Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's Baaaaack: The Domino Theory And Iraq/Syria

First Appeared in DelawareLiberal on 6/25/2014 by ProgressivePopulist

I've lived long enough to see now three iterations of the old Domino Theory; it goes something like...if we allow a country to fall, it will spiral into a cascade of other nearby countries to follow suit and be taken over by nefarious forces.

I saw in the 50's the Korean War fought to a stalemate because of hysteria over the communists taking over all of Asia.  Then in the 60's there was Vietnam, with the so called communist threat taking over southeast Asia.  Communism was our supposed external threat to "our way of life".

Now, after about 40 years, were we've seen much of communism morph into a kind of hybrid capitalistic/communistic economic system in Russia and China and much of the rest of the previously dreaded communist world.

Now, thanks to the lemmings in the lemmingstream  media, the new fear mongering external threat to "our way of life" is the radical Muslim Caliphate. Reappearing  on all of the networks and the op-ed pages of much of the corporate media is the current generation of  neo-con and neo-liberal communism fighters who took on the socialist tyrant Sadaam.  They're now focusing on the Muslim Caliphate threat.

Their solution, with a stunning history of previous failure, continues to be military intervention to stop the threat in its march to destroy "our way of life".  Little discussion from this hysterical right wing crowd seems to focus on the "way of life"  of the people immediately impacted by the Jihadists in their direct path.

Cheney, their prime prophet and utterly discredited spokesperson, given tons of air time and print space, now is predicting that we face another attack from the radical Muslims in this decade, far worse than 9-11.   I think this is his way of further deflecting scrutiny of his administration's malfeasance in responding to the warnings he and his partners in crime ignored in the days just prior to the 9-11 attacks.

Now this is not to discount the seriousness of the collapse of any kind of political moderation or modernization throughout the middle east.  Yes, I must admit, it looks now quite like a short stack of domino's falling; at least a couple.  Maybe not the whole set though.   Indeed, these crazies warrant very close scrutiny and reasonable preparations for calamaties they might wreak on the international order and other sovereign states.  The crazies I refer to are both the neo-con crowd and the Jihadists, both equally as potentially destructive of the world order.

I think this Administration has a pretty good handle on the problem and solutions, such as they might exist.  One of the solutions might well be to let it play out in that region, exercising diplomacy and providing humanitarian aid while maintain a vigilant watch for actual threats to our sovereign territories.  In playing observer rather than manipulator, the U.S. could well come out of this with two new allies to suppress terrorism from the lunatics;  Iran and the Kurds. Turkey continues to want to join the EU and align with the west.

And, ironically, it has long been the goal of some of the neo-con crowd to diminish the threat they see from the middle east through fragmentation of  Arab national identities.  Well, it appears their wish may be granted.

Our first order of business should be our own order of business.  Our domestic arena, including fixing what's broken in both our economic and political systems.  There's no better defense against outside intruders in the order of things than a satisfied and happy citizenry.  We don't have that in place, do we?  This of course includes assuring our people that they are being protected from threatening intruders as well as is possible and replacing such things as energy sources from that  region with our own sustainable resources.

The radical Muslim crowd would not be having the success they appear to currently enjoy if the populace were feeling well served by their leaders and government in the region they are currently tearing up.   Not much popular resistance to these intruder havoc makers in either Syria or now Iraq, is there?    The same is true in Somalia and Yemen as well as places in Africa like Nigeria.

Stepping back for a minute, though, this regional crisis pales by comparison to the destruction of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness the global climate and environmental crises threaten if we don't act now, immediately.  But, I digress.

To be successful and earn popular support, a Caliphate will take many decades to consolidate power and succeed at governing.  That is to our benefit because their leaders will have to focus internally.  We can keep an eye on the crazies in their midst to protect ourselves.  Popular support will be very difficult to earn from those they newly govern.  Isn't it true also that many in our own midst support theocracies?  Wasn't Israel founded as a sort of democratic theocracy?  I'm not a believer and find theocratic states appalling but look around.  They're quite popular.  We even recognize the theocratic state of the Vatican.  So, what's the big deal here?

The region will still be fragmented with family, tribal and religious differences.  So, the vision of some monolithic enemy toppling the Domino stack in the region  I think is unrealistic.  The messiness of the region will continue to trouble us and we will continue having great difficulty understanding Arab culture.  This factor alone ought to give us great caution in trying to engineer events, let alone engage in guerrilla  warfare with our mostly conventional military machine.

Let's focus our energies on our own domestic Domino game and maybe we might someday again be the envy of the world.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kneejerk War Is Weakness, Not Strength

First Published in DelawareLiberal on 6/19/2014 by ProgressivePopulist

The drumbeat for a renewed Iraq intervention from the neo-cons and neo-liberals within and outside the administration is pissing me off.  The media learned nothing from Vietnam, Iraq II and Afghanistan; they are fielding all the totally discredited talking heads to tell us President Obama needs to show strength.

