have already submitted my ballot via absentee. Fat lot of good it will do me, since my Senator is running unopposed ( thank you Citizens United and the inability of the state to have a two party system anymore). My worthless excuse for a Congressman is going to win in a walk thanks to his continuous sucking up to the demented folks in the tea party and and the governor has ensured that only he will be the guy to vote for in the election. This is what passes for constitutional governance in parts of the South today. ( Meanwhile in New York, the GOP incumbent is under indictment, but is expected to win anyway).
Regardless, be sure to vote. If nothing else it gives you a right to bitch.
By all odds the GOP will take control of the Senate which means the prediction I made way back in April of this year will start coming true. it ought to be a fun time to be one of the 10-15% of American citizenry that actually is sane and understands that the world we live in is changing. Sadly most of us understood too that the country was killing itself slowly a long time ago and began exploring other options.
But, for those of you stuck in the whining states of America next year ( as I may in fact be as well-at least for a couple of years) here is preview of the fun and games ahead:
In Kansas recently, Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who’s in a tough race for reelection, made a statement that left me puzzled. “A vote for me is a vote to change the Senate back to a Republican majority, and we’ll get things done,” he said. “And it means a stop to the Obama agenda.”
Wait a minute, I thought. Which is it—ending the status quo of Washington gridlock? Or ratcheting up the gridlock by obstructing President Obama? You can't "get things done" in Washington without the president's signature, and no matter what happens in this year's elections, he's not going anywhere for another two years.
Yet these two seemingly contradictory messages are at the heart of Republican Senate campaigns across the country. I’ve heard them from candidate after candidate. And the paradox behind them gets to the question political watchers are increasingly pondering: If, as seems likely, Republicans take the Senate, what then? Will the GOP see its takeover as a mandate for ever more extreme partisanship? Or will the party suddenly turn conciliatory, ushering in a new age of progress? A new Republican Senate majority will put the party at a crossroads as it tries to reconcile these two competing promises.
I'm a total pessimist-I expect a war of vetoes and override battles to ensue and nothing will get done in 2015. I fully expect to be victimized by another government shut down, and my stocks to take a beating when we default on bond obligations. There are those who think things may be different, I think they are fools:
But with control of both houses of Congress, Republicans would be on the hook for Congress’s actions. They alone would get the blame if Congress remained dysfunctional—and they alone could claim credit if Congress actually passed bills with popular support. If Republicans passed such moderate, constructive legislation, Obama would be hard pressed to simply veto everything they put on his desk.
And of course we can never underestimate the desire to go "legacy shopping" on the part of Obama. " What scares me also is what Obama will agree to".
At least in the abstract, however, there are a number of bills a Republican majority could pass that Obama would agree to sign. Obama—the real Obama, not the left-wing warrior of conservative fever dreams—loves the idea of bipartisanship and has been frustrated by a GOP he sees as unwilling to come to the table. He has agreed in principle, in the past, to ideas like the grand bargain, which his base loathes. Liberals also suspect Obama is willing to allow the Keystone pipeline, a decision on which he has delayed in the face of intense pressure from environmentalists. Most liberals contemplating a GOP Senate majority have focused their preemptive ire on the image of a vengeful McConnell threatening more brinksmanship and shutdowns. But perhaps it’s the dealmaking McConnell they should fear more.
Some, in fact, are already worried about this. I recently asked a top Democratic strategist why he worried about a Republican Senate takeover when, after all, McConnell would still need Democratic votes to pass legislation and Obama could still block bills with a veto. “What scares me the most,” he said, “is what Obama will agree to."
In the meantime, your country will fall further and further behind in global competition that the rising multi-polar world will create.
This is your democracy America, the one your own stupidity created.
Oct 29 2014
The S.O. and I had a marvelous time in Austria-and for what it is worth, October is a great time to visit. The mountains are still glorious, there is a little early snow, but for us at least-the weather was nice and we did a lot of hiking. A good extra long weekend for all. Too bad I had to come back and read about this.
