Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Thank you. You have very effectively demonstrated my original point.
As a refresher, my point was this: Anyone who claims to support the troops but not what the troops are doing ends up performing intellectual gymnastics of such complexity as to boggle the mind.
You drew a moral equivalence between our soldier’s actions and those of Sadam’s soldiers, saying you “see no moral difference.” And then in the very next paragraph you claim “I am not protesting “what our troops are doing.””
But really you are. You just ease your conscious by thinking that if you are devaluing the troops, it is not that bad. Because after all Bush devalued them too by sending them to war in the first place. Therefore you feel that your devaluation is not a big thing and you should go ahead and do it with your protest.
This is the type of thinking that I was talking about, heavy on emotions and light on logic. I really didn’t expect to see it so clearly from you.
I did some quick research on this WP issue that has you so upset. I started by googling “fallujah white phosphorus civilian” on the various news network sites. Here’s what I found:
ABC & Fox – No Matches.
CBS – 2 stories from 2002, pre-invasion, speculating about Sadam’s weapons stash.
CNN – Reports that Iraq is investigating allegations that the US intentionally targeted civilians.
MSNBC – 2 stories from the Reuters wire basically summarizing the allegations made by some Italian film makers in a documentary they did about the recent fighting in Fallujah.
I didn’t see any pictures of burned bodies which you said are all over the news. Admittedly I don’t watch very much broadcast news so I would have missed it there anyway. I get the vast majority of my news from the internet. That way I can quickly look at much of the raw data behind the stories and come to my own conclusions.
On this one it seemed to me that the hubbub all pointed to a film made by an Italian crew called “Fallujah – The Hidden Massacre.” So I downloaded it and watched all 27 minutes and 8 seconds of it to see for myself what the reporters were talking about.
I could write pages tearing apart the ridiculous lies and false implications made in the film but it is not worth my time. They use lots of second hand info and hearsay to try to back up their positions and they show a lot of gruesome dead bodies for shock value, but they present remarkably few facts. Therefore, let’s just stick to the WP issue.
As a star witness, they bring on an ex-soldier who says he was in on the Fallujah fighting. He claims unequivocally that WP is a chemical weapon. His assertion is patently wrong.
White Phosphorus is NOT poison gas. It is an incendiary material. Upon exposure to air, it will burst into flames and is difficult if not impossible to put out. While burning it creates a cloud of phosphorus oxide. Phosphorus oxide reacts with the humidity in the air to form phosphoric acid, the additive that gives Pepsi, Coke and soda pop its tangy taste and makes it so that Coke will clean rust really well. This stuff isn't poisonous, but it is irritating; it is in fact edible if it isn't in a concentrated form. If you got it in your eyes it would sting like lemon juice or vinegar, but it's not going to kill you.
WP is used as by the military because it burns well and gives off lots of light and smoke. Therefore it makes a good marker for targeting weapons systems because it is easy to see from a long way off. When a WP round is landed on the battle field, artillery spotters and forward air controllers use it as a reference point to direct other shooters to the specific target.
Fighters on the battle field know this. Therefore it also happens to be an effective tool to flush the enemy out of prepared defensive positions. If a WP round lands nearby, they know they are about to be blown up by something heavy so often they flee their position. When they are in the open, they are easier to kill with lighter weapons thereby reducing the amount of collateral damage inflicted by our troops.
It’s a good tactic that saves the lives of innocents.
Now if burning WP comes in physical contact with human flesh the results can be horrific. I know of an evangelist who had a WP grenade that he was throwing detonate from an enemy round right beside his head, blowing him from his boat and horribly disfiguring his face in Viet Nam. His survival story is a very compelling picture of God’s grace.
But my point is that to intentionally target civilians by using WP as a weapon instead of a marker (like Sadam’s troops did) is morally reprehensible. Using it as a tool on the battlefield to mark targets (like our troops did) is a whole different deal and can actually reduce the number of innocents killed. It takes incredible mental gymnastics to claim otherwise.
It is interesting to note that the guy never actually claims that we used WP as a weapon. In fact, he apparently never actually saw the stuff being used on the battlefield at all because his proof consists of hearing radio traffic about its use. I have no doubt that we did use WP on the battle field. I just don’t believe we used it to inflict mass casualties on civilians.
