Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

I am a bit conflicted these days. My feeling about this war are no secret. This Op-Ed piece pretty much says it all in a nutshell.

We are in a War based on a seriese of bad calls. I don't believe that this or any administration would go to war solely for profits or because they are 'evil'. That is an oversimplification. But I do believe in the falability of man. Thousands are dead because Bush thought Iraq was a threat when it wasn't. Despite intelligence that showed it was no threat, we went to war. No country goes to war just because there might be profit in it later, or because their daddy didn't 'finish the job'. You go to war to destroy an enemy before they destroy you. For some reason, Bush was absolutely convinced that Iraq was a threat and gambled that once we were in, the evidence would bare out his hunches. Many leaders have made such gambles. But in this case there was no need to guess. The intel was there. More time was needed, but for some reason Bush felt he had to act quickly. In his rush to prove that he was a good President and was protecting America he had people skew the intel. He ignored contrary evidence. He stepped up bombing raids to provoke Iraq. He sent Colin Powel (a man I used to respect) to the UN to give the bluff more legitimacy. And it was all wrong.

I thought once Americans knew the truth that the political system would correct itself. It didn't and I have NO explanation for this.

Now we are in Iraq. The Downing Street memo states that America had no long term plans in place for what happen after the war and that has proven trajically true. In the run up to the War when did anyone have time to draw up plans on rebuilding a nation? Planning a war is hard enough. Rebuilding a county is an order of magnitude more difficult and is something the military isn't built for. Thank goodness we have Halliburton (the Vice Presidents old company) to help us out.

But we're there now. And most of the soldiers there are doing the best they can to get by. They are trying to help Iraq, which isn't too keen to shake the hand of the people who now fight on their streets, bomb their homes and torture and humiliate their people. Did we liberate Iraq? Yes. Are they better off now? Good question. Saddam was a power mad dictator, but there are plenty of them out there that we don't seem too concerned about.

If we stay, we're a target. We're a symbol that can unite fundementalists against us and the US backed govenment. If we leave the country will fall apart and we will have shown ourselves and our 'pure' intent to have been a lie. It is a no win situation.

Into this mess steps our all volunteer military. They are the ones who have been shafted the worst. They are learning the bitter fact that no conquering army is welcome in a conquered country for very long. They are trying to fight a conventional war against guerrilla forces, which never works. The British learned that in America, the Russians learned that in Afghanistan and we learned it in Vietnam. They were ill equipped and are being kept in beyond completion of their tour of duty because despite all those people with 'I support our troops' magnets on their cars and all the chickenhawks in DC and religious leaders who support this war our military is struggling to maintin its fighting strength. All they can do is keep taking hits. They can beat any force in a stand up fight, but there aren't many of those fights left. We're down to street fighting where tanks are planes are almost useless. When we do use them, we find out that we've wiped out a wedding party, destroyed a Mosque, killed an innocent family. And that endeers us to no one.

I am very glad most of my friends who served are now out. But a few days ago I learned that a friend of mines son will be heading out for service in the National Guard. I had to force myself not to pick up the phone, call them and scream 'What the fuck are you doing?'.

There are many benefits to serving in the military. Job training, learning self reliance and teamwork. Developing character and a hard work ethic. Money for college, medical care and VA loans to help buy a house. But the job of the military is to first and foremost, fight in wars. They are put into harms way. And Iraq has a lot of harm to give.

I don't want to see this kids face flashed on the 10 o'clock news for five seconds while sappy music plays in the background because he got fragged by an IED. I don't want to hear that his unit accidentally killed a family of five at a checkpoint because the car wouldn't stop. I don't want him to loose a leg to a landmine. I don't want him to suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the rest of his life. I don't want him to see his buddy from basic get killed by a car bomb.

There is no draft (yet), no compulsory military service in this country. So despite the failure of the political system, the fact that we volunteer for service might be the thing that stops this war. No Army, no war.


Anonymous said...

Ok lets get a few things straight here.

We are at war because we have been attacked. The Islamic Jihad is targeted us because of what we believe in and the culture that we have. They think we are the source of all of their problems and that they are fighting a holy war against the great Satan. There is no negotiating with these people. They are religious nuts and will not stop until they are dead or we are.

