Saturday, January 4, 2003

More tripe from Robert Jensen

Robert Jensen, the odious University of Texas journalism professor (whom I've blogged about before) is at it again. This article, from the (Fredericksburg, VA) Free Lance-Star is more typical boilerplate lefty drivel, for the most part. However, there are a few passages that I, as a military member, find intolerable. What I found shocking was that I originally found this article in Stars and Stripes, the official US military publication in Europe. Why they published this is totally beyond any reasoning I can muster.

AUSTIN, Texas—"Dear member of the U.S. military: Thank you for defending our freedom," reads the message on the Department of Defense's "Defend America" Web site. Fill in your name and hometown, and click to join the more than 2 million who have sent the message.
The sentiment seems hard to argue with. No matter what one thinks of the coming war against Iraq, can't we all send such a message to those who serve?
Not if we want to be honest about U.S. war plans, for those troops will not be defending our freedom but defending America's control over the strategically crucial energy resources of the Middle East. They will be in the service of the empire, fighting a war for the power and profits of the few, not freedom for the many.

No, we won't be defending America's control over oil. No, we won't be in service of the empire. Afghanistan, Kosovo, Haiti, Somalia...the list of nations with little to no strategic importance that we have had a military presence does not deter those who scream mindlessly about how it's all about the oil. I suppose that Korea (which was a underdeveloped, retro backwater) and Vietnam (ditto) were all about the oil, too.

To some that statement may seem disrespectful. But resistance to the coming war against Iraq does not signal a lack of respect for those who do the fighting. I have never served in the military, but friends and family have, and I have empathy for people on the front lines who face the risks.

Instead of empathy, how about asking them about their views? They are likely to be disheartening to you, as the military, by and large, rejects and ridicules your posture on the war. This is not just the Generals and Admirals, who make the decisions safely esconced in their offices, but down to the deckplates, flightlines and fields as well.

I'm also aware that many of those who find themselves on those lines may have joined the military primarily for economic reasons. But if I am truly to respect them—as human beings and as fellow citizens—I should be willing to state clearly my objections to this war.

Some join the military for economic reasons, but many have not. There is a large contingent of people who joined the military during the 1990s, during a booming economy and plenty of opportunities. Some joined because they support our country, and some joined for their own personal reasons. Pat Tillman joined (and made a huge financial sacrifice) because of his feelings over the events of September 11th.

You can state your objections to the war; just don't try to cloak them in a deceptive, sanctimonious haze.

That requires distinguishing between the rhetoric and reality of U.S. foreign and military policy. Every great power claims noble motives for its wars, but such claims usually cover an uglier reality, and we are no different.
For most of the post-World War II era, the United States' use of force against weaker nations was justified as necessary to stop Soviet plans for world conquest. The Soviet regime was authoritarian, brutal, and interventionist in its own sphere, and it eventually acquired the capacity to destroy us with nuclear weapons.
But the claim that the Soviets were a global military threat to our existence was also a political weapon to frighten Americans into endorsing wars to suppress independent development in the Third World and accepting a permanent wartime economy.

Independent development in the third world is an oxymoron. Nations which emulated and supported the US (nations such as Germany, Japan, and Korea) flourished, while those that rejected our values and our assistance (most of Africa, parts of Asia, and Eastern Europe) stagnated and regressed. The permanent wartime economy is pretty weak; spending less than 5% of GDP on defense is hardly a "permanent wartime economy".

With the Soviet Union gone, American planners needed a new justification for the military machine. International terrorism may prove more durable a rationale, for organizations such as al-Qaida are a real threat, and we have a right to expect our government to take measures to protect us. But the question is, which measures are most effective?

Ooh, more invective against the military-industrial complex.

U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged that the U.S. attack on Afghanistan did little to reduce the threat and may have complicated counterterrorism efforts. But the war was effective at justifying an ongoing American military presence in Central Asia. A war against Iraq, being marketed as part of the war on terrorism, is even more obviously about U.S. control of the region's oil.

It is not about control of the oil, so it is not "obvious" at all. It is about access to the oil, which is another thing altogether. We don't control any of the region's oil.

So we have to separate what may motivate people in the armed forces from the real role of the U.S. military. I have no doubt that many of the people who serve believe they are fighting for freedom, an honorable goal we should respect. But they are doing that for a government with a different objective —to shore up U.S. power and guarantee the profits of an elite—that we should not support.
There is no disrespect in asking fellow citizens who have joined the military to question, "What am I really fighting for?" and "Who really benefits from the risks I take?"

People who join the military should have been asking themselves these questions before they joined. Anyone who fails to do so is doing themselves (and the military) a grave disservice.

If we civilians truly care about the troops—as well as the innocent people of Iraq who will die in a war—we should make it clear to Washington that we will not support wars for power and instead demand a sane foreign policy that seeks real freedom and justice, not dominance and control.
My message to the troops would be: "Thank you for being willing to defend freedom, but please join the resistance to this unjust war."

