January 06, 2006

bridgehead over troubled waters

Almost exactly a year after having written my post entitled premature iraqification discussions of troop withdrawal are again a hot topic. At that time I was seriously concerned about the possibility that the administration would perform some sort of cut and run under political duress.

Thankfully my concern was unfounded. But now it is a new year and time to examine the situation and to see why the withdrawal did not happen and will not happen any time soon.

I will not waste your time with the official version of why we remain. You can read that in any newspaper. And the opposition position is equally artificial, disingenuous and available.

Rather what I would like to consider is the facts.

First, as an aside, let me point out that I am not saying that this administration will not pull some troops out and call it a withdrawal or “draw down”. After all, this is the crew that boldly declared Mission Accomplished some two and a half years ago. No matter what actual course we take there is little of which I am so certain as the ultimate declaration of victory by this President and those of his party which will attempt to assume his mantle.

But the facts continue to be rather stubborn. American deaths continue to mount and the grim reaper’s roll call will continue as long as we are present there. Islam is fundamentally hostile to foreign rule and nothing is going to change this in a time frame measured in anything smaller than decades. Because of the mounting political pressure, some kind of withdrawal is inevitable before the next election, and the question is only what form and shape it will take.

If you think that complete withdrawal is a possibility, forget about it. The reason we will never entirely leave Iraq is buried in our real purpose for being there in the first place.

Iran.

It has been clear at least since the end of Gulf War One that the real threat to world peace in the Middle East was not an emasculated Iraqi regime, but the Islamic Revolution. Recent headlines highlight the problems which a powerful Islamic State can cause. Of course, Iran is not the only threat, just the biggest and the one with the greatest chance of striving toward a greater Islamic State.

Iraq II is not about terrorism and never was. There is little doubt remaining in this Curmudgeon’s mind that the major reason for occupying Iraq was to create a permanent Western bridgehead at the center of this volatile region.

That bridgehead until recently had been Saudi Arabia. But events there have rendered our reliable forward logistics area problematic in the future. Hostility to the House of Saud continues to grow as does the world’s appetite for their oil. And Diego Garcia is too small and too remote to facilitate a significant modern military embarkation.

I can not even say that such a base of forward operations are undesirable. Whether we like it or not, the modern world runs on oil. If the oil stops flowing, modern civilization grinds to a halt. Or ceases altogether as a result of the social disorder a closed spigot would spawn. However obnoxious you may find the idea, the West must be prepared to keep the spigot open and to do so by force if necessary.

Forward bases in the less occupied regions of Western Iraq are just the ticket.

It is not a bad motive to want to insure the continued existence of modern civilization. Truly that which renders all of this so incredibly obnoxious is all the deception. Since we have gotten in the bullying business in extreme form already, perhaps it is time for a little honesty? Perhaps we should draw a perimeter of some size on a map of western Iraq and add a Fifty-first star to our flag? I doubt that Americans would get killed in any greater numbers.

John Adams should certainly consider his copious work on the topic of Factions vindicated by the present mess. It was during the Clinton reign that the methodology of all campaign all the time was first made overt. Those in charge of this formerly great nation continue to operate in continual campaign mode and the bridgehead must continue to be made politically palpable.

So I suspect that the current campaign slogans about a drawdown are nothing more than trial balloons just as was the case a year ago. Just another probing by the political savvy to determine the exact contours of what will sell to the masses of functionally illiterate people known as the American public.

But cheer up: an election is coming. The choice will be clear for the “informed” voter exercising their “responsibility” to go vote. We will again have our chance throw the bums out. A chance for redemption through regime change.

And you KNOW the party that brought you Vietnam can turn this thing completely around.

40 Comments:

Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Excellent post. I don’t see why its not sensible to so many to drill Anwar, offshore, and the now off limits 1.7 million acres in Utah stolen under the"Utah Schools and Lands Exchange Act of 1998" (Thank you Pres. Clinton). We could leave the middle east to killing off each other all they want by just occupying ourselves with our own resources. Our 200 year supply of oil gives us plenty of time to find alternatives to fossil fuel if that becomes necessary.

P.R.

7:29 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

Oh my, a 51st state! And we'll call it, what? Kurdississippi? Kurdabama? Maybe it'll stay a territory----Kurda Rico?

Seriously, I think you've gotten it exactly right.

So good to see you back!

7:36 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Ricardo, interesting you mentioned our 200 year supply. Your kindred spirit from Germany was telling me that the U.S. is hoarding is massive supply of oil, and then after it uses up the Middle East's oil, it'll jack up the price on the last bit of oil in the world.

Of course, he's full of sh*t.

He also told me of numerous studies that prove "smoking cigarettes doesn't cause lung cancer." It reminds me of your obscure studies... I guess studies can prove anything if you find the right ones...

by the way, I responded to your last post but when I checked later the damn thing wasn't up!!! I wrote all that good stuff for nothing. Primarily I said that I never thought the Kyoto Treaty was a good deal, on account of the India/ China exemptions. However, my disagreement with the Kyoto stuff does not equate to "I think global warming is a hoax." And even D. Cheney, in your example, claims that it is "reasonable" to surmise temperature changes on the planet are due to "human activity."

