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January 23, 2007

Time For A Gut Check, America

What is this nation made of?

What is so hard to understand about radical Islamofacism? We have been warned by friends.

We have been taunted by enemies.

...your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal.

You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.

September 11th, 2001. World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 attacked. Nearly 3000 Americans of all races, religions, and creeds...dead.

And still we refuse to learn.

Reading General Petraeus' strategy for quelling the violence in Baghdad makes two things more plain than ever.

First, we are our own worst enemies. And second, the constant media and Congressional efforts to undercut this war have got to stop. Whether or not, as we are triumphantly informed by the lamestream media, 65% of the American people have given up on our troops they need to face reality. Our military are committed in the short term.

They are in harm's way. Waffling and infighting will not bring them home sooner; they will only place their lives in greater jeopardy, while rendering the sacrifices of those who have died or been grievously wounded meaningless. They deserve better from us.

It's time for another gut check, America. Time to stop the whining and the carping. Time to stop insulting our fighting men and women; diminishing their voluntary sacrifices by calling them children. They are not your "kids". As one reader, a Vietnam veteran, so aptly remarked last night, there are no children on a battlefield and the military does not recruit babies. They can read, write, and think for themselves by the time they sign on that dotted line and when they reenlist, as they do from combat units all over in astonishing numbers, that says something very powerful that all your condescending and cynical rhetoric can't wipe away. It says that they believe in each other and in their mission even if you don't. And our President believes in them, even if you don't. What a sad, sad commentary that is, when the American people have lost confidence in the armed forces who have served them so nobly and so well under such difficult circumstances, under a Congress and a so-called free press who have undercut them at every turn, who have published classified details of vulnerabilities in their body armor so snipers would have a clearer idea of how to defeat it, all in the name of "freedom".

And you, the people of America, stood silent and allowed this.

You, the people of America, the conspicuous consumers, did not object, did not cancel your subscriptions to the New York Times, because that would be inconvenient.

And now you are tired of war. Only 28% of you approve of the President, and you sit passively in your homes, waiting for him to explain the war to you better, to "ask you to sacrifice". Like spoiled babies, you whine pathetically because the President hasn't asked you nicely enoughto participate in this war.

Do you, perhaps, require detailed instructions? An engraved invitiation? What mystical force prevents you from "sacrificing" unless and until the President of the United States asks you to? Do you lack the willpower to turn off the television and stay out of the Mall? To keep away from that recruiter's office? It must be horribly, horribly difficult for you. I pity anyone who feels so powerless that remain a prisoner in their own home, forced into inaction and at the mercy of a President they openly despise; a man with all the formidable intellectual prowess of a mildly retarded chimpanzee who (we are told) somehow managed to rout not one but two vastly smarter opponents in national elections as the Free People of the United States looked on in helpless horror. And that was before he shredded the Constitution and fed it to Barney the White House terrier, completing our national paralysis.

And still you second-guess the voluntary decisions of your "children". In the 1800s we saw the heartbreak of families torn asunder by war, brothers, even fathers and sons on different sides. One need look no farther than the family of Senator Jim Webb to see the conflict that is tearing this nation apart played out again. While the father wears his son's combat boots on the campaign trail and calls for the troops to come home, the son fought fiercely to get onto the field of battle and fight a war his father doesn't believe in:

"For me not to respond to the country's call, I'd be letting myself and the history of my family down," said Webb.

Watching the battle of Al Fallujah on TV from his campus, Webb decided he had seen too much of the war in Iraq from the safety of the United States.

Webb made his decision to leave the University in December of 2004, and began working with Marine Corps recruiters to find his way into the war.

"Watching the coverage of fighting in Fallujah showed me that I needed to be out there," said Webb. "Enlisting in the Marine Corps was the fastest way to Iraq."

Webb officially enlisted in January of 2005, graduating from boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., in May.

Shortly after arriving at the School of Infantry for advanced training, Webb was invited to take an indoctrination to become a reconnaissance Marine.

While attending the advanced schools of reconnaissance, however, Webb became ill and was forced to end his training.

Although the battalion was willing to keep him on board to later finish his training, Webb was faced with a difficult decision. Webb was proud of his chance to become a recon Marine, but his desire to deploy ultimately swayed his decision.