Now we are in Iraq because it is a perfect battlefield for fighting these Islamic terrorists. We attacked and took Afghanistan because it was a solid target where we could fight a conventional war against the bulk of the enemy. We did a good job of taking out the majority of the enemy combatants and there training camps. We attacked Iraq to weed out the rest.

Think about it how does a conventional army bound by the rules of war fight an enemy that is scattered and fights very un conventionally? First you set a trap to draw them into one place then you use your conventional methods to destroy them. These terrorists are flowing into Iraq to fight the great Satan. To them its too good to be true, here we are so close that most of them can walk or take bus to where the "Great Satan" is. They are coming to the streets of Baghdad to blow up their car bombs and shoot at helicopters and kill civilians. Now honestly ask your selves would your rather have that happening on the streets of America or in your neighborhood? or would you rather have them stay in Iraq? I know its a shitty deal for the Iraqi's but there is only so much we can do.

Also this helps to reinforce that the Islamic people need to take responsibility and deal with these nuts. They need to shepard their own and stop the hate. When the killing has gotten to the point where they are sick of it they will take action and stop the violence.

Our soldiers are taking the blunt of the damage. To be brutally honest that’s what soldiers are for. They are there to fight and kill for the people of the US. They are their to make sure their isn't enemy combatants on US streets. They signed up, took the money and the college fund and the training and now they have to produce. I feel bad for them but none of them are drafted and all of them volunteered.

Oil is the fuel that drives the modern world. It provided power, heat, plastic and fuel. It is vital to the world economy and raises the level of life to almost all it touches. With out oil the Middle East would be nothing but a sandbox ruled by Islamic kings and bypassed by the modern world. We didn't go to war over oil. If we really needed it we would stop exporting the stuff we produce and buy from the Russians. However if we did that it would cause global economic problems. Prices would sky rocket across the world and the only people that would benefit would be OPEC companies.

This war will end. After the dust settles there will be the US and only the very smart terrorists. The drones of the Jihad will have blown themselves up already and the world will be a bit safer for a while. Iraq will be free to rule them selves and the US will still be branded as bad guys. That however is the price of surviving.

Anonymous said...

"But military occupations are inherently destabilizing, and eventually years or decades later the price of staying becomes too high, the occupiers leave, and the ensuing chaos is used as a retroactive justification for the occupiers staying as long as they did."

Look at Japan and Germany they both came out ok. So why not Iraq? It is up to the people of Iraq to build their future.

Also as a point a reference therre was a lot of German resistance at the end of WW2. The Army survived that and will survive this.

Steve said...

Kollin has a few good points and a few points I disagree with. Those that want a fight don't have far to go in Iraq. Weapons are plentiful and so is basic training and American targets. Those that don't want to fight aren't going to mobilize, arm themselves and fight back against militants. Civilians by their very definition are just trying to keep their heads down and live their lives. When they or their families are seriously impacted by the war THEN they join the machine. They have a choice of fighting against the Americans (invaders) or the insurgents (many of whom are fellow Iraqi's).

Sadly, the days of armies (and by extension countries) surrendering are long gone. After the first Gulf War I said that this would be the last great conventional war and I believe I was right. We fought, defeated the Iraqi Army, secured the border and LEFT. But once we went and occupied Iraq, the end of the conventional war brought out the crazies (or martyrs or patriots, whatever) to fight dirty.

Napolean brought Egypt schools, better health care, civil law and defeated the Mamluks but he still had to leave Egypt. If we leave right now the country very likely will fall into civil war. The Sunnis don't want to go the way of the Dodo. I honestly don't want to leave Iraq high and dry. We created this mess and I was raised to clean my own messes up (except for my office, which is exempt). We'd certainly be doing better if we stopped doing stupid shit over there like taking pictures of our soldiers tormenting civilians and arresting the top Sunni polital leader.

I feel really bad for these kids there. The Army is not a peacekeeping force, it is not a police force. And when kids who have been trained to see arabs as the enemy are put in charge of guarding and protecting them, well, we know how well THAT is working out.

Kollin is right that fighting is what the military is for. But it is the duty of our civilian government to make sure that they are used only when it is absolutely needed. And IF they are deployed the government needs to THINK about how that force is used. We went into this was with no exit strategy. We disbanded the Iraqi army, thus providing the insurgents with lots of trained and out of work advisors, We put ill-trained soldiers in charge of prisons and gave them unclear, conflicting or illegal orders about how to treat prisoners. We failed to provide adequite equipment to protect our soldiers from IED's.

