Monday, December 18, 2006

Do American politicians know how to fight wars in pursuit of national objectives?

This is a difficult article to write because I fear any criticism will be selectively used by my political opponents. My fear is of politicians and their employees who know how to complain, but not offer any solutions other than giving in to our enemies national and tribal objectives. I am from the school of thought that says complain all you want, but then offer up other courses of action for decision makers.

This article is also difficult to write because I can use hindsight, and who wouldn’t. I can also say hindsight for me is more an “I told you so” than “things turned out differently than I expected”.

This article is also difficult to write because it exposes a defect in our American culture and persona that I really don’t want my adversaries knowing about.

Last, this article is difficult to write about because we are in a shooting war, and the timing of criticisms is best postponed in most cases.

I hope this article does just the opposite and leads to achieving our national objectives.

I got the first hint of concern about our ability to prosecute a war when Congress and the President could not even declare war after 9/11. The alternative was a bill authorizing this and that, but it was not an old fashioned Declaration of War. The idea of wars being between states is historical, but we have also waged war against groups, as in the Barbary Pirates. Yet our leaders avoided the Declaration of War intimations by seeking the alternative legislation. The mistrust left over from the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was still there, even though New York City and the Pentagon and Pennsylvania were still smoldering. Hard to believe.

I got the first hint of hope in the prosecution of the Afghan campaign. It seemed the unity of effort between the Department of Defense, CIA, and the State Department implied one person was in charge, probably the President.

I got the second hint of concern right after the brilliant campaign to take Iraq in the three weeks it took to take Baghdad. It became obvious to me that while we had a plan to win the war, we did not have a plan to win the peace. I ate a lot of crow over this. Later even TV pundits were saying things like we have two months left in the window of opportunity to win the peace. Well the window closed, and look at the bag of worms we have today. I fault our President for not putting one person in charge for all to see, or stepping up and being that person who knocks heads to get unity of effort. Even today, I cannot find one person in charge of our Iraq effort below the President.

Along the way in Iraq, our Department of Defense started rebuilding the Iraqi military. What a monumental strategic mistake. Militaries are trained and equipped to defend borders. That’s where our time and money went in this area. What Iraq needed first was a trained and equipped constabulary to provide the normal police protections we expect. That got second shrift, and we are still paying for this mistake in winning the peace. If this seems confusing, just think about how our military is equipped and trained compared to our local police. In the case of Iraq, which force would you bring up first?

The third hint of concern I got was the apparent miasma and symbiosis of the media and the Democratic Party and left over anti-Vietnam types. Two things stuck out to me. One was the euphoria of the old 60’s in marching and protesting for all that is good in the world. The other thing was the use of old fashioned propaganda. Say one idea often enough, and it “must be true”, even if it isn’t. This was shameless work by those who thought differently about the war in Iraq. There are more responsible ways to proceed.

The fourth hint of concern was the inception of the “Green Zone”. If I were in charge, I would have done the same. After all, personal safety is a basic tenet of any government. Yet out of this good effort has come skewed perceptions and decisions and reporting that would come out of any protected bastion in any part of the world. Those who operate in a vacuum probably don’t know what is going on elsewhere. The best example today is the parachute type reporting of the horrible sectarian fighting in Baghdad. I suggest our reporters on TV most likely have no idea of anything else going on in Iraq. And if I were them, I probably would stay safely inside the Green Zone. Ditto for the State Department types.

If one gets out of the “Green Zone” in Baghdad, as in military people or engineers or NGO’s then much is happening to make an American and European proud. This is where the rubber meets the road. It has been a difficult process, and still is. We are good people, and without imperialistic ambitions.

The fifth, and last hint of concern is the blurring of the war against terror, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. To me it is as obvious as day and night. They are different, yes associated, but different. The Islamic fascist terrorists, yes I’ll say these words, are primarily Arabs, but the war is more cultural than locally tribal. I fear any Democratic Party opposition effort, if successful, may drag down another effort of our government to “fight terrorism”.

One of my heroes in life is Colin Powell. He has bridged the gap between national and party politics, the Department of Defense, and the State Department. His “Doctrine” is right on the mark to me. For those who may need a primer here is his doctrine:
The questions posed by the Powell Doctrine, which should be answered affirmatively before military action, are:
Is a vital national security interest threatened?
Do we have a clear attainable objective?
Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
Is the action supported by the American people?
Do we have genuine broad international support?

One thing his Doctrine lays out clearly is our American impatience. We are willing to get involved, and even fight, but we must get it over with and then get out. I agree. Most of our impatience is with do gooders, mostly with incompetence with these do gooders, be they Republicans or Democratics; civilian or military. This vulnerability is big enough for our enemies to drive a train through. All they have to do is drag things out while our do gooders stew.