If we had we would be hearing it from many more sources. And they would be much more credible that this Italian group.
Now I’d like to address your assertion that our military has been decimated. That’s a pretty silly emotional statement devoid of fact. To have lost 10% of our approximately 2 million uniformed members (what decimated means) we would have lost upwards of 200,000 dead. We’ve lost about 1% of that. Give me a break!
It is unfortunate that a grandfather of 52 has been activated. However it has nothing to do with our combat losses. No, it results from the changes in our force structure that have happened over the years. Back when I was in uniform our “don’t ask, don’t tell” Commander in Chief and the Congress decided that with the fall of the Soviet Union we should take a “peace dividend” and draw down our active duty forces. As a result of that idea, which has some merit by the way, we are now much more heavily reliant on reserves.
Now this grandfather made it his choice to draw a pay check from our government for many years with the understanding that if he was ever needed, the government could activate him and send him to war. There were several points during his reserve career that he could have chosen to stop getting that check. He took the money. Now he is being called on to serve. Choices have consequences.
The last thing I want to point out is that, to support your decimated comment you mention one soldier killed that comes quickly to mind from the whole state of Wisconsin. To you this is evidence of mass butchery of our troops in a modern war?
I gave you twice the number of casualties from my limited experience in uniform of people I actually knew (not just read about) that were killed during peace time. Your evidence is still lacking.
And just FYI, the re-enlistment rates have been remarkably high over the last couple of years. If things were as bad as you claim, our troops would be getting out in droves. Also, last year the military significantly raised their recruiting goals and nearly hit those much higher targets. This year they well exceeded their recruiting goals.
So the call up of reservists has nothing to do with running out of soldiers because they are being killed in huge numbers. It has to do with a force structure that is designed to rely heavily on reservists.
I only have time right now to answer one question that you have asked me. The rest of your story can be seen on Fox News.
I see no moral difference between Saddam's use of white phosphorous (WP) and ours. The published photos of our WP use clearly show toasted civilians. And you did not address the terminology of Saddam’s "Chemical Weapon" WP, and our benign tool of war WP.
One other point I would like to clarify. I am not protesting “what our troops are doing”. I am protesting what our crooked lying government is doing. My actions do not “devalue our troops” as you say. The Bush administration already has that covered. If you will notice, our voluntary military is currently decimated to the point where they are calling out of retirement a 52 year old grandfather from Mosinee WI, and current troops are being stop loss back door drafted for up to 30 years.
Yesterday they buried 19 year old Pfc. Alex Gaunky from Sparta WI. Remember, this was to install an Islamic Republic government, where women have no rights.
Monday, November 28, 2005
I re-read my post below just to be sure. And yes, I do believe that which you so casually dismiss as “crap”.
I do believe that donning the uniform is dangerous in peace time having watched buddies die.
I do believe that modern warfare is incredibly destructive, and, as painful as it is, we are still amazingly fortunate to have suffered as few losses as we have thus far.
I do believe that protesting what our troops are doing devalues their service. Having 6 currently deployed service members in the 13 or so houses on my cul-de-sac, and having spoken with several of them and their families, I assure you that those troops feel similarly.
Apparently you are not quite sure whether you believe protesting would devalue their service or not. But my point is moot because it is also apparent you really don’t care. Even if you believed it would you’d still go forward and just be “sorry.”
Likewise with the whole enemy propaganda thing, I believe what I wrote because I’ve checked out Al-Jazeera’s web site, looked at the facts. However again it appears you don’t really care how it affects the troops in the field as long as your protesting damages the sitting administration.
Oh, yes. And I do believe the bit about the Islamists too because I’ve looked into what the Koran has to say about it. And I also happen to believe what they actually say day in day out about wanting to kill us. Call me a sucker, but when people say they want to kill me (over and over again) I tend to believe they are not speaking metaphorically, especially when they are sending mad bombers to blow them selves up nearby while they keep saying it.
Now you can dismiss all that simply as crap. Don’t let facts get in the way of your protesting.
