Posts Tagged ‘history

14
May
09

Conventional Warfare – A Misnomer

This week, in their defense of Dick Cheney’s naked parade, his minions have defended the use of “enhanced interrogation methods” by saying they were a response to the unconventional warfare posed by Islamic terrorists. (well, they don’t say Islamic terrorists, because that is no longer PC – but that’s who they are referring to).

Our short-memoried society considers “conventional warfare” battles in which all sides wear uniforms designating their loyalty, avoid injuring civilians as much as possible, behave gentlemanly during negotiations, have clear delineations between good and evil, and are only fought because one baddie decided to invade one goodie.

I’m simplifying, I realize, but only in an effort to illustrate the naivet√© of isolated Americans regarding warfare. Our idea of military combat is as far from the norm – bastardized by erroneous and fantastical historical tales, the refusal of the government to provide honest details of war to keep the public’s distaste to a minimum, and the perpetuation of the myth that the U.S. government always makes good decisions for the benefit of the American public. The blatant lack of honesty of everyone from storytellers and revisionist historians to the executive administrations past and present have whitewashed Americans’ view of war. To the detriment of all involved.

How Americans Think of War

What We Americans Consider Conventional Warfare

War is ugly and gruesome and what we consider unconventional is actually much more typical combat.

The vast majority of war over the last 40,000 years has included various levels of torture, rape, the killing of women and children, the enslavement of the losing side by the victors, and no uniforms of which to speak.

During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers found it quite difficult to tell which “gook” was with us and which was against. That we would find warfare any different in Afghanistan or Iraq is appallingly uninformed.

Most warfare has been fought by any means necessary, yet the utilization of suicide bombers or twin engine jets surprises Americans. These tactics are much more along the norms of warfare than our Disney notions of WWI and WWII. The claiming of the U.S. territory by whites from Native Americans included genocide, rape and arbitrary killing. In “conventional war,” crops, land, and homes are put to flame and waterways poisoned. Horses and livestock are slaughtered. And on, and on, and on.

The desire to increase power is the largest motivator of war. Throughout history, chiefs and leaders of state wanted to expand their territory, causing them to take what isn’t theirs. However, to be content with what is yours and nothing else is to lay in wait for the greedy eyes of an enemy.

Now that the statehood of most territory on Earth, save for Antarctica, has been decided, war is largely launched because of irrational actors and thirst for power and results in the subjugation of weak people or a brazen offensive against a perceived enemy. Al Qaeda wants a theocratic, Muslim world and how better to achieve this result than attacking the most powerful defender of the free world? George W. Bush saw what he perceived as his father’s failings at the end of the first Iraq War, as well as the opportunity to spread democracy in the Middle East, and launched an offensive he was not prepared for and did not fully understand. In Sierre Leone, during battles for the control of diamond minds, thousands upon thousands of women and children had their arms cut off at the elbow and boys high on cocaine killed their familes and raped women with the ends of their guns.

Realities of Conventional War

Realities of Conventional War

WWI and WWII were horrific in their own right, but were as unconventional as warfare gets. During WWI, occurrences of opposing sides playing soccer games between trenches¬† are well-documented. WWII had a clear, easily identifiable leader with atrocious strategies and ambitions. The fact that we consider these two events “normal” clearly reveals our lack of understanding of military history. Perhaps if we grow up and can realign our perceptions closer to reality, we can have a more substantial and successful discussion of what we consider acceptable behaviors in wartime.

If Americans understood the realities of war, if they could see into the future the results of the invasion of Iraq, they would never have permitted these men – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, men who have never been battle-tested (a few draft-dodgers in there), never known what it felt like to kill another person or see the enemy face-to-face – to launch us into this misquided and ill-considered war.

I understand the outcry against torture, and support much of it. But the fact that the American people can be so outraged over actions against a few and then remain silent while our bombardments in Af-Pak result in the deaths of scores of civilians – mothers, babies, schoolchildren – is media-driven and reprehensible.

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29
Apr
09

Swine Flu – It’s Not the First, Won’t Be The Last

What a strange coincidence that a potentially pandemic illness originating from domesticated livestock mushrooms at the exact same time I am reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

In simplified terms, Diamond describes in his book how food-producing populations have been exposed for thousands of years to influenzas and other diseases carried by domesticated animals. Those with the genetic strength to overcome the illnesses or avoid them all-together lived to reproduce and, thus, propagate their genetic supremacy. Some bugs are meaner then others, hence the bubonic plague and Ebola virus.

