Archive for the 'Military' Category

Jun 16 2016

The four horsemen are saddling up

The four horsemen of the apocalypse that is. As if having Donald Trump on a presidential ballot were not proof enough the Anti-Christ is alive and walking among us, now comes a day when I actually agree with a Republican Congressman from Mississippi. Repent! The hour of judgment is at hand!

Long time readers here will know that I am a big fan of the writing of Charles Pierce. I love the rich way he uses words and the unerring way he pillories people who deserve to be pilloried.

Most of the time anyway. But today he got it wrong by a country mile. So I am going to give some credit, where credit is due.

I agree with Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)

But Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) said believes the naming of ships should be reserved for former presidents, war heroes and people who have served in the military, which neither Lewis (D-Ga.) nor Levin (D-Mich.) did. "My amendment has nothing — absolutely zero — to do with John Lewis or any other member of Congress," Palazzo said in a statement.  The measure was introduced as an amendment to the annual defense spending bill scheduled to be debated in the House this week. The proposal would have prevent the Pentagon from using any federal funds to name ships for "any member of Congress, living or deceased, unless such member served as the President of the United States or as a member of the Armed Forces."?

What Charlie is not seeing here, is the absolute abomination the last three SECNAV's have made of the ship naming process. Ray Mabus deserves the bulk of the blame, but lets not forget the shitty work done by Gordon England and John Dalton. They each failed in their own way.

In fact I would take Rep Palazzo's bill much, much further-forcing the Navy to reinstate the accepted Navy naming conventions. E.G., naming submarines for fish, cruisers for cities, destroyers for war heroes ( posthumously), SSBN's for states ( since there are no more battleships -sigh), Carriers for historic Naval Battles and Presidents. The current practice of using ship names as a "trade" for political favors is insane.

Sorry Charlie, you got this one wrong.  This is a fight worth picking.

I'll be waiting for the moon to turn black.

One response so far

Jun 06 2016

Confronting a totalitarian dictatorship in North Asia

Not every dictatorship in Northern Asia is run by a chubby little Korean guy with a bad haircut. It would appear some dictatorships exist in lands that are supposed to be nice and democratic. Just today, I found out that in my beloved Japan, in a district just south of Tokyo, there is a totalitarian dictatorship run amok:

U.S. sailors deployed to Japan are now under a temporary ban on alcohol and off-base liberty, with top commanders citing a string of "alcohol-related incidents detrimental to the U.S.-Japan Alliance."

The ban, which covers drinking both on- and off-base, will remain in place until commanders believe "all personnel understand the impact of responsible behavior," according to an announcement by the commanders of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet and the Navy's forces in Japan.

With all off-base liberty canceled, sailors will only be allowed to enter civilian areas for either official business or essential reasons, such as childcare, gas and groceries. Liberty privileges will be reinstated only after "face-to-face training has been conducted by unit commanding officers, executive officers and command master chiefs with all personnel," the Navy says.

The ban is the latest shift in the U.S. Navy's centuries-long relationship with alcohol. More than 100 years ago, the Navy declared a ban on booze aboard all its ships, ushering in a dry era that contrasted with the service's early days of doling out a half-pint of liquor to sailors daily, as the U.S. Naval Institute has noted.

It's also a new phase in the discussions over the large U.S. military presence in Japan, particularly in Okinawa, which has long been a controversial subject. That's due in no small part because over the years, American personnel have committed high-profile crimes — such as the infamous kidnapping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. service members back in 1995.


Way to go Joe! That will sure fix the problem.


The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Yea, keep treating your  Sailors like children-and then be shocked, SHOCKED, when they don't respond as advertised.

"These measures are not taken lightly," Rear Adm. Matthew Carter, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, says in the Navy announcement. "For decades, we have enjoyed a strong relationship with the people of Japan. It is imperative that each Sailor understand how our actions affect that relationship, and the U.S.-Japan Alliance as a whole."

Discussing the new restrictions, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet, says, "The overwhelming majority of our Sailors are doing an outstanding job every single day. But that same majority — at every paygrade — is also responsible for providing leadership on all levels. We will not condone misconduct that impacts our ability to conduct our mission or which jeopardizes our critical alliance with Japan."

Oh really? Let me tell you what is really going to happen. The 95% of the Sailors who don't do anything wrong except try to enjoy their lives will sit on their hands for only a few days and then the letters to Congressmen hopefully will start flying.  In the meantime the more enterprising Sailors will find a way to get "home delivery". ( Maybe one or two will use the old MLC "trunk resupply method" to restock our declining beer stocks when everyone was clamped down after 9-11. Yes, they got a nice 5000 yen "finders fee"-but desperate times called for desperate measures.). What the hell do you guys think this is, the Air Force?

Today’s Air Force is addicted to this kind of control scheming, even if it inflicts more damage than could ever be justified by the potential good. This addiction is facilitated and fueled by a cultural pathology that has taken root over the last 15 years: taking airmen for granted. Gen. Mark Welsh has made it explicit during his endless string of mandatory hangar calls: if you leave, someone else will step in.  

