Monthly Archives: May 2007

Iraq Vet Suicides

The Defense Department has no procedures to track suicides by veterans who return home from combat in Iraq. They have so far recorded 107 suicides during operations in Iraq, but little is known concerning those who return home with emotional scars from battle and scenes of death. A recent report by the Veterans Administration admits there is lack of properly trained health care workers in many hospitals, and there is also grossly inadequate screening occurring to identify mental health issues.

Anyone who is close to a returning Iraq veteran knows full well the difficulties many are encountering in adjusting to life back home. For those in the Reserve or National Guard, one or two or even three deployments has wrecked havoc with their careers as well as caused serious problems with a spouse. We forget that extracting men and women from well paying careers and placing them on service pay may be for most a dramatic impact on standards of living. A spouse must not only cope with loss of a husband or wife, but with the need to make financial adjustments.

Isn’t it about time serious thought was given to ensuring that any member of the National Guard or Reserves is entitled to pay equivalent to their wages prior to being deployed? That would alleviate for many financial strains, which are an emotional drain upon people who are separated from a spouse who is struggling to keep things normal. I also suspect for many returning veterans they are encountering the “slip behind” syndrome at work. If an individual is gone 18 months their employer had to hire a replacement, and the job promotion that might have been attained is no longer available. We can’t solve the emotional problems brought home by those who witnessed indescribable horror, but we can at least give them financial security while deployed. We can also provide free, high-quality counseling services to any veteran for as long as needed.
Information from Army Times

Messing Up The Mullahs

Peter Brookes of the New York Post says according to a news account supposedly based from inside the government, President Bush signed off on a classified intelligence “finding” (whatever that means) authorizing the CIA to undertake a non-lethal covert-action program to destabilize Iran’s “nearly out-of-control government, if it’s true, it’s about time.”

This story may simply be another one of Murdoch’s inane attempts through the good offices of the New York Post to create smoke where there is no fire, or it could be genuine. If genuine, is there something weird about Bush authorizing talks with Iran while signing off on a covert-action program to destabilize the government with whom you have just initiated discussions? Logic would dictate in such a delicate time, one should act in a judicious manner, but heck, welcome to Bushland.
Information from New York Post

The Standard?

William Kristol and Frederick Kagan in an article appearing in the June 6th issue of the Weekly Standard comment on Congress giving in on war funding: “Now the president can turn his undivided attention to fighting the enemies who are attacking our soldiers.” They note with horror that “foreign fighters are flowing into Iraq to kill Iraqis and Americans.” Our victory, according to these pundits, “will be an important victory in the larger struggle against terrorism – and our defeat there would embolden and empower our enemies.”

But the heroes of the Iraq war are worried about “the ghost of Donald Rumsfeld lives in some quarters of the Bush administration,” since Gates has hinted at pulling the plug and getting out. They also decry “the State Department with fantasy diplomatic solutions based on overtures toward Iran and Syria.” After all, the brave boys of the right wing know who the real enemies are – Iran and Syria. And they are so happy that Bush got the right idea back in January about a surge. However, the president has to be aware that “mixed messages from Bush’s advisers and cabinet undermine the efforts of our commanders in the field.”

Lets look at the record my brave boys of war. First, there were NO FOREIGN TERRORISTS IN IRAQ UNTIL BUSH’S POLICIES BROUGHT THEM THERE. Duh, Saddam Hussein was a DICTATOR who DID NOT PUT UP WITH ANY OPPONENTS. Second, as I recall, the Weekly Standard boasted of the genius of Donald
Rumsfeld a few years back. Thirdly, if George Bush is this hot shot leader, how come he appoints whimps like Gates who want to get out of Iraq? What kind of great leader sends “mixed messages” to his generals in the field? I assure you Franklin Roosevelt made it loud and clear what he wanted from his generals, as did Harry Truman who got rid of one who would not obey orders. Fourthly, General Petraeus is already talking about reducing our forces in Iraq by the fall. On one hand, the Weekly Standard wants more troops and boasts about the genius of Bush who appoints generals who are discussing reducing the size of our troops!

