Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity and selfless service, and yet when we get to the senior officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention and we violated the core of our military values....[T]hose civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The Washington Post is currently outlining the unconstitutional extent of the Vice President's power grab in a series of articles entitled, "Angler". No doubt that is the Vice President's security call sign.
Monday, June 25, 2007
One aspect of early Mormonism that has been studied and accepted by scholars and even the LDS was it's leaders association with various forms of Freemasonry. Dr. Reed Durham an LDS historian stated: There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be know as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons had an immediate inspiration from Masonry. The "immediate inspiration" is understandable because Smith was initiated into the cult (March 15, 1842) in the same second floor office where he founded the Mormon Temple in Nauvoo. The Temple itself was adorned with Masonic symbols. Every prominent male Mormon in Nauvoo also became a Mason. Smith explained that Freemasonry represented a corrupted "remnant" of the true priesthood which God intended him to restore. Two days after being entered as a Master Mason he founded a "Female Relief Society" along Masonic lines with lodges, rituals, degrees and orders similar to a French version called "Adopted" Masonry. Orthodox Freemasonry as practiced in Illiinois at the time did not include women. Eventually every officer of the Society became Smith's spiritual wife and consort. His first wife, Emma, presided as the Society's first "Elect Lady". Smith was undoubtedly aided in his masonic exertions by John Bennett, a disreputable frontier gynecologist and Mason. His brand of Masonry was apparently of the libidinous variety. Arriving in 1840, he enjoyed a meteoric rise in Nauvoo becoming mayor and assistant president of the Church. In 1841 the idea of "spiritual wifery" or plural marriage was introduced. According to a contemporary Nauvoo newspaper editor, it was Dr. Bennett who introduced esoteric Masonry concepts to Joseph Smith. Bennett experienced an equally rapid departure from Nauvoo in 1842 after being excommunicated for alleged sexual improprieties. Alarmed by the irregularities instituted by Smith and his followers, the Illinois Grand Lodge removed all authority from the Mormon lodges.
But Smith's association and knowledge of Freemasonry goes farther back than Nauvoo. The Smith family originated in Vermont. Two of Joseph's uncles became Masons there. After relocating to upstate New York, his father became a Master Mason in 1818. His older brother and life long companion Hyrum entered a Palmyra, N.Y. lodge around 1826 about the time Joseph began work on the Book of Mormon. Joseph associated with other Masons like Brigham Young. Around 1836 be became intimate with Lucinda Young, the wife of another Mason, who eventually became one his "spiritual wives". She was the widow of the noted Captain William Morgan of Battavia, New York. Morgan was murdered presumably by Masons for exposing their secrets in 1826. The murder touched off a period of nationwide anti-Mason agitation. Thus, the young Smith was steeped in all things Masonic. His story of the discovery of the Golden Plates bears strong similarities to the legend of Solomon's treasure as noted by historian John L. Brook:
Freemasonry provides a point of entry into this very complex story. As it had been in Vermont, Masonic fraternity was a dominant feature of the cultural landscape in Joseph Smith's Ontario County. . . . The dense network of lodges and chapters helps explain the Masonic symbolism that runs through the story of the discovery of the Golden Plates. Most obviously, the story of their discovery in a stone vault on a hilltop echoed the Enoch myth of Royal Arch Freemasonry, in which the prophet Enoch, instructed by a vision, preserved the Masonic mysteries by carving them on a golden plate that he placed in an arched stone vault marked with pillars, to be rediscovered by Solomon. In the years to come the prophet Enoch would play a central role in Smith's emerging cosmology. Smith's stories of his discoveries got more elaborate with time, and in June 1829 he promised Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris that they would see not only the plates but other marvelous artifacts: the Urim and Thummim attached to a priestly breastplate, the 'sword of Laban,' and 'miraculous directors.' Oliver Cowdery and Lucy Mack Smith later described three or four small pillars holding up the plates. All of these artifacts had Masonic analogues.. . . Smith's sources for these Masonic symbols were close at hand. Most obviously, Oliver Cowdery would have been a source, given that his father and brother were Royal Arch initiates; one Palmyra resident remembered Oliver Cowdery as 'no church member and a Mason.' . . . A comment by Lucy Mack Smith[Joseph's mother] in her manuscript written in the 1840s, protesting that the family did not abandon all household labor to try 'to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing magic circles, or sooth-saying,' suggests a familiarity with Masonic manuals: the 'faculty of Abrac' was among the supposed Masonic mysteries [Refiner's Fire, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 157-158].