It takes a special leader to see past the commodity marketing and flesh-peddling of his manpower “experts” and hold in clear view the key truth that even if a down economy allows you to get away with it from an algebraic perspective, the moral injury of treating people like serfs will be toxic and lasting. The damage multiplies exponentially when it stands uncorrected.


Substitute the word, "Navy" here and the effect is still the same. John Q. Public reminds us where these "reinforcement" tactics eventually lead:

What today’s senior Air Force folk don’t understand is that they need the trust of their juniors much more than the other way around. If your people don’t trust you, you can’t lead them, and therefore you’re not a leader. You’re just some schmoe exercising positional authority, and not qualitatively different from a cashier, DMV clerk, carrot gardener, or gas station attendant. It just so happens your positional authority lets you harass people to a greater degree than those others. But that doesn’t mean you should do it. In fact, by doing it, you will alienate the very people you need to actually do your job, since teamwork — yes, teamwork, is required for you to succeed. Even if you can get promoted without it, and might even get promoted quicker by eschewing it.


You brought this on yourselves, boys and girls. When you created an atmosphere where Senior enlisted won't dare to go on liberty with their juniors because it is just a lose / lose proposition.

Look, I get it. These are serious incidents. But here is a news flash folks, the Japanese understand that too, and most what posturing you see is for domestic consumption, not to advocate these types of Draconian measures. And here is another news flash for you-you have the means to deal with the small percentage of troublemakers already.

This type of knee jerk reaction is not just limited to booze. You see it everywhere in Navy life these days , (and the other services too) this completely flawed idea that the services can tell you everything to do with your personal life, regardless of the legality of it. Today's leadership thinks they have the right legislate one's private life: telling you what you and cannot say on the internet, what you can and cannot do in our private time, even in some cases who can and cannot sleep with. ( Cue the obligatory TIP BS discussion here).

And if you think about objecting to it, by pointing out quite correctly that there is a dividing line between what's professional and personal? Be prepared to be marked with the Scarlett "W". ( for whining):

Any policy push-back is therefore marginalized as “whining” and everyone is reminded that no one forced them to join or to stay……..

Here’s a bigger issue: as people figure out they’ve been had, the ability to recruit and retain enough of them to win wars gets compromised. 

This is the unfolding reality of the Air Force [Navy], and it gestures toward a related pathology. …………

I’m guessing for those at Osan, [Yokosuka] morale is anything but pretty darn good. It’s hard to be proud of your unit and inspired by the role you play in the mission when your chain of command is obsessed with monitoring and controlling your private life … and when you’re not even trusted to live privately without supervision. This during the scant few hours you’re not sleeping, preparing for duty, or doing your own job plus the job of the person who should be next to you but was either fired in the last drawdown, deployed on the last AEF on 6-9 days notice, or obliged to miss work for volunteer or educational “opportunities.”

You have done this to yourselves over and over again. Even worse, you would not try that in San Diego or Norfolk because-spoiler alertit's illegal. You would not try that in a homeport in CONUS. Well, Yokosuka is a homeport too. Not a liberty port. Same is true in Okinawa. That is why you can only ask your civilians to "voluntary comply" ( good luck with that!).




Kudos to John Q. Public for spelling this out better than I ever could!

6 responses so far

May 18 2016

An idea that is long overdue.

If you have been a long time reader here, you will know that one of my pet peeves is that the Navy has more flag officers than it has ships.  A few years ago I picked a fight with one of the Naval Institute's   "preferred customers" on this very subject.

Well, it took them a while, but it appears the United States Senate agrees with me:

Sometimes when things aren’t going well, there’s an urge to purge—and Congress seems to be reaching that point with the U.S. military, sputtering along in Afghanistan and Iraq after more than a decade of inconclusive fighting. Late last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee sent a shiver through the Pentagon when it proposed a 25% cut in the number of generals and admirals fighting the nation’s wars.

That’s 222 of the Defense Department’s 886 generals and admirals. “This provision is necessary because the size of the general and flag officer corps has become increasingly out of balance with the size of the force it leads,” the committee said in its summary of the action it wants to take in the 2017 defense budget. “Over the past 30 years, the end-strength of the joint force has decreased 38%, but the ratio of four-star officers to the overall force has increased by 65%,” said the committee, chaired by Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., a son and grandson of Navy admirals.

Part of the problem is that every time a major problem is discovered, rather than forcing the system to work the way it was supposed to; witness Uncle Vern's many screwed  up reorganizations and the whole creation of CNIC; the services just created another command. Thus we have Cybercom being created, Stratcom brought into existence, Africom, 4th fleet, etc, etc, etc…

You have 1 stars doing the work of CAPT's, CAPT's doing the work commanders should be doing, and worst of all GS-15's running divisions that should be run by military.

The whole thing is a mess-and I stand by my arguments from 2011. Michael Junge remains 100% wrong.