Last, but not least, the Weekly Standard simply ignores it has no criteria to guide the meaning of “victory in Iraq.” Yes, we send in thousands of additional soldiers, and insurgents quiet down. But I assure one and all at the Standard, the minute we reduce the number of our troops those same insurgents will again surface. Like it or not, Weekly Standard, the war in Iraq is not winnable by American forces. Only diplomacy and cooperation from those hated enemies – Iran and Syria – will get us out of the mess

By the way, since Kristol and Kagan are such advocates of war and deride Democrats like Kerry who actually fought in a war, did either of you gentlemen volunteer to fight in Vietnam? Mr. Kristol, you were eighteen in 1970, why didn’t you grab a rifle and plunge into the jungles of Vietnam to fight the evil empire of communism? Do either of you know the old song about how old men send young boys off to die? Go listen to it. It’s all about you and other cowardly Republicans like Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, etc.. who never got around to serving their nation but sure as heck want our brave young men and women to die in a misguided struggle that has no victory.
Information from The Weekly Standard

Twists and Turns of the Sun

Today, we go around the minds of right wing supporters of Bush and examine how they travel the yellow brick road toward nowhere.

I make it a point every day to read the New York Sun because it is part of my daily regimen in confronting my mind with the cuteness of smirking little boys and girls who are never wrong. In yesterday’s editorial, The New York Sun derided Senator Clinton for changing her mind. “Mrs. Clinton did not object to our entry either into the global war on terror or the battle of Iraq. On the contrary, she voted for it.” The editorial seeks to connect Lincoln’s attitude toward first opposing the war with Mexico but subsequently supporting funding with this observation: “It’s hard to imagine what Lincoln would have made of Mrs. Clinton, who started out in Illinois, when she claims to ‘fully support our troops’ but then votes against funding for the war in which they are risking everything.” But, listen to the concluding portion of the editorial: “The more one reads about it, the more one gets the sense that Lincoln might have wondered why Mr. Bush has been so punctilious about the legal niceties. It’s hard to imagine Lincoln would not have understood Mr. Bush on the larger issues, particularly his understanding of, and his willingness to shoulder, the responsibilities of the president in a time of war.”

Wow! Where does one begin with this claptrap of nonsense? How about George Bush being “punctilious about the legal niceties.” Could any historian or anyone who has read the writings of Lincoln believe for a single moment that he would have allowed torturing of captured soldiers –whether in uniform or not? Lincoln did fully support his soldiers. He even went to see the bodies of dead soldiers – unlike George Bush. He was hurt by the deaths of his own soldiers and the deaths of his enemies. Contrast the Gettysburg Address with the moral platitudes of Bush. In the Gettysburg Address (it comes after a battle in which thousands of his soldiers have been killed) Lincoln refuses to express an angry word against the Confederates but shares in the agony of their deaths. Just remember, Sun, about 300,000 Union soldiers died, but Lincoln has no hatred toward the enemy.

Now, as for Senator Clinton voting for the war, let’s return to the record. Her president presented a pack of lies about WMD and threats to America that he knew were inaccurate but useful in persuading Congress to support his war. Clinton actually believed her president was telling the truth. She, together with millions of Americans, learned Bush lied and subsequently changed her mind. If one truly wants to “support our troops” then one must vote to end the insanity of Iraq. By the way, Sun, polls conducted by the military continually indicate at least half the troops have concluded the war is not winnable. So, Senator Clinton is doing what is best for the troops, getting them out of harm’s way.

My final question to the Sun—why is it permissible for Republicans to change their minds – remember the WMD – but if Democrats change minds they are hypocritical?
Information from The New York Sun

Turkey Not Satisfied with Iraq Government Response

The Turkish government is growing increasingly angry at actions by Kurdish separatist forces that operate within the boundary of the current nation of Iraq. The Turkish government wants Iraq to take a forceful stand against Kurdish separatists, but the Kurds essentially function as an independent country, although still technically part of Iraq.

In addition to all of its problems with terrorist factions within Iraq, the government might now be dragged into the middle of Kurdish efforts to force Turkey to grant autonomy to eastern areas of their country which contain significant numbers of Kurdish people. There is fear within Baghdad that Turkish military units might cross the border in pursuit of Kurdish rebels. What then? Will American forces protect the Iraq border against Turkish military efforts?

This situation brings once again to the fore the lack of planning on the part of the Bush administration. Anyone with knowledge of this region knew of the potentiality of problems that would arise with the downfall of Saddam. It was obvious to even those with meager knowledge of the Kurdish conflict with Turkey that an independent Kurd nation would be regarded as a threat by Turkey. Did any of Bush’s advisors foresee this problem? (We know he paid scant attention to the Colin Powell State Department). If so, is there a plan?
Information from Turkish Daily News

Clueless in Gaza

Khaled Amayrch, writing from the West Bank for al-Ahram argues, “it is imperative that Fatah and Hamas reach an accord sooner or later to prevent further infighting.” Israel missiles have been blasting the homes of Hamas leaders resulting in the death of six members of the family of Khalil Al-Hayya, a Palestinian lawmaker who represent Hamas.