But hey, I'm talking to a guy that thinks there were dinosaur rodeos back in Old Testament times (even though Creationists also believe in "micro-evolution," which for all practical purposes is "evolution").

8:58 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,
But hey, I'm talking to a guy that thinks there were dinosaur rodeos back in Old Testament times...

Actually, it would have surprised me that you would have not embraced evolution. You practically renounced Christianity on this blog, then weakly reclaimed it only to discount it and its teachings at every turn. I think you sincerely do not want to burn in Hell if it turns out God exists, but you are not about to acknowledge Christ as Lord of this universe or your life. It tastes too sweet to have the accolades of this world, to be conformed to this world, and rejoice in ridiculing anything God ordained. It would be easier for me to “go along with the crowd” and not get laughed at by such wise individuals for taking God at His word.

Luke 12:9 “but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”

You said in a prior post: “As for me, I only believe in "my religion" on a superficial level. For all practical purposes I'm a monotheistic agnostic. Most of us who actually even think about these things are. And the ones who are really still "quote-unquote" Christians are the really naive ones who just don't do a lot of honest reasoning with themselves.

Were you to actually care about your eternal soul, these words should give you a tinge of uneasiness at the thought of being accountable for them on the day of judgement.

Re: evolution. DNA carries encoded information. Each cell has the complete map of every characteristic of your body. That’s a lot of information. That’s what tells the body how to grow, what color eyes, hair, complexion, blood type, everything. Where did that information come from? Your body can’t grow into something not encoded into the DNA. If your “great” x 1 billion grandparents were primordial slime and one celled creatures, what added the information at each and every leap or creep of evolution along the way? Your body can’t do it if its not in the DNA code. Your pet theory must claim either one of three utterly ridiculous claims to “work.”

1) Your single celled ancestors contained, not only the DNA for their own current structure and characteristics, but every other variation and development it would ever achieve up through complex humans and beyond, methodically deciphering between what it currently needed to be vs the vast information it contained for past and future characteristics. or
2) You believe that environment mystically “adds” coded information simultaneously and identically to the many trillions of cells in your body, or
3) God supernaturally has added encoded information to DNA of all species over billions of years for no “godly” purpose, but apparently to contradict His own word in many places confusing the humans that they should reject him and worship the creation rather than the Creator.

Of course your Germany Professor no doubt has already confronted you with this near verbatim argument, and I can not wait for you to share with me the crushing reply you no doubt delivered or wanted to deliver to him.

Unyielding, uncompromising, unashamed, defender of the faith,
Professor Ricardo.

12:42 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

That German guy, I cut him slack out of pity. He was a 55 year old divorced man living in a youth Hostel. But his anti-American talk was very inaccurate, and it was really getting on my nerves. Especially when the young left-wing naive Americans started lapping up everything he said. It was then I started to understand the Rush's and the Hannitty's. There are some FLAKY left-wing people out there, whose only purporse in life is to be "against" something (the USA). It was enough to make me want to enlist to go fight for Iraq's democracy....

As for stories in Genesis, the story of Adam makes a lot of sense to me on a metaphorical, philosophical level. I get a lot out of it personally. I think that's what God had in mind, not a literal kid's bed time story. I like to think God is a little more complex....

“As for me, I only believe in "my religion" on a superficial level."

-Yes, I am "superficially" Catholic. I don't say the Hail Marys on my knees all day (not anymore).

"For all practical purposes I'm a monotheistic agnostic."

-True. I don't feel the lightning bolt. The 'personal relationship' eludes me (although I could have one and not know it, right?). I'm not a charismatic snake-handler cult member. I don't understand the trinity, or how Jesus is simultaneously "Yaweh." Doesn't add up for me usually. But I do experience "divine providence." I do think there is a "method to God's madness." I have faith. I trust God has a plan, and thus I don't get discouraged when the world doesn't work MY way. That's faith, right? And most importantly, I think I understand the important parts.

I am concerned with my "eternal soul," and thus my obsession with mercy. Give and you shall receive, right? "Whatever you did unto the least of my brothers, you did unto me." -That's what separates the sheep from the goats. It's not the words, it's the actions(Talk is cheap).

Finally, though I might not have sufficient faith (though all I need is a mustard-seeds worth of it), I have something much better: GRACE.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Kurda Rico...that is TOO good.

I think the model for this is Texas. Americans moving in under color of law, and then keeping it under the guise of higher purposes.

How about Texopotamia?

11:37 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:13 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Wait, what are we suggesting here?

Okay, so there was some deception, but I think all the lies were at least "half-true."

The reality was, Saddam Hussein had to go. The ends justify the means, if those means are just a few exaggerations.