"I was looking for the fastest route to Iraq I could find, and the Recon battalion wasn't scheduled to leave when I would finish training," said Webb.

Webb was separated from the recon battalion and attached with the first deploying infantry unit available.

On January 9, 2006, Webb became a rifleman for 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, which was scheduled to deploy to Ar Ramadi, Iraq later in the year.

Now halfway through his deployment with 1/6, Webb has experienced much of what he watched in college and is content with his decision.

"I was relieved when I got to Ramadi," said Webb. "Now, I've done my part."

Our forces are going in. General Petraeus has made it clear that this time things will be done differently, whether or not the Iraqis respond as we hope:

The general, whose Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for this morning, plans to send all 17,500 additional U.S. troops ordered by President Bush into Baghdad, regardless of whether Iraqi army units join the fight as planned, according to officials familiar with his thinking. Anticipating an uneven performance by the Iraqi army, military planners are advocating using American force and funding quickly to establish early victories, both in improving security and showing economic progress

... "To do what has to be done, they all have to go," said a senior defense official who met last week with Petraeus.

During the first months of the campaign, Petraeus is likely to be wary of declarations of success or calls from Capitol Hill to begin curtailing the troop increase. "Gaining the trust of the populace is going to take more than 30 to 90 days, which means the timeline for obtaining real results are out of sync with what the Hill and the U.S. populace is looking for in the way of results," a strategist for the Joint Staff said.

Petraeus will require his troops to operate and live among the population, hoping to safeguard security and economic gains for neighborhoods cleared of violence. Military experts say that violence could decrease through April and May but that once insurgents get a feel for U.S. and Iraqi army tactics, a new "fighting season" could begin in late spring -- triggering potential political problems for U.S. public support of the operation.

The question is, will fickle partisan politicians be able to put aside their selfish interests for once and pull together for the sake of this nation?

Very doubtful. This would require a faith in both the ideals they profess to believe in and a willingness to put their own hides on the line that they've shown no signs of to date. Jim Webb is entitled to his opinion on the war, but the fact is he is not going to stop the surge. And so the question remains, will he support his son? Or will he try to undercut what the men and women of the United States military are trying to do during time of war?

And there is a larger and far more discouraging question at stake: if men like Jim Webb aren't willing to match the courage and faith of what may well be the next Greatest Generation, one wonders what hope there is for the rest of the nation?

CWCID: Badger 6 (who, by the way, runs an excellent site) for the Webb article, a certain Colorado Cat for the first Wafa Sultan link.

Update: And the HVES thought we were perturbed with Herr Webb... heh.

Posted by Cassandra at January 23, 2007 05:16 AM

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Comments

After completing my first pass through your post this morning, I have to say that M’lady kicked booty, nailed the fickle and oblivious ‘public’ to their deserved cross, along with our news services and our elected reprehensibles. Bravo!

Being a person with a fondness for well mannered but plan-spoken firebrands, I must ask, would you please run for national office? You would have this old red neck, hillwilliam, Huns support.

Posted by: bthun at January 23, 2007 10:13 AM

Cass,
I don't subscribe to the NYT. But would cancelling a subscription really be the answer?
What about massive writing in to challenge their stories and their editorial policy?

What about their dense readership holding them to account? Oh, they fired Jayson Blair. ooh, that's telling me they take their truth in reporting seriously. What about their other
writers?

Like John of Argghhh says, he reads the left because he pretty much knows the talking points of the moderate to right crowd and gets a refresher once in a while.

We have to know what they are saying in order
to challenge and fight them on the beaches, in our homes, etc. to mangle the late Winston Churchill.

Blogs fill the part of that role but like you so capably put it, we have to do the rest. I am not tired of the war, I am tired of THEM.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2007 10:28 AM

I read Wafa Sultan's speech from a year ago.
I think she believes the right of worship.
Her living here in the US for 17 years
'liberated her from her prison.'

I have something about Thomas Jefferson's Koran
floating around in my head and I will post it here
with your permission. At first I didn't really care what Barak Obama swore himself into office on...but now I do, because wasn't Jefferson who said that we couldn't go on appeasing the Barbary pirates? Who were Muslim? I think that's why he got a copy of it, to study what their beliefs were...and then to go after them. Sort of ties into the Marine hymn...

Later tater.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2007 11:14 AM

Support the troops.

Oppose the surge.

