31 March 2008

Iraq News (31 March)

The Good: Sadr throws in the towel (that didn't take long). Also, check out my post entitled "Shi'ite Happens" at VetVoice for my take on this whole mess. The fact that many in the media think the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are tactically losing to a bunch of thugs is preposterous. Apparently, Iran was involved in the ceasefire too, very interesting.

The Bad: SGT Maupin, who had been missing in Iraq since 2004, has had his remains identified, sadly. That leaves three soldiers still in missing status in Iraq.

The Ugly: Fred Kagan badmouths the Brits over hastily pulling out of Basrah. Good thing I'm low man on the totem pole and I don't have to field these kind of accusations. War is ugly. Apparently war is also ugly for name-calling pundit types too. Whatever.

Sgt. Maupin, R.I.P.

The Blog Gestapo Threatens CJ!

This is ridiculous. Some unit I've never heard of at the Pentagon has threatened to shutdown CJ's blog A Soldier's Perspective. CJ is active duty and apparently these weenies at the Pentagon didn't get the memo that many senior brass actually *gasp* support the concept of milblogs. The charges are here. One of them includes "showing disrespect" to military officers...because enlisted guys and gals never, ever say anything bad about their officers (gimme a f'n break). I could see an OPSEC violation being a faux pas, but talking bad about members of congress?!? C'mon.

30 March 2008

Sadr Don't Surf

Quite possibly the most legendary line in cinematic history is from Apocalypse Now when Robert Duvall says "Charlie Don't Surf". I always struggled to understand what it symbolized about the Vietnam war and that era in history. When I was driving out of the Nevada desert in 2001 after Burning Man, a melodic song by the Clash came on the radio. I dig the Clash, but this song wasn't very punk, just kind of strange. It's tough to decipher the bizarre meaning, but here's the lyrics:

Charlie don't surf and we think he should
Charlie don't surf and you know that it ain't no good
Charlie don't surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie's gonna be a napalm star

Everybody wants to rule the world
Must be something we get from birth
One truth is we never learn
Satellites will make space burn

We've been told to keep the strangers out
We don't like them starting to hang around
We don't like them all over town
Across the world we are going to blow them down


The reign of the super powers must be over
So many armies can't free the earth
Soon the rock will roll over
Africa is choking on their Coca Cola

It's a one a way street in a one horse town
One way people starting to brag around
You can laugh, put them down
These one way people gonna blow us down


Charlie don't surf he'll never learn
Charlie don't surf though he's got a gun
Charlie don't surf think that he should
Charlie don't surf we really think he should
Charlie don't surf
Charlie don't surf and we think he should
Charlie don't surf and you know that it ain't no good
Charlie don't surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie don't surf

During these troubling times, the song has been stuck in my head for some reason. So I decided to modify the tune to "Sadr Don't Surf". Seems applicable.

Sadr don't surf and we think he should
Sadr don't surf and you know that it ain't no good
Sadr don't surf for his Imam martyr
Sadr's gonna be a Qom rockstar

Everybody wants to rule Iraq
Let 'em fire another rocket attack
But for us, it's just no fun
EFPs and 240s from Iran

We've been told to keep the Mahdi Army out
We don't like them starting to hang around
We don't like them all over town
Across Baghdad we're going to blow them down


The reign of reason must be over
The coalition can't free the earth
Soon the miltia will turn over
Oil money to the Ayatollah

It's a one way street in Mr. Sadr's town
Masked people starting to run around
You can't give them cash to keep them down
These one way people gonna mow us down

Sadr don't surf and we think he should
Sadr don't surf and you know that it ain't no good
Sadr don't surf for his Imam martyr
Sadr's gonna be a Qom rockstar

H/T to The Clash.

Iraq News (30 March)

The Good: Successful military operations are being conducted by US and Iraqi forces to target militia goons throughout Baghdad. I had to pull this off an MNF-I press release, since the American media wouldn't dare discuss targeting criminals launching rockets (which usually kill civilians BTW). The American media is far too busy writing exposes after embedding with the enemy! Before the Washington Post takes the neo-Jane Fonda route, they should probably check their moral compass and realize that they are sympathizing with a bunch of thugs that take pleasure in dumping the bodies of Sunni families into the Tigris, drilling holes and cutting the flesh off people faces, planting IEDs that usually miss their target and kill nearby civilians, etc. Ah well, the article provides for an interesting read. It's also important to understand the adverasry.

The Bad: Some Iraqi Security Forces are defecting down in Baghdad and Basra to the Mahdi Army. Why is this not surprising? The curfew on Baghdad has also been extended. That's good for conducting military operations, but pretty shitty for most of Baghdad's citizens who have to get food, water, and other necessities. Update on ops in Basra aren't looking so hot if you read the NY Times. Hard to say what's really going on down there...

The Ugly: Sadr made his first public appearance in quite some time and came out with some rambling speech about the occupation, united resistance, blah blah. Somehow I don't think the Sunnis are too happy with that whole "ethnic cleansing" and deathsquad thing back in 2006 and probably aren't going to stand united. Sadr says he's still in charge of the Mahdi militia, but why have the rogue elements been wreaking havoc in Baghdad ever since the ceasefire was implemented in August 2007? It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. Right now things are pretty shitty in Iraq, but this can't go on forever.

It's a swell time to vacation in Basra

29 March 2008

How I Spent My Evening

Trying to understand the complex relationship between the Government of Iraq, SIIC, Fadhilla, the Sadrists, and Iran can make one mentally exhausted. I chose to watch this flick instead this evening.

Man, that was a sweet movie. Almost as good as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Iraq News (29 March)

The Good: US air assets and ground forces have rolled into Sadr City to take care of business. Washington Post has a pretty good article on the offensive here. Lots of enemy KIA. As folks wiser than me say, some people can't be reconciled and just have to get blowed up. Stay safe guys. Thanks for watching out for us. The militia-sympathizers in the mainstream media might cite some "civilians" killed from "medical sources", but keep in mind that those sources are Mahdi Army infested and are generally bullshit. Civilians that shoot AK-47s and RPGs at US forces lose their "civilian" status very quickly.

