Monday, April 30, 2007
A Cold War Resuscitation???
Russia has since strongly denounced the plan and called for the U.S. to halt its plans or they may pull out of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. This threat coming a week after Secretary Gates was dispatched to Moscow to ease tensions among the Russian leaders. After leaving the meeting Secretary Gates suggested that the meetings were conducive and both sides were now better informed as to the other's position and that tensions were eased. However, you would not have assumed that premise giving the Russian Army General's recent statements. Here are a few of Yury Baluyevsky's quotes:
"But today, when we are asked to contribute those results to the creation of a global
U.S. missile defense network, we will not cooperate on a project that is clearly aimed
“We are still hostages of mutual nuclear intimidation,” adding that both countries still
have a huge nuclear potential, which is unnecessary when the countries are really partners
on the international arena.
Yury Baluyevsky said that both countries have come close to a threshold, when relations
between Russia and the United States could become confrontational.
“We are on the brink of a new ‘Cold War’ if one looks closely at our [Russian-U.S.] present
day relations,” he said adding that if the situation did not change, negative tendencies in
relations between both countries will continue to develop.
“I do not rule out that at the 2008 presidential elections in the United States both
Republicans and Democrats may bring forward a thesis on the need for a Russia containment
I hate to say it, but I think I am sympathizing with the commies on this one. To have not approached the Russians earlier with this proposal only undermines their legitimacy as well as their ego, which we all know is rather large in spite of the events since the dissolution of the Soviet Empire. They have no choice but to take a stand here. I can help but think if the situation was reversed what our reaction would be.
I guess it is time to dust off those residential nuclear bunker blueprints.
Democratization: Miracle Makeover?
Current U.S. policy seems to overlook the research of scholars such as Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder who have shown that democratizing states are more likely to fight wars than non-democratizing states. In fact, approximately two-thirds of democratizing states are more likely to go to war than nations experiencing no regime change. In addition, given the ‘rentier’ nature of many Middle Eastern states, the democratization process is even more unlikely. Because most Arab nations are rich in oil, many Middle Eastern governments are not dependent upon their citizenry for financial support. As such, citizens have less motivation to hold their government accountable.
Ultimately, the current administration should reexamine their democratization efforts in the Middle East. Hopefully, the current nation building project in Iraq will not lead to additional military commitments in similar regions. In the end, democratization is not a cure-all for Middle Eastern hostilities, and the U.S. should realize that healthy international relations require constant care and management, and not a miracle makeover.
Technology in Battle...Can it go to far?
Some modern examples of unmanned technological advances include unmanned predator drones which can be made for surveillance or attack as we saw when one of these warplanes took out an alleged terrorist convoy last year. Although, not truly autonomous because a remote control was used you can help but think one day a computer will be making the decision on whether someone lives or dies. Further examples include, the Air Forces decision to not have a successor to the F-22 and instead design a unmanned plan to take its place. As we have discussed in class, most air force pilots realize their fate and know in the future they will probably be replaced with unmanned drones. By eliminating the use of human pilots, the Air Force doesn't have to continue to train cadets or continue engineering expensive systems designed to protect the crew, which all result in substantially lower costs. Also, Smaller unmanned tanks are being considered in the Army because they create less of a target for the enemy. Army engineers would be able to cut engineering costs because they wouldn't have to account for a human crew which largely accounts for the tank's size.
The most important principle thought to be behind the unmanned revolution is that the innovations will result in less military casualties. Further, the military branches are able to cut expenses considerably through less training of humans and less engineering being devoted to protective measures for the human controllers. While I feel we all believe that less casualties is a good thing, I also think about the moral and ethical dilemmas we may one day be facing. The major deterrent to going to war is commonly quantified by the number of casualties thought to be incurred. If this variable is removed, we could begin slipping into the slippery slope where political leaders no longer consider domestic casualties and thus war increases as a more viable option then it normally would have been before these innovations. Additionally, one day computers or machines may have full autonomy in deciding if a human combatant lives or dies. I can't help but realize the ethical and moral standards that will come along with these current evolution.
The Other Time Table...
Having said that, I really do not know how to best approach the issue of achieving the American people's mandate of ending the war and bringing our troops home. In my opinion, the newly elected democratic leaders knew they have to do something to retain political clout but don't want to be hand-cuffed by opposition leaders who say that they would be putting troops in danger if they fail to properly fund them, I think the term so-often used has been defeat-o-crats. The war budget sent to the President accounted for current funding to maintain, while at the same time giving the President notice that the next budget will be radically different and by then they expect most of the troops to have returned home.
The Democrats budget calls for the troop withdraw to be in full cycle by the end of the year. That is less than one year before Americans will elect a new leader, one that you can bet your house on, will not be for continuing the effort in Iraq. The President has been put on alert by the current congress that it does plan to end the war by the end of the year, could he possibly fell that another eleven months would add anything significant to that effort. In conclusion, the President may be able to veto the current legislation, but there is no veto that will extend his term.
Ehud Olmert Issues
This report came after a war that took 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israeli lives to retrieve two Israeli hostages. The war was largely paned by the media as being not worth the risk and a waste of human life. I clearly remember watching Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room, asking the same question ad nauseam “will Israel lose the propaganda battle to Hezbollah”. Now that is just a reporter who is doing his job, but Wolf Blitzer has a strong Jewish background and supporter of Israel—it is not every day you see him bashing Israel.
Anyway currently both Bush and Olmert have very low approval ratings, both men’s defense secretaries have come under fire, there have been or will be protests against their respective governments, the governments have been accused of corruption, and both seem very unwilling to change their actions (i.e. they stay the course).
This demonstrates the changing nature of war and public policy. It has always been advisable to have massive public and international support for any war a nation enters into, but in this age of 24/7 news networks it is more important than ever. Unless victory is quick in an unpopular war the leader(s) of that war are going to pay in one way or another. Bush and his allies are being hammered right now for corruption, but no Democrat would dare attack him if he had won, you just do not mess with the conquering hero; but he is losing the war and that opened the door for the Dems to bare their teeth.
I really hope that what has happened to Bush and what is happening to Olmert will be a gigantic glowing stop sign to any democracy entering into a controversial war. To me it is really bad when the “good guys” are acting worse than the “bad guys”.