Riiiiiight.

I am now waiting for a speech from Chuck Hagel, in which he says, "We are ALL RINO's now!"

And accelerated troop rotation, with tours being extended, etc. The "surge" is less important than the ROE and change in tactics. But lets not confuse anyone out there with any facts.

Miss Cricky, that would be Congressman Ellison, from Minnesota, who is a Moslem, and took his oath of office on Jefferson's "Koran".
Barack Obama "converted" from Islam to Christianity as a young man, which, if true, would actually make one of the most hated of all us infidels, and worthy of getting his head cut off by the Sharia Sheriffs. If true.

Heh, as they say in Knoxville, Tn.

PS. I'm mad again, after trying to manage my stress better. I went to bed mad, woke up in the middle of the night mad, and am plenty mad now.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 23, 2007 11:37 AM

"because wasn't Jefferson who said that we couldn't go on appeasing the Barbary pirates?"

An interesting talk by a James Sofka UofVa prof can be found here on Jefferson's views and actions on the Barbary Pirates.

Posted by: bthun at January 23, 2007 12:07 PM

Your post has some excellent points. Here's some additional data:

The Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more thatn 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.

http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/spinney_testimony_060402.htm

The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"

http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2006/11/odyssey-of-armaments.html

On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the "Project On Government Oversight", observing it's 25th Anniversary and "Defense In the National Interest", insired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel.

http://pogo.org/

http://www.d-n-i.net/top_level/about_us.htm

Posted by: Ken Larson at January 23, 2007 12:12 PM

Chuck Z. has a post about Ellison's use of Jefferson's copy of the Koran. He posts an article about what Jefferson learned, and then has his own commentary. It was a bit of a history lesson for me (BAD public education system, not teaching about the Barbary pirates!).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 23, 2007 01:30 PM

Don, you are so right...I get so confused these days. Thanks.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2007 01:47 PM

I have to say, I think the country had its gut check already. It didn't pass. We're stuck with the elected officials we have now, and that's that.

The good news, and it really is good news, is that the elected officials are now also stuck with having to take responsibility for the problems. B/c both parties are now engaged in the governing process, neither can pass the buck -- though it seems the Democratic leadership still wants to try, inevitably they're going to have to come down to a real position. Since the only means by which we can lose in Iraq is to vote to retreat before winning, that position will either have to be "win" or "lose."

If it's "lose," they'll pay for it next time, and the country will have to heal. If it's "win," they'll be on the road to becoming the stable, loyal opposition the system anticipates, but has not recently had.

Either solution is better than where we are now.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2007 01:50 PM

Just got back from Chuck's site. I had a good education; while Reagan was governor of California. I even have a driver's handbook with his sig in it.
heh.

Anyway, that was about what I learned re: the barbary pirates except for the fact that Jefferson got tired of it. Nothing was ever said his reading their Koran to defeat them.

I think it is time we stopped Jefferson spinning in his grave...

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2007 01:53 PM

WHY can't Petraeus just order the EMBEDDED TRAITORS the hell out of our Humvees????

Let them hire their own guns to get their fill up close.

Mystifying...

Posted by: seejanemom at January 23, 2007 02:14 PM

I wonder when we will get enough of the b/s about this ?? I have been ready for our Country to do what is required for a long time. We all know (or should know) the bad guys have to be put down - and that's the answer. Semper Fi. Ron

Posted by: Ron at January 23, 2007 02:37 PM

The president has never asked for any sacrifice from anyone other than those serving in the military (and their families). He continues to do this.

The president has said, "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060911-3.html

And 21,000 troops is the answer? And permanent tax cuts?

There are plenty of non-military people and groups contributing and making sacrifices (bless them), but for something as this important, *this vital*, as the president says, to truly set our country on a footing to acheive what we need to acheive, that direction and leadership needs to come from the top, the very top. And we're not getting it. That's his job. Where's the call to service? Where's the call to sell bonds (or whatever, as an example) to pay for the Long War?

No wonder people are getting sick of it and paying less and less attention. There's no personal stake in it for them and the president cannot find a way to motivate them, especially when he tells people to keep shopping.

With those kind of mixed messages what are they supposed to think?

Posted by: jpr at January 23, 2007 03:40 PM

Jpr:

That's a common trope, but it's nonsense.

