Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category

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Milestones In The Long Journey Back To The Line Of Scrimmage

May 24, 2008

Great news!  That rag-tag band of terrorists that didn’t exist until we invaded Iraq may have finally been defeated.  Of course, we’ve seen these “al Qaeda in Iraq is on the run” flashes before, but I’m still gonna give the h/t to Hot Air ’cause, well, maybe because I don’t remember ever posting about it. 

Anyway…

The battle against the people a little closer to those who actually attacked us is ongoing:  Taliban Attacks Spike in Afghanistan 

 

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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Spotted: Another Brobdingnagian Factcheckathon

February 22, 2008

I got the feeling that the rightosphere pulled another all-nighter, as their blogs are all abuzz over an anecdote that Obama used in last night’s Democratic debate. 

First, the anecdote:

“You know, I’ve heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon — supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon,” he said. “Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq.  And as a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition, they didn’t have enough humvees.  They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.”

Then came the Brobdingnagian factcheckathon (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.)  These bloggers called BS, because, you know, prior to last night’s debate there was no evidence whatsoever that the Iraq adventure diverted resources from the mission in Afghanistan.  It’s not like the Iraq Study Group said exactly that or anything.

So, what came all this hysteria?  Well, some journalist guy actually contacted the Army captain that Obama was referring to.   And what do you know?

Prior to deployment the Captain — then a Lieutenant — took command of a rifle platoon at Fort Drum. When he took command, the platoon had 39 members, but — in ones and twos — 15 members of the platoon were re-assigned to other units. He knows of 10 of those 15 for sure who went to Iraq, and he suspects the other five did as well.

The platoon was sent to Afghanistan with 24 men.

“We should have deployed with 39,” he told me, “we should have gotten replacements. But we didn’t. And that was pretty consistent across the battalion.”

and

Also in Afghanistan they had issues getting parts for their MK-19s and their 50-cals. Getting parts or ammunition for their standard rifles was not a problem.

“It was very difficult to get any parts in theater,” he says, “because parts are prioritized to the theater where they were needed most — so they were going to Iraq not Afghanistan.”

“The purpose of going after the Taliban was not to get their weapons,” he said, but on occasion they used Taliban weapons. Sometimes AK-47s, and they also mounted a Soviet-model DShK (or “Dishka”) on one of their humvees instead of their 50 cal.

Oh well, perhaps now they’ll get some sleep. 

Nah.  There’s some BS in there somewhere.  I just know it.

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Bin Laden Thinks We’ll Do Ourselves In

September 9, 2007

There’s been a lot of buzz (and spin) on the blogs about the latest bin Laden video, so I might as well add my thoughts on it. 

Like many people, I wondered if bin Laden was still alive, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that this appearance proves that he is (although I suppose that it is possible that it’s a hoax).  I only saw a portion of it, so I’ll base my comments from here on in on the transcript.

Bin Laden is all over the board with this.  He mentions everything from Chomsky to global warming to capitalism to Iraq to Jesus and Mary.  I was three pages in and I was a bit unsure if it was really making any sense.  It started out as veiled gloating and evolved into what could best be described as…um…advice.   Eventually, I think I got it, however.

What’s remarkably absent, I guess, is any talk of future attacks.   The point I think he’s attempting to make here is that they don’t need to.   He’s appears to be saying that 9/11 was a catalyst that prompted a course of action that will lead to our downfall.   According to bin Laden,  because of our flawed capitalist system combined with our stubborn and arrogant leadership (who do the bidding of the corporations), we will bankrupt ourselves…and the only thing that will save us is Islam.

While reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck he’d have to say if we hadn’t invaded Iraq.  Who knows?  Maybe he wouldn’t be saying anything.  Maybe he’d be dead or captured by now.