Oct 13 2014
The S.O. has had to work all this weekend, and I have been on call for my job. Basically its a payment up front for the both of us-for we will be in Austria for her birthday at the end of the month. The timing is less than optimum, but I have a deposit on our place to stay already put down and I don't want to lose it. So, this holiday weekend has been a quiet one. It's nice having the S.O. gone, I savor the time alone, probably because I get so little of it.
It is also a good time to think and reflect. That's a part of my inability to write these days-there is a lot to think about. Next few months will become busy and then it will be 2015. That years is going to be one I will have to make some decisions, and I have no idea what they will be. But I suspect I won't like them. The tough times are coming, I fear-and there is little I can do to stop them.
I did go to a festival in the nearby town yesterday. It was nice. It was an open shopping day ( most stores in Germany are closed on Sundays). Walked through the town, and of course stopped for a couple half liter glasses of beer.
No good deed goes unpunished however, and so shortly I will be going out to do the list of errands the S.O. has left for me. I find it odd how much I am enjoying this time alone at home. I should want to be heading out, but I don't. It's fun being lazy this holiday.
Tomorrow will come soon enough and off to work I will go.
Since this is Coloumbus Day holiday, I would like to depart by pointing you to an article by Charles C. Mann in The Atlantic. It was originally published in 2002. But its worth a read again.
Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness. My son picked up the same ideas at his schools. One way to summarize the views of people like Erickson and Balée would be to say that in their opinion this picture of Indian life is wrong in almost every aspect. Indians were here far longer than previously thought, these researchers believe, and in much greater numbers. And they were so successful at imposing their will on the landscape that in 1492 Columbus set foot in a hemisphere thoroughly dominated by humankind.
Have a happy holiday.
Oct 05 2014
In Ludwigsburg, they are running a Pumpkin Fest. In German the word for Pumpkin is Kurbis(with an umlaut). It's held in the garden of the palace in Ludwigsburg. Probably most amazing-besides the Pumpkin Wine, Soup, and Pasta-and beer-is the Pumpkin Figures.
See for your self:
And Elvis, had to stop by:
And when you have to go-you have to go:
The Earl of Locksley dropped by:
And lets play dinosaurs!
And the bees were out:
Oct 04 2014
Thank goodness it is a new month. Last month was at the same time, marvelous and deeply depressing. On the marvelous front, the return to Japan was without a doubt the highlight of my year. Returning to Germany however was a big swoon and a drop to a real low. There are a bunch of reasons for this.
To start with, there is a lot of churn at my work. The unintended consequences of the megalomaniac's merger from hell are coming home to the roost. The biggest of which is the revelation, that the merger exposed, about the great disparities in compensation among people doing exactly the same work. More discouraging in the long term, is the inability of this soulless individual to recognize, that he could take some straightforward steps to correct the worst issues-and also avoid the repeated ethical bypasses he takes to keep all control solely in his hands. Even though we "divorced" because the relationship was most unsatisfactory, and the "customer" we work for recognized he was getting f*cked at the drive through-there is still a lot of damage that was done and cannot be quickly undone. And we who all came in about the same time-with expectations of upward mobility-are becoming more than a little disillusioned. We are probably going to lose one, maybe two people in the next few months-and their replacement process will be iffy at best. So my work level, at least in the short term, will increase. And of course it makes even more bittersweet, my return to Japan, when it gets coupled with the increasing realization that getting back there to live is / or will be extremely difficult if not impossible. The pain that alone engenders is excruciating.
But life, on many levels, has to go on. For the short term, I have to remain focused and attack my work, but also keep an eye out for the writing that is visibly scrolling itself across the wall.
Which leads me to the public disappointment. I don't think I am saying anything earth shaking when I say that on the global news front-the last month just sucked. Chief among my public concerns is watching the United States sink back into the quicksand that is yet another war for Arabs who cannot solve their own issues-or put their silly religious disputes behind them. It may in fact be that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not up to the task of dealing with this issue. But I know with certainty none of his potential GOP successors is up to the challenge-just as his predecessor was not up to the challenge of dealing with 9-11 or it's aftermath. His decisions created this mess in the first place, chief among them being the utterly disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. All of the current agony, as well as the United States political and economic dysfunction stems from that one single disastrous, completely flawed decision by a deeply flawed man.