3 responses so far

Apr 23 2016

Here we go again.

Published by under Navy

A CO has been fired through what appears to be, assassination by IG.

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Yokosuka base commanding officer Capt. David Glenister has been relieved of duty, Navy officials in Japan said Thursday.

Rear. Adm. Matthew Carter, head of Navy Region Japan, relieved Glenister Wednesday afternoon after losing confidence in his ability to command.

“The action resulted from the findings gathered during investigations which determined that Glenister had not performed to the high standards demanded of an installation commanding officer,” a Navy statement said.

Glenister’s initial misstep involved an investigation into Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs in the summer of 2015, Navy Region Japan officials said.

The investigation completed by the base command was deemed by higher headquarters as “wholly insufficient,” Navy Region Japan spokesman Cmdr. Ron Flanders said Thursday.

The regional command later conducted its own investigation, which found and later corrected deficiencies found in the MWR programs, Flanders said.

This year, Glenister inadequately handled a “very serious” personnel grievance filed by a Yokosuka civilian base employee, Navy Region Japan officials said. The grievance was not filed against Glenister personally. Officials declined to provide more detail on the grievance because it could be the subject of a lawsuit.

The two incidents, combined with poor initial findings of a command climate survey, led the Navy to determine that Glenister could no longer “handle that complex range of issues that can occur at a major base,” Flanders said.


My sense here is that we do not know the entire story and there is more to this than just what was written above. Certainly it says a lot about autonomy, or lack of it, in the current Navy Chain of Command. Was he counseled by his leadership following the first incident?

The poor command climate is a wrinkle-but then again, I would like to know the back story here. And it would be worth seeing the demographics involved. It is an open secret that Navy Region Japan has been enforcing the utterly stupid "5 year rule" on its civilian employees. That has to have an affect, and its not one the CO can control. A military vs civilian breakdown might reveal something.

And lets not forget, all the bullshit liberty restrictions in place that turn a really good deal, namely living in Japan, into a nuisance.

There is more here than is being admitted to.

One response so far

Mar 20 2016

Ignoring the real crime

Published by under Navy,Time wasters

I, like many people, subscribe to Navy Times. And, if you have been a follower of this blog for some time, you that I very upset with some of the news about the Navy, my Navy, that it reports.

And in the latest edition to arrive in my mailbox, the news paper did not disappoint.


There are two things on this cover I would draw your attention to. First,  is the sacking of RDML Williams for viewing porn on his computer and the  over  reaction to it.

Now of course, I am quite certain the admiral knew that you should not view porn on Navy computers. However if you dig through the story, you will find out that the story is not as clear cut as the headline makes out-and it begs an equally important question of why, on the network that blocks many sites that are not controversial at all, the IP's he went to were not already blocked. And so, during a time when an Admiral should be sitting on his hands-so as to allow  time for his staff to get work done-he surfed to someplace the Navy did not want him to go.

Two points before moving on, Nora Tyson. 1) All men look at porn. 

"Guys, including your boyfriend, like porn. So do a lot of women. Men just get off to visuals more easily, which is why it always seems to be guys watching all the porn. It doesn't mean men are constantly looking at porn and self-pleasuring like fiendish deviants. Your boyfriend (probably) doesn't have some insane stash of weird fetish porn and Fleshlights hidden somewhere in his walls. But most guys look at porn on a fairly regular basis. " 

Which is always why you use anonymous proxies and VPN's.

And 2), while  Navy Times was dragging up all the sordid details of this little incident, it and Nora Tyson along with much of the rest of Navy leadership was ignoring a much, much bigger crime.

Go back to the Navy Times cover again. Look at the main picture and lead. There in bold print you have the Navy bragging, through a PR outlet that it put a ship on cruise for 9 months when it did not have to.

One of the saddest consequences of the Navy's part of our blind stumble into a pointless war on Iraq was the way the Navy jumped with both feet into a course of action that made the Navy's OPTEMPO and deployment schedule a train wreck. By making a rather fool hardy decision to send 5 carrier battle battle groups to the Gulf. And then to aggravate the issue, technology increased the number of ships required for various  other types of commitments. Add to that the insatiable appetite of the combatant commands for more ships and "voila", here we are.

The greatest failure of Navy leadership in the 13 years since the foolhardy invasion of Iraq ( which, by the way,  ranks as the single biggest foreign policy disaster of the last 40 years), is the failure of the Navy and the country in general, is to get the Navy's OPTEMPO back to six months portal to portal.  Having people going through sea tours and getting three cruises in three years, all of them 7 months plus ( or more) is really criminal.

But hey, knock yourself out being upset about a rather experienced man getting a few looks at big tits.



No responses yet

Jan 13 2016

Now it’s just getting ridiculous.

Published by under Feminist Buffoonery,Navy

It is January and I am traveling again. Not without some trepidation, since my last voyage to points beyond put me in the hospital. But this trip is back to the whining States of America, so I am hoping O.D.'ing on Krystal burgers will be safe. ( I love Krystal burgers-they just don't love me.surprise).