The Qassam missiles launched by Hamas are notoriously inaccurate and, although they make a lot of noise, are regarded by most Palestinians as a psychological weapon that creates anxiety among the people of Israel. The Qassam attack has proved to be enormously successful since it has resulted in a formidable response by Israel, which only serves the purpose of forcing Hamas and Fatah to unite. Bombs, whether or not they actually kill, create enormous anxiety among people and foster a climate of fear. Amayrch is correct in pointing out that Israel attacks have created enormous anxiety and fear within the Palestinian population. He, together with other Palestinians, believe there are other reasons for this latest Israel attack:

“There is no doubt that the fundamental motivation behind the latest Israeli incursion into Gaza has far more to do with the Israeli government’s desire to compensate for the shortcomings of the Lebanon war and to implement the Winograd Committee’s recommendations.” The Winograd Report blasted the incompetence of Olmert and the Israeli military. He also notes rumors are circulating among people in Gaza that Fatah and the American government encouraged the Israeli attack to aid Fatah in its fight against Hamas.

Does anyone in the US State Department know anything about the Middle East? There is no doubt Israel never would have launched their attacks without support from the Bush administration. The mere circulation of rumors that Fatah is in cahoots with Israel could destroy the only force in Palestine with which we have any hope of reaching an agreement for peace. Stop the Israel bombing and get to the negotiation table. I realize a critic can argue it is easy for me to write such words when Israel’s citizens are being subjected to Qassam bombs. Yes, it is not easy to hold back when attacked, but right now we need a strong Fatah government if there is to be any hope for peace.
Information from Al-Ahram

The Ongoing Story of the Ugly American

Forty odd years ago, Graham Greene wrote a famous book entitled The Ugly American which also was made into a motion picture. The story is basically that of a well meaning American who continually makes political mistakes because of ignorance of local customs and people. The ugly American scenario was recently re-enacted by Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who handles East Asia and Pacific Affairs. On a trip to the Philippines, Hill commented that recent elections in the country demonstrated that “democracy in the Philippines has already matured.” The comment came after an international observers mission had concluded, based on field evidence, that the elections had been absolutely chaotic and the mission has doubt as to whether the Philippines can be categorized as a democratic state.

Alejandro Lichauco, writing in the Daily Tribune, commented on Hill’s statement. “Now, don’t you consider that’s a blatant example of US interventionism, calculated to give the world the impression that, as far as the US government is concerned, nothing, after all, went wrong with the elections, and that all those complaints and protest of fraud, terrorism, vote-buying, and voter intimidation, were pure fancy? And that therefore, political business should now proceed as usual and nothing should be allowed to upset the administration applecart.”

The present Philippine government supports Bush in Iraq so that means it must be democratic. After all, we Americans are fighting against those who oppose democracy, so it stands by logic that any government supporting our glorious fight must, by definition, be a democracy. The ugly American of Graham Greene led to the defeat of any hope a democratic government could be established in Vietnam, and one suspects the same ugly Americans are doing something similar in the Middle East and other parts of the world. One wonders where Bush finds these people for his administration. Oh well, I really know the answer, they are loyal Republicans and that is all that counts. I suspect a prospective candidate must submit to a competence test prior to getting a position in the Bush administration. If he passes, it is an automatic denial of a position.
Information from Daily Tribune

Oh, here is the headline appearing in the Manila Sunday Times:
“Lunaro del Sur special Polls Marred by Violent Fraud”

On Patriotism

I have always been torn between beliefs that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, and my pride in being an American. I fell in love with this nation as a small boy, read enormously of its history (co-authored a history of the United States as well), and wandered over this land many times. I have tremendous admiration for men and women who risked their lives defending it and feel anger at the manner in which a group of cowards and draft dodgers in Washington D.C. have abused all that I hold dear about this nation. I do not apologize for loving this land even though I know full well of its mistakes and the brutality that many of our citizens have endured.

I often feel that critics place America under a measurement criteria that no nation in the world has ever been compelled to meet. As a patriot, I feel it is my duty to ensure basic values are adhered to by this society, and that no woman, man, or child should ever have to endure hate or hunger. During the past six years I repeatedly have listened to Americans boast that constitutional rights must be ignored because that is the price of security. I have heard men and women who swore to uphold the Constitution argue we are not a nation of law but a frightened, threatened society which must abandon our heritage to defeat enemies who oppose our Constitution. Millions of Americans are willing to forgo the beauty of our Constitutional system by waving flags of surrender in the name of patriotism.

