Archive for the ‘Americans’ Category

Trust is the coin of the realm

February 14, 2009

Thomas F. Madden’s book “Empires of Trust” begins with the story of Rome’s conquest of Locri, a small Italian city-state.

A Roman lieutenant named Pleminius maintained order there in a heavy-handed manner, sacking and looting religious shrines and enslaving the Locrians. When Locrian ambassadors later assembled in the Roman Senate chamber, it was not, as many senators expected, to beg for forgiveness and charity but to lodge a complaint.

Pleminius, they charged, was a tyrant. “There is nothing human except his face and appearance,” cried one. “There is no trace of the Roman except in his clothing and speech.”

By Mike Mullen
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Washington Post
Sunday, February 15, 2009; Page B07

Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top ... 
Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said on Tuesday more American troops were needed in Afghanistan as soon as possible to hold territory where insurgents have been routed.(AFP/File/Jason Kempin)

Though they had rebelled against Rome — siding with archenemy Hannibal — the Locrians expected better. “They trusted the Romans to act responsibly,” writes Madden, “and even when that trust was violated, they trusted the Romans to make it right.”

Such was the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built. Such were the responsibilities of leadership.

We are not Romans, of course. Our brigade combat teams are not the legions of old. Madden makes that clear. But we in the U.S. military are likewise held to a high standard. Like the early Romans, we are expected to do the right thing, and when we don’t, to make it right again.

We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm — that building it takes time, losing it takes mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective.

That’s why images of prisoner maltreatment at Abu Ghraib still serve as recruiting tools for al-Qaeda. And it’s why each civilian casualty for which we are even remotely responsible sets back our efforts to gain the confidence of the Afghan people months, if not years.

It doesn’t matter how hard we try to avoid hurting the innocent, and we do try very hard. It doesn’t matter how proportional the force we deploy, how precisely we strike. It doesn’t even matter if the enemy hides behind civilians. What matters are the death and destruction that result and the expectation that we could have avoided it. In the end, all that matters is that, despite our best efforts, sometimes we take the very lives we are trying to protect.

You cannot defeat an insurgency this way.

We can send more troops. We can kill or capture all the Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders we can find — and we should. We can clear out havens and shut down the narcotics trade. But until we prove capable, with the help of our allies and Afghan partners, of safeguarding the population, we will never know a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan.

Lose the people’s trust, and we lose the war. The strategy reviews for Afghanistan recognize this and seek military, economic, political, diplomatic and informational approaches to regaining that trust. We know that the people are the real long-term hope for success. No single solution or preventative measure will suffice in protecting them.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-d
yn/content/article/2009/02/13/AR2
009021302580.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

U.S. Always Pays Top Damages; Ever Notice That? Does That Do Any Good?

January 27, 2009

The government of China is heartbroken that so many Chinese lost children and relatives in the earthquake last year.  Heach famy got $15.00 to help celebrate the Lunar new Year which started yesterday.

When children were sickened and some killed by poisoned milk, China paid compensation:  about $300.00 per family; a little more for the families of the dead.

In Afghanistan today, U.S commanders paid out $40,000 to relatives of 15 people killed; “including a known militant commander.”

That’s more than $2,600 for every person killed.  In Afghanistan.

I wonder, why do we pay so much while other people pay so little?  And do out parments matter?  Do they do any good?  Or do Americans pay to remove American guilt?  I just wonder….

And it isn’t like China is broke.  They “own” much of the U.S. including over $1 Trillion in bonds….

Related:
China Discovers Compensation for Pain, Agony; But Don’t Expect Much

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By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer

U.S. commanders on Tuesday traveled to a poor Afghan village and distributed $40,000 to relatives of 15 people killed in a U.S. raid, including a known militant commander. The Americans also apologized for any civilians killed in the operation.

The issue of civilian deaths is increasingly sensitive in Afghanistan, with President Hamid Karzai accusing the U.S. of killing civilians in three separate cases over the last month. Karzai has repeatedly warned the U.S. and NATO, saying such deaths undermine his government and the international mission.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates echoed Karzai’s concerns, telling a Senate committee that “civilian casualties are doing us enormous harm in Afghanistan.”

As U.S. commanders paid villagers near 15 newly dug graves, Karzai met Tuesday in the capital with relatives of some of those killed. He told the villagers he has given the U.S. and NATO one month to respond to a draft agreement calling for increased Afghan participation in military operations.

