From the pages of The American Conservative can be found this article entitled Admitting Failure. It is an interesting read that I suggest all peruse at their leisure; true from a "conservative" perspective, but it discusses at length the harm being done to our military.
Sgt. Thomas X. Hammes knew that, unlike some bad Hollywood movie, the band of thieves, social misfits, even murderers under his leadership would not transform into perfect Marines through some magic formula of tough love and fatherly motivation. Half the men in his platoon needed a swift kick out of the service, not more time in it.
"We kind of got the worst of the guys at the time," said Hammes. "Probably the worst in the history of the Marine Corps."
The year was 1976. Young T.X. Hammes was a platoon leader at one of the most inglorious times in the Corps’ proud tradition. The Vietnam War had just decimated the nation’s Armed Forces, the draft was gone, and the fabled Third Battalion, 3rd Marines was being infused with new recruits brought in under dramatically reduced standards.
The article can be found here:
Starting in the 70's and ending with today, one other quote from that article:
"The Army is in a zero-sum state: No more soldiers can be sent to Afghanistan without a one-for-one reduction in Iraq," Kaplan wrote last month. He was responding to talk about sending more troops to Afghanistan to help beat back the Taliban—an idea the Pentagon swiftly kyboshed. (Some 3,200 Iraq-weathered Marines were sent this spring, bringing the total American forces in Afghanistan to 35,000.)
"We really have to get down in Iraq below 15 brigade combat teams for us to consider adding multiple additional brigades to Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said on May 6. "The president ... would consider the prospect of plussing up in Afghanistan beyond the 34,000 troops that we have there right now, but ... in all likelihood that’s going to come... very late in his tenure, if it comes at all under his tenure."
We all knew that the "war against terrorism", the war that began against Afghanistan because of the 9/11 attack, was never won. Whether it can be won or not is a different story; however, our own Presidential candidate, Barack Obama intends to end the war in Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan (and even invade Pakistan if necessary).
But, pausing for a moment, let's go back to Iraq, and discuss oil:
Today, the major American oil companies came back into Iraq by getting... you guessed it... no-bid contracts! In fact, the four major oil companies that were thrown out by Saddam Hussein 36 years ago made their triumphant return to occupied Iraq.
Former chief executive of Exxon, Lee Raymond, explained the history behind it. "There is an enormous amount of oil in Iraq," he said. "We were part of the consortium, the four companies that were there when Saddam Hussein threw us out, and we basically had the whole country."
And more on that oil stuff from the pages of the New York Times:
So great is the demand for oil today — and so great the concern over rising prices — that it would be tempting to uncritically embrace plans by major Western oil companies to return to Iraq.
Unfortunately, the evolving deals could well rekindle understandable suspicions in the Arab world about oil being America’s real reason for invading Iraq and fan even more distrust and resentment among Iraq’s competing religious and ethnic factions.
As reported by Andrew Kramer in The Times, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — are in the final stages of discussions that will let them formally re-enter Iraq’s oil market, which expelled them 36 years ago. The contracts also include Chevron.
But then again, where else should our eyes be focused but on the Iraq War and the money grabbing Bush administration and all its friends and allies:
WASHINGTON -- U.S. soldiers assigned to guard a crucial part of Iraq's oil infrastructure became ill after exposure to a highly toxic chemical at the plant, witnesses told a Democratic Policy Committee hearing Friday on Capitol Hill.
"These soldiers were bleeding from the nose, spitting blood," said Danny Langford, an equipment technician from Texas brought to work at the Qarmat Ali Water treatment plant in 2003. "They were sick."
Friday's hearing -- one among several organized to hold contractors accountable for alleged malfeasance in Iraq -- was chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "Hundreds of U.S. troops, who may not even know of their exposure to sodium dichromate that could one day result in a horrible disease, cancers, and death," he said.
Roughly 250 American soldiers were believed to have come in contact with the chemical, according to Defense Department documents. Sodium dichromate is the same substance that poisoned residents in Hinkley, Calif., an episode made famous by the movie "Erin Brockovich" in 2000.
Read more here...
Well if you haven't had enough of Iraq, Halliburton, KBR, and Bush/Cheney (as well as our totally complicit Congress whether under GOP or Dem control), here is yet another article to stir your anger:
SACRAMENTO, CA June 18, 2008 - The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) will be asked by more than 20,000 petitioners to hold KBR - the largest contractor in Iraq - accountable for a growing list of misdeeds as a war profiteer when CalPERS meets Thursday at its Full Board meeting.
A PRESS CONFERENCE is set for THURSDAY at 9:30 a.m. at the Robert Carlson Auditorium (400 Q Street) at the start of the CalPERS meeting. Petitions will be presented by anti-war activists from Sacramento for Democracy and Sacramento Coalition to End the War.
The action comes just two days after the New York Times reported that a U.S. Army official who managed the Pentagon's largest contract in Iraq said he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR.
KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary, has faced scrutiny recently because of allegations its employees took part in a massacre of Iraqi civilians, engaged in no bid contracts, hid money in offshore tax havens and took part in unethical war profiteering. Other large KBR shareholders include Colorado Public Employees, New York State Teachers Retirement System, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and Texas Teacher Retirement System.