The Bad: Details in Basrah remain sketchy, but apparently things aren't going very well. PM Maliki launched this operation on his cognizance and Bush has hailed it as a "defining moment". I'm still remaining skeptical of that sort of optimism.

The Ugly: Don't know who the Badr Corps or SIIC (Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council) is? Well check out this piece by a gentleman from the CFR, very insightful. Shi'ite politics and power struggles in Iraq are complex, but now it is more important to understand than ever. The Egyptian perspective is here as well.

A Must Read on NCOs

Having been in the Navy for awhile, I am well aware that senior enlisted personnel are the ones who run the show. Any young officer who doesn't understand this (many don't) will promptly get humiliated when they make an ass out of themself. I've been told that the same holds true in the Army. So check out my buddy TSO over at The Sniper who has an excellent story about soldiers completing the Basic Noncommissioned Officer’s Course (BNCOC) at Walter Reed. Kudos to them, the backbone of the military!

28 March 2008

Wombat Rape and me

I tried the excuse of being raped by a wombat to get out of this deployment much like the gentleman from New Zealand, but I probably should've had a more creative excuse. Oh well...live and learn. (h/t to Hot Air)

Iraq News (28 March)

The Good: Read about US forces take care of business on the outskirts of Sadr City in Stars and Stripes. I don't know about you, but I'm glad these brave men do what they do. Reporting of operations from Basra remains pretty sketchy...depends on which source of media you go to.

The Bad: Pretty horrendous day. Huge protests in Sadr City against the Prime Minister. The Green Zone got nailed again and another civilian was killed. A pipeline was destroyed by saboteurs in Basrah. Bad all around.

The Ugly: Baghdad has been slapped with a 24/7 curfew (which I haven't seen since the Samarra minarets were bombed in June 2007). It's a pain in the ass for Baghdad citizens, but these are tough times.

" Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking a pack a day" -LT Nixon

27 March 2008

Old but Relevant Quote

I recall reading Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" on my first deployment and the quote on the first page provided some insight into why we do things that doesn't necessarily benefit ourselves. The rationale being service to others is what makes humanity different than the rest of the animal kingdom. I thought of it last night before drifting off to sleep and thought I should share. Make of it what you want. It's from John Donne from long long ago:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

Iraq News (27 March)

The Good: Operations by the Iraqi Security Forces continue to target criminal militia groups in Basra (NY Times has a pretty good summary). Militia fighting has sprung up all over southern Iraq and Baghdad with the help of their Quds Force enablers. The Prime Minister has set a deadline of 72 hours for the enemy in Basra to lay down their arms. Here's to the courage and bravery of our coalition and Iraqi brothers and sisters to put down this lawlessness once and for all. People often opine about who's right and who's wrong in this complex environment, but in my case, I'm fully supporting the people going after the thugs that are shooting at me. Perhaps that constitutes a bias, but hey, what are you gonna do. Very decisive and tough times...

The Bad:
Two soldiers were killed yesterday, and many people were killed or injured (mostly Iraqi civilians who are only trying to live their lives) in Baghdad due to mortar fire.

The Ugly: Turns out three congressional Dems had their trip to Iraq in 2002 funded by none other than Saddam himself! A flabbergasted McDermott spokesman responds that it was all about the Iraqi children and he was unaware of any conflicts of interest. Why do Dems always talk about the children? Wall Street Journal talks about the security situation in Iraq being threatened on multiple fronts.

Iraqi Police in Action

26 March 2008

Iraq News (26 March)

The Good: Route Irish, which connects the Green Zone to the Baghdad Airport and Victory Base Complex, used to be known as the most dangerous 6-mile stretch on the planet. Now, not so much according to this AFP article. I've been on Route Irish a few times and I can confirm this. Tough-guy contractor types who wear the "I survived Route Irish" after 2005 should probably get kicked in the sack.

The Bad: The Iraqi government has launched an operation to take down some of the criminal militia elements that run Basra. The government of Iraq is saying that they aren't targeting the Mahdi Army specifically, but criminal elements. Seems like a lot of confusion coming out of the southern city. I once heard Basra described in a similar fashion to 1920s Chicago, except oil is the stuff of racketeering and smuggling rather than booze. Keep an eye on this one. Baghdad is seeing increasing violence as militia goons wreak havoc in Sadr City. Rocket attacks were launched throughout Baghdad yesterday. Talisman Gate has some interesting analysis on this whole situation that is well worth reading.

The Ugly: Looks like we're in this Iraq thing for the long haul...or at least until the new president shows up. The ground forces level of 130K to 140K will probably hold at least until Bush is out of office. That's swell, but where are these troops going to come from, Mr. Commander in Chief?

Offensive in Basra

Tuesdaze Blog Roundup on Iraq (25 March)

The times are usually not so fun in Iraq, and this past week hasn't been much different. Here's what the blogs are saying:


Note To All Readers...You're Awesome

There was some controversy generated with the post about how people spent their Easter Sunday. This is all well and good (see the banner tagline), but I think some honest-to-goodness readers may have taken real offense! So for that I apologize, and I have never meant to anger readers, merely challenge. But, the purpose of this blog is hardly to be about my self-obsessed musings. Rather, it is meant to challenge societal conventions surrounding the relationship of the Iraq war and other random things within American society. This includes examining media, voting patterns, my generation, other blogs, etc. through a cynical and pragmatic lens. To clarify, yes, I am a bitter person. But bitterness can be turned into constructive criticism of society. Only then can we move towards a better paradigm from our current rot of consumer-driven, uneducated, and apathetic malaise. As for being in the military, I have noticed a bit of a trend of Armed Forces members who think that society owes them something and they should be put up on a pedestal. I find this silly, since I was very fortunate in my upbringing in America, and, if anything, I'm the one who should be paying people back. There is also a cult of victimization that has engulfed American's citizens for quite some time. I also find this ridiculous and understand that we need solutions to problems instead of wallowing in self-pity. So please don't feel like you can't disagree with me, because I'm going to drop some kind of moral authority trump card. The only way to save America, which runs the risk of going the way of the Roman Empire, is through intelligible dialogue instead of accepting norms that drive us into extinction. That and a lot of links to hilarious shit on the weird ole' internet can help to pass the time. So, please, say what you would like. They don't call it freedom of speech for nothing.