It may have been a gambit on W. Bush's part, but he's put all of our money is on the table, so we better hope we win.

I think if we broke it, we bought it. If it takes three generations of troops in the Middle East, so be it. How long have they been in Germany, S. Korea, and Japan? Well, add Iraq to that list now...

Unlike Prof, who's content to let them kill "off each other," I think we need to prove to the world we actually do care about these people and their freedom. That's what our ultimate "strategic" interest should be.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Yes... I have been thinking the same thing for some time now. The real question isn't "when will our troops come home", but rather "when will our military bases come home". I have come to the conclusion that every president we have had in the last couple of decades performed an impeachable offense by not placing energy independence (away from crazy theocracy-land) as priority #1. Consider the basic facts... 1) only around 3% of projected oil reserves resides in the US (see link at bottom... note top 5 reserve countries). I have no idea what Prof is smoking regarding drilling our way out of this... some kind of dominion promise I presume. Note the countries at the top of the list... a combination of crazy theocracy-land, religious zealotry, dictatorships and royal oil barons sitting on lakes of land, failed states and economies, etc. This has been an obvious train wreck for a long time... and like I said... should have been impeachable offenses by our recent presidents (and Congress critters).

So, yes... I think Tony has it exactly right. By the time Shrub showed up as prez... many before him had locked us into this path towards disaster. Sometimes the simple answer is actually the one that is correct... THIS IS ALL ABOUT OIL. 911 just became the excuse that our oil industry based president and VP could use to sell a war to the US that would result in strategic movement of our military footprint in the Middle East from Saudi to Iraq. The Iraq WMD threat is the obvious lie that is talked about the most, but there is another lie coming from this administration that is central to the terrorism threat. We are told that the terrorism threat is built around the idea that "they hate us for who we are and our values... and are seeking to destroy us regardless of our policies or actions in the Middle East... i.e. a Caliphate dream where the globe is rid of infidels". They know they are lying as soon as it comes out of thier mouths. There is no doubt there is some percentage with Caliphate aspirations, but the recruiting pool (particularly in Iraq) is BECAUSE OF OUR ACTIONS AND POLICIES... not our values. We are dealing with populations that have no concept of a seperation of religion and state... and large parts of thier society believe their religion demands "defensive Jihad" against the invaders. That is something completely different than an "offensive Jihad (Caliphate)". The US can't possibly force any form of democracy in socities driven by theocracy beliefs... the state and Islam is not two seperate things in their minds. We needed to take out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan... but everything beyond that (Afghanistan and Iraq democratization) is a fool's errand. I'm not positive if Shrub actually believes his "Middle East nation building bs", or if it really is bold face calculated lying to the public. It seems like the two choices are 1) insanity OR 2) impeachable lying offense.

So Tony is right... watch to see if we ever close down military shop in the Middle East. I think Shrub actually guaranteed a lifetime of terrorism by sticking the US nose directly and permanently in the Middle East... all under the incredible banner of fighting terrorism. Shrub locked us in with no way out... he put us in the trap.

Watch... we have 3 more years of Shrubdom. Any bets on any announcements from Shrub that we are closing all Iraq military bases... you know, his phrase of "standing down after they stand up".

Global project oil reserves

11:38 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Hope you are doing well.

You said: "I think we need to prove to the world we actually do care about these people and their freedom. That's what our ultimate "strategic" interest should be."

I agree about the caring part... it's the forms of expressing that "love" that I question. It appears that our "freedom gift to the Iraq population" is shaping up to be 1) military invasion 2) occupation 3) best case hope... theocracy Islamic state with none of those "freedoms" for women 4) very likely, a civil war. Once again... beware of Republicans bringing gifts. You see... the Yoshi form of "caring" where the US sticks it's nose into feeding the hungry and providing healthcare for the needy across the globe is an easy call. What's not as easy is deciding that "we, the US... has the right to decide when another country must be attacked in an effort to deliver US ideas of freedom, government, democracy, etc."

btw... how do you know when your own country "has the right values", and they are "so right" that we are obligated to export them to other countries. What if you happen to be wrong... and the other countries values were the "right ones... or at least right for them". For example, if a majority of a population believes their religion and their god dictates a role for women with less freedom then men... what's the basis for the US to say otherwise. It seems like we have a bit of arrogance and the military to back it up. Why is our "realities and values" the right ones for everyone else? We have the right religion, the right god, the right form of government, the best economic system, the highest GDP, etc. People crack me up when they look at the incredible cruel reality of this globe, and come up with absolutist truths that should apply to everyone. We must have "proselytizing" built into our DNA... i.e. if I can convince you my beliefs and values are right, they become right by definition. Maybe this isn't the best period to claim the absolute high ground. Our American experiment is now officially 1 $ = 1 vote. The sleeze of Abramoff, DeLay, Ney, etc. and K street just represents the few that got caught. Our entire government seems to be "we the corporations". This is exactly what you get with the "shrink government" evil. A population that believe it's government should not even be involved in the definition of social justice in it's society IS NOT a government that should be preaching values to others.

btw... I remind you that "we should stay there as long as it takes" is born by those fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only obligation the rest of us seem to have is "going out and spending our tax breaks".

