Archive for the 'Why I miss the British Empire' Category

Apr 30 2016

16 years in to the new century

And we have nothing to show for it. The great spiral downward of the United States of America continues.

Charles Pierce is one of my favorite writers. He pulls no punches in latest masterpiece of great writing to tell us how Donald Trump is the visible symbol of our failure as a country:

The first decade of the twenty-first century gave us a great deal to forget. It began with an extended mess of a presidential election that ended with the unprecedented interference of a politicized Supreme Court. It was marked early on by an unthinkable attack on the American mainland. At this point, we forgot everything we already knew. We knew from our long involvement in the Middle East where the sources of the rage were. We forgot. We knew from Vietnam the perils of involving the country in a land war in Asia. We forgot. We knew from Nuremberg and from Tokyo what were war crimes and what were not. We forgot that we had virtually invented the concept of a war crime. We forgot. In all cases, we forgot because we chose to forget. We chose to believe that forgetting gave us real power and that memory made us weak. We even forgot how well we knew that was a lie.?

Pierce is echoing my feelings directly. "I watch the presidential campaign this year, and I watch how the country has abandoned self-government and the idea of a political commonwealth, and I see a country that is voluntarily taking upon itself my father's disease. A vagabond country, making itself a stranger to itself, a permanent refugee country, unmoored from its history."

It is some great writing. You should be reading him every day, but particularly this day.

Remember, this passage said to the people of a tattered and bleeding nation. Bind up the wounds. Take care of him who has borne the battle, and his widow and orphan, too. Achieve a just and lasting peace between yourselves and all nations. But first, remember how this misery came to pass. Remember what we are capable of doing to one another if we lose faith in every institution of self-government, especially those into which we are supposed to channel our passions to constructive purpose. Remember, Lincoln said in this speech, which was his last warning to the nation he'd preserved. Remember that we can be killers. Remember that, and you can be strong and powerful enough to not allow it to happen again.

The late historian Michael Kammen likened even the newest Americans to Fortinbras in Hamlet, who declares that he has "some rights of memory in this kingdom." Even the immigrants most lately arrived can, Kammen argued, "have an imaginative and meaningful relationship to the determinative aspects of American history." In the campaign now ongoing, we see successful candidates running against the very notion of what Kammen was talking about. When Trump chants his mantra—"Make America Great Again"—the rest of the slogan is unsaid but obvious. The implied conclusion is "…Before All of Them Wrecked It." And that is what has been selling, all year long, because while the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting, there is no guarantee that either struggle will end in triumph.

 

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Apr 13 2016

New Job Opportunity

What could possibly go wrong with this?

The story of how Prince secretly plotted to transform the two aircraft for his arsenal of mercenary services is based on interviews with nearly a dozen people who have worked with Prince over the years, including current and former business partners, as well as internal documents, memos, and emails. Over a two-year period, Prince exploited front companies and cutouts, hidden corporate ownership, a meeting with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s weapons supplier, and at least one civil war in an effort to manufacture and ultimately sell his customized armed counterinsurgency aircraft. If he succeeded, Prince would possess two prototypes that would lay the foundation for a low-cost, high-powered air force capable of generating healthy profits while fulfilling his dream of privatized warfare.

I cans see the job advertisements now:

International firm seeks experienced pilots. Must have 1200 hours flight time, half of that at night and be fully instrument rated. Prior military experience a must. May involve some personal risk. Salary? HUGE. Must be available immediately and look the other way when shady financial and maintenance practices encountered.

And of course you must be able to dodge the inevitable question from your friends and steady girlfriend (s): Why isn't this fucking guy in jail?

I mean really. What the hell does it say when the CEO of the firm gets voted out by his own board and has shady financial dealings with the Chinese?  Isn't that the same as playing for the bad guys?