Also, as a shameless self-promotion, I've got just about 10K hits on sitemeter, so thank you all for the visits, please come back often. To offer my praise, I present you with an image of Tony Danza dancing to showtunes.

From the World-Acclaimed Musical "Saaa-maaan-tha"

25 March 2008

Iraq News (25 Mar)

The Good: Iraq has a brand new electronic stock exchange. I guess that's progress, now where's the starbucks for the yuppie day traders to get their triple mocha lattes.

The Bad: Clashes with, supposedly, the Mahdi army in Basrah and Baghdad. This has potential to get really nasty. Mr. Sadr's people are saying that these are peaceful protests. Hard to say what the hell is going on. Stay Tuned.

The Ugly: Bush reiterates that the war was still worth it. That's a pretty bold statement at this point...

4,000 Dead in Iraq is Great News for Some

Just saw this at Little Green Footballs and wanted to pass along. No, this meme is not from Ahmadinejad, but overrated fat-fuck, Michael Moore, of whom I am from the same home state (embarrassing I know). To commemorate another tragedy, Moore writes this on his email distribution list:

Monday, March 24th, 2008


It would have to happen on Easter Sunday, wouldn’t it, that the 4,000th American soldier would die in Iraq. Play me that crazy preacher again, will you, about how maybe God, in all his infinite wisdom, may not exactly be blessing America these days. Is anyone surprised?

4,000 dead. Unofficial estimates are that there may be up to 100,000 wounded, injured, or mentally ruined by this war. And there could be up to a million Iraqi dead. We will pay the consequences of this for a long, long time. God will keep blessing America.

I'm sure Moore is ecstatic that the 4,000th soldier died on a religious holiday so he could crank out this tasteless email. What an asshole.

A Tale of Three Americas

My first two deployments were spent out at sea and tucked away under the ocean. Free time was spent watching a crappy assortment of TV shows such as Jem and the Holograms, Magnum PI, and The OC. I also worked a lot on my Jesus needlepoint. Anyways, due to the cold-war era style of communications on a submarine, we rarely knew what was going on in the outside world. I think there was a war with Lebanon and Israel back in the summer of '06, but I can't recall. Anyhoo, this deployment has been significantly different and I have had access to news worldwide and all with a sober mind. Unfortunately, I'm exposed to nonsense like Bush hanging out with Mr. Easter Bunny (h/t Wonkette):

Meanwhile, I'm hitting the deck to dodge incoming like an asshole on Easter Sunday. But, I'm not going to turn this blog into a pogue bitchfest. I bet I had it a lot better than this poor fella below (ABC):

Illustrates what the priorities are in our current society. Sad indeed.

24 March 2008

Iraq News (24 March)

The Good: The Iraqis in the province of Anbar frequently are embittered that the central government of Iraq isn't giving them enough money for infrastructure improvements. In case any big time multinational oil executives read this wacky blog, you can help them out by bidding on development projects to utilize the gas fields in the mostly Sunni province. A suicide bomber cell in Diyala province was taken out by US forces. Guess the terroists won't get to achieve the glory of massacring innocent civilians. Props to the squad that eliminated these nutjobs.

The Bad: Argh, way too much violence yesterday. Steel rain, a suicide truck bomb that targeted an Iraqi Army COP, and a drive-by shooting in Baghdad. Also, the ugly, grim milestone of 4,000 was reached after an IED killed 4 US soldiers in Baghdad. I'm sure this ugliness will be used by pundits in the American political scene to make a cause for or against the war. There's only one thing that comes to my mind when any coalition soldier or Iraqi is killed in this god-awful violence...shitty.

The Ugly: Stable security is being maintained in Fallujah, but with what kind of tactics. The Washington Post paints a picture that isn't pretty and even uses some analogies to Saddam. And General Petraeus to bring "Good News" about Iraq in the upcoming April testimony? I doubt it. It's most likely to be a mix of what's gone right and what needs a whole lot of improvement.

Caution: Media Loves to Identify with Grim Milestones of Death and Violence

Dispelling Stereotypes

An disturbingly large portion of the blogosphere believes that US Soldiers are over in Iraq randomly killing civilians, wearing ear necklaces, torching mosques, and other such nonsense. These stereotypes are employed to give credit to their oft-repeated argument "Bush Lied, People Died". Sure, there's lots of intelligible debate about why getting into Iraq was wrong, but I don't see the troops being likened to the Mongol Horde as part of it. That maybe since I've been in the military for several years and have not seen this criminal mentality first hand. Not saying war isn't hell, but when some douche in the comments sections of Matt Yglesias fine blog starts droning on about the US only being over here to kill civilians, I find this ridiculous. To see the real enemy in Iraq, stop on by Long War Journal where it shows the aftermath of a suicide truck bomb on an Iraqi Army Combat Outpost and the US forces clearly helping their Iraqi comrades (not for the light of heart). For extra shits n' giggles, check out the crazy commenter's MySpace page, which kind of reminds me of a cross between Noam Chomsky, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the Comic Book Store Guy.

The US Soldier: Out of control imperialist aggressor killing brown people willy-nilly

23 March 2008

Gen. Barry McCaffery as Nostradamus

General (ret.) McCaffery has a list of predictions for the world up on the Washington Post. I admit to being a little skeptical, since he was the Drug Czar during the Clinton-era "Drug War", which contributed to the destruction of our inner-cities, jailed thousands for victimless crimes, and created an inflated market for narco-terrorists worldwide. But he has had some pretty insightful things to say about Iraq that has been devoid of the cheesy and intellectually lazy punditry you often see these days. Go check out his predictions for the world...right here (thanks to Small Wars Journal).