12:22 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:54 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good, I don't think we invaded the "Iraqi" people any more than we invaded the French in WW2. We were just the bouncers moving the beligerent guy from the bar, Saddam Hussein. Saddam did this to his people. We are like the SWAT team taking out the bank robber. If a few civilians get hurt, it wasn't intentional....

I don't think we can just say Saddam didn't have WMDs. He allowed the world to speculate that, cause it gave him an power trip. It made him feel like the big man on the block. We had a right to inspect, he wouldn't allow it. Cat and mouse games aren't acceptable when it comes to WMDs. So initially, we imposed sanctions which only hurt the citizens. So we created "Oil for Food," and it was exploited, and the benefits only went to Saddam's loyalists. Then the irony was the the cruel U.S. was killing a million Iraqi children with its sanctions. There was no way to win with this guy, he destroyed the country. He had to go. And he gave us the reason to make him go, regardless if he actually had the weapons or not.

Do we have the right? We have the right when it starts affecting our domestic security. However, technically, b/c Saddam violated the agreements he made after Gulf War 1, we did have the legal right. Prof. Ricardo will hate this term, but it's called "the New World Order." Anti-christ, rapture, mark of the beast conspiracy whatever, it's happening...it has to, because we are all so interconnected.

As for the right to tell them about allowing women to drive and all that, yea, I say we have that right too. These people are frustrated, and so they find a scapegoat (which is us), and try to kill us. So our goal is to remove the thing that frustrates them so much. They want "freedom," even if they don't admit it. They want a voice, and they want security, and they want opportunity. They want what the whole planet wants. They all got televisions, they know what everyone else has, and they want it to. I know Arabs who tell me this. Just because a few Saudi men want 5 wives (who can blame them?) and don't want Oprah Winfrey making them insecure with their manhood, the whole world has to suffer from Islamic fundamentalism? Just because a few ruling Saudi men don't want a democracy next door cause they know their sit-on-their-butt-and-do-nothing lifestyle is threatened by it, they have terrorists being exported into Iraq to blow up town squares with innocent children nearby? Sorry, I don't think so. Time to get on the modern train, like it or not.

The men dying in Iraq are volunteers. They don't have to go. If Iraq is a failure, it's because of the fear of terrorism outsider extremists are holding them hostage with.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I don't agree with much of what you just said, particularly "wanting more than one wife". The only men who would ever say that and mean it must be men who haven't had their first wife. :) I like having one, but I CERTAINLY don't want two.

"Do we have the right? We have the right when it starts affecting our domestic security. "

Iraq never affected our domestic security (other than the oil angle)... UNTIL WE INVADED. Saddam had regional aspirations but no death wish.

I'm reading a book called "Imperial Hubris". I think the title says it all. My guess is imperial humility will follow our imperial hubris. Stay tuned. Eventually we will figure out to keep our Shrubs and TV preachers away from 1 billion Muslims in the Middle East. Whatever path the societies of the Middle East choose will be of their own chosing... certainly not one proscribed by the US (total fools errand). Actually, I guess we have been messing with their future for some time. The Saudi oil barons who hoard wealth for themselves surely wouldn't have lasted this long without US propping up. The muslim populations think we are stealing their wealth (cheap oil) and supporting their corrupt leaders. The best thing (and only thing) we can do is wean ourselves off of middle east oil. I would suggest everyone go to their corners for about 100 years... and then we could meet for lunch.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

"The men dying in Iraq are volunteers."

Yeah... that's a popular talking point for clearing one's conscience. We have a great society... volunteer soldiers, wealthy, poor, sick, those without health insurance, social justice wealth transfer, etc. We are just one free will happy bunch.

4:06 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"Iraq never affected our domestic security."

-well, had they had biological or chemical agents, it could have affected us. However, more generally a domestic threat than Iraq per se is Islamic fundamentalism.... by reforming Iraq successfully we indirectly influence political changes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt. Those bad guys we "prop up" in Saudi Arabia, those are the guys we are trying to undermine by invading Iraq and changing the government there. The Islamic world wants Iraq to fail, because they know what the implications of a free Iraq are for them. Bye-bye ferarris in Monaco. It'll be accountability time, and they don't want that. So Islamic fundamentalism, which probably is a result of having to live under a repressive political/ social system, affects our domestic security. We could hardly invade Saudi Arabia, but Saddam Hussein practically invited us to do so in his country.... his days of calling the entire world's bluff ended after 9.11. Saddam was the Fall Guy.

Don't worry, I think people here too have to get on the modern train..... we'll all going to just have to sit through Brokeback Mountain and start liking it.... by the way, I saw it, and it was better than I thought it would be...

4:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

How about BrokeBack Mess-o-potamia?

