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Thursday, March 29, 2007
Stevenson's other novel.

I have been following the news stories on Iran's kidnapping of some UK enlisted people BBC NEWS | UK | UK sailors captured at gunpoint for their games of international brinksmanship Iran holds British sailors as West set to tighten sanctions | . How do I feel about this? Well I'm outraged. Wait, are the British on our side? I have check because I'm from Massachusetts and frankly I'm still bitter about the Quartering act. Having checked and assured myself that they are indeed 'on our side' (oddly more than I was able to determine for Massachusetts). I am concerned and cross. Logic (not credulity and military press conferences) would support that they were where claimed to be and were not in Iranian waters (Shatt al Arab) - Google Maps . They had GPS equipment they seem to have been part of a critical and well trained unit. They; however, were not--mixed between ordinary sailors and marines--a special operations unit.

The allied navies have with some fortuitous timing mounted a large exercise in response to this U.S. launches show of force in gulf - Focus on Iran - Its good, making the point when you want to make it. The ability to move up and start a second exercise is even more critical as it allows us to control the tempo of operations in the gulf for the time being. Especially if some of the considerations here were that special forces operations were already being carried out in the Gulf and this particular set of captured sailors simply represented a soft target of opportunity for the Iranians. As the Powell once said "you break it you bought it" so to the Iranians the message must be: 'we are here, with our glue pot. So back off'.

I saw an article in the New York Times about a week ago on a State Department official named Robert Joseph leaving the administration Sensing Shift in Bush Policy, Another Hawk Leaves - New York Times. The article mentioned his role in crafting portions of US maritime policy: the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and interdiction agreements, which he seems to have been architect of. I had written favorably on this just last month  [Flying Dutchman of Mass Destruction]. My inclination there was not to demonstrate any unity with the over-starched hard right. Rather with genuine nuclear nonproliferation and the role of maritime national security to back it up. People like Robert Joseph to often strike me as being so focused on their myths of Regime Change that they accept even welcome nuclear fait accompli if it might strengthen their case for war. The reality of the blackmail and grey mail that comes with nuclear weapons, or even a nuclear weapons program strongly urge that action and strong diplomacy be applied evenly and continually.

Now we have Britain's difficulty, but it must be America's response. The ability to bring the necessary pressure to bear to resolve this is ours, and we must act. We must impress the responsible parties directly and the revolutionary guard has exposure in Iraq. Or we must convince others, more in charge, to rein them in. I wish understood how this works, but I don't need to as long as there are others who do. Regardless; the order of the day is not leaving those sailors and marines or even Tony Blair twisting in the wind on this Britain fails to gain strong UN support in row with Iran..

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Monday, March 26, 2007
The way thunder trails lightning

As I was scanning photos from my days in the US Navy. I came across one that was neither a plane nor warship, but rather a small battered fishing boat with around 42 people on board. There was a period during the USS Ranger cruise where we encountered a number of such vessels, dozens. I recall we had orders to offer assistance but to not to rescue them. Vietnam, where they were from, lay 300 miles to the west, the Philippines 300 miles to the east. This was the spaces between wars, following wars. These were the severed, men women and children not all survivors, whose homeland was lost to them. Our Captain made the call that if their boat was seaworthy, if we could get their engine started, if there was other shipping in the area we would let them be. If not we took them on board. A picture named VietnameseRefugees_1979.jpg

Rescuing refugees March 1979. Looking at this picture I can only tell you what I see now. I can only ask what, has changed, where is the change. Does the world's heartbreak only move from asia to africa and on. And I think about Tran, Tran's Family. Her brothers tried this twice during this period. The whole family tentatively would test the coast for patrol boats. I showed her this picture and we talked about it. I asked her what about this period had caused this wave of what were called 'boat people' After the fall of Saigon the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were weakened themselves. South Vietnam's urban population was dispersed to rural areas. Four years of placement, preparation, and power consolidation followed. Quiet and hidden tyranny. After the brief Sino-Viet war earlier that year. The Hanoi regime possibly became worried about Vietnamese of Chinese ethnic origin, and of a possible uprising in the south. This lead to the crackdown of 1979, which she recalls lasted until 1982 or so. Since Vietnam secured its bid to enter the World Trade Organization and normal trade status with the United States they have again slide BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Vietnam dissident priest detained towards the familiar rigidity of police state crack down NPR : Rights Advocates Disturbed by Vietnam Arrests. Even as they celebrate the frisian of nostalgia Will urban growth trample Vietnam's charm? |