These inevitable illnesses have made quite a mark on the development on human geopolitical history. Because food producers (FP) were exposed to these diseases and overcame them while hunter gatherers (HG) did not, the FPs easily decimated or wiped out many an HG tribe and culture. Smallpox has quite the reputation for being such a population reducer.

The main point here, however, is that as much horror and, possibly, death as the avian flu or the swine flu might wreak upon the global population, diseases transmitted from animals to humans are as natural as exinction. So long as humans live in close quarters with animals, and such cohabitation is unavoidable, the potential pandemic is always around the corner.

Me, I try not to be a germ-a-phobe. With weakened immune systems, our bodies cannot handle contact with the feces of many beasties. Sure, we don’t want to give each other illnesses, but a little dirty is good. So, I’ll start the Just Say No To the Wipey and Hand Sanitizer Campaign now.

As survival of the fittest is real, the cleaner we become as a species, the weaker we become. Looking on the bright side, it may not matter anyway since we’re killing our environment so rapidly, our only hope is space pods on Mars. Hello! Point me to the nearest mass-suicide cult ASAP!

17
Jul
08

U.S. Establishing Diplomatic Presence in Iran?

Here’s my theory:

A younger, well-read student of history disguises himself as an older, white male Republican. Imagine a light navy suit, white shirt with the collar that buttons down at the corners, bright-red tie, over-sized American flag lapel pin, light brown hair – slightly graying – that’s been calling for a clip for a week. Somehow, this Navy Suit gains audience with the president – the specifics aren’t important – and extracts a thin, hollow tube from his pants – no, not that tube! – a bamboo tube.

Without notice, a dart tipped with the Secret Serum of Logic (found at one of the oldest, unnoticed library’s in the U.S.) is loaded into the thin tube. The Navy Suit raises the tube to his lips and, much like we’ve seen on TV or even practiced ourselves with paper-wrapped straws, emits a sharp, intense breath into the elongated apparatus, forcing the dart from its launching position into the neck of the President of the United States of America, who unfortunately carries the name George W. Bush and dreams of spooning Dick Cheney in the nighttime.

Not-so-coincidentally, soon after the so-called “Dart Incident,” Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik says U.S. ground troops will be “mostly finished” in Iraq by mid-2009.

Most stunning of all, a week later The Guardian claims the U.S. will establish a diplomatic presence – “a halfway house to setting up a full embassy” – in the capital of Iran, Tehran. After 30 years of relatively cool relations between the U.S. and Iran, George W. Bush has chosen a bold strategy of reaching out to Tehran in an effort to slow the Middle East country’s development of nuclear technology.

Such out-of-character developments originating from the White House cause hopeful brows to furrow in consternation over the sharp 180 (can a 180 be sharp? anyway…) in U.S. foreign policy. Theories of all kinds have emerged to explain such an enigma:

  • With a little less than 200 days left in office, Bush is grasping at straws – or logic, as we call it in the left-wing blogosphere – in a desperate effort to save the embers of his legacy after a tumultuous tenure at the helm of the American government.
  • Bush no longer feels beholden to his voters, donors, supporters – most of whom suffer from chronic headupassness – and is grasping at all straws in sight to have a least one, true success before leaving office.
  • Bush was kidnapped and water-boarded by former Secretary of State James Baker who convinces the current Executive to thank Iran for helping us with Afghanistan in the early days following 9/11.
  • Bush will want to ride the coattails of potential positive policy utilized by the next president, Obama, and claim that the strategies this new president has found beneficial were actually introduced by Bush. No one will believe the failed oilman who duped a small majority of the country into believing he’d be the best leader to steer the U.S. into the next century.
  • Presidential candidate John McCain has angered Bush by trying to forge a gap of reputation between the two old, white Republicans – prompting Bush to initiate policies that follow ideology spouted by Obama, not McCan’t.
  • Or, conversely, Bush wants to initiate these more leftist strategies he mistakenly believes will fail, allowing McCain to distance himself from Bush and garner voter approval after these Democratic tactics fall short. First of all, too little too late for McCain and secondly – most surprising to Bush, these strategies actually WORK. Tally-ho!
  • Bush wanted to plant a diplomatic effort in Iran to cover for a spy-team meant to infiltrate Iran’s confusing and secretive government hierarchy. Little did he know that President Obama would actually use the diplomatic team for diplomacy, goshdarnit.

Nevertheless, as the global population sits stunned over their morning coffee, reading rumors of the U.S. actively extending a diplomatic hand to Iran under the direction of W, the young, well-read student of history chuckles to himself in fond memory of his morning with the president and the dart that changed history.




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