But I had to take a moment while I sit here drinking in the lounge to comment on this:

The Marine Corps has been ordered to come up with a plan to make its enlisted entry-level training coed, and to make its job titles more gender-neutral following the recent move to open all military combat roles to women.

In a Jan. 1 memo to Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus requested a "detailed plan" on how the service will fully integrate its boot camp and Officer Candidate School. The plan is due Jan. 15 and will be implemented by April 1, the memo states.

"The Department of the Navy's implementation plan must include gender integration of Marine Corps enlisted recruit training and officer candidate school," Mabus wrote. "In this submission, identify where, if anywhere, this training is already integrated, where it is separate, and specific steps that you will take to fully integrate these trainings."

In a second memo from Mabus to Neller on the same day, the SecNav directed the Marine Corps to conduct a full review of its military occupational specialty titles in an effort to ensure that they are gender neutral.



WTF? Can we have a nice round of head shakes and swear words please?

Since January is usually the month I piss off feminists, I guess I should put the usual disclaimers here. I really don't give a fuck about your ideas on diversity or how your need to live your dreams. I really don't. I do acknowledge that the world is changing, but good God-it doesn't need to change that much. Thanks for proving me right though, it was never about just "being like the men". 

I mean really. How the hell does it limit your so called opportunities if your title is that of Airman, Seaman, or Fireman? For 200 years, better men ( and women) than you Mr. Mabus,  have worn the title with pride-and provided service to their nation without this level of whining.

And if you just think this is a politician being mis-informed, well, clearly you have not been paying attention. The agenda goes deeper than just words.

Go here and look at the slide presentation at the bottom. Then go here and look at this.

The Navy proposes to "enrich culture". How do they do that?

Evidently it has something to do with child care.

Oh, and "increasing female accessions to 25%"

Remember those words-they get repeated a lot.

It's not about "best qualified regardless of race, creed or gender", evidently.

Oh and this too:"implement a plan to increase USNA and NROTC female accessions".

And since experience has shown that these types of things increase the level of  fraternization inter service marriages, more guaranteed incentivizing of such relationships through co-location policies is in order. And child care, lots of child care.

Never, ever, in all of this discussion of opening up combat opportunities for women, are the words "improving combat readiness" ever used. In external reporting such as a recent report on APM's Marketplace, the central focus was on "improved career opportunity". I generally like Marketplace-but that story sucked.

The Navy is betraying itself by these ideas. I don't care if you think I am a dinosaur and whatever version of the "m" word you choose to use. The Navy is not, has never been, and can never be-a family friendly employer.

I am old enough and experienced enough to point this out. These ideas are going to blow up in the unit commander's face. He ( or she) is being set up to fail, and he or she is powerless to do anything about it.

The whole thing has gotten insanely stupid. Thanks feminists, thanks a lot.

Thank God for Scotch and beer. Can anyone give me directions to the Las Vegas Hilton?


Gotta run to the plane. This is not the last you have heard me rant on this subject………….   Women at the Nana Plaza have more "honor, courage, and commitment" than the CNO's women's policy office. Yes, I said that.


No responses yet

Jul 17 2015

When is a crime just a crime?

Its been a month since I have posted. I have been busy. No excuse to be sure-but its the truth.

During that time a lot has happened, much of it comment worthy-and if you are big reader like I am, you have probably read a lot of the commentary on it already. So I will try not to repeat it.

What I do want to take a couple of moments to comment on is the Chattanooga shooting yesterday. As soon as I heard that the shooter had a Muslim name, I said to myself, "Oh boy, here we go."

And true to form, the Town Hall Harlot proved me right.


Of course, the fact that the shooter was a naturalized American citizen is immaterial to this conclusion.  Now mind you this is just a month after a mass shooting in Charleston S.C. occurred. That we are told is not "terrorism", but this is. Can't they both be equally despicable?

Apparently,  in the eyes of some, not.

I think its important in this time of national tragedy to not be a Malkin or a paranoid American, but to step back and look at some actual facts.

Because, whether you want to admit it or not-the events of Charleston and the events of Chattanooga are more alike than they are different. When boiled down to it's base facts, as we know them so far: An American had a grudge. So he obtained a firearm and attempted to rectify his grudge by using that firearm on his fellow citizens. The grudge may have been fueled by irrational ideas from abroad-but it does not erase the fact that the killer was an American citizen who decided that killing fellow American citizens was the way to go.

Americans are killing each other again. That is the fundamental—if politically less useful—lesson of what happened in Tennessee yesterday. An American citizen got his gun and he went to a strip mall and he killed four of his fellow citizens, killed them as dead as Michael Brown or Eric Garner, as dead as the people who were killed by Dylann Roof, who's awaiting trial, or as dead as the people who were killed by James Holmes, who was convicted of killing them just yesterday. By all the criteria of which we boast of our exceptionalism to the world, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was as much of an American as the four people he allegedly murdered. His motivation doesn't matter. He was a citizen. His victims were citizens. Americans killing other Americans. It's an old story being rehearsed again with unfortunate frequency.