I guess if our soldiers volunteered to do nation building in Iraq, the rest of us volunteered to NOT share in the sacrifice. That's a clever little conscience clearing talking point.

btw... this blogsite ate one of my posts.

9:22 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I agree. Rednecks like to get very patriotic when at the football games, but we are "traitors" when we want to tax and spend a little more money to get the soldiers the armour they need. Meanwhile, politicians get what kind of benefits? Giant pensions, etc?

We can't have our cake and eat it too. We are just borrowing the money, it doesn't grow on trees...

10:24 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I guess I make the statments to basically close the place down...

C'mon, aren't I right about my Iraq analysis...

I'm reading this book now, "Why People Hate America." It's hard to get through... conspiracy theory stuff... big generalizations, details omitted, etc. This "anti-globalisation, anti-America, anti-imperialism" stuff is getting harder and harder to take seriously.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

CG,

Yeah... that's a popular talking point for clearing one's conscience. We have a great society... volunteer soldiers, wealthy, poor, sick, those without health insurance, social justice wealth transfer, etc. We are just one free will happy bunch.

There seems to be quite the incongruity between having a volunteer army and listing American idiosyncrasies in your statement. There appears to be a suggestion to us that are over the age of 10 that adopting a policy of not requiring young men and women to wear our military uniforms is trivial. I think there are people that approach a military career with the hopes that they will get to "kill some bad guys" but I admit this is a minority demographic. However, I don't know of anyone of sound mind that would approach a military career without considering/pondering in some form the likelihood that they will be sent to participate in a military action. I went as far as taking the ASVAB test and it was only after I decided to re-concentrate on my college studies that I decided to stay in school. But I can tell you that I did consider the idea that I may be sent somewhere and required to fire a weapon at another hostile army/group. I was comfortable with that decision and I don't think I'm above the standard of what would be a reasonable line of thinking.

It seems reasonable to think that if you join the military and are issued a weapon that can't be found at Wal-Mart or Target, that someone at some time may expect you to use it. Me thinks you trivialize it a bit too much and hiding behind poorly-strung and trivial pontifications doesn't usually do anyone much good. You can of course elaborate but try and keep my vertical scroll bar above 2mm. :)

2:15 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

TexaCon,

Hey there good buddy. Good to see you again.

CG is decidedly over in the whacko realm on the volunteer military thing. I for one can not fathom anyone who things volunteer is not the way to go. Especially in this day and age where there is much more training than in the warfare of prior generations. Anything less than a committed professional is a hazard on the battlefield.

2:33 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I thought Common Good was just saying we should "pay" for the war, ie, higher taxes, personal sacrifices...

instead of borrowing the money from the Chinese...

4:17 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

CG is decidedly over in the whacko realm on the volunteer military thing. I for one can not fathom anyone who things volunteer is not the way to go.

Well I know your intellect, and I know your heart and conscience, so the only thing left that could explain sticking to your position is ONE BIG MAJOR BLINDSPOT. In simple honest terms, the vast majority of military volunteers comes from the lower ecnomic ranks. Said another way, the vast majority of those doing that TC described personal responsibility risk analysis ARE POOR PEOPLE. Anyone want to take a stab at the stats of military recruits that come from families with means... like means to pay for college. This is the first step to recovery from such an immoral position... recognize and acknowledge that here in the land of equality... we send primarily our POOR folks to fight our wars for us. The fact that most choose to take the risk because of economic circumstances, with some/many actually improving their lives in no way gives the rest of us a pass. Another nice conscience clearing exercise, but just as devoid of fairness is wrapping up the entire conscience clearing exercise in "current warfare is complex, it's just logical that only the poor souls voluntering sacrifice to protect our security". Sorry... anyone of us could drive a big truck over an IED in Baghdad. The rest of us... go spend and keep the economy running... while they do their part getting limbs blown off we will do our part by weekend trips to the mall. What an incredible blind spot... we are truly capable of mind blowing tricks with our consciences. It's not all our fault... if we didn't have these truth altering mind tricks we would never make it through life unless one was truly devoid of conscience. We didn't create this reality (well, some of it I guess with things like war)... but we all face defining fairness in our society. Filling our military needs primarily from the ranks of the economic needy is NOT meritocracy anymore than different levels of public schools and healthcare for different economic classes. If I understand the the Israel military correctly, they probably come pretty close to moral. It's my understanding every young adult is required by law to do their stint. If that's true, and their are no outs for the kids of elite parents, then it sounds pretty close to moral... even more moral than any draft.

It's an interesting exercise to try and put a $ value on the value of a voluteer Iraq nation building US soldier. The context of the question matters. For example, if we ask ourselves (on this board) with none of our kids at risk, we would answer one way. However, ask the question in terms of your son or daughter.... would you pay an amount to get your kid out of going to Iraq? How much? Some of you would answer "every $ you had". IMO, the only moral way to decide to go to war, and put values and expected sacrifices on EVERYONE in society during war... is to ask in terms of YOUR KID GOING TO WAR, AND EXPECTED COMPENSATION IF THEY DIED OR BECAME MAIMED. Put in that context, I come up with different $ values of the volunteer soldier. For example, why not healthcare for life for the family who lost their dad in Iraq? How about all orphaned kids covered for college? Too much? Too little?