It is absolutely vital that I pay my taxes. If I don't, my entire life will fall apart: the IRS will take everything I own, the strain could tear my family apart, I might even be thrown into prison.

In spite of the absolute necessity of paying the taxes, however, I don't need to sell my plasma to get it done. I just need to set aside the right amount of money every month. Huge sacrifices shouldn't be necessary; just planning.

Iraq is indeed a vital part of a decisive struggle. It's also a managable expense that shouldn't occupy so much of our national attention. The military has the tools and knowledge to get it done, if they can simply be left alone to do it.

If anything, the problem is that too much attention is being paid to it. If the media weren't interested in it -- were spending their time covering Darfur, say, rather than questioning everything America does in Iraq, and trying to find as many of our secrets as possible to publish -- we'd be two years further along in setting it right. The cost of the war in lives and money is not high, compared to other wars; it's managable. What makes this "a war we might lose" is the political and media attention being paid to it, not the battlefield costs.

The fact that something need not require massive personal sacrifices doesn't make it unimportant. Sometimes a thing can be vital without being expensive.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2007 04:06 PM

I have been saying for decades that the Left is full of America-haters. Their policies are almost always anti-american in nature, and lead to a weakening of our social, moral, and political fabric.

After the non-stop barrage of anti-Bush rhetoric from the Left, and their lapdogs in the MSM, is it any wonder that public opinion is down in the face of such propaganda? The Left will always give comfort to our enemies and villify our patriots. Its just what they do. They did the same thing vis-a-vis us and the Soviets during the Cold War.

Unfortunately, Bush has often been his own worst enemy by gratuitously alienating his base on issues like Harriet Myers, a complete lack of fiscal restraint and, my own personal bugaboo, failure to seriously address illegal immigration.

Thus, while the Left has acted like the spoiled, self-obsessed children they are, Bush has been busy blasting away at his own foot. My own opinion on Bush is therefore ambivalent. He has made clear that he could care less about many of the concerns I and my fellow conservatives might hold and we, in turn, are starting to care less and less about him. You reap what you sow.

Posted by: a former european at January 23, 2007 04:18 PM

Great post as always Cass, love how you write. Thank you too for the link.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 23, 2007 05:00 PM

Grim,

It is vital that you pay your taxes (and you can pay mine...ha!). I didn't suggest that you stop.

Anywhere you look you see the price tag for the GWOT, since 9/11, as being somewhere between $300-400 billion and growing, closing in on being the most expensive war ever fought by the U.S. (in current dollars). Our grandchildren's children will still be paying for it.

If you're suggesting that we're paying too much attention to the war are we then, in effect, becoming desensitized to it? Won't that push it out of people's minds even further and we'll see the poll numbers go down even more?

It's my belief, though, that it needs to stay front and center, especially for those who have no personal stake in it. Not to forget, and to cajole them to do their part. Whatever it may be. And, again, that cajoling needs to come from the top.

Posted by: jpr at January 23, 2007 05:02 PM

Sacrifice is an interesting issue.

Many seem ready to "pay" for this war with higher taxes, but I wonder. Is economic growth more important than balancing the budget? Despite incredibly high taxes and War Bond drives in WWII, we still ran incredible deficits (in proportion to the GDP or GNP of that era).

So we all "want" higher taxes, but for whom? Oh yeah, all those rich bastards.

Do we want higher gas prices to finance "energy independence"? As I recall, last summer the gas prices were around ~$3/gallon, and a lot of people were "unhappy". And now the new Democratic Congress has taken some types of "punitive" action regarding taxation of certain activities, against domestic oil companies, which will, effectively discouraging domestic development and production of oil. Is this a wise sacrifice? And why can't we drill for oil in ANWR; wouldn't that be a sacrifice of sorts? :)

What about having our phones or e-mails monitored, or at least "searched" by NSA supercomputers for key words or associations with terrorist activity? Is this a sacrifice? Has this been welcomed by Congress as a "necessary step" in protecting national security from terrorism?

Is taking your shoes off and submitting to intrusive searches of carry-on luggage at ariports a sacrifice? Is this asking too much? I hate being hassled by some of the ruder members of the TSA, but most of them try to be polite and professional, in my limited experiences.

Do we all need to be told by the government, like a nanny scolding a wayward child, to donate to groups that support the soldiers in the field and at home? Are we all so "other directed" that we cannot make those choices on our own?