It troubles me that so many people are trying to tie in unrelated issues to this tragedy. Do we need to enforce our borders? Of course we do. Do we need to restrict immigration quotas from Islamic nations? Much as it pains me to say it, perhaps we might-but before we do so, we need to have a bigger conversation about American ideals and the laws of unintended consequences. Because the same people who are advocating this course of action, are descended from possible nations where their ancestors were considered terrorists just the same as Mr. Abdulazeez was. Is America a beacon of liberty or not?

That said, Islam has some real problems right now, problems that collectively it refuses to deal with. I'm not blind to that. Nonetheless, I am having a hard time making the distinction between how denying immigration rights now to qualified immigrants, would have stopped an immigrant family from spawning a criminal some 20 years ago. Someone is going to have to explain to me how that works.

I'm willing to bet you a quart of your favorite Scotch that :

1) The weapon(s) used yesterday were obtained legally, at anyone of America's 129,817 gun dealers.

2) Mr Abdulazeez may or may not be linked to some overseas terrorist group. I, at this point do not know. But I also would like someone to tell me how that would have stopped him from legally obtaining a gun to commit his heinous deeds. Evidently his family had already been investigated and cleared.

Eventually we’ll learn more about Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, but one thing is certain: The Marines who were killed yesterday were equally as much as victims of the American culture of violence as the victims in Charleston.

Lets not forget too that:

  So far in 2015 , 27000 times an American chose that same course of action. They all had problems they had decided they could not solve. They all had grudges. They all had something that made them angry enough. And, as a result, almost 7,000 of our fellow citizens are as dead as the people in Tennessee. This is not an explanation that satisfies any particular agenda but, unquestionably, we are a very fearful nation with an unacknowledged history of violence that also has armed itself very heavily. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, an American citizen, chose a very American course of action.  He had a problem he couldn't solve so he reached for the most American of solutions. He reached for a gun and he killed some of his fellow citizens.?

We will be told over and over again, "this is different, we are at war."  I beg to disagree. Whatever wars we are fighting beyond our borders, here at home-this was a crime. Every bit as much a crime as a contract hit ordered by a mob family in Ukraine, China or Sicily.  You have to fight it the same as any other crime. Its tragic that the nation lots four of its finest, but its losing fine citizens everyday. We need to remember that.  When you boil it down to brass tacks, this yet another case of an American with a grudge, who obtained a weapon inside the US and took out his rage with it. If this is terrorism, than most gun violence is terrorism.

And I call it a crime, not an act of war. Terrorism is a violent tool used for political reasons to bring pressure on governments by creating fear in the populace. In the same way, I have never thought it helpful to refer to a "war" on terror, any more than to a war on drugs. For one thing that legitimizes the terrorists as warriors; for another thing terrorism is a technique, not a state. Moreover terrorism will continue in some form whatever the outcome, if there is one, of such a "war". For me what happened was a crime and needs to be thought of as such. What made it different from earlier attacks was its scale and audacity, not its nature.

3 responses so far

Mar 16 2015

Prior service does not guarantee future results.

Published by under Assholes,Hypocrites,Military

The last week has been full of news of Sen Tom Cotton (douche bag-AR), the freshman Senator from Arkansas who seems not to have a very good understanding of his place in the United States government.  Worse yet is the fact that my two Senators proved themselves every bit as worthless as I knew them to be, by signing on to his stupid letter-instead of fulfilling their purpose in the Senate, namely to tell the young man to take a seat and shut his freshmen mouth until he is spoken to or asked to vote on something. 

A sure sign that Cotton is on the wrong side of history is the glowing endorsement he got from William "The Bloody" Kristol. Kristol, who never met a war he did not like, and could not be bothered to actually serve in the armed forces, has been wrong just about , no I take that back, has been wrong EXACTLY,  100% of the time. 

What's truly astonishing is Kristol's total obliviousness to why self-criticism might be warranted in foreign affairs: For the last decade, even the places where Republicans earnestly did want to spread liberty have turned into costly debacles. They had dubious notions of what the military could accomplish. They failed to execute. They stubbornly denied anything was amiss for far too long. And as a result, Republicans, especially neoconservatives, lost the trust of American voters.

But still there are folks who want to tread in Kristol's misbegotten path-and our boy Tom Cotton, geographically challenged though he may be, is just the latest of Republican politicians to head down the wrong path with Kristol leading the way.