That source, who has extensive knowledge of Prince’s activities and travel schedule, said that Prince was operating a “secret skunkworks program” while parading around war and crisis zones as FSG’s founder and chairman. “Erik wants to be a real, no-shit mercenary,” said the source. “He’s off the rails exposing many U.S. citizens to criminal liabilities. Erik hides in the shadows … and uses [FSG] for legitimacy.”

Last October, FSG’s corporate leadership grew so concerned about Prince’s efforts to sell paramilitary programs and services that the board passed a series of resolutions stripping Prince of most of his responsibilities as chairman.

FSG also terminated the contracts of two of Prince’s closest associates within the company after management became suspicious that they were assisting Prince in his unapproved dealings, according to two people with knowledge of FSG’s inner workings. Smith declined to comment on internal FSG personnel matters.

In recent months, FSG employees became alarmed when they began to hear reports from sources within the U.S. government that their chairman’s communications and foreign travel were being monitored by U.S. intelligence. According to three people who have worked with Prince, his colleagues were warned not to get involved with his business deals or discuss sensitive issues with him. “I would assume that just about every intelligence agency in the world has him lit up on their screen,” said one of the people advised to avoid Prince.

And then , of course, there is this little matter to deal with.

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Mar 22 2016

We are all Israelis now…….

When I got to work this morning and heard the news about Brussels, I just cringed because I knew that on top of an unspeakable tragedy, the traditional merry-go-round of the  American blame game will begin yet again.

First things first. A terrible thing happened in Belgium today. It IS terrible, horrifying, the terrorists succeeded in murdering more than 30 innocent people and injuring hundreds more. Our prayers, our sympathy and our good will should be going out to all the Belgians today.

What the United States and Europe especially does not need now is this:

Predictably, here in America, the usual suspects, of course, of course, wasted no time in blaming the president. This is what they do. Fix blame, by reflex, and leap to wild suppositions without waiting for evidence, and then offer the usual solutions. Genocide. Torture. Bloody murder.

Nor does it need this:

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"You'll note Cruz doesn't explain HOW exactly police will spot radicalization in progress from their cars as they cruise the neighborhood."

( Oh, and while we are on the subject of Cruz, when interviewed on Fox , Cruz, ever the cynical politician, made a point to extend sympathies to "Mormon missionaries" in Belgium. Not a word about the Belgian people as a whole or the non-Mormon victims of the attack. I'm sure the Utah caucuses had nothing to do with it.)

Now it should be clear, as an American who lives in Europe and travels all over the continent and the world, I am very concerned about this trend of attacks, in Paris, in Instanbul and now Brussels. I do have concerns about how effective the police in some of these countries and the actions they are taking to prevent attacks before they haappen.

But I will not allow myself to sink to the same level as a worthless piece of shit like Matt Walsh when he says that we have to put aside all our notions of equality and rule of law, and decency, just because we are afraid..

And what is worse, is that the armchair evangelist really doesn't offer a practical solution other than to do what? Kill 1.9 Billion Muslims? Deny then rights under the law and separation of church and state-and in effect lower ourselves to the same level of the terrorists. Really? What does that accomplish?

Ask the Israelis if that is possible.

Israel has been dealing with attacks like this for over 60 years. They have a "strong" leader. They definitely have a strong military and a strong intelligence service. And yet just two weeks ago they had a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.

It doesn't stop just because we bomb a lot of people. If anything it spreads the disease. The war in Iraq proved that.

We are all Israelis now.

We in the West are now in common with Israel because we have an enemy that hates us. And in part, and only in part,  was provoked through our own actions and inaction. But is also very much dedicated to a philosophy that is evil and repulsive.

We are all Israelis now.

Because we have an enemy we will always be able to hurt militarily in far greater numbers than they can hurt us, but that we can't seem to exterminate entirely.

We all Israelis now.

Because we crave security and the ability to live our lives in peace. And because we do , we will turn on faith to anyone we believe can bring us that security. As did Israelis, when they chose to re-elect Bibi to the Prime Minister's chair. In America, we have a population that is willing to turn to either a demagogue or a zealot with a messianic complex.

We are all Israelis now. 

