Showing posts with label military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military. Show all posts

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wikileaks, war, and wingnuts: Rational thoughts on the irrational

CNN: What leaked documents are telling us about the Afghan war

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog, you may have wondered at some point what my position is on the current war in the Middle East.  Like I've said many times before, I do not identify with either major political party, and on this issue I stand firmly behind that principle, as I see both sides throwing stones at the war issue while nothing gets done.  Most Republicans simply label anyone against the war as a "commie", "socialist", or the like, while many Democrats want our troops out of there immediately with no further effort. 

I wouldn't be writing on this topic at all if it weren't for this weekend's massive Wikileaks release to The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel containing about 90,000 reports on activity in Afghanistan, many filed by the military, from 2004 to January 2010.  I'm no stranger to Wikileaks, I "StumbledUpon" it a while ago and thought it quite interesting that such a forum existed to oust government cover-ups from the trivial to the outrageous.  While I don't regularly keep up with the site, I nevertheless applaud Julian Assange for releasing these reports, regardless of their actual accuracy, and I'll tell you why.

The jist of the leak is that things in Afghanistan are not going exactly as planned.  Until now, the American press has been given limited information as to what is happening over there, in regards to civilian death toll, details of insurgent attacks, progress of the Afghan society, etc.  If our ridiculous media sphere doesn't know the facts, why trust them?  I'll take previously covered-up information over television garbage any day of the week.  The most interesting pieces of news are the ones mommy and daddy are hiding from us (aka the government).  Yesterday's and today's leak-driven news reports make many interesting claims:
  • Many of our more recent military tactics revolve around minerals, surprisingly not oil!
  • The general population thinks their new government is worse than the Taliban. 
  • Insurgents have shown up to battle wearing government-issued uniforms and driving government-issued Ford Rangers, both of which the United States provided to them. 
  • Pakistan law currently allows secret service members to hold strategy meetings with the Taliban in order to discuss plans for taking down the American occupation in Afghanistan, including assassinations of Afghan government officials. 
  • Goodwill missions are often abandoned after only a few months, including an orphanage founded in 2006 which after a few months reported housing only 30 orphans when there were supposed to be over 100, and after only a year of the orphanage being established, reported housing no orphans at all. 
  • According to Assange, actual civilian casualties at Afghan roadblocks, airstrikes, etc. "numerically eclipse" the death tolls of bigger events we hear about on the news.
My personal opinion on the war?  Whether or not these claims are completely accurate, they all support the notion that things simply aren't going very well over there.  I come from a military background on both sides of the family, love my 2nd Amendment rights, and have no sympathy for Osama bin Laden or any other member of the Taliban for that matter.  However, I think we're going about this entirely the wrong way.  The Afghan citizens have showed us that they don't want what we have to offer.  We can give them government, but we are still outsiders to them, and we are obviously being taken advantage of as corruption infects every institution that we have created there.  We're being too trusting that this society, ravaged by tyranny, terrorism, and organized crime for decades, is simply going to open their arms to democracy and everything will be alright.  We can't even control our own society here at home--our economy is tanking, approval of the government is at an all-time low, and our politicians continue to disappoint.  We need to fix that before we try to influence any other nation.

Military spending currently makes up over 50% of our federal discretionary spending.  That's about a trillion dollars a year.  Something tells me that's more than enough money to create tactical strategies that actually target terrorist groups from the inside out, but instead our plan is to...well, I don't know, let the insurgents come to us first and blow up our troops?  Build fake orphanages to act like we're doing some good for their society?  It's disparaging to our honorable armed forces, and to our national identity, to draw this out much longer.  The Wikileaks crowd got it right; they exposed the disorganization surrounding this war, and silently posed this rhetorical question: What's the plan?

Time to actually start picking off the real terrorists, methinks.  They have the money and the capabilities to do so.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Elena Kagan: Cool, calm, collected--and confusing the Republicans

 Disclaimer: Once again I will clarify that I am not registered with any political party.  If it ever seems like I am bashing YOUR party, it's probably because I think they are doing something wrong.  You and I are both entitled to our own opinions, so feel free to comment (tastefully of course) on any post for any reason.  Also, I know the article I'm citing is from Slate, and I acknowledge that they are an extremely liberal news source, but they have beautiful writing, and no matter what source you check, the commentary is pretty consistent across the board on this subject.  Hope you understand where I'm coming from with all this :] and if you're a Republican, I show you guys some love sometimes too, check out the post just prior to this one, in which I lovingly bash the liberal environmental agenda :]] .  It's FUN to be non-partisan!

Finally a female I can identify with!  Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's Congressional confirmation hearings have been going pretty well compared to those of past justices--she has handled the questioning with tact, style, and sometimes even a little attitude, reciting case law like poetry and not leaving herself open to mudslinging of any kind.  Usually the SCOTUS hearings put a microscope on the nominee, causing him or her to become complacent and noncommittal on partisan issues, but Kagan has stood by her values the entire time and made it very clear that she is not a player in the political game, but rather an educated servant of the law.  This, combined with President Obama's endorsement and Kagan's so-called "gay agenda", is causing a bit of Republican protest, although the opposition in this case is thankfully the minority, and even though most of her topics of interest seem to come from the left, she doesn't discuss partisan agendas.  At all.  (And if you still think gay rights is part of a liberal agenda, keep dreaming, it's called civil rights, people.)

What the conservative legislators want more than anything is for Kagan to expose herself as a liberal activist with radical views so they can classify her as "dangerous" to the Supreme Court, but she's much too smart for that.  Kagan has enough "radical" politics on her resume already--her ban of military recruiters at Harvard Law School over the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has garnered unbelievable opposition from the right wing (for two very obvious reasons).  However, when questioned about it at the hearing, she was eloquent, stating that she was simply attempting to balance the school's nondiscrimination policy with federal equal access policies, and as a result allowed the recruiters to conduct their business through a Student Veterans' Organization rather than the school itself.  Beautiful.  This woman can cross-check policy with the best of them, unlike most legislators/politicians of today.  Her explanations of her beliefs and actions are all based on existing laws, and she has proven that she can properly apply the laws to create solutions to problems.  Not surprisingly, Republicans are probably confused as to why they can't get her to say anything incriminating like they've gotten all the past justices to say, but I think in time they will also learn to love the honesty and judicial patriotism she brings to the table. 

To me, Elena Kagan represents what a good Supreme Court Justice should be.  Intelligent, strong-willed, and non-partisan, she has gained the respect and adoration of countless colleagues in the legal community and even the President himself.  She refuses to fall into illogical party-ploy traps, even when questioned on controversial issues.  Plus, she's a unique human being with a slightly kooky sense of humor, which she's not afraid to use even in front of Congress.  I guess you could say she's my new role model--after all, I'm hoping to get my name on that nominee list someday, and as a non-feminist, this is the first time in my life I've ever read a news article and said to myself, "YOU GO GIRL" (ew, I still can't believe I said that, please don't tell anyone).  Although she'll probably never read it (aww), I'll use this blog to give early congratulations to The Honorable Elena Kagan!  May your time on the bench be a time of judicial prosperity in our broken government.

PS--A C-SPAN poll reported that only 19% of Americans even know that this is going on right now...WHAT?!  I guess that means I'm the weirdest college kid in the country...I really probably should be doing something fun, it's summer after all.