Sitting in Logan Airport at the very end of 1977. Waiting for the plane that would take me to Chicago - to boot camp at Great Lakes. Anticipating the next four years, based on no clue whatsoever. Listening to a Tom Petty song on some airport PA. Breakdown (it's allright): it was the only song he had at the time. A year latter I was still that person. I can't imagine what this meant to me. Even if you can't throw an opinion around something at the time, You can always simply watch and remember. Tend to a garden of awareness. Most of my dreams, to the extent I can remember them are dreams of silence. Not utter silence, but more observation, listening, than talking. I never remember enough to recall what is happening (they invariable are of extraordinarily normal days) there is always the pervasive sense of just waiting.

The fisherman's mesh net of rationality is cast into the sea of our experience. Much of what pours out small and palatable, tame and pet-like is understood. Dreams contend with what presses and thrashes in the net. Which even yet only hints at what remains in the depths of the dark sea. You leverage experience to make sense of things. You leverage your sense of things as you move to courses of action. I did not concentrate on college after I got out of the Navy with the energized determination that would lead anyone in the worlds of state university government and politics degrees to care what I think or what acts are considered. It wasn't much. I knew little other than the college radio of the day. Tom Petty called his band the heartbreakers. But everyone knew that Johnny Thunder's band were the real Heartbreakers, and when Westerburg sang 'Johnny's gonna die' we knew that too. What we liked about punk was that it did something that should not have been possible. That it reached through the radio to break your heart. Where radio and radio acts should never do more (should never be able to do more) than place a vague hue of mood upon the walls.

I find myself hesitating at times when I know something, but I do not know what it means. It is not to know completely that counts. To insist on a lightning-struck sense of the absolute, like some politicians claim to possess. I care about what Tran thinks and feels, I care about what would make her happy. I know enough.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

There was an interesting event at the UCC Church in Bethesda last Sunday that I thought I'd write about. The reason for heading over to Glenbrook being that one of the parishioners was giving a presentation with slides on his recent experience as a member of the Air Force Reserve deployed for eight months to Iraq. My sister knows him and his wife a little, through another couple she is friends with.

We'll call him Lt. Col. Joe F. USAF Reserve. His time in Iraq began about a year ago through a "Short Notice Call-up". Only very extremely important people fly directly into Iraq, Joe arrived in Qatar after several days and found himself assigned to housing in 5o man tents. Before long he gained an immediate temporary assignment to move a unit of the 101st airborne into Iraq. After that he joined his Duty Station in Bagdad. The nature of his work, he pointed out, allowed (required) extensive travel through the Red Zone as well as living in the Green (now renamed the International zone in part to dispel the notion that it was in any way a safe zone). He saw a great deal of Iraq. He was assigned to Iraq Reconstruction effort: Water Sector. There are, he noted, four sectors to the reconstruction (Iraq Relief and Reconstruction) i. Electrical, ii. Oil, iii. Facilities and Transportation, and iv. Water and Sanitation. He put up an Organization Chart that showed how this little corner of the Iraqi involvement formally under the State Department not the DOD fit in with the rest of the over all effort. A Colonel was in charge of the Water Reconstruction. Joe was the XO. He recalled that when he first met the commanding general, the general sharply told the assembled new arrivals. "You are going to be working 12-16 hour days, seven days a week, there are no days off. You are all type A people; you will burn-out unless you: exercise, sleep full nights, read, and set aside some quiet time on a daily basis.

Joe had no Water / Sanitation background experience before being chosen for this assignment, though he did work on the Bosnian Reconstruction planning in the 90's. His civilian job, he pointed out, is as a Program Manager for Raytheon Corp. But the Personnel machinery of the DoD dropped him into water. Moving through his slides he related types of projects the water sector worked on: Water Treatment Reservoirs, Pump Stations, Sewage Treatment Plants, and common sewer drains. The military organized all projects and smaller projects were commonly executed by the Army Corp. of Engineers (ACE) directly. Large projects were accomplished under contracts with mostly Iraqi labour. To give an indication of how this sometimes went he related a short anecdote. A contract was organized to redo municipal pipes in Fallujah. Three sub-contractors were selected and a meeting was set up to show them the areas they were assigned to. After the meeting the contractor receiving the smallest portion of the work was upset. The other two contractors turned up dead the next day. The reconstruction authorities then restarted the contract process.

