Obama’s Neocon Critics…

It’s an incantation repeated among Obama’s neocon critics: the Iraq surge worked; things were going swimmingly until we withdrew; the same thing will happen in Afghanistan if we pull out completely.

Let’s assume it’s true, that we could keep peace and order in these countries if we kept tens of thousands of troops (or more) on the ground.

Here’s my question: Why on Earth would we do such a thing? How does it serve American interests to spend vast quantities of blood and treasure serving as a national police force for countries on the other side of the globe with no end in sight?

These are the questions that we must keep in mind as we assess Obama’s foreign policy.

It’s easy to say we should have done “something” in Syria three years ago. That “something” usually means helping supposedly moderate rebels to overthrow Assad and form a decent, democratic government. Sounds lovely. Except for the fact that everything we’ve learned since 2001 tells us that it wouldn’t have gone like that at all.

Overthrow Assad and the place will tear itself apart even more thoroughly than it already has.

Source: Putin isn’t humiliating Obama in Syria. He’s doing the U.S. a favor.

MyScans167I am very much a peacenik. I think war is absolutely the last thing we should try in tackling almost every problem.  So, when I hear the latest version of neocons wanting to race to yet another war as a solution for everything it turns my stomach.  I agree with my Quaker friends War is Not the Answer. Especially when we have no idea of what to do after we have defeated the bad guys. Most often than not they are just replaced by other bad guys who are sometimes even worse.  The answer in Syria, like it should have been in Iraq and most other middle eastern countries, is to just let it work its own way out. Don’t butt in with our great wisdom when we obviously don’t have any. There has not been a war in my lifetime that had even a remote semblence of what we thought would come out of it.

When Biden suggested that if we MUST invade Iraq we should then turn it into three different countries: Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish.  That might not have totally solved the problem but we certainly would have been better off if we had taken Joe’s advice than to rush in with our unbaked ideas of forming a democracy in that part of the world that has no conception of what a democracy is.

These new neocons seem to be ready to jump into war as a solution to everything. They never see a conflict that they don’t want to take over or a military budget that they don’t want to increase. Is this what the USA is all about now or is this just another fringe wing-nut group asserting themselves on the rest of us? I just don’t know.

Simply stated we just don’t need to be the policemen of the world. We are just not very good at it in the first place.

The Good Old Days…

2015-09-17_10-04-38a world that is boiling over in violence and cut-throat theocracy makes me nostalgic for the days it was merely “simmering in resentment and tyranny

Source: How the refugee crisis is teaching us the value of Hussein, Mubarak, and Gadhafi

Don’t we all wish for the “good old days” when Saddam ruled with an iron fist and as a result kept the lid on the Middle East.  Yeah his bravado rankled many but we for the most part just ignored him. He did kill thousands of his own people to maintain control but millions have been killed in the aftermath of his takedown by the U.S. military under their commander-in-chief George W. Bush.

Civil wars have tarnished history throughout time perhaps no more so than our own war over the right to own another person. The same can be said for religious wars. We seem to be a race that “MUST” always have an enemy in one form or another. If we don’t have one we search far and wide until we find one.  I often wonder if the other civilizations in the universe are as belligerent as we are or have they learned to coexist with each other?

Yeah we took down Saddam’s regime but I kind of think that the old saying “Be careful what you wish for as you just might get it” holds true here. There are perhaps thousands of lessons about needless wars in our past and we just never seem to fathom them especially when a new opportunity presents itself.

The U.S. has by a very wide margin the biggest war machine in the world. I wonder what would happen if we spent half the amount we spend on our weapons of destruction on finding a peaceful way to just get along.

I know that I am a naive idealist but isn’t thinking against the grain how paradigm shifts happen?

The New GOP…

2015-07-30_07-37-47

QE BannerFor those of you who haven’t visited here much I will state up front that while I am very much a social progressive but I am also a fiscal conservative. I too think as indicated in this editorial cartoon by Jack Ohman “where did the Republican party go?” They once were the party of small government and keeping expenses under control.  During those days I voted Republican about as often as I voted Democrat. But those days now seem to be a distant memory.

  • The new GOP seems to be made up of screamers who want infinite military budgets so that can go after the “bad guys” wherever they can find them.
  • They ignore thousands of needless deaths in order to justify their unlimited quest for the next gun.
  • They say they are pro-life but don’t want to provide easy access to contraceptives to prevent unwanted births.
  • Instead of providing mental health facilities and other social services they also seem to want to imprison everyone who might frighten them.
  • They have mountainous fear and very little empathy or trust.

