Posts tagged ‘military’

June 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince

“Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple. It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines,” –Sgt. Maj. Michael Barrett, the top non-commissioned officer of the Marine Corps, on the repeal of DADT.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

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June 11, 2011

Global Military Spending in one graph

by Vince

The Economist captions:

ON JUNE 8th China’s top military brass confirmed that the

country’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbishment of an old Russian carrier, will be ready shortly. Only a handful of nations operate

carriers, which are costly to build and maintain. Indeed, Britain has recently decommissioned its sole carrier because of budget pressures. China’s defence spending has risen by nearly 200% since

2001 to reach an estimated $119 billion in 2010—though it has remained fairly constant in terms of its share of GDP. America’s own budget crisis is prompting tough discussions about its defence spending, which, at nearly $700 billion, is bigger than that of the next 17 countries combined.

 

 

May 25, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by Vince

Some other commandments you could add:

  1. Tho shalt increase the military budget.
  2. Tho shalt protect the fetus but refuse to provide a safety net during the rest of it’s life.
May 11, 2011

Civilian Deaths vs. Military Deaths

by Vince

This also includes costs of war (hat tip to Sojourners):

  • Financial: The U.S. is spending more than $100 billion per year in Afghanistan
  • Human: 1,570 Americans killed, more than 10,000 wounded
  • More than 10,000 civilian Afghan deaths, 3,000 in 2010 alone.

Innocent civilians / bystanders are almost the invisible warriors in this war and many others of yore. They are forgotten in our news cycle and in our lamentations. This is not to downplay the deaths of our men and women in uniform, but they are not the worst hit group in times of war. Check war deaths since WW2 and the Civil War. Quantum drops in military casualties.

May 8, 2011

To Be Christian and American

by Vince

I just finished Marcus Borg’s new book Speaking Christian. It is, as all of his books that I have read, very readable (not very wordy or heavy on technical/fluffy terminology) and relevant to not only Christians but those of other faith paths. I hope this post can be accessed by those readers of my blog that adhere to other religions beyond Christianity.

In the final pages of Speaking Christian, Borg summarizes what the heart of Christianity should be centered on. In that summary, he delves into what imperial American has become. Think about the following:

We are the most Christian country in the world – and yet we are the world’s greatest military power. With 5 percent of the world’s population, we account for about half of the world’s spending. We have over 700 military bases in about 130 countries. Our navy is as powerful as the next thirteen navies of the world combined. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Air Force is the most powerful air force. More surprising is the second most powerful air force: the U.S. Navy. As a country, we are determined to be as militarily powerful as the rest of the world put together. Though our national motto is “In God We Trust”, clearly what we really trust in is power, especially military power.

Borg does not end there:

We are the most Christian nation in the world – and yet we have the greatest income inequality of any of the developed nations to whom we typically compare ourselves. Our income is – literally – almost off the charts. On the graphs portraying it in relation to that of other industrial nations, we are almost an outlier. Moreover, income inequality in America has been growing for about thirty years. The wealthy have become more wealthy and powerful, and the middle and lower economic classes have seen their well-being decline – in the most Christian country on the globe.

Borg finishes with a final question:

Are we as a nation to become more and more like the domination systems of the ancient and not so distant past, all of which have passed into history? Or might we, as the most Christian nation in the world, change our course and become committed to compassion, justice, and peace?

This short bit is what I try to get across – both explicitly and in less explicit terms – in each of my blog posts and in my outlook towards life and the world. The domination system is what Jesus stood up against. Jesus eating meals with outcasts broke the mold between the clean and unclean. He was killed by the rulers of the world, the powers that were. That comes first and before him dying for our sins (which Jesus never speaks of).

Caring for this world that we have is so much more important than looking to the rapture, the next life, heaven, or the second coming. If we focus on those four, this life will easily seem pointless, addressing the injustices will seem futile, and the gospels will be defanged, domesticated, and mostly muted.

December 22, 2010

Dan Choi Responds to DADT Repeal

by Vince
December 18, 2010

Ask and Tell

by Vince

No longer are we holding our troops to an antiquated law that forces them to lie.

December 5, 2010

Homosexuality, Marriage, and the Military

by Vince

Linda Hirshman wrote a thoughtful piece about the combo of homosexuality, serving in the military, and marriage in wake of the hearings to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. If you look back to the 1960’s movements for gay rights and anti-war protests, who would of guessed that gays would want to be in the military? On the other hand, many shouldn’t be surprised with the paradoxical GOP:

Conservatives are normally out there urging people to fight and to marry. A conservative president launched two wars, and conservatives tried to impeach the adulterous Bill Clinton. When it comes to gays and lesbians wanting to defend their country or provide a stable, loving union, the right wing is suddenly on the other side.

Why are they fighting?

