Posts tagged ‘National Security’

December 4, 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Translate

by Vince

I feel that keeping DADT would continue to force many of our skilled men and women serving the USA to leave the military. The entire notion and name – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – sickens me. It invites everyone to not talk about it, avoid it, and hope that we can all go on with our lives. That in itself is simply not a healthy way of being. Avoiding issues do not make them go away and since when did forcing your soldiers to lie become an American virtue? It smells of irony when those sometimes most concerned with American security stand for this law:

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” does nothing but deprive the military of talent it needs and invade the privacy of gay service members just trying to do their jobs and live their lives. Political and military leaders who support the current law may believe that homosexual soldiers threaten unit cohesion and military readiness, but the real damage is caused by denying enlistment to patriotic Americans and wrenching qualified individuals out of effective military units. This does not serve the military or the nation well.

Consider: more than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was instituted. How much valuable intelligence could those men and women be providing today to troops in harm’s way?

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November 30, 2010

Myth Bust: “Muslims Don’t Get Patted Down by TSA”

by Vince

A funny cartoon but an even better article here; it includes an interview with the TSA director, which should carry more weight than your favorite pundit.

September 14, 2010

Adaptions in the Approach of War

by Vince

I went with MJ to the Miller Library in York, PA yesterday. I picked up a 2008 edition of the Atlantic and read up on insurgency, Iraq, Afghanistan, David Petraeus, and war fighting in general. I then proceeded to Google Petraeus’ dissertation and downloaded it. Maybe sometime I will get around to reading the nearly 300 page .pdf document.

One of the first evolutions in the war approach by America since Vietnam is a move away from intervention due to military regime threats per say to now responding to global political instabilities:

To Nagl, the lessons of the recent past are self-evident. The events of 9/11, he writes, “conclusively demonstrated that instability anywhere can be a real threat to the American people here at home.” For the foreseeable future, political conditions abroad rather than specific military threats will pose the greatest danger to the United States.

Nagl makes a solid and refreshing point next, leading into evolution number two:

For Nagl, the imperative of the moment is to institutionalize the relevant lessons of Vietnam and Iraq, thereby enabling the Army, he writes, “to get better at building societies that can stand on their own.” That means buying fewer tanks while spending more on language proficiency; curtailing the hours spent on marksmanship ranges while increasing those devoted to studying foreign cultures. It also implies changing the culture of the officer corps. An Army that since Vietnam has self-consciously cultivated a battle-oriented warrior ethos will instead emphasize, in Nagl’s words, “the intellectual tools necessary to foster host-nation political and economic development.”

This second evolution will challenge much of what we call National Security today. If for the slightest reason you are seen as having some minute connection to anything Middle Eastern, there is a chance you can be monitored, not permitted to pass security clearances, and rendered unable to serve your country with your skills, education, fluency in Arabic, and or other training possessed by you. DADT doesn’t help with this, either, but that is another discussion.

The Green Zone, starring Matt Damon, mostly focuses on the questionability of if there were WMD’s in Iraq. I appreciate the movie for its suggestion of a bottom-up approach to war. Damon forms relationships with Iraqi citizens and informants. The information he provides is what is fed into policy and mission planning. As I transition into the second article, and into Afghanistan, the second war evolution above is absolutely essential for

America to approach Afghanistan in a smarter over stronger way.

To understand Afghanistan, you have to have a glimpse of their government. Just as with Vietnam, we are approaching our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of 1) intervening 2) ridding the countries of terrorist strongholds 3) equipping the domestic governments and police forces* and 4) withdrawing. The starred (*) item has been a difficult task. The Afghan police throughout the country have been perennially plagued with corruption, which can in part be due to frustration with Kabul. They are usually undermanned and unable to fully spar with the Taliban. Also noteworthy is that Afghanistan has not had a strong central government since the 19th century: “under the “Iron Emir,” Abdur Rehman, in the late 19th century, Rehman famously maintained control by building towers of skulls from the heads of all who opposed him.” Much of Afghanistan is provincially maintained which can be a gift and or a curse.