The early Mormon Church's incorporation of esoteric ideas went deeper than mere Masonic ritual and symbols. Esoteric concepts entered its theology too. Church leaders in Utah would later claim that Mormonism was the "true Masonry". Michael Quinn, a prominent historian of the occult said in his seminal study of Mormonism's occult roots, Mormonism and the Occult World View: "To be sure Masonic rituals also shared some similarities with the ancient mysteries, but these were not linked to any concept of heavenly ascent, which was fundamental to both the occult mysteries and to the Mormon endowment. Therefore, what similarities may exist between Freemasonry and Mormonism seem more appropriately to be regarded as superficial, whereas the ancient occult mysteries and the Mormon endowment manifest both philosophical and structural kinship." (Ibid., p. 190). Indeed, the purpose of the Mormon rituals was for the mortal faithful to attain Godhood. The following is from a description of the Mormon ritual of the Second Endowment:
The second anointing is an extension of the initiatory. One could say, in fact, that the second anointing completes the initiatory: where the initiatory promises future blessings contingent on initiates' faithfulness, the second anointing actually bestows those blessings. Unlike the endowment or temple marriage, the second anointing is not regarded as essential for salvation. Relatively few Saints receive the second anointing; indeed, the rite is so rarely spoken of that most Saints around the globe are probably unaware it exists. Presumably the rite is administered to General Authorities and their wives, as well as to other couples with whom the hierarchy is acquainted, in recognition of extraordinary faithfulness....The second anointing is administered only to married couples, on the recommendation of a member of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve....The officiator pronounces upon the husband additional blessings as the Spirit directs. Typically he is blessed with the Holy Spirit of promise; the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the power to bind and loose, curse and bless; the power to live as long as life is desirable; the power to open the heavens; the power to attain to Godhood; and the sealing up to eternal life.... [emphasis mine]
Brooke, ibid, notes the "striking parallels between the Mormon concepts of coequality of matter and spirit, of the covenants of celestial marriage, and of an ultimate goal of human godhood and the philosophical traditions of alchemy and Hermeticism, drawn from the ancient world and fused with Christianity in the Italian Renaissance." In sum to be a fully endowed Mormon is to be initiated into the possibillity, through conjoining with a celestial mate (mysterium coinunctionis), of becoming a new Adam-- god. To fully understand the ramifications of these doctrines, I will discuss another major influence, the ancient Jewish mystic tradition, Kabbalah, in a future post. Suffice it to say here that according to the later reformulation of traditional Jewish Kabbalah man contains a divine spark and that attribute reflects a fundamental duality in creation summed up by the cryptic words attributed to the legendary Egyptian philosopher-priest Hermes Trismegistos, "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One." [Emerald Tablet] . An adept may use his powers to merely transmute metals, but the higher calling is to transform himself.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Giuliani made his bones as a crime busting federal prosecutor in Manhattan's Southern District of New York. During his tenure, that office was responsible for over four thousand convictions. Perhaps the biggest win was the Mafia Commission Trial (1986). Five mafia bosses and their subordinates from New York's "five families" were brought to trial and eight were convicted. He parleyed that performance into winning the mayor's office on the second try in 1993. As mayor he is often credited with cleaning up New York street crime, but admirers tend to forget that unleashing the NYPD on petty criminals came at a price. Prominent examples of police excesses suffered by New Yorkers under Giuliani's mayoralty were the killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black man who was shot 41 times while reaching for his wallet by members of the NYPD street crimes unit. Abmer Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was beaten and sodomized with a toilet plunger while in NYPD custody. One of police assailants is alleged to have shouted, "This is Giuliani time", during the sexual assault. Giuliani also had a habit of asking financially interested parties to form city policy. He allowed a deputy mayor on the payroll of Major League Baseball to work on deals for the Yankees and Mets. He commissioned a $600,000 report on privatizing JFK and LaGuardia from a consultant with ties to the company personally chosen by him to manage the airports. Bernie Kerik, Giuliani's Police Commissioner, was forced to withdraw his nomination for the post of Homeland Security director when it was discovered he had ties to a mob controlled construction firm among other ethical problems. Kerik took over an apartment donated for recovery efforts after September 11th and used it as a private rendezvous with his girl friends. In 2oo6 Kerik pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was fined $221,000. Giuliani often wows right wing audiences with his mantra of national security and free market capitalism. As a lobbyist he knows about the latter. He took money from everybody: Robert Murdoch, Hugo Chavez, Bechtel, Chevron/Texaco, Saudi Arabia and Seisint, a security firm. Seisint is run by Hank Asher, a former cocaine smuggler. When a federal prosecutor Giuliani called drug dealers murderers. Two million dollars of Asher's money must have changed his opinion.