Gays argue that open service and same sex marriage are matters of simple equality—which sounds good, because everyone agrees that inequality is un-American and bad. But the contest over equality cannot possibly account for the passion on both sides of these issues. Who is against equality, abstractly? The fight is hot because gays are seeking equal access to the very social institutions, marriage and the military, that confer social approval. In America, and in most of western culture, the soldier and the householder are models of social virtue. If gays can marry and serve their country, well, “Gay is Good” as the old movement button says.

Breaking this down shows how many gays are forced to live lives equal to second rate citizens. Whether those who support DADT and are against same-sex marriage intend that outcome or not, this is what is imbued into their realities. In the case of DADT, the government is called to enforce and uphold Judeo-Christian “morals” when last time I checked there was a separation of church and state. No government is to support or trample on any religious institution. The church already calls gays sinners and throws them down into the ranks of being untouchables. Now the church wants to continue having the state enforce their morals in an ambiguous and guised manner.

Many of the hot topic issues today have the ability of being labeled “the civil rights issue” of our time; homosexuality and having openly gay military members serving, both intertwined yet separate, are strikingly resemblant of Plessy v. Ferguson:

The Pentagon noted that some of the resistance it found to open service came from “moral and religious objections to homosexuality.” Without missing a step, the report continued, “aside from that, much of the concern about ‘open’ service is driven by misperceptions and stereotypes,” which were “exaggerated” and “inconsistent with” the military’s actual experience, concluding, without another word about peoples’ religious morality, that the policy should be repealed.

Separating the classes, groups, and or those with different sexual orientations divides our country, our humanity, and threatens our national security. Also, Hirshman singles out the unwritten qualifications required for presidency or high office. Just as our presidents have to have a church / religious experience to be considered ripe for our commander and chief position, so do they have to be normal in terms of having a heterosexual marriage and a glowingly unblemished family. Again, we have a separation of church and state but Judeo-Christian morals and ideals are upheld as normal and “the way”. You’ll be damned to not follow them if you want to be president or a “normal” citizen, so goes today’s wind.

December 5, 2010

Quote of the Day by Scott Brown

by Vince

“I have been in the military for 31 years and counting, and have served as a subordinate and as an officer. … When a soldier answers the call to serve and risks life or limb, it has never mattered to me whether they are gay or straight. My only concern has been whether their service and sacrifice is with pride and honor.

“Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed.” —Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown on siding to vote for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

December 4, 2010

Some of the DADT Hearings

by Vince

This first clip is some highlights of John McCain. McCain disagrees with Robert Gates et al when it comes to a military referendum. I don’t know what I think about this; some questions could be asked of the military but I understand the dilemma of knowing where to draw the line. See all of this and some in the below video.

 

December 2, 2010

Quote of the Day

by Vince

“We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.”

– Special Forces Officer quoted in Pentagon DADT report

H/T: Outside the Beltway

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November 19, 2010

YouCut

by Vince

Rep. Eric Cantor has put together the YouCut program. It is a website through his Congress site that allows Americans to email in suggestions for what should be cut from the government budget. I already emailed in and asked for cuts to be made in the military.

I love how the video by Cantor emphasizes that the “crazy spending” is all being done on the other side. What about the two unfunded wars? Or the unfunded trillion dollar Medicare prescription drug benefit? What also of the ballooning security state after 9/11? In general, why has the military, social security, and Medicare been excluded by Republicans from cuts?

November 14, 2010

For The Vets

by Vince

The above video goes with some stories to read. Here also are some poems.

I was able to chat on Thursday with my parents neighbor who I grew up with. He served in WW2 and was part of a crew that went through the internment camps. I haven’t ever had the chance to talk with him about it, but MJ says that he refuses to talk about it.

Just simply chatting with him on the phone was an enjoyable moment for me. I asked him what he thinks about on a day like this. He says that he wonders where the other guys are that served with him. He has been going every year to a reunion for his Army company. I believe that they just discontinued their reunions the other year because nearly everyone has passed away.

I will never fully understand the dedication, mindset, or culture of the armed forces. I may have a brother that is in the Navy, many close relatives who have served, and a bachelors degree in history, but I don’t lay claim to knowing their world better than they.

November 7, 2010

Defense Spending Cuts

by Vince

“Republicans also should resist pressure to take all defense spending cuts off the table. Newly elected Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had the courage to say he’d go after defense waste during his campaign, and I look forward to working with him. We should start by taking common sense steps like freezing defense spending until the Pentagon can pass an audit and remove all nondefense spending from the Pentagon’s budget.

Our nation’s military leaders understand the need to cut spending. As Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.” History shows that every nation eventually adopts the foreign policy it can afford. Taking defense spending off the table is indefensible. We need to protect our nation, not the Pentagon’s sacred cows,” – Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Please let there be more rational Republican leaders out there!

August 27, 2010

War is Always Political

by Vince

Duh!

The current approach promotes soldiers to lie about their sexual orientation. You are punished for telling the truth. Is is patriotic to lie? Is it in line with white Christianism to lie? Look how far the debate of whether being gay is a sin or not has gone.

