Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pakistan and Iraq

First off, it seems that some compelling news comes from Pakistan. While the Administration trots out the specter of Al Qaeda, some in Pakistan are not so sure........,13319,159110,00.html?wh=news

It might have been Al Qaeda, it might have been Al Qaeda operating in concert with some in the Pakistani government (either those loyal to President Musharraf or the Pakistani secret police, the ISI). It is certainly comfortable to those in Washington to say that it was Al Qaeda. This enables them to continue tying it to their never-ending "Global war on Terror". They try to make the case that it is just one more small same piece of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other places.

I believe we lost a bit of credibility that we were serious about this kind of terrorism, and this part of the world when Osama bin Laden was able to slip away in Tora Bora (and many believe he has taken up permanent residence inside Pakistan, and that there is NO WAY he could be there without the knowledge of the Pakistani government), and we gutted the Afghanistan mission to move on to the war in Iraq (taking away the rebuilding efforts we promised to the Afghani's, leaving them in the lurch once more (the first time being in the late 80's when the Soviets pulled out, leading the country to 20+ years of murderous civil and tribal warfare).

Now, Afghanistan is heating up again in a big way. Many are saying we need to shift emphasis again from Iraq to Afghanistan, because they feel that since the violence has ebbed in Iraq, that war must be over (or at least things are getting better). Never mind that the reason for the surge was to slow the violence to enable political reconciliation which is NOT taking place (see Myth 9 in the link below).

Juan Coles piece, Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007 should throw a damper on any of those ideas:

Myth number 8 should be particularly paid attention to by those who say that the surge was the reason for the drop in violence in Iraq:

"8. Myth: The US troop surge stopped the civil war that had been raging between Sunni Arabs and Shiites in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Fact: The civil war in Baghdad escalated during the US troop escalation. Between January, 2007, and July, 2007, Baghdad went from 65% Shiite to 75% Shiite. UN polling among Iraqi refugees in Syria suggests that 78% are from Baghdad and that nearly a million refugees relocated to Syria from Iraq in 2007 alone. This data suggests that over 700,000 residents of Baghdad have fled this city of 6 million during the US 'surge,' or more than 10 percent of the capital's population. Among the primary effects of the 'surge' has been to turn Baghdad into an overwhelmingly Shiite city and to displace hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from the capital."

The simple fact is that we cannot sustain this "empire" forever.

A friend of mine sent me a Michelle Malkin piece this weekend where she talks about how the surge is the greatest thing, and how it worked, and how all the liberal media don't want to give the President any credit, and how those who oppose the war only do it because they hate America, hate President Bush, and hate our troops.

She goes on to lionize a young Lieutenant that was killed in Iraq. This is how she characterizes his death:

"To MoveOn and Democrat leaders and the anti-surge press, he's just another number. Another "victim." Another pawn."

What bothers me most about her and those who believe the way she does is that if you don't support the war, you somehow hate the troops.

It is always interesting to me that to them "supporting the troops" means leaving them, what appears to be indefinitely to face their fate in Iraq, whether it comes from a sniper, an IED, or the infamous "death by causes other than combat".

As I've asked in this blog ad nauseum where is the Grand Unified Theory of what it means to "win" in Iraq? What does a victory in Iraq look like? When do the troops get to come home? Is that ever part of their plan?

I want them to answer these questions. In the Malkin piece there were no such answers. Of course, there never are. The truth is, I believe they don't want the the war to end. Perpetual war = perpetual power.

At the rate the Iraqi's are going, they may NEVER politically reconcile. How long can we stay there with that not happening?

To Malkin and her Malkin-tents these questions do not matter. The troops will stay in Iraq till they say they can come home and we are damn good and ready to bring them home. And, their families and friends (not to mention the troops) should not question the mission at all. And if they happen to die or get maimed or dismembered, they can say that they sacrificed for the glory of the mission.

And if the traitorous ones complain, they get the "phony soldiers" treatment (giving credit to Keith O.), ala "Radio Comedian Rush Limbaugh".