His heroic media profile amid the rubble of the Twin Towers has made him an "expert" on national security issues in popular opinion. However, Mayor Giuliani put the city's sophisticated terror response command center on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center (WTC) after it had been attacked once. Large tanks of diesel fuel to power the center caught fire on 9/11 and is said to have caused the collapse of that building. He looked and sounded like a leader in the aftermath, but he also profited from the tragedy. The macho mayor with the bull horn reported $8 million in speaking fees in 2002. He received $200,000 for one engagement alone. Giuliani seized control of the cleanup effort and contracted out jobs to politically connected firms. The city's Department of Design and Construction emphasized speed, not the safety of cleanup workers or the public. Contractors were told they would be fired if the highest level of efficiency was not maintained. The city's health department took no responsibility for testing air quality or supervising clean up in private buildings. Only now, with the development of respiratory diseases apparently caused by breathing the toxic atmosphere at the WTC site, is the extent of atmospheric contamination being fully realized. "Ground Zero" was a toxic waste site on the level of Love Canal or Times Beach. The air contained dioxin, benzene and asbestos among other toxins. At the Pentagon, OHSA required disaster workers to wear hazmat suits. Its estimated that by October respirators were being used at the WTC only 29% of the time. Nevertheless, "America's Mayor" told the public the air at the WTC site was safe to breath. Later, Giuliani sent a letter to Congress asking it to cap the city's liability for injured workers at $350 million. An attorney representing workers in a class action suit says that more people will die from clean up related diseases than died in the attack itself. You just got to admire a guy who can ask workers to risk their lives in a disaster site and still put on a party dress. He makes George W. Bushwack look sick.
Weekend Update: Former EPA Administrator Christie Whitman says she urged Giuliani to make WTC rescue and recovery workers wear respirators but was rebuffed by the take charge Mayor. Whitman made the allegation in an interview with WNBC prior to her scheduled appearance before an investigating congressional committee on Monday. Documents from the lawsuit against the city show that New York had a plan for worker saftey but never enforced federal regulations. Workers who refused to wear respirators were banned from working at the Pentagon disaster site. Ms. Whitman also said that she was "tired of having to be defensive" about her role in the aftermath.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Weekend Update: Michael Moore, muckraker extraordinaire, at the DC premiere said movie mogul Harvey Weinstein asked him to delete a scene from SiCKO in which he identifies the divine Ms H as the second largest recipient of contributions from the health care industry. Weinstein is a major backer of Hillary's climb to the White House. As you would expect, it takes a lot money to write a bill so complicated that it insulates the very industry responsible for America's health care crisis.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
If there is a religion that is quintessentially American, formed in its own culture and time, it must be Mormonism. Joseph Smith, the church's founding "prophet, seer, and relevator" was only a young boy living in Palmyra, New York when he experienced his first ecstatic vision around 1820. He experienced a second vision in 1823 when an angel named Moroni told him where to find golden plates on which was inscribed in an ancient language the Book of Mormon. The Book told the history of a clan of Israel that left before the destruction of the first Temple and wandered by boat to America. Christ appeared to this Jewish remnant in America after his resurrection and some were converted while others remained faithful to their Jewish traditions and some became pagans. The factions lived in peace for a century until a series of fratricidal wars exterminated the Christian believers, but not before they had hidden the Book of Mormon named for its last redactor. Smith was able to translate the "reformed Egyptian" inscriptions with the use of seer stones called "Urim and Thummin", reminiscent of the sacred stones used by ancient Israelite priests for divination and mentioned in the Bible. It was not the first use of divination tools by Smith. Considered clairvoyant, in 1822-27 he aided several treasure hunting groups as a "seer". This activity was known then as "money digging". He would use a seer stone such as the one pictured above to locate buried treasure by putting the stone in his hat and covering his face with his hat. He peered into the peep stone's interior until he divined the information he wanted. In 1826 the young Smith was brought into court on charges of being disorderly which inlcuded persons pretending to have a skill in divination. The judge found him guilty as charged. Several thousand copies of the Book of Mormon were published and the church was launched in 1830 with Smith at it's head. The Smith family has handed down through the generations other esoteric objects such as a ceremonial dagger and parchments covered with hermetic symbols. Objects such as these are used in ceremonial magic. On the night of his murder in the Carthage, Illinois jail by an enraged mob on June 27, 1844 he was wearing an amulet engraved with the symbol for Jupiter and a hermetic square. Before being shot, he is said to have given the Masonic hand signal for distress and repeat the code phrase, "Oh Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow's son?".
