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12 June 2011


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The most unfortunate, and to a large extent unanticipated, problem created by the creation of our all-volunteer military was a civilian leadership cadre with no military experience. Early in the Obama administration during one of his first meetings on Afghanistan, one of Defense Secretary Gates' more forthcoming aides reportedly told the new President, "at some point, Mr. President, its important that you tell us what to do". Advice I'd venture not since taken, and probably very difficult advice for anyone without military service to follow. Senator Kerry, for all his faults, did in fact serve and as a result has no qualms about questioning or opposing the currently accepted military wisdom. He knows full well the meanings of FUBAR and SNAFU.


"... there are good, worthwhile and sensible wars and then, there are the other kind. "

At least Congress and the President, as well as his predecessor, can take satisfaction in the lasting victory in that other kind of war, the war on America's middle class.


Meanwhile we continue to hear the loud sucking sound of our nation's economical well-being being 'drained' by wars and rumors of wars created by our shortsightedness politicos who listen to desk-bound 'star men' instead of those who are eating the dusts of war. We really really need to 'drastically reduce' the 'star mens ranks', IMO.

Green Zone Cafe

Colonel, I'm surprised you never crossed paths with Rep. Rohrabacher, he went to Afghanistan in 1988 to fight with the muj, see here: http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/03/dana-rohrabacher-afghanistan-war

As far as the Iraqis paying us, that is a big laugh. We are paying them not to denounce and humiliate us.

When I told this to an Iraqi friend, he replied that the Iraqi government was already telling us to eff off, aid and protection money or not.


I get the impression that you are rather angry about the squandering of American lives, treasure and prestige in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It also occurs to me that Obama is kind of like Nixon: he inherited disastrous wars prosecuted by a president of the other party, and couldn't being himself to end them because of the political blow-back from doing the right thing: disengaging from a lost cause. In Afghanistan, the result is doubly maddening because we basically achieved our goal already: killing OBL. "Inertia" indeed.

Despite all the patriotic support from the public, I don't think our disabled veterans are going to be treated any better by our Government either. You can bet Cheney still thinks of them simply as cannon fodder.

Is the "Henry" you are referring to one of the originals or one of the ones built in (OMG!) Bayonne? http://www.henryrepeating.com/henry-rifles.cfm

Bill H.

If our goal is to "deny them space in which to plan their attacks" then we don't leave for a very long time, since we are now being attacked by the Taliban, which was not formerly our actual and active enemy, merely the "friend of our enemy."

John Minnerath

This whole thing of trying to remake certain parts of the Muslim world as we think it should be is such a total train wreck it drives me to distraction!
I'm glad I'm out in the mountains of Wyoming where I can almost forget about it.
I am glad to hear you got a 17HMR though :)
Great little rim fire and real tack drivers.
I've had a CZ453 American for a couple years, mostly a paper puncher, but I do use it for some beaver control around the place.

Patrick Lang


"disastrous wars prosecuted by a president of the other party, and couldn't being himself to end them because of the political blow-back from doing the right thing: disengaging from a lost cause."

"Wars?" What other wars are we talking about? Nixon deliberately and in stages disengaged the US from VN. Two years of peace followed before the Congress betrayed the Vietnamese people to their enemies. Still having a tough time with that? Good. pl


The Boogie Man is dead and his cohorts seem to be falling quickly as well. If our President has any cojones he will take 100k out not 30k leaving only the Shooters so we get down to a strictly CT program, which he was told to do by many two years ago.

Come this fall as the Awakening comes to the gates of our so called ally Israel we may feel a 100k reserve will be comforting. Not that I would send them.


“…and protecting other U.S. security interests in the region” – all while suppressing information from the occupied lands.
There is really frightening news about last minute cancellation of the US premiere of “The War You Don't See”, by an outstanding journalist John Pilger. No explanations from the organizers. There was also the abrupt cancellation of a discussion between Pilger and a local Santa Fe journalist on free speech, US foreign policy and censorship in the media.
Seems like a case of censorship in the media in the “land of the free”


There are too many careers/financial ripoffs to be made for Af/PaK wars to be simply abandoned; both political and military. The actual end result is immaterial in terms of won and lost. That is for public consumption. The day social security funds and medicare is raided to pay for wars, will the cost hit home and then it will be abandoned.


