Posts tagged ‘War’

June 24, 2011

Ripping Obama to Shreds

by thefulllidvmg

Victor Davis Hanson does a great job of it:

Barack Obama’s cries from the heart as a senator about the possibility of a Bush intervention in Iran being a de facto violation of the War Powers Act have been widely circulated — juxtaposed to his sophistic gymnastics about bombs over Libya not really being much more than “kinetic action” and thus exempt from the Act. Then we have another doublet with Hillary Clinton, who said this month:

. . . the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them?

Yet said in May 2003 in the context of Iraq:

I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.

The point is not that the Obama administration is two-faced, hypocritical, and shameless. Most administrations are; they act quite differently once they are in the White House and governance requires adult responsibility quite different from the cheap rhetoric of the campaign trail.

Rather, the significance in Obama’s case is twofold: Obama suffers the wages of hypocrisy far more keenly because he set himself up as a new-style politician, promising to buck the “establishment” with his hope-and-change agenda, only to govern in the worst style of a Chicago brass-knuckles machine-made pol, humiliating those who actually believed the planet-cooling/seas-receding nonsense of 2008.

Second, Obama has utterly embarrassed the entire liberal attack on the Bush’s administration’s efforts in Iraq and against terrorism. The venom between 2003 and 2008 was both cruel and nasty, and yet it was always presented as principled rather than partisan, not a grasp for power but the product of deeper respect for the American civic traditions. Now we see that entire era as a complete fraud — on matters of dissent, skepticism of the War Powers Act, Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventive detention, wiretaps, intercepts, Iraq, and predator targeted assassination. The hysterical commentary was never based on the merits of those acts, but simply because George Bush, a political opponent, embraced them. How do we know this? Through hypocritical couplets like those above — and the almost complete silence of the antiwar Left. Where now is Cindy Sheehan, the award-winning Michael Moore, the New York Times discounted ads to Moveon.org, the impassioned floor speeches from a Senator Reid or Kerry?

That is the real legacy of the Obama administration: In a way the most extreme right-wing nut could not, Obama has humiliated, embarrassed, and rendered bankrupt seven years of prior dissent, showing it up for what it was all along.

No words or comments on my end could follow up that assault.

June 21, 2011

Barack W. Obama and Libya

by thefulllidvmg


“Obama displays one of the worst tendencies of his predecessor. Yale law professor Jack Balkin has a superb post illuminating the convergence of White House occupants 43 and 44. “There is almost always a prominent and skillful lawyer in the Administration who will tell the President pretty much what he wants to hear,” he writes. “If the President can simply canvas the opinions of enough such lawyers he is not restrained very much by the law.”

Conor Friedersdorf gives quite a few reasons to reconsider voting for Barack in a year:

In critiquing Bush’s policies, Obama articulated the value of adhering to protocol even in trying times, the folly of circumventing the law, and the importance of reestablishing its rule. Thus the promise his presidency held. Over the last two years, the promise has faded. Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay, persisted in legally questionable spying on American citizens, made himself complicit in the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, pushed for the re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act without common sense provisions to protect civil liberties, and asserted the right to assassinate American citizens without due process. These aren’t small matters. Civil libertarians have long been outraged.

June 6, 2011

What the Money Spent on “Defense” Can Buy Us

by thefulllidvmg

AllGov shows what domestic programs we could spend the $7.6 trillion defense budget since 2001 on:

Fill the Medicare Gap: If Congress redirected just one-fifth of the budget increases from 2000 to 2011 for defense spending, it would be enough to eliminate the long-term budget hole in the Medicare program.
 
Fund Head Start for 15 Years: Instead of 10 years of warfare in Afghanistan, the U.S. could have secured 15.6 years of early childhood education and support through Head Start for the same price.
 
Insure the Uninsured: Another way to spend the Afghanistan war chest would be on the uninsured. The budget for fighting the Taliban is enough to cover every American without health insurance for 1.7 years.
 
Help State Capitols: A total of 46 states are facing budget shortfalls this fiscal year. Collectively, they need about $130 billion. Ending the war in Afghanistan and getting entirely out of Iraq would save $170 billion—more than enough to wipe out the red ink from Albany to Sacramento.
 
Instead of Iraq…: Even with the end of combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. is still spending $50 billion annually to maintain a large contingent of troops in the country. For this same amount of money, Washington could ensure a year’s worth of health care for 24.3 million poor children, or salaries for more than 725,000 elementary school teachers or nearly 830,000 firefighters.
June 6, 2011

Perpetual War is More of a Hazard than Terrorism

by thefulllidvmg

Conor Friedersdorf makes the case:

Give the hawks their due: terrorism is an ongoing threat to the United States. In fact, it’s likely to pose a bigger threat with every year that passes, insofar as technological advances are permitting people with meager resources to obtain ever deadlier weapons. Heaven forbid they get a nuke or a killer virus. What the hawks fail to recognize, however, is that perpetual war poses a bigger threat to the citizenry of a superpower than does terrorism. Already it is helping to bankrupt us financially,undermining our civil libertiescorroding our values, triggering abusive prosecutionsempoweringthe executive branch in ways that are anathema to the system of checks and balances implemented by the Founders, and causing us to degrade one another.

Alas, we still have an ambiguous exit strategy from the Middle East.