Tenet and the Intellegence Community
I don’t know how many of you tuned in, but last night 60Minutes interviewed ex-CIA Director George Tenet concerning his role in everything from 9/11 to the
The question that I am concerned with is the fallout the intelligence community will suffer because of not only Tenets comments, but also in the government’s general handling of other intelligence issues. One of the most disturbing issues fleshed out in the 60 minutes interview concerned the Agent Plume leak. Tenet says that he repeated warned the White House that some statements they were making were actually false, including the idea that Hussein was seeking to import uranium from
Certainly this wasn’t the only incident in which mistakes were made about
To further complicate this matter, CNN.com posted a story concerning a letter written to Tenet from six former CIA officers. This letter further attacks Tenets tenure and even goes so far as to call it a failed leadership. These officers may be correct in their feelings toward Tenet but their actions work to discredit not only Tenet, but also the institution as a whole. How many people are going to want to work for an institution where you can be sold up the river at any point? Should he be let go for his mistakes with
Sunday, April 29, 2007
New Cold War?
Russia is striving to re-gain super-power status, through its supply of oil and natural gas. The US interfering in their former sphere of influence would put a damper on these aspirations. These aspirations may sound absurd for a country that only 15 years ago was weak and trying to reform itself, however; the evidence would claim otherwise. Russia has managed to coerce, through economic sanctions and other threats, control of much of the oil and gas in the Former Soviet States. Russia supplies much of the energy to many of its neighbors, including Europe. Putin arrested, jailed and broke up the company of one of the few men who has tried to challenge him, Khordorkovsky. His former company, Yukos oil, was one of the largest private oil companies in Russia. Now its assets are in the hands of Gazprom (Russia's national oil and gas company)and have thus increased the power of Putin and his government cronies (26% of which are former KGB).
Putin has quelled dissent in Chechnya be any and all means necessary. He is using Russia's wealth of oil and natural gas to yield increasing amounts of power in the region and potentially to re-assert Russian prominence on the global stage. This may not turn out to be much of a threat to the US. On the other hand, it might. For the US to work through the UN, they need Russian support. Germany can not do much to pressure Russia, as they are exceedingly dependent on Russia for their energy needs. And as Russia increases its production of oil, considers some type of deal with OPEC, and world energy prices remain high, the world may have to reckon, once again, with a powerful and perhaps, belligerent Russia.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Turkish Presidential Race
The issue that has everyone in Turkey up in arms is that both candidates started their political lives the same way—in the first pro-Islamic party in Turkish history, the Welfare Party, which was banned by the country’s courts after one year of existence. In addition both men’s wives wear headscarves, a very touchy issue in Turkey.
These two candidates have put the Turkish army on high alert. The army and the ruling elite view themselves as the guardians of the legacy of the reforms of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the army has not been afraid to actively protect that legacy. They have led coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 and forced a pro-Islamist prime minister from office in 1997. Seeing as how there was a massive rally in Ankara to support secularism it seems unlikely that if the army decides to intervene in the Turkish political process a significant portion of the population would not be overly offended.
The election of an Islamist president could have other far reaching consequences. For example Turkey has long wanted to be a member of the EU and has made several reforms, such as banning the death penalty, totally to please the EU. If the army does not intervene it will be interesting to see if either man does use the power of the presidency to push forward Islamist ideals and what the reaction of the EU will be. But if the army does intervene (and I am purely playing the devil's advocate here) would that be a red flag to Islamist terrorists causing Turkey to become a more attractive target?
If nothing more this issue could turn into a case study of whether secularism in the Middle East can survive without an army or other body to actively protect it. Typically cults of personality are really bad things creating demigods and pseudo-religions. In Turkey’s case however the “Cult of Ataturk” might be the only way for secularism to survive.
Must reading in this month's Armed Forces Journal
I was sympathetic to the writer due to the great risk he has taken in writing an article aimed at a whole class of officers, and superiors to boot. He understands the insight of former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, and the General's courage and duty to speak his mind about the requirements to succeed in Iraq. But I knew I liked him when he was able to quote not only J.F.C. Fuller, but also our very own Andrew Krepinevich.
One point of contention is the section where he describes the type of generals we need. He thinks so highly of his master's degree that he wants generals to hold "advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities". Acquiring any graduate degree shows a high level of determination, perseverance, and intellect. However, most military officers will spend between 25-35% of their time in service in some type of formalized schooling. The addition of eighteen months to two years of additional studies has a cost of keeping the officer away from duties with soldiers, requires moving the family, and the author provides no insight as to why those particular degrees in social sciences or humanities will enable a general officer more fit to fight an insurgency. LTC Yingling also states that "Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language." I would assume he means that proficiency of the language similar to the insurgent, as I can not see my mastery of Spanish assisting in any way my abilities to work as a competent officer in Afghanistan.
I highly suggest this article, as it gives pertinent and factual insights into the history within the Army leading up to the present Iraq War.
BUT WAIT, THAT'S NOT ALL!
In the very same issue of the Armed Forces Journal, author Ralph Peters offers his commentary on the need for "Wanted: occupation doctrine". He gives insight as to why other U.S. governmental departments are not at the forefront of assisting in the stabilization of Iraq. He contends they can not do so due to the lack of security. Mr. Peters also highlights the need of the military to educate those in Washington on military capabilities, and the presence of a doctrine on occupation would facilitate and communicate that education process.
He too points to the genius of former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shinseki and his prophetic statements on the required number of military personnel necessary to secure Iraq. He sides with distinguished Dr. Farley's assessment of the reason the administration went with a small troop presence would project high costs and a lengthy stay. But he doesn't call them the administration, rather referring to the "Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Feith-Cambone cabal."
Friday, April 27, 2007
A contrarian classmember made this argument this week. I didn't immediately recognize it; but the idea that there have been no military revolutions -- not the 6-foot yew longbow, not the Longbow helicopter, not the entire path from one to the other -- is of a piece with Kubrick's vision. In 2001, the entirety of human history is simply the evolution of technology, from a bone club to an interplanetary spacecraft. In all of human history -- which for Kubrick is identical to the history of war; the "dawn of man" is in a warlike act -- there have been no revolutionary changes.
The real revolution comes when we raise ourselves to universal consciousness, man.
Or something like that.
US allies: free riders
Following World War II Western strategists tried to fashion a global security strategy based on free trade and cooperation. In order to work, this strategy required US leadership to protect smaller states and enforce international standards. At the time, US policy makers perceived this to be consisted with US national interests. But what behaviors has this mega-role produced in US allies?
In terms of defense, US worldwide strategic partners have increasingly become free-riders. The US defense budget is roughly 4% of GDP. Contrast this with budgets of major US allies: defense spending in Canada is about 1% of GDP, in France 2.6%, in the UK 2.4%, in Germany 1.5%, and 1% in Japan. The comparative magnitude of US GDP widens these discrepancies.