In the early 1980's a Salt Lake book dealer produced documents relating to the early history of Mormonism. The most controversial one of these was a letter purportedly written by an early disciple of Joseph Smith. The "Salamander" letter as it became known claimed that it was not the angel Moroni who revealed the golden tablets, but a mystical white salamander that transformed itself into a spirit. The find was so controversial and potentially damaging that the LDS began negotiations with the dealer to purchase and sequester the material. A Mormon historian involved in these dealings was murdered by a bomb. Forensic investigations determined the letter to be a forgery. However, the publicity surrounding the bizarre incident spurred intense historical study of the origins of Joseph Smith's singular revelations. These investigations soon brought to the surface Smith's and his followers' associations with magic, irregular Freemasonry, Kabbalah and traditions generally termed occult. More about these occult influences on early Mormonism and their significance for modern Mormons like Mitt Romney and his fellow Americans in another post.
Friday, June 15, 2007
In the House, Speaker Pelosi continues to stand in the way of the what should be the real agenda of Congress: bringing the nation's Executive to account for the lies it told the country to obtain authorization for war on Iraq. Her justification that trying to impeach the Commander in Chief would divert energy from passing needed legislation has proven hollow and expensive. As Rep. Dennis Kucinich succinctly put it, "minimum wage for maximum blood". His bill, HR 333, to bring impeachment charges against the Vice President for his role in the deception gained another ally in Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). Her endorsement is significant because she sits on the House Judiciary Committee and is in a position to request that the bill be placed on the committee's agenda for consideration. Chairman John Conyers sponsored his own impeachment bill, HR 635, in the last Congress that eventually ended up with 39 co-sponsors. But because he wanted the Judiciary Committee chair, he is not been willing to cross Nancy Pelosi so far. Thanks, Pat Oliphant for the 'toon.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Its rather redundant at this point to say the Iraq war was sold to Congress and the American people with little consideration for the truth of the accusations against the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. But Jeffery St. Clair at Counterpunch tells us some of the nitty gritty details of who was involved and how it was done. In his article Marketing an Invasion he identifies key Madison Avenue players hired to brand the war. Charlotte Beers was hired by Collin Powell as an undersecretary of state. Her claim to diplomatic expertise was two boffo ad campaigns for Uncle Ben's rice and Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo. At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld hired Victoria Clarke as his director of public affairs. She had previously headed the D.C. office of the advertising firm Hill and Knowlton. She brought together PR experts and political fixers like Sheila Tate, Rich Galen, and Tommy Boggs on an advisory team referred to as the "Rumsfeld Group". This group gave the Pentagon "messaging advice". They advised that the Pentagon needed a fixed, identifiable enemy like a nation state in order to convince Americans the war was necessary and winnable. Since 50% of the gullible public still believes that Saddam was connected to the mainland terror attacks, the Regime's domestic PR campaign is one of the few parts of the war effort that worked. But the campaign, regardless of how sophisticated, would not have been effective without a complaint fourth estate. Read the article for more.
Monday, June 11, 2007
A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act this year. The bill requires an increase in average fuel economy of cars, SUVs and pickups of approximately 10 mpg over ten years and an increase to 35 mpg by 2019. Automakers can meet these standards with available technology. The price of vehicle would increase some, but the higher price ($1,100 average) would be offset by fuel savings within three years or less depending on the price of fuel. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that by 2025 the U.S. could save as much oil as we currently import from the Persian Gulf and reduce global emissions by 358 million metric tons or the equivalent of taking 50 million of today's vehicles off the road. A Senate subcommittee has passed out a weaker version of the bill. Take action by calling your senators and asking for support of the bill as originally written. Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121
Saturday, June 09, 2007
As the body count from the ridiculous 'surge' escalates in Iraq, and a delusional Commander in Chief utters inflammatory nonsense everyday, it is became increasingly hard for the House leadership to prevent a vote on the issue. Call the sympathetic Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and demand, "Impeachment now."