Why not an automatic tax increase with every war to cover the war and moral $ obligations to the "volunteer" soldier and their families. Is the position... "since we didn't volunteer, all sacrifices and risk should be on those suckers and their families that did volunteer"? Wars are not totally fixed costs within our defense budget. We use fixed cost assets (tanks, soldiers, etc.) but we also have increased costs (fuel, ammunition,logistics, etc.) Why don't I face an immediate tax consequence during the war... maybe sunsetting at the end of the war. Oh yeah... I remember... tax breaks pay for themselves, trickle down works it magic for the rest of us who aren't driving over IEDs in Baghdad.

If this position is whacko, I wear it proudly. We tell ourselves so many lies... all concience cleansing tricks. Anyone over 10 should be able to recognize the lies we are telling ourselves.

4:24 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"The rest of us... go spend and keep the economy running... while they do their part getting limbs blown off we will do our part by weekend trips to the mall."

Common Good,

I'd rather be in Iraq than at the mall....or sitting in front of my blackbox with my remote control, getting my nightly dose of novacaine...

If things don't start getting much more interesting in my life before June, I myself will be joining... and I'll be volunteering to go to the hot spots... I'd rather die there than get fat watching Fear Factor every night (as I've been doing).

There are plenty of reasons to join the military besides money... and they don't even pay much more than the private sector anyway...

The odds of getting killed in Iraq are pretty slim... you are acting like they are storming the beaches of Normandy or something...

I don't think it's really about the poor kids... the poor uneducated kids are getting the mechanic jobs anyway, not the combat jobs...

Voluntary soldiers are the way to go, no question about it.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG must stand for Creative Genius.

It has to take genius to come up with that much stuff I never said.

My position that conscription is bad has nothing to do with economic fairness. It has to do with having an effective military.

Call me silly, but if your defense structure is poor, it doesn’t really matter how socially just you feel it is because somebody else will take over and redefine justice for you anyway.

The problems you describe are real. The unfair burden a war puts on the poor is a problem to not be ignored. But I also think it is an inevitable problem in the prosecution of a war. Wars are bad things. Things to be avoided.

Since the burdens of war fall unfairly, this makes the Constitutional provisions concerning the Declaration of War especially important. It is essential that the broad will of the people be behind a Declaration of War because it is the masses that will be doing the bleeding and dying.

Of course our leaders have shamefully and consistently avoided their Constitutional obligations through various means such as the War Powers Act. We should impeach every one of them for breaching their oaths of office.

If I’m a professional soldier, I do not want a draftee protecting my backside. They are unreliable. They get good soldiers killed. Conscript units are the first to flee the field of battle. Conscription might seem fair at first, but it is the height of unfairness to the citizens who are not nearly as well protected.

This isn’t a blind spot on a moral issue. It is a mature understanding that a military organization unfit to do its job is worthless to those that they purport to defend.

Social justice needs to come from making good decisions on when to engage in a war. If society as a whole is at risk, few will quibble over social justice fine points. It is only when we take a flippant attitude and engage in conflict du jour at the drop of a political hat does it seem so immoral.

I’d also add that for many disadvantaged in our society, the military has been a great avenue for advancement and achievement. I think you insult a lot of people when you suggest that they only go into it because they are poor. Sure, low income people are more attracted because they need sustenance. At the same time, like TexaCon said, they don’t sign up without an expectation of what they are getting into. They work their butts off and achieve or they don’t make it in the volunteer military.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Call me silly, but if your defense structure is poor, it doesn’t really matter how socially just you feel it is because somebody else will take over and redefine justice for you anyway.

We spend more money on our military than the rest of the world combined. Tell me exactly how we could turn it into "a poor defense structure". Good one. :)

The unfair burden a war puts on the poor is a problem to not be ignored. But I also think it is an inevitable problem in the prosecution of a war.

Not inevitable at our level. Think Israel and then think US. All inevitables are NOT equal.

I agree (now) with your position on Congress. I think they have to weigh in... but I don't see the relevence on this and our current VERY IMMORAL volunteer scheme. I would actually entertain other ideas beyond just getting Congress back on the hook. For example, after a President declares war with the backing of Congress... let that volunteer military weigh in with some form of democratic vote. They are the ones that will die.. why wouldn't they get a vote... maybe something like 2/3 NO vote, and war is off. Like everyone keeps telling me... these guys volunteered... surely they would do the right thing.

If I’m a professional soldier, I do not want a draftee protecting my backside. They are unreliable. They get good soldiers killed. Conscript units are the first to flee the field of battle. Conscription might seem fair at first, but it is the height of unfairness to the citizens who are not nearly as well protected.

