Archive for the Afghanistan Category

Seriously Sizing Up Syria Seizing Up (October 12, 2015)

Posted in Afghanistan, Bush, Climate, Dollar - World's Reserve Currency, Foreign Policy, Global Climate Change, Global Warming, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Newspapers, Russia, Sports, Syria, Vietnam, War on October 12, 2015 by e-commentary.org

. . .

7          “They could make it easier if they wore jerseys with numbers.”

8          “The good folks could sport odd numbers and the bad folks could sport even numbers on their uniforms.”

7          “Or the good folks could use even numbers and the bad folks could use odd numbers.  Or use different defining colors.  Or stitch the sponsor of the team on the back of the jersey.”

8          “During the Southeast Asian War Games conducted in ‘nam, a ‘Stars and Stripes’ newspaper cartoon depicted two identical individuals in pajamas and flip flops – one described as ‘Friend’ and one described as ‘Enemy’.”

7          “Nothing changes.  Discerning one’s friends and one’s enemies among those wearing towels and sandals is vexing.”

8          “The great feud between the Shia and the Sunni seems akin to the great feud between the Hatfields and McCoys.  No one was right and no one really knew what they were fighting for and no one really knew why they were fighting.”

7          “The reality is that the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, the enemy of my enemy is my enemy.”

. . .

7          “Most folks are more comfortable with what the nerdy folks describe as a ‘Manichean’ division into good and bad, or right and wrong, or us and them.  International relations are described as a balance of power and depicted with a scale.  A pint of water on one side can be balanced with a pound of whatever on the other side.  Yet international relations are more akin to multiple Calder mobiles strung and hung together.  Tug on one string and everything tips out of balance.  The unprovoked invasion of Iraq by then President Cheney and Vice President Bush in 2003 was the great tug that triggered the imbalance accelerating today.”

8          “Toss a rock in the pond and watch the concentric circles and the eccentric responses.  The lack of water in Syria and other places is fueling the fury.  A drought of water leads to a drought of hope.  The world is transitioning from wars over oil to wars over water.”

7          “And wars over currency.  Everything is out of balance.”

8          “Seems that global climate change is bringing about global change.”

. . .

8          “For the U.S., ‘Iraq’ is Arabic for ‘Vietnam’.  For Russia, ‘Syria’ may be Arabic for ‘Afghanistan’.”

7          “‘Waterloo’ is French for ‘Waterloo’.”

8          “Or Esperanto for ‘quagmire’.”

. . .

7          “We make decisions with limited information.  Look at who is for and who is against going to war.  Former General Wesley Clark suggests that the United States seeks to take out Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.  The Neo-conservatives in America want the United States to be mired in constant war everywhere on the planet all the time.  They keep getting us in trouble.”

8          “The bad folks.  Do they have even or odd numbers?  What color are their uniforms?”

. . .

7          “Much of the fighting is a prolonged currency war between the United States and many other countries.  The United States is slowly losing the franchise on the world’s reserve currency.”

. . .

[See the e-commentary at World’s Reserve Currency War I = Cold War 2.0 = WW III (?) (September 8, 2014) and Le Dollar – World’s Reserve Currency? (November 28, 2011).]

Bumper sticker of the week:

Are they doing the watusi when they should be doing the hokey pokey?

Distrust But Verify (July 21, 2014)

Posted in Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Iran, Journalism, Middle East, Military, Newspapers, Press/Media, Russia on July 21, 2014 by e-commentary.org

. . .

1          “Somewhat ironic that it is a rhyme from a Russian proverb made famous by Reagan.”

2          “Is it irenic?  I phrase it ‘distrust and verify’ because we have a civic duty to do our own research.”

1          “America is demonizing Putin, ostracizing Russia, antagonizing unknown forces, and militarizing the world.  Triggering World War III on the hundredth anniversary of World War I is not a righteous aspiration.”

2          “The phrase does not apply just to the misrepresentations of Putin and Russia foisted on the public today by those in power in the West.  When it comes to the Middle East and most matters of international affairs, it is also ‘reader beware’ in a world of pap, pablum and propaganda.”