One may argue that these budgets simply reflect a post-World War II proclivity in the US for military enlargement, while its allies perceive threats more realistically. A counter to this argument is China, a country which has pursued double-digit growth in its defense budget for the past several years on end. China spends around 4.3% of its GDP on defense—a higher percentage than the US—and in purchasing power parity dollars, Chinese GDP is close to 75% of US GDP. Even when allowance is made for the irrelevance of purchasing power parity analysis for some types of military goods, this is still a formidable development. The charge that Washington is hyper-sensitivity to security threats does not sufficiently explain the budget gaps.
International security is by nature a public good—many entities benefit from it, few are keen to produce it. The US has been the sine quo non Western security provider since World War II, as is reflected in defense budget comparisons with its allies. It is time for them to assume a larger role in international security.
Revisiting the Topic of Nuclear Terrorism
My intent is not to throw out a book review on our blog, but instead to extract the modern nuclear doctrine put forth by the author. DeMille does point out on the front cover that this is a book of fiction, but that his ideas were conceived from internet conspiracy theories. Of course, most conspiracy theories stink in my opinion, but this one actually perplexed me. Though this book is much longer than necessary, and full of some characters that can turn you off, it contains interesting material relevant for discussion amongst our bloggers (I do realize it is the end of the term, and therefore many won’t read this, let alone care to respond).
In Chris Quillen’s article, “Posse Comitatus and Nuclear Terrorism”, he warns that nuclear terrorism on the American population is not only possible, but also a reality that we should be prepared to handle. I remember the article well, as I focused my class memo for that week on the Posse Comitatus side of this argument. I did this because I immediately ruled out the option of second strike or retaliation for nuclear terrorism. How would we determine where the terrorist cell responsible was located? If we could, how would we prevent the deaths of many innocent civilians in the retaliatory attack? Nelson DeMille and the internet conspiracy theorists certainly do not rule out a counterstrike. (Please don’t forget that I realize this is a book of fiction!)
To break it down, the characters in this book: high level members of our government, military, and corporate structure, play a role in the development of nuclear doctrine frighteningly similar to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). They call this plan “Wild Fire.” Essentially, if there is a nuclear attack on American soil and we are unable to determine its origins, we would immediately assume that it is the doing of Islamic radical terrorists. The response, independent of the size and destruction of the terrorist attack goes down like this. If the President himself does not turn off the retaliation within thirty minutes of the initial attack, the process for launch begins, with missiles in the air no later than one hour after the terrorist attack. There is no congressional vote and no debate on the issue. Only the President himself wields the power to turn it off, and he must have confirmation that someone outside of the Islamic world is responsible. In essence, the counterattack is a knee-jerk reaction without regard whom is the responsible nation. You might ask, what would the target be? Depending on the size and destruction of the attack on one of our cities, we would either hit list A or list B. List A contains around sixty Muslim-populated cities; list B extends this to a total of 120 cities. Certain Islamic cities would survive, for history’s sake, while the Islamic cities that are also tied to Christianity and Judaism would survive, with the idea that those Muslims left in the city would soon be expelled. In other words, the message to leaders of the Islamic world would sound like this, “ (Islamic nation X), if we are struck by a nuclear attack that we believe originated from Islamic terrorists, your centers of population will be wholly destroyed, and your existence as a religion and culture will be wiped off of the face of the earth.”
Wow, really. That is pure evil on our part, at least when viewed from the religious genocide perspective. But, if the basis of this plan was to deter Islamic nations from funding or knowingly allowing Islamic-sponsored terrorist groups to develop and use nuclear weapons, would it differ greatly from the purpose and end-state of MAD. Being that a modern 10-kiloton nuclear weapon could fit in a vehicle trunk, or possibly a suitcase, the threat of nuclear terrorism is real. The end result of a weapon that size could be 200,000 American casualties on the low end, and 450,000 on the high end in a metropolitan area. So, our retaliation would be much more devastating than the first attack, unless the terrorist attack happened in unison across the nation. Even still, if the leaders of Islamic nations were made aware of the plan, which one has to presume they would be for it to be effective; couldn’t it serve as a realistic threat to deter nuclear terrorism?
By the way, this novel is set one year after 9/11, when tensions are still soaring. The conspiracy unfolds as “wackos” looking to settle the score select two American cities and initiate the attack themselves, unleashing unspeakable hell on not only their own citizens, but the majority of the Muslim world. It may be worth your time, and then again, it may be rubbish when you consider all of the other good books that might actually benefit you.
Price for Chinese " Go-Out" Policy
With more chinese companies' " going-out" to Africa, chinese investment and involvement in Africa can not be simply defined as business-to-business cooperation as Chinese government asserts and expects.
First, Dafur is a good example. Huge oil benefit makes chinese ambivalent over the UN resolution on Sudan. This time, the Oganden National Liberation Front protested against Ethoipian government by attacking chinese company, which is ostensibly well functioned since its 10-year-operation outside China. By doing so, Oganden National Liberation Front can reach its aim " effectively", because as early as the beginning of this year, this organization declared "untolerence towards any foreign investment which is profitable for Ethiopian government." So we can clearly see the chinese capital's influence over politics in Africa in an indrect way. Besides, there is a new voice in African countries that Chinese is practicing new colonization, although Chairman Hu and new foreign minister Yang reject it confirmedly.
As a country led by Marxism, China deems " capita" is the root of all evil causing exploitation and colonization. What is intersting is Robert J. Barro affirms that China is the most capitalist country in the world. No matter whether China is communist, capitalist, or socialist, chinese " go-out" will face challege and there is a serious warning that " capital" in Africa will take " new colonization".
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Bring Them Back
In response to both internal and external pressures, Manmohan Singh has commissioned a committee of experts to analyze redeployment and reevaluate the Special Powers Act, which some critics suggest provides ‘legal cover’ for the Indian army’s abuses. These abuses, which include the execution of innocent civilians, are yet another reason why the Indian troops should leave Kashmir. According to the recent report in the Economist, the withdrawal of the army would widely be seen, “not as the removal of a protective shield, but as the lifting of an oppressive curse.”
Perhaps most importantly, if India withdrawals their troops from Kashmir, it will most likely lead to improved relations with Pakistan. As Shaukat Aziz has recently stated, the settlement in Kashmir is “the cornerstone of sustainable, expanded relationship.” As such, it is encouraging that Singh has not ruled out the possibility of demilitarization, but let’s hope that a workable solution is not lost in cumbersome committee meetings.