Good grief... the current US military is already a mixture of dedicated military professionals and private opportunists (hired guns). I don't really think the guy in Fullujah in a firefight cares who drives in the replacement ammunition... as long as it gets to them. In fact, based on some of what I've heard, there is incredible moral drain on our soldiers due to the hired guns mixed into the war zone. I'm not following you on "citizens not nearly as well protected". You must be referring to the fact Rumsfeld would surely not provide body armor for the extra soldiers.

If society as a whole is at risk, few will quibble over social justice fine points.

Fine points? We are defining who will die and who will not even be asked to pay an additional tax. Jeeze. War is inevitable. ******* over the poor is not.... it's a choice society makes time after time.

I’d also add that for many disadvantaged in our society, the military has been a great avenue for advancement and achievement. I think you insult a lot of people when you suggest that they only go into it because they are poor.

Total bullshit. I didn't insult anyone who found great value in the military. I said: Said another way, the vast majority of those doing that TC described personal responsibility risk analysis ARE POOR PEOPLE. I was talking stats about the military recruiting pool. I would think the insult is not patting many on the back and saying... the rest of us understand a major factor in MANY of your volunteerism is economic need. The insult would be speaking for ALL of them by saying they all made volunteer decisions void of economic need.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

As I said, you are way over in whacko realm on this one. I for one will not ignore the plain fact that conscription has worked poorly every time it has been tried. I just don't have the energy to argue with a Flat Earth type.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

As I said, you are way over in whacko realm on this one. I for one will not ignore the plain fact that conscription has worked poorly every time it has been tried. I just don't have the energy to argue with a Flat Earth type.

You wrap the entire issue up in "conscription or not". Even if you were going to take half-measures (i.e. something short of the Israel scheme)... there has to be 1000s of real policy changes to move towards morality. I would say the Flat Earth arguments are those giving ourselves a pass on our current "volunteers (and their families) only sacrifice".... with any excuse (complexity of the military, "they volunteered for it... they knew what they were getting in for", "many improve their lives", yada yada yada. None of it is a defense as long as the vast majority of the military recruiting pool comes from one economic class.

Long live the mind's ability to filter reality to protect the conscience.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Again, you have it all wrong. My conscience is in fact troubled by the fact that a disproportionate burden of military defense falls on the poor. I am completely open to suggestions that would mitigate this harsh reality.

What I’m not open to is simplistic knee-jerk responses that people (not necessarily you) have made that we can fix it all with a draft. The draft does not work except in times of dire necessity and even in those times of extreme necessity, draftees are substantially inferior. So if you want me on board with some social justice reform in the military, lets come up with some ideas grounded in reality rather than simply tossing out utopian platitudes about fairness.

Long live the mind's ability to protect opinions from facts.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

The major point is whether or not one recognizes the current immorality (and the degree of it) of our current military policy/scheme. Your answer leads me to believe you recognize some immorality, but not the scope. Our policies don't need simple mitigation... it's not just something that needs to be tweaked. I don't agree that the draft of ... as you called it conscription ... are knee jerk reactions. I think they are value and morality judgements. I think it's gets down to a core choice between a shared sacrifice across the population regardless of economic class vs making any excuse for avoiding that shared sacrifice. For example, I don't buy for a second your argument that the average citizen couldn't participate in our military because "now it is just too complex". Of course there are specialized training for part of the military.... but driving a big truck really hasn't changed much... I think that would be considered a fact. There is little doubt working out a moral scheme is complex. It is also likely to result in the dreaded GOP sin of less GDP. Maybe it's just whacko me, but a value on who risks dying and getting maimed in war is a real value... vs fake values like marriage ammendments. We will fight over who gets to marry who, and decide who will be president based on it... and totally go on our merry way while other folks kids and spouses carry the Iraq sacrifice on their own. While this was happening, we gave $125,000 a year back in taxes to millionaires... seems like values took a turn towards valuations.

Not a mitigating need... that trivializes the immoral path we have taken. I rather doubt old Ben Franklin would view the experiment as "for the middling people" anymore.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You are correct. Conscription does involve moral judgments. As you have harshed me over the last several years on the Constitution not being a suicide pact, it is only fair to point that back at you. What you propose is nothing less than suicide. And I’m not in for that deal.

Feel free to make some proposals about how to accomplish the CG utopian social justice military without seriously compromising national security. I will continue to wait patiently.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Feel free to make some proposals about how to accomplish the CG utopian social justice military without seriously compromising national security.

