Archive for the ‘International’ Category

a book review. Actually this is more a strong recommendation if you care about anyone who puts their lives, not only on hold, but, on the line in defense of this nation and her people.  The book, The Good Soldiers written by David Finkel, a staff writer for The Washington Post, is a gritty, in your face look at current warfare.

In the book Finkel follows the 2-16 IN BN, from Ft. Riley, Kansas through their deployment to Iraq, where, instead of escorting convoys and securing roads in the western part of the country, they become part of The Surge to increase security in Baghdad. The view is very direct and forward. There is no sugar coating to be had, just ass deep in the shit, not only, with the troops on the ground but, also the aftermath of IEDs and EFPs sent home to the families.

You get a first hand look at not just the external face of war, but the internal face as well. While the external face is gritty and sometimes gory to the point of destroying the prospective of the bigger picture; the internal face is raw and tormenting, struggling in a life and death battle that pits compassion against sheer existence. Finkel does a copious accounting of warfare on the people right in the middle of the blast crater.  The journey that starts with honor and motivation ends with acceptance and resignation, yet hope while metamorphosed manages to survive in some corners.

While, this read is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, if you can handle it, it should be a must read for ALL Americans.

President Kazari, whom earlier this year stated that he wanted to see all private security firms out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011 has now set the time line for 4 months hence. Keep in mind that private security firms work hand in hand with the NATO forces and with the State Department and if they didn’t we would not have the man power to continue the mission. So we need to look at what Kazari is really asking for. Does he want to support the corruption within his own government and is looking to fill the coffers of tribal elders and government leaders? Does he want a complete withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan? That will end his career and more than likely his life by the end of the year and I am being generous in that assessment. Currently private security not only helps maintain security of various compounds, they are also very important with regards to security of convoys and VIPs.

The security firms that provide these services to US and NATO forces are not all foreign either almost 40 are Afghan. Kazari apparently wants to over-burden his Army and police forces as the primary security with in the country. This is an expected goal to set, however you have to work to it. At this point neither the Afghan police forces nor the Afghan Army is up to the task in the least.

When the shit hit the fans the Afghans are more likely to consider removing themselves from the area and wait for it to become safe. There needs to be more motivation from the Afghans to take the matter of their security into their own hands. Do not get me wrong, many Afghans, at risk to life and the lives of family, have stepped up to the challenge and even succeeded. However, the numbers are not there for our troops’ compounds and the compounds of NATO forces to be secure along with the secure transportation of goods, troops and VIPs within the country, not yet. This is a position where ALL politicians seem to be ignorant across the board – – you CANNOT set arbitrary deadlines on political whims for personal gain.

Instead what needs to proceed here is open and continuous dialogue between Kazari’s military and police leaders and the NATO forces’ leaders on what personnel and equipment and training is required to complete the mission and updates on how Afghans are progressing in meeting those standards. Then when the Afghan military and police can state that they meet all the requirements for ensuring security for NATO forces’ compounds and convoys, as well as the movement of VIPs within their borders, they will still need to prove themselves with joint missions and a gradual and seamless turnover of mission.

So Kazari, what is it that you are really wanting? The palms of your leaders and yourself greased? Or the destruction of what so many brave men and women from Afghanistan and around the world have fought so hard to attain for you and your people? Because your haste ensures one or the other or both and denies the Afghan people what they so rightly deserve – – a safe and secure country to live and raise their families.

Our bad, guess Castro didn’t get the memo. Well here you go:

Señor Fidel Castro,

We take this opportunity to catch you up on the last couple decades of history. The Cold War ended in 1991. This end began with the fall of the Wall in Berlin in 1990 and culminated with the dissolution of the Soviet Union into its component republics in 1991. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc governments the threat of nuclear war has diminished dramatically. Not  to mention that it was the Soviet Union not the United States that had a first strike policy. And to think that we need to result to such dramatic action to handle the insane antics of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is just as insane as his antics are.