All in all, I would say that the President deserves to be Impeached, the military needs to do a top-down review of how it operates in the middle east (since we're gonna be there for a while) and we need to repair the damage done to our global image. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

"Are you prepared to use nukes on civilian cities in Iraq, as we did in Japan, as well as firebomb the hell out of city after city? To say nothing of the fact that Iraq has no equivilent of the Japanese emperor, whose surrender would be almost universally accepted.

And the resistance in Germany paled compared to what we've seen in Iraq, to say nothing of the ethnic and religious strife in Iraq- a non-western nation with no democratic traditions. I mean, we've been in Iraq for years now, at what point are you going to notice that Iraq is not Japan or Germany.

Unless perhaps we use nukes. Are you prepared to do that?"

Hold on a sec, do you know why we used nukes in WW2? Do you have any clue? We used 2 atomic bombs on Japan to avoid an invasion that would have cost someting close to a million lives. Between the thousands of suicide planes, boats and "rockets" the Japs had and the Allied plan to use gas weapons in the intial stages of the invasion the President decided to use atomic weapons.

Now lets look at the differences between that and Iraq.
1 We are already occupying no more invasion.
2 Suicide bombers but no where close to the tens of thousands that Japan had.
3 The Emporer of Japan was god and all the people could hear him telling them what to do. Allah is non corporial and the beliefs of the fanatics are not the same as all of the people in the Middle East.

Iraq has been repressed for the last 40 years or so. They are going to listen to the strongest voice there. Which is the US. Also if Iraq is going to rise up, when are they going to do it? It's been 2 years so far and no increase in violence just attacks of IODs.Also if the US leaving Iraq is the answer then why didn't it work after the first Gulf War? Because the frame work of a goverment still exsisted. This frame work and the people that were part of it need to be removed from the state for Iraq to have a chance to survive. The situation in Iraq is getting better just not as quickly as everyone hoped.

As for German resistance after WW2, it is known that Hitler Youth, SS agents and disgruntled communists did everyting from firebombing, kidnaping, murder, extortion, IOD's for up to 4 years after the end of WW2. There wasn't as much press coverage as today but it did happen.

One of the things that will help to unite the Iraq's is the random violence of the insurgences. They know who is killing the most people. As long as the US keeps it's nose clean and stops any more prison scandals it has a good chance of making a working country out of Iraq.

Anonymous said...

"You think so? Were we the strongest voice in Vietnam, our last great exercise in nation building?"

Well lets see there is Panama, the liberation of Kuwait and Afghanistan and so far all of those places are doing ok.

The strongest voice in Vietnam was communism. China and Russia were the primary backers and we fought there to fight communism. However Vietnam is completely different from Iraq.

First of all it’s a jungle, which means it is very easy to hide lots of things pretty much everywhere.

Second of all there isn't a giant country of communists that are supplying arms and equipment to the insurgence. (BTW it was the US that supplied Afghan rebels against the Soviets and that was the primary reason why they won and the commies lost, kind of hard to shoot down Hinds with out stingers.)

Third of all we don't have some peace conference that is trying to tell us where not to bomb. Hell we knew where all of the manufacturing, SAMs and equipment was in Nam we just were not allowed to blow it up.

Fourth of all we are not dealing with the Viet Cong. Those sneaky gits were determined, very well lead and very well equipped. They used brutal tactics on the Vietnamese people (like cutting off the arms of people that got immunized by the US or raping the wives and daughters of US supporters) The Viet Cong were godless monsters that would do anything to win. The Islamic terrorist still have to answer to Allah so there are things that they won't do.

"It's a fucking civil war"

Really? A fucking civil war? Do you know what that means? Civil? states it is "ordinary citizens or ordinary community life as distinguished from the military or the ecclesiastical" notice that it clear states different from the ecclesiastical. That means not part of the church. This war is a religious war. It has always and will always be a religious war. They hate us because they don't like us, our society our culture. This isn't the common Iraqi citizen this is the extremist that is fighting. If it was the people of Iraq fighting against us we would be where we are now. Troops would be getting killed in the thousands every day. There would be no safe zones and all of Iraq would be in flames. But it's not... So why is that?

"Aren't the smart terrorists the ones who blew up the towers?"