Drinking as you read? McCain, his wife and his son may also be...let's read about how the company controlled by Cindy McCain, her children and the "Senator's son", their lobby efforts against MADD and even offering alcohol content on labels:
The company has opposed such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving in fighting proposed federal rules requiring alcohol content information on every package of beer, wine and liquor.
Its executives, including John McCain's son Andrew, have written at least 10 letters in recent years to the Treasury Department, have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a beer industry political action committee, and hold a seat on the board of the politically powerful National Beer Wholesalers Assn.
Hensley has run afoul of health advocacy groups that have tried to rein in appeals to young drinkers. For example, the company distributes caffeinated alcoholic drinks that public health groups say put young and underage consumers at risk by disguising the effects of intoxication.
The involvement of McCain's family in federal regulatory issues could create a conflict of interest for a future McCain administration, according to advocacy groups and political analysts. McCain has recused himself for many years on alcohol issues in the Senate. As president, however, McCain would face far more difficulty distancing himself from an issue with such broad scope.
Ok, now everyone here has been involved in the FISA discussion, a discussion I truly deem worthy of having, and one I hope might cause our candidate, Obama, to change his views. Yes, I have read nearly every front paged diary, nearly every rec'd diary, and lots of diaries below the rec'd list.
I will be voting Obama in November. It is my hope that I will be voting for the Obama who will really bring us change, rather than the Obama I will be holding my nose for as he is prepared to vote for the FISA legislation (we still don't know the final outcome).
But in the thought of the FISA legislation now pending, here is yet another commentary:
Despite hand-wringing by Democrats, the accord gives "Bush and his aides, including Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, much of what they sought in a new surveillance law," Times' reporter Eric Lichtblau avers.
Virtually guaranteeing that U.S. citizens won't have their day in court, H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, grants immunity to giant telecom companies who participated in the Bush administration's lawless surveillance programs. Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) told the Times without skipping a beat, "The lawsuits will be dismissed."
And in the best tradition of totalitarians everywhere, Bond, defending immunity provisions for lawless telecoms told Dow Jones Newswires,
"I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do."
Ponder those words and then consider the loathsome depths reached by the Democrats and their Republican partners in crime.
From that same commentary, these are words of warning:
Under the proposal, U.S. intelligence agencies will be allowed to issue broad orders to U.S. phone companies, ISPs and other online service providers to cough-up all communications if it is "reasonably believed" to involve non-citizens outside the country. To boot, the plethora of spy agencies who make up the U.S. intelligence "community" will neither be bothered by naming their "targets" nor will they have to obtain prior approval by any court to continue their driftnet-style surveillance.
In other words, under terms of H.R. 6304 one American or the entire internet could be subject to warrantless surveillance and intrusive data-mining by state actors or private spooks. Considering that some 70% of intelligence "community" employees are mercenary contractors in the pay of private corporations that rely on U.S. Government handouts to pad their bottom line, the bill drives another nail in the coffin of privacy and individual rights while furthering the already-considerable transformation of the former American Republic into a post-Constitutional "New Order."
Ok, there is one piece of good news coming out of an "Obama Administration" and that is the closing of the "Enron Loophole"
CHICAGO, IL—Senator Barack Obama today announced his plan to crack down on excessive energy speculation and fully close the "Enron Loophole" to ease the impact skyrocketing gas prices. The Enron Loophole was created by McCain campaign co-chair Phil Gramm at the behest of Enron—just one example of the special interest politics that put the interests of Big Oil and speculators ahead of the interests of working people. And the American people have seen the results: record corporate profits while Americans pay record prices at the pump.
"For the past years, our energy policy in this country has been simply to let the special interests have their way—opening up loopholes for the oil companies and speculators so that they could reap record profits while the rest of us pay $4.00 a gallon," Senator Obama said. "My plan fully closes the Enron Loophole and restores common-sense regulation as part of my broader plan to ease the burden for struggling families today while investing in a better future."
And finally, are you planning on watching the summer Olympics this year, hosted by our friend and ally China?
1,000 Tibetans have been disappeared in the aftermath of China's brutal crackdown earlier this year.(Associated Press, 6-18-08)
Almost 100% of the women in the Darfur refugee camps have been raped. (CNN, 6-20-08)
In recent days, the Burmese thugocracy has arrested seven citizens who had volunteered to bury the dead that the government has left to rot in the rivers, in the fields and on the roads. (Irrawaddy, 6-19-08)
Dwell with these facts for a moment, and ask yourself whether or not you will sit down later this summer to watch the Beijing Olympics, and ask yourself how you feel now about the corporate sponsors of this anguish-drenched spectacle.
Just sometimes there is way too much to think about, way too much to investigate, and way too much for us all to put into perspective. On any topic, I believe I can define my beliefs. Could I find a candidate who supported them 100%. I can say absolutely not.
I have seen diaries here that demand we fight back, but there are so many issues on which I would and could fight back, I am not clear on which one I should place the most importance. This year, I did think I had found the candidate who would offer the most, but with this FISA constitutional question up in the air, I am not so sure this will really be our "change" candidate....