Friday, May 29, 2009


The North Koreans, like South Korea, is build on the Confucian ethic which is more a philosophy as opposed to a religion. And, although the North has become incredibly repressive, it is still that philosophy. The philosophy is built around four laws which, to the Koreans, are inviolate: Ruler over Subject, Father over Son, Husband over Wife, Elder Brother over Younger Brother, Friend to Friend. And, in my experience, all sorts of overlays exist around these Confucian principles. For understanding North Korea and their blindly following a "mad man" among men,the ruler over subject is critical. The Korean Confucianists, both North and South tend toward extreme orthodoxy. As an example, a chance remark attributed to Confucius, that the superior man did not talk while he ate, resulted in centuries of silent meals in Korea. Consequently, Kim Il Jong, the supreme leader is worshipped as another example of the Confucious extreme orthodoxy.

Guessing Kim, the Supreme Leader's motives is simply way beyond what almost anyone can do. Consequently, the only path it appears to me is to make the problem of North Korea, the problem of the South Koreans.

It is an insolvable problem. And, in a sense, the North is right about hypocrisy, meaning from their perspective, telling them that they can't pursue a course when we have precisely done what we are saying they can't. Where this is especially critical is in terms of the military. Without a doubt, South Korea has the best trained army in the world, to include our own. The critical move is to move American ground troops out of Korea preferably or at least to the far south. We could easily maintain a strong military presence in our Air Force but well away from the DMZ (demilitarized zone).

What most don’t realize is that in our present configuration with an American Division (two Brigades at least) sitting on the demilitarized zone (38th Parallel, established after the Korean war), they are literally sitting ducks. If the North Koreans were to swarm across the 38rh parallel, amassed, with the firepower we know they have, in all probability, the American Division would take mass casualties, drawing us into a major war again.

By bringing home the troops or at least moving them away from the DMZ, we save enormous resources, telegraph our intentions and possibly move the North Koreans toward some form of resolutions on the nukes but more importantly put the issue of peace on the backs of the South Koreans where if ought to be. Essentially, we have been in Korea since 1953, way too long.

What seems to escape most is that when dealing with a "crazy" all bets are off. The classic definition of someone who is unhinged is that you can't understand them. As I listen to the "talking heads" concerning Korea, it is very apparent that either they don't have a clue as they continue to try to paint some sort of reasonable outcome as possible. Sanctions, adinfinitum, are as we say in NC, as useless as tits on a bore hog. Simply, there is no reasoning. Let us do the prudent thing and move away from provocation which at best might buy us time.

North Korea is dangerous and paranoid and this is by far a situation which we need to take very serious and move to the rear. One of the advantages of being "mighty" is that your options are many. In this case, avoidance and passing the buck to the ROK (Republic of Korea) is what we need to do. At least what we will have are the two Koreas, guided by the Confucian logic, facing and understanding how the other thinks. NO SMALL THING.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Yesterday,I was taken aback, somewhat by the President's Memorial Day remarks. He called the military, the men and women of America's fighting forces, both living and dead, as "the best of America." And, then it was almost as though he was thinking out loud and said, "Why in an age when so many have acted only in pursuit of narrowest self-interest have the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of this generation volunteered all that they have on behalf of others. Why have they been willing to bear the heaviest burden? Whatever it is, they felt some tug. They answered a call. They said 'I'll go.' That is why they are the best of America." That is what separates them from those who have not served in uniform, their extraordinary willingness to risk their lives for people they never met."

The president, who did not serve in the military, noted his grandfather's Army service during World War II and his status as a father of daughters ages 10 and 7. Unlike many of those in the audience, Obama said he can't know what it's like to walk into battle or lose a child.

"But I do know this. I am humbled to be the commander in chief of the finest fighting force in the history of the world," he said.

And, I will have to say to the President, I am humbled by your remarks and they gave me pause. In a twenty nine year career, I never thought about how great it was that I was serving my country. It was a choice I had made. When I was in Vietnam, rarely did the troops and I discuss what it meant to be at war. Mostly, we were doing our time and when it was over, we were thankful we had survived. For us, Vietnam vets, we didn't enjoy any of the accolades at the time of having served our country. Quite the opposite: mostly scorn from all sorts of quarters, "how could we have been so stupid to get ourselves drafted and of all things go to Vietnam." We mostly just "sucked it up and surely didn't talk much about it. At some point, ten years or so, most Americans began to wake up and realize that we didn't cause the war but were merely doing what we were told. The country sent us to Vietnam.

For us Vietnam vets, our legacy, if we have one is that because we were treated so shabbily, soldies serving now are called heros just for being soldiers. To hear the president call us the best of America is pretty gratifying even if we don't believe it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Hey Sir,
I willingly admit that being away from home is the hardest part of my job and pretty much the only thing I ever worry about while I'm here. For all the mess that one can find himself surrounded by in a place like this, my only concerns are with my family. Something I know you and Dad can relate too. But, it is the nature of my chosen profession.

I've seen alot of changes here over the three trips. The most glaring differences between this trip and the last... Lights and silence. Since I'm mostly nocturnal in my mission execution, ground/city lights are noticeable. The first time we were here, there were only very small pockets of light around the largest population bases, i.e. Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, etc... But they were subject to what I can only equate to rolling blackouts - now you see 'em, now you don't. The second time we were here, the pockets of light had been extended to cover more of the country side, but there were still huge seas of black and blackouts were still commonplace. This time, amazing... You can literally see the veins of light connecting all of the cities and towns. Hard to explain, but there was a big "wow" factor there for me. As far as the silence, I'm referring to the radio traffic. Even at peak launch and recovery times, it doesn't come any where close to the insanity that it was over the first two rotations. I can literally travel from one place to another and only hear a couple of other transmissions in route. Again, hard to do it justice in words, but also pretty "wow".

It is great hearing and thanks for the good sitrep (situation report). I keep hearing that violence is down and my usual retort is, "says who." With regular
bombings of civilians, etc; but your comments about lights staying on and radio message traffic confirms it. At least it sounds like the country views itself
as safer. I am still skeptical of being able to get out of Iraq. My feelings all along have been that our cultural and value systems are so diametrically opposed, that it cannot be overcome. To involve ourselves in a situation like this, to me, is and has been insane.

I surely understand the family thing. It is an enormous sacrifice, the absences in particular. Those are times that you cannot make up and very few in the American society understand it. I remain concerned about the Army's future as we become more and more a subculture within the greater culture. I am constantly hearing people in really high places comment about the military and it is obvious they don't understand it at all. Even the President often appears a little flumoxxed, and I think that he listens way too much to the generals. They always want "more troops." Westmoreland said in 65, give us more troops and we'll be home by Christmas: we didn't know he was talking ten years later.

It is so great that your family is around your folks. Your Dad,
like me, loves being a grandpa. I never felt like I was such a hot
dad, gone so much but I'm really making up for it as a grandpa. I bet
your Dad feels a little of the same way.

God bless. Is there anything I can send you? One thing is my good
thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Economist

Recently, I"ve subscribed to the magazine, The Economist. I like it, very in-depth articles. I'm wading through it but since it's a British Magazine, thought these comments from my bud were interesting.

"England is a wonderful place but the people are rather up-tight and gloomy at heart. It's funny, they are genuinely sad about life, which is, I think, the enormous difference between there (US) and here. Also, there's no Netflix! I miss California rather a lot. It certainly would be nice to hang out with you for breakfast. I am planning to come over later in the year."