Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gen. Pace's mistakes

Gen. Pace's mistakes (Letter to the Editor in Today's Washington Times by two retired Army Captains.)

How convenient it is for the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, to admit on the eve of his retirement to errors of judgment made in the Iraq war ("Top general acknowledges Iraq mistakes," Web site, Saturday).

The fact that our generals perpetually professed to Congress and the American people that we had adequate American troop levels in Iraq when the opposite has always been the case constitutes a dereliction of duty that continues to go unaddressed.

While leading American soldiers on patrols and trying to train Iraqi security forces in 2003 and 2005 in Al Anbar, BaghdadandNineveh provinces, we, and many other officers operating at the tactical and operational levels, consistently conveyed to our superior officers the need for more troops. There simply was not enough manpower to support the security, humanitarian and nation-building efforts.

To this end, our generals neither served their purpose nor did what they were promoted to do take care of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen under their charge, fight for their units and lead by example.

How is it that no senior officer has served any jail time for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal? Why did our senior leaders think "search and destroy" was going to be any more effective in Iraq than it was in Vietnam? How is it that the officers responsible for lying about Pat Tillman's death were only given notional reprimands? Why has no American officer been held accountable for hundreds of thousands of missing weapons and equipment in Iraq? Why is it that the only general officers who have spoken up about failed war strategy are retired?

It is simply astonishing that through the incompetence and self-delusion of these men, who have disgraced the uniform, an insurgency and terrorists have grown stronger, and overall, our military posture is weakened.

Even now, Gens. David H. Petraeus and Raymond Odierno count their temporary successes with a minuscule force of 160,000 soldiers and Marines but are as silent as church mice over the need for additional forces to make the gains more permanent.

In fact, we're already talking about a reduction in forces when any general who possessed the competence of say, a captain, would be telling Congress to triple the size of the Army and Marines or cut our losses.

Time will tell how this ugly and terrible debacle will unfold, but the history of our military leaders during this era will ultimately reveal the truth and extent of their dereliction.

CAPT. JASON BLINDAUER, Army (retired), Dallas

CAPT. LUIS CARLOS MONTALVAN, Army (retired) New York City

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Mitt Romney not serious about UN having power.

There is little doubt that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement of genocide against Israel. There is legislation pending in the Senate (House Concurrent Resolution 21) that calls for such action. But it is disingenuous for the Mitt Romney to “call on the US to reconsider its participation in the UN should the body continue to act as a toothless overseer” when it comes to Iran as the Washington Times editorial staff wrote (Tuesday, Sept 17, 2007 “Ahmadinejad at the UN”).

The UN was specifically designed and has been persistent maintained as a ‘toothless overseer” by the US government and particularly US politicians who fear any creation of a UN police force that would have any teeth for protecting human rights anywhere.

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq, not to mention Israel’s recent air strikes on Syria are “in fragrant disregard of the U.N.’s mission” but the Washington Times editorial team remains silent about the UN’s inability to do anything about these lethal violations of national sovereignty. This hypocrisy is part of the reason we have problems in the Middle East.

If Ahmadinejad is allowed to enter the UN he should be handed an indictment as Mr Romney suggested in another Washington Times news story, but something more should also be done about the existing ethnic cleansing now taking place in Iraq. A draw down of US troops after some success isn’t going to help. If anyone is serious about preventing crimes against humanity, like genocide against Israel or ethnic cleansing agaist the Shittes or Sunnis they would demand giving the UN real teeth consistent with the institution’s mission, instead of relying on the fickle US to be the world’s policeman.

The most effective force for peace, security and the protection of human rights in the world today could be an all Muslim UN peacekeeping/rapid reaction force capable of bring security to Iraq or arresting criminal Muslim politicians like Ahmadinejad. They could do so without sparking Armageddon.

But this isn’t what Romney or the Washington Times is committed to. All they just want is to continue to use the UN as a scapegoat for global problems while allowing global lawlessness to rule the day.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Liberals right but lack courage of conviction

(printed in Washington Times 9-16-07)

Williams Hawkins correctly identifies the ‘liberals’ fears of our nation’s over reacting to terrorism in “Madness beyond the water’s edge” (Friday Sept 14, 2007) and the liberals desire for dealing with terrorism by using the force of “domestic and international law” instead of the chaotic law of force. But, Mr. Hawkins is far off course in thinking liberals “have no allegiance to the society in which they live” and follow the “ideology of class division and hyper-individuality”. Liberals believe in class unity and equality in the global society in which we live.