Because we will trade away rights for security. Because there is this:

There has been both a bitter and judgmental tone to Israeli media commentary on the attacks. The bitterness stems from the sting of jealousy that each terror attack in Europe unleashes a flood of shock and sympathy around the world, while similar violence in the Middle East and Africa, from stabbings to bombings, are considered so common they often barely register beyond the region.
The judgment comes from a sense that Europe, unlike the United States, and certainly unlike Israel, has not yet fully grasped that the threat of ISIS and other extremists will not go away soon, and that long-term changes need to be made to tighten security in so-called “soft-targets,” like theaters and restaurants, and to improve security cooperation across Europe. 

 

We are all Israelis now.

Because we will have to make changes that impact our lives. 

Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport has been invoked in several of the European analysis of what went wrong in Brussels. The explosions occurred at the check-in area – a “soft target” where, in most western countries, travelers enter unimpeded.  Not so in Israel. As any vehicle approaches the airport, several kilometers away from the terminal, they must go through a checkpoint that requires every car to stop, while an armed guard peers into the car and exchanges a few words with drivers and passengers to get a quick read on who is entering. Anyone who appears suspicious is pulled over for more extensive questioning. Then, while approaching the terminal on foot, anyone who enters comes under the scrutiny of security guards at the entrance to the terminal. Full security screenings take place before check-in – one waits in a security line before the check-in counter in addition to the standard X-rays of carry-on baggage. 
It is just one example of the grand sacrificial trade that Israelis are willing to make daily – trading total privacy for increased safety. Israelis submit to inspection everywhere and anywhere – from shopping malls to restaurants to soccer stadiums, obediently opening car trunks, handbags and briefcases when asked, because they know it’s worth the slight inconvenience and mini-invasion. It is the behavior of a population that has felt too much loss and pain to object. 

 

 

We are all Israelis now.

Because we will have to deal with the threat, but we will not allow it to defeat us.  But as we go on, the way will never be clear cut and it will not be black or white-just grey:

"The key point in the moral struggle against terrorism, is to make clear that terror – the murder of innocent people – has no justification anywhere. Not in Instanbul, not in the Ivory Coast, and not in Jerusalem.


"Whoever does not condemn terrorism, supports terrorism."


Accent on the "innocent."


This, then, is the lesson:

Whoever does not acknowledge the killing of innocent people by his own side – whoever blames the other side for the killings we ourselves have committed – supports the killing of innocent people.
So there you have it. There you have us.


One side is too self-congratulatively radical, too giddily middle-school wonderfully progressive for words, too reflexively condescending and exclusionist about it, to ever fix anything here.


The other side is too self-congratulatively hardline and egoist and messianic and militarist and oh-poor-little-me and We-Own-Zionism and We-Own-The-Truth and Everybody-Hates-Us and That-Proves-We're-Right about it, to ever fix anything here.


They are not going to solve one goddamned thing. Or save one life. But they'll feel so good about themselves while they're at it."

 

We are all Israelis now.

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Jul 18 2015

The wrong people are winning

Well, now that really bad things are going on, its probably time for me to get back to work. I have a lot to say about a lot of things-but just can't seem to either find the time or the volition to address them. But I just wanted to point out a fact that most educated readers of the remaining sane blogs on the internet already knew:

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My 10 years of blogging have proven that point back to me time and time again. Its been especially disheartening to watch the decline of so called "front running" milblogs become the kind of conservative cesspool that the Breitbart enterprise is known for. Ellen Pao is right to be jumping ship over at Reddit:

The Internet started as a bastion for free expression. It encouraged broad engagement and a diversity of ideas. Over time, however, that openness has enabled the harassment of people for their views, experiences, appearances or demographic backgrounds. Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.

My own experience validates that , I can assure you. I like to think its been reasonably ok over here at my little place but we have had our run ins with moron set. It's been nothing to compare with some of the displays of lunacy that we have seen elsewhere though.