The World War II generation is often hailed as the "Greatest Generation", but actually, they were regular people asked to do extraordinary things, and most of them stepped up (my parent's generation). They felt vindicated because we "won" the Second World War, but I also rememeber by Mom (now 86 years young) telling me that the era of WWII was the closest we ever came to a dictatorship. But it was FDR, so it was ok, I guess.

Can we ever step up as individuals to serve a cause greater than ourselves, as they did, without carping all the way?
I know it's always easier to Blame Bush for everything that isn't right, but how about the rest of us shouldering a little more personal responsibility ourselves?

Aren't the concepts of freedom and liberty balanced by the need for personal responsibility for our actions and choices?
I guess we want it both ways, freedom and no personal responsibility, and that surely will break us in two, and break our hearts before that.

Many gave some, and some, like Jason Dunham, have given all. What have you given today to bring victory a day closer? I know that I haven't done nearly enough, myself. Cassandra and people like her have given way more of themselves than they should have to.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 23, 2007 05:13 PM

I always wish I could do more. At this time, it would have to be of my time, and not my money (because I don't have any). But, I am doing what I can. I am taking my time to create a piece of cross-stitch to donate to AnySoldier.com, so they can then raffle it off to help support their efforts. It's not much, but it's what I can do right now. I am too far away from both Fort Hood and Brooks Army Medical Center to be able to do any other meaningful volunteer work, outside my handful of addresses I send mail to "over there".

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 23, 2007 05:28 PM

"...most expensive war ever..."

Again, nonsense. If it were, we couldn't pay for it without having to devote major sections of the economy to warfighting -- as we did in WWII. The real dollar figures, adjusted for inflation, are much lower.

Even the seriously-antiwar CostOfWar.com doesn't dare compare the "cost of war" to that of previous wars. It compares it only to other budgetary items, like "Head Start."

"If you're suggesting that we're paying too much attention to the war are we then, in effect, becoming desensitized to it?"

No, paying attention to items that trigger emotional responses in the brain is addictive rather than desensitizing. In this way, war reporting is rather like pornography -- except that it's triggering a "pain" response instead of a "happy" response.

The effect is that people just want it all to go away, no matter what -- an instinctive, rather than a reasoned response. We should leave it alone, and let those who have trained to handle it carefully and rationally take care of it. They, our military, should be shown special honor for the sacrifice this entails. The rest, who have never learned to study military science, should trust their military brethren.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2007 05:53 PM

News orginizations don't do much real reporting anymore. They are businesses after all and serious reporting takes time and costs money.

Leaving aside, for the moment, any bias or agenda that a media outlet may have, the cost of doing serious, factual, in depth reports on situations in Iraq would be cost prohibitive.

In addition, the compitition wouldn't sit idley by patiently waiting for the "truth" to come out from the in depth report.
No, they would Scoop them into bankruptcy.
It IS a business after all.

The media industry isn't really a reporting industry anymore. It's more of a Packaging industry.
They get pictures from unknown sources and wrap them in facts gathered by anonymous employees from other news agencies.

All of the TV networks do most of their reporting this way, and most of the print media do.
Most of this can be ascribed to noting more than laziness, but the problems arise when the media started blaming Bush for any and everything wrong in the world.
The simple fact is that it is the Media who failed the American people.
The media failed to recognize (or acknowlege) any hint of trouble leading up to 9/11.

The Abu Ghraib "scandal" that the NYT got the scoop on from "highly placed government sources" had been passed on and circulated to the media months before by the Pentagon.
It was a curtosy report detailing the Pentagons own internal investigation into the matter.

The Times reported it in the manner they did NOT because they were shocked at the events, NOT because the Pentagon (and Bush) were trying to cover it up (remember, NYT knew about it for months), nor any other reason they printed.

They made a big stink about that for the same reason they make a big stink about anything dealing with Iraq and Bush.
They don't get the scoops.

The news is old by the time they report it, and rather than step up to the plate and admit that they've become cheap and lazy, or worse, rather than have the dwindling number of Americans who still trust them fid out, they write stories that shift the focus off of their own failings.

It's the ratings, after all, it IS a business.

You can find more detailed information about Iraq and the GWOT in one week at CENTCOMs website than all the media outlets combined put out in 6 months.