Another thing worth mentioning is the question of whether any of this is really what he believes.  This propagandistic speech is directed at us Americans, and it would be irresponsible to dismiss the notion that he’s just messing with us.  In other words, the speech itself is less a genuine piece of advise and more of an instrument of sociological warfare.  In fact, Jason Stark over at mvdg proposes exactly that:

If I am right about Osama’s plan, then he must be very happy. Actually, he must be very happy regardless of whether he planned it. The response from far right and far left are predictable and to Osama’s benefit. Rather than focusing on how to best fight bin Laden, both the far left and the far right are spending all their energy on each other. The only winner from this obsessive internal political demonization that has become the sum total of American political culture? Osama bin Laden.

Maybe we’re both right.  Perhaps the message kills 2 birds with one stone.  He gets to gloat and inspire and stick his grubby fingers in our political discourse at the same time. 

I feel kind of guilty even posting about this now.  After all, we’re allowing a bearded nutbar in a cave on the other side of the globe to have so much power.  How humiliating. 

Update:  The Telegraph speculates that bin Laden’s speechwriter may be Adam Gadahn.

Bin Laden referred to “the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgage” and blamed “global warming and its woes” on “emissions of the factories the major corporations”.

A former senior US intelligence official said: “It has Adam Gadahn written all over it.” Mike Baker, a former CIA covert operations officer, said the tape left bin Laden with “the title of biggest gas bag in the terrorist world”.

 

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Why We Haven’t Found Bin Laden

August 26, 2007

I read an unusually long piece on the Newsweek site today that gave a very comprehensive background on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and although many of the details it featured have been known for some time, many have not, and it was nice to see it all laid out in one story.  I’d suggest that everyone read it.  The Ongoing Hunt for Osama bin Laden

My takeaway from this was that it further revealed that the Iraq invasion was an unnecessary and counterproductive blunder.  Instead of narrowly focusing on the source of the 9/11 attacks and the ideology that fueled it, we’ve gone ahead and created new problems.  Big problems that we’ll undoubtedly be dealing with for generations.  Here’s the graph that best sums it up in my mind:

The American effort to chase bin Laden into this forbidding realm was hobbled and clumsy from the start. While the terrain required deep local knowledge and small units, career officers in the U.S. military have long been wary of the Special Operations Forces best suited to the task. In the view of the regular military, such “snake eaters” have tended to be troublesome, resistant to spit-and-polish discipline and rulebooks. Rather than send the snake eaters to poke around mountain caves and mud-walled compounds, the U.S. military wanted to fight on a grander stage, where it could show off its mobility and firepower. To the civilian bosses at the Pentagon and the eager-to-please top brass, Iraq was a much better target. By invading Iraq, the United States would give the Islamists—and the wider world—an unforgettable lesson in American power. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board and, at the time, a close confidant of the SecDef. In November 2001, Gingrich told a NEWSWEEK reporter, “There’s a feeling we’ve got to do something that counts—and bombing caves is not something that counts.”

Oh, it’s counting all right.  Half a trillion dollars and counting.  Four years and counting.  3728 and counting. 

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Chickenhawks Exist…Theoretically

August 5, 2007

One of the most widely used and abused epithets in political discourse is the term “Chickenhawk“.  It’s most often used by those who are against the Iraq war as an ad hominem argument directed at those who are for it.  Here’s the wiki definition:

Chickenhawk (also chicken hawk and chicken-hawk) is a political epithet used in the United States to criticize a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who strongly supports a war or other military action, but has never personally been in a war, especially if that person actively avoided military service when of draft age.

The term is meant to indicate that the person in question is cowardly or hypocritical for personally avoiding combat in the past while advocating that others go to war in the present. Generally, the implication is that “chickenhawks” lack the experience, judgment, or moral standing to make decisions about going to war. Often, there is a further connotation that “chickenhawks” falsely believe that their support for military action is a mark of personal courage analogous to actual combat, thereby demeaning those actually serving while elevating themselves.[1]

Or, an alternative definition:

Chickenhawk is “A person enthusiastic about war, provided someone else fights it; particularly when that enthusiasm is undimmed by personal experience with war; most emphatically when that lack of experience came in spite of ample opportunity in that person’s youth.”