During Vietnam, I thought all the ignorant, although well intentioned, appointed civilian leaders were Democrats. Now I know Republicans can suffer from the same, and have.

My father used to refer to educated fools. Now I think I understand him a little better.

I will digress to today and the problems in Iraq, most importantly Baghdad. As I read the news today, one option is a quick and short step up for more American troops in the capital city of Baghdad.

Back to the subject question: Do American politicians know how to fight wars in pursuit of national objectives?

Unless the elected leaders and their appointed civilian scribes dictate any “rules” change, no amount of extra military fighters will change things. Today’s rules proscribe a way of war that has failed. I am from the school that says “reinforce success” not “failure”.

Until our President and his minions change what they have been doing to date, then they have already ordained their losing to the dedicated opposition in Iraq, I think. And this will spill over to the entire war on terror if these same D.C. people have their way.

In the President’s defense, all of his predecessors in the Oval Office have passed the buck, starting with Carter in my calendar. Those in Congress are about as bad. At least this President is “not passing the buck”, be that good or bad. I just wish the decisions had been different.

It is my opinion that our politicians don’t know how to fight wars in pursuit of national objectives. They do know how to be American politicians that may reflect the public. More often they reflect themselves.

It is up to us voters to decide. Thank goodness.
How knowledgeable about the Middle East area are we Americans?

I am not sure of the answer the more I listen and read and use my prior education, civilian and military.

Forget TV in all its media means.

Most of my fellow citizens are just as well intentioned as I am, and often come to different conclusions. I suspect the reason is mostly personal experience. The other main reasons I suspect is their homework and their sources of information.

I also suspect this friction and dichotomy is as old as human history. It could be as short as American history.

Now I get to live the history during my life. I think most of the people reading this article are well informed and educated to their satisfaction. It is the rest of our citizens I will guess about.

Our nation has a long history of isolationism and withdrawal from the old world. FDR dealt with it, and this national instinct is still alive and well today. Now we will deal with it. Between our oceans’ protections and our new world principles, the idea is that we are better than the rest of the old world, and let the rest of the old world sort it out, without us. Another way it is expressed is “give peace a chance” and “diplomacy” first. Another way it is expressed is in terms of national strength, that is, we are simply too weak to do much about things without a national mobilization.

On to the latest old world problem that affects us USA types. On 9/11 we were attacked out of nowhere, and 3,000 people who simply went to work died just for being Americans in America. Somehow the oceans were no longer a simple defense, assuming we needed a defense.

Now I read and sense the political cross currents of those analyzing the people who killed 3,000 American citizens, and why and how. In this process, I evaluate how much information those who are still alive know and use. I also recognize the political aspect of all this, in that politicians and maybe media types will taint the information to promote their cause and be obtuse to the rest of us citizens, who vote by the way.

The preceding is a fancy way of saying politicians and media types can be disingenuous. We all know this.

What I think is that we American citizens are smarter than many politicians and maybe media types. We all know directly or indirectly the difference between Sunnis and Shiites; and Persians, Arabs, Kurds, Jews and the other polyglots of groups; Bathists and other dictatorial groups; and lastly nation-states and tribes. And we are familiar with all their frictions.

I just wish the oncoming Democratic head of the Intelligence Committee in the House knew as much, and he is a good guy.

Then there is the appalling (to me) ignorance and perceptions about our military, based mostly on lack of experience by those not trained in this most ancient and noble art. Yes, few of us are born to anything; most of us have to be trained. When I hear armchair generals describing why and how we can’t even subjugate a little country like Iraq, I wish they knew to look to their civilian leaders (both elected and appointed) first. And when I read about using nukes in Iran as a regional version of MAD, I often wonder if these proponents have thought about the tom foolery of Iran’s enemies, or the down range fallout pattern effects on Pakistan and India. Last on this subject, military experience is no guarantee of good judgment. Kerry and Rangel come to my mind.

The Middle East is a caldron of competing histories, ideas, religions, frustrations, and expectations. The USA would normally use our trained State Department in the old days to deal with this area. The 9/11 attacks changed everything, and now when we go to bed at night we often think about our USA security for us and our children. Often when we wake up, many go to their news to see what atrocity has occurred in the rest of the world while we were sleeping.

It is to our advantage to learn as much as we can, assuming we are starting from scratch. Then keep learning. And I think most of us are way past “scratch” in determining America’s national interests and America’s path to going forward.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sex as young people, has anything changed?