The War Budget
Typically when budgets are in question the issue is the domestic direction of national spending…how much money does New Orleans get, what Congressmen’s district gets the most farm subsidies, etc. are the matters of debate. This was the case during the Clinton years when government shutdown, but this year the donnybrook is about, as are most things nowadays, the war in Iraq.
The House Democrats sponsored a bill that, among other things, would allocate 124.2 billion dollars to the war, but also stipulated that if the Iraqi government does not meet some Presidential standards by October US troop withdrawals could start that month. The bill also included a nonbinding “goal” of completing troop withdrawal by April 1, 2008 with only non-combat forces remaining. In the late hours Wednesday (4/25/07) this bill narrowly passed the House (218-208), and is expected to pass the Senate Thursday (4/26/07).
Two Republicans voted for the bill and eight Democrats voted against it. I thought that was a bit off, and got on the phone with several of my political guru friends who also thought that many Democrats crossing party lines was weird, some of who are very liberal. Within in thirty minutes one of them got back to me and here is the salient part of his email:
“It didn't dawn on me until I noticed that Lewis of Georgia was one of them. Lewis of Georgia is an African-American who doesn't like the war at all. Lynn Woolsey represents part of Marin County, California, and is also very liberal. Kucinich just introduced articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. Barbara Lee is in this category too.
My point is that on first impression you would assume that those who voted with the Republicans were "blue dog Democrats" and some of them may have been. The fact is that a fair number were attempting to kill ANY appropriations bill and thus would have ended the war immediately. These would have still been "no" votes regardless of what the bill contained.”
Bush has stated that he will vote the bill, and as the House does not have the two-thirds majority to over-ride the veto, the bill is nothing more than a very loud statement to the President that Congress does not like the war.
I am a Republican and I hate how “my party” has been hijacked by religious extremists and corporate giants in some form of unholy political alliance. I also detest George Bush, Dick Chaney, and Karl Rove for they way they got into the White House and for getting America into this war.
With all that being said I have to admit this time Bush is making the correct call. Even if the withdrawal date is non-binding, thinking about getting out of Iraq next April is far too soon. The insurgents are not stupid people. The moment troop levels begin to drop attacks will increase and Iraq (Baghdad) will become a true war zone. That is why I begrudgingly agree with the Presidents decision to veto. Unfortunately America needs to be in Iraq for the long haul.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Lessons from Haditha?
A recent story on NPR helps to explain that question. A camp has been set up in the California desert where Marines now train for combat. Not only does the village look like a typical Iraqi village with a marketplace and houses but the Marines are now training with something they previously lacked...People in the village. About 500 Iraqis currently work in the simulation as "Iraqi villagers" and go about daily business as they would in Iraq. When the Marines were shot upon in the simulation, they had to figure out what house the shooting was coming from amid the confusion of the "Iraqi villagers". One Marine, preparing for his second tour of duty said that the simulation was immensely helpful, as the first time he had been in Iraq, no one had prepared him for fighting between/around civilians.
In addition to the people in the simulation, there is now training that stresses manners regarding Islamic sensibilities and that winning friends is job number one. As a commander training at the simulation explained, if we shoot an enemy, we learn nothing, if we capture him, we may learn something from him, but if we befriend him, we may turn him and have one less insurgent to fight. This may seem obvious, but until recently no one wanted to admit, or train for, an insurgency, asymmetric war. It appears that the Marines are now trying to instill in their men, as all the forces are, that "just fighting" is not enough. They must try to understand and be-friend the "enemy" if they wish to win.
So while I find it tragic for the families in Afghanistan and can not even begin to understand their pain, I find it trite to ask if the Marines learned a lesson from Haditha. Unfortunately, this is war, people do die, even innocents. And while it is right to question why the Marines fired upon the civilians, until we are in a Humvee, sleep-deprived, home-sick and being shot at, I think it is ridiculous to even ask such a question.
A fine line...
(Sorry for a response in a new post form, but this is a little too lengthy for the comment section. This is a continuing response to comments posted on my original post of Defense Statecraft: Walking that fine line of deterrence, for those interested)
Let me first say that I stand corrected on stating that Ahmadinejad is recognized as the head of the Iranian state. You are correct in stating that it is in fact Khamenei who represents the head of state of
I will say that I have read the Iranian constitution from 1979 and its subsequent expansion in 1989 – which expanded the presidential powers as I am sure you know - and I agree that many more should read it so as to allow for a better understanding of the functioning of the Iranian government but also the Iranian culture. But enough of this agreeing; let us get to the more entertaining subject of how you are wrong.
First, let me point out that your opening paragraph has switched the sides of deterrence inappropriately. You state that “this means they are trying to deter an individual and his agenda rather than deterring an ideological foundation and a whole system of government, which is considerably harder.” This is incorrect. The
Second, while I agree that Ahmadinejad is under Kham in the structure of the state, the Iranian constitution under the Executive Branch section states that the executive branch is is of the utmost importance to the "implementing of laws and ordinances of Islam for the sake of establishing the rule of just relations over society, and considering, too, its vital role in paving the way for the attainment of the ultimate goal of life, the executive power must work toward the creation of an Islamic society." This places a large burden and importance on the executive branch of which the Ahmadinejad is the topmost figure.
Later on in the constitution under Article 60 you find the support to my previous statement as it states,“The functions of the executive, except in the matters that are directly placed under the jurisdiction of the Leadership by the Constitution, are to be exercised by the President and the Ministers.” This confirms my previous statement on the functioning of the executive branch.
Lastly, you will find under Article 176 the following: “In order to safeguarding the national interests and preserving the Islamic Revolution, the territorial integrity, and the national sovereignty, a Supreme Council for National Security
All of these articles support the fact that Ahmadinejad is a creadible leader of the Iranian state and his statements and actions must be taken seriously regardless of whether or not he is the absolute head of the state, especially in acts of war/defense. It is not that I am applying a western view of the world incorrectly as you stated, but simply that Ahmadinejad is a leader of the Iranian state and his views reflect the state itself even if he isn’t the Supreme Leader. Furthermore, in a speech given on March 21st of this year Khamenei stated that, “"
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Walking that fine line of deterrence
Today CNN.com posted a story concerning comments made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he stated “
Reviewing both deterrence and hegemonic power theories should paint a clear picture of the effect of this statement on both
It is clear that Ahmadinejad is trying to create the perception that no matter who chooses to go to war with
Hegemonic powers theory rests on the idea that the hegemonic state in a unipolar system exists because it can enforce its will upon the rest of the system. More specifically, Kindleberger (1981), defines this term as when a “country, firm, or person dominated another when the other had to take account of what the first entity did, but the first could equally ignore the second”. For a hegemonic system to remain stable the hegemonic state must be able to act in a manner where they do not concern themselves with the actions of others, as long as those actions are not direct threats to the hegemonic power itself.
