Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

Obama Rhetoric, Reality Clash, Causing Backpedaling, Messy Messages

March 21, 2009

Barack Obama’s optimistic campaign rhetoric has crashed headlong into the stark reality of governing.

In office two months, he has backpedaled on an array of issues, gingerly shifting positions as circumstances dictate while ducking for political cover to avoid undercutting his credibility and authority. That’s happened on the Iraq troop withdrawal timeline, on lobbyists in his administration and on money for lawmakers’ pet projects.

From the Associated Press

”Change doesn’t happen overnight,” Obama said at a town-hall style event in California on Thursday, seeming to acknowledge the difficulty in translating campaign pledges into actual policy. Asked by a campaign volunteer how his supporters can be most effective in helping him bring the sweeping change he promised, Obama said: ”Patience.”

The event was part of a weeklong media blitz that Obama had hoped would help sell his budget — the foundation of the health care, education and energy changes he promised in the campaign. But his budget message was overshadowed for much of the week by the public furor over $165 million in executive bonuses paid by American International Group Inc. after the insurance giant had received billions in federal bailout funds.

”There was a lot of excitement during the campaign and we were talking about the importance of bringing about change,” Obama told the volunteer. ”We are moving systematically to bring about change. But change is hard.”

It’s the same delicate dance each of his predecessors faced in moving from candidate to president, only to find he couldn’t stick exactly by his word. Each was hamstrung by his responsibility to the entire nation and to individual constituencies, changes in the foreign and domestic landscapes, and the trappings of the federal government and Washington itself.

Once in the White House, presidents quickly learn they are only one part of the political system, not in charge of it. They discover the trade-offs they must make and the parties they must please to get things done. Inevitably, they find out that it’s impossible to follow through completely on their campaign proposals.

For now at least, Obama’s deviations have served only to invite occasional cries of hypocrisy from some Republicans and infrequent grumbles of disappointment from some Democrats. He has popularity on his side, and it seems people mostly are chalking up his moves to much-needed flexibility at a difficult time.

But the shifts could take a toll over time if they become a persistent pattern and the public grows weary. His overall job-performance marks could suffer and jeopardize his likely re-election campaign in 2012. People could perceive him as a say-one-thing-do-another politician and the Democratic-controlled Congress could see him as a weak chief executive.

Obama’s moves and maneuvering for political cover run the gamut.

He spent most of the campaign promising to bring combat troops home from Iraq 16 months after taking office, though he left himself wiggle room.

After directing his commanders to map out a responsible pullout, President Obama adjusted that timeline to 19 months and said 50,000 troops, about one-third of the current force, would remain.

While campaigning, Obama frequently swiped at lobbyists, saying, ”When I am president, they won’t find a job in my White House.”

Then he took office and had to fill thousands of positions. He did allow former lobbyists to join his administration. But he imposed ethics rules barring them from dealing with matters related to their lobbying work or joining agencies that they had lobbied in the previous two years. In several cases, he has made outright exceptions.

Obama the candidate pledged to curb spending directed at lawmakers’ pet projects; they’re known in Washington as ”earmarks.” Obama the president signed an ”imperfect” $410 billion budget measure that included 8,500 earmarks.

He had little choice. The measure, a holdover from last year, was needed to keep government from shutting down. But to blunt the fallout, Obama outlined guidelines to ensure tighter restraints on the spending and made a new promise: Future earmarks won’t become law so easily.

As for politics, Obama campaigned as a new-style leader who chastised partisanship and renounced divisiveness in Washington. But as president, Obama’s White House aides wasted little time pouncing on Republicans and mocking conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh as the GOP’s leader.

On fiscal matters, Obama the candidate urged Americans to tighten their belts. Once in office and saddled with recession, though, he signed a $787 billion stimulus measure and outlined a $3.6 trillion budget plan that will plunge the nation deeper into the red. But again he paired the proposal with a new promise, to cut the deficit by more than half by the end of his first term.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/
21/washington/AP-Rhetoric-Reality-Analys
is.html?_r=1

Obama using recession to justify largest expansion of federal authority ever; U.S. less safe

March 15, 2009

Good for Politico and CNN for going after and getting this interview and story…..