Hopefully the General predicts a regain in popularity of the V-Guitar

Iraq News (23 March)

The Good: Anbar Province sounds pretty boring for the Marines. Compared to the rampant violence that once took place in Ramadi and Fallujah, I'd wager that it is a good thing. More here on the decline of jihadist propaganda coming out of Iraq.

The Bad: The Green Zone took some rounds today, and it's all over the news wires (you know how the media loves that violence). Maybe the enemy is trying to take out the Easter bunny, who knows. There is some controversy about the US killing 6 Sunni Sahwa members near Samarra. An investigation is underway. An IED killed three soldiers north of Baghdad.

The Ugly: Iraq is costing 5 Grand per second according to this NY Times Op-Ed. That's like 5 trips to the champagne room in Vegas. Not exactly a bargain, I'll concede that. But expect the media to further exasperate the pisspoor economy to Iraq connection to sway voting patterns (not that it isn't justified).

According to Iranian news and judging by the graphic, the Green Zone got hit with 25 ICBMs

22 March 2008

Presidential Primaries: Schnooze Fest '08


I made a drunken New Year's resolution to pay attention to the 2008 Presidential primaries, since I was woefully absent in paying attention to the 2004 Presidential races. But much like waking up next to a 300 lb. woman named Starla in a hotel room without easy escape, I'm regretting my inebriated judgment. This Presidential primary has been pockmarked with one stupid scandal after the next, which has contributed very little to public debate about what the candidates' policies will entail. Examples include Kos accusing Hillary's people of photoshopping Obama to look more black, Obama's nutty preacher and his "typical white person" comment, McCain and his boneheaded gaffes, passportgate, and this is only for the month of March! Once insightful and well-written blogs, like Obsidian Wings, have completely jumped the shark by getting swept up in Obamamania. Every big name blogger is hunkering down in their respective camps, and they are not willing to confront objective facts. The MSM is running the same crap non-stop to make up for general schlockiness and lack of research on all of their other reporting. Now, I admit to taking jabs at the Hillary-Sinbad meme, but that's just because of my deep-seated skepticism for the lady dating back to 90s. However, as much as I want to jump off this crazy train, I've got to stick by my commitment. Much like the military, you don't have to like it, but you gotta do it. Go Democracy.

Iraq News (22 March)

The Good: From Voices of Iraq, operations targeting Al-Qaeda propaganda wings are having a huge impact on their ability to churn out their vile tripe onto the internets. Internet messages declined from 143 to 17 per month in a 6-month period, which must have an effect on recruiting suicide bombers amongst disgruntled Muslim youth in Saudi Arabia and North Africa.

The Bad: One soldier was killed in a rocket attack as rogue Sadrist elements continue to cause problems in southern Iraq and Baghdad. Clerics continued to reiterate the ceasefire during Friday's prayers, so the militants conducting attacks have clearly broken away from the Sadr movement. American media is trying to portray this as some new trend, but this has been a problem since the ceasefire was initiated in late August. A country that start with an "I" and ends with an "N" probably has a hand in this.

The Ugly: The proposal to the Bush Administration from the Pentagon is looking like it will involve 12-month tours, but no further reductions of ground forces until late summer (when there will be about 140,000 US troops in country). Not sure what Bush is going to say about this... And just for giggles, behold, I give you the doucheyness of the Air Force, who is fighting tooth and nail with the Secretary of Defense to not provide support for unmanned flight operations. I guess those tours in Nevada are really taxing, since there's a deficiency of golf courses. Haha, I made fun of my Air Force boss all yesterday about this whining, sorry sir.

The Hard-Workin' Air Force at 1400 on a Tuesday (just kidding AF, I still love you)

21 March 2008

US News and World Report Embarrasses Iraq Vet

Countercolumn has a post today about how out of touch the mainstream media is with military reporting. Nowhere is this more evident than a recent misprint at the US News And World Report when talking about an Iraq vet counter-protesting the nonsense that took place yesterday in various major cities in America (which got state-run Iranian media attention, BTW). From US News:

Standing just outside the recruiting center were several current or former servicemen, including Coby Dillard, who said he served on the USS Constitution as a Navy petty officer in 2003. At one point, a lob of red paint hit the sidewalk and exploded at Dillard's feet. "This is the blood that has been spilled," yelled a protester before being admonished by a noticeably perturbed organizer.

Great! Good to know a fellow squid who has done time post-9/11 is standing up against the marxist goon squad who wants to degrade our military. Of course his claim to be an Iraq vet, judging by the text of this article, looks to be in question since the USS Constitution or "Old Ironsides" hasn't seen any action on the high seas since the War of 1812.

The USS Constitution: Ahoy! It's the ship that brought "teh awesome" to the Persian Gulf in 2003

She's a purty ship, but probably not creating that "Shock and Awe" effect that was desired during the initial invasion in 2003. I did a cursory google check of Mr. Coby Dillard and found a post of his over at the Gathering of Eagles. Turns out he served on the Kitty-Hawk class Carrier the USS Constellation. Oh...now it all makes sense.

I'm not part of the Gathering of Eagles, since I'm pretty mild-mannered and their affiliation with Melanie Morgan gives me the willies, but I respect their organization since it is primarily veterans. I feel compelled to send this snafu over to Jonn Lilyea at This Ain't Hell since he was nice enough to link to me yesterday. It's like the mainstream media is trying to make vets look stupid.

BillO Flips Out on HuffPo and Kos

I'm not the biggest fan of Huffington Post or Daily Kos, since I'm not a liberal in the same way they are. But to accuse the left-leaning websites of being Nazis borders on the ridiculous. Bill O' Reilly's outrage comes from some anonymous comments that were left about Tony Snow's cancer. BillO has previously flipped out on the sewer that is the internet by declaring it hate speech. C'mon, man. Midget amputee porn, crazy conspiracies about 9/11, radical politics, Star Trek fan fiction and such is why we love the internet so much. I wouldn't exactly equate some loser in his mother's basement as the coming of the fourth Reich though.

