Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is American Military Composed of Martians?, GOP's New 10 Points of Light

David Brooks
Dana Milbank

"This is what happens as nations grow wealthier; they use money to buy civilization." - David Brooks

Besides trying to initiate the next step of trust between the Palestinian Authority and Israel with the exchange of prisoners for Israeli Sargent Gilad Shalit, all the Palestinians really want is the release of Marwan Barghouti, who is enjoying the hospitality of an Israeli prison cell for his leadership in the second infitada. He is seen by many, both Palestinians and Israelis, as the next successor to Mahmoud Abbas, who is tired and wants to step down. Even though there are those in Israel who think he should never walk free again, : "... there is a growing acknowledgement among Israelis and Palestinians that Barghouti's broad appeal and reformist streak offer the best prospects for peace. Politicians in Israel see him as the best hope for strengthening the nationalist camp against Hamas -- ironically, due to his close ties with the opposition party and thus his ability to influence them." This situation reminds me of a young man who was in a Canadian jail until mysterious forces allowed him to walk free before his sentence was over, and he then immigrated to Europe and took on the name of Leon Trotsky...

my favorite martians...
They need to reintroduce dialogue as a tool of command because, although it is easy to speak to Americans face to face and understand each other completely, dealing with them corporately is akin to dealing with a group of Martians. If it isn’t on the PowerPoint slide, it doesn’t happen.” - British Col J K Tanner

Britain is beginning an official inquiry into Iraq, hoping to find out how they got conned into participating in such a mess. It should provide lots of entertainment over the next 18 months, and provide a thorough indictment on the US's style of military and civilian leadership. True to fashion the world over, documents were leaked to the press before the whitewash has even begun, giving us a tantalizing taste of what is to come: “We experienced real difficulty in dealing with the American military and civilian organizations who, partly through arrogance and partly through bureaucracy, dictate that there is only one way: the American way.”

The inquiry will highlight the different paths two military forces took during their occupancy of Iraq. Americans believed in applying force first, then sorting things out afterwards, while the British preferred to negotiate first and use force as a last resort. This resulted in the British often ignoring the orders given by the Americans, as one officer delicately put it:  “we noted the intent but tended to ignore the detail.” He added, “We would follow the ‘what,’ and often ignore the ‘how.’ ” General Stewart, in a similar vein, said that when he evaded American orders to take military action, it was because he believed that using negotiation could “achieve the same result using different means.”

The bitterness persisted deep into the war, with American commanders accusing the British of appeasing the Shiite militias that ultimately took control of Basra, and the British accusing the Americans of resorting too readily to force in cities like Falluja. The recriminations eased only after 2007, when American commanders under Gen. David H. Petraeus adopted new counterinsurgency tactics that British officers saw as drawing partly on lessons Britain had learned in earlier conflicts, leading British officers to say that the Americans had finally grasped lessons missed at the outset of the war." The inquiry should extend to the British military's opinion on our counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, and hopefully, some candid remarks from some of the American military Martians, many whom have retired and are living in Martian colonies near my house...

Meanwhile, President Obama will announce his plans for Afghanistan, probably on Dec 1. This morning he said: “After eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done, it is my intention to finish the job, and I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, they will be supportive.” It will be nice to have a set of goals, finally. I can tell you already that Dick and Liz Cheney are pissed that they have not been consulted, not one wee little bit... But the pundits are just slamming Obama in the press, they like are sharks circling bloody chum in the water. Right now the thoughtful, intellectual style that seemed a breath of fresh air in Washington is getting ragged on by the bully boys. They are ready to knock his books to the ground and make fun of him for doing his homework, sissy boy...

meanwhile, back on the farm...

Another story that you will read more about in the next few days, is the proposed Conservatives 10 Point Pledge(tm), ready for voting at the next meeting of the small minds, the Republican National Committee: "...what the party should stand for: a 10-point checklist gauging proper adherence to core principles like opposing government financing for abortion and, more generally, President Obama’s “socialist agenda.” In what was being dubbed a purity test when it leaked out to reporters on Monday, the proposal would require the party to withhold campaign money and endorsements from candidates who do not adhere to at least seven principles on the checklist." Yes, the GOP is culling the 1000 points of light down to a dull 10; they have decided to go green, I suppose.