June 4, 2011

Tax Cuts and War

by thefulllidvmg

Along with a tsunami-like downturn in the global economy have brought America to the point of over $14 trillion in debt (not Planned Parenthood or welfare checks).

May 11, 2011

Civilian Deaths vs. Military Deaths

by thefulllidvmg

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.

April 27, 2011

An Afghanistani Mental Health Break

by thefulllidvmg

It’s good to see this.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

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April 23, 2011

Saturday Morning with Martin Luther King Jr.

by thefulllidvmg

First up, MLKjr as an Old Testament prophet speaking not to Israel or Judah but the United States:

Then a fuller clip of King’s last speech:

(thanks for sharing these links, DT!)

March 31, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

H/T: Tony Auth

March 26, 2011

Tell Me Why, Barack.

by thefulllidvmg

He gives his reasoning behind intervening in Libya, but I still want to know why not also intervene in the Ivory Coast, Bahrain (here, here, here, and here), Yemen (here, here, here, here, here, here) , SyriaIran (2 years ago – here, here, here), Congo, or even Burma?

My lighter side says that maybe I should just be ok with the fact that the U.S. is intervening somewhere and not standing idly. I then think about the other two quagmires we are in and sigh.

On a lighter and related note, this is amazing.

March 24, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

H/T: Tony Auth

March 23, 2011

War Hawk Quote of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

“If the experience of the last ten years has taught us anything, it should be this: We can bomb our enemies into the Stone Age, but we cannot bomb them into the 21st century,” -Kevin D WilliamsonNational Review.

The National Review continues to shock me with these non-war hawk comments.

March 22, 2011

What are we doing?

by thefulllidvmg

Charles Krauthammer (usually a war hawk) has some good words for our new war in Libya:

I would simply say the United States is not omnipotent. If we were, we would be everywhere, and we would be consistent, and we would stop every slaughter on the planet, and we would be in the Congo right now. And why aren’t we in the Ivory Coast? Ivory Coast had an election, the dictator lost the election, he refused to accept the other side, he’s been shooting people in the streets. I mean, where are we going to go with this? I think you have to have two things in order to act. You have to have a moral justification, you’re protecting slaughter, maybe preventing a genocide. But you also have to have a strategic rationale. Otherwise, we will spend ourselves into penury, into destitution, and into very great sorrow by deploying all over the world. So I mean, it seems to me we have to be extremely hard-headed as well as idealistic about this. You have to have a moral rationale and a strategic one. If you only have one and not the other, you don’t act.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

October 6, 2010

The Warfare State

by thefulllidvmg

WW at The Economist responds to the “bomber boy” mentality:

The folks of the tea-party movement are clearly upset at what they see as out-of-control spending, and frequently express a desire to slash the size of government. A quick glance at the federal budget is enough to see that military spending is far and away the largest expense after Medicare and Social Security. That fact combined with the observation that America’s titanic military budget is larger than the military budgets of China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Saudia Arabia, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Australia combined is more than enough to suggest to common sense that there’s room here to cut a bit of fat.

The meat within each article centers on the thought of America’s military defending freedom abroad (free trade routes, being prepared for nuclear Iran or the army of China if they put up a fight, etc). While WW entertains hypothetical numbers relating to the military budget and how much we could drop it and still have others capable of keeping order, it is questionable whether the WSJ op-ed supports maintaining the status quo out of a “world wide cop” mentality. In the end, I do not believe that either side makes an overwhelming case for point. One last question for the small government loving Tea Party:

Will it follow the example of the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Weekly Standard and fight, fight, fight for big government, just as long as it’s big government bristling with the tools of conquest and mass death?

September 14, 2010

Adaptions in the Approach of War

by thefulllidvmg

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 1, 2010

Obama on the End of Combat in Iraq

by thefulllidvmg

The full video is here.

August 27, 2010

War is Always Political

by thefulllidvmg

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 13, 2010

A Soldier’s Homecoming

by thefulllidvmg

I feel my emotions bubbling up.

Hat Tip: Joey P

August 11, 2010

The War Report: The Kids Are Not Alright

by thefulllidvmg

(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 7, 2010

Sacrifice within this Generation

by thefulllidvmg

TNR looks at the differences between this and previous generations when it comes to sacrifice for present war(s):

Using borrowed money to underwrite the global war on terrorism has freed the present generation from any obligation to cover the financial costs incurred. It’s not our problem. (Similarly, the Pentagon’s reliance on an all-volunteer military force insulates most Americans from the human costs.)

By saddling future generations with debt that we ourselves incur, this arrangement perpetrates a grave injustice. The never-ending flood of red ink is also putting the long-term health of the economy at risk. Liberals ought to find this arrangement intolerable for moral reasons. Conservatives–having suddenly rediscovered the importance of living within one’s means–should find it intolerable for fiscal reasons.

Entanglements brings up a good point in this article. You can think back to WW2 and how rubber was salvaged for war and the impacts war had on gender roles in the workforce. The point of this article is to break down taxes collected from 150 million American citizens (give or take) and then persuade Dems and Repubs to avoid unfinanced wars. I appreciate their points. Watching the Green Zone last night or reading Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic Magazine article on torture makes me and others really reconsider how we wage war (if we must). Adding together the financial woes of war with the moral tightropes or slippery slopes that war after war we face is a history lessons we can’t afford (literally) to be ignorant towards.

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