Iraq News (21 March)

The Good: A lot of controversy has been generated in the American media about the US "arming" the Sunni resistance to engage in a civil war with the Shi'ite-dominated government. I retort that this gloom and doom talk is a whole lotta bullocks, since the Sons of Iraq are putting down their Kalashnikovs for brooms to clean up their neighborhood in Hawr Rajab. Also, disillusioned foreign fighters are fleeing Iraq (to some extent), because they come to their senses and realize killing other Muslims is bullshit, presumably.

The Bad: There's an investigation into KBR doing a shoddy electrical work that resulted in two non-combat deaths. To KBR's benefit, I've seen some pretty shoddy electrical work done by government-employed shipyard workers as well. More violence in Kut, as some of the Mahdi Army guys didn't get the memo on the ceasefire, or (more likely) they are just rogue thugs.

The Ugly: Army and Marine Captain's are crucial to the counterinsurgency campaign, except that they are getting out of the military in droves (much like yours truly). And, thanks to Ms. Kath for the tip that Volvo has been fined $19.6M for giving kickbacks to Saddam during the disastrous and scandal-ridden Oil-for-Food program in the pre-invasion years (more gross incompetence from the UN).

Chalk up "Supporting Tyranny" to these Yuppie Ddouchebags and their Smug Bumperstickers

The Dumb Things Guys Do

It's scientifically proven that guys will take up some pretty boneheaded endeavors to try and impress the ladies. Opening a small restaurant specializing in Vegan food, taking an Art History class, taking out a high-interest loan to buy a Lexus SUV with TV screens in the seats, etc. My hombre TSO at the The Sniper and I share a mutual interest in war and politics, strangeness on the internet, and sarcasm. Looking around the blogosphere, gathering people together with these shared ideas would probably result in a massive sausage fest. Therefore, it is necessary to partake in ruses to meet women.

Meet Chrissy. She's on a womanly crusade on MySpace to prevent soldiers from shipping off to the sandbox by spreading the peace n' love, which will thereby sap their will to fight. In her own words "my attire represents the sisterhood of the west. We know that women during Christiandom were capable of preventing their men from going to war just by providing love." This may be a bit of twisted logic, but, c'mon, she's a babe! So fellow wiseass, TSO, over at the Sniper responded to her call of not taking up arms and being willing to not engaging in war crimes for a piece of lovin'. She further emphasized her objectives that "There are some rules". Unfortunately, TSO must have a Google footprint the size of Bigfoot's wang, because she found out about the shenanigans within 24 hours that many of us were privy to:

Now I get it. I see that I was the cause of laughter for you and your buddies. Well let me tell you that we have convinced many soldiers and they tell us horrible stories about the war. I signed up right before I was moving to MD. Now all I wanna do is to move back to CALI and I haven't even set foot in MD yet. I'm just happy I didn't send you our manifesto.

Damnit, TSO! Why you cockblockin'. I applaud your audacity, sir, but I was expecting some follow through, and I wanted to read this illustrious manifesto. In a world of confused gender roles and an overly critical attitude of men by women, can you blame a guy for trying? Not just no, but hell no. Anyone interested in hanging with these fine looking lady that wandered in from the renaissance festival can find here somewhere in the nightmare known as MySpace.

No Dogs or Vets on the Lawn

A nice lady named Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her boy in Iraq, wants to set up a house for vets suffering from PTSD in wine country, CA. But that has made some neighbors hoppin' mad that they're going to have a bunch of Rambo types running around with their guns n' craziness driving down the property value. Sadly, this seems to be a discouraging trend in a society that has little understanding of the reality of modern conflict. Not only do they want to get involved with it, they don't even want to know about it.

Not to fear. IAVA has an open letter to the media requesting an increase in coverage of the wars that a small percentage of Americans face, while spending less time on journalistic inquiry into the hairstyles of Paris Hilton's dog. This could drastically help awareness in a vapid society lacking any sense of priorities. Check it out.

20 March 2008

Troublemakers Converge Across America

The high-falutin' protest tactics of today's modern dissenters

Time to take a break from talking about Iraq, and one thing that I find incredibly disturbing is the latest shenanigans from the past week of protests back stateside. Freedom of Speech is essential to a democracy. For centuries, much of society has understood that criticism of the state's policies is crucial to ensuring that the state govern it's citizens in the best way possible. One way of voicing this dissent is protesting, which was largely effective in overcoming civil rights injustices in the 1960s. However, I fear that rational personalities and cooler heads have taken their criticism to places like blogs and newspaper Op-Eds, while the streets are left with the utter dregs of society who only seek to wreak mayhem. Observations on media and blog coverage of these child-like antics confirm my suspicions. Enough is enough. These jackasses need to be humiliated for the buffoons that they are (note: This Ain't Hell and The Sniper have similar analysis and were actually there).

Lookin' good, Grandma!

The protests seem to be a mishmash of aging hippie douches vying for that last bit of media coverage on "peace and love" in their twilight years, along with young ruffians who are seeking to start trouble (probably due to a lack of receiving adequate attention from their parents).

That'll show us military folk! (h/t Wonkette)

The outer-space leftists have given up hope of convincing the Democrats in congress to end the war in Iraq, and are now resorting to acts of vandalism against military recruiting centers to direct their frustration. Above is a photo of some hooligans who spilled red paint on the sidewalk, purportedly to symbolize the blood of Iraqis that the coalition forces are sworn to protect. I don't understand this logic. Why not protest against the terrorists that are causing the violence and despair in Iraq. I guess that wouldn't fit in with their pre-conceived notions of the boogeyman in uniform. Frank Chu below from the Bay Area protest is making the most sense to me right about now.