It saddens me to see the party taken over by what was once its radical fringe. I pray that those who are on the drum beat to another war give peace chance with the Iran situation.

Question everything….

How About…

 Spouting Off… Being Loud But Not Being Obnoxious

One of the things I missed the most about my hiatus from RJ’s Corner is spouting off. It does the heart good to question everything and sometimes put forth a thought or two.  I plan on doing that rather frequently in the future here  on the new/improved blog so get used to it! 🙂

QE BannerI hear all the latest rumbling (as in ready to explode in a bout of diarrhea) about how the peace accord worked out with Iran is so worthless.  Some seem to think that our only solution to conflicts around the world is war. “Blow the bad guys away” is their mantra. Of course the loudest of these critics are the Republican presidential contenders and those in Congress.  I got an idea to turn that around.

MyScans167How about we send all the kids and grandkids of those folks off as the first line in the battle. Let’s make them put their loved ones lives on the line. I bet if that were a requirement the opposition to trying peace this time would quickly die out.  There is nothing like “skin in the game” to change people’s attitudes.

2015-02-08_08-42-25In the same light there are all those senior citizens out there that are so opposed to allowing  our citizens to obtain reasonably cost healthcare. How about taking all those folks off Medicare and let them fend for themselves in the cutthroat business pre-ADA.  I bring this idea up frequently when I get into it with them and have yet to have any of them accept my proposition.

I’m Back……..

War and Families…

2015-06-24_08-25-58This post is a continuation of my story about my father and his early years. I know there there millions of families that have been seriously affected by all the wars we have been involved in during my lifetime. Some grievously damaged, some to a lesser extent. I see too many people who are still living with the wounds of my generation’s war and that is Vietnam. They can’t let go of their feeling and seem to live them almost daily. To what extent my father’s war time experiences effected the family is hard for me to grade.

Dad graduated from high school in June of 1941 and was inducted into the armed services in February of 1943 at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. He was not yet twenty years old. I suspect due to his hunting experiences he was rated as a carbine-sharpshooter and was sent to Europe. According to his “record of separation” report from the army he was in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. So it is fairly obvious that he saw more than his share of death during his two and a half years of war.

Dad only mentioned his war time experiences to me one time in his life and that is when there was the possibility that I would be drafted and sent to Vietnam. He told me of his platoon being sent out on a mission and everyone but him was killed. He was wounded and taken as dead by the enemy but managed to get back to his lines. When he got back he told his superiors to “take this gun out of my hands or I will go AWOL”.  He knew that I was a very anti-violence kid and if it came to it he would support me going to Canada to avoid going to war.  I was totally overwhelmed by his words.

They did take the gun out of his hands and he became a medic and that is what he did until he was finally back home.  He must have been a good soldier/medic as he received an American Theater Ribbon, EAME Theater Ribbon w/ 5 Bronze Stars, and a Good Conduct Medal.  He was mustered out of the military in November 1945 and received a little over $300 payment upon discharge.  Except for his discharge papers, dad kept nothing related to those years so there are no pictures for this post except the map above showing where he might have been.

Soon after his discharge he met my mom and I was born eleven months after he returned home. More on that later. I don’t know how much of dad’s stoicism was the result of his war time experiences that the kept totally to himself but I do suspect that a fair part of it was a result of those deadly years.

It seems that we have been in one war or another throughout my life but none of them compared to the war my father went through. It is good to see that more attention and resources are now being spent to treat PTSD in the soldiers returning from our latest wars in the Middle-East. Maybe a few less families will be destroyed as a result.

The next “Dad” story will be about his marriage and abandonment of his wife to greener pastures..

Weighing Nuclear Option…

2015-03-16_09-11-08“We were ready to do it”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he considered putting the country’s vast nuclear arsenal on alert to prevent outside agents from stopping the Kremlin’s forced annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine last year.

Putin’s admission was aired during a prerecorded documentary called Homeward Bound, which was broadcast on a state-backed television network Sunday in the run-up to the first anniversary of Crimea’s annexation later this week.

SOURCE: Vladimir Putin Admits to Weighing Nuclear Option During Crimea Conflict | TIME.