In this, we see Iran acting in a deterrence fashion, but at the same time taking it to a point that could theoretically threaten the United States’ position in the international system. By continually issuing threats and showing no fear to the hegemonic power,
Ahmadinejad has clearly operated in a deterrence fashion and done so successfully in the past. The best example of this is the handling of the British soldiers by the Iranians. First, they took the soldiers showing that they were not to be crossed, and they were willing to do whatever was necessary to defend their sovereignty. Second, they allowed no representatives from
Mr. Bush, This Isn't Your Personal Checkbook
The most recent emergency supplement request was for the amount off $99.7 billion, bringing total military spending up to $632 billion for FY 2007. The previous congress had already earmarked a record $462 billion baseline funding initially for the defense budget, the difference in the two amounts being the sum of "emergency funding" received as the President "sees fit." Again, these funds are not subject to any of the scrutiny or congressional floor debates of normal budgetary expenditures, instead only a unilateral, discretionary decision by the President.
An example in the current supplement request is listed as $1.2 billion for Air Force "basic research" and another $3.9 billion for the acquisition of more advanced, high performance fighters. Given that we find ourselves entrenched in a counter-insurgency effort, which mitigates the role of the Air Force, should our leaders consider the previous expenditures an "emergency" and not subject them to the scrutinies of the normal budgetary process? I can't help to think how the $1.2 billion requested by the Air Force for "basic research", might serve the people in the ninth world of New Orleans still without a home. At the very least, these questions should be brought open to debate and not unilateral decision making.
The war has far exceeded the emergency stage and the practice of funding it through these emergency supplemental requests should cease. Stephen Biddle argues, "It is disingenuous of the administration to claim we have no idea what Iraq needs will be and so we can’t budget for them.” Congress must work hard to eliminate these practices. According to experts, the democratically led congress has already made their presence felt or the most recent $99.7 billion request could have reach the $150 billion mark.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Check Point in Iraq
It was brought up that it is easier for Iraqi citizens to affiliate with insurgents with the same skin color than American soldiers. Obviously, the ideologies don't mix well, but are we really so different as this video depicts. Do our soldiers really behave this way, and if so, how do they expect to win?
I would make the assumption that this is a depiction of a small cross-section of our force that lacks respect for other cultures and harbors racism deep within. The Army pushes institutional values from the day a soldier enlists. The Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. If each soldioer understands, or is at least eductated, that Respect is due not only to one another in uniform, but also to those that they serve, and those that they fight against, then this video poorly describes, as most media outlets, the actions and behavior of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our troops must be better trained to deal with the Iraqi people than this, or our news would be even more cluttered with stories of American atrocities in Iraq.
I am certain that soldiers must be stern and suspicious when running these dangerous traffic control points in Iraq. After all, checkpoints can't all be as comfortable as this one...
Sunday, April 15, 2007
What does North Korea Want to Do?
1) Shut down and seal for the purposes of eventual abandonment the Yongbyon nuclear facility; 2) Invite back the IAEA to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications;
3) Discuss with the other parties a list of all its nuclear programs, including plutonium extracted from used fuel rods, that would be abandoned pursuant to the Joint Statement.
But now after receiving its 25 million dollars and 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, it didn't fulfill its commitments. Inside the Bush administration, hawks are attacking pigeons' policy. On the negotiation table China, Japan and South Korea asked the US to be patient. However, if the other parties fail to persuade North Korea fulfill its commitment, the US role in the six-party talk and policy on the issue will have a 180-degree change. I don't mean that there will be a war, but that there will be stalemate.
As the frozen money was released, the US doesn't have much leverage. The leverages to push Kim Jong-il are now owned by China and South Korea. However, as I see it, even for the latter parties, the effectiveness is limited. North Korea now has everything it needs to survive this year. It recently received its money, energy and 400,000 tons of food from South Korea. Kim Jong-il can guarantee the society not to get worse in the near future and the safty of its regime. If he needs aid, what he needs to do is to resume the dialogue or make some "promises". Secondly, Kim Jong-il perceives that it will be safe for him to test the bottom line. Becasue of the issues in the Middle East and the North Korea nuclear test, the US has been softening its stand point on the table; China opposes regime change in North Korea due to the concern of potential refugee wave; South Korea will continue offering food aid and oppose violent change for the relations with North Korean brothers.
I think North Korea's strategy is to linger as long as possible. The advantages are: it can keep on its nuclear and missile programs and wait for more advanced weapons; it can keep regime stable and gain by making advantage of the softness of the US policy and the unwillingness of China and South Korea to exert violent internevtion; it can wait for the leader change and policy change in 2008 US presidential election (Based on the current situation, it will be unlikely that US domestic politics will agree on another war). Thus, I think there won't be material progress in the rest of 2007. The turning point may be when North Korea need more aid and when the new US president is elected.
Safire’s choice found its genesis in the following investigation:
The F.B.I. found a Pentagon analyst who had foolishly taken home papers and — by threatening him with prosecution — induced the analyst to type a supposedly classified document about policy toward Iran and fax a “leak” of it to two staff members he knew in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. F.B.I. agents then wired him for sound and further drew the unsuspecting targets — whose jobs were to stay in touch with analysts and known journalists — into the trap.
The Pentagon analyst pleaded guilty to keeping classified documents at home, for which big shots draw a fine. He is trying to reduce his 12-year sentence by testifying in June, as Rabinowitz reported, in “the first ever attempt by government prosecutors to convict private citizens under the 1919 Espionage Act.” That F.B.I. bell tolls for thee and me.
Here is the headline in the Journal that Rob Pollock, who grasped the universal civil-libertarian point of her article, put across the top of the page: “First They Came for the Jews.”
Safire then quotes Martin Niemoller’s oft-heard refrain, “First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew…” The supposed link between an FBI investigation and the policies of the Third Reich is among the baldest manipulations I’ve heard in years: in its investigation of AIPAC, the FBI might as well start handing out gold-colored patches because the federal government is but a few steps away from its final solution. This shameful display of anti-Americanism is not just a lie—it’s a lie with a purpose.