Meanwhile, what was once the finest Army in the world is being ground down by attrition to a hollower force every day. Meanwhile, a "tsunami" of veterans are coming back seriously broken and maimed in mind, body and spirit, and taxing the system not prepared to deal with what was supposed to have been a "cakewalk". Meanwhile domestic issues like infrastructure, health care and poverty issues are taking a serious beating.

How much more are we going to sacrifice before we wake up?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Wish

On my Birthday (December 1, 2007), I wrote on this blog that what I wanted for my birthday was peace. Of course, I know this is a totally unrealistic wish given the climate of fear mongering and war posturing in Washington DC.

Then, later in the blog, I revised my wish to know:

"When do we win? What does winning even mean? Instead of the plowshares thing, the answers to those questions is REALLY what I want for my birthday."

25 days later, the day we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus the Prince of Peace, to my frustration, those answers are no closer.

I have always found it extremely ironic that some of the ones who should be teaching about Jesus' desire for peace, and his numerous teachings on peace, and his rebuking of his disciples when they wanted to stupidly use violence are those who are the staunchest in keeping perpetual war as the status quo. They are also the staunchest in buying into the worldly power of the US and completely disregarding their purported belief that God is in charge.

Of course THEY will tell you that what we are doing is divinely ordained, and that God is using the US as an instrument to bring his will to the Middle East. And, in a lot of their opinions, George W. Bush has PERSONALLY been talked to by God and shown that this is the proper course of action. They regard as an "Inconvenient Truth" the death, mayhem and destruction caused by multiple wars wrought by the US. Certainly God wants some to die for the greater glory.

And, taking military action against Iran will further the "mission" of glory.

I realize it sounds horrible and deeply twisted, but this is the belief some of them hold. Their leaders hold it, they preach it (and of course "support" it with cherry picked verses from the Bible), and it sounds good to the followers.

And then they think "hey, since those folks over there aren't Christian it doesn't really matter what happens to them - but I sure hope they watch the 700 Club on Arab TV channels that we are broadcasting on and are "saved" before they die. I'd sure feel bad if they weren't".

We are always told by those in charge, that this is a glorious cause, and that we are a "country at war". We need to disabuse ourselves of this notion. We are NOT a country at war. Now, a thin slice of the population repeatedly sent to combat zones and their families and friends are at war, but not the rest of us.

For a reminder of what this is doing to our military, here is a Christmas present from me to you (from the Center for American Progress):

Look at the statistics. To me, they are an early warning. Kind of like when you are driving your car and you have that little hitch or hesitation when it tries to shift gears - that little hitch could always be the indication that your transmission is about to implode.

Here's a little piece about how we support our troops that will warm your heart on this Christmas holiday:,13319,158881,00.html?wh=news

This young man (with two tours of duty in Iraq) came home for the joyous birth of his baby. The baby becomes ill, and the Army claims that they need him more than his family does. Now, because of this, he is "rethinking a career in the military." (along with everyone else who knows him or knows his situation).

I think what bothers me the most about this is that these young men (and women) are being asked to give and give and give and give. The country (or more appropriately our "leadership" in Washington) continues to take and take and take and take. And in between those two poles, there is never a clear articulation as to what the mission is now, or when it will be over and they can say that they've won, or even what they are really fighting for there.

The most accepted version by the fear mongers in Washington and most of the Presidential candidates is "because there are Islamic (or if you wish, the nonsensical, made up, meaningless word Islamofacists) extremists who want to kill us and destroy our freedom and way of life".

That (Islamic extremism) will never end (especially, paradoxically while we are still invading and occupying Muslim countries), and, that is NOT an existential threat to our country. No matter how much the fevered delusion of those who support this idea try to convince you, it is simply not true.

Can they do damage to this country? Of course. Can they "end our way of life"?

Do you think these "sound bite" platitudes are good enough explanation for Gabriel Douglas William's father (and thousands of other fathers) being away from their families in perpetuity and constantly in danger?

I think they (our leaders) have to do better than that. They never have.

Oh, and by the way, only WE can end our way of life. This can happen by curbing freedoms here at home and overextending ourselves abroad.