Weekend Update: The leaders of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus have signed on to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's HB 333 instigating impeachment proceedings against Vice President 'Darth' Cheney. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee, Democrats from California have personally endorsed the measure. Four other progressive legislators have also endorsed. There is some political and legal sense in trying to bring Cheney to account first, although I continue to think that the President as head of government is responsible for his Cabinet officer's actions as well as his own. Cheney headed up the rogue intelligence operation located in the Pentagon that provided dubious data so the war could be justified to Congress. However, Cheney certainly did not develope this irregular procedure on his own authority. Call it sedition? I call it real patriotism, and we have company too. Fifteen state Democratic parties and 77 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for impeachement. Take your government back by contacting your representatives in Congress and Chairman Conyers and demand, "Impeachment now."
The rationale for putting unproven anti-ballistic missiles in Poland to defend against a non- existent Iranian ICBM is, as Putin said, laughable if were not so sad. What is left unexplained by the militarists is why the rich Europeans are not capable of providing for their own defence against the alleged threat. Apparently, the Europeans are not impressed by Iran as a security threat. The reason the Russians are so upset about the plan is that the system could just as easily be used against Russian missiles on there way to strike U.S. military bases in Europe should the unthinkable conflict ever become a reality. Russia has been dealt setbacks in prestige and influence since the end of the Cold War. It has watched nervously as it's Cold War adversary, NATO, advanced to the European border. The U.S. desire to place anti-ballistic missiles on it's doorstep and thereby dilute the deterrence effect of it's nuclear arsenal is one shove to many. Can anyone blame President Putin for not taking the Charlatan's word as a security guarantee, given his unilateral and unprovoked attack on Iraq? America's arrogance is sometimes frightening to behold.
Weekend Update: Blowing hot and cold on the Baltic coast the U.S. regime got it nervous Nelly ally, Poland, to restate its commitment to resuming of the Cold War. Within 24 hours it rejected an offer of a common approach to possible ballistic missile threats put forward by President Putin. He suggested basing a joint missile shield in Azerbaijan. Caught of guard by the suggestion, U.S. officials labeled it "interesting". But when meeting with the reflexively anti-Russian Poles, the Charlatan apparently rejected the friendly offer. Secretary 'Condo' Rice chimed in with an obvious remark that basing missile systems is "all about geometry". Duh, look at the map Ms. Secretary. Its clear the the triangulation of Flyingdales and the proposed site in Czech Republic is pointed directly at European Russia. The battery location on the Baltic coast of Poland at Gorsko is ideal for intercepting Russian ICBMs on course for U.S. nuclear bases in UK. A battery located in Azerbaijan would be closer to missiles leaving Iran, but less effective against missiles headed toward U.S. bases in Europe. Did Tony Blair get more than a medal for being a lap dog on Iraq? I think he got a commitment from the U.S. to shield Britain with an anti-ballistic missile system.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Crust: 2 cups flour
1 stick butter (8tbls)
2 tbls sugar
2 tbls shortening
Filling: 2 cups cored & sliced strawberries
2 cups 1/2in diced rhubarb
3-4 tbls minute tapioca
1/4 cup sugar
lemon juice to taste
Preheat oven at 375F. Put dry ingredients into food processor, pulse until mixed well. Add cubes of butter and shortening while pulsing until mix is just crumbly. Slowly add ice water while processing until dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Pour out and knead by hand for about a minute. Do over knead or dough will be tough. Form ball and refrigerate while making filling. Mix fruit together in large bowl with sugar. Add tapioca depending on how firm you want your tart. (I like my firm.) Add a little lemon juice to taste. A few drops of vanilla extract is optional. Allow fruit to macerate for 15 minutes. Roll out dough into 10" tart pan with removable bottom. Fill crust evenly with fruit mixture. Bake approximately 45-50 minutes until filling is set and crust is gbd (golden brown and delicious). Cool on rack and serve a la mode.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Sunday, June 03, 2007
The stated goals for the invasion have varied over time. "Regime change" toppled a secular dictator creating a power vacuum that has not been filled by an effective democratic government. Establishing a liberal, western style democracy in Iraq by free election was one of the stated reasons for the invasion. Such an outcome was highly unlikely given the historical pattern in the Middle East. Islamist parties won in Algeria in the 1990's and in Palestine in the 2000s. In place in Iraq is a popular theocracy whose limited national power is underwritten by Shia militia. Their goal is to oust the foreign occupation and eliminate from power their former oppressors, the Sunnis. Their goal is not national reconciliation. Despite U.S. requests, the Maliki government can do little to control them. By eliminating the Baathist regime, the U.S. guaranteed the rise of radical Islamic forces. The only functioning government within Iraq's boundaries is that of Kurdistan which has accomplished a de facto secession. The possibility of a fully independent Kurdistan is alarming Turkey because it has a large and restive Kurdish minority living in its eastern border region. The situation in northern Iraq is so tense that Secretary of Defense Gates felt it necessary to warn Turkey not to attack Kurdish forces. Making Iraq a front in the 'global war on terror' has been counterproductive. Saddam ruthlessly suppressed radical elements in Iraq and refused to entertain overtures by the master terrorist, Bin Laden. Iraq post Saddam is one of the main recruitment and training sites for terrorists, and they use the foreign occupation as an effective propaganda tool. Critics, including myself, think the invasion was largely driven by strategic geopolitical considerations. But controlling Iraq's significant oil reserves has not been accomplished due to the anarchy that reins in Iraq's southern oil region and the corrupt, disorganized reconstruction program. The central government still cannot reach agreement on the method of sharing oil revenue between it's three major factions.