1          “Who knows what is really going on in the Middle East or Gaza.  The ‘One Hundred Plus Years War’ is going strong and may go on until one people is wiped out.  And the apologists and propagandists pass themselves off as analysts and pundits.  Too many newspaper columnists and television personalities are just ideological blowhards.”

2          “So many graduates of the Edward L. Bernays School of Disinformation.  The truth is so elusive, because advancing the untruth is so often in the economic interests of the wealthy and the well connected.”

. . .

1          “Those who want America to go to war today are the ones who started the failed and failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday.”

2          “The only thing you can say with a high degree of confidence is that those who want America to go to war are clearly not seeking to advance America’s best interests.”

. . .

Bumper stickers of the week:

Distrust But Verify

Distrust And Verify

“All Governments Lie” I. F. Stone

Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb [pick a place, any place], bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb [insert the place].

Syria: Gas and Fog (August 26, 2013)

Posted in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Military, Vietnam on August 26, 2013 by e-commentary.org

. . .

C1        “There are times when a line in the sand is one side of a box you build around yourself.”

C2        “When you have someone trapped in a corner, you are also in a corner.  For centuries, nations have outlawed going to war and then regularly gone to war.  For one hundred years, all civilized nations have banned the use of poison gas and very few nations have used poison gas.”

C1        “But what if all the nations decide not to go to war against a nation that or individual who uses poison gas?”

. . .

C1        “I was against attacking Iraq and against attacking Afghanistan and am still against attacking Iran.”

C2        “And you were also against attacking Vietnam at a very young age.”

C1        “I don’t see this proposed attack as in our national interest.  Once again, the draft dodgers and neo-cons want to get America involved in another ill-conceived war to serve their individual interests.  Let them commit their sons and daughters first.”

C2        “They are beating the drums of war and drowning out the guitars of peace.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssay” titled The Drums of War (February 20, 2012)”]

Bumper stickers of the week:

Bombs away

We will get fooled again

It is time to draw the line on drawing lines

The Drums of War (February 20, 2012)

Posted in Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Journalism, Middle East, Newspapers, O'Bama, Press/Media on February 20, 2012 by e-commentary.org

. . .

+          “Can you hear the drums?”

–           “Loud and clear.  Five by Five.  I can smell them; I can feel them; I can taste them; I can see them.  Those who decide have decided to go to war with Iran.”

+          “I sense it too.  O’Bama’s comments before the Super Bowl were not reassuring.  Some of the militaristic rhetoric may be designed to force the players to reconsider diplomatic alternatives.  Von Clausewitz and all.  Most efforts appear to be directed at concocting a ruse or pretext or charade to go to war.”

–           “The only thing left to do is to fool the public.  That doesn’t even require creativity.  The American Empire is now committed to prosecuting two wars at all times.  We lost in Iraq, proclaimed victory and claimed to withdraw.  Now America has a free, but very expensive, pass to invade another country.”

+          “There really is no overriding strategy.  Imposing sanctions is the tactic to date.  The problem with sanctions is that a people may learn how to hunker down and live with them.  That which does not kill me and all.  And God bless the American public.  However, forty-five percent of the public will not even notice the different consonant.”

–           “The ‘Iraq, Iran, who cares, they are all towels’ mindset.  When the war starts, the most likely public reaction will be a quizzical look and a question asking whether we didn’t just leave there.”

+          “The group known as the Press does not seem as united in support of an attack as the gang was in early 2003.  Yet those calling for war are muting the few voices of dissent.  The drums are drowning out the guitars.”

–           “We just refuse to learn from our mistakes.  What if we decided to do something right and learn from our success?”

. . .

+          “Some say Falklands; some say Malvinas.”

–           “If you look at the map, you say Argentina.”

+          “If you wander around the Isla and talk to the folks, you say Britain.”

–           “Geographic location versus self-determination.  History seems to emerge historically and not logically.”