The Iraqi middle class is mostly gone. The Army found it necessary to train working class Iraq's in water industry management, and such mundane but critical tasks as filing reports and using spreadsheets. The Army took care to examine the prevailing rates of pay in an area and payed workers at levels that would not cause distortion with in the local economy, or raise unnecessary eyebrows. The pay was commensurate with pay rates for the insurgency (which were approximately $10 per day and $50 for placing a IED (Improvised Explosive Device). There were people in the audience that did not know what an IED was. A lot of money was flowing through the Reconstruction. The Water Sector had a $2 billion budget while Joe was there. The Nassiryah pumping station (a big project he allowed) was a two year project recently completed and coming on line now. Another long term project involved sewers in Sadr city it was not clear that one was as much of a final success. 2004 and 2005 the years of visiting areas, assessing and prioritizing projects were remembered by the team he worked with as the best period of the work. He had another observation he had witnessed that served to underscore the situation. Many Iraqi's had plumbing in their homes that had never been used, for lack of of a normal water supply. Houses had holes cut in the floors to bring water up from wells.

The part of the talk that really brought the difference between state side and Iraq side living was when he shifted to an account of his personal life. It was also here that I realized I had never spoke or heard from anyone directly involved in this conflict until that moment. Joe lived in a Connex shipping container. Divided into separate sections he shared it with at least one other officer. He showed a picture, it resembled a ships cabin from the days before ships became hotels. Outside they carried loaded weapons at all times. He noted that because of this, buildings on bases all had sand barrels where these weapons would be cleared before entering. I recall from my active service this was true of all buildings that guards reported to, I remember the duty building at Henderson Hall in Arlington had this, and that there were plenty of 45 slugs in that barrel. They were taught a protocol of weapon handling involving when the weapon's safety was on or off, when you had your finger off the trigger guard, on it, or inside it on the trigger. There was a standing Uniform of the Day that mandated Earplugs, Gloves, Sleeves rolled down when off base and in transit. These were onerous provisions in a desert region, but were designed to ameliorate the effects of explosions on the body. Sunburns already present made blast burn injuries that much worse, earplugs protected eardrums. Gloves? I guess they kept your fingers close to your hand.

They experienced both mortar and rocket attacks at their base. The mortars were native to Iraq's prewar arsenal and were ubiquitous in country. They were a difficult weapon to adjust to because they came straight down and offered no warning. Another weapon they had to contend with were rockets. His description indicated he was describing Katyushas or similar rockets Katyusha - Wikipedia (see bm-21 varient). As a class 3 to 4 feet long with a range of a few miles and the impact of an artillery shell. These were thought to be fresher weapons and not Saddam's coming into Iraq from other countries during the course of the insurgency. They tended to fired into the bases more vertically and could be heard coming over. The rockets were typically launched from timers from crude racks allowing the persons responsible to be clear of the area when they went off.

Off Base the most dangerous place they regularly went to was Sadr city, a section of Bagdad across the river. Sadr City required high profile patrols; 7 or more vehicles in convoys. Joe stated the concern was always, in crowd situations, that they might be
pulled out of their vehicles and sold to the insurgency. Sadr City was full of drug dealers also, who comprised some of the most troublesome charactors. Something that he didn't think the press was picking up on.

Of other elements of the mission he wanted to talk about, one was the Iraq Water training Sector. As the big projects all wrapped up (as most of them are now) the last big push was training for operating modern municipal water systems and infrastructure. Training centers were set up across Iraq. These training centers were generally segregated sectarianly (Sunni/Shiite), but notably not so much by male/female. Many women attended these training programs. His impression is that the Iraqi people are grateful, by and large, for the American presence and efforts of the reconstruction. People would approach and talk to the water sector people at least. The work of the Electrical and Oil/Gas sector people was harder. He finished the talk relating that he got out just a week or so before the freeze associated with the surge (which he had a more official term for) started and only because his replacement was already on station. His deployment had been extended once from three-four months to eight months. He ws quite ready to come home at that point.

