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Posts Tagged ‘military’

President Obama Receives the Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by AB on December 10, 2009

Earlier today, in Oslo, Norway, President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize.  Despite being the leader of a nation involved in two wars, he was awarded the honor less than a year into his presidency.  And to make things even more uncomfortable, the President recently ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. 

It seemed to be an untenable position for a man to receive an award for peace while he, at the same time, commands a military at war on two fronts.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure that there was anything that could be said to reconcile that paradox, but it seems that he has pulled it off, brilliantly.  He spoke about the unfortunate reality that is the necessity of war.  He expressed that there are evils in this world, and that the purveyors of these evils cannot be persuaded without military intervention. 

Amazingly, the assessments of the speech–from the right and left–have been positive.  It is a rare occasion for President Obama to receive praise from the right side of the political spectrum, and recently from the left, but some are saying that this could have been his best speech ever.  I don’t know if I agree with that opinion, but today’s speech might have been the most real, honest and grown-up speech given by an American president in years.

And with that speech, along with other bits of evidence in his first year in office, I have come to realize what Barack Obama really is–a grown-up.  He is a father-figure in a land of juvenile delinquents, and it is comforting to me.  But then again, maybe I’m just a kid, searching for the good in this world.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

They’ll wait us out? Good

Posted by AB on December 7, 2009

As soon as President Obama announced his plan for Afghanistan, last week, his opponents from the right began to attack.  Proving, once again, that the President’s opponents and critics cannot be satisfied or accepting of any of his policies, they found a predictably sour note in the plan.  Senator John McCain went on NBC just minutes after the speech to declare his concern with a timetable to begin withdrawal in Afghanistan and, in the subsequent days, many others have followed suit.

Opponents of a withdrawal timetable will say that we shouldn’t tell the enemy when we will leave.  Nevermind that this July 2011 date is tentative and dependent on the realities on the ground, they believe that the enemy, which is Al Qaeda and some of the Taliban, will just sit back and wait until we withdraw.  Well, I hope that they are right.  The absolute best thing that can happen for us and the world in Afghanistan is for the entities that are destabilizing that country to retreat for the next 18 months.  That gives the United States and its allies 18 months to train the Afghan military and police.  Eighteen months to stabilize one of the most corrupt governments in the world.  Eighteen months to help stabilize Pakistan, a country that does have nuclear weapons.  Eighteen months, unchallenged.  That would be sweet.

When I hear that argument, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.  On the one hand, it is a ridiculous argument, but on the other hand, some of those who are making that argument are our elected leaders.  The notion that we should never plan for an exit because our opponents will wait for hundreds or thousands of years is one of the most insane arguments that I could imagine.  Are they saying that we could be there for hundreds of years?  Are they saying that the President should have some super-secret withdrawal plan, so that the enemy and the American people will be surprised when we leave?  This criticism of a withdrawal plan shows a fundamental lapse of thought from a large segment of people.  It doesn’t make me laugh or cry, but it is a sad.

Republicans, conservatives, and other opponents of a withdrawal date can use all of nonsensical arguments that they can think-up, but each time that they say that our enemies will wait until we leave, someone must point out that it would be a good thing.  It would be a dream scenario for our military to operate, unfettered, for the next 18 months.  We need that time to strengthen Afghanistan’s military, police and government, so that when we do leave, Afghanistan can support and protect Afghanistan.  

We cannot stay there forever.  In July of 2011, we will have been there for nearly 10 years.  For most Americans, that is long enough.  So, they’ll wait us out?  Good.

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Obama’s Afghan Decision

Posted by AB on December 2, 2009

Last night, addressing the nation before the US Military Academy at West Point, President Obama announced his plan for moving forward in Afghanistan.  He announced that he would send 30, 000 more troops into Afghanistan through the next six months, part of a plan to begin removing American military from that country within 18 months.  The new strategy will focus on defeating Al Qaeda, training Afghan police and military, correcting government corruption, and support for the stability of Pakistan.