August 11, 2010

The War Report: The Kids Are Not Alright

by Vince

(Photo: Asan Bibi, 9, (R) and her sister Salima,13, (L) stand in the hallway of Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. Both were burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. Three members of the family were killed in the incident. The family belongs to the Kuchi ethnic tribe, nomads living in tents out in the open desert whom are very vulnerable to a war they have little understanding of. The Taliban are now staging suicide attacks and IED blasts in densely populated areas to create a bigger impact as more of Afghan’s war wounded hit the headlines. By Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.)

Some more background courtesy of the Daily Dish:

As we fight an unwinnable war in an ungovernable country, the enemy simplyratchets up the evil by targeting more and more innocent civilians, especially women and children. HuffPo’s headline misleadingly suggests that US policy is behind the yearly increase in civilian fatalities but the UN report actually notes that casualties caused by the US and UK fell by 30 percent and by 64 percent in aerial bombing in one year, which strikes me as a real achievement for McChrystal. But then you see an image like that above (having scanned many of them I feel numb from the images of agony and despair) which was the result of a Coalition air-strike gone awry and you see the awful, horrible, gut-wrenching moral dilemma we are in. But the vast majority of child murders are by the Taliban.

August 11, 2010

We Want You to Lie

by Vince

That is what DADT is forcing top cadets to do. Look at this case:

Ranked # 9 in her class overall, Cadet Katherine Miller routinely “super-maxes” her physical fitness tests.  One of her blogs was featured in the Sunday print edition of the Washington Post as part of “The Gray Zone: West Point on Leadership.”In her resignation letter, she cites the kinds of experiences she is unwilling to continue to endure:

I have created a heterosexual dating history to recite to fellow cadets when they inquire. I have endured unwanted approaches by male cadets for fear of being accused as a lesbian by rejecting or reporting these events. I have been coerced into ignoring derogatory comments towards homosexuals for fear of being alienated for my viewpoint.  In short, I have lied to my classmates and compromised my integrity and my identity by adhering to existing military policy.

I see this to tie in with the Proposition 8 decision. A friend and I talked about this last night and he mentioned that this not only pushes out top soldiers but in the case of marriages places fellow human beings as second class citizens. This doesn’t make our country stronger by removing qualified soldiers (“exceptional” ones, as he said).

August 5, 2010

The Logic of Hegemonic Stability Theory

by Vince

Christopher Predle ponders over the bipartisan Hadley-Perry commissions findings, which justifies spending $800 billion a year on military expenditures to ensure America’s “global policeman” personality:

Most in Washington still embraces the notion that America is, and forever will be, the world’s indispensable nation. Some scholars, however, questioned the logic of hegemonic stability theory from the very beginning. A number continue to do so today. They advance arguments diametrically at odds with the primacist consensus. Trade routes need not be policed by a single dominant power; the international economy is complex and resilient. Supply disruptions are likely to be temporary, and the costs of mitigating their effects should be borne by those who stand to lose — or gain — the most. Islamic extremists are scary, but hardly comparable to the threat posed by a globe-straddling Soviet Union armed with thousands of nuclear weapons. It is frankly absurd that we spend more today to fight Osama bin Laden and his tiny band of murderous thugs than we spent to face down Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao. Many factors have contributed to the dramatic decline in the number of wars between nation-states; it is unrealistic to expect that a new spasm of global conflict would erupt if the United States were to modestly refocus its efforts, draw down its military power, and call on other countries to play a larger role in their own defense, and in the security of their respective regions.

July 9, 2010

The Ballooning Costs of Defense Spending

by Vince


Foreign Policy tells of the voluminous spending on sometimes unrealistic defense measures. This stuff really interests me and is worth reading in full:

To anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, let’s go over it one more time: In February the Pentagon requested $708.2 billion for fiscal year 2011 — which would make the coming year’s defense budget, adjusted for inflation, the biggest since World War II. As one analysis of the budget points out, that would mean that total defense spending — including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — has grown 70 percent in real terms since 2001. Defense spending now accounts for some 20 percent of federal discretionary spending. That’s even more than Social Security.

And though his department’s request for 2011 hasn’t gone to the same lengths, there are still some out there who hope Robert Gates could yet become the new poster child for the Eisenhower tradition of conservative doubts about the “military-industrial complex.” But perhaps that’s a little premature. Some would-be budget-cutters point out that Gates favors the notion of setting U.S. military spending at a fixed percentage of GDP — which, they note, would more likely than not leave outlays at a permanently high level.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/07/07/life_by_a_thousand_cutsTo anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, let’s go over it one more time: In February the Pentagon requested $708.2 billion for fiscal year 2011 — which would make the coming year’s defense budget, adjusted for inflation, the biggest since World War II. As one analysis of the budget points out, that would mean that total defense spending — including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — has grown 70 percent in real terms since 2001. Defense spending now accounts for some 20 percent of federal discretionary spending. That’s even more than Social Security.
July 7, 2010

Truth Checking some Polemic Issues

by Vince

Here you go: