While I was standing next to Hughstan, he started to cry. "Why did I do it?" he said, shaking his head back and forth. "Am I going to jail?" A few moments later Hughstan heard some officers talking about an investigation and said, "Dad came home. I shot him. What investigation? All I want to do is call my friends." Then he almost laughed and said, "Along with murder, you can put down truancy. I ditched today." Then he said, "Can we clean this up before my mom gets home? I don't want her to come home and see my dad dead." [...] As I shut the door, Hughstan started crying again. "I'd take it back if I could," he said. "I guess I'll never be an Eagle Scout now."
"It is one of the hardest things about being a military family. How to cope when a husband and father, or wife and mother, is posted abroad, especially to combat zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan.
Now the United States army has come up with a bizarre solution: Flat Daddy and Flat Mommy.
Many military units can provide families with a life-size cardboard cutout of their overseas warrior. The family can then take that figure to parties, put it in the passenger seat of their car, take it to bed or do whatever it is that families want to with a replica of their loved one.
Named after Flat Stanley, a children's book character who was squashed flat, the cutouts have been a surprise hit since they were introduced. In Maine alone, the state's National Guard has given out more than 200 Flat Soldiers since January. The scheme began in North Dakota when one army wife, Cindy Sorenson, made up a life-size photograph of her former husband for their daughter, after he was sent to Iraq. The model helped the girl cope with missing her father and Sorenson mentioned it to a motivational speaker, Elaine Dumler, who included it in a book.
From there the idea took off and has been adopted by units across America. They can be found going on dates with their wives in Alaska and having dinner with their families in Colorado.
Experts believe the cutouts are a useful psychological device, especially for children, that helps cope with the stress of long absences. It allows the family to genuinely feel the missing person is still involved in day-to-day life."
January 18, 2003 anti-war protest.
February 15, 2003 anti-war protest -- "...listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest anti-war rally in history."
March 20/21, 2003 anti-war protest.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq
September 12, 2002
October 26, 2002
October 31, 2002
November 9, 2002
January 16, 2003
January 18, 2003
February 15, 2003
March 8, 2003
March 15, 2003
March 16, 2003
March 19, 2003
Invasion to the fall of Baghdad
March 20, 2003
March 21, 2003
March 22–23, 2003
March 24, 2003
March 25, 2003
March 27, 2003
March 28, 2003
March 29, 2003
March 30, 2003
April 7, 2003
After the fall of Baghdad
April 12, 2003
October 25, 2003
June 4, 2004
June 5, 2004
June 27, 2004
August 29, 2004
October 2, 2004
October 17, 2004
November 30, 2004
January 20, 2005
March 19, 2005
June 21, 2005
August 6, 2005 to August 31, 2005
September 24, 2005
November 4–5, 2005
March 18 – March 20, 2006
April 1, 2006
April 29, 2006
May 22–31, 2006
August 9, 2006
September 21, 2006
September 23, 2006
October 5, 2006
November 3, 2006
January 4, 2007
January 10–11, 2007
January 27, 2007
March 11, 2007
March 16, 2007
March 17, 2007
May 21, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 29, 2007
March 19, 2008
That initial group of interviews at Bradley's would mirror those I had throughout my stay. In all, I would speak with about thirty soldiers, and roughly one of every four would tell me that he had joined the military mainly for idealistic reasons, for some larger cause. Often, in describing those reasons, these soldiers would sound vague—"I've wanted to be a soldier since I was young," they would say, or "my family has always served in the Army." (A family history in the military features strongly in the decision of many enlistees.)
... from the survey data, and from my interviews, it seems clear that the military does not consist of society's "dregs." Rather, it consists mainly of young men and women who, raised in working- and lower-middle-class families, yearn to make it into the middle class. Unable to achieve this in the hypercompetitive and expensive market economy, they have instead sought to achieve it in the Army. With its guarantees of housing, employment, health insurance, and educational assistance, the US military today seems the last outpost of the welfare state in America. (These comments apply mainly to the Army's enlisted ranks; officers tend to come from the middle class.)
"Why - five years after the Taleban and al-Qaeda were smashed by US forces - is Afghanistan facing a resurgent Taleban movement that is now threatening to overwhelm it?"
The number of attacks on U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan has increased significantly in April and May....Officials with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that attacks in eastern Afghanistan in the past three or four weeks have jumped to about 100 a week from 60 a week in March.
This was 'a very significant increase' in attacks, which include everything from minor indirect fire to suicide attacks, one ISAF official said last week.
ISAF has about 51,000 troops in Afghanistan, but the U.S. military provides almost all the 16,000 troops in the eastern region, which borders Pakistan's tribal areas, the remote and mostly lawless border region where Taliban and Al Qaeda militants have found shelter for years. Any increase in attacks in eastern Afghanistan therefore would be primarily against U.S. forces."