To the dismay of much of the media, the speech was not filled with “bumper-sticker” quotes, but with reason and responsibility.  His goal was to explain the strategy and reasons for that strategy to, not only American civilians and military members, but also to the people of Afghanistan and the world.  Something that I feel was especially significant and powerful was when the President looked straight into the camera, addressing Afghans, explaining the purpose of the US military presence in their country.  He told them, explicitly, that the United States had no desire to occupy Afghanistan.  That part of the speech might be overlooked and, although it may seem like an insignificant part of the speech, this subtle overture is important to gain the trust of the Afghan people.

This decision by President Obama has been, and will continue to be panned by the media, bloggers, and politicians.  This is one of those decisions that will please very few, right or left, but that could be a good sign, actually.  When no one in this divisive political atmosphere is championing the President’s decision, then he must be doing something right.  He, his administration, and the military seem to be on the same page on this decision, however, which is most important.  Popular support for all wars continue to wane in this country, and for good reason, but the populous reacts emotionally, while our nations leaders must rule with reason. 

Conservatives and Republicans, who are against every decision the President makes, are complaining that there are too few troops, and that the 18-month timeline for withdrawal is somehow equivalent to surrender.  Of course, all of this is nonsense.  I know that they must find something to disagree with, maybe they should remember the advice that they have repeated, again and again, for the past couple of months–listen to the generals.  Okay, let’s see what Gen. Stanley McChrystal has to say:  (from UPI)

“The clarity, capability, and committment outlined in President Obama’s address are critical steps toward eliminating an insurgency in Afghanistan and terrorist safe havens that threatened regional and global security….I believe our renewed coalition campaign is fortified by the path President Obama has put forward.”   

Democrats, liberals, and progressives–my side of political thinking–are not happy about the decision, either.  Many of them feel that it is time for us to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan.  Although President Obama, during last years election campaign, clearly stated he would place more focus of the war in Afghanistan, people on the left are disappointed or angry about this “surge” of troops.  They try to insult Obama by saying that he is acting just like George W. Bush.  That, too, is nonsense.  I only wish that President Bush would have placed the proper focus on Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, he forgot about Afghanistan.  He invaded Iraq.  He didn’t take care of business, so President Obama must.

There are no silver bullets for success in Afghanistan.  There seem to be no good options, but President Obama has properly deliberated over the facts and advice, and he has now announced the strategy that he believes is most likely to lead to success.  I don’t know if he is right or wrong but, as Americans, we should all hope that he is right.  It is time for Americans to unite.  “United we stand, divided we fall.”

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Two Names

Posted by AB on June 3, 2009

Two names:  Scott Roeder and Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad.  When you see the these two names, what comes to mind?  Believe it or not, these two men have a great deal in common.  They are both American citizens.  They both feel very strongly about their beliefs.  Oh, and they are both domestic terrorists.  My guess is that you may not be surprised that Mr. Muhammad, a converted Muslim, is a terrorist.  But Mr. Roeder?  A white, Christian, anti-abortion advocate?

For many years–at least since September 11, 2001 for most Americans–we have been continuously conditioned by the media and other groups that terrorists are Arab, Muslim men who hate America.  We have been conditioned to be suspicious of anyone wearing a turban, or other traditionally “foreign” dress.  Americans have been conditioned to keep an eye on Arab-looking men with beards out in public places.  There have even been suggestions that “racial profiling” might be a good idea, because we all know that all terrorists are Muslim, right?  Wrong.

Let us take a look at the definition of terrorism from an online Military Dictionary

The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.

Scott Roeder, as you may know, has been is the news, recently, for his actions on Sunday, May 31.  On that day, he walked into a church in Witchita, Kansas, and shot down controversial OB/GYN, Dr. George Tiller.  Dr. Tiller, dubbed “Tiller, the Baby Killer” by his critics, was one of only a few doctors in the country that performed “late-term” abortions (after 21 weeks) for women who were having complications with their pregnancies.  No matter how you feel about abortion, I think that most can agree that it is wrong to murder anyone.  Mr. Roeder has been an anti-abortion activist for many years, and even served time in prison in the late 1990’s for possessing bomb-making materials.  Take a look at the definition of terrorism above, and this incident clearly falls within that description, but you will be hard-pressed to find a media outlet call it for what it is:  domestic terrorism.