Thomas Friedman, who I have a love hate relationship with-did a pretty good job of explaining why Cotton was and is wrong in his column of March 3. Specifically he points out the very cogent points that our boy from Hicksville seems oblivious to.:

Netanyahu never made a convincing argument as to why walking away from Obama’s draft deal with Iran would result in either a better deal, more sanctions or an Iranian capitulation — and not a situation where Iran would continue to build toward a bomb and our only two choices would be to live with it or bomb it, with all the mess that could entail. In that sense, Bibi’s speech was perfect for Congress: I’ve got a better plan, and it won’t cost a thing or require any sacrifice by the American people. The guy could be a congressman. The U.S. position — shared by China, Russia, Germany, Britain and France — is: Given that Iran has already mastered the techniques to make a bomb and managed to import all the components to do so, despite sanctions, it is impossible to eliminate Iran’s bomb-making capabilities. What is possible is to demand that Iran roll back its enrichment and other technologies so that if Iran decided one day to make a bomb, it would take it a year — more than enough time for the U.S. and its allies to destroy it.

Tom Cotton does not seem much interested in answering that question-something some very astute political columnists have pointed out. 

But Cotton's supporters don't seem to think he has to correct himself or answer a question. After all he did, something that neither Friedman or Kristol did, he served in the armed forces.


To hear some people tell it, that's the end of the story. Tom Cotton cannot be criticized because he served in Iraq. Even by other people who actually did not leave the service to make money as a lawyer and start a political career, but stayed on active duty for some 30+ years

Lets put aside for a moment how basically flawed Cotton's ideas and his methods are with the letter.  It strikes me as more than passing odd,  that people think Cotton gets a free pass when he is wrong because he once wore Army green. Besides the fact that there are also veterans with a Democrat next to their name who have taken the erstwhile Senator to task, and it is quite clear that no one on the conservative side of the aisle is willing to take that into account when making criticisms; but the key issue in politics is not, "what did he do back then?", but rather "what have you done for us lately?". And Cotton is a Senator who has only been on the job for 65 days. He really has not done very much except show that he needs to take some remedial lessons on geography and history.

( Oh and for what its worth Tom, despite your valiant efforts in Iraq, the place is still a basket case and the invasion of Iraq was still the worst foreign policy disaster of the last 40 years).

Honorable service is not a "get out of jail free" card for poor decisions made subsequent to the service.  It's probably worth pointing out too that there are plenty of strident people who served honorably who,  in hindsight,  were real dicks, both in and out of uniform. The evidence in the case of Cotton sure looks that way.    

He's proving with each passing day to have some pretty bad ideas of what government is and is not supposed to do-and his stated public positions, especially about Guantanamo, hardly square well with a man who portrays himself as being supposedly compassionate and a Christian. The more you dig with him the more you find out, he's probably a pretty bad guy. So I thank him for his service and now,  respectfully ask him to stop being such a dick.

As Andrew Bacevich has pointed out repeatedly, the fawning adoration of a guy like Cotton-based solely on his military service-misses a much deeper point. 

Soldiers have tended to concur with this evaluation of their own moral superiority. In a 2003 survey of military personnel, "two-thirds [of those polled] said they think military members have higher moral standards than the nation they serve Once in the military, many said, members are wrapped in a culture that values honor and morality." Such attitudes leave even some senior officers more than a little uncomfortable. Noting with regret that "the armed forces are no longer representative of the people they serve," retired admiral Stanley Arthur has expressed concern that "more and more, enlisted as well as officers are beginning to feel that they are special, better than the society they serve." Such tendencies, concluded Arthur, are "not healthy in an armed force serving a democracy."

In public life today, paying homage to those in uniform has become obligatory and the one unforgivable sin is to be found guilty of failing to "support the troops." In the realm of partisan politics, the political Right has shown considerable skill in exploiting this dynamic, shamelessly pandering to the military itself and by extension to those members of the public laboring under the misconception, a residue from Vietnam, that the armed services are under siege from a rabidly anti-military Left.

Bacevich's entire body of recent work has pointed out that this attitude can be dangerous-especially with a public that gives lip service to trying to understand the underlying issues at play in the conflicts that caused the United States to waste the first 15 years of the 21st century. Cotton, sadly tried to exploit this in his Senate campaign last year. His military service does not give him immunity from criticism, in fact it should invite the opposite question, "Why did you not learn anything substantial during your time on active duty?".

As the mutual fund managers will tell you all the time, past performance does not guarantee future results. And a sitting Senator does not get a free pass on current poor judgment , just because he once was in the infantry.

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Jan 21 2015

American Sniper

A FB friend posted a link to the following blog post: entitled "Why I almost walked out of American Sniper". No it's not a quote from Michael Moore-its a quote from a supporter of the country and the military. I can agree with her logic, up to a point :

You need to see this movie because you live in a bubble.

Stated plainly, we complain about dumb things most of the time. We live in comfort and freedom, and for the most part, we’re blessed beyond measure. We complain about bad hair days and people who get on our nerves and when we run out of coffee or get cut off in traffic and the fact that we hate Mondays. And yet we have the opportunity to live in peace. Meanwhile, all over the globe, children are born into war zones and suffer unimaginable torment at the hands of Evil.

This is why I almost left during the movie. As a Social Studies teacher and a student of the world, I’m well aware of the atrocities committed throughout the world historically and in present day. But I’ve only read about them. I’ve only heard about them. I’ve never had to witness them with my own eyes. Sure, American Sniper is a movie and it’s a dramatization of events, but it’s realistic. It’s horrible. And it truly shows how Evil is alive and working in our world.