John Harris of Politico said today on Fox News, “Even people of his own party are wondering how we can advance the Obama agenda.”

********************

Vice President Cheney charged Sunday morning on CNN that President Obama is using the recession “to try to justify” what is probably the largest expansion of federal authority “in the history of the Republic.”

By Mike Allen
Politico

“I worry a lot that that they’re using the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government, and much more authority for the government over the private sector,” Cheney said in his first television interview since leaving office. “I don’t think that’s good. I don’t think that’s going to solve the problem.”

Speaking to host John King on “State of the Union,” Cheney said he think the programs Obama has proposed “in health care, in energy and so forth constitute probably the biggest – or one of the biggest – expansions of federal authority over the private economy in the history of the Republic.”

“I worry very much that what is being done here is saying, ‘We’ve got an economic crisis, there’s we’re fundamentally the health program in America,’” Cheney said. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Cheney has been largely out of sight for the past two months, as he and his wife, Lynne, set up their new home in Northern Virginia. But as he was in a recent interview with POLITICO, Cheney is still free with his opinions and much more aggressive in defending the administration’s legacy than President Bush has been so far.

Cheney pushed back against effort by Democrats to blame President Bush for the current economic valley, saying the Bush administration is not responsible “for the creation of those circumstances.”

“I think there’s no question but what the economic circumstances that he inherited are difficult ones,” Cheney said. We said that before we left. I don’t think you can blame the Bush administration for the creation of those circumstances. It’s a global financial problem.

Read the rest:
http://www.politico.com/new
s/stories/0309/20013.html

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLI
TICS/03/15/cheney.interview/ind
ex.html#cnnSTCText

"We've accomplished nearly everything we set out to do," ex-Vice President Dick Cheney says Sunday about Iraq.

“We’ve accomplished nearly everything we set out to do,” ex-Vice President Dick Cheney says Sunday about Iraq.

Cheney also worried about “terrorism” and “terrorists,” words Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano can’t even say….
http://spectator.org/archives/2009/0
3/13/eyes-shut-at-homeland-security

Related:

Obama wants to ‘discuss’ with Taliban? Taliban threatens to kill aid workers

 Rosy Talk From Obama and Gang is BS

 Obama, Biden Chat Up Economy; Congress Talking “Stimulus II”

Obama: Fire Geithner

 Obama: Stop Thinking About What Might Be Gained; Think What May Certainly Be Lost

Obama Could Lose Afghanistan, Pakistan

March 13, 2009

After 52 days, it is starting to look like President Obama wcould roll back America’s strategic place in the world faster than anyone since Napoleon fled from Moscow to Paris.

Obama has established himself as the outreach and diplomacy president in a world that mostly understands thunder and power.

And General David Petraeus says more U.S. troops and power are not the solution in Afghanistan anyway.

Gen. Petraeus: No Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan

As North Korea threatened to both launch a long range missile and go to war this week, the White House almost shrugged and said “never mind.”  Spokesmen even said the U.S. had no intention of shooting the North Korean missile down.  This after America’s commander in the Pacific, Admiral Keating, said his boys WOULD shoot it down.

Finally, Japan has said in disgust it would shoot the darned thing down.

Hillary Clinton, already the subject of talk for a bone-headed gift to her Russian equal, Mr. Lavrov, said the U.S. “had a lot of options” with North Korea.

With China sparking an at sea incident; Washington gave the same kind of response.  The strategic yawn.

The U.S. is even rolling back on its human rights criticisms of China — just as China is expressing doubts at buying more U.S. debt.

Hmmmm.

While these shrugs and yawns may be appropriate, the situation in Afghanistan, where the president is adding troops and lowering expectations and goals, is troubling.

A key air bas, Manas, in Kyrgyzstan is already apparently lost in a move by Russia.