Frank Chu highlights the most coherent and logical protest message of the week (H/T Zombie)

Portrait of Adam Kokesh making a mockery of himself (H/T Ms. Robin)

Damn! I have warned IVAW about being exploited by these opportunistic Marxist organizations during these mass protests. Have they now convinced Iraq vets to hoist an upside down American flag! What the fuck, Kokesh? This symbolism is not about dissent against the US government, it's about disrespecting America. I understand that many members of IVAW saw unspeakable atrocities during their time in Iraq (see Winter Soldier II coverage). That's why I'm here to help you voice your opinion in a way that does not denigrate American society as a whole. Shoot me an email. Seriously.

Yeah, smash the imperialist Real Estate Shopper news stand, fuckin' hardcore, dude

Typical teenage angst bullshit. I love how it's so terrible to live in the most wealthiest, most free country in the world. Say hi to your Mom when she picks you up after the protest in her capitalist-oppressor mini-van.

Argh, I caught this on Al-Jazeera English! Many Arabs don't understand that a few jokers do not speak for an entire nation. These peace geezers are making us moderate Americans look like jackasses on international satellite TV. What can you do?

Iraq News (20 March)

The Good: The Iraqi presidency council has rescinded its veto on the Provincial Powers law. This will pave the way for provincial elections which will be key to fostering national reconciliation (since the last round of elections were mostly boycotted by the Sunnis). While political progress in Iraq is slower than molasses, it would be foolish to deny that any progress has taken place to bolster the anti-war meme that "The Surge has Failed". Interesting and lengthy piece on the Iraqi Security Forces cleaning house in Mosul from the New York Times. The big difference between this operation and previous offensives in Baqubah, Arab Jabour, Fallujah, and elsewhere, is that this one is mostly being conducted by the Iraqis. A good sign of transition. The Prime Minister visited the Sunni Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiyah and offered some good words for the Sahwa members protecting the district from being besieged by Al-Qaeda. You probably won't see this type of encouraging behavior being highlighted anywhere in the American media (the link is from Voices of Iraq), but that doesn't mean it's not important.

The Bad: A soldier was killed in a non-combat related vehicle accident in Diyala province. A Marine has been charged with murder of a detainee in Fallujah back in '04. Damn, this type of incident does not help with the "hearts and minds" front. And another female suicide bomber in Diyala province. This shit needs to stop.

The Ugly: President Bush reaffirms that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Man, this guy's hubris knows no bounds. How about acknowledging the poverty and violence that has engulfed this country as well and providing some solutions instead of just offering up cowboy-style speeches. A humble suggestion from one of your subordinates. Whatever, he's out in less than a year. Ton of coverage on the conclusion of 5 years after the invasion. I've offered up enough of my own two-bit opinion in previous posts. Let's hear yours.

What does it all mean?

19 March 2008

The Joys of European Health Care

"Woman Goes for Leg Operation, Gets New Anus Instead". Bring on Teh Awesome in Germany!

All About That "Responsible Plan For Iraq"

There’s been quite a bit of buzz on the “Responsible Plan for Iraq” which was unveiled at the Take Back America conference, so it definitely deserves an honest look. Democracy Arsenal, Crooks and Liars, and Orcinus have all hailed it as the new paradigm for the troubled country. Also, Abu Aardvark has some pretty thoughtful analysis on what withdrawing US troops would mean for Iraq. While parts of the plan deal specifically with Iraq, most of it is left-wing policymaking on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately, the plan leaves a lot of questions unanswered regarding Iraq specifically, but that’s not to say that the plan doesn’t highlight some significant problems with our foreign and defense policy. While critiquing foreign policy isn’t the purpose of the active duty officer corps, I stopped caring about customs and formalities long ago and here’s my own humble opinion (full PDF is here):

The “Spot on!” portion of the plan

The military is in trouble: Our military capabilities and readiness, however, have been deeply damaged by this war. Both our troops and our military equipment have been seriously depleted. Our forces are stretched so thin that we are unprepared to defend our country.

That’s a fair assessment. This is the result of the previous Secretary of Defense’s idea that a military could use high-tech gizmos and death rays to wage multiple wars on the cheap. Instead of drastically increasing the size of the military following 9/11, a small percentage of the population was expected to do all the heavy lifting. We are now paying the price for this.

More Staties: Our current State Department is not organized to do the diplomatic work required in Iraq, and needs to be retooled. This should be followed by diplomatic efforts towards a coordinated series of simultaneous engagements with the three primary ethnic/religious Iraqi entities and their neighboring counterparts, as well as a major new diplomatic offensive centered on creating a collaborative working group of all nations with direct interest in long-term Iraqi stability.

Absolutely, more diplomatic and non-military tools are necessary to countering instability in Iraq and terrorism worldwide. You can’t bomb your way out of the social and economic problems that allow extremism to grow and fester.

New and Improved GI Bill: Military service as a path up in life is a powerful recruitment tool, but changes over the past several years have eliminated or greatly reduced availability of the educational benefits once associated with serving.

The GI Bill will provide a nation of patriotic young enlisted personnel to transition from military life to members of the elite class. I’ve been working with these guys and gals for 6 years, and America needs more critical thinkers like them and less consumer-driven opportunists. Trust me on this one.

A bit too lefty, but somewhat rational portion of the plan:

Military Presence Creates Problems: The continued presence in Iraq of so-called “residual” forces beyond the minimum needed for standard embassy-protection would be a serious mistake. Any such troops would become a magnet for insurgent attacks and unless they did nothing at all would inevitably become players in Iraq’s domestic political disputes, thus forcing the United States to continue to play referee to Iraq’s civil conflicts.

