Tag Archives: War

The Many Heads of the Hydra

Almost two weeks ago, the terrorist bombings in Algiers–the worst bombing there in a decade–came to the surprise of some. 33 people were killed and many more were wounded by two explosions on Wednesday April 11th. The responsibility for these bombings was assumed by al-Qaeda in the Maghreb.

Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), is a North African terrorist organization based out of Algeria. The history behind this group illustrates the changing nature of terrorism in Africa and the dire threat that it’s development is to the West.

The GSPC was formed in 1996 and was an off shoot of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the terrorist organization responsible for the eight year insurgency in Algeria from 1992-2000. Its objective was to overthrow the Algerian government and institute an Islamic regime based on shari’ah law. This war cost over 100,000 lives and left the people of Algeria worn down by violence and death. The GSPC was formed and promised to focus its violence only on officials and Western symbols as opposed to maintaining the attacks on civilians.

Article by the Middle East Times

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The Fourth Anniversary of the U.S. and Iraq: In it for the Long Run

March 20th came and went with little herald from major media outlets of all kinds in the United States. I didn’t even think about it until recently when I was reminded about this anniversary by a blog I enjoy. March 20th was the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War.

The war in Iraq has claimed the lives of 3,280 Americans and 3,544 if you include Coalition troops. It has killed an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 Iraqi civilian lives (I am giving an incredible broad number because no one is really sure. Authorities find bodies everyday). I am not using this forum to discuss the nature of this war or the policy governing it. There has been enough discussion about that in the mainstream U.S. media, political propaganda, and by fellow bloggers. However, I am concerned that this anniversary has seemed to pass without so much as a pause in the United States.

The War in Iraq has been the major concern of the media since 2003 when talk of weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein, and Anbar Province began to fill the media’s attention. Each anniversary has brought new figures concerning death total and the provinces that have been secured by coalition troops. Not this year.

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Things that make you cringe and say OOOOOOOOHH

If you’ve been following the news closely for past few months, you would’ve noted that there is massive concern over the ability of VA centers (hospitals for veterans). The head honcho of the entire enterprise has been replaced and the President himself has commented on the need to really shape up these health care facilities. There are stories of servicemen laying on cots with no sheets, in their own waste sometimes because no one has come to check on them and they cannot help themselves due to some condition they have. Up until today, I had been casually following these horror stories assuming that the problem was just short-staffing. I had hoped that neglect and indifference and incompetence did not come into play. I read this story today

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,264180,00.html

For those of you who are understandably naive about veteran’s hospitals and, really, regular hospitals in general, I’ll shed what little light and insight I can give. I do not have a vast array of knowledge on veteran’s administration hospitals, but I did do a bit of work at the one in Philly and its linked to the Study I work in at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

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He Doesn’t Even Do THAT Well

Buster Olney, a baseball writer for ESPN.com, keeps a fantastic little blog in which he (daily) links to baseball articles about every team in their respective major newspapers. Reading his blog every day is one of the best ways to keep abreast of what’s happening in the league.

Buster is a Vanderbilt fan. I know this because he mentions it. A LOT. But, it’s not a problem. He’s an alum, and the sum total of his frequent allusions to his alma mater are only a sentence or two long, often tongue-in-cheek, and at the very end of his considerable posts.

Jim Caple is a baseball writer for ESPN.com’s Page 2. He writes articles about, ahem, nothing. I don’t even read him when I can help it, as I frequently find him infuriatingly dumb. That, and his ugly mug appears on the page, and no one wants to see that. For your misery, I’ve included his standard pic here. Ugly, ain’t he?

Anyway, Caple’s developed this nasty habit of mentioning his distaste for the war in Iraq and the way it’s being handled a lot of columns. Now, I’m not exactly a gung-ho supporter of all that nonsense, but I’m ESPN to hear about baseball. So tell me why Bonds won’t hit 22 taters this year, and let’s move on.

Dear Mr. Caple,

About your anti-war advocacy on ESPN.com:

STOP. Please, stop.

Sincerely always,

The Curious Mechanism.

(See how I signed from the Curious Mechanism? Sounds official, doesn’t it? Like it’ll work, right? Right?)

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If Uncle Sam Wants You, He’s Going To Have You

In a move considered shocking to those who do not watch C-Span, Democratic Representative Charles Rangel (NY) wants to reinstate the draft.  The Congressman is a Purple Heart veteran of the Korean War.  The link there will take you to the story as told by The New York Times, but Mr. Thursday would like to note that we learned of this story through Fox News’ show Hannity and Colmes, which is an impossibly entertaining show for such a surfeit of reasons that we can’t possibly get into them now.  But fear not, we’ll get around to that eventually. 

Regardless, Congressman Rangel has long been outspoken against the Iraq War.  Upon hearing this story, Mr. Thursday’s initial reaction was that Mr. Rangel had done a 180 and decided that not-war was not the answer, and shared John McCain’s unpopular opinion that the war needs more troops so it may be won. 

As it turns out, he’s introducing the bill in an effort to get Congress to take the war more seriously.  He believes that if Congress were sending their own children to Iraq, they would have done a better job of fighting the war, and they certainly would have not gone to Iraq on such flimsy evidence (it’s worth noting that Rangel has consistently voted against the war from the very beginning). 

It’s reassuring that of the 535 United States congressmen, at least 1 is feeling the effects of this war on some sort of personal level.  Every time we here the term “re-deployment” and, in earlier, simpler, happier times, “shock and awe”, we couldn’t help feeling as though the government thinks war is a video game.  The victims are empty dogtags and another notch on some statisticians chart. 

