Friday, March 30, 2007

Now I Know How He Can Support CheneyBush

If John McCain thinks that there is ANY place in Iraq where an American can walk safely unarmored and unarmed he is clearly delusional.

Retired General and US Military Academy instructor Barry McCaffrey reporting on his sixth (I think) fact finding mission:

No Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO, nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi--without heavily armed protection.

CNN Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware:
... [T]o suggest that there is any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I'd love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll. And to think that General Patrias travels this city in an umarmored Humvee ... in the hour since Senator McCain has said this, I've spoken to some military sources and there was laughter down the line....

Juan Cole, Informed Comment:
The US embassy in Baghdad circulated a memo to all Americans working for the US government in the Green Zone. It ordered them to wear protective gear whenever they were outside in the Green Zone, including just moving from one building to another. Guerrillas have managed to lob a number of rockets into the area in recent days, and killed one US GI on Tuesday.

The Green Zone is therefore actually the Red Zone. I.e., it is no longer an area of good security contrasting to what is around it. Senator McCain was more wrong than can easily be imagined. Not only can American officials not just stroll through Baghdad districts unarmed and unprotected by armor, but they can't even move that way from one building to the next inside the Green Zone!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Still in Saigon

The sight of Vietnam veterans shouting at each other during the recent march in Washington brought me the realization that we are all still fighting the Vietnam war as we debate the war and occupation in Iraq. I and my fellow anti-war veterans see the same lies and errors that put so many of us into a pointless war. The pro-war veterans argue against making same mistakes that led to the collapse of our war effort in Vietnam. I see the conflict as a generation trying to justify its actions 40 years ago.

War turns human beings into killers, "citizens of death’s gray land". We all became killers and must come to terms with that fact. One way is to insist that our actions were absolutely justified, that we were right to kill. Another way is to recognize that what we did was not justified, that we were either fooled or acquiesced to killing. I have always considered myself in the latter category, which has left me with a legacy of self doubt and anger. On the surface, I would think that believing in what you did would be easier to deal with but the vehemence of the pro-war veterans suggest to me that they can only be sure of their actions as long as no one questions them. When fellow veterans question war, their certainty is at risk.

So here we are, 40 years later, still fighting each other. The Washington Post profiles two veterans, one on each side of the veterans’ debate. I, of course, identify with the anti-war vet. He is my age and was an Army draftee who served as a telephone operator in the central highlands near Pleiku and was wounded during an attack on his base. He came away from his experience with a profound skepticism about war and the honesty of America’s leaders. Just like me. The pro-war vet is about 10 years older, served as an Air Force photo intelligence lieutenant on the big American base in Saigon, retired after 22 years as a colonel and has unquestioning faith in the commander-in-chief.

Perhaps some of my fellow enlisted grunts may feel the same way as the colonel but the distinction in rank and orientation to the military suggests that the debate is between world views as much as their Vietnam experience. The anti-war veteran was, at best, a reluctant soldier who came under direct fire. The pro-war veteran was career Air Force. I don’t see them as equivalent in any real respect other than they were both in Vietnam. I don’t discount the colonel’s service but as career military his experience was very different from the enlisted man’s and my own. The story would carry more weight for me if the pro-war vet had been Army enlisted. This comparison doesn’t ring true to me.

I am also always skeptical of the Air Force which believes that all war can be won from the air. They’ve been saying that since WWII but it’s still the Army and Marines who end up going in on the ground. So the colonel’s faith in the bombing campaign rings hollow to me. It’s also a different form of killing. Not exactly bloodless, but the air warriors rarely engage the enemy directly and do not have the experience of hands on killing. To me that makes a big difference.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Don't Say That Word

How to properly speak bureaucratese.