Take the tragic events of this weekend. Charles Pierce over at Esquire magazine, a real magazine with real editors and management, (something Tom Johnson has probably never had to deal with-more on that later), published a pretty reasoned piece on the shootings in Chattanooga. Pierce pointed out quite correctly that whatever the motive of the shooter, the insanely easy effort required to get guns in the United States did not help matters much.

Because he wrote eloquently and did not immediately jump in the cesspool of hatred, all the demons came swarming out of hell. 

As a regular reader at his place, I can assure you that the comments you see-especially in the last day are not typical of the kind of discussion that normally goes on at his place. There is a reason for that. In the general atmosphere of insanity that is prevailing in America after the horrific events in Chattanooga, it seems a certain percentage of our citizenry takes offense if you say anything but, "Kill Muslims! Kill more Muslims! Arms for every citizen"

And that is where a stellar specimen of humanity such as Tom Johnson comes in. 

Don't stay too long over there-just reading the comments will make you despair of humanity, or the fact that so many of my fellow citizens of the land of my birth are really tha f*cking stupid. 

He did accomplish his goal though. If you follow the link over to the Esquire piece you will see the hoards of really useless and stupid people commenting in a variety of useless and stupid ways. As Charles Pierce would say, "These people really are mole people".  For a minute there, I thought I had clicked the wrong link and had actually stumbled onto the useless idiots who write at The Federalist.

(When it comes to an overall level of douchbaggery, the folks at The Federalist are hard to beat. They take the conservative culture of victimhood to a whole new level. They, support Scott Walker after all-which is essentially the same as supporting Satan himself).

But the simple truth is that it gets worse. One cannot have a dissenting viewpoint anymore-and you can be certain that no one , even if they disagree with you will talk about the specifics of an issue. If there is one legacy of Fox News and its tenure during the 21st Century, that is it.  You are not even allowed to get angry at them any more-although the President did try:

 

 

 

The President had the correct response to Major Garrett. "That's nonsense and you should know better!"

One reason I have not been writing as much as I used to, is my overall level of disgust at my fellow citizens who should know better, but throw themselves willy nilly into the lanes of stupidity. It's barely been 48 hours since the horrific events in Chattanooga, and the swill that passes for commentary on the internet is , to put it honestly, appalling. I lalready showed you some from the Town Hall Harlot, but actually if you peruse either Facebook or Twitter, its even worse. The level of ignorance and stupidity in the land of my birth is appalling. Digby provides some really bad examples for all the rest of us to see.

 

 

 

As Digby points out, "Sadly, that thinking represents a majority of the Republican Party."

And indeed it does. She then goes on to point out an annoying little fact that bears repeating just like Pierce did:

If we were to compare our most recent mass murders (we have so many) and the reactions to them, ask yourself whether or not anyone was clamoring to punish Dylan Roof's family. Or round up all the white supremacists and put them in jail. No, there was a clamoring among some Americans to pull down the confederate flag from official buildings. And it's astonishing, when you think about it, that such a flag was even flying or that people were defending it — the same people, no doubt, who are clamoring for this family to be deported (or worse.) 





I noticed that while we don't know at this point the motives of the Chattanooga shooter, it's crystal clear what Dylan Roof's were — to start a race war. And yet the media is having no trouble calling Chattanooga suspected terrorism. The head of the FBI says he's just not sure about Dylan Roof. It seems too obvious now, if it didn't before, that the term is only applied to Muslims. 





Charlie Pierce has it right — this is about America and our love affair with violence.   I had been under the impression that the right had made its peace with that as the price we pay for the freedom to be armed to the teeth at all times.  But that's not true.  They are very philosophical about the consequence of violence when it's perpetrated by white people, to be sure. It's just a fact of life like summer storms and earthquakes.  But they get very, very angry when a racial or ethnic minority does it. There's some sick white privilege for you.

 

 

This is your democracy America. Enjoy it while you still can.