While no one wants to leave Iraq more than the guy on his fourth tour, the specter of a small group of extremely nefarious elements (Islamic State of Iraq) remains the cause for much of the violence. As seen in the Askari Mosque bombing of 2006, acts of brutality against religious sites can escalate sectarian bloodshed throughout the rest of the fragile country. The humanitarian crisis that this plan alludes to was significantly worsened due to the reprisal killings that were rampant before the surge strategy being implemented. These terrorists cannot be negotiated with and must be eliminated, since they have an irrational ideal of creating a 7th century caliphate throughout modern Mesopotamia by any means necessary (e.g. suicide bombings, beheadings, extortion, etc.) Some US military will be required until the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of defeating and holding off this threat.

The “politicization” of upper echelon officers: Our dependence on private military contractors and the politicization of some of the upper echelons of the military compromise the professionalism which had been a hallmark of our forces.

This is an obvious reference to the far-left MoveOn.org wing still being pissed off that the Petraeus/Crocker September 2007 testimony didn’t jive with their political agenda that violence in Iraq was "escalating out of control". The numbers were based on objective data collected throughout Iraq and could hardly be construed as propaganda. Get over it and update your talking points and netroots memes, please.

Way the fuck out in the stratosphere portion:

More Government Regulation of the media: This legislation would require the FCC to include greater public participation when changing regulations related to broadcast ownership, to do studies on the impact of such rule changes, and to establish an independent panel on increasing the representation of women and minorities in broadcast media ownership.

Anytime the federal government wants to regulate free speech, I am usually inclined to run to the hills and join a survivalist group. You have to wonder about this approach to the dissemination of information that would make Stalin blush.

War Crimes?: We should work with the international community to hold perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable for their crimes. One way this could be done is by working with the United Nations to establish an independent war crimes commission or a special investigator to gather testimonies and investigate war crimes.

You have to wonder who these people are talking about. Saddam and his top genocidal thugs have been rounded up and tried for war crimes in Iraq by the Iraqi judiciary. If these people are talking about BushCheneyCo, it shows they will attack their political opponents using any means necessary. I’m not a fan of the neo-cons either, but to wish “justice” by a War Crimes Tribunal upon our current administration, shows that these people are way out to lunch. Is that why HuffPo commenters (h/t LGF) were hoping Cheney got killed by an IED on his Baghdad trip? I hope the left side isn’t that irrational or it doesn’t say very much about political discourse in America.

Caution: Some Military Force May Be Required in Iraq

Iraq News (19 March)

The Good: Tina Susman's latest in the LA Times on the Iraqi affinity for electronics (she usually writes pretty interesting stuff that focuses on Iraqis). A piece focused on the ups and downs of doing business in Baghdad. Dick Cheney is schmoozin leaders in Baghdad and Kurdistan in hopes that they pass key legislation in a rapid manner. Here's a set of interviews in WaPo with a cross-section of American and Iraq society on the Iraq war 5 years later (be sure to read Paul Rieckhoff's).
The Bad: Foreign Minister Zebari (an Iraqi leader whom I trust) warns against an abrupt US withdrawal and acknowledges that the last 5 years were full of "Tears and Blood". Zebari's comment urging against a US retreat were notably absent from Iranian media's take on the matter. It was mentioned earlier this week in the NY Times that the enemy was smuggling oil to generate funds for their brutal campaign, well now they're smuggling Iraqi antiquities too. Maybe next week it will be kidneys (hopefully not mine, of course that'd be a poor quality kidney).
The Ugly: The reconciliation conference taking place in Baghdad is quickly degenerating into a fiasco. The main Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, says they "never got an invitation". Allawi's secular bloc, the Iraqi National List, didn't show up, and the Sadr bloc guy walked out after the opening speech. Aw geez. This is worse than Tom Arnold doing stand-up at the Laugh Factory on ladies night. A British article about the controversial death toll of Iraq (ranges from ~90,000 to over a million). The author says the awful propaganda bureau at the Pentagon isn't releasing civilian casualty numbers. Well maybe he should look a little harder, because they are available right here. I've had to follow the daily death toll everyday since I've been here during my routine duties, and while violence is, tragically, way too high, it does not support the 1 million plus count that anti-war zealots are fond of citing. Just a thought.
Prime Minister Maliki, wondering where everyone is at

Movie Review: This is War

I was given a free copy of "This is War" which tells the story of the Oregon National Guard 2/162. It's an excellent documentary of the unit's travels through Iraq during 2004 to early 2005. The way it is edited focuses on interviews with the soldiers, instead of a bunch of footage of Bush during his boneheaded "Mission Accomplished" speech or Abu Ghraib, which leaves the political element of the Iraq war on the cutting room floor. This is beneficial in the case of this documentary, as it truly is a soldier's tale. Their stories shatter the stereotypes perpetuated from non-military types of "murderous thugs", "rubes with weaponry", or "glorious crusaders for God's Army" that float around the punditsphere on all fronts.

Unsurprisingly, these guys act like most people I know in the military: cynical and stoic about their situation, but ultimately trying to do the right thing with the bare minimum of resources. At the beginning of the movie, it shows clips of them scrounging around Camp Udari in Kuwait and Camp Taji north of Baghdad looking for "hillbilly armor" to spruce up their ill-equipped humvees. The day they show up to Camp Taji and get some steel rain from the insurgency to which one soldier quips "We were there for less than 24 hours and one of our guys has already gotten a piece of shrapnel in his arm. Wow, this is going to be an awesome deployment" is humorous in a dark sense. Reminds me of my first day in the Intl Zone. But unlike my own experiences, these guys are actually at the pointy-ended spear of the Iraq war. The fear of IEDs, their convoy getting ambushed heading north from Kuwait to Camp Taji, Najaf during the Mahdi Army's uprising, Fallujah during November 2004, these guys and gals were everywhere. The bond between soldiers is well explained and held sacred, but never overly glorified, which is appropriate since the documentary does not seek to laud the reality of modern conflict.