Wake up on this Christmas day and understand that perpetual war, occupation and killing will NOT lead to the peace that Jesus taught about.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Anatomy of a Suicide

I first read this piece a few days ago, and was very angry when I first read it. I waited a few days and let the story turn over in my mind.

I still think it's a pretty disturbing story (and one of the things I always want to keep away from is posting sensationalized stuff, and that's why I thought about it for awhile). I also think that we need to be tracking EXACTLY how many active duty people are killing themselves in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at bases back in the US. Then we need to be actively tracking those who've come back and gotten out of the service and committed suicide. We simply need to know in an exact, systematic manner - NOT in an anecdotal manner. The article gives some numbers on suicides, but I wonder how accurate they really are.

In thinking about it, I believe that there is no one in this story who DELIBERATELY woke up and said I think I am going to drive Private Scheuerman to commit suicide. If that was the case, then this would be a case of absolute, extreme evil (this however does not absolve anyone from possible culpability in this Privates' death).

I think what happened here is that the Private was done killing, and the Private was done seeing death and "the system" had to try to make the Private go back. One way "the system" does this is by threats, bullying and intimidation. It works for some, but for others (including this guy), NOTHING you say is going to revert him back to doing what he was doing.

As far as the leadership, their idea is that one less guy in the platoon is one less guy in the platoon, even if he is not a particularly good soldier (and if this guy gets away with it, then ALL of them will try the Psychological dodge - and, what if we gave a war and no one wanted to play? That would be terrible right?)

The Private understood his choices were to die in Iraq or get buggered in prison. He took control of his own destiny at a horrible cost to him and his family.

All along the way, they seemed somewhat convinced that this guy was a malingerer and was trying to beat the system. Now that he's dead, they see that probably wasn't true. He probably was in distress the whole time and needed to be saved.

I find it difficult to be mad at the guys immediately above him. I tried. I really did. I think they tried to make him do what he was supposed to do. I understand the incredible amount of pressure on these guys to try to keep everyone in their charge alive and well. I think that mistakes are going to be made. They are not mental health professionals, and while they are given training in it, I don't think they can always recognize when someone has made up their mind to end their lives.

One of them even shows that he doesn't like being the heavy when he says:

"You have put me into a position where I have to treat you like a troublesome child. I hate being in this position. It makes me be someone I don't like."

I believe THIS person is going to struggle mightily with this particular death.

So the Private is sent to Psychologists. On forms he fills out he says he is going to kill himself. In person, he never mentions it (or at least that's what they said). I always thought that if a person ideates suicide (which he did when he checked the form), you take it seriously. That he did not tell the Psychologist in person doesn't necessarily mean that he had decided not to do it. They come to the conclusion that he is just trying to shirk his duty.

I guess he proved them wrong.

Unlike his immediate superiors, I can find some anger for these "mental health professionals". But, I believe they are playing in a system which probably pressures them to send as many back as they can.

Shortly before he dies, they take away his contact with the outside world by taking away his phone and Internet privileges. His support system. At that point they should have just taken him out and shot him themselves, because they took away the one thing he had left. Hope. Hope that he KNEW someone out there knew he might be in trouble, and someone out there might look into helping him (which his mother was desperately trying to do, and I believe they took away his privileges because his constant "whining" was an embarrassment to them).

I cannot imagine the pain that his parents must have felt when they found that note. Or the panic they must have felt when they stopped hearing from him. But one thing his Dad said to him caught my eye in this story.

His father said:

"I've seen war"

"I told him that a lot of what he was seeing was normal. That we all feel it. That we're all afraid."

I realize he probably said that to just be supportive (with probably no idea of the depth of his son's problems). With no disrespect to his father, I think this is the biggest issue of all. THE THINGS THEY ARE SEEING ARE IN NO WAY NORMAL, AND SHOULD NOT BE SEEN BY YOUNG MEN (OR WOMEN) AT ANY TIME.

To try to pass it off as "normal" is to continue to perpetuate the war as a routinized way of life for this country. For a lot sitting at home comfortable and safe and not seeing death and destruction every day, it is easy for them to bad mouth this young man on talk radio and call him a coward because he didn't want to do his "duty" anymore.