The bias in media may be a moot point but their laziness and shoddiness isn't.

I was working with a couple of SEAL instructors last week on the High Ranger, an SO2 and a CWO3.

We got to talking as guys do, about this and that, nothing sensitive or mission critical, but we did dance around a few topics about Iraq and Afghanistan, you HAVE to dance around stuff like that with a SEAL because of the nature of their job.
After spending a couple of days with them (I have to go back this weekend) on a one on one, personal level I became more impressed as time passed.
If you didn't know they were SEALS (and you won't if you ever meet them) you would think that the SO2 was any All American, A/J squared away, upwardly mobile college graduate with a pretty wife and kids in the near future.

He and I had a difference of opinion about the work schedual. He wanted to work all the way through the day so he would have time to go drink a few beers and then watch the game while I insisted that I was a civilian employee and a government one at that, which means that I'm taking my breaks and eating my lunch, Thank You Very Much.

If you didn't know the Warrent he would probably remind you of a Union foreman. That's what he reminded me of anyway.
These 2 guys and the other instructors I got to know (not the trainees, I don't interfere with training), they could fit into any sector of society un-noticed.
These guys who know their business, and who's business is war, come from all sectors of society and diverse political and social backgrounds.
To a man, all of them (5) hated their time in Iraq yet didn't mind Afghanistan.
To a man, all of them gave political and diplomatic dynamics as the reason(s) they didn't like Iraq.
To a man, all of them despise the media for what they consider blatant treason. NOT bias by the way. They were very clear about where the lines were drawn on that.

And to a man, all of them said It Doesn't Matter who started what, or who went wrong where or who's fault this war or any other war is.
What matters is that we are at war so we need to win.

They didn't blame the politicians as much as they did the media for the bad impression being fed to the American people.
These guys have seen things, done things and been in situations that most people would never even imagine and they KNOW what the media is not telling us.


On a whiteboard in their training room when I went by there Monday: SEAL TEAM ALPHA - 20 HOURS MISHAP FREE!

Posted by: Joatmoaf at January 23, 2007 09:59 PM

Don Brouhaha,

Right after Sept 11, when people were trying to give blood and had the strong desire to "do something", President Bush said to go to the mall. I cringed. I wish he would have said something about this being new to all of us and he'd get back to us, perhaps with some sort of neighborhood watch for terrorist activities (such as people videotaping power plants, cathedrals, bridges).

But in a way he was right. We suffered a trillion-dollar hit by the time the ripples from the September 11 attacks worked their way through the economy. In lesser hands, we would now be in a serious recession, or even a depression. But George Bush's tax cuts helped the US recover economically in about three years - if memory serves, that was when the stock market regained its pre-9/11 levels, and look at it now! We have a powerful economic engine cranking out money which is covering an expensive war, but people are still able to buy iPods and plasma televisions. Our productivity as a nation, and George Bush's tax cuts which have demonstrably improved the income of the government, have combined to make it possible to fight this war without having to ration tires and sugar. That's something.

Posted by: MathMom® at January 24, 2007 12:24 AM

And to a man, all of them said It Doesn't Matter who started what, or who went wrong where or who's fault this war or any other war is.
What matters is that we are at war so we need to win.

Exactly right. We can argue all day about whether toppling the Hussein regime was the right thing to do. But you can't have a meaningful debate with people that think this extremely complex question can be distilled down to a two-word bumper sticker. The "shot heard around the World" in this war was fired by the duplicitous Joe Wilson and the like-minded editors of the NYTimes. Facts about Wilson's "fact finding" trip to Niger are twisted, obfuscated, or willingly ignored because they are far more complex than the catchy meme "Bush Lied." When your opponent can convince enough people that all they need to know about Iraq can be summed up on a bumper sticker, you're toast if your only arguments require ten paragraphs to convey, no matter how well researched and factual.

If you can get past that, you will get the "I supported the invasion, but not the way it was done. Bush botched it, mistakes were made, yada yada yada." Of course mistakes were made! You can't drive around the block without making mistakes. Repeat after me: Perfection is not an acheivable standard. You get away with it on your short jaunt around the block because the cost of a mistake is directly proportional to the scope and complexity of the goal. Who has ever fought a war without making mistakes??

