Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Why is it important?
Had Russia surrendered then, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire campaign against the Brits, then America, and the Nazis would have won the war.
I say this to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. And we are at another one.
There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so.
The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs. They believe that Islam, a radically conservative (definitely not liberal!) form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world, and that all who do not bow to Allah should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, purge the world of Jews. This is what they say.
There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East, for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation today, but it is not yet known which will win ? the Inquisition or the Reformation.
If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihads, will control the Middle East, and the OPEC oil, and the US, European, and Asian economies, the techno industrial economies, will be at the mercy of OPEC, not an OPEC dominated by the well educated and rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.
You want gas in your car? You want heating oil next winter? You want jobs? You want the dollar to be worth anything? You better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses and the Islamic Reformation wins.
If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions and live in peace with the rest of the world and move out of the 10th century and into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away, and a moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.
We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We cannot do it nowhere. And we cannot do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle now at the time and place of our choosing, in Iraq.
The bottom line?
The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. Always has been, and probably always will be.
The bottom line here is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away on its own. It will not go away if we ignore it.
If the US can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an "England" in the Middle East, a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. The Iraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never ending war. And now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless we prevent them! Or somebody does.
We have four options.
1. We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.
2. We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran's progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).
3. We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in the Middle East, now, in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America.
4. Or we can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and maybe most of the rest of Europe. It will be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier then.
Yes, the Jihadis say that they look forward to an Islamic America. If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.
We can be defeatist peace activists, as anti war types seem to be, and concede, surrender to the Jihad, or we can do whatever it takes to win this war against them.
The history of the world is the history of civilizational clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.
Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.
Go read the whole thing.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I have been to our nation's capitol twice since I became an adult, both times because business took me to the area.
The first time was April 1998. I did visit Arlington National Cemetery and watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and was able to observe a wreath-laying ceremony. I had decided to park at Arlington and pay the $13 for the day's parking, since I had driven in from Frederick, Maryland. I walked a lot that Sunday afternoon - across the Arlington Memorial Bridge into DC. I went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, looking at many of the mementos people had left behind, some of which brought me to tears for people I would never know. I continued down The Mall. My destination was the National Air and Space Museum to see a special exhibit - Star Wars: The Magic of Myth. I had to wait to get into that exhibit, and I took the time to see what I could of the "regular" exhibits. Once I had seen what I came to see, I had the long walk back to my rental car in the parking lot at Arlington National Cemetery.
My second visit was May 2003. Things were very different from my previous visit. Business was much closer to DC this time, and I was able to wrangle a couple of days to "play tourist" after I was done with work. I did my checking about what I might do while I was there. I contacted my representative in Congress and was able to arrange to tour the White House and the Capitol Building. I was lucky - just the week before I would be there, the White House was still not open to public tours, and even so, you can't just show up at The White House and expect to go on the tour like you could do prior to 9/11. I meet my representative at the designated gate, along with a few other ladies from his district. Later, we were to meet again at his office, so we could be taken on a tour of the Capitol Building. This wasn't the same tour "regular" tourists get - we got to go through the underground passages from the office building to the Capitol, guided by a young man from his home state who was attending GW, who was interning with the Congressman. We also got the obligatory photograph with the Congressman on the Capitol steps. I visited Arlington again, too. This time, in addition to watching the Tomb Guard, I had something I needed to do: locate a particular headstone and photograph it.
CW4 Steven L. Adee was buried in Arlington National Cemetery the previous December. Steven was the brother to a close friend's boyfriend. Steven was a DUSTOFF pilot in Vietnam, and also served in the Persian Gulf, during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Steven was assigned to the Pentagon. He was there on September 11th, 2001. He was often in the offices where Flight 77 impacted the Pentagon. People he knew did not survive that day. Steven commit suicide on November 10, 2002. My friend and I wondered if being there that day brought back memories of things Steven saw in Vietnam, but he did not seek help in dealing with it. Steven's death made me realize not all casualties of war are killed on a battlefield, and not all battle scars can be seen.
My friend accompanied her boyfriend to the funeral, but since the family, beyond Steven's widow, did not live near DC, they were not able to see the headstone that was later put in place. When I found Steven's gravesite, I could tell he had had a visitor - small stones had been placed atop the headstone. I'm sure the stones were left by Steven's widow, although I'm not sure what the meaning behind them was. She was Vietnamese - Steven was able to get her, and at least some of her family, to the United States after the war. I took several photos, and gave all the prints to Steven's brother.