How many more are there out there like this young man. Maybe some of them are coping today, but maybe a week or two weeks from now will not be able to cope anymore. Maybe some will last a year. Maybe some will die tomorrow.

Do we know? More importantly, do we care? Or is this just the price of being in the Global War on Terror to make this country safer. Are these young men and women just written off as "the price we pay" and so sorry for that?

If you fundamentally change who you are as a country, and you destroy a significant slice of the youth of your country in body, mind and spirit, is that really making you safer?

I have always thought not.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Boy you have to.....

.....admire the big steely ones that put a positive spin on this:

This is a piece about focus groups held with Iraqi's by the US military to find the state of what's going on in Iraq.

Anyway, THIS is what comes out of the focus groups:

"Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation."

Hmmmm. That's probably bad news. Right?

If you thought that, being a rational human being, you'd be wrong. It seems that:

"That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results. At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some "shared beliefs" that may eventually allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war."

Yes. They definitely have "shared beliefs". They hate us and our occupation of their country.

This is an important piece I believe for Americans to read. The Administration has done a GREAT job of tying less deaths in Iraq to the idea that we are winning the war (kind of a warped, macabre Vietnam era body count in reverse - in Vietnam we knew we were winning because the bodies were piling up. Here we "know" we are winning because the bodies are NOT piling up).

In fact, I read a "Letter to the Editor" in my daily paper on Saturday, scolding us bad Americans for not wanting to stay the course, and that now deaths are going down this "proves" the President was right all along, and we are winning, and we just need to stay a little bit longer and everything will be cool.

Never mind that the Iraqi government couldn't even keep a troop of Boy Scouts together for a two hour meeting much less provide the complex services that governments are supposed to provide (security, infrastructure support, etc).

My question has always been this. What are we still doing in Iraq?

There are a lot of Americans who actually believe that our presence in Iraq is actually preventing terrorist attacks (the "we fight them there so we don't have to fight them here" camp) . As I've pointed out here before, to even think logically about this for one minute will tell you that any group could plan a 9/11 style attack in any city in the world without any regard to happenings in Iraq or Afghanistan. Much of the planning for 9/11 was done in Europe, and the flight training was done in the good old US of A.

There are many that say we are there because if we leave, they will kill each other in an orgy of sectarian violence. That may or may not happen. But how long can we sustain our mission there, keeping them apart and HOPING that some day they'll reconcile? 5 years? 10 years? 50 years?

One of my favorite thinkers has always been Buckminster Fuller. Fuller conceived of this idea of what he called a Geoscope:

According to the above website, the Geoscope would be: "a massive 3-D educational environment, using an array of computers and databases to display real-time and historical data on nearly any world situation."

My feeling over the past few months has been that we need to start thinking about tracking the US Military that way. I (and many others I have culled from) have provided information about growing problems within the US military. Suicide. Drug and Alcohol abuse. Trouble in getting adequate treatment from the VA and other military treatment facilities. Desertion. Mutiny.

Are these widespread issues? Who knows. They get a lot of press, leading some war supporters to say that it's just "the liberal media" (I guess that's me??) trying to keep any good news about Iraq from getting to the American public.

How much longer can the military sustain this mission (including the one in Afghanistan) before it implodes? Will it implode? What will be left if it implodes?

Are these things we are now seeing isolated events, or are they going to keep on trending up? Are these people doing these things just the "weak sisters" who can't hack it, and once they are gone the strong will have survived (kind of like military Darwinism), or is it going to be as many think, a "tsunami" of veterans in the coming years, broken physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

A lot of people don't even want to ask the questions. I think this comes from fear. Fear of what they may find.

So, it's easier just to sit back and trust the Administration (or the next one or the one after that) that they'll let us know when the war is over, and when we've "won", and forget our troubles and go shopping like the President says (because hey, it's Christmas time).

Now, I certainly don't have the skills to create something like the Geoscope (although I'll continue to try to pass the word along here in a haphazard way, with an eye toward trying to systematize it somehow).