The point is that you learn from them and move on. But we don't do that. A very large percentage of our populace has been convinced by the same cynical media that pushed the "Abu Ghraib/Bush Lied/Iraq Is Already Lost" tropes that our only choice is to punt on 2nd and 1 "because mistakes were made" on the previous play. This is ridiculous! Hell, no one ever punts on 2nd and 30, much less 2nd and 1.

As a last resort you'll get the "Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11." I disagree because I think there are shades of grey in that question, but for the sake of argument, I'll agree. My response to that is "so effing what!" Our globally announced policy towards Iraq, which by the way came during the Saint Clinton era, was for regime change in Iraq. This was, of course, well before 9/11.

The true diehard will then fall back on "I don't care. No Blood For Oil!" Ah, another bumper sticker argument, made highly ironic by being attached to an oil burning conveyance." Ok, fine. If you're willing to regress to a 19th century civilization, I'll give you that point. But you'd better STFU about global warming and pollution because we're going to be burning a hell of a lot of coal! Keep quiet about the forests, too, because we're going to be burning a lot of wood.

No wonder people are getting sick of it and paying less and less attention. There's no personal stake in it for them...

Ridiculous. We ALL have a personal stake in this, whether we're willing to open our eyes and see it or not. You can stick your head in the sand and say that the threat is an invention of the GOP to keep us all scared and voting for Repubs, but that requires a mind-boggling ignorance of a decade's worth of counter evidence.

We ALL are making a sacrifice ('all' in this case being defined as the minority of us that actually pay tax) in both dollars and inconvenience. So people in the 1940s had bond drives and victory gardens. We have travel delays, increased government scrutiny, and if you happen to be a pilot, many, many new restrictions to live with.

I wonder this: if you feel that you aren't making a sacrifice, why do you care so much? In your mind, you're getting something for nothing and that apparently bothers you. Fine, go do something about it. But don't be a typical liberal and insist that I be forced to share your viewpoint. I get enough of that with mega-rich Hollywood and Massachusetts Libs saying that we're not doing enough for this, that, or the other thing, and we should all pay more tax. Bullshit. Pay more tax if you want to, no one is stopping you. Put your money where your mouth is if you feel it's that important, but let me decide how/when/where/if to contribute my own time/money.

Posted by: Daveg at January 24, 2007 08:38 AM

Oh, and "Bush didn't listen to the Generals/Intelligence/Congress/Whatever."

The most common is "He didn't send enough troops, even though the Generals said they needed more."

Ok, which Generals? Some said they needed more troops, some said they didn't. As with intelligence findings, there were conflicting opinions. Someone has to decide between the multitude of options, and that 'someone' is the President.

What people don't seem to realize, though, is that just because one option didn't work as advertised or was wrong, that does not mean that the other option would have been any better. It could have been worse! Being the Decider-in-Chief is no picnic, and it takes a strong leader to make life-and-death decisions and live with the consequences. Sitting on the sidelines criticizing decisions is easy, what with having the benefit of hindsight.

I think I could do a kick-ass job at forecasting yesterday's weather, you know. Trying to predict what will happen tomorrow, and being responsible for the potential dire consequences of being wrong, is a completely different ball game.

Posted by: Daveg at January 24, 2007 09:04 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 01/24/2007

Posted by: David M at January 24, 2007 11:05 AM

And in our top story, two Bush administration officials are joining a panel discussion at the Sundance Film Festival. Robert Redford Country.

Posted by: Cricket at January 24, 2007 03:34 PM

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of freedom.
John F. Kennedy, 1961"

But then heck - Kennedy's dead...although I believe I can hear him moaning in his grave. Or is that General Patton reciting his speech?:

"Men, this stuff we hear about America wanting to stay out of the war, not wanting to fight, is a lot of bullshit. Americans love to fight - traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle."

Posted by: reefdiver at January 24, 2007 05:45 PM

Wow. Gut check time, i love it.
I'm going to link this post at my blog. Keep it going.

Posted by: rhino-itall at January 25, 2007 10:53 AM

If Americans are tired of war now, just wait until it comes home to roost. Imagine 9/11 all across the land.

Then they'll REALLY whine.

Americans gutless? You bet.

Oh, and the "Greatest Generation" is the one who instigated the present nanny/welfare state.

Posted by: Sharpshooter at January 29, 2007 09:00 AM

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