The problem with the term is that it is fraught with logical fallacies, at least in the manner that it is commonly used.  In its ad hominem form, it is all too often wielded as a substitute for an actual argument, and is typically done in a knee-jerk fashion as slur more than anything else.  Usually, it points to bit of intellectual laziness on the part of the user.

However, I’m going to make take pieces of the above definition(s) and make the argument that chickenhawks are indeed among us, at least in theory.  After giving it some thought, here’s my definition:

Chickenhawk
A vocal or influential supporter of a war or conflict whose support is contingent upon the fact that they won’t have to sacrifice anything of significance personally (themselves, children, a close friend, etc.); someone whose public statements contradict their private sentiments based on that condition (for example, an exercise in partisanship); especially significant if one has also vocally expressed disdain for those who have voiced concerns about, or have spoken out against said war.

Unfortunately for the vast majority of the people out there who widely use the term, it is very hard to prove that someone fits this definition.  Pointing out that someone is for the war but has never served in the military or doesn’t enlist won’t cut it.  To prove that someone is a chickenhawk in this case would require some knowledge of a person’s private thoughts or conversations and knowing that they are contradictory to what they have said publicly.  For the definition, I put emphasis on “vocal or influential” to intentionally exclude those who simply express an opinion if asked.  “Vocal” in this case means a supporter who is making an effort to influence others (politicians, radio hosts, columnists, etc.), or, to a somewhat lesser extent,  someone whose arguments are being made public enough to possibly influence others (like bloggers).

Here are a couple hypothetical examples:

  • Karl “prepared for war” Rove actively discourages his son from joining the military.
  • Vocal war supporters suddenly change their tune or simply run for Canada if the draft were reinstated.
  • A politician’s support for war based primarily on political expediency.

You see, we don’t know what Rove tells his son privately, and we may never see a draft that would force the chickens to drop their tough guy masks.  It’s also safe to assume that a politician’s position may be different if they knew that someone close to them would be sent into harms way, but you’ll have a hard time proving that as well.

I think that everyone can agree, however, that there are probably plenty of people out there who would fit my definition.  The problem is, one can’t really use the term because we can’t positively ID most of them (especially complete strangers on the internet).  Also, what is unique about my definition, I suppose, is that prior military service doesn’t automatically disqualify someone.

So, if you know of a real chickenhawk in your personal life, don’t be afraid to call him on it if they question your patriotism for any anti-war rhetoric you might utter.  I think that’s fine.  After all, they’re phonies.  But the term is very hard to apply to someone that you do not know personally, so most of its usage on the internet should be avoided.

Previously in the Chamber: Is Andrew Rove “Prepared For War”?

And a blog of note:  Operation Yellow Elephant

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The Cost Of “Infrastructure” Vs. War

August 2, 2007

As a resident of the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, I’ll no doubt be personally affected by the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge.  This was considered one of the most heavily trafficked bridges in the entire state.  I’ve been glued to the TV all day watching all the latest developments.  One subject that keeps getting touched on is the status of bridges all across the country, most notably the alarming number of those that are categorized as “structurally deficient”.  It got me thinking.  Why aren’t we spending money on this?  Is it the cost? 

I decided to do a little research to get some perspective on what kinds of costs we’re talking about here. I started to look for bridges specifically, and I found one. A BIG one:

donghai  bridge

This is the Donghai Bridge in China. According to wiki, it is the longest cross-sea bridge in the world (20.2 mi.). It opened in 2005 and cost a cool $1.2 billion to build.

On the other hand, maybe we don’t have to worry about building new bridges as much as simply fixing and maintaining the ones that are already there.  According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we would have to spend $9.4 billion a year for the next 20 years to take care of these bridges.  Lots of dough (a total of $188 billion without considering inflation).

