Our national guard
Saturday, 10:42 pm
I just returned from a picnic. Lots of good food and beverage. For the most part conversation was generalized, but someone brought up the disposition of our local national guard who have just been called up and shipped out to train at a base somewhere in the upper mid-west, I think.
Sometimes I miss a lot by not getting the local newspaper. Apparently, a week or so ago, there was a big spread about the local national guard and where they were going (Iraq) and what they are going to do when they get there.
Our national guard unit...the 182nd something or other...are called sappers. They are the front line guys who search out and take apart IEDs. Obviously, there isn’t a job in Iraq that is fraught with much more danger since it appears that IEDs are the things that kill most of our troops.
There was a big ceremony at the middle school the night before they left. I think it was about a week ago. I didn’t know about it and missed it. I certainly would have gone to lend my support if I had known. I feel badly about that. These are our homies and, while we don’t like to think about it, I don’t think there are any who believe that what these guys are doing will bring all of them home in one piece. From what I understand, that knowledge made the ceremony very emotional.
Now the national guard unit has put out a bulletin that they desperately need volunteers to train to do what the national guard is supposed to do at home. We live in an area where we are prone to wicked coastal storms that require a lot of sandbagging and evacuations and certain other engineering expertise. With the national guard gone, there aren’t any people who are trained to step into the void.
So the armory has asked local citizens to volunteer for training. I think I’ll contact them this week to see if there is anything I can do. I guess I can fill sand bags as well as the next person. I’m not an engineer, but I can shovel sand.
I can also do my best to support the families who have been left behind without a whole lot of resources. It’s a community thing and I hope that the outpouring of support that is apparent by the newspaper articles and letters to the editor is the same in other communities. It’s remarkably heartwarming, maybe comforting, to see the plans to keep the families in the community’s spotlight...to make sure they have what they need.
I’ve been here a long time now, but until today, I never knew what the local national guard’s specialty was. They are engineers with explosives expertise and they are definitely needed. I just wish they weren’t needed where they are going.
Merry Christmas, not!
Friday, 12:54 pm
I just learned that my nephew is being sent back to Iraq on January 20th for his second tour of duty. Marine Captain. He’s on leave until January 7th and home for the holidays. That’s a tough Christmas for his parents, proud as they are of him. Fear lives in the gut and doesn’t go away. They all need to come home. Now.
Friday, 5:17 am
al-Zarqawi killed on Wednesday, matted and framed on Thursday.
photo credit: Ceerwan Aziz/Reuters
Straw man logic
Wednesday, 11:57 pm
Excerpt from the President’s speech yesterday from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington:
The stakes in Iraq are high, and we will not leave until victory has been achieved. (Applause.) Today there’s an intense debate about the importance of Iraq to the war on terror. The constant headlines about car bombings and killings have led some to ask whether our presence in Iraq has made America less secure. This view presumes that if we were not in Iraq, the terrorists would be leaving us alone. The reality is that the terrorists have been targeting America for years, long before we ever set foot in Iraq.
We were not in Iraq in 1993, when the terrorists tried to blow up the World Trade Center in New York. We were not in Iraq in 1998, when the terrorists bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We were not in Iraq in 2000, when the terrorists killed 17 American sailors aboard the USS Cole. There wasn’t a single American soldier in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, when the terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 people in the worst attack on our home since Pearl Harbor.
These acts are part of a grand strategy by the terrorists. Their stated objective is to drive the United States and coalition forces out of the Middle East so they can gain control of Iraq and use that country as a base from which to launch attacks against America, overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that stretches from Spain to Indonesia. Hear the words of the terrorists. In a letter to the terrorist leader Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader Zawahiri has outlined plans that will unfold in several stages. These are his words: “... Expel the Americans from Iraq. ... Establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq… Extend the jihad wave to secular countries neighboring Iraq.” End quote.
His tortured logic is breathtaking.
Let me start with the first paragraph. “Today there’s an intense debate about the importance of Iraq to the war on terror......This view presumes that if we were not in Iraq, the terrorists would be leaving us alone.” Then he goes to point out that the terrorists were attacking us before Iraq. But has anyone remotely suggested that the terrorists would be leaving us alone if we weren’t in Iraq? That’s not an argument I’ve ever heard, but it’s the straw man the Prez is advancing to build his case in the succeeding two paragraphs. Which is an odd argument for him to be making when it sounds as if he’s saying we’re targeted whether we’re in Iraq or not. If that’s the case, then the tired justification for fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here doesn’t hold water. By his own words.