My family hasn't ever really "gone somewhere" to observe Memorial Day, but I was raised to understand its significance, and to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.
This weekend, I will be spending time with family - my uncle and his wife are down from Alaska with their youngest who is still at home, and their oldest who was married 3 years ago this weekend, along with her husband and their baby, plus my uncle and his wife are in from Houston, as well as the second of their four boys. We're all going to a baseball game tomorrow afternoon. Having been to Memorial Day games here before, I know there will be some demonstration of appreciation of our military and all they sacrifice for the rest of us. And, as always, I will be remembering those sacrifices and what those sacrifices have brought: continued freedom for me and those I love.
We went to the baseball game. There were many soldiers and their families there as "guests of Union State Bank". One of the people to throw out a ceremonial first pitch was an Army captain from Fort Hood. There was a color guard from one of the area Army recruiting companies. At one point, during an offensive/defensive switch, all veterans were asked to stand and be recognized. Finally, during the 7th Inning Stretch, instead of the usual singing of Take Me Out To The Ballgame followed by an instrumental version of Cotton-eyed Joe, we were asked to sing along with Lee Greenwood's version of God Bless America, followed by some John Philip Sousa.
Also, I am pleased to see countless hits to my America's White Table post over the past several days - the referring URL has most times been someone doing a search for "missing soldier table" or something similar.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
So, as I said before, when making the drive between Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo, you have to check in before you can leave and once you get to the other end. If you make the trip in less than 2 hours, you get a speeding ticket. If you haven’t checked back in by the time 5 hours have passed, they coming looking for you.
Well, we managed to make it to Checkpoint Alpha. Barely. The van died as we were going up the drive into the parking lot to check in. Had this happened even one kilometer back, I think we would still have been in East Germany, and we would have had to sit there and wait until they came looking and found us. I'm sure THAT would have been LOADS of fun... Anyhow, Dad walked the rest of the way to the building, and we had to push the van up the rest of the incline and into a parking space. I don’t recall specifically, but I’m sure we got some sort of assistance. It was a VW Vanagon (Wolfsburg Edition). It was a manual transmission, which I couldn't drive yet, but it would have been put in neutral, anyway (ya know, I never did get the hang of a stick shift before we got rid of that thing... maybe it had something to do with the gear shift being too far away from the driver's seat?). I really don’t think that between just me and my parents we would have gotten it up the drive – one of us had to steer. It was already evening when we got to Checkpoint Alpha, so we weren’t going anywhere else that night. We, all five of us – me, my parents, and my sisters (age 9 and age 5 at the time) - slept in the car in the parking lot.
The next day was a German holiday. It had to have been Ascension Thursday, May 24, 1990. So, the German garage in Helmstedt wouldn’t be open. We did manage to have the van towed to the garage, though. Thursday night, we stay in the “hotel” on the small British base near Checkpoint Alpha. I had a bed to sleep in, and I was able to take a shower, which I hadn’t been able to do the day before.
Friday morning, my dad had to go back to the garage to talk to the mechanic about the van and make whatever arrangements were necessary. We previously had to make decisions about what we could take with us, and what we would have to risk leaving in the van, before the van had been towed. We’d made purchases in Berlin, and we weren’t going to be able to carry it all with us back to Augsburg. Luckily, there was a storage area under the bench seat in the back of the van, so we were able to put items out of sight. We may have also had the good fortune (given the situation) to run into people my dad knew who were also coming back from Berlin, and they were able to take some of our valuable with them - I don't remember for sure (like I said, it's been 17 years). Everything else would be carried with us. We didn’t have suitcases with wheels - it was the set of luggage my mother had received as a high school graduation gift. In 1965. My little sisters weren’t able to carry much of anything, either. We checked out of the “hotel” and waited for the duty train to come through out of Berlin.
If you’ll recall from my previous post, the duty train only traveled through East Germany at night. So, we have to hang out, keeping my younger sisters entertained, for hours. We catch the train, which will take us to the Hauptbahnhof - the main train station - in Frankfurt. I don’t recall how long the train ride was, but it was already Saturday morning when we got to Frankfurt. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good night’s sleep. From the Hauptbahnhof, we take the S-bahn to the Flughafen – the civilian side of the Frankfurt airport. Once at the Flughafen, we wait again for a bus to take us to Rhein-Main Airbase – the U.S. military side of the airport. Don’t forget, we are three adults and two young children with a bunch of luggage. We get to Rhein-Main, and we have to wait some more, this time for a bus that will take us back home to Augsburg. The bus doesn’t take us directly to Augsburg – that trip should take about 3 hours. Think Greyhound: Augsburg is just one stop along the way – we’re just five people who need to get there on a bus full of people going to numerous places along the way, and possibly points further south.