Analysts: Russia outmaneuvered U.S. over air base

Terrorist Taliban forces now surround Kabul, and Afghan government sources say the city could be under seige “at any time.”

Moin Ansari says on his web site, “The US is leaving Afghanistan. Only the details of the withdrawal and the schedule of the return is to announced. A massive campaign will be launched to obfuscate the defeat with face saving measures like the ones implemented in Iraq.”

As for Afghanistan, Mr. Ralph Peters, once a “Surger,” is now an “Exiter“.

Mr. Peter’s four possibilities can be listed as choices between an exit strategy or a hasty retreat after the defeat. We see it as follows:

1) Plan an exist strategy and leave with dignity now or

2) Wait for the Taliban to run over Karzai’s forbidden city

The ranks of the “Exiters” from Afghanistan is surging because of several interlinked factors—the economy and China. Both are inter-related and the dependencies weigh heavy on the White House. Why the US gave up India as a Strategic partner? Without China’s help, the USA cannot sustain the bailouts or hope for a recovery. China is willing to give the US a reprieve, but may have a couple of strings attached. China will exact a price. It seems that Beijing at this point will require a pullout from Afghanistan and the resolution of Kashmir. We have always considered Kashmir as the silent “K” in Holbrooke’s mission. India’s worst nightmares come true: Long term strategic malaise in a changing world . The People’s Daily leaves no doubt that the resolution of Kashmir is not simply a “nice to have” on the “wish list” of Mr. Holbrooke–it a mandated requirement-China’s pound of flesh for agreeing to buy American T-Bonds. India feels the pain: The US begs Beijing for money

Pakistan’s turmoil continues and if Afghanistan falls, Pakistan will likely follow….

Military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani urged Pakistan’s President Zardari to agree to some demands of protesters, in the first insertion of the military into the government in over a year.

Pakistan Military Chief Pushes President to Yield to Demonstrators’ Demands

The new Obama plan reportedly calls for more effort from Pakistan to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda forces; which seems impossible given the internal politics of  Pakistan at present….

Related:
http://rupeenews.com/2009/03/12
/beyond-us-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03
/13/obama-to-re-brand-enemy-combatants/

The war on “terror” is verbally and virtually over…
Obama bans term “enemy combatant,” joins “terrorist” in unusable list

China:
Obama Backs-Off On Human Rights Issues: Economy is That Important

 Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

Obama’s Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth

China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S

Pakistan: Circling The Drain?
.
U.S. Urges Calm inPakistan:
http://urdunews.wordpress.com/20
09/03/13/us-appeals-for-calm-in-pakistan/

.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated and may worsen this year in the face of a renewed Taliban insurgency, the U.N. chief said in a report published Friday.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report to the Security Council on U.N. activities in Afghanistan that 2009 would be a critical year. He added there were reasons for medium-term optimism.

“The government, security forces and population of Afghanistan, along with its international partners, face a critical test in 2009,” the report said.

“Security has continued to deteriorate. The results of government and international aid efforts have fallen short of popular expectations as Afghans suffer the effects of drought and a global rise in food prices.”

Violence is at its highest level in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/200
90313/wl_nm/us_afghan_un_1

By ANNE GEARAN and ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration expects to announce new objectives for the flagging war in Afghanistan as soon as next week that place an onus on next-door Pakistan to contain extremism, defense and administration officials said Thursday.

The White House objectives were expected to roughly parallel 15 goals contained in a 20-page classified report to the White House from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Among them were getting rid of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and adopting a regional approach to reducing the threat of terrorism and extremism in both countries.

“We’re just about done,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said in an interview with PBS’ “The Charlie Rose Show” on Thursday.

The review addresses “the safe haven in Pakistan, making sure that Afghanistan doesn’t provide a capability in the long run or an environment in which al-Qaida could return or the Taliban could return,” Mullen said, as well as the need for stability, economic development and better governance in Afghanistan, and the development of the Afghan armed forces.

