Declare victory

Afghanistan

Afghanistan (Photo credit: Ricymar Fine Art Photography)

As we did in Vietnam, I think that we should declare victory in Afghanistan and withdraw. We have driven al-Qaeda out of the country and into Pakistan, and we have punished the Afghan people enough for harboring bin Laden. After we withdraw, sooner or later, the Afghans themselves will decide their own government. It may include the Taliban or it may be a coalition of warlords. The Afghan people are tired of war and will welcome peace, any peace. The sooner we withdraw, the sooner they can start to sort out their own problems. We cannot impose a solution; only the Afghans can decide Afghanistan’s future.

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Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Board o...

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Board of Governors, The Federal Reserve Board, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer is hell yes. We are out of Iraq and we are drawing down our troops in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is on the run. The economy is improving slowly from the Great Recession. Too many are still unemployed and the housing bubble is not over. Who shall we thank for the state of the economy? Republicans in Congress who have attempted to block every one of President Obama’s initiatives.

We can rightly blame GW Bush and Alan Greenspan for not preventing the Great Recession and the housing bubble. After 3-4 years, Barack has rightly taken ownership of the economy. He acted to prevent it from becoming the Great Depression 2. It seems that most people don’t realize how bad the economic situation was and capable of becoming. Too many believe the GOP mantra that it is Obama’s fault, while the GOP are doing everything in their power to prolong the slow recovery until after the election. It is the same strategy used by the CIA under Nixon’s direction to overthrow the Allende government in Chile in 1971. Now the people of the US are learning what it is like to be on the wrong end of economic warfare.

Worst president

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush w...

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush welcome President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama to the White House Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the couple's South Portico arrival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my opinion, that honor belongs to George W. Bush, surpassing the previous holder of that dubious honor, James Buchanan. Hardly a day passes without someone on the web stating that Barack Obama is the worst president ever. Their posts are usually a laundry list of some of the false assertions made against the President. In other words, a pack of lies.

Those false assertions started me thinking about all the ways in which Bush contributed to the present sorry state of the US and the world. Let me count the ways:

  1. The housing bubble and the aftermath could have been decreased in magnitude and the severity of the aftereffects if Bush and Alan Greenspan had taken action sooner or at all. All homeowners or those who want to be are poorer because they did not act.
  2. The Global War on Terror could have ended at Tora Bora, Afghanistan in late 2001 if Bush had pursued bin Laden and al-Qaeda with greater vigor when most of them were surrounded. Instead al-Qaeda still exists, and their existence is used to justify all sorts of intrusions in our daily lives. Such as airport screenings, monitoring of electronic communication in all forms and unjustified wars in Iraq and elsewhere.
  3. The Bush tax cuts were designed to reward the 1% and at the same time make Grover Norquist‘s goal of a small government a reality. Ronald Reagan tried to accomplish this in the 1980s using the Heritage Foundation‘s blueprint, but he failed because he lacked the current GOP’s ruthlessness. Those of us who rely on the government safety net are going to find that it no longer exists.
  4. Bush used a record number of signing statements to enlarge the powers of the presidency at the expense of the other two branches of government. In 1776, we declared our independence of King George 3. In his reign, George W. Bush attempted to reinstate monarchy in the US.

Barack Obama has the unenviable task of fixing what Bush damaged or destroyed. His task reminds me of Sisyphus rolling a rock uphill during the day and watching it roll downhill at night, only to repeat the uphill push the next day. Barack’s task is even more difficult because he has the current GOP on the uphill side pushing against the rock to make the task even harder. Rather than criticizing Barack for his limited success, those of us who support him should be helping him by putting our shoulders to the rock and aiding in the uphill push. We can succeed if we join in his efforts.

Drones

Predator Drone

Image by Doctress Neutopia via Flickr

Drones are remotely-piloted airplanes that the US government uses for surveillance and attack outside the US. It is estimated that each drone requires approximately 300 people to service and control in flight while a plane with a pilot requires approximately 100 people. We are employing many more drones so that at present there is a shortage of trained personnel to operate and support them. (Aside: great employment opportunities there.)

At first, drones were used only to look for and kill the top leaders of al-Qaeda. As more drones became available, they were used further and further down the chain of command until now drones are used to identify and kill SUSPECTED enemy soldiers. That’s right suspected enemies, no way to determine from 1,000s of feet in altitude and operated from 1,000s of miles away. The expansion of the list of targets reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld after 9-11. He wanted to use airpower against Iraq because there were so few targets in Afghanistan.

Wars are won and lost on the ground, so-called boots on the ground by infantry men and women. Wars are not won at a distance either in the air or at sea. Indiscriminate killing, as the US is now engaged in around the world in the War on Terror, will create more future terrorists than our drones are capable of killing. Before we attack suspected enemies, we should at least give them the opportunity to explain who they are and what they are doing. Too many innocents are dieing from our mistakes.

The Starfish and the Spider part 2

English: Large red starfish Gomphia gomphia fr...

Image via Wikipedia

 

In part one of my post, the Starfish and the Spider, I wrote about how decentralized organizations, such as Occupy Wall Street and al-Qaeda, are superior to centralized organizations. I promised to write about how it is possible to defeat decentralized organizations and that is the subject of this post.

There are three parts to the strategy:

  1. Improve living conditions so that organization members are willing to change ideology; this takes time and patience.
  2. Give organization members property rights and property so that they have a stake in society. That is how the US finally defeated the Apache.
  3. Adopt a decentralized organizational structure yourself.

The authors of the book conclude that a mixed spider and starfish organization, a mixture of centralization and decentralization may be the best structure of them all. They emphasize that getting the balance correct is not easy and will probably require frequent adjustments as conditions change.

Please see The Starfish and the Spider | Geronimo