Speaking of facts, let’s talk about “illegality” of the war, as you termed it. You do realize that Congress voted to authorize the President to use force of arms “to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.” And that was well prior to the invasion of 19 March 2003. How then is the war illegal?
When you refer to the “lies” that the war is based on, do you mean statements like this?
“There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources -- something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.
When Saddam Hussein obtains nuclear capabilities, the constraints he feels will diminish dramatically, and the risk to America’s homeland, as well as to America’s allies, will increase even more dramatically. Our existing policies to contain or counter Saddam will become irrelevant.”
Of course that wasn’t President Bush on the eve of war who said that. No, it was Senator Rockefeller, D-WV, back in October 2002.
Do you really believe that Saddam had no WMD’s? HE GASSED HIS OWN PEOPLE!!! Have you forgotten the pictures of whole villages, including women and children, lying bloated after his gas attacks? You can’t actually use something (like the WMD poison gas) unless you have it!!
Do you doubt he was seeking nuclear weapons? Senator Rockefeller didn’t.
I could go on but this has gotten too long already. Sorry to clutter it up with all these inconvenient facts. (Crap, I know.)
However I do want to ask you one other question. You seem to claim that our military’s use of WP is just as bad as Saddam’s. I am assuming you know that Saddam intentionally targeted civilians who were incapable of shooting back including women and children when he used the stuff. When our guys shoot it, we shoot at combatants with guns who are shooting back. Our guys (and gals) risk death and do in fact actually die because they are so hesitant to kill innocents.
Are you saying you see no moral difference between these two scenarios?
If so, please allow me a little ethics primer: Intentionally targeting civilians is wrong and evil. Intentionally targeting combatants shooting at you is unpleasant and unfortunate, but not wrong or evil.
But then if you don’t really care that your protesting would harm our troops and strengthen our enemies, why would you draw a difference between our troop’s actions and Saddam’s? Besides, if you were to draw a distinction, it might cause you to think about what the implications of your protest actually are. Wouldn't want crap like difficult implications to get in the way of a good protest, would we?
You claim it is our fault that they want to kill us, “we give them plenty of reasons.” Even if that were true (and it’s a viewpoint I see little actual factual evidence to support) cutting and running will not make them like us more. No, history shows that appeasing emboldens the aggressors. Just ask Chamberlain.
Do you really believe that crap?
I protest this illegal war in Iraq because it is based on lies smeared together by our corrupt dysfunctional government. Let’s see, was it weapons of mass destruction, or was it freeing the Iraqi people, oh wait, was it the spreading of democracy, oops, it was the creation of an Islamic Theocratic Republic. Are we proud of ourselves yet?
If my protesting this war devalues the service of our troops, I am sorry. Somehow, I cannot believe my protesting can devalue the service of our troops as much as the bush administration sending them off to a war based on lies.
If protesting this was provides juicy propaganda to the folks that want to kill us, well I am sorry for that too. Our military actions provide plenty of juicy propaganda for this. Our government backs this up with their ill-chosen words (Crusade), and actions. Somehow, when Saddam used white phosphorus, we called it a chemical weapon. When we use it, we call it a tool of war. Are we proud of ourselves yet?
If we wonder why these people want to kill us, we give them plenty of reasons. Would you take well to occupation?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Please understand that I totally believe there is room for debate here. I think that with any worthy undertaking it is very healthy to look at various sides and viewpoints. I am not against the principle of protesting at all. Nor do I agree with our current president on every issue in spite of my conservative leanings.
The first thing that must be understood is that protesting something as vague as “the war” has an adverse affect on everyone in uniform, whether State-side, or over in Afghanistan or Iraq for a number of reasons. Anyone who claims to support the troops but not what the troops are doing ends up performing intellectual gymnastics of such complexity as to boggle the mind.
The truth is that military’s job is to break things and kill people. I know. I’ve worn the uniform. They sign on to go into harm’s way knowing that there is a real risk of being killed. Even in peace time.
As an aside, one of the reasons I got out of the Navy (back in ’95) was that I was tired of going to memorial services for my buddies. One of my flight school roommates was killed when his helicopter crashed at night flying off the USS America. I literally watched another buddy of mine kill himself by ejecting too late from his F/A-18 when it lost control right off the catapult on the USS Saratoga.