We have a term for such behavior; it is called MUTINY. During a war, it can also be called treason. Our duty, as members of the armed forces, is to obey the orders of those appointed above us, and that includes George W. Bush, our Commander-in-Chief.

That is a message of support for the troops and a plea for solidarity among ordinary people who want to build a better world, not serve the empire.
It is a reminder that, as John McCutcheon put it so eloquently in song: "the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame/And on each end of the rifle we're the same."

John McCutcheon is a folksinger cum peace activist. A quote about his new album, directly from his website:

After years of requests John has finally assembled a collection of his topical songs on a CD. "Hail to the Chief" skewers personalities like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, John Ashcroft, John Rocker and the linguistic acrobatics of George W. Bush. Along the way he manages to point humorous fingers at the Kansas School Board's scientific curiosities, Clear Channel Communication's censorship of peace songs and Virginia's new concealed weapons law. Again, baseball shows up in a couple of songs and Wendell Berry's novel, "Jayber Crow" even inspired a withering look at the New Economy.

Nope, no agenda there.

posted at 07:32 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

Taking it all off

I had an agreement with a co-worker of mine about the Fiesta Bowl. I am a University of Miami fan, and he is an Ohio State fan. Since Ohio State won the national championship, I get my head all-but-shaved (boot camp-style). There will be no pictures of this. I do believe in full disclosure, but I have my limits.

posted at 07:22 AM | permalink | Comments (1)

Ahhh, nothing quite like getting one's noggin shaved on a bet...

We used to run it as a contest in the duty section. Everyone would 'vote' with a buck or two for their favorite shav-ee, and after a week or so, we'd have a 'ceremony' with the bulk of the kitty used for the liquid refreshments.

posted by Wind Rider on January 6, 2003 02:09 AM

Friday, January 3, 2003

Stupid Letters—The 2003 Edition

I think we might have a winner, even though this is from the January 1 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Are you one of the few who think there will not be an invasion of Iraq? Think of this scenario:
1. "W" sets up his "oil czar" after the takeover.
2. The czar issues "consulting" contracts to many privately held foreign corporations. The stock of these corporations is solely owned by business friends of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The money paid to corporations as a result of these contracts goes into foreign bank accounts that will never see the light of day in the United States. This amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.
The czar issues engineering and service contracts to "friendly" American companies. These contracts amount to billions of dollars. A portion of the proceeds will be used to fund Republican election campaigns well into the future.
Bush is assured the win in 2004 while brother Jeb is set up to win in 2008 and 2012. This ensures the Bush dynasty through 2016. There will be no election that Republicans can't buy.
Should there be any recalcitrant in foreign governments, such as in Russia or Great Britain, he could be cut in for small "consulting" contracts just to grease the wheels.
All this could happen and America would never know what had transpired, except for a privileged few.
Jack Preston

Can you say "barking moonbat"? The Seattle area is filled with morons, left-wing paranoiac morons.

posted at 08:50 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Server woes

I *was* going to post a bit more, but it appears that my server is experiencing difficulties. If you are reading this, they have been resolved. I will post tomorrow evening, after work.

posted at 08:36 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Global Warming


It seems that global warming has been going on for a touch longer than most people realize. The global warming fanatics are only off by about 10,000 years.

This CNN article discusses an article in the upcoming issue of Science magazine, in which a team of researchers has determined that the ice sheet covering Antarctica has been slowly and steadily melting for the last 10,000 years.

"There was a gradual and continuous melting," said John O. Stone, first author of the study and a professor of geology at the University of Washington, Seattle. Over thousands of years, he said, the ice has retreated at the rate of about 2 inches a year in a steady pattern that shows no sign of slowing.

Of course, the researchers are quick to point out that this finding can neither support nor debunk the global warming theory. It appears that they don't want to be subjected to the same invective that has been rained upon Bjorn Lomborg, whose grave sin was to rebut Environment, Inc's propaganda with cold hard facts.

posted at 07:12 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 30, 2002

Baggage Handler arrested

A baggage handler at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris was arrested and a cache of weapons was discovered in the trunk of his car. This Seattle News-Intelligencer article has more info.

The 27-year old, a Frenchman of Algerian descent (imagine that!) had, among other weapons, five bars of plastic explosives and two detonators. As a baggage handler, he had access to several restricted areas inside the airport.

I will be traveling through Europe during the new year, but I won't be flying. There are too many nutjobs to feel comfortable flying in Europe. It may be irrational, but I still feel safer in the United States, with all of its problems, than I ever will here in Europe.

posted at 06:47 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

A terror attack was most definitely squashed...scary.

Have a safe trip and a happy new year!

posted by Brent on December 31, 2002 07:05 AM

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