They're all the same; they dramatize the formal aspects of the loss, the widow, the military symbols while completely ignoring the fact that these deaths occurred during the commission of a million murders.
Perhaps these kids have to die in order for America to re-learn the lesson that war isn't just about us killing the enemy -- that people on our side are going to die as well.
But if anyone deserves to die, it's people who go out to kill other people who never did them any harm.
Overall, 42 percent of Afghans rate U.S. efforts in Afghanistan positively, down steeply from 68 percent in 2005, and 57 percent last year. For the first time, this national ABC News/BBC/ARD survey finds that more than half of Afghans disapprove of U.S. efforts.
Afghans' confidence in the ability of U.S. and NATO forces to provide security also has dropped, from two-thirds a year ago to just over half now. ...
Despite some deterioration, most Afghans continue to see the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban as a good thing -- 76 percent, although down from 88 percent last year -- and to support U.S. forces remaining in their country. And 65 percent of Afghans still view the United States favorably overall, down from a peak of 83 percent in 2005 but still remarkable compared with America's image in most other Muslim countries. ...
Overall, 63 percent of Afghans say reconstruction in their area has been effective (although that includes far fewer, 15 percent, who call it "very" effective). The contrast with attitudes in Iraq is remarkable; there just 23 percent call reconstruction effective.
It matters: Among Afghans who see reconstruction as very effective, 67 percent say their country's headed in the right direction overall; among those who say it's been ineffective, that drops to 40 percent. People who say reconstruction is going well, similarly, are 24 points more apt to rate the Afghan government positively and 24 points more apt to hold a favorable opinion of the United States. ...
There's been a decline in the number of Afghans who say U.S. forces should remain in their country either until security is restored, or permanently -- now 49 percent, down from 60 percent last year. Just 14 percent desire immediate withdrawal; most of the rest divide between a one- or two-year time frame.
I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest are always the first to step up, to defend us. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkably their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?
Those weapons of mass destruction have gotta be somewhere.
Movies like Apolcalypse Now seem horrific for those of us who lived through that era, but for later generations, I can't help wondering if it's just another part of the American Myth -- no more real than Clint Eastwood movies or Half Life.
There is talk that many Vietnam films are antiwar, that the message is war is inhumane and look what happens when you train young American men to fight and kill, they turn their fighting and killing everywhere, they ignore their targets and desecrate the entire country, shooting fully automatic, forgetting they were trained to aim. But actually, Vietnam movies are all pro-war, no matter what the supposed message, what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson in Omaha or San Francisco or Manhattan will watch the films and weep and decide once and for all that war is inhumane and terrible, and they will tell their friends at church and their family this, but Corporal Johnson at Camp Pendleton and Sergeant Johnson at Travis Air Force Base and Seaman Johnson at Coronado Naval Station and Spec 4 Johnson at Fort Bragg and Lance Corporal Swofford at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base watch the same films and are excited by them, because the magic brutality of the films celebrates the terrible and despicable beauty of their fighting skills. Fight, rape, war, pillage, burn. Filmic images of death and carnage are pornography for the military man; with film you are stroking his cock, tickling his balls with the pink feather of history, getting him ready for his real First Fuck. It doesn't matter how many Mr. and Mrs. Johnsons are antiwar--the actual killers who know how to use the weapons are not.
"Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world's heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday [December 1, 2006].
In addition to a 26 percent production increase over past year -- for a total of 5,644 metric tons -- the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent.
...The administration has cited resurgent Taliban forces as the main impediment to stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and the U.S. military investment has far exceeded anti-narcotic and development programs. But U.S. military and intelligence officials have increasingly described the drug trade as a problem that rivals and in some ways exceeds the Taliban, threatening to derail other aspects of U.S. policy.
'It is truly the Achilles' heel of Afghanistan,' Gen. James L. Jones, the supreme allied commander for NATO, said in a recent speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. Afghanistan is NATO's biggest operation, with more than 30,000 troops. Drug cartels with their own armies engage in regular combat with NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan, he said. 'It would be wrong to say that this is just the Taliban. I think I need to set that record straight,' he added.
'They have their own capability to inflict damage, to make sure that the roads and the passages stay open and they get to where they want to go, whether it's through Pakistan, Iran, up through Russia and all the known trade routes. So this is a very violent cartel,' Jones said. 'They are buying their protection by funding other organizations, from criminal gangs to tribes, to inciting any kind of resistance to keep the government off of their back.'"
There is no escape from the evil of power, regardless of what one does. Whenever we act with reference to our fellow men, we must sin, and we must still sin when we refuse to act; for the refusal to be involved in the evil of action carries with it the breach of the obligation to do one's duty. No ivory tower is remote enough to offer protection against the guilt in which the actor and the bystander, the oppressor and the oppressed, the murderer and his victim are inextricably enmeshed. Political ethics is indeed the ethics of doing evil. While it condemns politics as the domain of evil par excellence, it must reconcile itself to the enduring presence of evil in all political action. Its last resort, then, is the endeavor to choose, since evil there must be, among several possible actions the one that is least evil.
It is indeed trivial, in the face of so tragic a choice, to invoke justice against expediency and to condemn whatever political action is chosen because of its lack of justice. Such an attitude is but another example of the superficiality of a civilization which, blind to the tragic complexities of human existence, contents itself with an unreal and hypocritical solution of the problem of political ethics. In fact, the invocation of justice pure and simple against a political action makes of justice a mockery; for, since all political actions needs must fall short of justice, the argument against one political action holds true for all. By avoiding a political action because it is unjust, the perfectionist does nothing but exchange blindly one injustice for another which might even be worse than the former. He shrinks from the lesser evil because he does not want to do evil at all. Yet his personal abstention from evil, which is actually a subtle form of egotism with a good conscience, does not at all affect the existence of evil in the world but only destroys the faculty of discriminating between different evils.
... often the greatest threat to moderation and peace, and certainly the most insidious, comes from objectives that are couched in terms of fine principles in which the policy-maker fervently believes, yet that turn out to have no relation to political realities and can therefore be applied only by tortuous or brutal methods which broaden ad infinitum the gap between motives and effects. What matters in international affairs, alas, far more than intentions and objectives, is behavior and results. ...
What Vietnam proves, in my opinion, is not the wickedness of our intentions or objectives but the wickedness that results from irrelevant objectives and disembodied intentions, applied by hideous and massive means. It has its roots, intellectual and emotional, in elements of the American style that I have been at pains to analyze in detail. The Americans' very conviction that their goals are good blinds them to the consequences of their acts.
By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.
Getting out of Iraq will require just as much resolution as it took to get in—and the same kind of resolution: a willingness to ignore the consequences. The consequence hardest to ignore will be the growing power and influence of Iran, which Bush has described as one of the two great security threats to the US. Israel shares this view of Iran. No new president will want to run the risk of being thought soft on Iran. This is where the military error exacts a terrible price. A political conflict transformed into a military conflict requires a military resolution, and those, famously, come in two forms—victory or defeat. Getting out means admitting defeat.
Is it possible that the new president will have that kind of resolution? I think not; to my ear Clinton and Obama don't sound drained of hope or bright ideas, determined to cut losses and end the agony. Why should they? They're coming in fresh from the sidelines. Getting out, giving up, admitting defeat are not what we expect from the psychology of newly elected presidents who have just overcome all odds and battled through to personal victory. They've managed the impossible once; why not again? Planning for withdrawals might begin on Day One, but the plans will be hostage to events.
At first, perhaps, all runs smoothly. Then things begin to happen. The situation on the first day has altered by the tenth. Some faction of Iraqis joins or drops out of the fight. A troublesome law is passed, or left standing. A helicopter goes down with casualties in two digits. The Green Zone is hit by a new wave of rockets or mortars from Sadr City in Baghdad. The US Army protests that the rockets or mortars were provided by Iran. The new president warns Iran to stay out of the fight. The government in Tehran dismisses the warning. This is already a long-established pattern. Why should we expect it to change? So it goes. At an unmarked moment somewhere between the third and the sixth month a sea change occurs: Bush's war becomes the new president's war, and getting out means failure, means defeat, means rising opposition at home, means no second term. It's not hard to see where this is going.
The widow here didn't have a sophisticated political stance on what the death of her husband meant
Dogbert: I wish everyone in the world could learn to live in peace and harmony, giving up violence completely.
Dilbert: That's a beautiful sentiment, Dogbert.
Dogbert: That way, I could take over the entire world with a butter knife.
In 1835, 24 generations after the Moriori chief Nunuku had forbidden war, Moriori welcomed about 900 people from two Māori tribes, Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama. Originally from Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island, they had voyaged from Wellington on an overcrowded European vessel, the Rodney. They arrived severely weakened, but were nursed back to health by their Moriori hosts. However, they soon revealed hostile intentions and embarked on a reign of terror.
Stunned, Moriori called a council of 1,000 men at Te Awapātiki to debate their response. The younger men were keen to repel the invaders and argued that even though they had not fought for many centuries, they outnumbered the newcomers two to one and were a strong people. But the elders argued that Nunuku’s Law was a sacred covenant with their gods and could not be broken. The consequences for Moriori were devastating.
Although the total number of Moriori first slaughtered was said to be around 300, hundreds more were enslaved and later died. Some were killed by their captors. Others, horrified by the desecration of their beliefs, died of ‘kongenge’ or despair. According to records made by elders, 1,561 Moriori died between 1835 and 1863, when they were released from slavery. Many succumbed to diseases introduced by Europeans, but large numbers died at the hands of Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama. In 1862 only 101 remained. When the last known full-blooded Moriori died in 1933, many thought this marked the extinction of a race.
Imagine a group of tribes living within reach of one another. If all choose the way of peace, then all may live in peace. But what if all but one choose peace, and that one is ambitious for expansion and conquest? What can happen to the others when confronted by an ambitious and potent neighbor? Perhaps one tribe is attacked and defeated, its people destroyed and its lands seized for the use of the victors. Another is defeated, but this one is not exterminated; rather, it is subjugated and transformed to serve the conqueror. A third seeking to avoid such disaster flees from the area into some inaccessible (and undesirable) place, and its former homeland becomes part of the growing empire of the power-seeking tribe. Let us suppose that others observing these developments decide to defend themselves in order to preserve themselves and their autonomy. But the irony is that successful defense against a power-maximizing aggressor requires a society to become more like the society that threatens it. Power can be stopped only by power, and if the threatening society has discovered ways to magnify its power through innovations in organization or technology (or whatever), the defensive society will have to transform itself into something more like its foe in order to resist the external force.
I have just outlined four possible outcomes for the threatened tribes: destruction, absorption and transformation, withdrawal, and imitation. In every one of these outcomes the ways of power are spread throughout the system. This is the parable of the tribes.
... as Lenin observed long ago, peace in itself is a meaningless aim. "Absolutely everybody is in favor of peace in general," he wrote in 1915, "including Kitchener, Joffre, Hindenburg and Nicholas the Bloody, for everyone of them wishes to end the war." The common interest in peace masks the fact that some nations desire to maintain the status quo without having to fight for it, and others to change the status quo without having to fight in order to do so. The statement that it is in the interest of the world as a whole either that the status quo should be maintained, or that it should be changed, would be contrary to the facts. The statement that it is in the interest of the world as a whole that the conclusion eventually reached, whether maintenance or change, should be reached by peaceful means, would command general assent, but seems a rather meaningless platitude. The utopian assumption that there is a world interest in peace which is identifiable with the interest of each individual nation helped politicians and political writers everywhere to evade the unpalatable fact of a fundamental divergence of interest between nations desirous of maintaining the status quo and nations desirous of changing it.
If only someone had warned us, if only someone had had the courage to speak out against the madness that we were being led into, if only someone could have protected us from the recruiters whose only wish was to make their quota, send us to boot camp and hide from us the dark secret of the nightmare which awaited us all.
Sixty-six years ago, on the 11th of November 1918, there ended that four-year orgy of carnage known as the First World War. When the shooting ceased, some 8.5 million young men lay dead and buried either in Flanders Fields or near the other great battlefields of the war. Over 20 million more had been injured--many of them maimed for life. Nearly 8 million were listed as missing or as having been taken prisoner. Of those who survived, countless thousands were to return to their homelands shattered ("shell-shocked" was then the word), confused, and desperate, to face the problems of daily life in a society impoverished morally and materially by the enormous wastage the war had involved. And for every one of those who had died, there were now others, loved and loving, including outstandingly the parents, for whom a large part of the meaning of life had evaporated with the news of the particular death in question. Europe, in short (and with it, in far smaller degree, the United States), had perpetrated a vast injury on its own substance: the sacrifice of the greatest capital it possessed, a flesh-and-blood capital--the cream of its young male manpower of the day, besides which the tremendous economic wastage of the struggle pales to insignificance.
No human mind will ever be capable of apprehending the magnitude of this tragedy. The numbers exceed the individual capacity for imagination. The computer would not know what to make of them. The tragedy of each individual young soldier, cut off in the flower of his years, deprived of the privilege of leading a life through, carrying away with him into the agony and squalor of his battlefield death all that he thought he had been living for and all the hopes and love invested in him by others, was in itself immeasurable--infinite in its way. And then--8 million of them?
Today, standing at the end rather than the beginning of this half-century, some of us see certain fundamental elements on which we suspect that American security has rested. We can see that our security has been dependent throughout much of our history on the position of Britain; that Canada, in particular, has been a useful and indispensable hostage to good relations between our country and British Empire; and that Britain's position, in turn, has depended on the maintenance of a balance of power on the European Continent. Thus it was essential to us, as it was to Britain, that no single Continental land power should come to dominate the entire Eurasian land mass.
Our interest has lain rather in the maintenance of some sort of stable balance among the powers of the interior, in order that none of them should effect the subjugation of the others, conquer the seafaring fringes of the land mass, become a great sea power as well as land power, shatter the position of England, and enter—as in these circumstances it certainly would—on an overseas expansion hostile to ourselves and supported by the immense resources of the interior of Europe and Asia.
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