Respectfully,

The Normal and Sane Citizens of the United States

Now, seriously we know that Ahmadinejad is crazy, but hell he is just too entertaining. He is like the really bad train wreck that you know you should not look at but you just can’t tear your eyes away. You never know what outlandish statement he is going to make next. From the denial of the Holocaust to charging that we padded the number of dead from 9/11.  Not to mention that while, yes, Ahmadinejad is dangerous to peace and the stability of the Middle East, he has his own hands full at home. Even his own people are not happy with him in power, unfortunately he is able in most instances to oppress those that speak out against him or the government.

Back to the appearance of Castro in public and speaking in front of Parliament, that was not something that held a candle to his legendary standard. This speech lasted a very short 10 minutes, instead of the hours that he is famous for, a very telling fact. And I would wonder at his mental acuity, since he seemed to have his memories all mixed together combining the Cold War and Nixon and the present. As much of a living legend as Castro is in Cuba, it might be time for him to completely give up public appearances, otherwise he might end up detracting from Raul’s rule and Cuba’s image. He is certainly past his time.

There is a lot of controversy over the posting on WikiLeaks of the ‘Afghan War Diary’ . The most focal of these arguments seems to be what to do with PVT Manning. The question that comes to my mind is, was he  looking for his 15 minutes of fame or was he ‘doing little evil to do greater good’? The only way to know for sure is to be inside the mind of PVT Manning. IF he was whistle-blowing, his method was not super smart, in all honesty if he was attempting to save lives then he should have secured the names of persons that he knowingly put at greater risk. Regardless of his initial intent, his final accomplishment seems to show a lack for compassion for the Afghan people and no loyalty or commitment to his fellow soldier. I have to wonder if maybe his reasoning got lost in the possibilities of being some kind of distorted hero.

Representative Mike Rogers (Rep. MI), has stated that if PVT Manning isn’t charged with treason, which carries a death sentence if found guilty, then he should be charged with murder. I think that Rep. Rogers need a couple law courses. According to the Constitution of the United States, treason against the United States consists only in levying war against the country/government, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort. So to charge PVT Manning they would have to show that he gave aid to our enemy, now most that are against the accused will say that by releasing the information that he has aided the enemy. While that reach is certainly a factual argument, I would hope that the Supreme Court would be more cautious in its interpretation of the Constitution’s definition. If what PVT Manning did, unless certain malicious intent is confessed or proven, is considered as treason then a very dangerous precedent will have been set and the broadness of the definition will be too wide for well-intended individuals to work within.

As for the other charges of murder for the deaths of any Afghans or service-members, while hopefully PVT Manning understands the implication of leaving names visible in the documents and is willing to assume the moral responsibility for those deaths, it would be an investigative nightmare to prove a direct connection between PVT Manning and the deaths of any persons named in the “Afghan War Diary.” Furthermore, that connection will be required to properly convict PVT Manning of murder or even conspiracy to commit murder. Now if you want to look at something doable in the legal system, not with-standing the numerous charges under federal law and the UCMJ that he will face, you can certainly charge and probably convict him of reckless endangerment for each and every person named in the leaked documents. Under reckless endangerment you do not have to prove intent just that the actions of one placed another in danger of life or injury. There are other charges that could also be leveled against PVT Manning for the recklessness of his actions in regards to the Afghan people and service members stationed in the combat zone.

While, I feel that PVT Manning should be held completely accountable for his actions, the greater issue is just how a private in the United States Military was able to gain access, authorized or not, to such documents. These documents should not, at least in their full bodies, been in positions accessible to just anyone. The DOD and State Department may want to proclaim to the ends of the earth that those documents were not accessible, their publication on the Internet clearly show that not only were they accessible they were not even cleaned. Yes, whole original documents should be maintained in some form that is absolutely secure for thousands of reasons including protecting innocent lives and actions, not to jeopardize those same innocent lives and actions. As of today that is not the situation, but hopefully will be the primary focus of the intelligence arms of  both the State and Defense departments.