A short Q & A period followed. In response to one question he said he had worked with many Iraqi ex patriots that while some have given up and left again, and that for some the return was a tragic story, many are still quietly working in Iraq for its future. Another program people in the small audience asked about which he had seen first hand were the Women's Development Classes where Iraqi women were learning to set up and run small businesses. He came back to an issue he had touched on earlier: Jobs requiring midlevel managers. They had, he said, many applicants but few qualified for these positions and found it was necessary to send recruiters to look for personell in the Iraqi diaspora, in Turkey, in Jordan, and elsewhere. Joe admitted that reconstruction in a war environment was a questionable idea (the reconstruction was planned, sort of, the return of the war wasn't. No adjustment was made). He reiterated the difficulties of the active building phase, the cost and corruption, the overall cumbersomeness involved with getting anything done.

After the talk was over I went up to look at the photo scrapbooks he had on the table beside him. These were put together by his wife and teenage daughter from his pictures and were very well done. The slide show was in fact made from the first book. Joe looked happy in every picture. On patrol with his weapon, in his cabin, in the office. Visiting various ancient or biblical sights: Abraham's house, the purported Garden of Eden off the Shatt al Arab Waterway. The offhand Ziggurat of Ur. This centered an observation I had already made: Joe F's fundamental mode of being is optimism. An enthusiastic cheerful optimism. I listened to the informal conversations he was having while I looked at the pictures. He voiced grievance to one person that even on the opening of a new completed project bringing fresh water to a city, the news crews filed a story of trash heaps in the area. Missing the forest for the leaf piles, he thought. The news coverage struck everyone over there as unbalanced (partly this is the press's reaction to being sucked into the DoD's alternate PR universe, but it is worth noting how it feels to people involved. Mostly, in these conversations with people who came up afterward, he talked about the surrealness of return. The decompression, adjustment, the difficulty in 'letting go'. The sense of not believing in 'normal' days. His wife was also a reservist and spent a year in Korea on a similar call-up a few years ago. They knew the sort of strains reserve duty call-ups involve. They originally met while on active duty years ago.

Earlier in the week I went looking to see if there was any information online about the Reconstruction effort. I found that the State Dept. has been issuing Quarterly reports to congress on this Section 2207 Report on Iraq Relief and Reconstruction US State Dept.. The last one Jan 2007 Report HTML Version in sections 2207 c21611 forms a good wrap-up to the others as for some reason the whole Reconstruction effort is winding down now. I was surprised a little to see a flurry of articles appear in the Washington Post latter in the week on this due to a report that had just been released. One on a Senate panel reacting to this report Senators Calls for Coordination on Iraq -, Dana Hedgpeth's on the report itself Inspector General Details Failures of Iraq Reconstruction - The report was the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction: Iraq Reconstruction: Lessons in Program and Project Management Lessons_Learned_March21.pdf.

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Monday, March 19, 2007
Another Set of Ra5c pictures

A short period with few airplanes pictures in the web log is overA picture named 8_Ra5c_InFlight.jpg. The iBook that ran the scanner gave up the ghost, the new computer is a MacBook, the OS 9 Driver for the scanner means nothing to it. I'd buy a new scanner, but what I really want is a AlphaSmart Neo. Plus there are things certain others want. Then someone in the office mentioned that the photocopy machines at work here, the Xerox Multi Function Devices (MFD), also function as emailing scanners. Even if just in black and white. So the other day I descended upon one with a stack of Ra5c pictures and other assorted images from those days. I have enough now that I can drop them in every so often, plus I have some picts of Ra5c's that Henner Lenhardt sent me. The first of today's pictures I mentioned before; not much at first glance, but there are eight Ra5c's in the air in that photo (plus one A-4 or something). A unique even chimerical event by the time I arrived at NAS Key West. The next pictureA picture named Ra5cCatPrep.jpg is a nice shot of one of RVAH-7's Vigilantes being moved into the forward port catapult position on the deck of the USS Ranger (CV 61). The picture seems to have been taken from the starboard catwalk after one plane has just launched. The last picture is view of one of RVAH 7's three Vigi's from another above it. The sort of picture you can take when you are a photo-reconnasaince plane. Below them both is the Arizona or New Mexico desert. My recollection is that this was part of series of originally color picts that where taken at the time of our last fly-out to San Diego.A picture named Ra5cFromAbove.jpgI double-checked that these last two pictures did not appear in the cruise book. At the same time I have multiple copies of some of these, and that would have only happened if we were trying to get pictures ready for some official purpose.

