If you were ever under the misapprehension that war could not get any scarier or that William Gibson’s prediction of psychologically-warped future soldiers was just fiction, the following link will disabuse you of that notion:
That’s right: millions of dollars and a team of psychologists are bent on making soldiers “not only survive, but also thrive at a cognitive and behavioral level in the face of protracted warfare.” Yes, the article cites the need to keep family members in line as well.
The sober reality is this: we do need to be able to keep our soldier’s heads together in this long war phase of our crumbling empire. If we cannot avoid war, it is a human imperative that we help our fighting men and women get through this. Which makes the science fiction fantasy a mundane practical reality. If this is the course we plan on taking.
At the risk of making it seem like there is no debate amongst Liberals on the issue of whether action in Libya is justified, the Pew Research polling data could not be more clear on one point: support for Libya action would be nearly unanimous if it weren’t for a purely partisan divide that is wholly unsupportable with logic:
That those in the middle of the political spectrum are split on the issue is I think entirely predictable: shit, I’m waaay over there on the left and I’m a bit split on the issue, myself. That Democrats are split on the issue is also not surprising for the same reason. But look at the fucking Republicans! Same people who supported Iraq and Afghanistan with rabid intensity – the same people who forever deride Democrats as cowards because we might not bomb someone as a first option – suddenly find themselves to be “Conscientious Objectors™” in the face of Obama’s first military incursion.
What feels good and what is morally or legally defensible are often not quite the same things. For example, it is difficult to find any reason to have sympathy for Qadaffi in Libya and more than ample reason to be inspired by the struggle for democracy across the Middle East. So, seeing the European powers and America rush into Libya with guns blazing, playing calvalry to the beleaguered resistance has a certain movie hero appeal.
But here’s the thing: its grossly illegal for the President of the United States to do what Barack Obama has chosen to do in aiding Europe as he himself has previously acknowledged. Yet in the Survey USA poll released today, nowhere in the opinion questions is even the hint that what has transpired was at all illegal:
I’m sure that intervening in Libya is the right thing to do, both for moral and political reasons, as one commenter on Talking Points Memo recently pointed out. But in doing so, the President is violating the law. And nobody seems interested in that. Guess it must just be different with a Democratic president?
What is strange is: to contrast our current opinion polls with something in the recent past, Pew chooses to go with Kosovo and Darfur. Well, this isn’t really the same thing, is it? Both Kosovo and Darfur were ethnic cleansing situations, where a much more powerful group imposed brutal punishment on another simply for being different. Libya is a revolution, where a very organized opposition is making a stand against their nominal head of state. Why do those three belong in the same comparison in the first place?
I think its also worth pointing out that, unlike the international liberalism of the Clinton Administration and the international troublemaking of the Bush Administration, the general tone of respect and deference for the private affairs of other nations exhibited by the Obama Administration has made a positive impact in the sometimes nosy inclinations of the American polling public.
Some of you may have already heard that there is an allegation running around – started by a FaceBook security person, so its fairly high-profile – that yesterday’s FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, LiveJournal and others DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service, see a decent review here) attack might have been perpetrated to silence a man whose been blogging about the Georgia / Russia conflict. Well, it now seems that Live Journal has taken down the man’s blog.
But you can still see a cached version of it on Google’s Translate service here.
Yes, George W. Bush has now officially been outed as having claimed to be getting messages from god about Gog and Magog, the biblical forces of the Apocolypse at work in Iraq to none other than Jacques Chirac himself. Wonder why France wanted none of this shit, eh?
And just wait till it finally comes out that he was snorting cocaine at the same time. Don’t believe me? Check out one of your coke-head friends camel-jawing after a line and then go back and watch all those 2003-2004 videos. Oh, yeah. Not a doubt in my mind, then or now.
The announcement has been made that it looks as though Defense Secretary Robert Gates is going to be staying on in the Obama Administration for at least the next year. There are many among us on the left and in the anti-war crowd who have not been at all pleased with this turn of events.
But as I see it – and I believe I’ve made this point somewhere along the line in the past – you can’t expect a new Sec Def to swoop in and move one hundred and forty thousand troops out of Iraq in a year without huge problems. I mean, you couldn’t even unpack a box before you started planning the withdrawal, and it would likely be a disaster no matter who you were. I think that if you’re serious about your pledge to get troops out of Iraq in the next eighteen months, you have to maintain some sense of continuity in the military hierarchy to do that. Of course, my years of working as a Secretary of Defense((that would be zero years, for you keeping track)) don’t lend themselves to an educated opinion on the matter.
Besides which, I think anyone whose been paying attention knows that Robert Gates has been as forthcoming as any member of the Bush Administration with Congress and the public. That’s not saying a lot, I grant. But it seems like he’s more sure of himself and less inclined to stonewall for the sake of his personal reputation alone. I think that, with a new president of the same party as the majority in the Congress, you will probably see much more candor going forward. That’s just a guess.
And its a damned shame that we can’t do the same with the economic team, but goddamn. I’ve never seen a guy fall so far so fast as has Hank Paulson. Ben Bernanke just seems like a putz lately, too. These are two guys I know from watching Wall Street Week for years, and I’ve been nothing short of shocked to watch them crumble in the face of this crisis. So, on that level, we need new leadership.
It just occurred to me whilst watching Countdown without Keith Olbermann from last night: why didn’t George Bush ever address the Iraqi Parliament, such as it is, to make his case for U.S. plans there? Such a move would be huge – even amid protest, especially amid protest – because it would legitimize the Iraqi Parliament as a legitimate chamber of governance. Would Barack Obama consider doing such a thing? It would go a long way towards easing tensions among the nominally ruling class of Iraq to know that the President of the United States puts such stock in what they are doing there.
In a country like Afghanistan, where the chief export has for decades been poppies and opium, it should not be at all surprising to find that there are entrenched interests that force a president of that country to walk some fairly tight lines. That’s especially true when the country that put said president into power hasn’t been paying much attention lately. Still, an op-ed by a former State Department official accusing Hamid Karzai of “playing the US like a song” is bound to raise some concerns. . . if not here, than elsewhere in the world where the media pays attention.
I saw this memorial in my new home town of East Rochester and decided to put together some video in honor of our fallen soldiers. There’s lots of bigger memorials in the area, but this one is so admirable precisely because of its modesty. I hope I captured some of that in the video. The song is “Was My Brother In the Battle,” a traditional Civil War era piece as sung by Kate and Anna McGarrigle for the Ken Burns Civil War PBS documentary, for those of you who can remember that far back.