+          “History is like that.  So the only way to settle the matter is to embrace the time-honored tradition of killing batches of eighteen year olds.”

–           “Certainly trendy through the ages.  It is about sovereignty, yes, yet it is always about oil.”

+          “Perhaps they need to respect each country’s sovereignty and work on an arrangement to share the offshore resources in shared waters.”

–           “Deploying Billy was entirely ill-advised, provocative and unnecessary.  We just refuse to learn.”

+          “What if Billy had refused to deploy.”

. . .

Bumper stickers of the week:

No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations against Iran

I’m already against the next war

Jeremy Lin

Peaceful Presidents’ Day

The guitars of peace

The Bush Grand Slam (February 14, 2011)

Posted in Afghanistan, Bernanke, Bush, CIA, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, FBI, Federal Reserve, Iraq, Military on February 14, 2011 by e-commentary.org

. . .

1          “Quite an inspiring legacy.  The Bush appointees.  At least the prominent ones who are still serving.  Bernanke*, Mullen, Mueller and Gates.”

2          “Sounds like a trusts and estates boutique law firm.”

1          “By law, some major political appointees remain in office through the start of a subsequent administration.  The first three appointees continued serving at the start of the O’Bama administration.  O’Bama retained Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense and re-appointed Ben Bernanke* as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.”

2          “He really blew it in his early years with the Fed, yet Bernanke* may be the best that America can produce.  We need Bernanke to channel his inner Volker.”

1          “Bernanke is the pivotal player.  Gates swore an oath that included providing for the ‘common defense.’  His performance is exemplary and an example for all.  Ike, a Republican and former general to boot, was remarkably courageous in his last days in office when he warned us in no uncertain terms about the power of the military-industrial complex.  So much money that should be used for our common defense or other purposes is squandered on projects and programs that are unnecessary.  Gates is still challenging wasteful and duplicative spending.”

2          “Perhaps Gates could take off for a week to go bass fishing and then return to duty.  He has the stroke to get it done, but he may want to get out before he has a stroke.”

1          “You’ve got to have the fire to stay in the game.  Look at the record.  When the National Security Act of 1947 transformed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), there was concern to avoid the secret Gestapo police that had terrorized Europe and the world a few years earlier.  After 9/11, the barriers between international intelligence gathering and domestic police activities were eliminated.  Without institutional barriers, we rely on individual restraint.  As Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller has provided balance and prosecuted the task with integrity and an abiding concern for the Constitution.”

2          “Another former Marine making it.”

1          “And Mike Mullen as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been a steady hand on the tiller.”

2          “Tough task.  The military is engaged in two wars that America cannot win and cannot lose.  America cannot afford to pursue them and cannot afford not to pursue them.”

1          “And a calm head implementing the transition from DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) to a military culture that allows everyone a chance to serve and die without living a lie.”

2          “You know that he could have opted to go into the Marines after the Academy?”

. . .

[See the “e-ssay” titled “V Day (February 14, 2005).”]

Bumper stickers of the week:

Much is well that ends well

Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity

The Double Ought (00) “Decadent Decade” (January 4, 2010)

Posted in Afghanistan, Bailout/Bribe, Bernanke, Bush, China, Congress, Debt/Deficits, Economics, Federal Reserve, Foreign Policy, Greenspan, Health Care, Housing, Iraq, O'Bama, Presidency, Supreme Court on January 4, 2010 by e-commentary.org

1999:  No major wars yet percolating problems in a dozen venues; budget deficit surplus of about 236 billion dollars, although Bush inherited about a 5.7 Trillion dollar National Debt; and a boiling but unstable and slowly cooling economy.

The decade that threatened to come in with a bang sauntered in with only the traditional fire works.  Y2K may have been such an epic universal non-event because everyone realized that it was a real deadline that could neither be disregarded nor overlooked.  It was not Y2.001K.  Problems were timely addressed in a timely manner in time.  That was not the attitude for the remainder of the decade.