I say this not to shock you, but rather to help you understand that wearing the uniform is a dangerous business. Anytime. Our people in uniform know this. Even so they are still all volunteers! Now I certainly will not diminish the pain and suffering that is born by the families of those who died. And I still honor the memories of Rich and Sonny. But to have lost slightly over 2100 souls in over 2-½ years of fighting a modern war is nothing short of miraculous.
Yet when we protest what our troops are assigned to do we devalue their service. The protestors may say that they support the troops. But somehow their protest signs and slogans never seem edify the military. Perhaps that’s because the vast majority of the people who feel compelled to actually protest “the war” really don’t support the military as much as they claim they do.
Another reason protesting the war is hazardous to our troops is that it provides juicy propaganda for the people who are killing them over in Iraq. When al-Jazeera is showing clips of our Senators and Congressmen demanding our military pull out now, it allows our enemies to say, “See! See! Their own leadership says that what the Americans are doing is wrong. If they are wrong then killing them must be right. Come join us and kill more Americans!” Imagine how they’d respond to thousands of us waving signs and shouting to bring the military home before the job is done.
The other thing I find interesting is that many people who may be inclined to protest the war will say things like, “those people are not our enemies.” That’s just plain ignorant. We may not want them to be our enemies, but they have decided that we are their enemies.
According to the Islamists way of thinking, the thinking of the ones killing our troops, their enemies (i.e. us) have three options. We can either convert to Islam (their flavor of Islam, that is), become slaves to the Islamists, or die. Preferably at their hand.
Running away and disengaging from this war that we are in the process of winning won’t change their world view and how they perceive we should fit into it. My question to those who believe we should forfeit the war in Iraq as we draw near winning it would be which of the three options would you prefer? The way I see it there are only four choices: conversion, slavery, death, or war. Take out the war that leaves three. Which one do you want?
For the people who say that we just need more understanding of our enemy, I will explain it in simple, mono-syllabic words that are easy for any first grader to understand: They – want – to – kill – us.
Now that may not be enough to make them our enemy to someone who is more used to intellectual gymnastics than I am. But it really doesn’t matter because they’ve already declared that we are their enemy. Which, just for the record, by definition means that they are our enemy regardless of whether we recognize it or not.
I understand that it is unpleasant to see disturbing images from a war zone. War is an ugly, unpleasant business. But there are times when it is a necessary one. When there is a group that is dedicated to killing us seems to me to be one of those times.
We are an amazing country. We seem to be undefeatable in war and can only loose fights by forfeit like we did in Viet Nam or Somalia. It astonishes me that there seems to be a growing call in our country to throw yet another fight. Are we really like a marathon runner who, even though he is way out front, sees no need to bother crossing the finish line, but would rather just get in his car and go home because he is winded?
Pulling our troops out now will not lesson the killing in Iraq but rather increase it dramatically. Not only that, but pulling out now will only save American lives in the extreme short run. Long term it will lead to a grater loss of American lives because it will embolden and strengthen those who want to kill us.
Do you want to see some encouraging images from the war? Check out this site here: Michael Yon: Online Magazine. Michael Yon’s dispatches are fascinating, and should be required reading.
The bottom line is war stinks. We can debate about pre-war intelligence and WMD’s till the cows come home. But I strongly disagree with anyone who says we shouldn’t resist those who are committed to destroy us. I for one would much rather have the IED’s going off on the other side of the world than in my local police station or elementary school. I do not want to see my country burn for weeks on end.
I am American, not French!
Friday, November 18, 2005
Anyway, with that in mind, I just got the below emailed to me. Being a student of history, I couldn’t help but share it. I don’t know who originally wrote it, but it’s worth the read…
The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.
Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.
It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert.
Italy has increased the alert level from "shout loudly and excitedly" to "elaborate military posturing". Two more levels remain, "ineffective combat operations" and "change sides".
The Germans also increased their alert state from "disdainful arrogance" to "dress in uniform and sing marching songs". They also have two higher levels: "invade a neighbour" and "lose".
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual and the only threat they worry about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.