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.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Half truths better than ignorance

Nelson Marans and Serge Wing simply don’t get it (Obama’s dangerous path 2-21-08). But they needn’t take my words or Obama’s more reasoned and non-lethal approach to dealing with the threat of terrorism to understand the fallacy of thinking more military “muscle” is needed to defeat terrorism.

Just last November U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said "One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win: economic development, institution-building and the rule of law, promoting internal reconciliation, good governance, providing basic services to the people, training and equipping indigenous military and police forces, strategic communications,” were also “essential ingredients”. Gates also said “the attacks of September 11 marked the dawn” of a “new era” distinct from previous war eras, and now “there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security." He also acknowledged that Pentagon supporters (like Marans and Wing) would consider this "blasphemy".

Marans and Wing could also review the recent survey of more than 3,400 active and retired officers -- 10 percent of whom served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both. Even a majority of these military professionals agreed that more muscular military assets would not be as useful in assisting “the US military in winning the Global War on Terror” as “diplomacy tools”, “intelligence”, “language skills”, “civilian experts” and “economic development assistance”.

It’s clear that many other patriotic Americans like Marans and Wing are still stuck in a pre-9-11 era mindset even after super military powers like the US and the Soviets loss insurgent wars against Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Mr. Morans claims I “essentially endorse a policy of surrender to terrorism and the nations that support it.” The US and the Soviet Union didn’t ‘surrender’ to Vietnam or Afghanistan. We (and the Soviets) simply stopped fighting a war that wasn’t worth the cost.

Devoting our limited resources towards policies that effectively reduce terrorism… instead of using military muscle that creats 10 terrorists for every one we kill -- isn’t a policy of surrender. It’s a smart policy that works against a relatively small group of mass murderers whose organizational structure is nearly identical to the Mafia , not the Nazis.

Mr. Wing claims my “Platitudes…are at best half correct” but then asserts that we had a real “coalition” going into Iraq. He then claims that “12 years of noncompliance” and “17 violations” were legitimate “acts of war” by Iraq – and my “criticisms” of Bush’s Iraq war are “outdated” given “recent successes”. I believe it’s completely accurate to say that the tens of thousands of people who lost loved ones on both sides of this unnecessary conflict will consider all of Mr. Wing’s statements far less than half correct.

And finally, anyone who seriously claims that “water boarding” is not torture because they ‘experience it’ under peace time conditions at the hands of their own professional colleagues…doesn’t really know the difference between reality and half truths.

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