As a footnote, I find Julian Assange’s complete dismissal of allegations that innocent persons are now in greater danger with the release of these documents to be totally callous and ignorant. Of course every citizen of Afghanistan that is mentioned in the leaked documents that is still alive will be placed in greater danger now, not to mention the innocent family members of said individuals and that does include children. If Mr. Assange thinks that the insurgents do not use the internet to further their activities then he is either incredible stupid or he lives with his head stuck in the sand. In all honesty, I find Mr. Julian Assange to be negligent in his responsibilities to innocent citizens of the world by not having in place a review of submissions that insure that no innocent lives are  threatened. Had such a review been in place, the names could have been removed from the documents before their publication. That in no way would have distracted from the impact of information contained in the documents but would have proven to be of humane and moral responsible action.  If Julian Assange is fortunate he will never be on the receiving end of the danger that those Afghan citizens now find themselves, however if he does, at least in my direction, any pleas from him will fall on half deaf ears.

So a day or so ago Brazil’s president offered asylum to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva appealed to his “friend Ahmadinejad” to allow Brazil to take in the imprisoned woman. Most people are probably not aware of the story of Sakineh.
Mrs. Ashitani is a widow and was arrested 5 years ago and convicted and punished for “illicit relationship” with 2 men. All parties were flogged for this crime. Later her case was “reviewed” and she and one of the men were charged with the murder of her husband and adultery. While Mrs. Ashitani was not found guilty of the murder of her husband she was found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. Now if just the mere statement death by stoning doesn’t seem like over kill for adultery then wait till you hear how stoning is to be carried out as a sentence.
According to the Iranian penal code all guilty persons are bound in ‘robes’ which inhibit their movement. Then males are to be buried up to their waists and females up to their necks. According to the penal code the size of the ‘stones’ to be used are not to be so large that death may occur after only 2 stones, however they are not to be so small as to be considered ‘pebbles’.
Now if the concept is not uncivilized enough as a general concept then the unfair and discriminatory way it is carried out makes it barbaric. First off in general men are more physically developed, especially in the upper body, than women, yet it is the women that are buried up to their necks not the men. Secondly, if by some miracle the victim escapes from their hole they are still killed. And before you even get to this stage the method for convicting persons of adultery do not really require much and again women are discriminated against. For the testimony of one ‘just’ man it would take the testimony of two women to equal it and more than likely there isnt any number of female testimony that would outweigh the testimony of one ‘just’ male. Secondly it only takes the testimony of 4 ‘just’ men to support the charge of adultery for conviction.
In all strict Islamic states, you will find that women are severely discriminated against and oppressed. They suffer great injustices and are the victims of hidieous crimes on a very common occurrence. Their lives are totally and completely controlled by the male members of their family. In stark contrast most justice system of these Islam countries exploit instead of protect the weak, innocent, and less fortunate of their societies. For, example while the females of the family have no control and no say in their lives they are the sole responsible party for any charge brought against them. In some Islamic countries girls and women can be killed by male family members simply for bringing ‘shame’ to their families. And this ‘shame’ does not have to be proved or real just the belief of the male members/head of the family.
I think that it should be the male family members that control these females’ lives that should suffer the punishment for any ‘shame’ brought to their families. These males are after all all-powerful and all-knowing and all-controlling; therefore if a female of their house causes some ‘shame’ it can only occur because the ‘all-powerful male’ wasn’t capable of preventing it. So stone him, murder him, flog him, beat him and you will see a swift change in what is required to ‘prove’ and ‘convict’ women and girls of crimes that are mostly out of their control and of which they are usually a victim.
Most non-Muslims think that all this violence and discrimination and hate is found in the Qur’an, that is not the case. If you were to compare the Torah, Bible and Qur’an for their condoning of violence you will find that the Qur’an is the most peaceful of the Religious mantels. Then what makes Islam such a harsh and violent society? It is the fatāwā of Mufti of power and influence that promote the ideas and concepts and actions that non-Muslims so often associate with the Qur’an and Islam and find so negative.
Like every other religion, when mean or cruel or just plain evil persons gain power the whole religion suffers. Yet, as society and within world religions there is very little house cleaning aimed at these persons that defame and destroy religions from the inside out through their personal desercration of those religions that they profess to embrace. There has never been one source which can claim the incitement and conclusion of more violence in this world than that done in the name of God.

