Friday, August 31, 2007

It's the correct"struggle," but... it the appropriate field of battle at this time?

Serving one's country in some capacity makes profound sense. There should be a universal draft for everyone upon graduation from high school or one's 18th birthday. No exceptions (of course, that is what universal means!).

The heart of America goes out to those survivors who have lost loved ones in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The gratitude of America to those who have served and are serving is profound.

The Hubbard family in Clovis, California, has suffered two losses, and they have shared some of their feelings with us.

Here's an excerpt from an ABC News website:

When asked by reporters whether his support of the war had waned since losing two sons in the war, Jeff Hubbard said that he hoped the "people in power" were making the right decisions overseas and encouraged Americans to support the United States.
"I just hope they're right and I hope we get something accomplished out of all this after all the sacrifice we've made and the rest of the country has sacrificed," he said, choking back tears during the emotional interview. "I think the people of the nation need to support the nation because the nation is at war."

Everyone hopes the same as does Mr. Hubbard. Everyone I know agrees with him and the President that the "nation is at war;" although I think Mr. Bush's "ideological struggle" better identifies the complexity of the dangers we face in the 21st century.

The decision to involve the enemy in the Iraqi battlefields has proven to have been ill-advised. While short shrift was made of the initial foe, Mr. Hussein, the occupation has proven to have been planned inadequately. The initial call for 500,000 troops was rejected; the decision to disband the Iraqi army was foolhardy; calls for increased troop deployment were ignored until it was virtually too late.

Islamic extremism is a threat to the peace of the world. The struggle against these murderous thugs is one of life or death. The nation is at war, but this administration is fighting a 2007 war with 1967 strategy.

This is the right war; this is the wrong battlefield.

This is the correct struggle; this is an inappropriate arena.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Agnostic? Of course!

The Greek etymology for agnostic will indicate the word meant/means "unknown, unknowable."

Not to belabor too much the point, don't all religions of the book concede that their deity is certainly "unknowable," if not "unknown?"

Doesn't it follow, then, that we are all, ultimately, agnostics?

Doesn't that then make adherents of book religions virtual blasphemers? What could be more blasphemous than to assign all too human characteristics such as jealousy and pettiness to whatever power created this limitless universe? What could be more blasphemous than to murder fellow human beings in the name of this deity?

Religions most probably originated from the needs of small families, tribes, communities to develop rules for survival. That made sense.

It still makes sense to gather as a community for safety and survival. It does not make sense to allow lore to become a justification for thuggery and murder.

This "ideological struggle" in which we are engaged is a struggle to re-cast religion into a beneficial institution for the sake of the peoples of the earth.

So far there are no such policies being discussed, much less being developed.

Before we place too much trust in religious dogma, we must seek some method for verification. An anthropomorphized godhead is not verifiable.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Conundrum* for our Times

What to do? Where to seek? Whom to ask? Alas.

Today's New York Times email edition has a headline and opening paragraph which is slightly confusing, in context, that is.

U.S. Says Bomb Supplied by Iran Kills Troops in Iraq is the headline, and this--BAGHDAD, Aug. 7 — Attacks on American-led forces using a lethal type of roadside bomb said to be supplied by Iran reached a new high in July, according to the American military--is the paragraph, by Michael R. Gordon.

How, you may ask, Dear Reader, is this confusing? Well, it's confusing because just this week Mr. Karzai of Afghanistan told us that Iran is helping Afghanistan in its fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda (Mr. Bush disagreed, of course).

So, the Pentagon is claiming the Iranis are killing American troops in Iraq; the Iraqis are denying the claim; Karzai claims the Iranis are helping (in a way) American troops in Afghanistan; Bush demurs from Karzai's statement.

The conundrum is not only verification, but whom does one trust in the first place? Mr Bush? Mr. Karzai? The Pentagon? The Iraqis? Perhaps Mr. Cheney or Mr. Gonzales?

It's almost like Carrol folded Alice into both Wonderland and the Looking Glass.

(* Isn't conundrum a wonderful word to sound? So nearly sexual on so many levels!)

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Friday, August 3, 2007

File This

A day or two ago, I wrote about a posting by Chris Durang over in Take That, Right Wing Nut Scum. Reflection prompts me to revisit something Michael Ware said in an interview with Anderson Cooper, and reproduced in Durang's post.
Ware: Well, Anderson, there is progress. And that's indisputable. Sectarian violence is down in certain pockets. There are areas of great instability in this country. They're at last finding some stability.
The point, though, is, at what price? What we're seeing is -- is, to a degree, some sleight of hand. What America needs to come clean about is that it's achieving these successes by cutting deals primarily with its enemies. We have all heard the administration praise the work of the tribal sheiks in turning against al Qaeda. Well, this is just a euphemism for the Sunni insurgency. That's who has turned against al Qaeda.
And why? Because they offered America terms in 2003 to do this. And it's taken America four years of war to come round to the Sunnis' terms. And, principally, that means cutting the Iraqi government out of the loop. By achieving these successes, America is building Sunni militias. Yes, they're targeting al Qaeda, but these are also anti- government forces opposed to the very government that America created.
What this means, Gentle Reader(s), is that in the future, if there is a horrific Sunni/Shia battle, those sudden "friends" of ours over in Anbar Province will be killing their fellow Muslims (albeit they are Shia Muslims, they are still fellow religionists) with arms provided by the American government.
No wonder Prime Minister al-Maliki is upset with General Petraeus. Is Petraeus perhaps looking to September, 2007, and his much anticipated "report," while al-Maliki is looking at 2009, and the much direly-warned-against internecine religious conflict?
The Sunni assistance to the Coalition of the Willing in Anbar Province is a selling point today.
Trust, but verify.
(And keep this flagged somehow, to see how it all turns out.) Stay tuned.

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