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03 January 2015

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Bill H

Agreed. Even more disgusting and shameful is to listen to those who constituted the highest leadership of this nation discuss the "sheeer panic" which they felt in the aftermath of 9/11, using that state to justify the torture regime etc.

JM Gavin

"Bumper Sticker Patriots" is my term for the majority of the citizenry.

BabelFish

Of all the causes of both personal wonder and disgust was the scorn I saw my fellow service members receive at places like a VFW or the Legion. What I heard was that they were Hippie soldiers, not really fit for a real war and just doing drugs instead of fighting. There was a vote at the VFW in Tompkins County, New York (home of the city of Ithaca) to ban VN vets from membership.

I could understand the radical freaks being abusive. I know that people I care for were spit on by them. I will never understand combat veterans disrespecting other American combat veterans. It came from all sides.

oofda

And part of the panic and thoughtless urging to military action- no matter whether it was justified or not- was due to the criminal unpreparedness and imcompetence of those in charge of national security prior to 9/11. Had leadership been doing their jobs, that attack might not have happened. We are now finding out- or getting confirmation- through the Senate Committee report on torture, that part of the C.I.A.'s obstruction was in protecting people who didn't pass on critical intellegence which might have led to foiling the attack.
Great piece by Fallows..a 'need to read'.

zanzibar

Pat

Thanks for your comments.

My generation on have failed. We abandoned all the principles and values that my grandfather held dear. Contrary to his warning of loss of liberty, we bought into the idea of central planning & management in all aspects of our lives. The size & scope of our government at all levels have grown immensely in the past century, yet the calls are for even more interventions. We no longer have a moral compass nor honor. Above all we are consumed by mass delusions.

To quote my young friend Paul Singer:

"The leaders of the developed world have eschewed policies that would make their economies grow at acceptable/historical rates, resorting instead to encouraging their “independent” central banks to reduce interest rates to zero and print money. The money printed by the central banks is used to buy up bonds, public and private, and recently also to purchase stocks. At the same time, politicians in these countries, far from getting a grip on the unsustainable promises of benefit payments that have been made to their citizens, have allowed those promises to accelerate dangerously. Such promises are a powerful form of debt that is growing exponentially, adding to collective government balance sheets that are already severely overleveraged. Simultaneously, the ability of the developed world (particularly America, the Power Formerly Known As “Super”) to impose order on the global geopolitical and military matrix has meaningfully declined, and is in the process of diminishing further.

In America, people who own financial assets are spending stock market gains on high-end goods, while many middle- and lower-income people are either borrowing to maintain current spending or becoming/remaining dependent on the government. This pattern is unsustainable from both a moral and practical standpoint. And the country’s long-term entitlement obligations are utterly unpayable as currently structured.

Your guess is as good as ours as to how this fantastic mix of elements and policies comes undone, but it is not rational to think that the current apparent stability and low volatility will go on forever. Nobody can predict when things will unravel, how the unraveling will take place, or what the world will look like after the next crisis. But the numbers (debt, derivatives, and promises) are extraordinarily large, the dysfunction very powerful, and the leadership throughout the developed world very weak."

And to sum up the current times, this must watch video by Adam Curtis:

http://youtu.be/KOY4Ka-GBus

I have felt for some years now that beneath the veneer of perceived stability there is growing instability in the financial, economic and geopolitical spheres. We are leaving a terrible legacy that can only lead to tears for our progeny.

C Webb

Character: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

Integrity: the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.

IMHO, it is the integrity of the individual that has been undermined physically, mentally and morally. The potential of many individuals first a foremost has been stunted through poor quality education.

Reclamation, recovery and redemption begins with the self and starts with education.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Trivium-Liberal-Grammar-Rhetoric/dp/0967967503

(The original OODA loop)


Walrus

Two words: Starship Troopers.

wehaveseenthisb4

Spot on. No matter how many times I told my Senators (Bill and Marco) not to fear for me they responded w/more bed wetting (ka-ching for the MIC and their campaign contributions).

As despicable as this sounds, in many ways, patriotism has come to be defined by how frightened you (present company excluded) are.