An outwardly non-descript and largely unknown bumbling scion who had been shepherded by others for their own purposes through an uneventful life was appointed by the Supreme Court to run things.  The ship of state sailed uneventfully for a time.  A written invitation to impending disaster delivered to and disregarded by the White House in August, 2001 was honored in September, 2001 by a quartet of airships.  The course of action was simple.  Know who we are and remain faithful to who we are.  Stay our course.  Redouble our vigilance and redouble it again (and redouble it one more time).  Too many in power and influence in the country lost their heads.  Leadership was non-existent.

A perfect storm.  An obscenely incompetent President, a flagitious and arrogant vice-President, a smug, bungling and petulant Secretary of War/Defense (Rumsfeld), hamstrung Secretaries of State (Powell and Rice), a mendacious Secretary of the Treasury in the second term (Paulson), a marginal Attorney General (Gonzales) and their ilk were not the Dream Team.  The damage they inflicted in the decade will take decades to repair.

Bush proclaimed that WeMaD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and almost everyone joined in the madness.  No one ever made a compelling case for the invasion of Iraq.  The national press (WP, NYT and so many others) yearned for war, any war, just give us a war with photo ops and film at eleven.  The major television networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, Faux) were thrilled and went wild with glee.  It was a time, the only time, to watch their coverage non-stop to bear witness in real time to the folly and the madness.  The few dissenting voices (Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder’s Washington Bureau, Terry Gross and guests with NPR/Fresh Air, Walter Pincus with the WP and a few dozen other courageous individuals) did not reach a wide audience.  They were voices in the darkness.  The Iraq quagmire is the greatest foreign policy blunder in American history.

Deficit spending and economic looting became the national pastimes.  Almost everyone involved in directing and controlling the economy (Reagan, Gramm and Rubin in earlier decades with the assistance of Bush, Greenspan, Paulson, C. Cox, Geithner, Summers and others in this decade) almost without exception (Brooksley Born and a few others) were committed to undermining the American economy at every opportunity for the benefit of a few.  One must concede that they succeeded handsomely.  Although they are domestic economic terrorists, their activities never became the subject of the vaunted “war on terror.”  No one ever made a compelling case for the bribery and bailout of Wall Street.  Bernanke* remains the enigma, the outsider and the ultimate insider, who did not recognize what was obvious before and after he became Chairman in February, 2006 and disregarded the advice of his colleague Edward Gramlich.

The first African-Irish-American was elected President.  There were a few things they did not tell him before he got elected that he learned quickly after he got elected.  He re-nominated Bernanke* to run the Federal Reserve which may be the only option given the limited economic talent in America.  His appointments to date are adequate, yet the administration is still seeking traction and direction.  Health care is becoming his domestic economic quagmire.  Although it is not really the job of the government to provide jobs and/or homes, the populace wants a job to go to during the day and a house to come home to at night.

About the House.  And the Senate.  Congress could be declared a natural disaster area.  The Republicans are useless, the Democrats are not particularly useful.  Forty-five percent of Americans respond to and are motivated by fear and loathing; the Republicans know and stoke their base.  The Republicans may make great strides in the November elections.  The party committed to destroying government may again be given that opportunity.

The nine members of the Supreme Court are more myopic and narrow-minded than just about any other Court in the history of the Republic.  The Court sports two religions (with one exception), two schools (with one exception), and two (mas o menos) schools of thought (with a few exceptions), yet it has two women, too.  The war at the Court and for the Court continues.  O’Bama may have an impact, although the impact of the economy on O’Bama’s future will greatly impact his impact on the Supreme Court.

The profit-maximizing universities in America should be part of the solution, but they are part of the problem; they may be more accurately described as part of the process and the processing.  They recruit, train and drill the next McNamaras and Rumsfelds.  To their credit, they adhere to a thirty-year business plan rather than the three-month strategy pursued by other businesses.

The information made public in the National Intelligence Reports over the decade patiently and exhaustively chronicles the decline of America’s role in the world after six decades of preeminence.  America has done much wrong during that time, yet America has done far, far, far more good, often with resentment and usually without thanks.  On balance, everyone is better off with the United States as the dominant superpower.  This is China’s century.