Once we finally arrive in Augsburg, we still aren’t home yet. The bus drops us off at the main guest house (hotel), not our quarters. These buses are intended to transport military personnel and their dependents that are arriving in Germany for new duty stations, not wayward travelers who had their vacation interrupted by mechanical difficulties… So, we are back in the right city, but we still have to transport ourselves and our luggage back to our quarters. We aren’t far enough away to be able to get a shuttle bus to get us closer. It is three very long blocks down Reinoehlstrasse, past the field where they held the German-American Fest each year, across Buergermeister-Ackermann-strasse to our quarters on Flandernstrasse, across from the Burger King, in Sullivan Heights. My dad would later take the train back up to Helmstedt to pick up the van from the garage once the repairs had been completed, but in the meantime, we’d either be on foot, or we’d make use of the shuttles around base, or “the Strass” – how we Americans referred to the Strassenbahn, or streetcar.
We should have gotten home late Wednesday/early Thursday. It’s now Saturday evening. I call my best friend (Lyric Mezzo) to let her know we are back from Berlin. What she says to me? “We’re going to a club downtown. Want to come?” My response? “I’m tired, and I haven’t showered in 2 days. Let me take a shower and I’ll get back with you…” I did end up going out with her, her boyfriend and one other person (her friend Jessica who would be graduating from AAHS in the next week?) that night, but I think I’d have been better off if I’d stayed home and gone to bed ;-)
Friday, May 25, 2007
I'll say it again: ENFORCEMENT ONLY FIRST. Once the Federal Government can PROVE to me that it can secure our borders and enforce existing immigration law, to include interior enforcement, then, and only then, will I consider other measures to deal with the 12 to 20 million illegal aliens who have entered the United States since the 1986 "comprehensive immigration reform" that promised both enforcement and amnesty. Last time, we got the amnesty, but the government "forgot" to follow up on the enforcement provisions. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
This issue is at the top of my "important issues" list, along with national security. I am paying attention to how you vote. I will not vote for any candidate who votes for amnesty, or anything that doesn't give us enforcement first of existing laws.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Bill Whittle has two new posts:
You Are Not Alone (Part 1)
You Are Not Alone (Part 2)
I can only hope that I would act as one of the Remnant...
Updated 5/23/07, 10:59pm
For those who weren't already familiar with Bill Whittle, I recommend going back to read these:
Tribes from September 5, 2005
Seeing the Unseen, Part 1 from November 6, 2006
Make a Choice from November 7, 2006
Seeing the Unseen, Part 2 from April 7, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
They got, based on their search words, the exact opposite of what they were looking for on this one. I'm sure they were looking for something to justify an opinion that the United States has been turned into a police state since George W. was elected, and they get something stating that, quite clearly, that is not the case...
Monday, May 14, 2007
Young Katie explains how Uncle John, a Vietnam veteran, will be coming to their house for dinner. Her mother explains to Katie and her sisters about the White Table: how it is intended to honor America’s Armed Forces, but most especially MIAs and POWs.
“We use a small table, girls,” she explained first, “to show one soldier’s lonely battle against many. We cover it with a white cloth to honor a soldier’s pure heart when he answers his country’s call to duty.
We place a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a captive soldier’s bitter fate and the tears of families waiting for loved ones to return,” she continued.
“We push an empty chair to the table for the missing soldiers who are not here.”
“We lay a black napkin for the sorrow of captivity, and turn over a glass for the meal that won’t be eaten,” she said.
“We place a white candle for peace and finally, a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon for the hope that all our missing will return someday.”
Katie then tells us how she learns her beloved Uncle John was shot down behind enemy lines. Uncle John and the rest of his helicopter crew were taken prisoner. One crew member, Mike, was seriously injured. When there was an opportunity to escape, Mike was too sick to go, so Uncle John stayed behind – “he wouldn’t leave a fellow soldier alone so far from home.”
Later, Uncle John had another chance to escape, this time taking Mike with him. Uncle John did his best to keep them both alive, and eventually found an American infantry unit, but Mike succumbed to his wounds before a rescue helicopter could arrive.