And its troubling our country has no memory of this chain of events. When the consequences are plainly in front of it. And yet, the march of the war lovers goes on again and again-second ( or third) verse, same as the first.
It would do us all well to think about this:
It’s important to remember that moment now, amid our current bout of war fever. It may be worth attacking the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for purely humanitarian reasons. After all, the United States launched air wars against Serbia (twice) and Libya without claiming that their regimes posed a national-security threat, and ISIS is more savage than either Slobodan Milosevic or Muammer al-Qaddafi. It may be worth attacking ISIS because of the threat it poses to our allies in the Middle East. If unchecked, the group could destabilize not only Iraq and Syria, but potentially Jordan and Saudi Arabia too. (Judging by social media, ISIS has a lot of fans in the kingdom of Saud.)
But, for the most part, that’s not how this war is being sold. It’s being sold as a war to protect the United States homeland against a profound terrorist threat. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein recently said, “The threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated.” Her Republican colleague Jim Inhofe has claimed that ISIS is “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city” and that as a result, “We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation.”
This time, the press needs to aggressively investigate whether that’s true. If it is, then the Obama administration should be considering ground troops, as General Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East,reportedly requested—domestic politics be damned. We sent them into Afghanistan, after all. And if the ISIS threat really is greater than the al-Qaeda threat was on September 10, as Inhofe suggests, then there’s a case for doing the same in Iraq and Syria today.
If, on the other hand, ISIS lacks the motivation and capacity for anything close to 9/11, then President Obama’s stated justification for even an air war looks weak. So far, the press hasn’t done a good enough job of determining if this is the case. Many publications have uncritically accepted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s claim about the number of Americans who have gone to fight with ISIS—a figure that New America Foundation terrorism expert Peter Bergenargues is dramatically exaggerated. Other media commentary simply assumes that if Westerners go to fight with ISIS in Iraq or Syria, they’re destined to attack Europe or the United States. But that’s not true. Bergen notes, for instance, that of the 29 Americans who have gone to fight with the Somali jihadist group al-Shabab, none have tried to commit terrorism against the United States. One reason is that many of them ended up dead.
The problem is, no one can answer for me the key question: How does this end?
I don't think anyone in power knows the answer to that question either. And there is one more thing:
I am continuing to come to the conclusion that, despite all efforts to the convince us to the contrary, there is something fundamentally wrong with the Islamic faith. I'm kind of in agreement with Bill Maher on this-even though he is taking a lot of heat for his statements to that effect. Maher called Islam “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”
Yes, the number of extremists are a minority-but there seems to be no one of authority in Islam, including so called "Islamic" nations, who have the balls to stand up to this minority. Or publicly denounce it. It's a part of the problem-and its a big reason why the invasion of Iraq, or anywhere else did not work-because of a tired adherence to stupid parochial bickering-Arabs always screw things up.
And thus we are back to the central question: How does this all end?
I don't know, and I don't think you do either. There 1.5 billion Muslims in the world however. So today – the future continues to look bleak.
Have a good weekend.
Lots of things could threaten the United States. The critical question, as the U.S. launches a war against ISIS that will likely take years and have myriad unforeseen consequences, is what “could” actually means. This time, the press needs to do a better job of finding out.
Sep 28 2014
Two weeks without posting is obscene. I should be doing better and I resolve to do better. However in my defense, things have been busy, I've been depressed, and I've been in a funk. A real funk-and its taking me a while to work through. But make no mistake, I'm still an honest to God blogger.
Lots on my mind right now. Yet one more war in the Middle East is a good way to start. I don't know where it ends-and that troubles me greatly.
But till I can assemble my thoughts-have a great weekend.