26Mar07 Note: I adjusted the display size of the pictures in this post down somewhat because they were breaking the template of this page. The actual size of these pictures is about 20% larger. Plus I have the full size images (8x10), tiff & jpeg. If you want them leave a comment.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
A Segue ain't just a Scooter

About a month ago my sister Ann tipped me to something I might want to read, a paper by Tim Wu on Wireless Net Neutrality, put out by the New America Foundation. I read the executive summary at the time, but only recently got around to reading through the whole pdf Wireless Net Neutrality | The New America Foundation . She, I believe, had actually seen him speak at the FTC hearings this paper debuted at. To my non-lawyer being, I came away doubting the wireless telecommunication companies will be able to maintain the monopoly on devices and software that connect to their networks. For one thing as true multifunction devices (like the iPhone) come into play; by one or another network, a push for comparable innovation and functionality will bring in standards and cross platform applications. I think Wu's point is that the involved Federal Agencies ought to make an attempt to get out in front of this now and try to be at least nominally consistent with past regulatory practice.

Another of the FCC's affairs better appreciated by lawyers is Comcast vs the FCC Comcast challenges FCC's ownership limits or is it FCC vs Comcast. In the face of a law suit by Comcast the FCC reiterated a cap that would keep any one cable company from providing service to more than 30% of cable subscribers FCC may officially reinstate 30 percent cable ownership cap. It was worth it just to see the look on Comcast's face, but now congress will reinsert themselves in the debate Dingell: FCC Not a 'Legislative Body' -

The FCC's campaign against Radio Payola is closer to something I can actually understand. Back when I was a college radio dj one of my friends who we will call G. (although his real name is Gary Stern) had the Big Payola as the name of his show. Like all romantics I think he was actually disappointed that record company execs didn't actually show up on his doorstep with fistfuls of dollars in each hand. Ah Gary! Its not that they weren't trying to corrupt the airwaves, it's just that they knew they couldn't turn you. One upshot of this, according to the Washington Post Big Radio Settles Payola Charges - at least is that the Big Radio chains have promised more air time for local artists and independent record labels.
"I hear the radio is finally gonna play new music, you know, the british invasion. But what about the Minutemen, Flesh Eaters, DOA, Big Boys. And Black Flag? ...Glitter disco synthesizer night school ...I must not think bad thoughts"
Well if Exene won't think bad thoughts I won't either. The unheard music will be heard. Its been years since the rule held: "smooth chords on the car radio, no hard chords on the car radio we set the trash on fire" After all a segue ain't just a scooter, and not all Scooter's are Segways. It is an art: Diana Ross to Amy Winehouse to PJ Harvey; Timberlake to Harry Connick to Ted Leo, not a problem. I have thrown away my Ipod and deleted all my streaming radio on the internets and satellites. I have tuned terrestrial and wait patiently by the radio.

And if that doesn't work out, there's always television. Just this evening alone I have heard the Feelies selling me one type of car, Vancouver's New Pornographers coda to the bleeding heart show is pleading with me to take classes at the University of Phoenix. Mark E. Smith of the Fall walking down the street and seeing a poster (Blindness) is concerned that I don't have a Suburu. And Kevin Barnes (Barnes) from Of Montreal believes that for a Wraith Pinned to the Mist - I could use a night out at an Australian steakhouse Pitchfork: Outback Steakhouse Hearts Of Montreal. None of that stuff ever got played on the Radio before. Why currency now?

