Thursday, May 19, 2005
Fly the Flag
It seems to me that patriotism has become something you hide until a monstrous event such as 9/11 occurs, which gives everyone a boot in the tail, and "allows" nascent patriotism to show forth in all of its glory. That is why I have made it a point to display the flag at every flag-flying opportunity, and for long periods in between too (if the wife doesn't complain too hard that her favorite seasonal flag isn't getting its usual outing). As far as I am concerned, patriotism has never gone out of style or become passe. It is a 24/7/365 thing, and the flag simply makes the statement of my strong and proud feelings for this, my country, and yours.
It is not a blind patriotism either. Not the "My country right or wrong" kind, but the kind that honors and supports the republic, constitution, our laws, and our many venerable institutions and traditions. It is volunteering for military service when the country needs you. It is working to ensure that our military has all it needs to perform superbly. It is supporting our President, and our elected officials: and it is also voting to keep or change them from an informed opinion when election time comes around if we decide for change. It is finding and fixing problems in our complex society that will last beyond a few years, and to do those things in the spirit of our Founding Fathers, not in the spirit of a power grab, or an expansion of supposed but self-serving rights, or in trying to move the nation into a drab and featureless collective society.
To me, it is also making sure that we ourselves do no harm to this nation, just as physicians vow to do no harm to their patients. We are all physicians to our government and our people. Today, I have seen many writings and many biased attitudes cascading from journalists and, yes, bloggers, that betray those people as America-haters. Not just iconoclasts, but true haters of our nation and our way of life. We need people who have innovative points of view; we even need a strong opposition to balance the power of elected government, but we don't need America-haters.
Thus, flying the flag symbolizes all the above positive themes about America, and many more.
The military is very hard up for warm bodies.Yet here you are blogging.Shouldn't you run out and join up?
I await a non-explanation and an accusation of being a "troll"
Most of the chicken hawks respond that way when confronted.
First, I did volunteer during the Korean War, served 4 years, and was decorated for that service.
Second, I would be more of a danger than a help at my advanced age of 74, and I am certain I could not pass any basic physical test with my current disabilities. I do wish it were otherwise. My attitude has not changed with the years. I would volunteer again, if I were able.
What about you?
It was the phrase"we don't need America haters" that pissed me off.
I hate what our country has become.I believe we have, since World War Two and Korea, embarked on a series of illegal and increasingly aggressive wars simply for profit for what Eisenhower called "the military industrial complex".
When you say "support the President"surely you don't mean the gang of thieves currently in charge.At the age of 74,you must see past Bush's good 'ol boy false patriotic facade.
Let me say again that my post was an ill advised attack on your courage and intelligence.You responded politely and calmly and made me look like a left wing zealot.
I was 0311 in the Marine Corps for four years in the relatively peaceful 90's.I was fortunate enough to never have to fire a shot in combat.I have studied the Korean conflict and I know what bravery was shown by our soldiers and Marines in horrible conditions and brutal combat.
I have obviously become very supicious of our government and it's motives,but the bravery of many individual servicemen,then and now,is without question.
I only wish they had leaders worthy of their sacrifice.
If you have explored this site and read many of my previous posts, you would know that my choice of President was made very deliberately on the issues I hold dear. Bush met every one of my criteria, while Kerry met none of them. The Republicans in general have my conservative sympathies far more so than the liberal Left.
I think Panama was given to the Panamanians by Carter, which lies at the root of our invasion there. We still cannot afford to have the Canal in hostile hands.
Grenada was yet another attempt to install a Communist regime in the Western hemisphere, where we long ago, in the Monroe Doctrine, told the world to keep out.
Somolia was supposed to be a humanitarian exercise, but because of the bin Laden influence on the warlords there, they set us a trap which we fell into to our sorrow.
Kosovo was a direct intervention into a genocidal situation to save Muslim lives, which neither the EU, nor the UN, nor NATO could unravel for mysterious reasons, although they had approved the actions.
Afghanistan was an obvious response to 9/11, and so far it seems to have been successful. It was a UN approved operation.
Iraq was a brilliant strategic move in the war on terrorism and Islamic fundamentalists, in my opinion, and it has had enormous payoffs so far, at the cost of 1,600 or so American lives. That we have given over 50 million Muslims a chance at freedom and democracy, if they take advantage of it, is an unparalleled outcome. We shall see how it develops.
The action we took was predicated upon 18 or so resolutions from the UN against the regime over a dozen or so years, the last of which was a clear warning to Saddam, that he ignored.
I believe also that every terrorist we take out over there is one less we may have to fight here later on. I do sign up to the old saw that an offense is the best defense. The current events there are the best and last chance for terrorists to destable the new regime. I think they will fail.
In these matters, we shall have to agree to disagree.
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)
"The action we took was predicated upon 18 or so resolutions from the UN against the regime over a dozen or so years, the last of which was a clear warning to Saddam, that he ignored."
I would think this is the relevant passage:
"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."
I agree we can disagree politely.
I would like your comment on this memo.
I see several points:
It is written after the 9/11 attack, so the subject matter is appropriate.
The phrase "intelligence is being fixed around..." can be construed in a number of ways, some of which are typically British, I suppose. Being "fixed around" could mean "focused", "concentrated", "summarized" or a bunch of similar synonyms for "fixed around". That leaves interpretation of what was really meant to the reader.
Instantly, a Bush-hater would find "fixed around" to mean "falsified," while the Bush lover would say, "sure, lets find out all we can about WMD and summarize it,", i.e. use all the resources we have to bolster the case.
So I am not so certain that this memo has any real "smoking gun" aspects to it, though many desparately want it to be the cause for impeachment processes to take place.
I hardly think that the word of a minion of a foreign government would be enough to start that process, if his superiors state otherwise.
But then, suppose it DID mean falsify the evidence on WMD to con the people into supporting the Iraqi invasion. My question at that point would be, have you considered UNSC 1440, and many other reasons for toppling Saddam?
I believe we had convinced ourselves that WMD did exist, and many still believe it was there or readily capable of being employed.
Tommy Franks believes it. The President believes it. Many Congressmen believed it.
If Saddam faked his whole WMD program for reasons of local defense against Iran or wherever, then he rattled his WMD saber too hard and too often. Too bad for him! He faked out the one power that could bring him to task for it.
Have a nice Sunday, MK. It is sunny and warm here, with only a hint of possible showers.
Thus at the SC they all concurred with UNSC 1440, perhaps with too much reliance on faulty intel. I don't know. Self-fulfilling prophecy?