Due to the politics of this Question:

"Who lost ____________ (fill in the blank 3rd world country) to the ___________ (fill in the blank existential threat of the day)"

No president seems able to stop these kinds of wars. They can't be "Won", so we never get to leave.

William R. Cumming

PL! I know many brave men and women have given the last full measure since 9/11/01! And others gravely wounded and incapacitated. I treasure their sacrifice for me and others over that period.

My question to you is a request that before 9/11/2011
you summarize the utilization of the Armed Forces of the USA since 9/11/01 and what has and has not been accomplished?

I know that some very tough engagements fought, not quite sure what you view as successes and failures and referring to the MENA and S. Asia during that period. I would argue that the deployments were not skillfully handles on a military or civil affairs basis and that most allied efforts were bought directly or indirectly and accomplished little that will be noticeable by either the impacted areas or the American public by the 2028 election. Actually only 5 elections off. My problem is simple! At least to me. No one can articulate US policy accurately in the short or long run and neither can potential or current friends and foes understand it. Perhaps you can give that coherence to me and readers of your blog over the next 90 days!

Patrick Lang


You have to pick your fights. What are you, 16 years old? pl

Patrick Lang


I will try, but war-weariness will keep many from listening. Bush and Obama have pissed American resolution away. pl


While there aren't clear strategies for 'winning' Afghanistan, there are clear re-election strategies in the US for 2012.

It has been my observation since 2001 that US war strategy is dictated by the election cycle in the US and not conditions for war fighters on the ground.

Sadly for front line soldiers Afghanistan is number 15 on a list of US electoral issues with the top 5 being economic. No one in DC including the President wants to get blamed for pulling out in Afghanistan so it will just keep on going at a level that minimizes pain in DC irregardless of the impact on the ground soldiers.

The Twisted Genius

What chaps my ass most about this situation is the cheerleading for staying in Iraq and Afghanistan done by so many in the Pentagon and the IC. I can understand the desire of the war profiteers to prolong these conflicts. Those rat bastards are just in it for the money. But the DOD and IC movers and shakers should be moved by nobler motivations. They should be honest about what can and cannot be accomplished and the real associated costs. It's not happening. I remember an old Army saying from the late seventies, "war is hell, but peacetime is a motherf##ker." Unfortunately, too many of our "star suits" really believe this.

The Twisted Genius

I am also following the Alexandria waterfront redevelopment plan with great interest. I had the pleasure of working out of an office along the waterfront for several years. It made working as a recalcitrant cog in the Federal machine bearable. I love the area as it is. I even find the leftover industrial working waterfront areas interesting. I hope whatever comes of this effort does not change the nature of the area.

Patrick Lang

You belong in town. our kind of guy. pl


"You have to pick your fights. What are you, 16 years old?"

Fair Enough. Which fight should we picking right about now, Obi Wan?

You don't seem on board with any of the fights that our military/government apparatus is currently engaged in. Or am I mis-reading your views?

Mark Logan

TTG, Those "rat bastards" are going to be running up against formally trusted allies in Congress as the spigot inevitably tightens.

Here is Norm Dicks (D)-Navy (Bremerton And Bangor)


They didn't care how much was spent in Afghanistan...if it didn't take a slice of their pie.



" The day social security funds and medicare is raided to pay for wars, will the cost hit home and then it will be abandoned."