It looks like the RNC is run by Martians, also. The problem is that you don't restore faith in your Party by making a checklist of orthodoxy to the principles and arguments that drove people away from the Party in the first place. Small minds like Dick Armey have jumped on this idea and support it, while others, surprisingly, like: "Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform whose antitax pledge has become generally required signing for Republican candidates, said he was concerned that the proposal would lead the national party to step in where voters should.

“The party has a platform, and that platform and the pieces of it are enforced by primary voters,” Mr. Norquist said. “I think orthodoxy should be imposed from below not above.” Still, he said, forced adherence to 7 of the 10 principles listed “strikes me as eminently reasonable.” Weird to say that Grover is the voice of reason here, but maybe he's just jealous and wants his own conservative pledge to be the one that candidates must sign. If folks keep coming up with off the wall stuff like this, I actually feel kinda sorry for Michael Steele, who has to hear it every day and walk the line between reason and madness, er, tea partyness...

late night political jokes:

"President Obama is getting ready to pardon the White House turkey, the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner." –Jay Leno

"I don't want to say Geithner is not doing a good job. But, today, God asked for his name to be taken off the bill." –Jay Leno

"The White House and the Senate Democrats are working on a new jobs bill. The White House said this new jobs bill could create twice as many non-existent fake jobs as the last one." –Jay Leno

"Now, three weeks ago, [the Administration] said the $787 billion stimulus-thing created one million new jobs. Then, last week, they said it was really only 640,000 jobs. Now, they're saying they really don't know. You know how to create a new job? Fire the guy in charge of counting." –Jay Leno

"There's a lot of controversy over this section of this new health care bill that says if you don't buy health insurance, you can go to jail for five years. They say it'll prevent freeloaders of the system. Yeah, but — well, if they do go to jail, won't they get free health care for five years?" –Jay Leno

"President Obama was in China last week. Today, the Chinese government sent him a beautiful gift. Did you see this on the news tonight? It was a 10% off coupon at Wal-Mart." –Jay Leno

"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will not run for another office once his term as governor is over. And the amazing thing — do you know what he's going to be doing after this? He'll be a speech therapist." –Jay Leno

"That evil guy, the evil masterminding terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he is going on trial here in New York City. I will tell you something, this guy is nothing but evil. One time he called CNN and told him that his son was floating away in a balloon." –David Letterman

"Khalid is expected to get a tough reception here in New York City because everybody hates him. You know, why not? Here's a guy you can hate. And on top of that, he's a Red Sox fan." –David Letterman

"Legal experts are worried about having [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's] trial here in New York City with this guy because they think he'll use the trial as a soapbox. Use the trial as a soapbox. Have you seen the guy, there he is. If he does, it will be the closest this guy has been to soap in years." –David Letterman

"It's a big week for Chuck Schumer. First his birthday and then being named sexiest man alive." –David Letterman

"Barnes and Noble is running a great promotion on the Sarah Palin book. You buy the Sarah Palin book, they will throw in a free Mayan calendar." –David Letterman

"John McCain, Sarah Palin's former running mate, read the Sarah Palin memoir. After 23 years of military service, five years as a prisoner of war, 22 years as a U.S. senator, I'm sure that John found Sarah's story very inspirational." –David Letterman

"A lot of people are saying that it's too soon for Sarah Palin to write a memoir. They say she should wait until she had at least ten more years of inexperience." –David Letterman

"Sarah Palin's book is now available on kindle, and, coincidentally, I'm using my copy as kindling." –David Letterman

"The ratings just came in for Sarah Palin's appearance on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' It earned Oprah her highest ratings since the episode where she reunited the Osmond family. Yeah, viewers who saw both episodes say Palin's more likable but that Donny and Marie are more qualified to be president." –Conan O'Brien

"Over the weekend, the Senate voted to allow debate on the healthcare bill. Can you believe that? It's like fighting over whether or not to fight." –Jimmy Fallon

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