Thursday, November 30, 2006
Kramer has figuratively stepped on his "copulatory organ" in real life. Kramer's rant will be in the lexicon before we know it--think Howard Dean's rant after a political loss and his wasn't even racial. The media grabs on to something like this and it takes on a life of its own with the help of a camera video, of course.
I've seen a bunch of the clips and unless someone has been exiled to Siberia, so have they. I really could care less about the celebrity angle but I, for one, think that things like this force us to discuss that which is almost never discussed. I guess that prejudice is somewhat underneath the surface and when a person loses it, the prejudice spews out. Mel Gibson and Kramer, this would be president guy in VA; one side of me things, give me a break, I mean "people can't take a joke." Me thinks, however, if you are African American, it cuts deep.
I've always liked Kramer and saw all the Seinfeld shows, still watch them. Elaine was my favorite, however--a show about nothing and it is a shame it is not still on, they could deal with racism in a show. I doubt even they would as it is such a volatile subject.
Although I will have to admit that race for the "white" world becomes a scary issue. As I've heard it said, whites think about race only when something like Kramer's rant surfaces but blacks think about it 90% of the time. I don't quite know what his means but think that somehow, one's skin color is part of who they are. I get it.
Sure, racism exists and what I don't understand about the "n" word is that it is OK for blacks to use it but nobody else. OK by me as I would never use it anyway. Growing up in the South, it was a derogatory term and I always associate it with the very worst in all of us. But, if you watch some of these HBO shows like The Wire, about ninety percent has to do with the "n" word.
Kramer needs to say he is an alcoholic, the devil made him do it or he is just a sinner. Well, I think he has, he's been on every show imaginable and has fallen on his sword over and over. What if he had called the hecklers MFs, would that have been better.
Here's my bottom line: in our society, let's don't do anything to make people feel bad. I'm always saying something I shouldn't and most of the time, apologize in advance. Keep the personal out of it. In this, the issue of the "n" word, let's never say it: and, what about this, a goal: we always see people as people, no color, just people.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
In Iraq, like all of the Middle East, tangled is by far the best term. Nothing is as it seems. As someone has said, commitments are made, then broken, while the ground shifts in an instance, just like the desert sands. Nothing is more reminiscent of it than a story about a young military police Captain who commands an MP company in one of the districts of Baghdad. Her grandfather was in WW II, her Dad in Vietnam and here she is in Iraq. She came to the assignment full of enthusiasm, ready to use her training to teach the local police how to investigate crime, how to make sure they have a case and to do general policing work. What has happened is that the Police are under siege, not from petty crime but from armed militia, bombings, mortar fire. What the Iraqi police need to be trained in is how to be infantrymen, to fight, to protect. The local policemen have no supplies, no body armor, relatively nothing. Our young Captain is not equipped to do her job.
So, what does she do. She does what Vietnam vets learned in Vietnam. Quickly, in the Nam, we sized up the war and realized that we were in a "no win" zone. At first we fought, took the high ground and then the next day we left it and the enemy moved back in. How utterly stupid. So, what did we do? We did like the young Captain in Iraq is doing--you protect your men, you dedicate yourself to getting out of the situation alive. Forget issues of training, helping, leaving something behind better than when you found it. No way, get the hell out. It is where we are now in Iraq. Let's get the hell out.
How to do it is the issue: (1) immediately, (2) phased withdrawal, (3) send in more troops.
All of these positions require all kinds of caveats but let's select the lessor of all evils. Phased drawdown. Don't you love that word? Drawdown means slow reduction. Let's get the conventional troops out of Iraq immediately and leave 30-50,000 Special Operations soldiers , to include CIA trained (think Alfghnistan). Give them all the firepower that they now have to protect themselves. Make them advisers to the police and the military, reduce our physical presence, and prepare for a complete withdrawal.
What we do not have in Iraq is a possibility for a long term commitment. Based on a fanatical approach to Islam, foreign troops have to be gone. We are looking at somewhat of an Iranian Iraq, simply it is what is going to happen with the Shiite majority anyway--moving toward a theocracy. Will the violence be quelled? Who knows? Eventually, it will, I think. At this point, we have to admit, as my bud, Henry Kissinger said, we have failed. Is this so bad? Simply, we made a bad choice, to put the best spin on it, we can say, it was a grand experiment that went to hell. Next case.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I guess there is something to say that the President visited given the US exit, humiliating as it was. Amazing, how things change. Who is writing the President's speeches? He, in affirming Vietnam and its tremendous growth; and the fact that it is poised to rival economies like China, and Japan, is to be commended. But, he compared Vietnam's transition to a modern, growing economy that gave him hope about what could be rebuilt from the ruins of Iraq. Also, the American experience in Vietnam was that "we'll succeed (in Iraq) unless we quit."