DC

I will push back a bit against your memory that the "sheeple" celebrated the Iraq war, at least BEFORE the war started. I remember lots of protests (because I was following them), and in particular one in Washington, D.C. where an incredible number of people showed up, well over 200,000 humans. I was surrounded by a veritable sea of people, starting at the Mall and up Independence and Pennsylvania Avenue. But. No news coverage. Really, just a baffling lack of coverage on the main channels to such a massive series of events nationally (and, less relevant for us, globally). What WAS covered VERY well was "code red," purchasing saran wrap to seal windows and doors, purchasing gallons of water and the need for pre-planned escape routes. Jesus, was that really necessary? Talk about responding to commands for coverage or lack of coverage. My main point here is that a lot of U.S. citizens understood what was going on; did not wish for their fellows in the military to spill our common blood in vain, yet the tide of public view changed (as it always does) when the blood was formally put at risk. Really, what would you have had us do? What more could we have done?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_against_the_Iraq_War#October_2002

turcopolier

walrus

A lot of people think the political order in STs is fascistic, etc. I think it is rather clever and quite appealing, as I suspect, you do as well. Simple thing, mankind having discovered that the average feckless and completely selfish civilian does not care at all for the common good, decides to limit the franchise to those who have served the common good at the risk of life and limb. To that end, the armed forces are the primary vehicle but other service must be devised for those physically incapable of military service, "lab rats," etc. All of this is completely voluntary. In this "world" no one is required to serve, but, then, if they so choose, they are without the vote. pl

turcopolier

DC

Your memory is defective. Although there were many who sought to avoid an invasion of Iraq, they were nothing like anything close to a majority. The masses were either swept up in howls of toothless rage for revenge against THEM or determined to believe that the US government would not be so stupid as to do this. I was asked to participate in a town hall meeting in Lexington, Virginia in November, 2002 on the subject of what would happen in re war with Iraq. There were three of us on the panel, Zinni, me and Charles Brower who was then Dean at VMI. This was held in Jackson Memorial Hall at VMI. The meeting was open to the public and the space was packed with townspeople. Lexington is a small town with two substantial colleges. There are a lot of retired financial people and senior government people there. after listening to a lot of back and forth, I told the crowd that the very recent US national election had determined the matter and that "this train has left the station and you missed it." It was not a popular statement. People cried out, "surely not," but they HAD missed the train and as a result the young people in the cadet barracks would pay for the tickets. pl

turcopolier

All

I know a surprising number of well to do people who never tire of trying to induce me to tell them war stories. How pathetic they are. pl

oofda

Colonel,
In the same vein, at the NHL Winter Classic at National Park on New Year's Day, an indordinate amount of public praise was given to the military. Service people of all branches were honored prior to the game, and during each period break, excessive homage was paid to service personnel. It was really too much- for a non-Veteran's Day or Memorial Day event. I, a 32-year veteran and my oldest, a serving Army officer were both put off by the over-doing of praise to the military. And the crowd cheered loudly when any mention was made of service personnel. It was a perfect example of what Fallows wrote about in his article.

Oth


I have never seen any evidence that those in uniform were any less energetic about Afghanistan, Iraq or torture. At least until the rest of the public had punted also.

I respect that their butts are on the line, but that didnt make them anymore realist or rational before the fact, for every sst or milpub, there were a thousand mil bloggers back in the day.

perhaps a senate comprised only of combat vets.

turcopolier

Oth

Their butts are on the line? Was yours. ever? pl

DC

Sir, I respect what you are saying -- principally because my experience is limited to the population of Washington, D.C. and NOVA (I'm from Richmond, VA, originally, but my culture is decidedly "NOVA-ish") and among my people there was much angst and anger and suspicion about the situation -- again, BEFORE the war. I think there is a difference in the mood of the people before vs. after. And, of course, the mood will be different among the populations in which me move: Lexington, for example, perhaps especially at a place like VMI, is somewhat different than other places.

turcopolier

DC

Somewhat? I understand, you see Lexington as a dark and primitive place.You missed the point. There were hardly any VMI people in the audience and certainly few cadets. They were busy studying as usual. The audience was all townspeople and predominately academic and professional retired. They were filled with a vacuous and useless angst but there was not any "54 40 or fight" silliness. Have you ever been in Lexington? Before the war commenced I was invited to address an event in Texas. This was sponsored by a bank. There were a thousand Yahoos and true primitives in cowboy boots and big hats in the audience. They were stomping on the floor and yelling for Eyraqee blood. They got a lot quieter when the combat vets on the stage (David Hackworth et al) told them they had no idea what they were talking about. Now, that was a dark and primitive place. pl

DC

Respectfully, you're imposing a belief on me here that, admittedly, is partially true but greatly not, regarding my impression of Lexington. As a Virginian, I am well aware of Lexington, and VMI. But I am more in touch with friends who graduated from Annapolis, which is a real military school, and universally those friends were not out for Iraqi blood before the war. In fact, they were skeptical of the wisdom of war, but understood and accepted their duty. Interestingly, they WERE universally accepting of the "evidence" used to justify the war, because it came from Powell and (cough!) Wolfowitz and others in charge. They just didn't think it was adequate justification. Even over many beers when I sought to debunk Iraq's alleged "yellowcake," nuclear engineering ability and expertise, likewise chemical production capability, etc., for naught as the logic fell on deaf ears; for their psychology is to follow their leaders. This, I submit, is a failure on the part of the military academy (well, at least the Navy's) in training the minds of young leaders. Twelve years later, these same people remain devoted patriots, but unhappy with the status quo.