Not only was I sobbing at various points throughout this movie, I found myself praying, “Come, Jesus. Come.” I almost couldn’t take it– this realistic depiction of evil. I don’t want to believe that people are capable of doing such horrible things to each other, but they are. Oh, they are.

The bubble around me popped. You can’t watch a movie like this, see the horrible things that man is willing to do to another man (or woman or child), not just in the name of a god or of an organization, but in the name of hatred, and go back to your cushy life and pretend the horror doesn’t exist.

Our soldiers face this evil every day on the battlefield and they persevere. They press on. They fight it and try to protect freedom because that’s one of our basic rights as humans. And they make split-second decisions that we pray we never, ever have to make. This is why we are grateful– because they have to make the decisions and carry out the actions we never, ever want to have to face.


It is right there at the end where her logic breaks down. Evil? Really? Then why are we not dispatching legions of American Snipers to the remaining six continents?  Evil things are happening there every day but we do not stage armed interventions by equally brave men. And why don't we you ask?

Because we don't have the resources to solve every problem on the planet.

And because most of the time-its not in our national interest.

Evil exists all over this world. As we were fighting in Iraq, un-counted 1000's were dying in other wars in Africa of the twin evils of neglect and lack of resources to fight problems such as disease, bad infrastructure and starvation. Yet not once did the President rise to the podium in front of Congress and challenge us to go fight them. Chris Kyle and those like him were never sent out to help them. Nor should they have been.

And on those two points I must disagree with Jennifer Hale. Chris Kyle went through a lot. Of course his service should be honored as should that of every other soldier who served in this despicable and unnecessary conflicts throughout the first decade and a half of the 21 st century. If anything it proves James Fallow's point regarding "The tragedy of the American Military", namely that, "the American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win."

If we don't follow the statement through the logical question, namely "Why was Chris Kyle there in the first place and why did the nation so callously send him into a war the country had no business plunging into?" then we really are not honoring his sacrifices or worse yet learning real lessons from them. Cue Fallows again:

Too much complacency regarding our military, and too weak a tragic imagination about the consequences if the next engagement goes wrong, have been part of Americans’ willingness to wade into conflict after conflict, blithely assuming we would win. “Did we have the sense that America cared how we were doing? We did not,” Seth Moulton told me about his experience as a marine during the Iraq War. Moulton became a Marine Corps officer after graduating from Harvard in 2001, believing (as he told me) that when many classmates were heading to Wall Street it was useful to set an example of public service. He opposed the decision to invade Iraq but ended up serving four tours there out of a sense of duty to his comrades. “America was very disconnected. We were proud to serve, but we knew it was a little group of people doing the country’s work.”

"Either war is finished or we are"  says Herman Wouk.  I fully agree with the sentiment. But I question whether the majority of Americans do. I think not. They will see the movie in a "yellow ribbon" kind of way- "the people at the [movie theater will] feel good about what they’ve done to show their support for the troops. " But they will never think the problem all the way through. They will never rise in righteous anger that Chris Kyle had to be sent there in the first place, endure the things he had to endure-and have it all matter for nothing. That's right nothing. Iraq is still a basket case, no better than when we found it. Because in the end , Chris Kyle was failed by his leadership, he was failed by his country and he was failed by the people of his country who never asked the probing questions that might have prevented the entire ordeal in the first place. As Kipling wrote after his son's death in the disaster that was the First World War, "If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied."

We do the veterans no good service if we choose not learn from the effort-and solemnly resolve not to repeat the  mistakes that placed them in such a harsh place to begin with. Without those questions, its not worth the time or the effort to contemplate the rest. We have to think it though to the end.

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Dec 30 2014

The tragedy of the American Military

James Fallow's of The Atlantic magazine has written a must read, thought provoking article, on the current state of civil-military relations. It is a long read, but it is well worth your time. In it, he highlights the real hypocrisy of a country that fawns over its military to the point of idolatry, yet allows its elected leadership to condemn them to unending and repetitive deployments and wars that accomplish nothing in the national interest, get a lot of fine young men killed and wounded for nothing, and insulates itself from understanding the true cost of the wars they so cavalierly cheerlead.

Outsiders treat [the US military] both too reverently and too cavalierly, as if regarding its members as heroes makes up for committing them to unending, unwinnable missions and denying them anything like the political mindshare we give to other major public undertakings, from medical care to public education to environmental rules. The tone and level of public debate on those issues is hardly encouraging. But for democracies, messy debates are less damaging in the long run than letting important functions run on autopilot, as our military essentially does now. A chickenhawk nation is more likely to keep going to war, and to keep losing, than one that wrestles with long-term questions of effectiveness.