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Mar 25 2015

The benign dictator

Lee Kuan Yew passed away on 23 March. He was 91. For those who don't know ( and you really should know this) he was the first Prime Minister of Singapore and was the founder of much of what we consider modern Singapore. As he himself said, Singapore is his legacy. That applies for both good and not so good.

Now truth in advertising, I love to be in Singapore. Its where I want to live, (as well as Japan) and I have been there 18 times. I love the place. When Lee Kuan Yew became the prime minister of Singapore in 1959, he assumed control of an ethnically divided, impoverished territory lacking in natural resources. In his 31 years in office—followed by another 21 in advisory roles—Lee transformed his country into one of the world’s most prosperous societies, a major business and transportation hub boasting a per capita GDP of $55,000.  I was often grateful for the quality of life he masterminded there.

But that quality of life came with a price and a dark side-and any eulogy of the man has to take that into account:

He will be remembered as the father of his country, a political street fighter who cut his teeth in the struggle against colonialism. Some will recall an unapologetic taskmaster — a leader more respected than loved — whose pragmatism lifted a Southeast Asian backwater into a sleek metropolis and global business hub. Others will recall the politically incorrect pundit who became an outspoken champion of “Asian values” and a sharp critic of American-style democracy. Each is correct, and captures part of the man. But to these remembrances one more should be added: Lee was the most successful dictator of the 20th century. (emphasis added-SS)

It’s a verdict that will please almost no one. For his admirers, he is a singular historic figure, not an autocratic strongman like those who eventually lorded over other former colonial outposts. He may not have been a Jeffersonian democrat, they say, but he was no dictator. On the other end of the spectrum, dissidents and democrats will take umbrage at the notion of an illiberal, authoritarian leader being remembered fondly at all. Still, Lee was one of the most universally celebrated statesmen of the last 50 years. American presidents, British prime ministers, apparatchiks from the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and European officials all lined up to heap praise on the leader of this authoritarian duchy…………..

…..When Lee retired from office in 1990, Singapore had some of the world’s busiest shipyards, cleanest streets, top schools, lowest taxes, best healthcare, and most efficient public services. The so-called “little red dot” had become one of the world’s most livable cities, a magnet for skilled foreign workers and the multinational corporations who hire them.

But the miracle wasn’t without its price. Lee kept his political project on a tight leash, dampening free speech, muzzling his critics, and squashing political opposition before it could take root. The ruling People’s Action Party is rightly considered synonymous with the government because it has won every election since 1959. Singapore didn’t have a single opposition leader in office until 1981, and until 2011 there have never been more than four opposition members serving in the parliament at one time. On one hand, Lee’s political machine was unquestionably effective at delivering results for Singapore. In most years, it’d be hard for any political party anywhere to compete against PAP’s record of accomplishment. That said, when it came to ensuring their political future, Lee and his cohort were incredibly gifted at putting their finger on the scale.

 

As I said, I really do like the place, even with all its faults, and people who are less enlightened then I am, tend to think I overlook them. Its not true and never has been. If you go back through my posts since 2005 you will see I have been pretty even handed in my reporting. I admit, I do like a place where I can go out for a piece of pizza or a piece of ass with the same general ease, and in my mind that was always one of Singapore's pluses.  But there was much, much more to the city than just my hunger. And Singapore is a great place to eat. ( as well as do other things….   cheeky ). Its services and general atmosphere are unmatched anywhere, especially the United States. Singaporeans solved problems efficiently and in ways the world could and did learn from -specifically with respect to health care and housing. The United States, being exceptional and all, did not seem to take the lesson on board. I still bridle angrily at people who say that Singapore's solutions cannot be applied to the United States. Its completely wrong , they could be, and would work.

That said, there were troubling aspects to the place too and still are. Just ask this guy.

My driver, a middle-aged Chinese guy, recognizes me. For most of my working life I was forced into exile overseas. Despite graduating from Cambridge in 1983 with a first-class honors degree in economics, no one in my home country would employ me. But in 2008 I decided to return home anyway and last year I stood as candidate for the Opposition in the general elections. My driver is sneaking surreptitious glances at me in the mirror. Finally he says:“JBJ. Very good man!”