They were but now most of them are dead or in US custody. Pakistan just turned over 3 or 4 more of these guys they caught this year. Something else we made very clear in the invasion of Iraq is that we are willing to go anywhere to get these terrorist. All of the Islamic countries know this and are driving out or arresting these terrorists. Hell Pakistan has fricken NUKES and they are still willing to work with us.

The big problem with getting the rest of these guys is that they are really running and hiding and the world is a big place with lots of deep, deep holes to hide in. We find them sooner or later.

Ohh I love this part

"This is what confuses me the most, Steve. Who are the "we" you're talking about? I don't remember creating this mess."

I'm sorry so when does your plane leave for another country?

You sound like the dozen or so people I heard proclaiming that they were moving to Canada if Bush gets reelected. It's funny not a single one of them left…. I wonder why?

The United States is a society of individuals. We praise the individual and their right to think independently from the whole. Your rights along with Steve’s are protected (sometimes stepped on though but what in life isn’t infringed from time to time) As a society we govern ourselves through a process that has stood for hundreds of years. Where every person has the responsibility to cast a vote for what they truly believe in. It is also the responsibility of every voter/ citizen to research the topics and make an educated choice about who they will vote for. Then it is the responsibility of a good citizen to back (not with out questioning) the elected rep. I can say I didn’t like Clinton but that didn’t prevent me from serving my country like a good citizen. (Or as I like to think of it paying my dept for having lots of freedom and security)


Think of it as being a good team player. Backing your team so it can achieve victory. So your best friend didn’t make captain of the football team does that mean your going to quit? Not back the plays of your teammates? Not listen to directions from the team captain just because you don’t like him? For some the answer is yes, they won’t back the team. It’s ok to question, protest or quit but to stick along whining all the way not doing anything and to suck up the victories but not take any of the responsibilities is just fucking lame.

“I don’t remember creating this mess.” Hey I didn’t start the hatred that driving the Islamic extremists to hate me for where I was born. I didn’t cause the crusades. I didn’t cause the anti-Semitic feelings that most of the world had and that caused the slaughter of millions of Jews. I didn’t make the Jewish homeland. I didn’t make Christianity or Islam. Fuck I didn’t make the rain that caused the flood that filled my home full of water.

For Fucks sake I’m the one that has to deal with it. So fucking deal with it and stop bitching.

Anonymous said...

I guess what really irritates me, as a former serviceman, is the complete lack of accountability. No one is being called out for the lack of planning; no one is being called out for failing to provide the kind of gear our troops need; no one is being called out for the abuses ... oh wait they found a PFC to send to jail, echos of the Iowa incident ring through my head. I'm suprised they didn't accuse her of being a closet lesbian first....

Steve said...

We'd certainly be doing better if we stopped doing stupid shit over there like taking pictures of our soldiers tormenting civilians and arresting the top Sunni polital leader.

American troops undergo a basic introduction to Islamic language,religion and customs. We might think about improving that program. Why not have joint US Iraqi staffed prisons with oversight by the Red Cross or Red Cresent to prevent abuses? This would also make it harder for people to make false claims of abuse since international (non-governmental) oversight would be in place.

Regarding cleaning up the mess we created. Yes, neither I nor any of my friends made this mess. But I am a citizen of the country that did. If we can give millions of dollars in aid to victems of a tsunami that we had nothing to do with, then why can't we work to help rebuild a country that we actively beat the crap out of?

Of course, we've mismanaged that aspect as well. Wasting billions of dollars in the process.

Goodman, your analogy about breaking into someones house is a bit flawed. The situation was more complicated. I would revise it so that there is an abusive father and a lot of children in the house, some who adore the father, some who havte him and other who just keep out of his way when he drinks. But I'm feeling sick today and my brain isn't too clear...

As to suicide bombers, well, there will almost always be more of them. They are an enemy that conventional forces cannot effectively stop. So you have to find the source. First, close off the border to Syria, except that we don't have the manpower. (Something like 400 troops are guarding 25,000 sq miles) Second, stop them from being created in the first place. Consider what makes a fanatic? Yes, there will always be some people who are more predisposed to extremism but the average arab isn't. What pushes someone to strap on explosives? Desperation. Desperate people who have nothing to life for.

