The New Thirty Years War…and then some

Here is my latest book review.  It is Andrew Bacevich’s new book on the history of the War in the Greater Middle which can be purchased here.

Andrew Bacevich has written a brilliant history in a nutshell of our adventures in the greater Middle East which began in earnest with President Carter’s aiding Afghan rebels against the Soviets in 1980. Since that time we have gone from one intervention to another in ensuring that we have access to oil and project the American dominance over the world as the sole superpower.

Bacevich shows us that the vacillation on the part of our leaders and disrupting the lives of many people in that part of the world in many instances have cost numerous lives there, resulted in the maiming and killing of many of our soldiers and has put a tremendous drain on our government budgets over the last 30 years. Events in Iran, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Somalia and many other countries are discussed with brief yet precise aplomb. Iran-Contra for instance is shown by the author as an instance where we were on both sides which the government did in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The author breaks down the Gulf War in four phases. The aforementioned Gulf War of the 1980s, the conflict in Desert Storm in 1991-1992, the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the recent conflict with ISIS. In essence, this has been the new Thirty Years War and the result has been hundreds of thousands of dead, broken infrastructure, massive division of countries and bitterness from locals. Today, as Bacevich notes, the American people no longer want to hear about incidents in that part of the world, preferring to put such things down the memory hole. Yet, the fight still rages on and will do so for years to come.

Bacevich gives four sound reasons for the war in the greater Middle East being perpetrated with no end in sight. The first reason is that neither party has a strong anti-war or anti-interventionist wing within their parties; this should be a surprise to many. The second is that many candidates prefer to “support the troops” than to question the reasons for the war’s continuation. The third reason, the most sinister in my opinion, is that some sectors of the government and private sector benefit financially from the war’s continuance. The final reason is that American citizens seem not to care and that they wish for deficit spending to cover this campaign and lay the debts on future generations. As the author concludes his book, he states that Americans are in a deep slumber and that they are in for a rude awakening. I couldn’t agree more.

A Giant in Bravery and Courage

This is a review of a book that I just posted on Amazon on the experiences of Witold Pilecki, a Polish army officer who volunteered to go to Auschwitz:

In an era where the word “hero” is bandied about a little too much, one can go back to an era where bravery and heroism was done by people who went above and beyond the call of duty.  In this book, the report of Captain Witold Pilecki on his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp in what is now western Poland is told with stunning clarity and anguish. 

By intentionally involving himself in a roundup by SS officers, he undertook a mission to go inside Auschwitz to see how the camp was being run and to buildup resistance among the Poles who were detained there. Throughout the report, he told of great hardship where “capos” and SS men were extraordinarily cruel to the prisoners where men were put into “commandos” and essentially worked to death (finished off).  Pilecki survived in part by conserving his energy during the ordeal and using his wits to obtain better jobs in the camp that involve lighter labor.

He recorded all of the great horrors of the camp including Soviet prisoners being exterminated all at once with gas and men and women being given phenol injections to procure agonizing deaths.  Others were given too little of the drug and were burned alive in the oven.  Jews were the main targets of these atrocities, but Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs and to a certain extent Catholic priests had a share in this horror.

After being informed that he might be sent to a harsher camp where he might not survive, he planned his escape in April 1943 and accomplished it with a large amount of suspense and drama.  He escaped to the “General government” area east of Krakow where he met men of the Polish Home Army and reported his findings.   The final tragedy was to come several years later at the hands of his own countrymen who embraced the Soviet government and tried him as a spy.  Nonetheless, this story which is contained in this book should be read by all who look for men who were giants.   A brilliant book with a short introduction and informative appendices.

 

Romney’s stupid move

The circus that is the 2016 Presidential primary continues apace with special speech made by Mitt Romney in Salt Lake City this afternoon.   Trump’s flaws are well-known with his advocacy of universal health care, invasion of privacy and abuses of due process as brilliantly summarized by Bruce Fein in the Washington Times.   Nevertheless, as of this writing, he leads in the polls and in delegates and stands a good chance to win the nomination.  What has made him so attractive is his stand as an outsider and that he is a man that is not beholden to special as he has funded his own campaign.  It is also a known fact that the public has gradually come to the realization that the men in Washington have thrown them under the bus and that they are more interested in serving lobbyists in the DC suburbs than hearing the people.  Trump has tapped into this discontent with maximum effect.

Into this campaign stepped Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee for President.  In his ineptitude, he has thrown gasoline on the fire as he said some of these whoppers:

His tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even though Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families.

Where has this man been in the last decade?  It was the GOP Congress that gave us Medicare Part D that aggravated the deficit and it was Romney’s allies like John McCain and Lindsay Graham that voted to bail out the big banks that sent the debt into the stratosphere.   The GOP Congress under Speaker Ryan has abandoned any pretense of capping spending by eliminating the sequester in early 2015 and setting the stage for larger deficits in the future.  Romney should just be quiet and stop talking about plans.

Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country.

Again, the irony is stunning.  Our government has constantly aggravated the situation by engaging in Wilsonian nation building and arming rebels that are intent on overthrowing Assad and creating an ISIS stronghold.  We arm the Saudis to the tune of $60 billion and they have used those weapons to kill their enemies in Yemen.    You talk about bombast?  We chant USA!!  USA!!  USA!! as if our country is the only one that matters in this world.

I can go on and on, but the clear facts are that we are $20 trillion in debt, our civil liberties are in great peril and the remaining candidates have no clue on how to get us out of this mess.  Romney’s words might be the stuff of eloquence, but in the hands of “competent” people, we are fast approaching national bankruptcy.  Trump is not the solution, but who is?  Time to stop the world saving and let’s concentrate on home and hearth.

The ghost of conscription

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Those words were added into the United States Constitution via the 13th Amendment which ended the formal institution of slavery after the end of the Civil War (War Between the States).  The irony of this action was that just two years before, the United Stated Congress pass the first conscription act in American history.  In essence, it meant that men being were being enslaved by the government in order for the army to free others from slavery…or so we were told.  From this time forward, the draft was used at various times in our history where men had to leave their farms and places of work to fight overseas.

In 1973, President Nixon pulled the plug on the draft and service in military once again became something that was voluntary.  A holdover from the days of the draft still remains with us and that is the Selective Service Act where men ages 18 to 25 must register with the Selective Service System.  It is possible that Congress can call a draft overnight and its odious whiff  will be once again with us.

With the involvement of women in combat, a even uglier aspect of the draft has surfaced where top men in the Army and Marine Corps recommended that women register for Selective Service as well.   It is becoming clear that our country is convulsing in a orgy of egalitarianism and that the call of women to participate in the draft is a sign that our culture is becoming more degraded every day.  Let’s end this foolishness of the draft and relegate it to the dustbin of history.

Misery at the GOP debate in South Carolina

Last night was a night to forget in terms of looking for a candidate at the debate to reduce the size of government and give us more liberty.    It is a given that serious cuts will have to be made, but with no commitment to reduce Social Security or eliminating gargantuan programs, the only only place that one could cut is the military.  Yet, what we heard from the candidates was the cacophonous refrain of “We need to rebuild our military.”  I must ask “with what?”  We are in serious debt to the tune of almost $19 trillion and going up every day and we are in areas of the world that we should have left over 25 years ago once the Cold War was over.  Why are we subsidizing the defense for Western Europe?  South Korea?  With their economies, they could very well handle more spending in their budgets for their defense.   Should we be in the position of supreme leadership in the world as Jeb Bush suggested?  His suggestion that  “We have to eliminate the sequester”  is a a sign that this game is over.  As Mark Kreslins stated so well:  “DC cannot save DC.”