Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What is the mission?

From VetVoice:

Fighting in Baghdad Rages; I am Confused
by: Brandon Friedman

Wed Apr 30, 2008

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it's weird that we're now launching MLRS rockets at the people we liberated five years ago?

We went to free the oppressed Iraqi Shias from the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. We toppled him in 2003. He later died in 2006. And now we're fighting pitched battles in the streets of Sadr City with the people we went there to free. As part of the Global War on Terror.
I don't think this is helping.

Take the last two days for instance: Six American soldiers have died in Baghdad. During that time, things have been getting worse:

Dozens of fighters ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's main Shiite militia stronghold Tuesday, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun bursts as the American push into Sadr City increasingly faces pockets of close urban combat.

Five years ago, when I was part of the "push into" Baghdad, units were also facing "rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun bursts" as we faced "pockets of close urban combat." The difference though, is at the time, we were fighting to free the people who "ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's main Shiite militia stronghold" yesterday.

And now, to really add to the surreal nature of the situation, we're firing MLRS rockets into Sadr City. The AP described the MLRS strike this way:

U.S. forces struck back with 200-pound guided rockets that devastated at least three buildings in the densely packed district that serves as the Baghdad base for the powerful Mahdi Army militia.

200-pound guided rockets in a district packed densely with civilians? This is not a good COIN strategy. Not unless you're going all in. Which we're not. Instead it'll probably just kill a bunch of civilians and harden the already-spiteful population toward us.

Oh yes, look right here:

Officials at two local hospitals said about 25 people had died and several dozen were wounded -- most civilians. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

Associated Press photos showed men pulling the dust-covered body of a 2-year-old boy, Ali Hussein, from the rubble of one building. :: AP Television News footage showed children running for cover behind blast walls amid gunshots. Men helped carry several blood-soaked injured people onto stretchers to a local emergency hospital. Outside the hospital, the dead were placed inside plain wooden coffins.

Remember: These are the people we came to liberate.

So here's a helpful hint: If you're not going to level Sadr City and kill off all the inhabitants, you're not going to win this way. Simply put, MLRS rockets should not be a tool in the COIN toolbox.
Sensing the same thing I was, Brian McGough, who served as an artillery NCO in Afghanistan and Iraq, sent me an email saying it was "troubling" that American forces would use "Multiple Launch Rockets in an area as densely populated as Sadr City."

No shit. Hell, why not use napalm? That'll shut'em up.

I just think we've lost sight of what we're trying to accomplish here. We're so caught up in trying to defend the Green Zone and to protect our own forces (which we have every right to do), that we've forgotten that if the mission is to defend ourselves and to lower our own casualties, the easiest way to do that is to leave.

And seriously, what is the mission?

UPDATE: After further research, I see that I may be a little off-base with my criticism of the use of the MLRS. It seems that the system was upgraded in 2006 so as to be able to fire guided rounds. This makes the newer MLRS totally different from the pre-2006 version. Use of the pre-2006 MLRS on Sadr City this week would have been unconscionable. Using the newer version is slightly better, but it doesn't change the fact that we're still rocketing the people we came to liberate five years ago. That part is still really stupid.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Funding the Polygamists

CNN has learned that between 1998 and 2007 the United States Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency purchased more than $1.7 million worth of airplane parts from three companies owned by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy. Those companies are Utah Tool and Die, Western Precision and NewEra Manufacturing. Today, the companies all operate under the name NewEra Manufacturing, a company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Friday, April 18, 2008

And why aren't you wearing your flag pin?

This post over at Pygalgia is so good, definitely worth quoting in its entirety:

Are You Wearing Your Flag Pin?

Shame on you if you are not! haha.

Just a short rant, but after watching the ABC debate I am astonished by the extent to which the corporate media will go to ensure that the correct political outcome happens. Flag pins? I notice that the greedy right like Larry Kudlow on CNBC and Fox News pundits are limited to this allegation. "Obama doesnt wear FLAG PINS!" WTF, have we really devolved to this level of retardation with Stalinist flare?

The Weather Underground? Nice! The media dredges up a radical leftist group that it had buried down the memory hole to equate Obama with its aims. Ask anyone under 35 years old and they will have no clue who in the hell the Weather Underground is. Personally I dont think Obama supports blowing up ROTC buildings to stop the Iraq War...but Im sure there are lots of crazy right wing people who believe he does. Sad country this is.I still wonder why no candidate, including Obama, is not focusing on what Sinclair Lewis called the "League of Forgotten Men" in the book "It Cant Happen Here". The League of Forgotten Men are those of the working class who are left behind by global capitalists. In their intractable despair and anger, they become susceptible to political and religious demagogues (Bush/Rove/Robertson/Hagee). These folks, historically, are the driving force that make fascism a possibility. These folks exist in the USA and are a political force, yet they remain hidden, thus they are protected from mass public scrutiny by the establishment. Instead, Obama hints they exist (in a semi private conversation) while Hillary and McCain explicitly pander to them. It is not the case that all poor, rural church goers who have guns are good people. Many of these people have some really strange and dangerous beliefs.

Sorry Hillary. Sorry McCain. Many of these folks serve as the basis of religious right political power and the rise of the GOP from the 80s onward, culminating in our buddy GW Bush.It seems to me that the irrational belief system of fascism should be concentrated upon by public discourse so they can be tested and ridiculed. "The Earth is not 5000 years old". "Bush does not talk to Jesus, that's stupid." "Worshiping your masters means you are a serf and no, freedom does not come through your desire to worship a king, dictator, or any other authoritarian. Thats weak, don't be a eunuch."See, if we made the above public discourse popular we might melt away all this right wing fascist crap because no man who cares about his integrity wants to be the dumb guy that doesn't "get it". Think about all the holy warriors filled with pride in 2003 as we went upon a spree of mass murder in Iraq who are now too ashamed to admit they blindly supported their unitary leader and "Decider".

It might sound mean, but hell, these are crazy times and these folks are a time bomb ready to jail (or worse) your "liberal" ass upon the expressed will of a Godly dictator. Some may think I exaggerate, but I disagree. Research these folks...google em, they are nutty nutty nuts nuts and they are numerous. They are waiting for Jesus, but would settle for a fascist dictator and your rights and liberty are in the way of their expectations. They are quite explicit about this.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Housing crisis spreading its venom

The NY Times has a good article on how the housing crisis is keeping people from moving when they need to. Ultimately, this could create a huge drag on the labor market.