An administration official said that although the review was not complete, one thrust was that Pakistan needed to recognize that combating extremism was in its own interest as well as that of U.S.- and NATO fighting forces across the border in Afghanistan. The official, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because the review was not complete.

President Barack Obama was expected to explain the redrawn U.S. objectives to NATO allies when he attends a NATO summit in Europe next month.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200903
13/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_afghanistan_7

Emerging Obama Doctrine

March 11, 2009

As President Obama carves out his own foreign policy, there are signs that his use of military force overseas will be tempered by his views on the limits of American power.

Mr. Obama is leaning toward a pragmatic approach that limits military deployment of the kind used by former President Bush in the “war on terror,” while remaining open to humanitarian aid and security training, especially in places such as Darfur. This approach departs from Mr. Bush but also synthesizes policy elements from Bush’s later years.

By Gordon Lubold
Christian Science Monitor

“It is a very balanced, pragmatic understanding that America’s interests and her ideals don’t always coincide and so you have to make some trade-offs,” says John Nagl, a former Army officer who now heads the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington.

To a degree, Bush had come round to something resembling that position during his second term, as his administration began to recalibrate US goals amid the realities of two wars.

Obama’s top-to-bottom review of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for instance, is expected to yield a downscaled agenda there. And while Obama has established an end date for US combat troops in Iraq – something Bush did not do – he’ll keep those forces there longer than he had initially wanted because of recommendations of the Pentagon, and despite the misgivings in his own party.

Obama has also broken from the previous administration by reaching out diplomatically to countries such as Iran and Syria, which have had fraught relations with the Bush White House.

An Obama doctrine?

In a speech announcing his drawdown plan for Iraq earlier this month, the president painted some broad brush strokes of an “Obama Doctrine” concerning use of force overseas.

The US must not rely on the military alone to achieve its foreign policy ends, he said. And if the US does need to take military action, it must do so only after seeking bipartisan support and after working closely with “friends and allies,” he added.

“We have learned that America must go to war with clearly defined goals,” he told the crowd of marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“We have learned that we must always weigh the costs of action, and communicate those costs candidly to the American people.”

“Policymakers and military leaders have learned a great deal about the employment of American power, and the costs and risks of doing so and I think that is reflected in the president’s remarks,” says Nathan Freier, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another think tank in Washington.

Moreover, in reaching out to Iran and Syria – two countries the Bush administration would not talk to – Obama is not necessarily looking to impose American ideals of democracy and freedom.

“There is business we have to do with those states to keep America safe and so to a certain extent, we hold our nose, we try to nudge them forward on issues of human rights and democracy promotion, but we understand we’re not always going to win that fight and there are other issues on the table,” says Mr. Nagl.

Similarly, despite an escalation of troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested that the US will scale back on their goals there, from achieving a full-fledged stable democracy to achieving a semblance of security.

Read the rest:
http://features.csmonitor.com/politics
/2009/03/10/the-emerging-obama-doctrine/

U.S. Rebukes U.N. Official for Sharp Words

March 11, 2009

Barack Obama told supporters last October:  “I promise you. We won’t just win New Hampshire. We will win this election and, you and I together, we’re going to change the country and change the world.”

Key to that Messianic world changing goal for Obams has always been a full embrace of the U.N. and internationalism.  Obama’s Ambassador to the U.N. is one of his most liberal advisors and a firm believer in the U.N. as an arbiter of what’s best for the world.

 Obama, The U.N. and Susan Rice

But now maybe some new perspective is being applied at the Obama White House…..

*****************

By Colum Lynch
The Washington Post

The Obama administration scolded the president of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, saying that his frequent public attacks against the United States and Israel are undercutting the standing of the world’s most representative body.

The rebuke comes one day after Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann lashed out at the United States during a visit to Tehran, where he met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials. The leftist Nicaraguan priest and diplomat defended Iran’s nuclear program as peaceful and said the United States has not cooperated with other countries at the United Nations, according to Iranian news reports.

