Archive for January, 2007

The Charge of The Light Brigade (January 29, 2007)

Posted in Bush, Iraq, Military on January 29, 2007 by

Bush is in a hole and is digging deeper; he is digging even more graves.  The troops are being sacrificed because of arrogance, cowardice and stupidity.  Of the 21,500 or more troops to be condemned, there are likely to be 600 casualties.  About 70 to 80 likely will die.  There is a 7 to 1 ratio of severe wounds to deaths.  About 490 to 560 brave Americans will be severely wounded.  600 towns, 600 families, 600 moms, 600 dads, and innumerable wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, grandmoms, granddads, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

“. . .

Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

. . .”

–Sir Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, 25 October, 1854, Written in 1854

And likely 6000 dead and wounded Iraqis.

Bumper stickers of the week:

Reason why

Would you send your child?

Tombstones as Milestones: Do Body Counts Count? (January 22, 2007)

Posted in Iraq, Military on January 22, 2007 by

Another tombstone was reached recently, the current box score from the Crusade in Iraq: 3000 flag-draped coffins slipped into Dover, Delaware using the cover of darkness.  The travesty is justified by new twists on the time-dishonored and twisted “Body Count.”

A nation has a monopoly on the use of violence to advance public concerns.  Under international law, a soldier serving a nation may only take another soldier out of combat (the “hors de combat” rule).  A soldier who is “out of the fight” is one incapable of performing in a military capacity which includes the wounded, sick, disabled or detained.  According to the laws of war, they are accorded special protection including POW (prisoner of war) status. 

In Vietnam, the title to real estate changed daily depending on the time of day.  The U.S. owned the village at 1400 hours; the V.C. owned the village at 0200 hours.  It took a village in the morning and relinquished it at night.  A new benchmark of success emerged — the Body Count.  The number of dead and wounded became the “goals” and “assists” of the game.  These benchmarks of success contradicted international law, yet they became the only daily measure of success reported on the nightly news.

In Iraq, the body count has been further perverted.  Some commentators are saying that the body count of fallen Americans must be kept in perspective relative to other conflicts.

Comparisons are made to the invasion at Normandy or the battle of Antietam.

Comparisons are made to deaths in Vietnam (58,000 KIA) or to Korea (54,000 KIA).  Americans, KIA.  That does not include others killed and wounded.  

Comparisons are made to World War II.  Some note that the United States got into and out of that war in less time than it has spent invading and occupying and destroying Iraq.

Comparisons are made to the number of individuals lost in the Twin Towers.  The comparison is advanced by those who seem to suggest some connection between Iraq and the “war on terrorism.”  Should half the lives that were lost in the Twin Towers or twice as many lives that were lost be an acceptable target?

Comparisons are not made to the number of Iraqi dead and wounded.  On October 12, 2006, an updated study was published in the British medical journal “The Lancet” which found that between 393,000 and 943,000 excess deaths have occurred in the 2003 invasion and its aftermath.  The study estimates the likely figure to be 655,000.  That number seems high.  No one disputes that the actual number, whatever it is, is way too high.

The United Nations recently reported that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed violently in 2006.  Prior estimates were much lower.

Keep it in perspective, some say, because not that many Americans have really died in Iraq.  Not to worry, they say, everything is relative.  Everything is not relative.  Particularly to those who have lost a relative.  They cannot relate.  Too many Americans have died in Iraq; too many Americans have been wounded in Iraq; too many Iraqis have died in Iraq; too many Iraqis have been wounded in Iraq.  The Body Count keeps adding up; the Body Count does not add up.

[See the e-ssay dated February 27 entitled “The Arithmetic of Futility”].

[See the count of war casualties at]

Bumper sticker of the week:

Think  It’s Patriotic

Bush Escalates World War III (January 15, 2007)

Posted in Bush, Iran, Iraq on January 15, 2007 by

“The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing ‘clergy and laymen concerned’ committees for the next generation.  They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru.  They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia.  They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa.  We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.  So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam,” Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church, April 4, 1967.

“Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenge.  This begins with addressing Iran and Syria.  These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq.  Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops.  We will disrupt the attacks on our forces.  We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria.  And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

. . .

We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East.  I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.  We will expand intelligence sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies.  We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border.  And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.”

–Emperor George W. Bush, Address to the nation, January 10, 2007.

Bush is escalating his own World War III.  Bush has lost in Iraq; with the ascendancy of the Shiites, Iran is winning in Iraq; Bush is now planning to lose in Iran.  What has not worked in Iraq is now going to be implemented in Iran and Syria.  There are two truths about the escalation surge in Iraq:

1) Those who have been wrong all along about Iraq are in favor of the escalation surge.

2) Those who have been right all along or have come to recognize what is right are against the escalation surge.  

Bush will get his additional troops despite and in spite of the efforts by some in Congress to reduce the American presence.  Any available Marines and Army troops should be deployed to Afghanistan; the National Guard to the Gulf (of Mexico).  The danger is that Bush is taking action that provides Iran with a moral and legal justification to escalate the situation in the Middle East.  Bush is seeking to provoke a plausible provocation for war.  He seeks to manufacture a “Gulf Of Tonkin” incident to justify doing what he intends to do without justification.  The United States must not invoke the doctrine of “hot pursuit” to justify an invasion into Iran by the additional troops being sent to Iraq.  The United States must defuse Iran without stepping foot on Iranian ground.  At this time, the United States is losing ground and is losing the high ground.