Safire’s phrasing suggests that it’s only natural for AIPAC employees “to stay in touch with analysts;” as if facilitating espionage is as ordinary as stuffing envelopes for a political action committee. What is the proper term for an organization dedicated to supporting a nation with information gained both overtly and covertly, which also engages in media events intended to manipulate a population at the gain of the organization’s benefactor, and which attempts to isolate and marginalize any who would harm the organization’s interests? This sounds like an intelligence service, official or otherwise.
The AIPAC employee to whom the Pentagon analyst disclosed classified information called two people: a member of the Israeli delegation to America and the Washington Post. The first is an obvious choice but the second raises questions: is it in the best interest of the State of Israel that the Post report an impending Iranian attack? How does Israel or AIPAC benefit from a sensational article about a threatened Israel? Rabinovitz, the author of the article Safire addressed, said the leaker was “Hoping to raise the alarm about the imperiled Americans and Israelis” which is all the more curious since each nation has channels legally permitted to transmit information to one another. But that’s not what AIPAC wants; they want a tighter relationship than the government is offering and are willing to build that relationship unofficially through the federal bureaucracy. As such, part of what AIPAC is dedicated to is not just illegal, it is unconstitutional and astonishingly un-American.
I’ve long resisted the thesis of “The Israel Lobby.” I was wrong. The article’s claims were extraordinary and I consequently required exceptional proof; I demanded documentation of an instance when American lobbyists told the federal government that the national security interests of Israel should be placed above those of the US, that protecting Israel is more important than protecting America. This is the smoking gun.
But it does not entirely vindicate Mearsheimer and Walt who go too far. With sincerity, I don’t know to what extent the State of Israel passively or actively supports these lobbyists. But, since AIPAC has actually taken to mimicking their accuser’s terms by calling themselves “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” it can be assumed that AIPAC believes they are untouchable politically.
AIPAC’s interests are not always in America’s best interests: ownership of Jerusalem (which should be totally irrelevant to Americans), stopping Iran’s nuclear programs, tying Israeli and American homeland security efforts, and the enormous military aid we offer year after year ($2.4 billion this year). AIPAC, as it is legally entitled, lobbies Congress and the President for the policies it advocates. But shouldn’t its supporters know that AIPAC is using backdoor methods to achieve goals that are not usually consistent with American interests?
AIPAC’s site reads “For more than half a century, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has worked to help make Israel more secure by ensuring that American support remains strong.” This is a fundamentally anti-American view; it doesn't say anything about 'so long as it does not hurt American interests' or anything like it. Taken in concert with this Pentagon analyst case, I am obliged to conclude that AIPAC is willing to sacrifice American secrets for its own ends. Enough. Striving to help Israel is a respectable mission, but an American citizen cannot place the avowed goals of another country (friend or foe) above his own, especially if they compromise his own country’s security.
I hope the public airing of AIPAC’s laundry will awaken American indignation and disintegrate AIPAC’s viability as an organization. I hope the FBI will continue ruthlessly hunting down leakers who plague the Intelligence Community. Most of all, I hope Americans realize that their safety is their own; leaking secrets and playing both sides are not only bad ideas—they’re anti-American.
Friday, April 13, 2007
QDR Strategic Crossroads
The 2006 QDR actually lists four main priorities: “Defending the homeland in depth”—always a sound policy; “Defeating terrorist networks” and “Preventing hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring or using WMD”—less clear, less compact goals, but still commendable; “Shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads”—now wait a minute.
The other three priorities unambiguously refer to actors that have malice-afore-thought against the US, or who hope to benefit or exert themselves through violence. But the “strategic crossroads” concept is vague and gives a considerable, perhaps concerning latitude of responsibility to the Defense Department.
First, while the other three priorities deal with weapons and warfighting, the phrase “strategic crossroads” can apply to a broad spectrum of issues, suggesting prerogatives beyond a purely defensive mandate. Instead of being that “other means” for the implementation of policy, the Department appears to be assuming a right of way in US foreign policy. If so, this is hardly a model for other countries, especially ones at critical junctures.
Leaving the definition of strategic crossroads aside, there is the question of how the Department plans to respond to them. Foreign governments are no doubt a bit curious on this point. Fortunately—or unfortunately—the QRD gives them an indication of what it has in mind: “Many countries in the Middle East find themselves at strategic crossroads.” The QDR’s offers high-profile examples of such cases, of democracy “emerging in Iraq” and freedom “taking root in Lebanon.” What is not clear, and what many leaders of strategically crossroading countries in the Middle East and elsewhere may wish to know, is what “shaping” techniques the Department will choose to apply, and where it will choose to apply them. For a country like China, the QDR is explicity accommodating and co-optive in its crossroads approach, but less formidable nations in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Latin America are left to imagine.
This post is not to suggest the Department is unscrupulously seeking to overreach its responsibilities, but merely to discuss the wisdom of the 2006 QDR’s strategic crossroads mandate. It is not a duty naturally located within the Defense Department, and other countries may well be uncomfortable with its implications.
Thomas Crowne: Liberal Mush-Head
Thomas Crowne (and I do hope you have the good taste to at least be the Steve McQueen version and not that limey sissy from Remington Steele), I’m not going touch on this nonsense about “a woman's prerogative to change her mind.” Suffice to say: dude, I’ll bet you’re a dude.
Let’s see what other things you’re doing that I find bothersome. Well, there’s “However, I am not an idiot,”—let me assure you TC, that remains to be seen. Also, while quoting Scalia is not actually pulling something out of your ass, it is probably the next best thing. Scalia also said, “I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged,” which I bet you and the rest of your free-love buddies are in to--- I know, I know: you’re just trying to ‘experience everything you can’ before getting that Master’s in Ceramics and settling down in upstate Vermont.
As for your quote from “The American President,” it’s curious that you choose a selection from Martin Sheen, and a crappy one at that. Sheen, who spends his free time getting arrested in Nevada with other ‘Peace Walkers’ (I swear that’s what they call themselves) must be a good friend of yours, eh TC? Well, while you find a way to get the patchouli stains out of your Grateful Dead poncho, the grownups are going to discuss policy.