Last week, d’Escoto also criticized the U.S. imprisonment of five Cuban agents convicted on espionage charges in 2001, and he urged the United Nations’ Geneva-based Human Rights Council to look into alleged human rights abuses by U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, charging that “there are over 1 million civilian deaths in Iraq as a direct result of the U.S.-led aggression and occupation.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/cont
ent/article/2009/03/10/AR2009031003364
.html?hpid=artslot

Never Wrong? U.S. Intelligence Says Iran Does Not Nave Any Highly Enriched Uranium

March 11, 2009

Didn’t our national security team miss the current global economic, what’s the president call it?  Catastrophe?  Just in the last few weeks, the global economy was added to the president’s daily national security brief: too late.

Now our U.S. intelligence assessment is that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium. 

“We assess now that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium,” said Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.

But what if he’s wrong?  Hasn’t our intelligence community been wrong before?

Did they predict September 11 and the death of 3,000 Americans?

Didn’t the United States invade Iraq based upon a sure national security warning which was wrong?  Didn’t our national security team miss the impending fall of the Soviet Union?

The mistakes made by our national security team have had far reaching impact and have been much more significant in recent times than its successes.

The Times (London) reported today that a former Gitmo prison inmate was again killing U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan.  “The revelation of Rasoul’s return to the battlefield underscores the challenges faced by the Obama administration in carrying out its vow to close Guantanamo, and raises fresh questions about the quality of American intelligence….”

On Iran and its ability to make a nuclear weapon, what if they are wrong?  What will that do to Israel, to world relations and to our national security?

Did our national security team know North Korea had a nuclear bomb?  India?  Pakistan?  Did they know that A.Q. Khan was selling nuclear secrets all over the place?

Did our national security team know that those relesed from Gitmo would end up fighting the United States again?

Pardon me but I take no solace from yesterday’s national security assessment on Iran’s nuclear potential.

I’ll bet Israel doesn’t either….

On March 8, 2009, Israel’s Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, who told the cabinet on Sunday that Iran had “crossed the technological threshold” and that its attainment of  nuclear military capability was now a matter of “incorporating the goal of producing an atomic bomb to its strategy.”

File:Amos Yadlin.jpg
Amos Yadlin

Israeli’s view the possible development of a nuclear weapon in Iran as a life and deth proposition for Israel.  They are not comforted by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad when he says the Holocaust didn’t happen, the Zionist State (Ahmadinejad refuses to say the word “Israel”) is illigitimate and Israel should be removed from the world’s map.  And Israeli’s have been lied to in negotiations so often — and then attacked — that they put little stock in negotiations.

But the new U.S. president is sure he can negotiate for them with Syria, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, even the Taliban.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Israel’s took little comfort in President Obama and in the estimates of his national security team.

And you’ll have to pardon Israel if some there believe that U.S. intelligence may sometimes be politicized.  Obama’s seclection of known anti-Israel advocate Charles Freemanto be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council was proof enough for Israel.

This is life and death stuff in Israel.  It isn’t clear yet that this is life and death to the Obama Administration which is waging war against Rush Limbaugh and eliminating the word terrorism from the government lexicon….

Related:
 Obama’s Next Challenge: Iran, Israel, Russia? It’s Here Now

Obama Policy On Gitmo, Taliban, Afghanistan, Intel: As Stupid as It Gets

Obama’s Anti-Israel, Pro-China Intel Pick Freeman Withdraws

http://libertyjustincase.com/200
9/03/11/prisoner-8/

PTSD and Senior Military Officers

March 7, 2009

Anyone can suffer from the torment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I spoke to a retired General Officer just today who suffers from PTSD.  He was in a huge battle in Vietnam in 1968.

CNN has a story about how Generals returning from Iraq want the Army to handle PTSD which is very insightful.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03
/06/generals.ptsd/index.html

Brig. Gen. Gary S. Patton says he wants the military to change the way it views post-traumatic stress disorder.