Those cretins and debunked experts are back in full force and the David Gregory types in the lamestream media are back with a vengeance spewing their nonsense.  This includes retired military who fucked up Iraq before and in behalf of their defense industry sponsors, want us to do this again.

What we're hearing is kick their ass, send in the bombs, show passion for killing as an instrument of foreign policy.  Act mad.  Lash out aggressively.  We are hearing that our President is weak because he is too passive in this situation, too inclined to avoid pulling out the hammer and pounding the militants.  Too detached.  In other words, not exhibiting testosterone laden aggressive rhetoric and action.

We'll, I'm here to tell them they are full of shit.  Showing restraint, thoughtful analysis and pushing our worst aggressive instincts back takes amazing strength and discipline.  This is exactly what our strong President is doing as we speak.  Even in the face of very aggressive advocacy for ass kicking from within his administration and among so called political bedfellows.  Shut the fuck up.  Engage your brains and join this faint chorus praising our President for amazing strength.

I'm no pacifist, I'm sad to admit, but I was reminded this week of the strength shown by, for example, the Freedom Riders  who rode into the face of hate, threats and outright brutality for our cause of justice.  Or the non-violent revolutionaries in South Africa who faced terrible hatred.

Yes, in my view, their are times military force is needed to protect our people.   This is not one of those times.  Yes, we need to be vigilant and safeguard against these crazies in the middle east who indeed may have designs on punishing Americans for our perceived misdeeds in their region.

Good intelligence, counterintelligence and homeland security measures and some diplomacy with this crowd seems to be working post 9-11.  Preemptive slaughter of those with animosity about us and our allies goes nowhere but fueling the raging fire.  The fire needs dousing with strategic vision and creative relationship building, not hormonal infused counter rage.
And the recognition that there are some problems we just can't fix, at least not now.  Like our own revolution, theirs needs to play out to the extent that we can down the road recognize its shape and form before we can deal with it.

On a practical level, on the battlefield, how in the hell are we going to target jihadists, baathists, foreign intruders, al qaeda and Sunni-revolutionaries from one another to hit the right targets ? The wrong targets will inflame the region even more.  The answer is, we can't.  We do need to protect our people there and get them out if such protection looks inadequate.

But, Mr. President, you are exhibiting strength, resolve and thoughtful problem solving, where solutions exist.  Don't listen to the prevaricators, bullies and ragers.  Some of them would just as soon see you damage U.S. interests so they can accuse you of failure.  They own their own failure with Iraq but are too weak to admit it.  Be strong.  We have your back.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bomb Iraq? Why?

First Published in DelawareLiberal on 6/16/2014 by ProgressivePopulist


Can anyone give me one rational reason why we would even consider launching a bombing/missile/drone attack on so called Iraq militants?  No, I mean a really rational reason?

Moving a carrier into position in the Gulf?  You can't be serious.  That's supposed to scare someone willing to blow themselves up for their "cause"?

What would be accomplished by launching those planes?  A few hundred dead?  Who exactly are they and how do we identify the culprits?  How do we sort out the good guys from the bad guys?  We have no intelligence on the ground.  Trust but verify?  You can't be serious.
Maliki kicked us out and shrub signed on.  That was it.  Over.  Time to exit.  Billions poured into training and equipment.  All to be abandoned in a heap on the battlefield when faced with an opposition force of about 1,000.  Cut and run.

But, after exacting some revenge, what would we accomplish?  Is revenge a policy?  What is the result we would want?  Is that result really attainable?  Are our allies really reliable?
America, isn't this one of those "no win" situations we read about?  Haven't we been here before?

The only rational response here is to not respond with force.  Respond with talks.  Try and probably fail to bring these  actors together, but a peaceful try is worth some time and investment.  Diplomacy, America, not crazy talk and revenge.

Speaking of crazy talk, why is our press giving time and space to McCain?  He was a hapless, failed military student who then went on to non combat crashes a couple of planes costing millions each before his final crash into the Vietnam jungle.   You're giving this damaged guy a national platform to rally his fellow crazies?   Media, please, please, just ask Why?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Welcome Home Bowe Bergdahl

First published on 6/11/2014 in DelwareLiberal by ProgressivePopulist
Let me be among the first admirers of Veterans For Peace(VFP) to welcome you home.  As the third generation in my family to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army, I was privileged to rejuvenate the Houston Chapter and serve in its leadership for a number of years.  I am certain that on your return, your comrades in arms in VFP will provide you a warm welcome and the support you'll need to re-adjust to Tea Party America.
Here's another welcoming committee and what they have to say about your release:

Sarah Palin:“No, Mr. President, a soldier expressing horrid anti-American beliefs – even boldly putting them in writing and unabashedly firing off his messages ( while in uniform, just three days before he left his unit on foot – is not “honorable service.” Unless that is your standard.
John McCain:“This decision to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home – and we applaud that he is home – is ill-founded … it is a mistake, and it is putting the lives of American servicemen and women at risk. And that to me is unacceptable.”
Michelle Malkin:“Bergdahl is still scheduled for a promotion. For those who served with Bergdahl, I can only imagine this feels like a slap in the face. Many believe the move, and subsequent WH Rose Garden announcement, was timed to knock the VA scandal — a slap in the face to America’s veterans — out of the headlines. A cruel irony if true.”
Oliver North:“Someone paid a ransom. Whether the Qataries paid it, or some big oil sheik, or somebody used our petrodollars, but there was a ransom paid in cash for each one of them, my guess somewhere in the round numbers of $5 or 6 million to get Bergdahl freed. I know that the offer that was on the table before was close to a million.”