I know there are a lot of great Vet organizations and others out there who are keeping track of these trends and statistics. They should all be supported in their work, and we should look for ways to network them so we can see the "big picture" and not just the random snapshots that make us wonder if it's a big problem or an isolated one.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I just finished reading Flashback (Subtitled Post traumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War) by Penny Coleman

This is an important book.

This book starts off giving a pretty decent history of trauma in our nations past wars, but then towards the end focuses on strictly on Vietnam, and why Vietnam was different in so many ways than previous wars.

Interspersed throughout the chapters (Introduction, 1. From Irritable Heart to Shell Shock, 2. PTSD and Modern Warfare, 3. (Why) Was Vietnam Different, 4. The Collapse of the Armed Forces, 5. Suicide in the Aftermath of Vietnam, Conclusion) are stories from family members of Veteran's of the Vietnam war who have committed suicide. Mothers, Wives, Daughters, etc. One of the stories was that of the author, whose husband killed himself after coming home from war..

One of the things that struck me while reading it is how similar all of the debate was during the Vietnam war, to the debate currently going on during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and she points this out in the book several times, and speaks about it much in the Conclusion portion of the book) with regard to returning veterans, including the denial by the government that the wars can be blamed in any way for the problems.

A lot of people, especially those who are hard core Bush Administration and Iraq war supporters cannot admit that all of these troubles are happening, even though there is mounting evidence to the contrary:


To these people, of course these are just more examples of the liberal media trying to tarnish the President's reputation, and to keep the good news about Iraq from coming out, and to smear the brave young men and women fighting this war. They also seem to be content to say that those committing suicide are a few bad apples who can't handle the stress (like Rush says, the "Phony Soldiers"), and are not brave, good soldiers who are proud to serve (and possibly die for their country).

In the book, Ms. Coleman details the collapse of the military. In that chapter, there are several examples of cases of mutiny during the Vietnam war by troops who refused to go into battle. A few days ago, this:

How many more cases like this have been unreported or under-reported? After all, again, we don't want to have any bad news coming out of Iraq. These guys did not want to go out on patrol, not because they were afraid for their own safety, but for what they MIGHT do to innocent Iraqi's to avenge their recent losses.

I do not believe this will be an isolated occurrence, and I believe we will see more of this, especially since a very thin slice of the population is being sent back to the war(s) repeatedly. At some point, they will have seen enough war, and will rebel by not wanting to kill or die.

Other things not necessarily focused on by Ms. Coleman, but talked about on this blog over the past several months is the coming Tsunami of homelessness (, and an uptick in drug and alcohol abuse and addiction among troops coming back from Iraq (

Now again, a lot of hardcore, die hard war fans will read these things and will conjure up stories and evidence of "liberal media bias" or the "attempt to smear the brave men and women who are fighting this war, by liberal America hating traitors." These are well worn fall back positions that have worked for them, and worked well.

But I think that we are putting ourselves in peril if we hide our heads in the sand and do not ask these questions and do our absolute best to treat the veterans coming home from these wars for ANY thing that may be wrong with them, be it physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual.

My goal has been to synthesize some of these things to show that it might now be a widespread problem (but possibly somewhat manageable), but if left unchecked, it will DEFINITELY be a widespread problem that will not be able to be managed.

Ms. Coleman's book shows that we made some of these dreadful mistakes the first time around after our involvement in Vietnam, and we are, in fact still paying for it heavily today. Twenty years from now, it would be a shame if another Penny Coleman, grieving a husband lost to suicide because of war had to write another book like this.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rule Number Two

I don't generally like to buy books that I read (sorry to all the authors I know, if only one or two). I have put together a fairly extensive library card network, and can usually get the books that I can't get in my local libraries through the inter library loan service (the inter library loan service is a GREAT resource - be sure to ask your local librarian - I calculate that I have probably saved thousands of dollars on books that I've gotten to read, but have not had to buy).

But, I had some birthday money and could not resist buying Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital by Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft.

This was a pretty compelling book. It chronicles Dr. Kraft's 7 month tour of duty attending to the mental health needs of Sailors and Marines serving in Iraq.