I have no quibble with the second paragraph. Al-Qaeda has been gunning for us since we moved troops into Saudi Arabia in the first Gulf War. There was this guy called Osama bin Laden....I think we were chasing after him in Afghanistan once....
The third paragraph, however, really takes a staggering leap to conflate past, present, and future. The grand strategy of the terrorists, in the preceding 12 years, has been to drive the United States and coalition forces out of the Middle East so they can gain control of Iraq? In what universe? The parallel one that the President inhabits, perhaps. If memory serves, Saudi Arabia politely kicked us out of their country and Saddam kept a tight lid on his country with regard to the fundamentalist Islamic nut cases. He ran a secular country and did not want any truck with the fundies. They were a threat to his power. And, if memory further serves, the fundie nut cases were doing pretty well without tinkering around in Iraq. We’re the ones who put Iraq on their radar and opened up the country for their operations [to expel us and do as much damage to us as possible in the process], by creating a huge power vacuum with no bright ideas on how to quickly or constructively fill it.
But the next part of the third paragraph is the one that really drives me nuts. To prove his point that Iraq was always the apple of the terrorists eyes for their operations, the Prez quotes Zarqai’s letter that was written after we’d invaded Iraq. Not before. After. That makes a whole world of difference in the attempt to establish Iraq as the fundie terrorists’ preferred base of al-Qaeda operations. Of course they want to expel us from Iraq. Now that we’re there. And of course they want to establish an authoritative empire without our interference. That’s what fundies everywhere want and we’ve given them a pretty good leg up. But it’s still a bogus argument. If there was no war in Iraq (or if we’d managed the post-war competently), there would be no power vacuum and no opportunity (or desire) for a fundie terrorist base in Iraq. And, oh, maybe we’d have caught that Osama guy by now.
And yet, the Prez weaves his story all together [apparently] seamlessly as justification #568 for the war in Iraq and for claiming that Iraq is (and always was) the center of the war on terrorism. That’s the use of mesmerizing words arranged in a way that sounds sensible, to hell with chronological facts. It’s like throwing all the facts in a hat along with with a wildcard straw man and then pulling them out one by one to arrange them in a pleasing fashion, whether the final picture has anything to do with reality or not. The facts are all there, but they are arranged artfully and glued together with a straw man to prove a false premise—that war in Iraq was necessary to defeat the terrorists.
If a high school essay had invented straw men and arranged facts this way to prove an argument, it would have received a big fat F. Either the President is as dumb as a box of rocks or he and his handlers believe (probably accurately) that a large number of Americans aren’t critical thinkers and accept what he says as gospel because a) it’s easier and/or b)they don’t care enough to think critically when the subject doesn’t impact their lives very much. Really, though, I’d say all of the above. Plus, of course, the wingnuts who think he walks on water no matter what comes out of his mouth.
Special security task
Tuesday, 7:14 am
Well, imagine this: Two British Marines go out into central Basra (Iraq) on a ‘special security task’ in full Arabic dress and open fire on a crowd of civilians, wounding several, including a traffic police officer. Then they flee on foot. Soon, they are captured by Iraqi police and detained in a Basra jail. Not long after that a detail of British in tanks come to the rescue and one wall of the jail ends up in a pile of rubble with the two undercover Marines sprung.
How does that work, anyway? Marines in full Arabic dress shooting up a crowd of civilians? Undercover Marines? Special security task?
Do the insurgents/resistance need some help or something?
This sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? My imagination is struggling here. What’s this all about?
Out of money
Friday, 5:07 am
WASHINGTON — The U.S. will halt construction work on some water and power plants in Iraq because it is running out of money for projects, officials said Wednesday.
Security costs have cut into the money available to complete some major infrastructure projects that were started under the $18.4-billion U.S. plan to rebuild Iraq. As a result, the United States is funding only those projects deemed essential by the Iraqi government.
Although no overall figures are available, one contractor has stopped work on six of eight water treatment plants to which it was assigned.
"We have scaled back our projects in many areas,” James Jeffrey, a senior advisor on Iraq for the State Department, told lawmakers at a hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations. “We do not have the money."
We do not have the money. Isn’t that...embarrassing?