In contrast, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing about $12 billion a month. This means that we’re spending the equivalent cost of one of the largest bridges in the world every 3 days.  Or, looked at another way, the cost of the aforementioned repairs over 20 years is roughly the cost of a little over one year in Iraq alone.

Ain’t it somethin’?

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Not Supporting The Troops

July 23, 2007

While the rightosphere obsesses over the perceived level of anti-military rhetoric emanating from the Daily Kos, this story seemed to sneak across everyone’s radar screen unnoticed:  Iraq, Afghanistan veterans sue US government over health care horrors

Hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans Monday filed a class-action lawsuit against the US government for providing them with deficient medical and financial support.

They accused the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of violating the constitutional rights of war veterans who have to face a bureaucratic nightmare that leaves claims pending for up to 10 years.

“The delays have become an insurmountable barrier preventing many veterans from obtaining health care and benefits,” the plaintiffs said in their 11-page complaint filed at a US District Court in San Francisco.

The Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth Inc. complained on behalf of “hundreds of thousands of men and women who have suffered grievous injuries,” alleging the system for deciding VA claims “has largely collapsed.”

But this was today’s outrage:


See? Anyone can say it.

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Election ’08, And The Perception Of Being “Tough” On Terrorism

June 5, 2007

As readers of my site have probably figured out by now, I spend a lot of time on ‘righty’ sites (mostly LGF).  I do this not because I like to be a pest or a troll, but because I figure that my own political perceptions need to be challenged in order for me to justify where I may stand on any given issue.  I’m not afraid to take on a debate (for the most part), as I feel it enhances my own knowledge and understanding.  Sometimes I get a hostile reaction, but, hey, thats the way it goes I guess. 

Yesterday, my pal Killgore Trout made a comment about the “left” and terrorism that I only addressed briefly (but feel I should expand upon it).  Here it is:

#57 football-profile.gif Killgore Trout  6/04/2007 8:28:41 am PDT

#44 ChenZhen

Sorry if you’re offended. I felt your take on the recent poll of American Muslims was a good example of downplaying terrorism.

The recommendation to talk to you about why the left is soft on terrorism should be flattering. As long a Lizards can control their rage I felt you’d be willing to patiently answer questions and explain your views.

Again, No offense intended.

I think that this really struck me because the whole idea of being “soft” or “tough” on terror is more a matter of perception than reality.  This is going to be important because this issue will be virtually unavoidable as we head to the presidential elections next year.  While it seems most on the left and even some moderates avoid this issue whenever possible, I’m going to take it head on.  To me, there’s really no reason for Dem. candidates to shy away from this.

First, lets look at reality.  Not perception, mind you, but reality.  The perception is that Bush (or the GOP in general) is more “tough” on terrorism, remember….

  • Last year’s declassified NIE describes a situation in which the reckless invasion of Iraq has, as one analyst put it, “made the overall terrorism problem worse”.
  • The State Dept. released a study that found that terrorism increased nearly 30% last year (worldwide).
  • Al Qaeda’s main voicebox Ayman al-Zawahiri continues to mock the US in video releases (of seemingly improving production quality), undoubtedly emboldening their supporters.  Bin Laden is still at large.
  • A survey taken in four Islamic countries (Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia) reveals that a vast majority of Muslims believe that the US’s current foreign policy seeks to “weaken and divide the Islamic world”, evidence that al Qaeda’s message has become increasingly convincing.   In other words, we’re losing the propaganda war.

So this begs the question(s):  What does it really mean to be “tough on terror”?   Is it support for torture, unconstitutional wiretaps, reckless invasions, “doubling gitmo“, increasing anti-American sentiment, etc.? 

Or, does it mean not doing what this administration has done?

and…

What the heck does it mean to be “soft”?