“I know that Mike was only 20 years old and he dreamed of playing football, but he loved America enough to give his life for his country when duty called.
And I know how much Uncle John loves America, too, but he learned when helping Mike that a soldier risks his life for a fellow soldier, because the best of our country lives in every man and woman who would lay down their life for you, too.”
Katie and her sisters decided the little table also “needed words of gratitude”, so they decide to leave gifts of their own on the table. Gretchen draws a picture of the objects on the table. Samantha transcribes the lyrics from “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, but Katie doesn’t know what she, a 10-year old, could leave “that was as important as each veteran’s gift of freedom”. Throughout dinner, she thinks, then imagines those “silent soldiers of the empty chair saying:
Remember us, please…
we are real people like your Uncle John and Mike
who left families and friends, homes and dreams of our own
to protect your birthright of liberty from disappearing
as easily as sunlight from a glass”
At the back of the book, the Author’s Note is a history of the White Table, beginning with the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, or the River Rats, setting the first MIA/POW Remembrance Table during the Vietnam War. Sometimes the objects on the table vary, as can the symbolism of those objects. Regardless, the intent is the same: to remember those of our Armed Forces who are not able to be with us because of their service.
If you have children in your life – kids, grandkids, whatever – I would recommend sharing this book with them. According to barnesandnoble.com, this book is recommended for ages 6 to 12. The topic is a little “heavy”, so you’d have to make the judgment about whether or not your children are mature enough yet to understand the message of the story, but you could also share it with older children to help show the importance of honoring our Armed Forces for their service. The book jacket includes the following quote from General George Washington:
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
Linked at Argghhh!
Update 11/3/07: If you are looking for a book appropriate for Veterans Day, you might also consider Pepper's Purple Heart.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
I recently became aware of the newly updated Army Regulation (AR) 530-1, Operations Security (OPSEC), and the implications for soldiers’ weblogs (milblogs) and other electronic communications. The reason given for this change in regulation is interest of operational security. While I am all for the highest degree of vigilance in matters of OPSEC, I feel that the new policy is heavy-handed and counterproductive for the following reasons:
1) Every website created by any service person is readily available for routine scrutiny by military monitoring agencies. At the first sign of misuse, the military has the capability to block the offending site and deal appropriately with its owner.
2) Milblogs are the 21st Century’s letters home from the war, a means of communicating from the combat zone with family and friends that far exceeds the capabilities, in both time and content, of previous wars. They are a definite morale-builder, both with serving troops and the folks back home keeping tabs on their loved ones.
3) Milblogs are tools for training and orientation from those who are there now to those who will be. Such exchanges can be highly beneficial for those deploying to combat for the first time. Such “pearls” from the trigger-pullers to those yet untested can make the transition much easier and perhaps safer for the new warriors.
4) Under such prohibition, only the dutiful soldiers will be affected. The disgruntled and disobedient will evade this restriction and find ways to use such internet podiums to spew their harsh criticisms. Only one view, that most favorable to the military, will be stifled.
5) Last but not least, those affected by this restriction on freedom of speech are precisely those who are placing their lives on the line to preserve that very freedom. To deny them that right unnecessarily, as is now being done with this new policy, sends a very wrong message to the world about our true commitment to our Bill of Rights.
I am aware that after these new regulations became public, the Army came out with a “clarification” saying the regulations did not, in fact, require every electronic communication to be cleared with a commander or OPSEC officer. However, from my point of view, if the Army felt it needed to “clarify” the AR 530-1, the new regulations are not clearly written, since many in the milblog community have not interpreted AR 530-1 so liberally. It would be at a commander’s discretion to order his soldiers to run all electronic communications through him, or to shut down any milblog out of an abundance of caution.
If a soldier wishes to exercise their First Amendment rights and maintain a weblog, there should be no prohibitive restrictions; a soldier should be asked to inform a commanding officer of the weblog, the soldier should be given a keen awareness of the consequences of OPSEC violations and the penalties that attach to them. By informing the commander, the soldier’s weblog would become part of a central registry, maintained by a DoD agency with the responsibility to routinely monitor content of all milblogs owned by active duty personnel.
In keeping up with this issue, today, a post on a milblog, The Fourth Rail, written by DJ Elliot, a retired naval intelligence analyst, points out the worst violators of OPSEC are senior Pentagon staff. Milblogs are too important a part of the Information War we are fighting against the terrorists. I urge you to not allow the Pentagon to throw out the baby with the bath water.