Yes, ME of all people were rendered speechless this morning while reading an article on 12 Haitian orphans that are stuck in bureaucratic limbo. The highlights of this story are that 12 ‘extra’ orphans were included in an emergency airlift from Port-au-Prince after the earthquake there. These 12 are ‘extra’ because they were not already in the process of being adopted by American families, but the people on the ground decided to include them in the airlift, which in my opinion was probably the best thing to do. If you have to ask why that was the best choice you won’t understand the answer. These children range in age from 15 months to 13 years, so they are truly children, that were in the hands of Bresma Orphanage before the earthquake. The dilemma seems to be whether or not these children have to be returned to Haiti or can be adopted by families here in the United States.

The stand of the State Department is that they must verify that relatives of the children truly relinquish their rights and responsibilities for these children before they can be adopted to American families and with that I do truly agree; however, Haiti is an island nation and does not even consist of the entire island of Hispaniola. It is not truly that hard to find family members and verify their desire for these children, sure it isn’t an easy task but we are now more than 6 months after, if the relatives were actively searching for them someone would have heard by now and if their relatives were injured then they would have been identified by now and hence be found. We are talking about only 12 children, I imagine that the true nature for the delay is more of a monetary discrepancy than any true verification issues concerning the status of these children as orphans.

Now while this story is one that is one that pulls at heart-strings it is not one that has major impact on the country or global relations. And it was little more than my heart-strings that endeavored me to even read more than the headlines. After wards for some reason I did another thing that is rare for me – – I scrolled down and glanced at some of the comments of this article. And it was while I was skimming over the comments that I found myself speechless. Maybe I shouldn’t have, I know that the world is full of closed minded, ignorant people that are so lazy that spewing hate is much easier than making an effort to educate themselves and work at having an open mind that endears the desire to better the world. Sometimes little acts carry huge returns. It is one thing to be mean and hateful to adults, they are capable of defending themselves and understand the evils in this world. But to spew hate against children that have been through hell through no fault of their own is just vile. It shows just how cruel and cowardly you truly are.  I find it truly repulsive that there are still “educated, upstanding pillars of society” that can harbor such streaks of true venom.

To judge for your self check out the article here

The AU is currently holding a 3-day summit in Uganda, which sustained two bombings on the 11th of July. Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked militant group in Somalia has claimed the bombings were retaliation for civilian casualties by the AU troops that are attempting to restore peace to the war torn Somalia. It seems pathetic that Al-Shabab, one of many insurgent groups that increases the state of terror in the African country by starving, threatening, killing and oppressing innocent civilians, managed to get that claim out without choking on it.

President Obama has seen the AU summit as so important that the US is represented by Attorney General Eric Holder; wow, how insulting for Africa. I guess they can take solace in the fact that ANY top official was sent. We have yet to learn that terrorist groups seed and grow in areas that we find insignificant and below our concern. When they move into actions and areas that are of concern to us we seem surprised at their organization, influence and reach. At least we are consistent in our failings, just like with street gangs and home grown terrorist groups on our own land we have that upper middle class suburban mentality that it cant happen to us. Keep burying your head in the sand and you will end up in the same quandary that the world was in when Hitler ruled Germany, if we wait too long we will be standing alone in the middle of unending chaos without the means to extricate ourselves.

The AU mission in Somalia, which has 49 of 53 members in good standing, is manned by about 6,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi, the hope is that the number will increase with additional troops from 2 more member countries. It will take more than this minor but courageous effort to truly make a difference, however, courage comes from the desire to do right in the face of terror and over whelming odds. This courage shows in the members of the militaries of Uganda and Burundi as well as the leadership of both countries for stepping up and taking action against an enemy to the peace and tranquility of the whole world. We could take a lesson from the little guys.