I'm pretty sure these cranks and others like them fueled the death threats your parents have received on the news of your release. I wish them well, these good people of conscience who raised a thinking, son of conscience.  Your letters to them and their public statements make that very clear.

Your return, I fear, will not be any easy road for you.  You'll have to face your issues of compliance with the military code, a task you seem well up for.  But the America you're returning to is quite different from the one you left.

Violence is everywhere; an epidemic of mass shootings; roving bands of right wing haters just spoiling for a good fight.  A political class, including even some Democrats who oppose basic American values of bringing our battlefield warriors home, excepting those coming home in pine boxes.  A government that is only now facing up to its responsibility to make life as whole as possible for veterans who served.

That facing up still does not address the rank stupidity and immorality of  the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.  The welcoming committee above would love to  add Iran and Syria to that list of utterly dishonorable wars.  But if you choose to hook up with VFP and/or Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), which includes veterans of the Afghanistan fiasco, you'll find other people of conscience and thought who comprehended like you that they were being used as cannon fodder by the Bush/Cheney cabal.

Complicit with them were the military recruiters who conned them into believing that their service would involve honorable peace making missions.  Yes, the old myth of making war to bring peace.  More culturally ingrained violence as a solution to making things right.  We haven't gotten things right with the military since WWII.

As for the Guantanamo prisoners released with your homecoming, the nut cases in the welcoming committee have a beef about them too.  Never mind that apparently few remember that the U.S. and our CIA basically created the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan as a way of proxying  our opposition to the Soviet engagement in that country, a war that contributed to their ruin too.  Yes you and your comrades in arms were in effect fighting a group the good old U.S.A. fueled, funded and empowered.

Never mind that the Guantanamo five had never been tried, some likely tortured and were soon to be released anyway.  Not to excuse the violence they allegedly did, but they learned their violence in training camps we financed and supplied.

I hope your release will not be the last we hear from you or your great parents.  Evidence by the welcoming committee quoted above, America needs to hear your family's message...."Follow your conscience".

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

America's Psych/Neuro Crisis: Silence From The Medics

First Published in DelawareLiberal on 6/3/2014 by ProgressivePopulist
You might have noticed, if you're paying attention, that the U.S. has a major set of medical crises.  An epidemic of mass killings from clearly deranged perpetrators who've slipped through the net of the psych/neuro professionals unnoticed.  And an epidemic of broken vets returning home from the killing fields with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). .  The response from the medical profession (using this term advisedly)?  Silence.

NAMI reports that nearly 14 million Americans live with chronic mental illness such as Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar or major depression disorders.  Millions more undiagnosed. The VA reports that nearly a million veterans using their services are diagnosed with PTSD/or TBI.  A similar number out there undiagnosed.

It is not like these poor souls are new to our society.  Decades have elapsed for sufferers of this pain to be better understood by so called medical science.  I say so called because a friend of mine graduating from medical school told me his field was largely not driven by science, but rather, medicine was an "art".  Yet they've sold it to us as a science and we're paying dearly for it.  I believe he's right.   But art or not, what have you heard from the halls of medical learning lately about either of these crises?  Nothing.  Nada.

Stone cold silence from our medical schools, institutes of neuroscience and schools of psychiatry.  No public discussion led by them as you might expect or wish.  No media blitzes with either insights on causes or remedies.  They just keep making money and stay very quiet, as if to go unnoticed.  We'll, I'm noticing and I am appalled.  The graphic here in this  blog is intended to represent these cowards, not the broken souls they fail to serve.

I'll leave the connection to gun violence to other forums.  And discussions about an obviously overwhelmed and understaffed VA to address their inability to either certify the presence of these disorders with any kind of science or provide adequate lifetime treatment.

I read about Bush's knee surgery and Cheney's new heart, but I read nothing about their deliberate abuse of power sending our young men and women off to kill, be killed and immersed in the horrors of slaughter.   I don't give a rats ass about either of them and have no expectation that we'll ever hear any expressions of remorse for their crime against these young people, the civilians in Iraq or Af/Pak or our broken society.

It is time for the Psych/Neuro practitioners to stand up, be accountable and own up to their failure. It is time for reform and leadership among their ranks to address these long neglected issues.  It is time for research funding as needed and outreach from the cloistered, insular halls of medical learning.