In the body of the article he highlights what many in the military will private admit, and is a subject I have written about many times here; the fact that a lot of the military's problems are not caused by its political leadership-its self induced pain that comes from some very flawed policies by the perfumed princes that now inhabit the 3 and 4 star ranks of the services. This is especially true in the area of acquisition, which can't seem to buy anything efficiently and where warfighters are treated as persona non grata. Instead we see people who have been the acquisition community their entire careers ( like a certain director of a major DOD agency a couple of years ago) who could not lead or for that matter purchase anything either.

America’s distance from the military makes the country too willing to go to war, and too callous about the damage warfare inflicts. This distance also means that we spend too much money on the military and we spend it stupidly, thereby shortchanging many of the functions that make the most difference to the welfare of the troops and their success in combat. We buy weapons that have less to do with battlefield realities than with our unending faith that advanced technology will ensure victory, and with the economic interests and political influence of contractors. This leaves us with expensive and delicate high-tech white elephants, while unglamorous but essential tools, from infantry rifles to armored personnel carriers, too often fail our troops.

At this point the letters, LCS, should be coming into your mind. Fallows picks on the F-35 which is a fine target, but in reality all of the services have their own boneheaded procurement decisions and the Navy is no exception. The American people no longer look at their military in an objective vein, recognizing both its successes and flaws-and even worse, personnel within the military seem all too willing to buy into their own hype holding themselves out as supermen who are above the level of the civilians they so ably serve. One has only to go some of the major military blogs and read the swill that passes for a comment section. Besides making you despair about the mental ability of a certain segment of the human race, it proves the incongruity that one of Fallows' readers quite accurately pointed out. They rail with fervor about issues they know nothing about.

I am an [post-Vietnam era] West Point grad. Resigned after 5 years.

Your article is spot on. I often wonder what the rest of the world thinks of us when at each major sporting event, we have fly overs of fighter planes, B-52s, Apache helicopters and legions of troops getting awards at halftime.

I see in my classmates a total divorce from civilian reality. They live in a rarefied world where they are the only ones who are honest, law abiding, and religious.

They totally disdain social welfare programs as they receive health benefits to death, commissary privileges, and pensions. In their view, civilians are not worthy of these programs.

It is a dangerous slope we are on where we worship the troops, have no clue what they do, or why, and as along as we don't need to know, we are happy.

I hope your article stirs discussion. I fear it won't. The coup may in fact be coming.

 The incongruity, and to put it bluntly, hypocrisy,  of those who are vocally speaking out against other people having benefits that improve their lives, while at the same time enjoying some of the best benefits available from any employer is indeed rich. But don't try telling them that-they are special people. Don't you know that? So long as you agree with them, that is. Others of us, who served longer and equally as well but have arrived at different conclusions-get cast out into the outer darkness.

It's a dangerous phenomenon, and the ideas of people like John Nagl who defend the idea of a "Praetorian Guard" are troubling to me. Nagl thinks that because the troops "know what they are signing up for……..They are proud to do it, and in exchange they expect a reasonable living, and pensions and health care if they are hurt or fall sick. The American public is completely willing to let this professional class of volunteers serve where they should, for wise purpose. This gives the president much greater freedom of action to make decisions in the national interest, with troops who will salute sharply and do what needs to be done.”

You should be very afraid when you hear that-at least if you believe in the concept of a democracy that serves the citizens of the country. Too much history shows us where this can lead if we are not careful. Cue Fallows again:

I like and respect Nagl, but I completely disagree. As we’ve seen, public inattention to the military, born of having no direct interest in what happens to it, has allowed both strategic and institutional problems to fester.

“A people untouched (or seemingly untouched) by war are far less likely to care about it,” Andrew Bacevich wrote in 2012. Bacevich himself fought in Vietnam; his son was killed in Iraq. “Persuaded that they have no skin in the game, they will permit the state to do whatever it wishes to do.”

Shall I remind you of the things that "have needed to be done" that have been done in your name, like torture and warrantless wiretapping? Just a couple in a long list of abuses aided and abetted by the members of that "Praetorian Guard". The problem of the civil- military disconnect is real and dangerous.

In the end of the article, Fallows turns to the recommendations in a never before published memo from Gary Hart which is also worth your time to read.  I will comment on those in a post after the first of the new year.

Many of you will not like Fallows term "chicken hawk"-but he's right on the mark in my humble opinion. The United States wasted the first 15 years of the new century going down foreign policy ratholes. And big part of that is because the American people are insulated from the sacrifices and the true costs of the policies they casually cheerlead. Fallows is doing a national service in pointing that out and I applaud him for it.

For the first time in the nation’s history, America has a permanent military establishment large enough to shape our dealings in the world and seriously influence our economy. Yet the Americans in that military, during what Dunlap calls the “maturing years of the volunteer force,” are few enough in number not to seem representative of the country they defend.

“It’s becoming increasingly tribal,” Dunlap says of the at-war force in our chickenhawk nation, “in the sense that more and more people in the military are coming from smaller and smaller groups. It’s become a family tradition, in a way that’s at odds with how we want to think a democracy spreads the burden.”

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