They already are - to the tune of hundreds of billions. The way it works is that money taken from the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds is replaced by Treasury IOUs. Since we have a consolidated budget, the numbers we see about deficits are mis-stated since they do not register those borrowings and IOUs as expenditures. It implicitly supposes that we'll never have to make good on them. The budget in fact is not truly consolidated since those Trust Funds have a separate legal and financial standing from tax revenues and expenditures. The hope of our politicos is that we will not have to honor the IOUs if we can keep claims for Social Security and Medicare at an artifically low level and thereby access only the funds remaining after we SUBTRACT the IOUs. That's the story behind the scare campaign that the Trust Funds are insolvent. The SS Trust fund is solvent as is until 2004 (and for decades beyond that if we simply made marginal changes in the ceiling and withholding rates). Medicare is more trouble due to spiralling medical costs about which the Obama legislation did nothing.

By raising retirement ages,by doing away with the COLA increase, and by simply reducing benefits (as many states are do on the pensions owed public workers), the Treasury never has to honor its IOUs. The money then is available for Afghanistan or whatever other pastime tickles their fancy - while many elderly Americans make their sacrifice for the cause of freedom by switching from dog food to cat food.



Obama’s strategy is to avoid the appearance of defeat. After re-election he will complete the privatization of the wars.

The problem with globalization is that the economic elites are determined to screw the American Middle Class. They hate civil servants and unions. Worse, they do not need Americans anymore to make a profit. With federal government austerity along with state and local government job cuts, the American economy will not be in a good place in November 2012. Mitt Romney is a little ahead of Obama in the polling right now. Not a good sign for a sitting President. The only power the Middle Class have is their vote. They will not vote for Obama if the economy is collapsing.

We lived through April 1975. I could not believe that Saigon fell. The coming upheaval in the USA will make the 70’s the good old days.

robt willmann

Michael Brenner,

I bought a book in 2004 called "The Looting of Social Security", by Allen Smith (PhD, Indiana University), with ISBN number 0-7867-1281-3. He shows how each year since the 1983 increase in the Social Security tax all of the revenue raised by that tax increase to make Social Security solvent was scooped up by the Reagan, Bush sr., Clinton, and Bush jr. administrations and used elsewhere. From 1983 to 2003 the tax increase had generated a total surplus of almost $1.5 trillion for Social Security, but not a dollar of that surplus was left as of late 2003 since it was pilfered and spent on stuff that was not Social Security. There may be government reports around that explain this in detail, but if you are interested in reading this little book, I can mail it to you. It also mentions the "on-budget" and "off-budget" surplus or deficit issue.

Thus, had the Social Security money not been "diverted" for other uses (or, more accurately, stolen for other uses), there would exist now for Social Security a $1.5 trillion surplus plus any surplus generated from late 2003 to 2011.

Being a child of rural Texas (yes, I rode in rodeos as a kid), I say that since a Social Security tax is paid on top of and in addition to your income taxes, Social Security is not an "entitlement" in the derogatory sense because you pay for it; the same goes for Medicare.

The old joke about sex is that it might be free but it ain't cheap. War, on the other hand, is always very expensive, especially when waged outside of your own borders. Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, who won the Medal of Honor twice, said that in war "the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives".

The squeeze on the "policy makers" regarding the ill-advised military adventures should be a culturally moral one; as that appears to be absent, a lack of easy money may be the only hope to stop them, or to reduce their destructive scope.



I agree with your analysis of the social security trust fund, with one exception.

I do not buy in to the rightwing characterization of the treasury notes held by the fund as "IOU's". While they are indeed "special" treasury notes--meaning primarily that they are not negotiable on the market--they are still treasury notes and a financial obligation of the US government.

It should be emphasized as well that the fund has been redeeming and rolling over those notes for decades with the government paying every nickel owed. Some of those long term notes held and issued 20 or so years ago are at 6% interest, and the government honors that.

socialsecurity.gov publishes volumes on the notes held, their redemption dates, and interest rates.

I don't think there will be an outright default on those obligations. As you suggest however, a legislative default is in the works in the sense that a reduction in benefits/increased retirement age achieves the same effect as a financial default, i.e., massive theft.

It should also be noted that the trust fund was established in the early 80's by Reagan as prepayment by the baby boomers for their own retirement and the trust fund was always meant to be depleted by the boomers retirement. That's what it was supposed to do.

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