I tell him he’s right and he goes on:

“But in the end very poor. Selling his book on the street corner. I buy a copy. Very sad, lah!” Then after some thought, “That’s what happens when you go against the gahmen (government).”

He is referring to my father, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam. When I was a boy growing up in Singapore my father had been one of the highest-earning lawyers. He was also the first Opposition politician to get a seat in parliament, breaking a 16-year monopoly by the PAP. He was subjected to multiple defamation suits and perverse judgments which forced him out of parliament and out of his law practice and eventually bankrupted him.

Kenneth Jeyaretnam then goes on to ask the question of Mr. Lee that we all should ask, could not the government have found a way to have prosperity, progress and innovation without sacrificing central control and whilst not repressing freedom?  I personally think the answer is yes, especially because there are examples that prove me right, but Mr. Lee would not have agreed with that answer at all. Perhaps at the start he needed a tight grip-for the Communists where a real and persistent threat. But later-not so much:

During his last decades in public life, the Singaporean regime became increasingly critical of the American-led notion that human rights—including democracy—had worldwide applicability. In an interview published in the Atlantic in 2013, Lee argued that “Americans believe their ideas are universal—the supremacy of the individual and free, unfettered expression. But they’re not—and never were.”?

There is one other aspect of the society he crafted that I, for one, find particularly troubling and its not unique to Singapore, the Middle East and other parts of Asia have it too-namely the fact that a part of Singapore's success rests on the backs of an underclass of foreign workers, that will never enjoy the benefits of the prosperity that has been brought there."Singapore cannot compete with cheap labor overseas so it brings the cheap labor to Singapore, with no minimum wage there is no bottom to how cheap this labor can be. Not surprisingly this exploitation has fueled an explosion in GDP but not in real wages, which have stagnated or fallen." Specifically for me, and since this is women's history month, the exploitation of so many people troubles folks a good deal.  The fact that American feminists pay ZERO attention to the plight of these women, is just grounds to shout at them repeatedly.

Singapore is a mixed bag to be sure-but its a better bag than most places, ( light years ahead of Shopping Mall USA) and a lot of that was do to the vision of Lee Kuan Yew. “People want economic development first and foremost,” he said in an interview printed in his 1998 book, The Man and His Ideas. “The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools."

That they got. At what price they paid-that is what will be the discussion in the years to come.

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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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Jan 10 2015

Busy week.

And what a sad week it has been too.

The news from Paris is sad, tragic and sadly, all too expected in this day and age. In solidarity with the right of a free press to publish what it wants to and not be subject to censorship at the point of a gun- I am republishing one of the Charlie Hedbo cartoons. Oh, and fuck Mohammed too.

 

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And maybe I'll publish another one too.  And while I am at it, fuck Islam. (Click to see propely).

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As angry as this apostate religion makes me; as disgusted as I am with their stupid dietary laws, the shitty way they treat women, the clothing things they make women wear-and how frustrated I am that these people will not assimilate into European society, I also have to think hard on what the facts really are.

Contrary to the assertions of some, Islam is not overrunning Europe:(click to see properly)

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A disgruntled and radicalized minority is indeed a problem as this week has once again shown us. But one needs to remember the world has over a billion Muslims. They are not going away and we can't kill them all-no matter how much some of our neocon masters would like to try. And I also have to remind myself that it is a minority. Most of the Hijab wearing set here in Germany just want to live their lives. (and they speak better German than I do).

So yea, I am disgusted and angry. I'm tired of Islam's sickness infecting parts of the world I like. I want the women to take off the hijabs and abayas, put on some dresses and shoes and dress like a Western woman.  But in the end, cartoonist Joe Sacco may have it right. And with his cartoon I will close. My deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives this week in and around Paris. The Western World HAS to prove that it is better than these thugs. ( Click to see the cartoon properly-its worth reading).

joesaccoonsatire1200

8 responses so far

Dec 23 2014

It is time for the airing of the grievances.