The glut of American and NATO forces are in major metro areas within Afghanistan, far away from the real action and influence. See once again Vietnam with the hamlet systems –  in desperate hopes of protecting the villagers from night time visits / attacks from the Viet Cong, Americans placed walls around Vietnamese villages. America is not attempting that now with Afghan provinces but the village remains just as valuable to this 21st century war effort.

The approach to rural affairs is no easy task, however:

The rural Pashtun south has its own systems of tribal governance and law, and its people don’t want Western styles of either. But nor are they predisposed to support the Taliban, which espouses an alien and intolerant form of Islam, and goes against the grain of traditional respect for elders and decision by consensus. Re-empowering the village coun cils of elders and restoring their community leadership is the only way to re-create the traditional check against the powerful political network of rural mullahs, who have been radicalized by the Taliban. But the elders won’t commit to opposing the Taliban if they and their families are vulnerable to Taliban torture and murder, and they can hardly be blamed for that.

The article is summed up below:

As long as the compounds are discreetly sited, house Afghan soldiers to provide the most visible security presence, and fly the Afghan flag, they need not exacerbate fears of foreign occupation. Instead, they would reinforce the country’s most important, most neglected political units; strengthen the tribal elders; win local support; and reverse the slow slide into strategic failure.

I personally feel this threat was needed to of been addressed but looks all too familiar to Vietnam. If we are able to adapt our military approach, take a blow to American pride by trading in our tanks for intelligence and Arabic speaking men and women, and be ready for dirty fire fighting with the Taliban, we can confront these extremists. Until then, we will have in our future text books a new Vietnam similar in being a quagmire.

September 10, 2010

Surveillance State Reading

by Vince

Julian Sanchez gets in depth about the constitutional boundaries the USA has crossed with the expansion of the surveillance state.

Andrew Sullivan is disappointed in Barack Obama for not prosecuting the war criminals under our previous administration.

*Both of these reads are longer but rather interesting.

“If we are to recover as a nation under law rather under a prince, it will not be through the channels of the two major parties or through any president acceptable to the mainstream of either party. It will require a citizenry so enraged and protective of its core liberties against this security Leviathan that it compels dismantling this machinery and exposing it to the light of day – not recklessly, not abruptly, but by close examination, judicial review, press inquiry, protest. There are legitimate trade-offs between national security and liberty. But the protection of war criminals where no secrets are at stake except the scandal of torture itself is not one of them. Alas, there are few such citizens around. And, most tragic of all, those who say they care about liberty above all – the tea-partiers who invoke the founders – seem only too willing to surrender every liberty for the prize of a security against a threat we cannot even measure, and to bow down before a new king (and probably warrior-queen) rather than elect a new president.”

September 8, 2010

Protecting Our Country?

by Vince

Any new jack in politics can tell you that conservatives dig big defense. Have a border problem? Put up a big wall. Have a terrorist problem? Build up your military so to surpass what we had against the Soviets. That is all quite debatable. What do you think of the below?

Andrew Sullivan makes a great point by saying whether or not the above action affects our troops, as hinted that it does by General Petraeus, it is very contra to protecting our national security (which the GOP loves to flaunt and rub in the Left’s face). We have to remember that the above video is by an extremist fringe (the Dove church has 50 members and the Westboro Baptist church has just under 100) but the comments and tendencies as of late by Right wingers on camera have not been praiseworthy.

July 25, 2010

Top Secret America Ctd.

by Vince

Bernstein digs into the common thought behind national security bureaucracy:

“…it’s not just Bush who made things worse than they had to be.  It was the Democrats who pushed for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and the 9/11 Commission that wanted the DNI.  In my view, both were probably unnecessary additional layers of bureaucracy that made both the substantive problem (that is, actually keeping Americans safe from terrorism) and the procedural or democratic problem (allowing the political branches to control the bureaucracy) worse.  And it’s probably worth singling out the secrecy mania that most reports have attributed to Vice President Dick Cheney: secrecy is both a necessity and a problem for government coordination in national security matters, but what’s been reported to be a very large bias in favor of secrecy almost certainly hurt, not helped.”