Karzai said if he does not receive a response within that time, he would ask Afghans what he should do about international military operations. The statement from the presidential palace describing the meeting did not elaborate.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090127/ap_
on_re_as/as_afghan_civilian_deaths

Schools Need More Play Time?

January 26, 2009

A study says kids in school need more play time and recess.  NFL Quarterbacks are on TV taking about more gym class.

I sure don’t know what is right.

But I do know that our schools haven’t made Americans of greatness lately and the school system in places like China is rigorous, orderly and full of challenges…. 

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From Reuters
.
All work and no play may be a hazard for some U.S. school children.

Researchers reported on Monday that a growing trend of curbing free time at school may lead to unruly classrooms and rob youngsters of needed exercise and an important chance to socialize.

A look at more than 10,000 children aged 8 and 9 found better classroom behavior among those who had at least a 15-minute break during the school day compared to those who did not, Dr. Romina Barros and colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York reported.

The behavior assessments were general in nature and not made at any particular time of the school day, their report said.

“The available research suggests that recess may play an important role in the learning, social development, and health of children in elementary school,” the research team said in a study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But today many children get less free time and fewer physical outlets at school “because many school districts responded to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by reducing time committed to recess, the creative arts, and even physical education in an effort to focus on reading and mathematics,” they added.

The researchers also found that children not getting recess were more likely to be black, from poor families and attending public schools in large cities.

“This raises concern in light of evidence that many children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not free to roam their neighborhoods or even their own yards unless they are accompanied by adults,” the team said. “For many of these children, recess periods may be the only opportunity for them to practice their social skills with other children.”

Related:
 Economic Stimulus? Math, Science, Schools Must Create High Tech Jobs, Not More Shovel Jobs

Bill Cosby: We Need To Educate; Do the Math

U.S. Students Failing International Science Measures

“America becoming the nation of the unemployed” — Schools to Blame?

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090126/hl_n
m/us_children_recess

USA ‘Family Planning’ and ‘Choice,’ Japan Encourages More Children, China: Forced Abortions

January 26, 2009

In the U.S. we accept and even encourage abortions; but when it seems to tricky to say so we call abortion “choice or “family planning.”  Nancy Pelosi even says ‘family palling” money will be in the economic stimulus bill.

China has a “One Child” rule per family.  If you don’t get an abortion after the first one, forced abortions can be available.

In Japan, some companies are encouraging couples to have more sex and more children.

So we different cultures deal with sex and life and death….

Related:

Japan Wants More Children:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiap
cf/01/26/canon.babies/index.html

Birth Control is Part of Economic ‘Stimulus,’ Where Is My Viagra?

Arab Nations Enraged At U.S. On Gaza, Palestinian Deaths

January 4, 2009

“It’s clearly the Americans, it doesn’t require genius,” he said, adding that the US had blocked a resolution because “the Israelis still need some time to finish their operations.”

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Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip was roundly condemned across the Middle East on Sunday, with Egypt also accusing the UN Security Council of failing to act quickly to resolve the crisis.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Israel’s incursion into the impoverished territory on Saturday night came in “brazen defiance” of international calls to end the fighting.

“The Security Council‘s silence and its failure to take a decision to stop Israel’s aggression since it began was interpreted by Israel as a green light,” he said in a statement as Israeli forces rumbled into Gaza.

By Samer al-Atrush, AFP

Palestinian demonstrators chant slogans during a demonstration ... 

Above: Palestinian demonstrators chant slogans during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip was roundly condemned across the Middle East, with Egypt also accusing the UN Security Council of failing to act quickly to resolve the crisis.(AFP/Abbas Momani)

A Jordanian government spokesman said the invasion “will have dangerous repercussions and negative effects on the region’s security and stability” and called for an immediate ceasefire, state-news agency Petra reported.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/mideastconflictgazadiplomacy

China’s Lending Fueled Americans’ Spending: Now Where’s The Wealth?

December 26, 2008

In March 2005, a low-key Princeton economist who had become a Federal Reserve governor coined a novel theory to explain the growing tendency of Americans to borrow from foreigners, particularly the Chinese, to finance their heavy spending.

The problem, he said, was not that Americans spend too much, but that foreigners save too much. The Chinese have piled up so much excess savings that they lend money to the United States at low rates, underwriting American consumption.

This colossal credit cycle could not last forever, he said. But in a global economy, the transfer of Chinese money to America….

By Mark Landler
The New York Times

Read the rest:
 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/26/w
orld/asia/26addiction.html?_r=1&hp

America Must Rebuild To Thrive; Obama Must Deliver Real, Lasting Goodies

December 25, 2008

America needs to reboot and re-invent itself.