During our 30+ years of the Cold War and the nuclear standoff with the USSR a strategy was developed by the west called MAD. It stood for “Mutually Assured Destruction”. It went something like this. If the USSR bombs us with a nuclear weapon we will send off our entire nuclear arsenal on them and that will basically ensure that both countries, and probably the rest of the world, would be totally destroyed. The USSR then said we will do the same to you.  I’m sure that was constantly on the minds of both country’s leaders during those times.

Why do we constantly fear another country, rogue or not getting a nuclear weapon? The sixty year old technology is pretty much known to all the world’s scientists now. It is just a matter of getting the materials together to build one. We need a different deterrent to stop the spread of nuclear weapons than just trade embargoes and such. We need TAD, “Totally Assured Destruction”. That is the statement signed by all, or almost all, countries that says that if you use a nuclear weapon on another country the rest of the world will do whatever it takes to insure that your country is totally destroyed. No “if”, “ands” or “buts”. Your country is toast.

Can you image a hundred war machines immediately charging into Iran for example because they used a nuclear bomb on Israel. Would they really want to use a bomb under those circumstances? Of course part of this new tactic would require that the rest of the world start carrying their share of military might and that the US trim down our totally dominate war machine.  But wouldn’t that be a win-win scenario for everyone.

Let’s enact TAD and stop all these political games of one-upmanship that goes around a country buying aluminum cylinders..  Stop the current stupidity and come out plainly with “You use a nuclear bomb and your country will cease to exist”.

Occam’s Razor is a widely known theory that in its most basic form is “Keep things simple!“. That should apply here. We have prevented possible aggression with NATO in the past. Now it is time for TAD

Enough said….

Is It Worth It???

2014-09-04_09-31-04If it were challenged by Russia, how important is Estonia’s sovereignty to you? Would you kill and die for it? Send your children to do so? Would you risk the nuclear annihilation of your civilization? Is your gratitude for use of Estonia’s airspace during the war on terror that great?

SOURCE: Don’t save Ukraine – The Week.

The publication “The Week” is becoming a favorite of mine. It is from a British organization so it lends a different viewpoint than most traditional U.S. sources.  It seems to have the same contrarian philosophy as me. When we take away all the spin of being the “policemen of the world” is preventing part of a country’s population from splitting off into a different allegiance worth billions of our dollars and more importantly thousands of American kids lives? That should be the first question we ask ourselves whenever we get involved in yet another conflict on the other side of the world.  I know my answer to that question and I suspect you know yours without hesitation.

Wounded Souls….

Christians have a presumption against war as well as an obligation to help heal those who suffer its consequences.

2014-05-17_10-56-06The above title and words come from a Sojourners Magazine article by Gregg Brekke in the April 2014 issue. I have made it clear on most of my blogs that I am pro-peace in almost all regards and of course that makes me anti-war. All the wars and conflicts that the U.S. has fought in  my lifetime have not had any long, or even medium term, consequences. If they had not been fought at all nothing much would have changed.

The big war of my generation was Vietnam. Because of my hearing loss I was not drafted into fighting in it but I did lose several good friends in it. That war claimed 55,000 American lives and many more thousands in psychological and emotional duress. Even today after almost 50 years there are still those of my generation who can’t get loose from their experiences in Vietnam.

I would add a list of all the wars we have been involved in since Vietnam here but that would take up most of my self-imposed 500 word limit for this post. Thousands and thousands of  young American lives have been lost in our meaningless wars. Being a follower of Jesus, it is clear from his words that he was against all forms of violence. I very much align with those thoughts. Does that mean I am against those who fought in those wars, either by choice or were drafted? Absolutely not!! As the quote above says we followers of Jesus Christ have an obligation to help heal those who suffer from war’s consequences.

The article from which this quote comes goes on to cite  examples of those injured and killed by war. PSTD is a new acronym explaining an age-old condition. You can’t expect anyone to come back from war in the same way they left. The very act of killing in the name of your government and in defending your life in those circumstances changes everyone exposed to it. Some return much more damaged than others. Some don’t return at all.

As the article says veterans can be the biggest allies in advocating for peace. They have been exposed to the ugly realities of war. I feel very deeply and emotionally for the wounded souls who have fought in our wars.  It is up to us as Christians to do everything we can to ensure that help is there to heal those who have been grievously injured both physically and emotionally. We need to make it very clear to them that while we don’t condone the wars that they might have fought in we will do all we can to understand their pain and to help them overcome it.