On to the meat of your question: “Again, do you think it only right to bear arms when in a state militia?” No, but if you knew how to read anything other than Noam Chomsky books—don’t they just freak out the ‘squares’?—you’d know that the actual phrasing is “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Now, since I’m sure you skipped most of 8th grade English to commune with the trees, let me explain that everything before the comma is dicta—it offers a bit of insight on what follows while keeping the second half controlling. Hence: “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is the important part of the sentence. It could just as easily have been phrased, “Lilith Fair being a totally sweet place to meet earthy-crunchy girls, the right of the People…” Isn’t grammar fun?
In closing, (and I’m sure by now you’re putting on swim trunks to wade through Walden Pond—g*d you sicken me) you’ve said almost nothing and it’s taken me four paragraphs to determine that. This bodes poorly for my analytical abilities but --hey—at least I’m trying, and that's more than I can say for you.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
CLEAR, SEIZE AND HOLD = INCREASED TROOP STRENGTHS
Much has been made recently of learning how to defeat an insurgency: from David Kilcullen's checklist to the newest manual written by the Army and Marine Corps brain trust specifically on this issue.
Long before FM 3-24 and Kilcullen's "Twenty-Eight Articles", counterinsurgency theorists knew that it would always be essential to clear a population base of insurgents, seize key areas in order to allow governance to gain a foothold, and hold the area in order to prevent insurgents from reoccupying, thereby destroying efforts underway to establish security and basic services.
We have already witnessed a failure to do this on several occasions in Iraq. Why is it that one month we hear of a "successful operation" in a city like Fallujah, Ramadi, or Tal Afar, but yet within six months, that same location is again in the news, for the wrong reasons?
Let me examine one of the more isolated of these: Tal Afar. This was an area publicly claimed by Zarqawi himself as so essential to the insurgency that it would be fought for until the last man. In 2004, insurgents controlled the city. The city's population dwindled from more than 200 thousand to less than 25 thousand. The most basic need of all was lost…security. Brutal masked men armed with AK-47s and RPGs had replaced any semblance of law enforcement, and the US force in place was insufficient to change the course of events. Tal Afar was a feeder for Zarqawi's insurgency, moving terrorists with ease from Syria into Mosul and Baghdad. Tal Afar was the perfect place for Zarqawi's support base. The mixed population of Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Turkmen, and Yezidi made it easy for an out-of-towner to fit in, especially when the innocent voices were being oppressed by Zarqawi's "Lions of Tal Afar".
In September and October of 2005, the US Army conducted an extremely effective operation in Tal Afar, Iraq. The insurgency was crushed in an operation that lasted less than two weeks and spared civilian losses. Less than one month after the operation successful elections were help for the Constitutional Referendum. Two months later, the city again held peaceful elections, with a voter turnout above 80%. In March 2006, President Bush said, “The example of Tal Afar gives me confidence in our strategy." Signs of success, right?
In March 2006, the lead element in that successful operation, and the subsequent security of the area, conducted a Transfer of Authority to a smaller force (3d ACR to a BCT of the 1st AD). This made sense, as the Iraqi Security Forces had proven themselves in the joint operation in September, and had been securing the city for nearly five months. Unfortunately, the situation in Tal Afar deteriorated drastically over the next year. In March of 2007, Tal Afar again headlined in the news, as bombs and reprisal killings claimed more than 120 lives in two days. Why did this success return to the side of failure. Did we place to much faith in the Iraqi Security Forces? Did we underestimate the roots of the insurgency? Did we misplace our forces in order to reach these same successes elsewhere? I personally lean towards this last point.
It seems as if we could only HOLD for so long. With Baghdad filling the news everyday, and the idea of increasing the number of troops abroad seeming ridiculous to most Americans and their democratically elected leaders, a shift of current forces in theater was the only available option to react to the flood of violence in Baghdad. We were forced to adopt a "lets cross our fingers and hope other areas don't go to hell in a hand basket" philosophy.
We cannot afford to allow digressions like Tal Afar to happen often, or really at all. We will never reach Secretary Rice's vision of Clear, Hold, and Build, if we can't HOLD. In order to successfully do this, we must increase troop strengths in Iraq for the unforeseeable future. President Bush has seen fit to do this. He has done so not because he is a maverick, but instead because he has been advised to do so by the likes of Kilcullen, General Petraeus, and Colonel H.R. McMaster (commander of the 3d ACR who was responsible for the success in Tal Afar 2005.) The recommendation comes from the right spot…it should be supported and sustained for as long as it is required.
--Found these as I was wrapping up--
"Daddy, are we liberated yet?"
Who Needs Close Air Support?
What if he owned them all, or only had to negotiate his own chain of command to request them? I would argue that not only would his life be easier, but also, the confusion for the pilot in the cockpit and the soldier in the foxhole would be reduced. They would be brothers, sharing institutional values, goals, and mission objectives.
Would it work if the Army owned CAS? Why wouldn't it? The Army currently owns, operates, maintains, and integrates more than 1,000 attack and scout helicopters alone. To do this, they must be more than capable of sustaining a fleet, deconflicting airspace, and most importantly, integrating them on the battlefield. Army leaders are trained at the platoon level on managing and integrating air assets into their missions, and they are competent and effective at doing so. Why is it that not only must all requests for CAS survive the enduring process above, but that they must also be managed by a "blue-suiter" pushed down to the Army battalion level.
If the air over our maneuver forces looks like this now… wouldn't it look more organized if the orders and coordination were all coming from the same command.
I am not making the argument that the Air Force is irrelevant. Most certainly, we must have a branch of our military that wholeheartedly embraces technology, controls nuclear assets, secures air superiority, and performs missions such as strategic bombing and high altitude reconnaissance. Plus, they sure do a great job of training future commercial airline pilots.
In the end, it makes sense to me that we would put the control and command over Close Air Support assets in the hands of the end-user. This is not a new argument, as the Army has begged for the A-10 in years past when the Air Force was prepared to abandon the airframe. Maybe it is an argument that needs revisited.
Friendship Sure is Hard to Come By
Should the Army and the Marine Corps be friends? This is the question Allan Millett entertains in his entertaining article, "Why the Army and the Marine Corps Should be Friends". Though it is the question he asks, as I analyzed it, all I could see were the reasons that he feels they should never engage in friendship. Sure, he makes some arguments demonstrating the advantage of an Army that does nothing but listen to the infinite wisdom exuding from the United States Marine Corps. (Lets not forget that the Marines, as smart as he makes them sound, continue to enlist with the hopes of slaying that dragon in the commercials….I do love those ads.) Back to the point…how angry is he with the Army, and what did they really do to deserve his anger.
