Category Archives: military

I agree with every word

Frank Bruni today in the New York Times writes of the vast distance between those in uniform and the celebrity pundits busily passing judgement on a soldier. Pundits, most of whom have never even tried on a uniform. Good column. He also says this:

This has been an emotional, messy and confusing week, which ends with as many questions as answers. One of mine concerns the Obama administration: Is there anyone there doing serious messaging strategy? Anyone stepping back to consider how a story like this one is likely to unfold and how the administration may get tripped up in it?

When Susan Rice (rightly or wrongly) carries around that Benghazi baggage, how do you send her of all emissaries onto TV to talk up the “honor and distinction” of Bergdahl’s military service? This characterization was sure to be disputed; there was countervailing evidence in circulation even as she spoke. How do you fail to realize that this is going to come back to bite you? Incredible.

Priorities people, priorities!

According to The Wall Street Journal, developing the health insurance exchange site so far . . .

. . .  has cost at least $360 million, and possibly as much as $600 million.

Then there’s the F-22. Developing that baby cost a mere $42 billion and while the planes themselves are a steal at only $150 million per, it was nine years before a single production model was delivered to the Air Force.  Wikipedia:

During the development process the aircraft continued to gain weight at the cost of range and aerodynamic performance, even as capabilities were deleted or delayed in the name of affordability

F-22 production was split up over many subcontractors across 46 states, in a strategy to increase Congressional support for the program.[29][30] However the production split, along with the implementation of several new technologies were likely responsible for increased costs and delays.[31] Many capabilities were deferred to post-service upgrades, reducing the initial cost but increasing total project cost.[32]Each aircraft required “1,000 subcontractors and suppliers and 95,000 workers” to build.[33] The F-22 was in production for 15 years, at a rate of roughly two per month.[34]

Now that’s some bureaucracy there! It’s really a marvel the thing flies.

Exactly.

(George Packer has a chat.)

UPDATE : Dearest readers, as much as I’d like to lay claim to the words that follow, I cannot. They aren’t mine. The ‘dialogue’ here is from George Packer at The New Yorker, but reading now through your comments, it looks like I didn’t make that clear. The link above to is to his column. Packer begins:

“So it looks like we’re going to bomb Assad.

Good.

Really? Why good?

Did you see the videos of those kids? I heard that ten thousand people were gassed. Hundreds of them died. This time, we have to do something.

Yes, I saw the videos.
And you don’t want to pound the shit out of him?I want to pound the shit out of him.But you think we shouldn’t do anything.

I didn’t say that. But I want you to explain what we’re going to achieve by bombing.

We’re going to let Assad know that chemical weapons are over the line. There’s a reason they’ve been illegal since Verdun or whenever.

Except when Saddam used them against the Kurds—we knew, and we didn’t say a word.

Is that a reason to let Assad use them against his people?

At this point, I don’t think Assad is too worried about the Geneva Conventions.

Continue reading

This disgusts me

The President needs to stop this and find a way out. But he isn’t. He’s defending it. The inhumanity of force-feeding political prisoners plays out in the wider world just like Abu-Ghraib. But this time, it’s my guy doing it. Shame, shame, shame.

MIAMI, July 3 (Reuters) – The U.S. federal court has no  jurisdiction and no legal basis to intervene in the  force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo naval base, the  Obama administration argued in a court document on Wednesday

Taking the silly to new heights

A revealing moment in an exchange on Charlie Rose last night. His guests were the Editor and primary reporter from the Guardian there to talk about Snowden and the NSA leaks. At one point, Rose asked the reporter “so do you just call Snowden when you need to ask questions?”. She looked at him as though he were not wearing pants and replied “Um, we just text.” A telling moment.

Then this morning, I saw this:

The Army admitted Thursday to not only restricting access to The Guardian news website at the Presidio of Monterey, as reported in Thursday’s Herald, but Armywide.

