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Turkish View–A Day Or A Year In Iraq?

American and Turkish officials failed to reach an agreement as to when Turkey’s armed forces will be departing from Iraq. Yesterday, President Bush told a press conference, “Turkish troops sh ould withdraw from northern Iraq as soon as possible” while Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Turkish officials in Anakara, “the U.S. believes the current offensive should be as short and precisely targeted as possible.” Turkish Chief of Staff Generl Yasar Buyukanit told Gates, “short term is a relative notion. Sometimes it is a day, sometimes a year.” He pointed out Turkey has been struggling with terrorism for 24 years and noted America has been in Afghanistan for six years.

Prime Minister Erdfogan insists “Turkish soldiers will be returning after achieving their goals” but will not pinpoint the exact time when that task will have been accomplished. On one hand, Gates accepts the complexity of the situation, on the other hand, the United States is protecting the integrity of the Iraqi government. Unfortunately, the two might not coincide in terms of a timetable for withdrawal.

Once again, the Bush administration is living with unintended and unexpected consequences of the ill fated invasion of Iraq. Most experts knew from day one of Bush’s actions to get rid of Saddam Hussein that an important result would be creation of a confusing situation in Kurdistan. Neither Bush, Cheney, nor Rumsfeld had any grasp as to what they were doing in terms of Turkey’s concern over creation of an independent Kurdistan state. Of course, neither did right wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and the others who still insist the Iraq operation was the right move.

Senior US Military Gloomy About State Of Armed Forces

A new survey of more than 3,400 active and retired field-grade officers found they are downcast about the state of the militay with 60% saying the nation’s armed forces are weaker than they were 5 years ago and 88% believe the war in Iraq had stretched the military “dangerously thin.” Two thirds of rspondents had combat experience although only 10% had served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Mot of them were students at senior-level military schools such as the Army War College.

The survey asked members of the militay if they agreed or disagreed with the following sentence: “Torture is never acceptable.” Although 44% disagreed a majority 53% agreed that torture should never be allowed. Of course, these officers lack the experience of President Bush who dodged combat and was never confronted with the possibility of becoming a prisoner of war.

Those surveyed were greatly concerned about extending any further the armed forces in new battle zones. They ranked the United States Army as the service branch which was most exhausted and not ready to assume new combat roles. Almost two in five wanted the draft reinstated in order to meet contemporary needs of the nation. On a one to 10 scale on having confidence in President Bush only 5.5 expressed this view with 16% stating they had “no confidence at all in the president.” Almost two-thirds of these military men believe America’s currrent crop of civilian leaders “are either somewhat or very uninformed about the U.S. miltary” and only 13% believe civilian leadership has set reasonable goals for the armed forces.

Norwegian Prof-Bush Worst US President!

Professor Ole O Moen, a Norwegian expert on US politics, ranked George Bush as the second worst American president. “His adminsitration stands for adangerous blend of arrogance and ignorance.” He argues Bush lacks the ability to listen to, let alone work, with other world leaders. Moen listed a litany of what he considered to be Bush errors going from Iraq to Kyoto to fiscal mismanagement of the budget, and tax policies which widen the gap between rich and poor. Professor Moen ranked Democrat James Buchanan as the next worst president given his role in helping cause the Civil War. He considers Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt as the two most outstanding presidents.

Professor Moen is probably one of those “foreign intellectuals” who think they know more than the combined brilliance of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rove. OK, so George Bush made a minor mistake about some WMD, but why do these foreign critics continue blaming the poor man for thinking something was there that wasn’t? Anyone can make a mistake. OK, so he made a few wrong calls about the economy, big deal. Just remember this man did OK with owning the Texas Ranger baseball team, and I just dare this Professor Moen to rank George Bush as the worst President of a baseball team! The problem with foreign “intellectuals”is they believe they have more kowledge than the brilliant trio of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld. Professor Moen, someday future archeologists will uncover the WMD and won’t you be sorry you blamed our beloved leader for making a mistake!

I would like to know why Professor Moen doesn’t admit George Bush ranks as the best president in having direct contact with God! How many US presidents had a direct hotline to heaven? How many were advised by angels? None of these strengths apparently are of interest to the Norwegian academic. Any way, we Americans will not rank order Norwegian kings and queens so please Professor Moen, allow we Americans to handle our fools.

Like Mother Like Son In Iraq

The extensive dependence on reservists in fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars frequently results in rather bizarre encounters between members of the same family. Sgt. Tammi Johnson, a reservist, was deployed to Kirkuk Air base in Iraq only to discover she was taking over work tasks presently being done by her son, Derrrick. “This is all just a big coincidence,” said Derrick, “When I found out that she was coming to replace me, my jaw dropped just wondering what the chances were of this occurring.”