If I took a poll of Army officers, I seriously doubt I would find any that "fear that the Army exists only to make the Marine Corps look better to the public and to Congress." Yet Millett would have us believe this is a widespread belief of the vast majority of the Army officer corp. Sure, Army officers most likely begrudge Marines because their most junior enlisted look better in the Marine dress uniform than an Army General in his, but really, I'm sure they can get past that.
It seems as if Dr. / Col. Millett may be the one harboring the grudges. He seems to play Monday Morning Quarterback on many missions throughout history. He brings to light issues such as switching to the M-16 in the middle of Vietnam, or in his words, " a shooting war". I ask, is there a better time to introduce a superior weapon into the force? He argues that the Army is "jealous" of Marine Corps aviation. I'd venture to bet that they are. Why wouldn't they be? The Marines have theirs; the Air Force has the Army's. With that being said, I'm sure when the Army goes to Congress pleading for fixed wing assets, their intent is only to use the USMC as an example of success in order that they may eventually be cut a slice of the Air Force juggernaut.
His approach to the argument just seems way off base. Of course, the Army and the USMC should be friends, great friends even. I don’t think that pointing out the missteps throughout history is the way to get there. Likewise, presenting an argument over who should have commanded at what point throughout history doesn’t do us any good.
Maybe the friendship is being dusted off in the sands of Iraq. In 2004, the USMC assumed control over the insurgent hotbed of the Al Anbar province in Iraq. This was not a small feat for the Corps, as they were abnormally pushed inland, away from the support of their host fleet, and into the middle of a land-locked desert. Their typical maritime mission was being replaced with a long-duration fight. Who supported them while they learned how to logistically support such an operation. Why their friends did, the US Army. Who continues to support their operations today, the US Army. Let the friendship prosper. Hopefully, this combined effort, whether in success of failure, will not be held over the heads of the Army and the Corps by the next generation of officers in the same manner that some do today.
Why Perpetuate This?
You may be right that this money is well deserved ant they should take the money and run like a bandit. However, why should they have the right to receive when others do not. Often soldiers are wounded, captured, tortured, put in front of television cameras, and made to do horrible things; these soldiers do not receive one penny. What makes these fifteen so special. Because they were caught up in an incident that had less to do with them, then with the Iranian issue and the rest of the world.
I agree, these soldiers went through a lot. But if you start giving these soldiers money due to their unfortunate situation, then you should give every soldier their fair share for their situation. This does not make them special. What about the crewmen aboard the US spy plane that made an emergency landing in China, did they receive anything?
Unfortunately there are situations, such as these captured fifteen soldiers that the attention of the world. The rescue of PFC Jessica lynch made headlines world wide, why; because she was a female captured in a combat zone?
This is unfortunately the dilemma that we run into, not so normal situations occur that brings about the worlds attention. Lynch is one issue, the captured British soldiers is another. But this just shows every other soldier that had been through a major ordeal of their own that it is not important, as serious, nor does it compare to these other situation. Why should we perpetuate this? Why tell all these brave soldiers that what they went through does not earn them one more penny of pay, when these others are getting rich over their headlined ordeal?
Now Hiring: SCAPEGOAT, Thick Skin a Must!
Logic behind this move seems to make sense. It almost resembles a Gold-Water Nichols approach to coordinating inter-agency operations throughout departments of the government, which is quite obviously needed with the past flailing of US bureaucratic resources over the past six years at complex, multidimensional, operations worldwide. Having a center point in Washington that synchronizes departments and reports directly to the president seems, in bureaucratic theory, to make sense.
But here is the fly in the ointment…why have we waited this long to implement such a mechanism? The National Security Council, in a timid way, has long served this function. Why are we hiring a new official to do a NSC task? Better yet, why have we waited to do it? It seems like Mr. Hadley should have identified that the NSC is inefficient in dealing with the problem and a point man appointed earlier. To wait this long reflects poorly on him and begs a new question.
Is the administration looking for the next scapegoat? Department of Defense Service Secretaries have served the Pentagon well as convenient scapegoats since 1986, why shouldn’t the NSC have one as well? Lacking the legislative mandate to coordinate interagency efforts and having few resources themselves, the new point man will likely be empowered to fail…but will accomplish his true mission….take the blame.
Mr Valla, the all knowing.
First off, you call me out on changing my arguments; just know that it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind. I can argue for us to restrict those rights that we enjoy so much till I turn blue. It will do no good.
"You don't fight the fights you can win, you fight the fights that need fighting!"
---The American President
I agree with this statement, that is why I have been so adamant in what I have been saying.
However, I am not an idiot, I know that my argument will fall on deaf ears, such as your own. Might as well argue for what I can get. If you want a mile, an inch is better than nothing. It may look like flip-flopping to you sir, but it is changing focus. Focusing on the possible, not the impossible.
The statement "living document" was borrowed from Justice Scalia, I was not pulling it out of my ass, as you indirectly suggest.
The document was written by a committee; I yield to you on that. However, even committees have intentions and meanings in what they produce. You ask me "is there a particular reason you think yourself able to divine the thoughts and motivations of centuries-dead politicians", well I can ask you the same thing. How do you know that they did not leave the document open to interpretation? Again, do you think it only right to bear arms when in a state militia?
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
In Response to Checkbook Heroism
I stopped and thought about this post for a couple days before sitting down and putting my thoughts on paper. I wondered what I would do in that situation, or more likely what I would like to hope I would do. Would I be able to turn down money that would undoubtedly help me and my family and do the honorable thing? Could I just do my “damn job” and be done with it. I’m not sure, but I’m surely not one to condemn someone that does take that money.
I agree that in a perfect world heroism, pride, and honor would be the driving force behind all acts; however, this world is far from perfect. To argue that it is or that it should be is both a waste of time and self indulgent. The fact of the matter is, service men and women do a job few want and they do it at pay that is almost insulting. A majority of armed servicemen come from the middle and sometimes lower socioeconomic families. Most online organizations show
These figures are amazing to me. People who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect our freedoms deserve more than a paltry wage. To make it worse, people get mad at them when they wish to make money on something that their armed branch gives them permission to do. They were heroes simply by signing up, as are all members of the services in my opinion; making money off stories the government has granted them permission to sell doesn’t change that fact. It would be one thing to be upset had they sold these stories without the approval of the British Navy, but that just isn’t the case. The proper channels were used, and permission was granted; how then can you expect them not to take money for their stories? In a world where a man who can place a ball through a hoop can make millions, I find it saddening that anyone could possibly condemn or disparage a service man or woman who does something sanctioned by his or her own country to make money they deserved in the first place.