There are some truly heartbreaking stories (along with some heartwarming stories). Not to give too much away, but about halfway through the book, Dr. Kraft talks about a 19 year old Marine she encounters who has gotten three Purple Hearts in two months. He is ashamed because he feels afraid. Dr. Kraft tells him (and this is the understatement of the century) that there is nothing normal about three Purple Hearts in two months.

It gets some poorer reviews on because it doesn't go into detail on how she treated combat trauma. I disagree somewhat with that assessment - if she got too deep into the techniques, etc, it would quickly become too difficult for the general reader.

What is somewhat interesting to me is that she doesn't seem to speculate too much on what is going to happen to her patients when they return to the US from being in the war (and to be fair to her, I'm sure that she spent time then doing that, that she just didn't mention in the book, and spends time doing that now, especially as the book points out that she is the Deputy Coordinator for the US Navy Combat Stress Control Program).

As I read this book, I kept coming back to a few themes which I've spent time writing about over the past several months.

It is all well and good to honor and talk about the service of these brave young men and women.

But I believe that to just talk about them, and to never connect their fate in Iraq to the current NATURE of this war does them a great disservice. And the current nature of the war is the idea that our soldiers are doing a good job for the most part, but the political reconciliation that is necessary by the Iraqi's is simply not happening in any significant way.

Until the Iraqi's decide that they want to reconcile, and stop killing each other in the name of sectarian strife, and the Iraqi government gets serious about doing the routine, mundane things that governments do (clean their streets of filth, ensure there is electrical power, water and security, etc), our brave men and women are simply patrolling the roads, towns and cities of Iraq in the middle of a civil war.

To say that we need to "win the war" or "not cutting and running" are mindless chants which no one ever really talks about what they SPECIFICALLY mean, and when in that context the war can be over. The war has to end doesn't it (that is a rhetorical question - to hear those who are called "pro-war" this is a "long war" which is virtually unending)?

Remember, this was supposed to be a "cake walk", and we were supposed to win and disengage very quickly. To now say that they couldn't have anticipated the war they are getting now gives me no faith about their understanding of history or the middle east. It is also a slick piece of 1984 (George Orwell) revisionist history.

If you don't believe me about the nature of this war, here are two articles by those who have been on the ground fighting this war (and in the first piece, two of these soldiers are now dead):

This is an article penned by 12 Army Captains:

For their opinions, they have been called traitors, cowards, defeatists, and the like. For a lot of people however, they just don't want to hear what these thinking, brave soldiers have to say. They would rather bury their heads in the sand and just wait for the Administration to tell them that we've won the war (or that it's time for the next war).

Don't hold your breath until that happens. I see blue skin in your future if you do.

In the mean time, while you are holding your breath, read Dr. Kraft's book.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No Nukes in Iran? So What.

There has been a lot of interesting stuff over the past few days. Of course, the big news is that the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) came out and said that the Iranians ended their nuclear weapons program sometime back in 2003.,15240,157461,00.html?wh=news

Now of course there are some hard core hangers on who are not ever going to believe this, and to them it falls in the same category as the idea that the WMD's that Saddam had were actually clandestinely shipped out to Syria in the middle of the night, where they still are, waiting to be used in the subways of New York and Washington.

There are others who probably feel that this makes it practically impossible for the administration to start a war with Iran.

My, my, my, the people in this camp (the "there is now not going to be a war" camp) underestimate the craftiness and spin capability of the Bush Administration. They also underestimate the idea that the Israeli's are still out there, and they are not going to buy into this report either.

There still is a possibility that the US or the Israeli's (or a combination of both) could hit the civilian nuclear infrastructure. I believe this would quickly cascade into the war that I have been talking about all along on this blog.

I still believe that war with Iran is just as likely as it was the day before the NIE came out. It will be much more difficult for them to convince us that it is a good and prudent thing to be sure, but, if they can't convince us they'll just do it anyway.

I have always felt like the decision to go to war in Iraq was a done deal on 9/12/01. Back in May 2007, I posted this very significant exchange from 2006 on this blog:

"Asked by “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert whether the United States would have gone ahead with the invasion anyway if the CIA had reported that Saddam did not, in fact, have such weapons, Cheney said yes.
“He’d done it before,” Cheney said. “He had produced chemical weapons before and used them. He had produced biological weapons. He had a robust nuclear program in ’91.
”The U.S. invasion “was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing,” he said."