Presidio employees said the site had been blocked since The Guardian broke stories on data collection by the National Security Agency

Same thing.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

And for ‘me’, read the United States of America.

According to Ramzy Mardini, someone who knows (caution – NY Times possible paywall):

The Syrian revolution isn’t democratic or secular; the more than 90,000 fatalities are the result of a civil war, not a genocide — and human rights violations have been committed on both sides.

Moreover, the rebels don’t have the support or trust of a clear majority of the population, and the political opposition is neither credible nor representative. Ethnic cleansing against minorities is more likely to occur under a rebel-led government than under Mr. Assad; likewise, the possibility of chemical weapons’ falling into the hands of terrorist groups only grows as the regime weakens.

And finally, a rebel victory is more likely to destabilize Iraq and Lebanon, and the inevitable disorder of a post-Assad Syria constitutes a greater threat to Israel than the status quo.

Mardini concludes:

Syria is like Iraq. But worse.

Security or civil liberties – what’ll it be?

boston policeIn an earlier post, I quoted (and agreed with) Ron Paul in his expression of concern about the militarized nature of the response to the Boston bombings. In the comments, I responded to a polite challenge from jamesb who put forward a common question: “If those two young men had walked into a house and held someone hostage with bombs…..”

I replied:

james, there will always be dilemmas confronting us when we try to balance state security with civil liberties. Which, as a society, do we decide is most in need of protection? Hostage crises, for instance, have happened throughout history, whereas the US Bill of Rights stood alone for centuries as an enormous step forward for mankind.

“Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional lawyer, says it best at his blog in a post titled “The Pavlovian Politics of Terror”:

“My greatest concern is that the Boston response will become the accepted or standard procedure . . .

. . . as a thousand papercuts from countless new laws and surveillance systems slowly kill our privacy, we might want to ask whether a fishbowl society will actually make us safer or just make us feel that way.”

Jim  Wheeler agreed:

Legislation enacted out of fear is fraught with peril, e.g., The Patriot Act.

Just wanted to put this out there.

Wherein I agree with Ron Paul, as any good liberal should do on occcasion

In the eyes of many, I’m sure the police actions in Boston were appropriate because we’re at war with terror, or terrorism, or terrorists. Whatever. I don’t deny the threat but I abhor the notion that this is ‘war’. Anyway, take it away Ron:

Former Rep. Ron Paul said the police response to the Boston Marathon bombings was scarier than the bombing itself, which killed three and wounded more than 250.

“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city . . .  This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself” . . .

Paul said the scenes of the house-to-house search for the younger bombing suspect in suburban Watertown, Mass., were reminiscent of a “military coup in a far off banana republic.”

Not sure about that coup part, but certainly it looked like a military action.

“Forced lockdown of a city,” he wrote. “Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.”

(Heads up WPressers . . . our blog platform ain’t allowin’ no pictures today. Or maybe WP is just picking on me?)

Ready.Fire.Aim. Yield? 190,000 dead; $2.2 trillion; ten years

And so it began ten years ago tomorrow.

This week Brown University (another bastion of liberal lies and anyway, it’s un-American since it was founded before the American Revolution) published a comprehensive study of the costs – in blood and treasure – of our adventurous invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. (The full report is here. It’s broken down by subject – dollars, lives, politics etc.)

According to the report, the war has killed at least 190,000 people, including
men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians and will cost the United
States $2.2 trillion.

Among the group’s main findings:

  • More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq have been civilians — an estimated 134,000. This number does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.
  • The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.
  • Th $2.2 trillion figure includes care for veterans who were injured in the war in Iraq, which will cost the United States almost $500 billion through 2053.
  • The total of U.S. service members killed in Iraq is 4,488. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors have died as well, a number often under-reported.
  • Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.
  • Iraq’s health care infrastructure remains devastated from sanctions and war. More than half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients are forced to seek health care outside the country.
  • The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds.