To stay in Iraq for as long as the U.S. has maintained forces in South Korea is not a viable political or military solution. There is no guarantee that Iraq would not dissolve even with significant U.S. forces occupying their "Lilly pads" or the fortified permanent bases currently being built. American military analysts think that the U.S. military is suffering a slow melt down similar to what was experienced during the defeat in Vietnam. The pace of redeployments to the war zone is consuming men and material at a rapid rate. It may take many years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover their readiness ratings. British military thinker and former NATO deputy commander in the successful Kosovo campaign, General Sir Rupert Smith, says the true aim of military force in counterinsurgencies is to influence the intentions of the people. Thus, the battle for hearts and minds is not a complementary activity to the use of force, it is the main purpose of modern warfare. This is an inversion of what was war where the objective was to break the enemy's will to fight. In his view the use of force in Iraq is pointless, insofar as it never had achievable political goals.
This is not to say there are no effective counterinsurgency strategies. There are a few success stories. Over a period of thirty years, British governments conducted a two prong strategy against Irish terrorists. British officials treated the acts of terror, including an attempt to decapitate the government at Brighton in 1981, as criminal acts, not acts of war to be dealt with exclusively by the army. While protecting the government of Northern Ireland, Britain began a political process intended to engage sectarian factions so that a cease fire and power sharing arrangement could eventually be reached. Such a political process is impossible in Iraq now that regime change has effectively dismantled the state. Its equally clear that America's current position in the middle of a sectarian civil war is untenable. The recent increase in troop strength is not quelling violence but underlining the reality of failure. The U.S. succeeded in suppressing the Philippine Insurrection at the beginning of the last century. Famine, disease and a poorly equipped enemy aided our harsh efforts. The 'Injun Fighting' used then would be morally unacceptable and constitute war crimes now.
There is no easy exit from Iraq. Its not like Vietnam in this respect. There was an effective government in the north waiting to take over the south and unify the country after the Americans departed. Vietnam had a largely agrarian economy of small global significance. Iraq has no unifying government, and its oil resources are critical to global commerce. When Americans leave Iraq there will be a struggle for control of resources that may draw in proxy forces from Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Whatever the outcome of that struggle is, we will have to accept it as part of our own doing.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Who cares about fundamentals? Look at what people can do. The great thing about the market is that it has nothing to do with the actual stocks. Now look, maybe two weeks from now buyers will come to their senses and realize everything they heard was a lie...It's just fiction and fiction and fiction. I think its important that people recognize that the way the market really works is to have that nexus: hit the brokerage houses with a series of orders that push it down, then leak it to the press...It's a pretty good game, and it can pay for a percent or two.
Something else in the news reminds us of the terrible days of the Cold War. If its true that you end up secretly emulating your worse enemy, then the U.S. is no exception. Soviet interrogation techniques were closely studied by our armed forces so that they could train our captured pilots and other personnel to resist the techniques. Those methods of Soviet torture have been put to use in the so-called 'war on terror' against detainees at Guantanamo. According to a recently declassified report by the DoD Inspector General, SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) instructors were requested and sent to the gulag for training detainee interrogators. Several intelligence officers objected to the extreme methods, but their objections were ignored. The report says the techniques then "migrated" (the Pentagon has a way with words) to Iraq where they were also used to extract cooperation. In September 2003, a SERE team was sent to Iraq to evaluate interrogation techniques there. A government research panel recently found that torture does not produce reliable information, and one expert characterized the current efforts as "amateurish" compared to the more sophisticated psychological interrogation techniques used during WWII. Somebody should send the 325 page report to the Republican presidential candidates.