With statements like these, I often would love to say, "Mr. President, I think you inhaled?" The comparison of success and failure in Vietnam and Iraq could not be more dissimilar. We made some basic errors in Vietnam that had we done differently, it is hard to know what would have happened. At a particular juncture, realizing that the South Vietnamese government was so corrupt, we should have taken over the country, done what we had to do and sorted it out later. Given who we are as a democracy that was nearly impossible. Add to this that we continued to make some basic mistakes that are very similar to what we have done in Iraq which drives us to think, Iraqnam.
The moment we introduced conventional soldiers into Vietnam, it became an American war. Had we left the Special Forces mainly involved with the South Vietnamese Army as advisers, it could have turned out differently. Not in winning but in staying. Ho Chi Minh always felt he could wait us out--had he concluded that we were not leaving, he would have sued for peace maybe and been serious about it. If history has shown us anything about Ho, it has been that he was practical. But, with conventional troops, the agitation of leaving from the homeland became more and more a piece of the puzzle. Americans have a hard time believing that there is an element of our society, i. e., military that loves war and were prepared to stay as long as it took.
One big difference in Vietnam and Iraq and what makes the comparison so fruitless is that the Vietnamese have always had a great sense of national identity. Whether North or South, always Vietnamese. They fought wars for years and the American war was just another one. For the North and South, it was a war of ideology, not culture.
There's surely more to it than can be delineated here. After the North was triumphant after we left, we had the reeducation camps, the boat people, and the transition to where they are today. Vietnam, especially the South, is bathed in a capitalist economy and anybody who has been there recently can attest to it. Iraq is fueled by tribalism, no real sense of who they are outside of the tribalism. They are Shite, Sunni, Kurds and this is not going to change, thousands of years of history illustrates it. Our leadership continues to be in a state of denial regardless of the evidence and statements from the Leader of the free world comparing Vietnam and Iraq reinforces the denial. Wake up and smell the roses.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Think about it. We have 130,000 troops stationed in Korea and have been there since the armistice in 1953. What is this? Ostensibly, we are protecting South Korea from a possible invasion. What? Deep kimchee. Does this make sense? South Korea has probably the best ground army in the world. They have conscription, they train, they are good. Why are we still there? And, why would we put up with them not even supporting our efforts to protect them?
Here is a suggestion. With the midterm elections, we expect that our world view of being the policemen to the hemisphere is going to change. Let's signal our change by getting out of Korea or greatly reducing our forces. Our own military is stretched to the max. We need more troops in Iraq. Let's take the ones from the ROK (Republic of Korea) and use them in Iraq. DEEP KIMCHEE!!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
What we can't do is dwell on how we got to Iraq. Maybe after it is over but not now. We have to come up with an exit strategy. Thus far, all it has been is "hoping things will work out OK."
Getting rid of Rumsfelt is a start. I must admit I feel a little sorry for the guy.
This whole Iraqi quagmire is a little like a drama. If it wasn't so tragic, it should be a novel. What you have are these guys Rumsfelt, Chaney, Pearle, Wolfowitz, they, along with this charlatan, an Iraqi who has been gone from Iraq for thirty years, a guy called, Chalabi, (NY Times Magazine had a big story on him) talks these guys into making Iraq a passion, i. e., they definitely have weapons of mass destruction, people will welcome us as liberators, democracy will bring peace to the Middle East, etc. His organization is given 15 million dollars to prepare to run the country when in fact, he hardly has an organization. He becomes the architect of invading Iraq. A colossal liar at worst or extreme and smart manipulator at best. But, honestly, it is amazing, this is not some conspiracy theory: this is how they sold it to the President.
There is lots more to this historical miscalculation and to read the NY Times Magazine story is like reading a novel: Chalabi convinced smart people: Rumsfelt, Chaney, and the true believer, Wolfowitz and then they didn't have to so much sell it to the Prez as to give him the fuel to do what he wanted to do anyway. And, in the process, they forever tainted Colin Powell and Condi, the CIA, and all kinds of other lessor lights.
The enormous significance of "war by committee" and doing something new and plotting an exit strategy NOW is that daily young Americans continue to die and this is intolerable given the "broken nature of Iraq" over which we have no control. So "war by committee," let's give it a shot and use the motto of "Good" magazine, "America, love it or fix it.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The wonderful thing about our country, among many things, is the idea that we have an election, you win, you lose, you are happy, you are sad, makes no difference, we just go on. There's no rioting in the streets, the transfer of power is just what it is. I often say to my buddies, "we could hire one of these planes and put a sign on it that says "the prez is stupid." Nobody would blink an eye. It really, with all our problems, is what makes our country great. God bless us.