- every young adult... say at 18... learns to drive military support veichles (i.e. heavy trucks, etc.)
- add to that... other logistic support skills that can be learned in short order... skills that don't require major current fitness. This could be a broad area of contribution... maybe non-battlefield skills like IT support, etc. The idea is shared sacrifice... even if not being the one taking the bullet.
- free healthcare for life for kids who dad or mom dies in our military.. combat or accident.
- financial support for life for the spouse left behind... there was a bread-winner before they died for our country
- free college or other training for spouse left behind and for kids left behind
- automatic tax increase by law (doesn't have to be negotitated in Congress) to cover war and the families who sacrifice. Sunset the tax when war/conflict ends.
- draft across population for non-direct combat skills mentioned above... every kid has an equal chance of the Iraq IED travel lottery driving support trucks.
- when someone is drafted out of their occupations, whether volunteer military or otherwise, society looks after the families involved. This doesn't mean making the $1,000,000 income hole... that's just the breaks with equal shared sacrifice... but it does mean an equal obligation to our society looking after the families left behind.

That's a 5 minute list... pretty easy really.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Numbering from the top, you have 8 proposals.

1 and 2 are stupid. Those people do not belong anywhere near the battlefield. Logistics people are critical targets in a war.

3, 4, 5, and 6 are great ideas. I have long called for better financial support of our troops and their families. This has nothing to do with conscription.

7 is the only way to go if you have a draft subject to keeping the draftees as far away from the conflict as possible.

8 should be taken care of by getting 3 through 6 in place.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony,

I think you both would enjoy Walter E. William’s commentary: Reinstating the Military Draft.

Prof. Ricardo

3:58 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I don't think 1 and 2 are stupid at all. Maybe using the word logistics had special meaning for you and the military. There are thousands of private sector non-military people (think Haliburton) in the middle of Iraq feeding our troops. I'm not exactly sure how you define "battlefield" in Iraq... but it seems pretty obvious the support non-military types are in it also. I'm not suggesting we send someone that is not trained to drive the backup tank in the firefight in the middle of Baghdad. I am saying someone with 50 years of training has no advantage over you or me driving a supply truck from the airport to Baghdad... it's all about stats and if the IED is there on your run.

Remember Rumsfeld saying "you go to war with the military you have"? What kind of armor do you think those kids would have had if every 10th supply truck was driven by a kid or grandkid of our Congressmen?

4:35 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

A far more descriptive term for the military draft is government confiscation of labor services

Pity the soul who measures social policy regarding our military and shared sacrifice as just another widget in capitalism.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: “Pity the soul who measures social policy regarding our military and shared sacrifice as just another widget in capitalism.

So...pre 1865 black America dared to redefine their “shared sacrifice” for the greatness of our land and current established “social policy” as “slavery”, selfishly thinking only of their own personal advancement (capitalism) and potential productivity, and not the benefits to the whole? Pity the soul...

Prof. Ricardo

8:55 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

You often mystify me, but this is the first time I don't have the slightest idea what your point was? :) Seems like slavery is a "human rights" issue and our societal pact concerning military policy and shared sacrifice is a "democratic choice" issue. I really didn't follow your point... but as usual, am interested in it. :)

10:29 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

This thread is dead... but I will post the following here anyway. Remember when this administration estimated the Iraq war at $50-60 billion... and publicly chastised anyone saying otherwise. If I remember right, Larry Lindsey was run out of town because he went out of his lane and suggested something as wild as Iraq costing upwards of $200 billion. Check out the following study and estimate... think you will ever hear this from the adminstration. I guess if you lie a nation into war, you really have no problem with 24 x 7 lying. Which begs the question... why would an adminstration who lied about Iraq WMD not lie about finding them. I have grown to expect my government to lie to me... it really scares me when they stop.

Iraq is going to cost $1-2 TRILLION... Shrub has officially paid his campaign debt to the private military complex

9:32 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: “I guess if you lie a nation into war... why would an adminstration who lied about Iraq WMD not lie about finding them.

The 2005 'spike' list
WND editors, readers expose year's underreported stories

7. The fact that WMDs were found in Iraq. While members of the U.S. Senate are suggesting once again that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq,
reviewed the major discoveries, including more than 1.7 tons of enriched uranium.

A former intelligence analyst currently working as a civilian contractor recently said he will
unveil publicly next month what he believes to be recordings of Saddam Hussein's office meetings discussing his program of developing weapons of mass destruction.

The highly confidential audio was overlooked when it was found in a warehouse along with many other untranslated Iraqi intelligence files, according to the contractor.

A 2004 report asserted key claims by the intelligence community widely judged in the media and by critics of President Bush as having been false turned out to have been true after all, but the news received little attention from the major media. In virtually every case – chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missiles – the United States has found the weapons and the programs that the Iraqi dictator successfully concealed for 12 years from U.N. weapons inspectors.

Charles Duelfer, an adviser to the CIA, did not rule out Saddam's transfer of Iraqi missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Syria. Duelfer agreed that a large amount of material had been transferred by Iraq to Syria before the war begin in March 2003.
--------------

Of course, how do you know we are even in a war? Maybe he lied about that too.

Prof. Ricardo

9:20 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshitownsend,

..... we'll all going to just have to sit through Brokeback Mountain and start liking it.... by the way, I saw it, and it was better than I thought it would be...

An excellent review of this propaganda piece is found here.

P.R.

11:36 AM  

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