The nonstop deployment and redeployment of members of the military adds considerablly to family pressures and results in such a strange situation. A basic problem is the American military has been too long overseas and the same people have for too long been entrusted with responsibility for fighting wars the vast majority of this nation does not want fought. It would be preferable if the Johnsons could spend time together in America.

Soldiers From Minorities In Britain Urged

A report from the Defence Select Committee of Parliament strongly suggested the importance of extending recruitment efforts in Great Britain in order to bring members of min ority groups into the armed forces. The committee noted: “We are deeply concerned that the armed forces are operating at or above levels of concurrent operations they are resourced and structured to deliver for seven out of the last eight years.” In other words, the British miltary is being asked to accomplish tasks that strain their resources and morale among members of the military is decreasing under the strain.

The British government has concluded that when it ventures into tasks that far exceed the capacity of those coming from majority groups within society, the solution is to reach out to minorities and have them fill the gap. The goal has been to have an 8% recruitment level from minorities in Great Britain but only 5.8% are from this group and the Air Force only has 1.6% from minority groups. Perhaps, the solution is to not get involved in military operations in the first place.

Paris Police Defeat Army Of The Homeless!

As tourists watched on, a police force swept away an attempt to build a Christmas encampment for the homeless on the banks of the Seine river. The tents had been set up opposite the Notre Dame cathedral, but police used gas gas as they charged the homeless defensive position and due to their courage in the face of smells and bad body odor emanating from the Homeless site, the police gained a final victory by making the enemy flee. Tourists booed the heroic efforts of the police, a protestor fell into the Seine, but in the end the homeless were dispersed. The protest group which established tent city– Les Enfants de Don Quichotte(the children of Don Quxiote) claim the government has failed to construct 27,000 new lodgings for homeless people. Founder of the group, film actor, Augustin Legrand, shouted that over 200,000 people were homeless in France. Minister of Housing, Christine Boutin, who supported last year’s protest, condemned tent city and insisted there were sufficient housing for homeless people in France. Pierre Levene, secretary general of Secours Catholique, insists thousands of homeless people lack housing.

There most probably are homeless people in just about every major city in the world. Many factors add into the issue of homeless people, economic factors, social factors, the time of the year, and the willingness of governments to allocate money for those who don’t vote.

New Olympic Challenge — Pollution!

There is growing concern among Olympic officials at the possibility pollution in Beijing may be a factor in Olympic competitions. The extensive coal mining boom in China which is stimulating industrial production has also added considerably to pollution in the nation. Beijing lies in a valley surrounded by mountain ranges which make for difficulty in dispersing pollutants. Khalid Mailk, UN representative in Beijing noted: “You have to bear in mind this is the first time the Olympics are being held in a developing country.” Although China has spent at least $16 billion in preparation for the Olympics attempting to deal with environmental concerns, the presence of adverse pollutants may be a factor in the competitions.

Hamas Appoints Female Police Officers In Gaza

In a sharp break with such conservative Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia, women have been appointed to the police force in the Gaza Strip. According to Susan Aqal, who has legal training, “We’re treated very well within our brotherhood. I work here in the compound and deal with criminals directly. I interrogate men as well as women.” Armin Nawfal, head of the police points out “Females can’t be touched by a man, therefore we need women police. That’s proof we are a lawful country and not an Islamic state. It doesn’t violate Sharia law either.”

Ironically, American allies like Saudi Arabia treat women as second class citizens, but the supposed “radical” Hamas offers them equal opportunities with men. Hamas is not the fundamentalist Islamic group the Bush administration has been attempting to sell.

Reports Circulate of Petraeus-Fallon Rift

According to a lead story in the Airforce Times, “If Bill Fallon has a bad relationship with David Petraeus, he’s sure not saying so publicly.” General Petraeus reports to Admiral Fallon who is in overall command of American troops in the region. There have been many stories the two men do not agree on military strategy and even Fallon does not deny there have been heated arguments between the two men over military issues. One unnamed senior official said “bad relations”between the two men “was the understatement of the century.”

It is unfortunate that Admiral Fallon was not asked to appear before Congress and explain over which issues the two men have argued. The healthy debate between the two men should not be private since they apparently have disagreements pertaining to military strategy. Congress is entitled to know the nature of these disagreements. Of course, there may be personal factors at play since the Bush appointment of an Admiral to head a land operation is rather unusual in the military history of America.

Saudi Women Demand Right To Drive

Women rights activists in Saudi Arabia are fighting to over-turn the 17 year old ban forbidding women to drive a car. The law is based on a strict interpretation of the Koran which forbids women to be out in public with a male who is not of their family. if a female driver encountered a policeman it would, theoretically, be a violation of the strict interpretation of the Koran.

The Society of Demanders Of Women’s Rights To Drive Cars In Saudi Arabia is the new organization that has been formed to fight for the right to drive.