Dont know if they touch on this, but neither electricity nor oil production has reached pre-war levels yet. And there is that business of Iraq now being a Shia ruled country aligned with Iran. But Cheney et al got their blood. So there’s that.

Cheney still keepin’ it classy

chickenhawk-cheney-billboardPure patriot is our Dick – these comments from a former Vice President will serve so well the interests of The United States out in the wider world. Thanks for having our back you creep.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military.

Right. Because you didn’t tear the military to shreds with two wars over a decade –  unless soldier suicides don’t count. And it doesn’t count that the military is overwhelmed with caring for those with traumatic head injuries. Or that we became so desperate for new cannon fodder that the Army lowered standards to accept felons. Mr. “I had other priorities” went on:

 “The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,” Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.

 Cheney, a Wyoming native, said it was vital to the nation’s national security that “good folks” hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense.

Like Rumsfeld, who Bush wanted to fire but was continually blocked by Cheney.

 “Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” he said.

Like I said, keeping it classy.

Chuck Hagel? I can get down with that

While quite conservative, he was a good Senator, a thoughtful man. So if he ends up at Defense, that looks good to me. (I think he was also a fierce critic of W’s Iraq Adventure.) Will his former GOP colleagues confirm him?

Story is from Bloomberg. Notice the other headline too. So John Kerry gets State. I’m down with that as well.

hagel

 

Just like Cheney who had ‘other priorities’

From The Last of the Milleniums where he has a juicy post about vets, Sen. Jim Webb and the 47%.

USA! USA! USA! (ssshhhh, don’t let the secret out)

We don’t trust the Congress. We don’t trust the Executive. And since Bush v. Gore and all the 5-4 decisions since, we no longer trust the Supreme Court.

However, by all measures, Americans have a high level of  trust in the U.S. military. Admiration too.

Don’t tell the flag wavers that the United States Military is an entirely Socialist enterprise. It would spoil their fun.

 

So Putin goes there and hints Romney is a fool

Oh, nice, even more – from Dependable Renegade (who finds all the good stuff):

Thank-you! – Vladimir Putin thanks magical panties enthusiast The Willard Mechanism for saying that Russia remains the US #1 geo political threat, because it solidified his missile defense argument:

“I’m grateful to him (Romney) for formulating his stance so clearly because he has once again proven the correctness of our approach to missile defense problems,” Putin told reporters, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“The most important thing for us is that even if he doesn’t win now, he or a person with similar views may come to power in four years. We must take that into consideration while dealing with security issues for a long perspective,” he said, speaking after a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, according to Interfax news agency.

The Yanks are comin’, the Yanks are comin’, the drums are drumming everywhere!

John McCain is now listing the wars he wishes we’d had. And he’s doing it without Mr. Lieberman and Miss Graham at his side.

Georgia. Iran. Syria. At least.

“Fridays at the Pentagon”

Here is a story for Memorial Day – a wonderful and tender story (it’s still linkable here). I came to be familiar with the author, Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, in the early days of the Iraq war via Eric Alterman’s blog  Altercation, then housed at Media Matters, where Bateman was a frequent contributor and where this story first appeared around 2005.

So for Memorial Day 2012, as Eric used to say: “here’s Bateman”:

“It is 110 yards from the ‘E’ ring to the ‘A’ ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

“This hallway, more than any other, is the ‘Army’ hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.

“10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

“A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

“Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden … yet.

“Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier’s chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

“Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

“11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. ‘My hands hurt.’ Christ. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway — 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

“They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

“There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son’s behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

“These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.”

Which is why we must defund PBS. Now. Or we all die.

UPDATE:In comments, both jonolan and jamesb have pointed out this chart is, at the  very least, dishonest. They are right. I threw it up in haste. Bad me.

But it still sucks that our damn congress critters are going after PBS.

Because they’re all out to get us

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE:
In the comments, David links to this (the defense part). I’m looking to tie dollars to that and to health care. It’s out there. Spending on defense, by country (the top ten by US$billions):