It is the 23rd of December and we all know what that means. It's time to break out the Festivus pole.

And it is time to break out the airing of the grievances.

 

 

 

And let me tell you, this year I have lots of them. With a lot of people. One reason I am not able to blog much anymore, besides the hectic schedule I am now keeping is that underneath it all, emotionally, I am tired. I am tired of what passes for knowledge in the blogosphere-such as it is-these days.

Take this complete bit of mental stupidity from the Phibian. He is referring to Barak Obama and a completely flawed push poll done by Navy Times

He threw away what we won in IRQ, it slowly back filling that mistake and is doing the same in AFG after a half decade of advertising retreat … so yea.
 

It is a tired old trope, and worse yet, there is no truth to it whatsoever. Phibian continues to defend our misadventures in these two particular hell holes-and this is spite of the rather significant shift in opinion by the folks who were charged with executing both of these mistaken foreign policy adventures. Let's be clear, the war in Iraq was a huge mistake and the only people who "threw any thing away" was the Iraqi people themselves. As I said, any other viewpoint is just plain wrong and should be meet by a cheery, "fuck you". Same is true in Afghanistan.  "Ultimately it's up to the Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems," [President Obama] said, "We can't do it for them."

Now that does not excuse us from the horrendous mistakes we made-most important of which was starting the damn war in the first place.

The view of the Iraq hawks – from liberal interventionists, such as his former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, to neo-conservatives, such as his former Republican presidential opponent John McCain – is that the US and its principal allies Britain and Australia bear little or no responsibility for the disaster unfolding across Iraq.

In their eyes, it is Obama's fault for either failing to intervene in the Syrian civil war in 2011-13 or withdrawing US troops from Iraq in late 2011.

It is argued that by failing to authorize air strikes on Damascus and arm the rebellion against Assad's regime during the early stages of Syria's civil war, the administration created a strategic void for the extremist Islamists to exploit ruthlessly. Meanwhile, the "premature" decision to pull US forces out of Baghdad helped scuttle the semblance of sectarian peace that the Americans had brokered following the president Bush's surge of US troops in Baghdad in 2007.

Both accounts are wrong.

Start with the latter. It is true that the end of the American presence in Iraq nearly three years ago helped remove all that was keeping the sectarian rivals in check. But it is also true that the Bush administration in October 2008 pledged to withdraw all US troops by the end of 2011.

Remember, too, that during lengthy negotiations on keeping US forces engaged in Baghdad, the Iraqi government – representing a clear majority of Iraqis (not to mention its sponsors in Tehran) – demanded all remaining Americans would be subject to Iraqi law. This refusal to provide the same kind of guarantees that every nation offers to residual US forces was a condition to which no US government would agree.  

Moreover, the president's withdrawal of US troops from a widely unpopular war by the end of 2011 fulfilled an election mandate. To this day, a clear majority of Americans don't think the original decision to invade was worth it, nor do they support a major intervention today.

Phib, being a surgeaholic, wants desperately to cling to the myth that decision to invade Iraq actually achieved anything worthwhile. Unfortunately, the body of evidence-and,  regrettably the loss of 4, 486 American lives for nothing-tells us otherwise.

Which leads us to his snarky analysis of the poll. It is probably true that by and large the military would prefer a more conservative President. But his summation that the troops loved Bush and hate Obama, is not supported by the facts-or the details of the Navy Times poll. By and large many troops ( and there is a big difference by age and time in service) support his policies , even if they don't support the man. Furthermore, Bush may have talked a good game about how much he loved the troops-but in truth his decisions were bad for the military and no amount of rose colored thinking can change that.  Certainly it is not loving the troops when you squander a lot of lives. The most accurate data we have are on U.S. military casualties: 6,648 service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan to date, a large majority of the deaths occurring under Bush's presidency. So spare me the "Bush cared, Obama doesn't" nonsense. When you send people to die for nothing, you are an uncaring, unfeeling,  son of a bitch. And that's what Bush did overall. He squandered the first 8 years of the 21st century.