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Adelphi land

There was a shooting in Adelphi the other day. This is where I live, just over the county line on a sliver of land that is Prince Georges county not Montgomery county, and for that in Adelphi Md. It wasn't just a shooting it was a curious shooting, most shootings around here are not that curious. This shooting occured in a quiet neighborhood off the calmer artery of Riggs rd. north vs. my rougher New Hamshire Ave. This shooting had curious timing, curious incidents. A man named Paul Joyal was shot in the balls four days after an interview on NBC's Dateline on the likely murder of a Russian ex patriot in London was broadcast Expert on Soviet Intelligence Shot in Adelphi - An interview where he laid the blame at the feet of the those inhabiting the Kremlin. He was shot only an hour or so after having drinks with a friend, an ex KGB general at the spy musuem cafe. The Washington Post has written series of stories on this Analyst Robbed During Shooting - or rather versions of a single story they are trying to get straight Analyst's Wallet Not Stolen, Son Says -, albeit always in the metro section. A part of the Post even quieter than Joyal's Adelphi neighborhood. It was they say an unexplained shooting, possibly a broken robbery or carjacking. In the US a carjacking can hardly be expected to attract attention. Only by accident has this story gained legs.

It does point out a pattern of Curious Accidents. The death Daniel McGory who taped a segment on the same broadcast as Joyal dead of a heart attack days later. And of course the death of Alexander Litvinenko that they were both commenting on. A brief review of that (and strictly from memory). Litvinenko's sickness was first attributed to food poisoning. When it became clearer it was radiation poisoning another more common type of radiation poisoning was first posited. Plus I recall reading a story which attributed it to radiation treatment for cancer, which appears not to have been the case and I never read that a second time. Only when it was established it was polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope, was the timeing and trail across London and to flights back to Russia established. None of that was as obvious early on as it appears in hindsight now. None of it was intended or expected to be known. Litvinenko was a broken play, not executed as written.

In just the last day or so there was another curious death beyond these incidents, a Russian Journalist, Ivan Safronov, working on a story about arms transfers to Iran "fell" out a five story window BBC NEWS | Europe | Moscow burial for dead journalist. It happens; journalism is a tough business. In the last 1O years this story notes some eighty-eight Russian journalist have fallen - out of windows, onto bullets News Safety Institute. Index Page. What does all this mean? In simple, the return of the Red empire. The Reagan republicans appropriated credit to themselves for the fall of the soviet. The reality is that it wasn't them at all - call it a market adjustment. The Russians are in charge of their own destiny; praiseworthy or blameworthy. Still, will the republicans accept credit now for Russia's cheka-flavored imperial return.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

There is a story. I forget its exact nature, terms and attribution, but none of that really matters much. Arrange it as you like. In the version I recall "Gladstone" and "Disraeli", British politicians of a previous century, are at a military review amid pomp and circumstance. A rifle salute is fired for the dignitaries. Gladstone who has been talking to someone and not paying attention to the program whirls around at the sound of gunfire, looks over at Disraeli. "My God", he exclaims, "They missed him."

What brought this to mind was the suicide bombing at Bagram AFB while VP Cheney was there U.S. Base in Afghanistan Targeted During Cheney Visit - Bagram is a pretty big place five to six square miles nearly the size of my home town back in Massachusetts. Still plenty in the commentarial chimed in that this was "Surviving" an "Assassination" attempt. Some thought this was unfortunate, others thought that ugly and churlish. Commentary and reaction from the muddy side of the playground where all the 4th graders hang  Glenn Greenwald - A hallmark of idiocy - Salon. For the Vice President's team it was a hard call between something that could make him look more Reagan-esque than ever, vs. downplaying the enemies capabilities  BBC NEWS | South Asia | Taleban attack during Cheney trip. In the end that won out, it was no assassination attempt. Just 14 more dead, one more U S soldier and one more South Korean soldier Bombing Near Cheney Displays Boldness of Resurgent Taliban - I looked up Bagram AFB  read up about it Bagram Air Base - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Launched Google Earth and took a look at it. What I found myself looking at and thinking about were B-Huts and the Majority Housing Options (MHO) Bagram Airbase. The latter mil-spec speak for a 16 man tent, The former a fancier 8 man frame canvas housing unit. The modern equivalent of a quonset hut. We have four or more thousand people living in these things at Bagram. They could build barracks maybe, but no they can't; because the keyword is non permanence. The language and lie of the GWOT. The reality is we aren't going anywhere for a very long time. They call the Iraq and Afghanistan wars "small", but they are long and spread out wars. Call them long tail wars. When you have an active theater and have run sizable populations through periods of living in places like Bagram. You have something which rises to a culturally significant level. Within the community of interest, and outside it. This will be with the US military for a generation or more. It will shape it and color its views.