There must be a plan to get out of Iraq immediately because events will force America to “cut and run” without dignity later this year.  American units are likely to be pinned down and beyond anything but limited aerial support.  “Remember Saigon, April, 1975” must be the mantra in 2007.  When America is forced to abandon personnel and posts in Iraq, much of America’s technology also will fall into unfriendly hands.  The technology can be reverse-engineered and manufactured.  The United States should declare victory and redeploy to bases in the region.   

There are alternative approaches discussed in an e-ssay that references a lengthy essay by George S. McGovern and William R. Polk.  [See the e-ssay dated October 30].  The plan is discussed in their book, “Out of Iraq:  A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now.”  The Iraqi Civil War cannot be stopped by American force or American forces.  [See the e-ssay dated April 17].  There is no course of action that will prevent bloodshed except possibly very subtle diplomacy involving every country and player in the Middle East to engage the Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds in a careful balance of power/terror.

Iran has issues with American actions taken in 1953; America with Iranian actions taken in 1979.  Despite this history of conflict and distrust, the situation in Iran requires a diplomatic not a military solution.  There is a percolating civil war within Iran.  The United States must not invade Iran and thereby unite the populace against the invader.  The U.S. must enlist the support of the largely young and secular population in Iran that prefers to carry an iPod rather than an AK, to use a cell phone to text messages rather than to trigger bombs, and to drive a Honda rather than to dynamite a Hummer.  That is the way to neutralize the militant forces in Iran and to bring some stability to the Middle East and even Iraq.  Out-think, out-wit and out-maneuver.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Iran is Persian for Vietnam

Corrections, Additions, Observations and Errors In Progress (January 8, 2007)

Posted in Bush, Iraq, Society on January 8, 2007 by

World War III d.b.a. (doing business as) Iraq can and is getting worse.  Too many humans are being stuffed in graves (now 3000 U.S. dead) while the situation on the ground is deteriorating.  The proposal for a “surge” in troops is counterproductive, preposterous and absurd.  The surge will only inspire the insurgents.  The United States cannot define victory in Iraq and cannot achieve victory even with a surge of one half million troops over ten years.  Some of the money earmarked for that doomed and futile effort should be used to address the consequences of the storm surge in Louisiana in 2005.  Bush will make a statement about Iraq this week.  The populace made a statement in November, yet it may be disregarded until the public speaks more clearly and loudly.

2006 was the year of World Nuclear Proliferation.  The “Bush Doctrine” directly and indirectly promotes the development of nuclear technology and greatly increases the likelihood of nuclear war.  [See the e-ssay dated March 27].  There are some efforts to secure nuclear technology produced by the former Soviet Union, yet far from enough in light of the danger.  Use of a tactical nuclear today is more likely than ever in the past.

The Duke lacrosse situation is another reminder that we should all embrace the presumption of innocence rather than pre-judge a situation and spew prejudices.  Commentators of all political stripes made some not so innocent presumptions. 

Cheney’s hunting incident provided copious copy and commentary.  Spend enough time in the field and someone will be out of position.  The shooting was accidental.  The cover up was intentional.

George “Cowboy” Allen, a former Republican Senator from Virginia, made a buffoon (baboon) of himself on international tv.  YouTube caught him being himself.  YouTube allows you to tube your career and reputation all by yourself.  “Down the tube” takes on a new meaning.

Some of the e-ssays require correction or addition.  The world is not likely to see the emergence of true “Caliphates” because the pulls of sect, region, country, province, village, tribe, clan, family and side of the street are too strong.  [See the e-ssay dated September 25].  No one will agree on one or two Caliphs.  There are more likely to be spheres of influence in Shiite Iraq/Iran/Hezbollah Lebanon and in Sunni Iraq/Saudi Arabia/Jordan.  The competition between and among them for hegemony will create even more instability. 

Increasing the federal minimum wage may not impact employment as negatively as the theorists suggest because 1) many states have enacted higher minimum wages already, and 2) many employers must pay higher wages to attract qualified workers in the current marketplace.  [See the e-ssay dated July 31].  [See the article “The Right Minimum Wage” by George F. Will dated January 4 on page A17 in “The Washington Post”].

Other birthdays in 2006 – the Suez Crises, the Hungarian revolt, the development of containerized shipping.  [See the e-ssays dated July 10 and June 19].

Bumper sticker of the year for 2006:

Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam 

Ford, Betty and Gerald (January 1, 2007)

Posted in Automobiles/Automobile Industry, Ford, Society on January 1, 2007 by

Betty Ford is a classic and a contemporary woman, mother and wife.  She talked to her kids about pre-marital sex and marijuana rather than lecturing them.  She observed publicly that abortion is a private not a public decision.  Her efforts on behalf of breast cancer detection and treatment warrant a Nobel Prize in Medicine or Peace.  She confronted her demons and helped others detect and treat theirs.  She wore her beliefs on her sleeve not up her sleeve.  She wore an “ERA” (Equal Rights Amendment) button while her husband wore a “WIN” (Whip Inflation Now) button.  He confronted his demons – stagnation and inflation – with mixed success.  He did not lose the foreign policy demon of his day.  Although not elected, he elected not to exacerbate the many foreign policy mistakes of others in Vietnam.  The (Nixon) Pardon is still problematic; there was a sotto voce understanding which is not surprising among politicians.  The “Profile In Courage” award was appropriate because the decision to pardon, right or wrong, was courageous under the circumstances.  Not a saint and not a Lincoln, Ford is an endangered specie, a Midwestern Republican who preached and practiced personal integrity, fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and a nuanced military polity.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Well-behaved women rarely make history