When we evaluate the facts, the use of private military contractors appears to have harmed, rather than helped, the counterinsurgency efforts of the U.S. mission in Iraq, going against our best doctrine and undermining critical efforts of our troops. Even worse, the government can no longer carry out one of its most basic core missions: to fight and win the nation’s wars. Instead, the massive outsourcing of military operations has created a dependency on private firms like Blackwater that has given rise to dangerous vulnerabilities.
The dark truth about Blackwater
The idea of privatization of American public and governmental functions has been at the center of the neo conservative movement and over the last decade has been presented as the cure for everything that ails us from Social Security to Medicare, prison administration to public education, law enforcement and even the waging of war.
Preaching to the choir yesterday in Martinsburg, W Va, Bush recited the same sermon he and his handlers reserve for these carefully controlled and completely choreographed appearances before the faithful.
“We give thanks for all the brave citizen-soldiers of our Continental Army who dropped pitchforks and took up muskets to fight for our freedom and liberty and independence,” Bush said. He added: “You’re the successors of those brave men. . . . Like those early patriots, you’re fighting a new and unprecedented war.”
I wonder if anyone else noticed that our Revolution against the tyrannical rule of that earlier George, the occupation of our cities and provinces by British troops, his interference in what we regarded as our affairs, and the general mistreatment of our citizenry was, in fact, the polar opposite of our invasion and occupation of Iraq and the mistreatment, maiming and murder of their citizenry.
We have been at war in Iraq for over four years, in Afghanistan for nearly six, at the same time we have conducted and continue to conduct covert operations in other countries throughout the Middle East including Iran and Pakistan, as well as in several African countries.
October 4, 2002
Dear Aunty Grace
Thank you very much for the food that arrived yesterday. Mother was thrilled to see it. She cried because she had not seen so much mealie meal for months.
Straightaway she cooked a really big meal of nshima. We ate really well last night and I still feel full today.
Some days when I’m unable to write at home, too lazy to make breakfast, or just need a better cup of coffee than I make around here, I head for a local Internet Cafe called Java Street, a pleasant spot run by a gracious friend named Stacy and frequented by an interesting and diverse group of people.
Yesterday as I settled in, plugged in the laptop and ordered breakfast, I spoke to a couple of the regulars who play chess most mornings, trading quick coffee house greetings. As I opened the morning paper I noticed at the next table a very pretty young woman, as a professional, a trained observer, it’s part of my job. She was wearing a headset, engrossed in her work and seemed oblivious to the coffee aromas, with the lingering memory of burnt toast and the low murmur of breakfast banter wafting in her vicinity.
Memorial Day, 2007
I remember being twenty one in August of 65, the week of my birthday, and standing alone on a hill near Chu Lai, looking out over the only road and admiring the low angle textures of the light on the South China Sea. The gulls circling above the villager’s fishing boats, pulled high on the beach beyond reach of the tides, the last of the fishermen in the distance walking in twos, returning to their homes for the night.
I stood there alone with the breeze slowly drying my sweat soaked uniform, alone with the taste and smell of the ocean and it’s limitless life, alone with the eternal sound of the surf as it stretched its’ fingers toward the ancient boats.
Off to my left, up the coast a few hundred yards was a mess area, tents and equipment sandbagged against the madness of the day, and a bit nearer to me, two large walk in coolers
I could hear the low humming sound of their generators almost hidden below the steady music of the sea.
From my right on the road below I heard the sound of a six-by coming up from the south where we had been that morning. It passed in front of me and I could see the sweat stained faces of the two Marines in the front seat, and as it went by to my left I could see others in the back.
Appeasing The Gods Of The Shareholders
There was a time when, as a matter of policy, America went to war only as a response to an attack by an aggressor. In 1962 John Kennedy had every reason to make war with Cuba and Russia when Kruschev talked Fidel into parking several dozen Soviet nuclear missiles ten minutes from Washington and 90 miles from spring break.
Most of the Joint Chiefs, especially Curtis Lemay,(General Bat Guano?) along with a sizable faction of Kennedy’s closest advisers urged the President to invade. Lemay wanted to send his B52s, (presumably not to drop leaflets) while others preferred a massive land invasion, perhaps to restore the Cosa Nostra to control of Cuban Casinos, the way God intended.
There is an apocryphal story told that Marine Commandant David Shoup (under whom I served at the time) presented the assemblage of top level civilian and military advisers with an easel containing a map of Cuba, over which he had placed an acetate overlay of a tiny Pacific atoll named Tarawa. Tarawa, which the Marines had invaded early in WW2 was shown graphically as a small speck against the background of Castro’s Caribbean worker’s paradise.
He then proceeded to inform the gathering that the insignificant speck had not been at all pacific, having cost the lives of over 1000 Marines and the wounding of 2200 others, creating a great storm of protest at home over what was seen as a needless squandering of lives to gain a tiny piece of real estate. Tarawa, he is reported to have explained, was defended by 4500 Japanese while Castro would field 150,000, and perhaps as many more.
Twice a week I have a physical therapy session at the Dayton VA Hospital. I had a heart attack last March 15, (beware the ides?) in October they referred me to cardio pulmonary therapy to build me up for whatever years may lie ahead. They have done an excellent job and I am pleased with my future prospects.
I have been treated at the Dayton VA several times over the years, have volunteered there performing Veteran’s memorial services as part of an honor guard, and three years ago said good bye to my father who died in the VA hospice at the age of 80.
My experiences with VA medical care have been almost entirely positive. The medical staff has been competent caring and willing to communicate with me. My physical therapist (Kinesiologist) whom I refer to as Ms Torquemada has enabled me to return to a relatively normal life and I love her for it. The hospice ward is amazing, they treated my Dad with the dignity and respect he deserved in his final days on this planet and were equally wonderful with my family. The people in the ER and Cardiac Intensive Care wards saved my life which fact may leave me with some bias on the issue at hand.
I have personally witnessed the operations of this facility during the current federal administration as well as during the Clinton years and I have seen a noticeable decline in the state of the physical plant and the attitudes of some employees during the Cheney/Bush era.
What once was a well funded and squeaky clean facility has deteriorated noticeably and budget cutting has caused serious staffing problems. I believe that this decline is due to the penny pinching policies of the knuckle heads who are passing themselves off as our government.
The blame for conditions at Walter Reed and other problems throughout the veterans health system must be placed firmly at the feet of those who set the policies. For the last six years those feet have belonged to George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. To lay the blame on anyone below the the level of policy maker and budget controllers would be wrong.