Another case of domestic terrorism happened just a day later, when Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, a converted Muslim, previously know as Carlos Bledsoe, opened fire on an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas.  The shooting killed Pvt. William Long, and wounded Pvt. Quintin Ezeagwula.  When it was discovered that Muhammad was believed to be targeting military members for political and religious purposes, there was no problem calling that an act of terrorism.

There you have two acts; both acts of terrorism, both dispicable, both sad for the victims’ friends and families.  They both fall into the description and definition of terrorism, but only one is actually called terrorism.  Why is that?  Is it because killing a man who performed abortions is okay?  Is it because the terrorist is a white man in the Tiller case?  Is it because Muhammad is Muslim?  Or is it because of the way that we have been conditioned in this country to think of terrorism?

There are bad people lurking in all races and religions, many of which who use religion to justify lawlessness.  If both of these men are convicted, and there are no other suspects at this point, then they deserve to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, and some will say that they should be executed.  At this point, I could think of no better way for these two men to live the rest of their lives than to spend them together as cellmates in Leavenworth.

Posted in Misc. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Memorial Day (Thank-a-Soldier Day)

Posted by AB on May 24, 2009

Barbecues, baseball, racing, picnics, quality time with family and  friends, and a day off of work or school–no matter how you celebrate the unofficial start of Summer, don’t forget about the true meaning of Memorial Day:  to honor those who have fought and died while protecting these United States of America.

Memorial Day was first recognized in 1868, when General John A. Logan requested that his troops “decorate” the graves of their fallen Union brothers, hence the original name of the holiday, Decoration Day.  Eventually, the holiday was extended to the honor of all US war dead. 

              Memorial Day by r o s e n d a h l.

For those of us who have never served in the military, or have had family members who have served, there is a tendency to look past the true significance of Memorial Day.  Even though we are at war, and that provides a better reminder for us than at peace time, we enjoy our freedoms without paying tribute to those who have died to protect them.

Tomorrow, we will see President Obama continue the tradition of laying a wreath at the “Tomb of the Unknowns,” and there will be many other honorable ceremonies across the country, like the 3 P.M. moment of silent reflection.  All that we really have to do is enjoy our freedom.  The sacrifice of soldiers past and present is not accompanied by any duty from civilians, but many of us want to give our thanks.  I can think of no better way to show thanks to those soldiers who have passed than by telling at least one living US Military member, retired or active, “Thank you for your service.”  It sounds simple, and it is, but it could make the day of someone who will never receive enough appreciation for his or her sacrifices.  Turn Memorial Day into “Thank-a-Soldier Day.”  If you do not know a member of the military, they are not hard to find.  The more you thank, the more you will appreciate the true meaning of Memorial Day.  I’ll begin with my sister.

info from:   http://www.answers.com/topic/memorial-day

Posted in Misc. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Honoring Our Heroes

Posted by AB on February 27, 2009

For the past 18 years, there has been a media ban of the flag-draped coffins of deceased members of the US Military at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.  President Obama, however, ordered a Pentagon review of the policy, and on Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a change.  The specifics of the new policy are to be determined, but now the families of those soldiers will make the decision of whether or not to allow photos and video.

Pentagon War DeadThis is a policy that was long overdue for review.  For far too long, the American people have been denied the vision of the reality of war.  It is easy for all of us to dismiss the cost of war in American lives when we only hear the numbers.  We often take for granted the sacrifices of our military and their families, but however little, this is one way for us to understand the reality behind those numbers.

The American people, and people around the world will have a new appreciation for the way that we honor those who have given their lives for this great country.  This is a ceremony performed with the utmost respect, and nobody should be made to feel guilty about the interest in seeing the coffins covered by the stars and stripes.

 This could be the beginning of a return to common sense for our country and our government.  It makes a great deal of sense–allow the families to decide if the flag-draped coffins are to be covered by the media.  Some families will allow it, and some will not, but at least the families have that choice.  Neither decision should be criticized.  Americans see the wars, and all of the issues pertaining to those wars from a diversely personal viewpoint.

No matter what, I hope that we will rarely see those flag-draped coffins, not because we are hiding them, but because there are fewer of them.

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