This is a tale of two populations. The military, distributed in field deployments across the globe. And the civilian public, not materially affected, barely aware let alone concerned. The Vice President forms a useful case study for this population. From his draft deferring days during the Vietnam war: Dick 'I have betters things to do' Cheney. To his current incarnation as Dick 'triumph of the will' Cheney. Which is only half of his persona matched up as it is with Dick 'I'm not listening to you' Cheney. What is "will power" signifying here. I'm not absolutely sure I understand (more than just a song by the Replacements). It is not merely the opposite of the lack of resolve he believes the Democrats in congress are exhibiting when they question sending more money and more lives into a war that is not advancing America's interests or national security, and could shortly be greatly damaging to both US commanders admit: we face a Vietnam-style collapse | Iraq | Guardian Unlimited. Especially his hysterical criticism of Nancy Pelosi against whom he levels a fifth column calumny that she is doing al Qaidas work for them. If you have nothing on the line, if you are sacrificing nothing -- prepared to sacrifice nothing personally. You are exhibiting no demonstration of will. Nor are you demonstrating courage or leadership by merely bucking public opinion, if you declare that public opinion has no validity in macro or micro and you are simply going to ignore it. You are only a null set, nothing. The Vice Presidents exhortations to will power resembles nothing so much as they do the shame spirals of the lost. The Vice President aligns most closely with elites who frankly see no need for public involvement in foreign affairs, even wars. Yet the political leadership know that a favorable public attitude is necessary for the freedom of action to carry out overt foreign policy. One component of a protracted struggle is a genuine sense of shared sacrifice. Without it you have drafting - aerodynamic drafting as in a bicycle or car race where one slides into the slipstream of another racer running with reduced effort behind someone who is opening the way Drafting (racing) - Wikipedia, . This is the free rider problem, the Commons Tragedy with its inevitable misuse, overuse, and destruction of resources.

What the volunteer military gives the nation's civilian leadership is high quality personnel, responsive, and educated (although there has been pressure on the standards recently that in time would affect this). In return the military and it's members like to feel useful, revered, and needed. A rate of pay that moves them out of mills and Walmarts at the start, and offers the possibility of a real career if they stay. My own experience with the All Volunteer Military is that it can and should be able to function on the strength of duty, professionalism, and honor alone. An ordinary heroism not needing a pedestal. There is the emotional need for the nature of the experience and sacrifice, the reality of the mission - the story - to be known. This is inextricably intertwined with a necessary degree of anonymity, isolation, a place apart to do the work of a soldier or sailor. A year ago the selective service (Selective Service System - Wikipedia) initiated a study on mobilization needs: Selective Service Studied Rapid-Fire Draft Plan - by Eric Rosenberg. The sort of mobilization needs that would occur if carefully managed small wars blossomed into unmanageable regional wars. An 193 day mobilization was thought inadequate. They considered a thirteen day 500,000 man "Emergency Mobilization", it would plainly require the selective service be authorized to initiate a draft. It was deemed politically unfeasible and dropped before it could even attract any curious attention. In January of this year a Harris poll was conducted on opinions concerning a draft Americans Reject Return of Military Draft: Angus Reid Global Monitor. Charles Rangle had brought the idea up last year. Nancy Pelosi had moved quickly to put a frame on that notion: "It's not about a draft; it's about shared sacrifice in our country. (Pushing for a draft is) a way to make a point that (the Iraq) war has not involved or made any shared sacrifice." The general tone of the survey is that most American are content with a volunteer military they are not in (73%). This sense of the value of national service becomes less negative when a one or more avenues of non-military national service are considered.

When would a draft would be better for the country then leaving it up to volunteers? For the immediate practicality of cohesion and motivation the leadership think never. I think that it might be better when it is possible to see clear differences among those in service and those not; in terms of their values, opinions, and attitudes across a wide array of cultural topics. This is a matter of statistical significance. A survey ought to be designed, and data collected and analyzed. If the result ever shows you have two distribution curves, that military and civilian communities represent two distinct populations action should be taken. The policy may recruiting policies emphasis and marginal adjustments. When and where you recruit, deliberately trying to bring in a wider array of Americans. It may entail broader policies and national goals by national political leaders. And if it needs to it ought to include a draft for national service.

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2007 P Bushmiller.
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