Religion in this case is only part of the problem. Tell two people that they should kill themselves for a cause. One is well off with a wife and family, one is a young man living in an internment camp. The well off one won't buy into it. But the young man has nothing to look forward to, no prospects for work, a home, a country or happiness. He is looking for someone he can strike out at. And if you give him that target AND convince him that God says its okay, they you've got yourself a carbomber who, in addition to effectively killing people, will earn his family a large chunk of cash.

Give people hope, improve their lot, and you will find fewer and fewr volunteers to become insurgents/bombers. Solving that problem doesn't involve guns or missiles. It's also a lot harder to do.

Anonymous said...


I had a cousin over in Iraq for 2 years. She was is a Captian in the Army and had to make regular rotations through the Iraqi prisions. She told me about the conditions and the state of most of the prisons. One thing she did make very clear is that the US forces had to reinforce every day to the Iraqi guards is not to beat the prisoners. The guards didn't understand why we would stop them from beating the prisoners.

It's a fucking civil war"

From Merriam-Webster: civil war
Function: noun
: a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country

Sounds right to me. Guess I'm just not lying to myself hard enough."

Your logic seems flawed "a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country" would mean that the Iraqi's are fighting themselves more than they are fighting us. Also you keep on saying that the US is the cause of all these problems... well are we forcing the citizens to fight each other? No, terrorist are fighting us and citizens of Iraq. Do you concider David Koresh or the Oklamhoma City bomber as civil warriors? Or just terrorists and nutcases?

Finicial restituions to the Iraqi people... never going to happen. Even if there was the most liberal democrate in the whole world in the Whitehouse. We will rebuild Iraq, give it schools, some of the bbest water treatment plants in the world, a good army and an awesome telecom network (I know personally about the telecom network I have friends over their working on it now and they are laying dark fiber all over the place) Iraq will be a good place to live as soon as the extremist are finished off.

BTW do you know the terrain of Pakistan? It's mostly very, very rugged moutain terrain. I also have to believe that Pakastan is on our side they did turn over Bin ladin's # 3 man, the planner of the world trade center bombing to us. They have also let US special forces troops into the country to hunt terrorists.

Steve said...


you're right baout Iraqi police and abuse. It's been the norm there for decades and they don't see why they should change. It was part of how Saddam remained in power. I read about a unit from Oklahoma that discovered a large group of Iraqi men being beaten by the police. They tried to intervene and offer assistance but orders from up the chain of command forced them to leave.

Changing the mindset of the civilian and government forces is part of the reason I am in favor of keeping SOME military presence in the country.

Torture is not the way to obtain good intelligence. People who are tortured will say anything to stop the torture. They also become a symbol, an object lesson if you will about why we can't be trusted.

This extends to our global policy of extrordinary extradition, wherin we ship suspects to Syria or Egypt. Make no mistake, we've done this in the past. A former CIA agent confirmed it but he also claimed that it was done rarely, it was done with CIA legal revue (whatever that means) and only for suspects who they had lots of evidence on. Once extradited, the policy was NOT one of torture. Once suspects were in a clean, safe environment and were told they would not be killed or tortured, they tended to give more and better intel then under torture.

The real disheartenigf thing here is that a study showed that the longer the us had a presence in a country training its military, the better it survived as a well diciplined and non-corrupt agency. The problem? The most success was achieved after a presence of 34 YEARS. Anyone want to hang around that long? Anyone? Beuller?

Anonymous said...

Well stratigicaly, staying for 34 years to have a strong hold on the Middle East is worth it... It would possibily give us a oppertunity to show Islamic people that we are not the great satan and that we are willing to give to anyone that will accept it.

Now this is assuming we don't go back to Dollar Diplomacy. That was a fucked up way to try to make fiends. "Let me build you a airport and a university.: (2 years latter) "Ohh you need money to keep you airport open and you university working? Well I need somehting from you...."

If thr US did that even now we will screw up the whole situation.


Anonymous said...

Well stratigicaly, staying for 34 years to have a strong hold on the Middle East is worth it... It would possibily give us a oppertunity to show Islamic people that we are not the great satan and that we are willing to give to anyone that will accept it.

Now this is assuming we don't go back to Dollar Diplomacy. That was a fucked up way to try to make fiends. "Let me build you a airport and a university.: (2 years latter) "Ohh you need money to keep you airport open and you university working? Well I need somehting from you...."

If thr US did that even now we will screw up the whole situation.