The buzz word today is: a friend, with privileges. To this naïve old guy this means she puts out.

And oral sex is not considered a sexual act by many of todays high school and earlier girls. God, I wish I could go back to high school. And damn Clinton. A blow job is a blow job. I like it.

I could go on, but the bottom line is the principal of boys and girls and hormones raging is something we parents want to try control, but they probably will do what we tried to do, in our way. I think my parents thought the same, and I think teenage sex in the back seat of cars is more normal than parents money buying motel rooms. Maybe I am out of step.

Girls help me out. Hormones count both ways.

We adults need to promote chastity and marriage. That is a good solution.

Now I read books about the obvious. The style and politics have changed, but boys and girls want to get together in the mean time. Nothing has changed, in the end.

Maybe some of the third world (to include Islamic) friction has to do with the ability of our society to ignore boys and girls getting together.

As a parent of a daughter, I want to protect her from hormonal male instinct to have sex with her. I think I know all the lines about putting out. As a father, I also think she wants to connect because of her hormones, albeit with some counseling, I hope. Wish me luck. I will be hard and direct. I may lose.

You know what. Maybe some of our old time old world standards may still apply. To me this means women run the world, albeit indirectly. Their control of birth control has huge implications, to include in the west and the east, and is an obvious example. Mature women know this, teenage girls don’t.

Reinventing the past may be a path to our future.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sometimes you have to fight for your way of life

I never thought I would get to this point of even mentioning the subject. It is all too obvious to me.

But here it is for those who think we can always talk our way out of confrontation with those who want to do us and our children in.

The talk-our-way-out-way solutions tend to follow three lines of reasoning as I hear them.
A. Our society and beliefs are the problem.
B. We can change to win the hearts and minds of those who want to kill us and our children.
C. We can wait them out, and it will all go away.

Then there are the realist solutions that tend to follow three lines of reasoning, again as I hear them.
A. The third world middle east is culturally a cesspool that only dictators and oil oligarchies can manage to our benefit; if we support them militarily, financially, and with policy of our country to continue them in control.
B. Let them kill themselves, all.
C. The Israeli and Palestinian friction is the real cause of today’s problems in the region. Get them to sing Kum Ba Yah together and the rest will go away.

Last there is the U.N. question about why establish a Jewish Homeland, and where. The idea came out of WWII after the holocaust, and then where. Sites all over the world were considered to include Alaska, Ohio, Madagascar, west Africa, the present location, and even parts of Europe. In the end it was a political decision, and our President Truman had something to do with strong-arming the decision of the U.N. to establish Israel where it is today. Good or bad, it is a legal U.N. decision. I personally think it was a bad decision, but it was legal and I support it today.

For even doing this history in an earlier article, I have been threatened by a muslim. So much for public debate and free discussion. And where I live, his life is in jeopardy just by showing up. He will find out.

Back to the point of this article. Three thousand of my fellow citizens who just went to work on 9/11 died under attack, no fault of their own. The attack worked in my mind tactically because it cost us lives and billions of dollars in our economy. The bad guys attacked our centers of gravity, and affected some of them. Strategically, they lost. Between our President and our citizenry, they awakened a “sleeping giant”. Subsequent political efforts to say otherwise are off the mark. Even the terrible results reported in the main stream media about the war in Iraq don’t change my idea of going to sleep in my home tonight and thinking I and my children are safe. I thank my government for this good feeling, to include federal, state, and city people. Good on ‘em and thank you.

Now it is time to fight. I mean in Iraq to chose sides and kill our local enemies that interfere with OUR goals. It will be amazing how quick this can be done within Iraq; and then we can revert to the nation building ideas where Iraqi normal people like you and me can do the things that help their families to include expecting safety and yes, having to pay taxes to the government and not the local mufti.

Now it is time to fight the Syrians and Iranians by war. No holds barred. Just using intelligence and attacking the sources is reasonable. Borders of these nation states are now a two way street. They started it, now let’s use it. Eventually, enough people will run away, be killed, or the politicians who send them in harms way will have to recalculate.

In the end, the question I have is are we willing to fight for our way of life? Others may pick another course of action. But, by golly, this is my recommended course of action.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It’s a wash

I’ve just read another D.C. based article about the near political future. It’s boring for one who seeks to be an informed citizen. The article implies that those who write can influence the D.C. types, which I believe; and even extrapolates that these words can influence us unwashed citizens of the country, sometimes called the USA.

I’ve recently read another article that suggests the times have changed. The bottom line is who cares what they write because we don’t care or give any credibility to this speech. Common and family sense applies. It is our sons and daughters, after all.