Brig. Gen. Gary S. Patton says he wants the military to change the way it views post-traumatic stress disorder.

I wrote a six part series on PTSD and below is what I found among senior officers:
.
Very little is written about the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the “Commander, “ meaning Field Grade Officers and above.

Company Grade Officers, Captains and below, are generally believed to be impacted by PTSD about the same way as their combat GI’s. But the officers in the rank of Major and above experience war from a different vantage point: they send men into destruction, make the plans that lead to horrific death, and bring together the fighting forces that create the nightmares and the ghosts the poet in Part II refers to.

The Commanders leave the battlefield and return to a very different life from that encountered by the junior enlisted men. The Commanders are unlikely to be eating in soup kitchens, seeking treatment from the VA, or ending up in shelters.

The Commanders are almost always highly educated with families and money to fall back on. Therefore, after the Commander leave the battlefield, they bypass the normal PTSD “tracking system” of VA statistical analyses.

So how do we know about The Commanders and their PTSD experience?

Well, what we know is mostly anecdotal.

Peace and Freedom sought out the Commanders through research in the Northern Virginia community of Vietnam war veterans. The officers interviewed, all now retired, were brigade and battalion commanders, pilots and air wing commanders, ship Commanding Officers and the like. One was a Navy SEAL, two were green Berets, one a Marine Colonel.

The Commanders told us that they, like the front line combat soldiers, felt PTSD very deeply but that their place in the community generally shielded their lives from any public scrutiny. Many told us they suffered from alcoholism or alcohol abuse and one even told us he was addicted to drugs.

The Commanders generally lived their lives in a very structured, orderly environment. Therefore, more so than with the frontline combat veterans, these veterans have a low incidence of DUI, public drunkenness and other aberrant behaviors that might involve the police.

One Vietnam Veteran Commander, Mike, said to us, “The Commanders, as you call us, are just as sick, just as disassociated, just as traumatized by war as the guy who led a platoon, maybe more so. I figure I sent about 800 men to their deaths and that doesn’t sit well with me. Moreover, I came home to an America I couldn’t understand. I guess when you think about it, I left the United States for Korea and the Army in the early 1950s. When I got back to Virginia in the early 1980s and looked around — I was in a foreign country. Nobody much understood me. Nobody much had any use for me. And I couldn’t relate to many people or many things in my environment.”

What did you do? I asked him.

“Well, I drank for a few years because I could and then I decided God still had some things for me to do. I joined the church, got involved in a lot of activities, and so it goes.”

What activities?

“I am the President of the Church Council, I drive for Meals of Wheels, I dance one night a week, I teach college one night a week, I take my dog to the hospital to amuse patients on Wednesdays, that sort of thing. It keeps the mind active and helps the community a little I guess.”

Mike is now 77 years young and still going strong.

Sam graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1965. As a young Lieutenant he led a platoon in Vietnam, then a Company, and then, as a Major he served in a staff.

“I guess I am more like a GI than most of the guys you refer to as ‘commanders,’” Sam told us.

“But I did witness the anguish up close of a General Officer who had to put these wonderful young men into combat. All pay-grades suffer PTSD. It is just that senior officers don’t readily admit to it. It tears them up inside and often tears their lives up, tears up their families. Often senior officers who have returned from combat have trouble relating to people, even their own wives and children. They suffer and relive the war and the battles alone. Mentally, what I’ve seen, there seems to be a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease and that sort of thing as they age. I know there are no statistics on this but I feel I am right. I know it is true.”

George told us, “I was the guy who shook the hand of the soldier, the young sergeant and their captain. Then I had the unfortunate duty to send them to their ends. Then I had to tell their families what I had done. War hurts every participant. Sometimes I think it is the lucky one who died.”