As an American patriot I swore to uphold the Constitution when I entered the United States army and I will, and cannot, violate that solemn oath. I hitchhiked across this great land and encountered its warmth, its kindness, and its friendship to strangers. I also encountered prejudice because I was Jewish and discrimination against fellow Americans because they were black skinned. As an American patriot I spent my life fighting against all forms of prejudice because that is the duty one accepts by being a citizen of this land. As a patriot, I cannot, under any condition of fear, accept surrender of liberty in the name of preserving liberty. That is not the manner in which true patriots function.

America is not a perfect land, but then again, neither is any other society. We are flawed nations because humanity is flawed. A student recently told me that Lincoln was a bigot and the Civil War was all about economics, not freedom for slaves. Abraham Lincoln is a great symbol of America. He concluded early in his life that slavery was an abomination and spent his career fighting to abolish it. His eye was always on the end result but he had to weave and twist to accomplish his goal. Some people decry him for not following a straight path, but life never offers us such roads into the future. A recent volume published letters of Union soldiers. In reading them one discovers their initial lack of commitment to ending slavery, but as the war unfolds, they changed and became fervent opponents of slavery. That is the American story of patriotism. We sometimes are hesitant about the price of freedom, but in the end, our core values come to the fore.

On this Memorial Day I see evidence that Americans are turning away from the holy rollers of fear. Americans are learners, and people like George Bush have educated them about the folly of being swept away by the tides of insecurity. They now understand there is only one security for a patriot – abiding by the principles of our Constitution and our commitment as a nation of immigrants (Native Americans are also immigrants from Asia) to ensure all people of the world have the right to make decisions concerning their own destinies. Americans are learning that true patriots do not impose their vision upon others but respect the principle of diversity. A true patriot has optimism that in respecting the dignity of all peoples, eventually all peoples will respect the dignity of others.

As a young boy hitchhiking I saw the Rocky Mountains emerge from a haze. I saw the sun come up over San Francisco harbor showing the majesty of the Pacific Ocean. As a soldier on a troop ship I watched as dawn broke and the Statue of Liberty’s arm was held high, beckoning me to a land that was not afraid. George Bush gave us a scare, but we patriots know his words of fear and hate have no place in this great nation. I have one great sight yet to behold – George Bush and his fellow traitors departing from the White House so that once again that building is home to true American patriots.

Get Them Home – Sarkozy Plan

France is home to over 5 million immigrants, mainly from North Africa and other areas of Africa. Sarkozy’s new immigration minister, Brice Hortfeux, recently stated the government will be offering incentives to encourage immigrants to return home. “We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that.” Under his plan, France will provide about $8,000 for a family that is willing to return to their native land.

Hortfeux is offering an interesting proposal and masking it under the umbrella of fostering economic development back in Africa. His argument is that families with their $8,000 nest egg will return home, establish a business, and get their home country economy humming. Dream on. I find it fascinating that Hortfeux is willing to give a family $8,000 to leave France and establish a business elsewhere but is not willing to invest the $8,000 in France assisting people to become entrepreneurial. What if the Sarkozy government developed a plan for massive economic stimulation within France while drawing upon the talents and hard work of immigrants? What if the economic stimulus was accompanied by serious efforts at creating decent housing that integrated Muslims with their Christian neighbors?

Just a thought. Just a thought.
Information from Der Spiegel

Shiite Leader Opposes Yoga Classes

A proposal from a prominent Indian spiritual leader who offered to conduct yoga classes in Iraq was condemned by a Shiite cleric. Ironically, two days earlier Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki gave a warm welcome to the Art of Living and Sri Ravi Shankar planned to hold breathing and meditation sessions in the war-ravaged nation. Bashir Hussein al-Najafi, head of a Shiite school commented, “We may start some computer programmes here, but I have my reservations about yoga.”

Iraq is in continual conflict, stress is at an all time high, and religious people are killing one another. One might consider this is the perfect time for relaxation and meditation. I suspect millions of Iraqi people feel a spiritual vacuum in their nation which might partly be aided by opportunities to reflect in quiet. There are thousands of angry, agitated young men and women waving guns and ready to blow themselves up. Isn’t this a time to welcome a spiritual leader offering peace and serenity?
Information from The Statesman, India