What Phibian's post and more importantly the Navy Times poll does do is allow the service members to avoid blaming the real source of most of their problems, the uniformed leadership itself, from the consequences of some pretty bad decisions. If you read the comments on the post-for the most part they back up what I am saying ( as well as make you despair of the humanity of these people)-they can't bring themselves to talk in facts and numbers, just tired old tropes that were proven false a long time ago.

Furthermore, the military tends to grade itself on a curve as LTG Bolger pointed out, holding a higher opinion of it self than is probably warranted. Its a special kind of conceit and stupidity to think that simply, had a Republican been in office, things would be better for the military. Given the current state of the economy and the currently stated economic policies of the current front runners in the GOP it would have been equally as bad. But they would have certainly been deployed more and more of them would be dead. For nothing.

For me, that's the only thing that matters. Obama has brought our senseless participation in Iraq and Afghanistan to an end. That's what I elected him to do and that's what he did. Too fucking bad if Navy Times readers don't like it. And trust me-a lot of people still don't love George Bush either. Thus endeth the rant for today.

One response so far

Aug 27 2014

Can’t believe I missed it.

Yesterday was Women's Equality Day. And I totally forgot about it. I'm so depressed. wink

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After all, there are some hard facts of life:

sammiches

And while you are at it-get me a beer:

1-carlsberg

Ok Honey?

asian_girls?

 

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Jun 13 2014

When do we get to blame the Iraqis?

I woke up this morning to see articles blaming the current situation on Iraq-on our failure to leave troops there. John McCain is living up to his reputation of never meeting a war he did not want Americans to fight. They are trotting out the "I told you so" brigades to say its Obama's fault for living up to a SOFA agreement that his predecessor negotiated.

This is the 21st century. At some point Arabs have to take responsibility for their own stupidity and the burdens brought on by a slavish devotion to an apostate religion. What I find so interesting in our current discourse is that no one, and I do mean, no one, ever blames the Iraqis.

And according to Dr. Adam L. Silverman, perhaps we should.

Iraqi Sunnis have been telling us, explicitly, since as far back as 2007 when we started partnering with the Anbar Awakenings guys that as soon as they had a chance – read as soon as we were gone and conditions were right – they were going to go after the Shi’a. They are specifically and especially interested in going after the expatriate Shi’a that we had empowered and put in charge: Maliki and his Dawa Party and the Hakim’s and their ISCI Party and its Badr Corps militia. The Sadrists are not too high on their list of favorites either. By not actually listening, and by listening I mean hearing what they said and observing their behavior in order to get a fuller understanding of their messaging, we have helped to make this worse.

 

You remember 2007 don't you-the year the surgeaholics were telling us the surge was "saving Iraq"? And nay sayers like me were saying the Iraqis-as the Arabs they are were not worth saving.

And time would appear to be proving me right.

Once they realized they could run out the clock on us, they did. As a result we are no longer there to play referee and other events have diverted our attention. That is why now is a good time to settle scores. Syria is stuck in a Civil War, which provided the Levantine al Qaeda affiliate a way back into Iraq. They have capitalized on the dashed hopes and angers of a lot of Iraqis and scores are now being settled. Some of this is just vengeance, but some of it is also the process of state and societal formation, regardless of whether we like the potential outcome of that process. For all that we do not like to think about these things, state and societal formation, or reformation, is usually violent. It is often serially violent as well. There will be periods of violence – challenges to the established order or by the order to consolidate power, as well as to determine who gets to be included within society and who is to be partially or fully excluded. These periods will be interspersed with periods of calm. It is not, however, a quick or even easy process. The US has gone through this, though we like to ignore or forget it unless we have no other choice.

 

Read the whole article, it is worth your time. Arabs are nothing, if not remarkably consistent in their ability to screw up a good deal.

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