John E. Carey

Read Part I at:
http://johnib.wordpress.com/2007/02/15/war-wounds
-of-the-mind-part-i-historical-perspective-on-ptsd/

Read Part II at:
http://johnib.wordpress.com/2007/02/16/war-
wounds-of-the-mind-part-ii-discussions-with-p
tsd-sufferers/

My blog on PTSD:
http://johnib.wordpress.com/category/po
st-traumatic-stress-disorder/

Part IV:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/ope
dne_john_car_070221_war_wounds_o
f_the_mi.htm

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

Health Care: Totally Fair, Equal and Socialists is Good, Right?

February 13, 2009

If health care modernization was easy, Hillary Clinton would have solved our problems some sixteen years ago.  Now she is at the State Department with only monor issues to deal with: China, Russia, North Korea, the Middle East, Afghanistan and other small fry….. Of course she has help from George Mitchell, Susan Rice and Richard Holbrooke.  Even Henry Kissinger will lend a hand.

But health care remains and now without Tom Daschle.

Here is the latest from health care in Britain:

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Patients suffering from the same illness in the same hospital ward could get different drugs under a new top-up scheme, a senior health official admitted yesterday.

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Telegraph (UK)

Guidance adopted last year means patients can choose to pay for drugs not provided by the NHS without losing their entitlement to have the rest of their care on the NHS.

It led to fears of a two-tier NHS where those who can afford to pay get better treatment, although the Government has always denied that this will occur.

Dr Peter Carter, the chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, has previously said: “We do not want to face a situation where two patients in neighbouring beds can be offered different menus of treatment, based solely on their ability to pay.”

However, Una O’Brien, the director of policy and strategy for the Department of Health, admitted to MPs that there was a theoretical chance this could happen.

It is believed to be the first time an official has made such and admission.

When asked by Kevin Baron, the chairman of the Commons health select committee whether patients on the same ward could receive different drugs based on their ability to pay, Ms O’Brien said: “I think it is a theoretical possibility but I would stress that the thrust of the policy overall is to reduce the circumstances in which that would ever arise.”

Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, ordered a review of top-ups following a public outcry over the case of Linda O’Boyle, 64, from Essex, who died last year after being told that she was no longer eligible for free NHS care because she had purchased an expensive bowel cancer drug privately.

The Government subsequently announced that patients who choose to buy drugs deemed too expensive for the NHS would no longer lose their right to free health service care.

Prof Mike Richards, who led the Government review, said that when a cancer patient chooses to buy a drug not available on the NHS it should be administered separately from their NHS care.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/46
05605/Two-tier-care-a-reality-health-chief-admits.html

Will Obama Defend Iraq’s Gains?

February 13, 2009

Preoccupied as it was poring over Tom Daschle’s tax returns, Washington hardly noticed a near-miracle abroad. Iraq held provincial elections. There was no Election Day violence. Security was handled by Iraqi forces with little U.S. involvement. A fabulous bazaar of 14,400 candidates representing 400 parties participated, yielding results highly favorable to both Iraq and the United States.

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post

Iraq moved away from religious sectarianism toward more secular nationalism. “All the parties that had the words ‘Islamic’ or ‘Arab’ in their names lost,” noted Middle East expert Amir Taheri. “By contrast, all those that had the words ‘Iraq’ or ‘Iraqi’ gained.”
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went from leader of a small Islamic party to leader of the “State of Law Party,” campaigning on security and secular nationalism. He won a smashing victory. His chief rival, a more sectarian and pro-Iranian Shiite religious party, was devastated. Another major Islamic party, the pro-Iranian Sadr faction, went from 11 percent of the vote to 3 percent, losing badly in its stronghold of Baghdad. The Islamic Fadhila party that had dominated Basra was almost wiped out.

The once-dominant Sunni party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the erstwhile insurgency was badly set back. New grass-roots tribal (“Awakening”) and secular Sunni leaders emerged.

All this barely pierced the consciousness of official Washington. After all, it fundamentally contradicts the general establishment/media narrative of Iraq as “fiasco.”

read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conten
t/article/2009/02/12/AR2009021203012.htm
l?hpid=opinionsbox1