In a reverse sort of way, maybe we children of the 60’s can really implement the goals of bettering the world, in our vision.

So why is there any fashion interest in today’s media reporting. I do wonder when I hear that People magazine now makes more money than Time magazine, which I ignore. I did not leave Time, it left me.

Let’s go forward. People seeking to be informed citizens just need to shop around. Maybe 20 years from now, it will be easy, but that is not the case today.

I do not offer sales pitches as to what to read to be an informed citizen. You go figure. You do have good choices. Just know what comes out of NYC and D.C. may suffer from “union type” words, media megalomania, and the intense news cycle. None of this is natural. It has all appeared since the 60’s and will disappear of its own weight, eventually.

The present example is what to do in Iraq. I ignore anything written inside the beltway and NYC as the opinion of those writing to each other. Their words don’t help this common citizen think and decide. I have to throw my news net farther. In my case, any Iraq news from a media person reporting from the “Green Zone” in Baghdad is just reverberation reporting of other reports from mostly locals. And time after time this method has been subject to the normal propaganda methods that are endemic to the society that thinks deceit is normal, which it is to most. I know this. Why has most US media become complacent? I don’t think it is as much politics as ignorance. Either way, I tune them out.

All I want to be is an informed citizen who can debate the issues of our day in a civil manner. Today, this is difficult.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Maybe America may survive

The times they are a changing.

The recent takeover of Congress by the Democratic Party says many things.

One thing I feel in my Tennessee part of the country is concern for the country, not the party. This means those elected are more American patriots than blind followers of the old guard (and left over from the 60’s) that will assume leadership positions.

Those extreme politicians on the left and right that plot to take power have been superseded by patriots that act in the USA (our) interest. They may not know it yet.

I want to wish the new Democratic leaders bad luck in trying to impose their politics on their serfs. I am confident bad luck for them will follow. Unless the serfs take over, which is my hope, then it will take an election to do all this. I am also confident that good luck will follow those that vote for the country, be they be Republicans or Democrats.

Those media pundits (newspaper and internet) that write to each other are dinosaurs. For example, they cannot nominate and elect Barack Obama, only we citizens can.

And they cannot decide in their way how our Iraq war will turn out. We citizens will vote and decide all this after reviewing how our President is doing. After all, it is our sons and daughters. In Tennessee, we are harsh in our review of his performance to date. And always we think about how the bad guys may get us in our homes. Our thoughts and votes count more than all the daily articles that come out of the beltway and its associated urban links. I think we have advanced beyond Rome, I hope.

In the same way, our enemies who use a strategy of defeating the USA in Washington, D.C. appear to have a good plan. One can lose in the local area, but one can win in D.C.

For my fellow 3,000 citizens in the World Trade Center who went to work and died, and my fellow 240 mostly Marines who died in the Beirut barracks bombing I don’t forget. Add in Col. Rich Higgins.

Anyway, this is what I think and report.

Friday, December 01, 2006

It is a privilege in life to live and vote in the USA

There is much friction in our country, mostly about are we a best society the world can produce.

I think the New World idea still works as an objective for the whole world, and I mean the whole world. Two obvious things come to mind. The Old European style we emigrated from is not our USA style. And the Islamic voice from the past is also not our USA style. And there are many other styles around our globe, I call them tribes.

All tribes just want to reproduce their progeny, and along the way preserve a way of their life. Most are like normal humans, and will accept changes in their way of life based on circumstances. And all tribes will tolerate their leaders going about things in their way.

For us Americans, many bad people, mostly international thugs guised in religious and political causes, fight us, and the media is sympathetic to their cause. Why they are sympathetic is still up for grabs. Right now I predict this “child of the 60’s group” will die out in the end and the media will begin to look more like we American people. As a Marine, a thug is a thug. Sort of sounds like the USA in the 1930s fighting the then invaders, the mafia and its culture and the Nazi’s. I can go back to the Civil War but I will stop here now.

We Americans are a good people. Our ancestors made it this way when they invented a constitution for loyalty. We have a naturally golden rule idea of discourse.

I predict and encourage the idea of discourse. Let’s civilly debate ideas, argue, vote, and go forward. This idea is the American way.

I think we in the New World are the hope and example for the humans future on our globe. We in the USA are especially privileged. We may have to fight for this idea. Right now I think the light bulb is dim, but I think it will go on.

I am worried that some of my fellow citizens think our way of life is normal, that is there is no threat to this way of life. Others have felt this way, to include the Romans.

Our ideas can be different. Our goals can be similar, I suspect.

Clay Williams