Internationally, Israel wants a smackdown on Iran.  Medvedev and Putin want U.S. Missile Defense out of Europe.  And others are lining up too.

Americans want prosperity and jobs.  GM and Chryler want all the auto bailout they can get and the UAW wants a raise.

President-elect Obama, blissfully in the Hawaiian nirvana as we write, faces a long line of seekers looking for goodies this Christmas and next year.

Can he possibly deliver? 

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From Thomas Friedman
The New York Times

We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.

….

America still has the right stuff to thrive. We still have the most creative, diverse, innovative culture and open society — in a world where the ability to imagine and generate new ideas with speed and to implement them through global collaboration is the most important competitive advantage. China may have great airports, but last week it went back to censoring The New York Times and other Western news sites. Censorship restricts your people’s imaginations. That’s really, really dumb. And that’s why for all our missteps, the 21st century is still up for grabs.

John Kennedy led us on a journey to discover the moon. Obama needs to lead us on a journey to rediscover, rebuild and reinvent our own backyard.

Read it all:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/24
/opinion/24friedman.html?em

Art Below by Steve Broder in the New York Times

Former UK Army Chief Attacks US Failures in Iraq

December 20, 2008

A former head of the British Army has accused the Americans of “appalling” decision making during the Iraq war.

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Telegraph (UK)
.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, General Sir Mike Jackson, the former chief of the general staff, said that the violence in post-war Iraq was “much exacerbated by the security vacuum created by Washington’s appalling decisions” to disband the Iraqi security forces.

Gen Sir Mike, who was head of the British Army at the time of the war, added that the US policy to “de-Baathify” Iraq doubled the time taken to reach the point where the coalition could consider a withdrawal from the country.

Former Army chief General Sir Mike Jackson attacks US failures in Iraq

Former Army chief General Sir Mike Jackson decribed American decision making as ‘appalling’ Photo: PA

The general also added that Iranian backing for Shia militants, a development which led to hundreds of British casualties, further complicated the post-war environment.

The former defence chief, who said that he believed the campaign had been successful, was also critical of the US and British governments for failing to “understand fully” the complexity of the situation in Iraq and to create a proper reconstruction plan.

The general said that the euphoria which followed the toppling of Saddam was short lived because of various factions inside Iraq began to use violence in pursuit of political objectives.

But he added that the coalition, which suffered from political and military infighting, achieved “tremendous successes” including a referendum on a new Iraqi constitution and the subsequent elections, the creation of a new Iraqi security force and the avoidance of outright civil war.

Of the 136 troops who died in Iraq and the thousands injured, the general said that their deaths and wounds “were not in vain but rather suffered in the noble cause of a better future for Iraq and the region as a whole.”

WTO Sides With U.S., Rejects China Appeal Against Auto Parts Ruling

December 15, 2008

The World Trade Organization has rejected an appeal by China against a ruling that favored the United States in a dispute over car parts, the European Union and Canada.

The WTO appeals panel recommended in a ruling released Monday that China be asked to bring its import tariffs for foreign auto parts into compliance with international trade rules.

Associated Press

Volkswagen cars are seen at a dealership in Shanghai December ... 
Volkswagen cars are seen at a dealership in Shanghai December 14, 2008. REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA)

U.S. and European trade officials welcomed the decision.

“Especially in light of the current problems faced by the U.S. auto industry, I expect China to comply promptly with its WTO obligations by removing an unlawful and unfair trade barrier that is harming U.S. workers and manufacturers,” said U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

Her European counterpart, EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton, said, “China should now put an end to the discrimination and ensure a level playing field in its automotive sector.”

Officials at China’s mission to the WTO could not immediately be reached for comment.

Beijing had appealed the original ruling made in July, arguing that the taxes were needed to stop whole cars being imported in large chunks, allowing companies to avoid the higher tariff rates for finished cars. It was the first time China lost a case before the world trade body.

Under the import rules, cars made in China must contain at least 40 percent Chinese-made parts or they are taxed at the rate of imported finished cars.

The U.S., the 27-nation EU and Canada argued that the tariffs made it cheaper for car parts companies to shift production to China, costing Americans, Canadians and Europeans their jobs.

China now has a “reasonable period of time” to make legislative changes, after which a separate WTO panel has to determine whether Beijing has come into compliance or is still breaking the rules, in which case sanctions can be imposed.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081215/a
p_on_bi_ge/eu_wto_china_auto_parts_2