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Judith A. Klinghoffer’s Bizarre View On ‘Winning The War On Terror’

April 26, 2007

As the blogs react to a recent opinion poll that came out regarding terrorism and the Muslim world, one column by Judith A. Klinghoffer caught my attention:  Poll: US unpopular but winning War on Terror

Now, anyone who’s read a bit of my blog will probably be thinking that my head exploded just reading the title (you’re not far off), but I thought I’d comment on it.  I’ll skip the long analysis of what was prefaced as a ‘push poll’, and move right to the conclusion:

All in all, the glass is 3/4 full. Yes, theoretically, Muslims would like to see a day when they will all unite within the border of a righteous Khalifat but they disagree with Al Qaeda and Bin Laden means and unwilling to pay the high price needed to achieve it. The As it was the American led War on Terror which raised that price, it is a small wonder America is not popular in the Muslim world. I am sure the US was not popular in Germany during W.W.II. or in the USSR during the Cold war. Trying to be popular with the enemy is a strange idea anyhow. Actually, as we have learned with victory comes even a very short lived boost of popularity. All in all, PIPA push poll contains encouraging news.

Stumbling through the grammatical errors in that, and ignoring the fact that Judith slipped in her opinion that the ‘Muslim world’ is the ‘enemy’ (and validating our unpopularity in the process), it’s clear that I’ve come across a rare brand of Kool-Aid here.  

On one hand, we have the quest for ‘victory’ in the ‘War on Terror’.  A war which, by definition, can only be ‘won’ the day that people stop wanting to blow us up. On the other hand, we have a poll showing our rampant unpopularity and sympathy to al Qaeda across 4 Mid East nations .  The verdict: ‘encouraging news’.  Even if it is a push poll, I don’t know how anyone can view this as a positive step towards victory in a war that is unwinnable to begin with anyway.  In fact, I think I would have learned more if she would have just taken the poll herself and posted her answers.

Something tells me that this all comes back to Bush and Iraq.  The war has worsened our post 9/11 position.  The war supporters don’t want to admit that us ‘BDS’ sufferers were right all along, so they whitewash news like this by screaming ‘push poll’.  It’s the same type of thing when people say that the ISG doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about (as if they do either), or try to spin the NIE’s assessments.  No one wants to admit that they supported what turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

So, just for the record, this has been the most popular forum on FearBush.com, and has run like this since 2002:

World War III
September 11th was undoubtedly one of the most tragic days in American history. It’s unconscionable that Bush has used those who lost lives on that day as justification for an endless campaign of fear, misinformation and hate. Bush’s sudden need to wage war on Iraq will only breed more world hatred for the US, inspire more terrorism, at a cost of even more untold civilian lives. War should always be a LAST RESORT, not a matter of policy.

Registration is open.

Update:  More ‘encouraging news’ : Annual terrorism report will show 29% rise in attacks

WASHINGTON – A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a nearly 30 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006 to more than 14,000, almost all of the boost due to growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

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A Eulogy For “War on Terror”

April 5, 2007

The Military Times is reporting that the House Armed Services Committee has decided to remove the phrase “War on Terror” from their 2008 budget:  No more GWOT, House committee decrees

I thought I’d say a few words.  You know, out of respect for the deceased.

**In Its Name**

I knew War on Terror growing up.  Back then we used to call it by its real name: counter-terrorism.  Every once and a while, when some group of radicals out there decided to take some hostages or bomb some building, we’d be reminded that this is an ongoing effort, and that men really can be monsters.  It is a daunting challenge.  After all, how do you stop terrorists, when one isn’t a terrorist until committing an act of terror?  How do you prevent people from doing radical, unconventional acts of murder and mayhem?  For many years, I think most Americans assumed that counter-terrorism was a lot like what appeared in a Tom Clancy novel.  In other words, secret spy stuff, black ops, intelligence gathering and analysis. 

We knew from the 1993 WTC and 1995 Oklahoma City bombings that the threat can be both foreign and domestic.  As a tactic, terrorism is broad in scope and is often times hard to define.  Indeed, the word ‘terrorist’ is more often used as a political epithet than anything else.