For us/them there is only one class of people and that is the classification of humanity. It is the conservative worship of an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ world that is the most destructive class division and repudiation of our nations true values. The only degree to which liberals believe in hyper-individuality is the same way conservatives say they value ‘individual freedom’. It is conservatives who are follow Bin Ladin’s footsteps by demanding that everyone conform to the same fundamentalist religious doctrine. It is conservatives who are working to change the US Constitution to force their religious beliefs on others.

The greatest flaw however in Mr. Hawkins belief system is thinking liberal “defeatism confirms the utility of force – when used by the enemy”. The reality is that conservatives ‘militarism confirms the futility of force – when used by the enemy’. It is our war in Iraq that has demonstrated weakness of our nations military in dealing with Bin Ladin’s belief system. It is the conservative’s worship of militarism that actually destroys the most fundamental of all American values -- the utility of the force of law…in protecting the inalienable human rights and the security on which our great nation has prospered.

“The American people have done great things throughout our history” but we have also done some horrific things including institutionalizing slavery and the obliteration of the American Indians. These were accomplished within the conservative framework of nationalism and Christian values. A war of choice in Iraq is only the latest crime against humanity that conservative nationalistic ideology is responsible for. It is a war that continues to serve Osama Bin Ladin’s primary goals of dividing Americans, breaking us economically and generating more converts to his warped global ideological vision.

The greatest thing American people could do in this era of hyper globalization is revert to the idealism of our founding fathers and create a global justice system and rule of law based on the principles of our Declaration of independence…that all people are created equal, no matter where they are born or what religion they believe in…and work for a global federal system that can adequately enforce those rights using the force of law rather than the law of force.

This is where Liberals are the weakest. They don’t follow the power of their own convictions. Most liberals speak boldly of the need to protect human rights but fail to advocate for the global mechanisms that can legally, democratically and effectively enforce them. That is the real madness before the water’s edge.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Colin Powell says our fear helps terrorists win

Colin Powell talks about the greatest threat facing us now What is the greatest threat facing us now? [Excerpt] What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing? I would approach this differently, in almost Marshall-like terms. What are the great opportunities out there—ones that we can take advantage of? It should not be just about creating alliances to deal with a guy in a cave in Pakistan. It should be about how do we create institutions that keep the world moving down a path of wealth creation, of increasing respect for human rights, creating democratic institutions, and increasing the efficiency and power of market economies? This is perhaps the most effective way to go after terrorists. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a terrorist threat. There is a threat. And we should send in military forces when we have a target to deal with. We should also secure our airports, if that makes us safer. But let’s welcome every foreign student we can get our hands on. Let’s make sure that foreigners come to the Mayo Clinic here, and not the Mayo facility in Dubai or somewhere else. Let’s make sure people come to Disney World and not throw them up against the wall in Orlando simply because they have a Muslim name. Let’s also remember that this country was created by immigrants and thrives as a result of immigration, and we need a sound immigration policy. Let’s show the world a face of openness and what a democratic system can do. That’s why I want to see Guantánamo closed. It’s so harmful to what we stand for. We literally bang ourselves in the head by having that place. What are we doing this to ourselves for? Because we’re worried about the 380 guys there? Bring them here! Give them lawyers and habeas corpus. We can deal with them. We are paying a price when the rest of the world sees an America that seems to be afraid and is not the America they remember. You can drive up the road from here and come to a spot where there is a megachurch over here, a little Episcopal church over there, a Catholic church around the corner that’s almost cathedral-size, and between them is a huge Hindu temple. There are no police needed to guard any of this. There are not many places in the world where you would see that. Yes, there are a few dangerous nuts in Brooklyn and New Jersey who want to blow up Kennedy Airport and Fort Dix. These are dangerous criminals, and we must deal with them. But come on, this is not a threat to our survival! The only thing that can really destroy us is us. We shouldn’t do it to ourselves, and we shouldn’t use fear for political purposes—scaring people to death so they will vote for you, or scaring people to death so that we create a terror-industrial complex.