MRW

Colonel, god I miss Hack. He was an email buddy during the Kosovo War when I was the only person in my neck of the woods, probably my state, railing against it. I first contacted him after I watched someone on Fox or MSNBC try to tear him part for what he was saying, which was brilliant, plain, and clear. He hadn't started his soldiers group then, which subsequently took up all his time, and I was grateful for the time he took to communicate with me, occasionally on the phone as well. I'd become a social pariah for--and in my view my friendships have never recovered from--the stance I took then. I'll bet his smokin' clear language shout down those bees.

pbj

Yep, I was at the 2 biggest protests in NYC. It was nice, in a way, seeing 50,000 "sane" people in one place. Also you could see which political figures showed up (basically fringe lefties and libertarians). But it did jack squat. The media coverage was 95% pro-war and it steamrolled all in its path. The voice of the media is powerful when its focused like it was then.

The "sheeple" thing doesn't last forever though. People I worked with who shouted me down in 2003-2004 realized just a few years later they were lied to. Maybe next time?

MRW

Colonel: Thank you for writing this, and I hope you bring it up again and again over the next couple of years as a reminder and mirror.

-----------------
My opinion was confirmed after 9/11 when the cowardice of most American civilians was evident to all, except perhaps to them. The blind fear observable in their faces and behavior was disgusting. This pervasive and pathetic fear led them to accept, indeed to revel in, such abominations as the torture regime in foreign prisons, the TV series, "24" with its modern Torquemada, and The Patriot Act which stripped free men of many of their liberties. And let us not forget how lustily most of "the people"cheered at first for a mindless war in Iraq, a war that has wrecked stability in the ME and which has brought forth such fruits as IS.
------------------

VietnamVet

Colonel,

I don’t disagree with you. The world has changed since WWII. The American People’s Army was no longer needed. We are the last cohort to serve in it. The harassment that I got at the VFW from older Vets is an early example of the teutonic shift in power that started when the wealthy sized control of government and used propaganda to dismember America. It separated the military and the federal government from its citizens. DOD is now a profit center.

James Fellows article pushes the right buttons and the title is apt but he avoids identifying the core problem. Only the psychotic would risk a nuclear war with Russia to seize control of Ukraine. The Forever War in Iraq only benefits War Profiteers, Israel Firsters, and Oil Sheiks; not Americans.

William R. Cumming

Thanks P.L. for the post and link! What I most fear is that the veterans of the last two decades will now be largely forgotten, especially those injured by or during their participation. And of course those killed in action remain as the ultimate cost of losing many fine people who gave their real treasure, their lives.

Former 11B

Make me dictator for a day and I would definitely tie the ability to vote to service. It could be peace corps, or rural health volunteers, but something. Americans are so cowardly and uninformed that they no longer deserve the sacrifices that were made in their behalf.
Half the idiots around here think the constitution is a "Death Pact" and must be disregarded on the off chance that some swarthy Arab might crash a 747 into their gated communities. They also think that sitting their fat ass in a dear stand shooting some half tame baited deer with a high power rifle and scope makes them Billy Bad Ass.
They are sadly mistaken.

turcopolier


From ex-PFC Chuck

“I have felt for some years now that beneath the veneer of perceived stability there is growing instability in the financial, economic and geopolitical spheres.”

For a running verification of your perceptions put the websites Naked Capitalism (http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/), Zero Hedge (http://www.zerohedge.com/), and Automatic Earth (http://www.theautomaticearth.com/the-automatic-earth/) on your read-every-day list.

Regarding your friend Paul Singer's comments on the zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and money printing (aka Quantitative Easing), a major effect of these policies has been to put the “Deluge Up” (as opposed to “Trickle Down”) economy on steroids. This chart (http://bit.ly/1xkOYax), which was developed by Pavlina Tchervena of the University of Missouri – Kansas City, shows the distribution of the growth during the last ten economic expansions. The red bars show the percentage that accrued to the top ten percent in household income and the blue bars the percentage that benefited the bottom 90%. During the first recovery, from 1949 to 1953, 80% of the benefits went to the bottom 90%, but their share gradually decreased during each of the subsequent five recoveries. During the long Reagan era boom the 90 percent's share took a steep dive to only 20%. In the similarly long Clinton turn-around their share recovered to about 27% but then took a dive during the Bush43 administration to only about 2%. Now look what happened during the so-called recovery of 2009-2012.
From ex-pfc Chuck

"The UMKC's economics department is one of the very few with a faculty that consists primarily of apostates to neoclassical economic theology. Their work is frequently presented at the website New Economic Perspectives. Here is a link to Tchervena's article at that site in which Pavlina's Chart (as it's become widely known as) was first publicized: http://bit.ly/14kXCLc"

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