Then one day in September 2001, 19 men armed with knives and flying lessons managed to elude the web of protection that the decades of counter-terrorism efforts had established, and did more damage with fewer resources than quite possibly anyone in the history of mankind.  It was something that counter-terrorism experts had feared might happen if the perpetrators were able to remain shadowy and committed.  Combined with the choice of targets, the destruction was on a scale large enough that many influential people called the attack an “act or war”.  So, from the ashes of the WTC and Pentagon, the War on Terror was born.

Like World War II and the Vietnam War, the War on Terror was now donning the capital letters of a real war. A status that envokes more visions of tanks and troops then it does of banks and spooks. A war that, taken literally, is simultaneously against everyone, and, no one in particular.  A war that wouldn’t see ‘victory’ until the day the people of the earth stop killing each other.  A phrase that has been used to support policies that otherwise wouldn’t have support, and that demonizes the dissenters who don’t support them.  Thinking that an invasion of Iraq was a tactical mistake, for example, was synonymous with not “wanting to win” the War.  If one thought that unconstitutional wiretaps were an act of vigilantism (at best) or authoritarianism (at worst), well, one might just be a “terrorist sympathizer”.  The power of the phase lies in its noble yet ambiguous connotation.  How could anyone be against the War on Terror, after all?  Ironically, the implied threat and fear associated with the phrase created the very paradigm in America that the perpetrators of 9/11 had hoped to achieve.

I’m sure that “War on Terror” will live on in the headlines of Fox News’ coverage of Iraq and on the front pages of “patriotic” blogs for some time.  It isn’t going to die overnight.  In fact, maybe my use of the word eulogy was premature or misplaced.  Maybe not.  Seeing the phrase removed from the paperwork of those who make foreign policy decisions is an encouraging sign of sanity and reason. Perhaps the end of “War on Terror” as a blanket excuse to support reckless policies will mean that the real work of counter-terrorism experts will be made easier, and as a result, make America more safe. So, good riddance, I say. For an effort some like to call the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an awful lot of terror as a result of actions performed in its name.

Previous Chamber posts of interest:

The “War On Terror” Is Just A Phrase
U.S. War on/of Terror will end in Oct. 2008
“War on Terror” Comes To Your Living Room

Update: Here’s another blogger thinking along the same lines, so I thought I’d give him a link: Jersey McJones >> Global? War? on Terrorism?

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Is Andrew Rove “Prepared For War”?

March 19, 2007

You know, this argument has been brought up so many times,  I’m surprised it managed to make it into the LA Times op-ed section: Why aren’t the Bush daughters in Iraq?

The president tells us Iraq is a “noble” war, but his wife, his children and his nieces and nephews are not listening. None has enlisted in the armed services, and none seems to be paying attention to the sacrifices of military families. Until Jenna’s trip to Panama, the presidential daughters performed community service only when mandated by a court after they were cited for underage drinking. Since then they have surfaced in public during lavish presidential trips with their parents, bar-hopping outings in Georgetown and champagne-popping art openings in New York.

Now, this argument isn’t a bad one, per se.  There is something to be said about standing behind your beliefs, and it sure doesn’t look like the Bush family is willing to risk anything for this endeavor they are so enthusiastically supporting.  On the other hand, have you seen the Bush daughters?  I know it shouldn’t, but it kinda weakens the argument.  In reality, their participation would probably do more harm than good anyway.

As often as people bring up the Bush twins, I’m kinda surprised that no one really talks about a kid who goes by the name Andrew Madison Rove.  Andrew will be turning 18* this year, and his father seemed to mention something about “preparing for war” awhile back:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”

I assume Andrew has already enlisted?  Just curious.  We already know that Karl doesn’t want him picking tomatoes or making beds in Las Vegas, so perhaps that really is the plan?**

andrewkarlrove.jpg

*That link has A. Rove born in 1989, but wiki (and a few other places) have it as 1987.  Considering that a little over a month ago, Rove said “my 17 year old son”, I’ll lean towards the former.  I haven’t seen an exact date anywhere, but I’ll update it if I do.  I know it doesn’t effect the argument too much, but I want to maintain accuracy,  if possible.