 Mr. Thursday doesn’t presume to know what the right course of action is in Iraq.  The commission gave three suggestions, entitled: Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home.  Go Big refers to adding thousands of more troops–we assume 400,000 troops big.  Go Long means keeping present troop levels in Iraq for a long long time, essentially “staying the course.”  Go Home is just what it sounds like. 

Go Home is the most appetizing option.  If Iraq is merely part of the War on Terror, consider it a battle lost, and go shore up Afghanistan.  Protect non-Arabs in Sudan and Chad.  Go Big is a frightening concept, but it makes sense.  Go Long… Well, Mr Thursday has yet to understand the argument for that. 

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An Argument on War

Before beginning, it’s worth stating our position at the Curious Mechanism.  We hold to a philosophy of war stated by Ernest Hemingway: “But never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”  If a scale were made, with absolute pacifists on the left extreme and violent tyrants and war-hawks on the right, we admit we would fall somewhat left of center.  We admit the necessity of the Armed Forces and of war and violent conflict, but readily admit (as most would) that we wish this were not the case.  While we can intellectually grasp the necessity of war, we’re glad others are in charge of the military, because we are uncertain how prepared we would be to have others killed, and to send our countrymen to be killed at the same time.  We grasp the possible necessity and justification of war, but we struggle to ignore or reconcile this with the crime that is war. 

At this moment in time, the United States is, obviously, engaged in its worldwide War on Terror.  In the past, Mr. Thursday has denounced the war as being a bad idea, as it falls under the category of War Against A Non-Specific Enemy.  However, whether going into Iraq was a good idea is no longer a relevant topic, and we must as Americans consider the best possible course of action for this war from here out. 

The options are, as far as well know, the following:

  • Leave Iraq, allowing the various factions to fight each other
  • Stay in Iraq, trying to control a large and violent country with a small and under-supplied force
  • Stay in Iraq, expanding the fight, adding more troops, weapons, etc.

The most popular of these ideas seems to be the first, at the moment.  It is, in the fact, the one that Mr. Thursday has adhered to since before heading to Iraq.  The second of these is the current administration’s “Stay the Course” strategy.  The third of these is, perhaps, the most vilified option, in which, instead of pulling out of Iraq we send in more and more soldiers, in an effort to solidify peace.  Which of these, if any, is the best course of action is something we’ll attempt to address.  Forgive us the poor job we’re likely to do. 

There is, of course, no debate that September 11th, 2001 led to our invasion of Iraq.  Whether or not Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, or ties to Al-Qaeda are open to a great deal of histrionic debate, but the fact is that had the World Trade Center never been attacked, President Bush would not have the authority necessary for a “pre-emptive war” and accompanying land invasion that has, so far, cost the lives of nearly 3,000 American troops and 50,000 Iraqi civilians.  September 11th was the birthday ground for the War on Terror, and the question just now being asked:  Is this a fight we should be pursuing? 

We–the United States–have pursued the War on Terror as a form of aggressive self-defence.  Every election, the debate comes up on whether a certain politician is strong enough on “national defence”, which is to ask whether that leader, if elected, will pursue this war efficiently and intelligently.  We are killing others so that we may not be attacked again, and by proxy, so our allies will not be attacked in the future.  We have an enemy who neither agrees with nor fears nor respects us, and we wonder if that is why we can be attacked so easily.  Islamofascists, as lame-duck Senator Rick Santorum named the enemy, believe they can attack the United States, and the United States does not have the will or power or both requisite to punish them for their crimes. 

If the United States leaves Iraq, these so-called Islamofascists are, at least in their minds, validated.  While it’s probable that Iraq will erupt when the insufficient peace-keeping force the U.S. has in Iraq is withdrawn, there are questions as to what will happen in 2 or 5 or 10 years when the Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds has sorted themselves out.  Whoever comes out on top of that mess will undoubtedly view the United States was “weak,” and desire to cause as much trouble as they can.  Furthermore, pulling out allows alpha dog Iran to roll in, and since American and Iran are not exactly buddies right now, we’re not sure if this is really a good idea. 

As for the third option, well, it’s a doozy.  Most of the proponents of this path have been called “war-hawks” by their critics.  While that label may be true in some cases, the Curious Mechanism considers them more likely, “realists.”  In order to “win” the War on Terror, the United States needs to make a statement with the Sub-War in Iraq.  It needs to show possible allies who are keeping their distance from this mess that this war is winnable, and show various enemies that we are relentless in our pursuit of… well, whatever we are pursuing.  Relentless in our pursuit of our enemies?  Of peace?  Of better sleep? 

But the United States, if they choose to expand the Sub-War in Iraq, must not only fight to win, but they must win the “American Way”.  Human rights violations like Guantanamo Bay and and Abu-Ghraib must never occur.  Civilian deaths must be kept to a minimum.  Policy must be strong but merciful.  It is that mercy that divides the ambitious country trying to make a free and democratic world from the ruthless tyrant slowly trying to take it over. 

The rest of the world needs to know, if the War on Terror is to succeed, that the United States is of vast power, but that we are also the standard for what is right about the world.  That we are the foremost promoters of prosperity and understanding. 

Mr. Thursday would like to see the United States win the War on Terror and the Sub-War in Iraq, but not at any cost.  We hope the United States has realized, or is realizing, the errors they have made so far, and will do everything possible and unlikely to correct their mistakes and ensure they do not recur.  We don’t pretend to know whether the Sub-War in Iraq can be won at an “acceptable cost”–a term we put in quotationmarks because we do not understand how many lives are “acceptable” in the name of democracy.  We also realize that pulling out of Iraq seems to invalidate the lives of the 3,000 dead soldiers.  If this is a war that cannot be won, we hope 3,000 dead is all we have. 

We’ll resume less serious posting next time, with snarky remarks abounding.

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