Afghanistan

Not Funny

Mad Magzine goes full wingnut

And when I say it is "not funny", I mean it lacks humor.  It's suypposed to be a spoof of Saving Private Ryan, but it's such a stretch (Ryan and Bergdahl sound nothing alike).

I haven't really commented on the Bergdahl story, largely because its more bullshit right wingnut outrage.  

First of all, we have always negotiated for the safe return of captured soldiers and citizens.  Prisoner swaps have been around forever. George Washington arranged them in the Revolutionary War. And I don't think anyone has ever suggested that they not be done on the basis of the soldier's political leanings or the suspicion they might have deserted. And these Guantanamo prisoners aren't al-Qaeda, they're Taliban, enemy soldiers in the Afghan War. They are no different than the Nazis we swapped or the Japanese prisoners of war. They aren't supermen.   

Secondly, it makes me sick how the right is going full-on against this soldier.  On the front page of the Breitbart “News” Network, we currently find at least eighteen articles ranting about Sgt. Bergdahl.  And on HotAir’s front page, it’s even more ridiculous. As I write this, I count at least twenty-four articles bashing Bergdahl, his father, his father’s beard, and of course, President Obama — because Obama is very obviously the real target, and Bergdahl and his family are just collateral damage to these hateful assholes.

It’s Not Over

CNN:

The death of a U.S. Marine in southern Afghan combat has ushered in a grim milestone.

Cpl. Taylor J. Baune of Andover, Minnesota, is the 2,000th American to die in Operation Enduring Freedom, the name for what the Bush administration characterized as the "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

 

The Afghanistan Decision

Yesterday, Barack Obama had Michael Moore attacking his Afghanistan troop buildup from the left, in an open letter posted on his Web site ("If you go to West Point tomorrow night … and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, … you will do the worst possible thing you could do…"), and today, as he's about to announce that Afghanistan policy, he's being slammed from the right (on Afghanistan and other issues) in Dick Cheney's Politico interview ("Every time he delays, defers, debates, changes his position, it begins to raise questions: Is the commander in chief really behind what they've been asked to do?").

So nobody at the extremes is happy.  (That said, Cheney is a dick.)

I'm willing to cut the President a little slack here.  Afghanistan was the war we should have been fighting after 9/11, not Iraq.  Had that been our primary focus from day one, then OBL wouldn't have slipped through our fingers (what say you to that, Cheney?).  Getting bin Laden isn't possible now (not in Afghanistan anyway), but knocking the Taliban out of power is an important goal, assuming it is not a fool's errand.  Still, I'll have to hear more.

FURTHER THOUGHT:  Hesaid he was going to do this during the campaign, by the way, so I don't quite understand why so many are surprised and/or disappointed.

In Which I Get All Politically Incorrect And Puffed Up About Veteran’s Day

You know what?  I'm not going to go up to a veteran and thank him for protecting my freedom.

You know why?  Because unless he is a hundred years old, chances are that that ex-soldier didn't do a damn thing to preserve and protect my freedom.

Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who choose to enter the service.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who put their life on the line in service to their country (even when their service takes place in wars and conflicts with which I strongly disagree).

In fact, I respect and admire so much what our armed forces do, that I get a sense of outrage or… or… something… when they get patronized from the mouths of people who apparently overstate what soldiers do.

Because, in point of fact, soldiers do not preserve our freedoms.  To do so, our freedoms have to be under attack.  And I am hard-pressed to think of a war since the Civil War when this was an issue.  You know who preserves our freedom?  The same people who enshrined our freedoms in the Constitution — lawyers, activists, politicians.  Civil rights workers, the ACLU, etc.  Not the 82nd Armored Division.

It's true!  Take one freedom — say, free speech, embodied in the First Amendment.  Now tell me the soldier, the unit, the branch of the military in which that freedom was "preserved".  Tell me the war, and identify the enemy who was attacking free speech in the first place.  You see what I mean?

"Ah," you say.  "But what about national defense?  Certainly, soldiers provide for our national defense."

No argument there, but when was our national defense breached to such an extent that our freedoms were threatened?  Not 9/11.  Yeah, 3,000 people were killed by al Qaeda, but did al Qaeda even target, much less threaten, freedom of speech?  Of course not.  The terrorists took lives, not freedoms.  And but for the Bush administration circumventing the Constitution here and there, our First Amendment freedoms are as they were on September 10, 2001.

Even with WWII, could Hitler and Japan have actually conquered the United States and maintained control over it, such that we would lose our freedoms?  Personally, I don't think it was possible, and not because of our WWII soldiers at the time, but because the world is too big and the German army was too small.  We would have, at worst, lost our sovereignty, which is not the same thing as losing our freedoms.

All I am saying here folks is, let's get real.  Most of the wars and conflicts in the last century and this one were wars to protect American geopolitical interests — those interests of the country as determined by its Commander in Chief — and were not wars to protect the freedoms of American's citizenry.  Korea?  Vietnam?  The Gulf War?  Iraq?  Afghanistan?  Panama?  They were wars for land, to prevent aggression, to combat ideologies, and lots of other things, but NOT to "preserve our freedom"  What freedom would you have lost had those wars been losses?

So thank a soldier for his sacrifices.  Her valor.  His dedication. Her willingness to risk her life.  But don't patronize what they do by saying they "protect our freedoms", because — unless you happen to be saying that with respect to George Washington or General Grant — that kind of praise is nothing more than mindless Sarah Palinesque "look-how-great-I-am-because-I-am-pro-military" pablum.  Frankly, our soldiers deserve better — meaning, more thoughtful – commendation than that.

Fort Hood Shooting

I guess everyone will have their own theories about why Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, killing 13, and wounding dozens.

How much of it had to do with the fact that he was a Muslim?

How much of it had to do with the fact that he was taunted as a Muslim?

How much of it had to do with his apparent opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars?

How much of it had to do with his pending deployment to Afghanistan?

How much of it had to do with his familiarity, as a psychiatrist, of the horrors of war and PTSD?

Experts will scour the Internet looking for clues, people will be interviewed, etc.  Hopefully, over time, a clearer picture can be drawn.  In the meantime, one could play these guessing games forever, and I supposed one's speculation at this point says more about the speculator than Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.