Now:  Multiple wars, battles, skirmishes and police actions with two major foreign base camps (Iraq and Afghanistan); massive and growing deficits and about a 12.3 Trillion dollar National Debt; zero private-sector employment gain and zero economic gain for the average family over the decade; and no industry to inflate other than the federal government industrial complex.

[See the “e-ssays” dated Jan. 5, 2009 titled “The Millennium to Date”; dated October 6, 2008 titled “A Bleak Day:  The Trillion Dollar Tragedy”; dated September 29, 2008 titled “Futile Efforts”; dated May 4, 2009 titled “Picking the Supreme Beings”; dated May 14, 2007 titled “Term Limits”; and dated Jan. 30, 2006 titled “Greenspan’s Legacy:  Apres moi, Le Meltdown.”]

Bumper stickers of the week:

The Recession is Over.

The Recession is Over; Let the Depression Begin

Halcyon Ano Nuevo

The Audacity of Afghanistan (Dec. 7, 2009)

Posted in Afghanistan, China, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Military, O'Bama on December 7, 2009 by e-commentary.org

. . .

“We can’t leave and we can’t stay.  But we must leave, because we can’t afford to stay.  But we must stay, because we can’t afford to leave.”

“The graveyard of empires will be the graveyard of the American Empire.”

“And of many American kids.”

“At least in ‘Nam, the long shoreline allowed the Navy to provide much needed cover deep into the jungle.  The ‘stans are all remote caves and stone quarries.  We haven’t even started bombing and yet the whole place looks like it already has been bombed back to the Stone Age.  Charlie could move among a few countries.  Now they can move around the world.  My concern is not that we are signaling when we may leave in 2011, my concern is that they have ample notice to move to another theater.  The world is their stage.”

“The real concern is Pakistan and the Bomb.  And oil.  They don’t want anyone to deploy the bomb or to divert the oil.”

“And no real support on the home front again.  The populace is so disconnected from the sacrifice.  I don’t think I detested anything more than that draft.  The only way to bring the effort home is to reinstate the evil draft rather than the poverty draft.  It still steams me that even with the draft in place cowards like Cheney, Bush, Giuliani and the chicken hawks dodged the draft and then got to deploy kids off to get killed.”

“It’s all about the Bomb and oil.  The only possible way to fund the American effort is to quit funding their effort.  Implement the Terrorist Tax on fuel.”

“You have gotta pay to play.”

“Yet it comes back to the Bomb.  That remains the problem.  They got it.  The surge in Iraq was not military, it was economic.  The surge was a splurge of dollars to buy and bribe the locals for a cessation of violence for a short period of time.  The bribes worked.  The additional troops were incidental and marginal to the military effort, yet served honorably as the paymasters.  In Afghanistan, the US cannot begin to bribe all the tribal leaders and followers and buy peace.”

“The villagers are no different than the villagers in ‘Nam.  They are just trying to get through the day.  At night, when the US leaves, they receive visitors.  They need protection from their own.”

“The US is borrowing money from a very problematic source, China, to put troops in Afghanistan to influence activities in Pakistan so that Pakistan does not deploy the Bomb on India.  The US cannot ask for or accept Indian troops to be stationed anywhere near Pakistan soil, yet a few rupees to support the cause are in order.  Now Iran is bracketed by US troops on both sides, yet the US cannot afford to pay for the grand endeavor much longer.  The tactic mistakenly described as ‘terrorism’ is a greater threat to Europe than to the US, yet the Europeans are not making a commensurate contribution.”

“And because the American people are not making any sacrifices, they are not invested in the discussion.”

“We cannot afford to maintain the American Empire.  Pass the Terrorist Tax.  When the first Bomb is deployed, admittedly a few things will change.”

. . .

Bumper sticker of the week:

Vietnam:  LBJ’s ‘Nam;

Iraq:  Bush’s ‘Nam; and

Afghanistan:  O’Bama’s ‘Nam