**I don’t really want to use Rove’s kid as a political punching bag on this, but I think if you’re going to make this ‘sacrifice’ argument, maybe it would be more persuasive to include him.  I really am curious, nevertheless.

Update: I did some more searching, and this has come up on the blogs before.  Previously on HuffPo: Draft Karl Rove’s Son, Operation Yellow Elephant: Military Recruiting Lead: Washington, D.C 

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Shadow Wolves To Hunt Bin Laden

March 11, 2007

I found this interesting story on the Digg wire: Native American trackers to hunt bin Laden

WASHINGTON: An elite group of Native American trackers is joining the hunt for terrorists crossing Afghanistan’s borders.

The unit, the Shadow Wolves, was recruited from several tribes, including the Navajo, Sioux, Lakota and Apache. It is being sent to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to pass on ancestral sign-reading skills to local border units.In recent years, members of the Shadow Wolves have mainly tracked smugglers along the US border with Mexico.

Reading this, I was instantly reminded of my childhood days of playing with and watching….. G.I. Joe:

spiritcard.jpg

Now you know, and “knowing is half the battle”   I wonder if they’ll bring “Billy” along?  One thing is clear; Bin Laden has a new foe, and it is G.I. Joe.  Go Joe!

Seriously though, I’m interested to see if this really works. 

Update:  Now that I think about it, I think the character “Billy” in the movie Predator was a G.I. Joe reference:

billy-predator.jpg

Wouldn’t the Pentagon and others want to keep something like this secret

read more

Digg!

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Camp Phoenix’s “Rambo”

March 8, 2007

I thought I’d do some checking up on the war that doesn’t seem to get talked about nearly enough in the media, so I did a search for “Afghanistan” on Digg, and an interesting story caught my attention: Afghan ‘Rambo’ stops bombers

This is a normal day for Rambo, an Afghan who has stood guard here for more than four years, pledging his life to the American soldiers that rid his land of the Taliban. But on Jan. 16, Rambo’s gatekeeping made him a bona fide hero.

On that day, Rambo wrenched open the driver’s side door of a moving car and wrestled a suicide bomber into submission before he could detonate his explosives. President Bush lauded him in a nationally televised speech several weeks ago, and before that, slightly exaggerated accounts of his feat circled through cyberspace, pleading for America to offer him citizenship or at least a medal.

I must have missed it when Bush mentioned him, since I’d never heard of this guy before.  Here he is:

rambo.jpg

I did some more searching, and found a little more background on Rambo on the Stars & Stripes site from Jan. ’05:  ‘Rambo’ helps keep U.S. base in Afghanistan secure

A person would be hard pressed to find anyone in the camp who doesn’t know or hasn’t heard of Rambo, so named by troops in the 10th Mountain Division.

“He’s definitely a legend on this camp,” Sgt. Michael Sweet said.

While Sweet, an Indiana National Guardsman, is a shift sergeant, it’s abundantly clear that Rambo is the primary gatekeeper.

In June 2003, when U.S. forces first rolled up to the front gate of what was then a Russian-Afghan transport company, Rambo was waiting. He hasn’t left.

Stories of Rambo permeate the base. Some are factual. Others are not.

“This is my hooch,” he says through an interpreter as he opens the door to a small, cramped room immediately off the front gate.

His real name is Jamal Udin, born in Kabul “maybe 41 years ago,” he said, to parents who moved to the capital from northern Afghanistan.

After reading all that, it’s clear to me that Rambo embodies the reason we are in Afghanistan, and reaffirms my belief that we are there for the right reasons.  So, I’ll do what the troops stationed there do, and give Rambo a hearty salute myself.  Best of luck to all of you.

For a soldier’s perspective on ‘Rambo‘ , and other things relating to Camp Phoenix and the daily life of the troops in Afghanistan, check out this excellent blog: Afghanistan Without a Clue (aka: AWAC) 

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See also: Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix