Thursday, September 24, 2009

What we don't want is a repeat of the failures and pain that was the experience of VietNam

“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”
-Sun Tzu 544 - 496 B.C. The Art of War


The VietNam war was my generations war and it was a war that split the nation to it's core. It was a war that was un-winnable in the political environment of the day. America was unpopular around the world and the war was fought in the national and world press as much as it was on the battlefield. The questions asked was, why were we there? Shouldn't a country, VietNam, have the right to decide it's own form of government? Were we there for all the wrong reasons? Were we supporting a corrupt government in Saigon?
All the time young Americans were fighting and dying in the jungles of VietNam, and the politicians knew it was a war that they could not win. To win it we would have had to use the same tactics we had used in World War Two. Massive bombing and invasion of the North, in other words, total war. Would we have won? Most likely, but we would have been seen by the world as an aggressor nation. The politicians of the day had no stomach for it, so we failed and it was seen as a defeat for America. The victims of that war, the American fighting men bore that stigma. They fought and for the first time America lost a war, but in truth they were betrayed by those that sent them into hell. The legacy of VietNam was 60,000 American dead including my 19 year old cousin. A sorrow and pain that all those who lose someone can understand, added to that pain was the fact that President Johnson knew that the war couldn't be won but persisted out of sense history and not wanting to be the first American President to lose a war. It took a Democratically controlled congress' refusal to fund the war under President Richard Nixon that ultimately ended the debacle and brought the troops home.
Today we are engaged in a war in Afghanistan, and the fear is that it may be another un-winnable war. There is no army to fight, no army to to bring to the negotiation table. It is an insurgent war. A war that slowly bleeds men and material. We went there to destroy Al Qaida following the 9/11 attack, and also to defeat their supporters the Taliban. Unfortunately President George W. Bush allowed Afghanistan to languor while he invaded Iraq in pursuit of mythical weapons of mass destruction. Al Qaida is no longer hiding in Afghanistan but believed to be hiding out in the Bad Lands on the border of Pakistan. While Al Qaida has mostly left Afghanistan, the Taliban has been resurgent aided by the fact that the government of Hamid Karzai is corrupt, militarily impotent and in most parts of the country barely in evidence.
Afghanistan is a land locked, mostly mountainous, country that is only slightly smaller than Texas with a population of close to 30 million people. The question is; what will it take to win and is it winnable? How long will it take, another five years, ten or even twenty years? Is it worth the cost and do the American people and congress have to will to do what must be done? It is easy to sit back in an armchair and say we have to win. It is another thing to win. There is the financial cost to the nation. We scream that we have no money for this and that social program but we have money for war. In this case how much money will be enough. Another problem is that there is a reluctance on the part of NATO including Canada and Great Britain to continue their support of the war. Can we go it alone if they all withdraw? If history has any lessons for us it is that Afghanistan was a defeat for British Empire, who in the 19th century, was the mightiest military power on the planet, and a defeat for the Soviet Union a, 20th century, super power. These are important lessons and it should cause us to consider other options. It may be that we need a different type of victory. Military men see military solutions, politicians see political solutions. There are no simple solutions to the war in Afghanistan, the the solution may not lie solely with a military approach. There may be a middle ground. To just abandon Afghanistan could be a costly mistake and to pursue a purely military solution may be cost lives and resources that stress the resources of the United States. A new strategy is needed one that engages the regional states actors to help bring about a greater dialogue and a greater support for a stable government with greater emphasis on the social infrastructure of the country giving the people a greater say and investment in their country. What we don't want is a repeat of the failures and pain that was the experience of VietNam.

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Earth is reaching its breaking point, scientists warn
By By TOM MEERSMAN
The study defines nine planetary subsystems that need to be watched closely to avoid irreversible damage. They include climate change, global freshwater use, ocean acidification, species extinction, ozone depletion, conversion of natural land to cropland, chemical pollution, atmospheric pollution and nitrogen and phosphorus additions to the biosphere and oceans.
SanLuisObispo.com The Tribune More...


The Big Melt

WASHINGTON – "New satellite information shows that ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica continue to shrink faster than scientists thought and in some places are already in runaway melt mode.

British scientists for the first time calculated changes in the height of the vulnerable but massive ice sheets and found them especially worse at their edges. That's where warmer water eats away from below. In some parts of Antarctica, ice sheets have been losing 30 feet a year in thickness since 2003, according to a paper published online Thursday in the journal Nature." By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP More...






SPECIAL BLOG ALERT

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"In an interview with Katie Couric, Fox News pundit Glenn Beck said John McCain would have been a worse president for this country than Barack Obama. As ThinkProgress reported, Beck’s comments generated an angry response from right-wing radio host Mark Levin, who called Beck “mindless,” “incoherent,” and “pathetic.”
This is one of those moments when I agree with Mark Levin. MW Editor


(Correction)
While the report, 9/23/09, of Glen Beck , dirt bag, made it seem a recent event it actually took place in 1986. See the complete story of Glen Beck on Salon.com including how he mocked woman who had a miscarriage. He is still a dirt bag.
www.salon.com

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