The rhetoric coming from the Administration is eerily familiar. Iran still MIGHT develop a nuclear weapon (or even the CAPABILITY) in the future, because they did it before. So, to counter that, we MIGHT have to take action to keep them from MAYBE getting the CAPABILITY to produce a nuclear weapon. This MIGHT even include military action - we certainly cannot rule that out.

But, I believe the most significant piece of information comes from National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley where he says that "U.S. policy toward Iran has not changed because of the new report."

To me, this is pretty significant. Because, frankly, US policy toward Iran is advocating and agitating toward regime change. That is the ultimate goal. If the "policy" hasn't changed, that means that regime change is still the goal. The concern for the weapons, like concern for weapons in Iraq are just a trigger mechanism.

Do I believe that Iran has clean hands and are innocent as doves? No. Certainly not. But it at least seems that the dynamics have shifted here in a very permanent way.

I believe, as do many others, that it is time to talk to the Iranians. The ironic thing is that we claimed that we NEVER trusted the Soviets. During the cold war we never really stopped talking to them. This was not seen as weakness or unmanliness - it was seen as prudent, to keep horrible misunderstandings between the two nations from starting World War III.

Iran is a regional player like it or not.

I think it is prudent again now to talk to the Iranians. I don't expect this Administration to initiate those talks. My hope is that if we make it through the next year or so without plastering 1500 target points in Iran with cluster bombs that the next administration has the wisdom to at least open the door.

We don't have to give away the farm, but we should at least be willing to talk.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My Birthday Wish

So, today is my Birthday.

Also tomorrow is the first day of advent (the period to contemplate and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ).

Anyway, we are Saturday Mass people, so I got to hear the readings tonight.

One of the readings from Isaiah (from Isaiah 2) is one of my favorites, and THIS is what I want for my birthday:

"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again".

I know, I know. What the heck kind of liberal, loony, peacenik, Utopian thinking is THAT. There's a WAR on, don't you know that? Of course, we (the US) would be willing to do that (beat our plowshares into swords, etc) IF all those other bad folks in the world would stop what they were doing. We are innocent don't you realize that? We were just minding our own business. We didn't choose these wars, these wars chose us.

Don't you understand that 9/11 "changed everything"?


Yes, there are actually TWO wars going on. One in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan (there are actually several more wars going on including action in Pakistan, Somalia, and other places - the two discussed here are the ones where are soldiers are pretty active). Neither of them are going to be over any time in the future.

I have asked this question over and over and over again. When do we know if we "won" in Iraq? There doesn't seem to be any answers to that question, except to continue to chant the mantra that we can't cut and run and we have to let the troops win.

And, when you ask your pro-war friends what winning means, you are told that you should be supporting the troops and your President, and to ask questions like that in a time of war borders on (and in fact may actually be) treason. Never mind that more and more, even the soldiers involved in the wars are publicly asking those questions.

When is it going to be over? Apparently, according to President Bush who recently signed some security "agreements" with the Iraqi government, never.

It is interesting that to them (our pro-war friends) "supporting the troops" means leaving them to their fates in Iraq and Afghanistan, and never questioning whether leaving them there in that environment is even good foreign policy. We certainly know that it is NOT good for THEIR health either from a physical standpoint or from an emotional and spiritual standpoint.

We were told that we "won" in Afghanistan, but now were finding out that it is more dangerous for our soldiers in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

The breaking point is coming. Look at the lessons of what happened to the military after Vietnam, then, in my opinion, multiply that by ten or twenty. That is what we are going to be living with for the next several years.

Do we have one more rebuild of our forces in us after the massive collapse that is going to occur? Or, are we going to be so depleted in treasure and talent after these wars (this breakdown doesn't even include the scheming by the neocons to start additional wars in Iran and now Pakistan to "secure the nukes" from Islamofacists) that we'll have no choice but to "study war no more."

When do we win? What does winning even mean? Instead of the plowshares thing, the answers to those questions is REALLY what I want for my birthday.