This seems to be a very honest depiction of a unit just trying to get through the deployment without a lot of ulterior political motives mixed into the fray (rare this day and age). Excellent documentary. My only gripe is that some footage was spliced in from weapons cam video that had nothing to do with the narration by the interviewee, and their time in Fallujah was glossed over pretty quickly. But definitely worth your time. Ordering info is here. This documentary leaves with you with a feeling of respect for these men and women as they actually courageously carried something out, while most of their peers back stateside probably can't even remember 2004. Screen captions are below:

The Plywood Convoy into Iraq

Ironically cheering on the Sadrist uprising

Unearthing a cache

Chilling after an IED attack

Cute Iraqi kid doodles on Humvee

The wounded in Fallujah

18 March 2008

Tuesdaze Bloggin' Roundup of Iraq (18 Mar)

Wow. The 5th anniversary of OIF has brought a ton of interesting Op-Eds and articles from the old-tyme media. Lemme bring you up to speed on the stuff in the blogosphere:

Myself over at VetVoice:

Iraq News (18 March)

The Good: A reconciliation conference is taking place today amongst leaders in the Government of Iraq. There is some potential for Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurdish blocs to work together to get with the program on some key pieces of legislation such as oil-revenue sharing and what to do about Kirkuk. But the cynic in me says that this could be an exercise in futility as the Sunni bloc is boycotting the event (note: the main Sunni bloc is the Iraqi Accordance Front, not the "Concord Front" as mentioned in the link). Polling data of Iraqis released by ABC/BBC notes improvements across the board from last year. Some people have been detained on suspicion of being involved with the massacre yesterday in Karbala.
The Bad: Damn, way too much violence. Dozens of Iraqi and Iranian civilians were killed by either a bomb blast or a female suicide bomber (details are still sketchy) near the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala. This is one of the holiest shrines to Shi'ite Muslims. What would you call an attack designed to kill civilians with no strategic military objective? I would call it terrorism and the nature of the enemy in Iraq. Abominable. Also, 2 US soldiers were killed yesterday while on patrol, and 6 children were killed in Baghdad during a mortar attack.
The Ugly: Dick Cheney still harps on abstract values and ideals such as "You and I know what it means to be free" during his Iraq visit. With all due respect Mr. Vice President, we need practical solutions and less pontification. And now Iraqis down south in Samawah are worried about another kind of threat: wolves?

The Horror in Karbala

Unsolicited Relationship Advice to the Stars

Babe movie star Minka Kelly offers her advice to would-be suitors in this Men’s Health article, but in a city as strange as Los Angeles, she’s going to need to narrow down her criteria a little bit further. In the spirit of celebrities offering their unsolicited advice on a host of foreign policy and defense issues (check out Rosie’s suckass blog) that they are completely uninformed about, I thought it would be appropriate if I gave her my advice on meeting Mr. Right. If there’s absolutely nothing I know about, it’s relationships with the opposite sex! So without further adieu, here’s my advice column:

Minka says a man has to be a skilled craftsman: "A man has to be good with his hands. He can't be a person who needs to hire someone to do handiwork. I can change the oil in my car. If you can't change your oil, we have a problem."
LT N sez: I recommend finding a man who also knows how to install a sweetass spoiler with epoxy and duct tape on his '91 Ford Probe, that and an airbrushed Jesus on the hood. You can cruise the Sunset Strip in style that way and be the envy of all your girlfriends.

Minka wants a man who can listen: "A lot of guys don't know how to just listen. They'll talk and talk, and I just want them to get to know me. That's attractive. You don't want to come across as someone who can only talk about himself."
LT N sez: I would recommend going down to the local gym in Santa Monica and finding the guy doing squats in front of the mirror that looks like Schwarzenegger during his steroid years. This sheer narcissism and stupidity ensures you’ve got a guy that is barely capable of putting together a grammatically correct sentence. That way he will blindly stare while you gab about important issues such as: what you ate for lunch, how many pairs of shoes you own, and how many text messages you sent to your friend at the Zanzibar club the previous evening.

Minka needs a man from a troubled family: A man should love his family, but I don't do well with guys who come from perfect families. He has to be a little complicated and broken. I can't relate to the perfectly home-bred boy. I want someone who has had pain in his life and learned from it.
LT N sez: Do a check on the web for the area’s registered sex offenders and ensure that there is at least one kid-toucher with his last name. Emotional instability will ensure you have total control of the situation.

Minka wants an honest man: I think brutal honesty is extremely important. Don't be afraid of being up-front about your feelings and your life. I'd rather be an honest friend than a phony lover.
LT N sez: You’d really be opening the flood gates on this one for a first date. Try to find that “man of mystery”, but don’t dig too deep on his cryptic mystique until years later. Nothing’s worse than finding out the guy is a werewolf or a scientologist the first time you invite him over to your place after a night of debauchery.

Oh yeah, happy St. Patty’s day everybody. This may be the one holiday where I’m sober and everyone else is wasted.

17 March 2008

Iraq News (17 March)

The Good: An LA Times article that's worth your time discusses the motives behind foreign jihadists coming to Iraq to blow themselves up (note: the majority of suicide attacks in Iraq are carried out by foreigners). The US military states that many come with ideals of attacking US forces, but instead usually end up ordered to kill fellow Muslims by their Al-Qaeda & Co. superiors. Can public messaging of this crisis dissuade easily misled men (and occasionally women) from committing acts of atrocity on their fellow brethren? Let's hope so.

The Bad: The Red Cross releases some disturbing data on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Medical professionals are frequently targeted by the enemy to sow the seeds of despair and discontent. A grim reminder is the fact that 2,200 nurses and doctors have been killed since '03 and 20,000 doctors have fled the country. Troubling indeed.

The Ugly: Protests marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion took place (predictably). Ron Kovic, the man who inspired the excellent movie "Born on the Fourth of July", was involved in the protest in Los Angeles. Perennial nuisance of a Senator, Diane Feinstein of California, is in a tiff about oil fraud and smuggling in Iraq. It's sad that it takes a NY Times article to get her attention, since this has been a problem for years, but hey you gotta pander to those perpetually outraged constituents. Oh yeah, Cheney's in Iraq! Speculation that his landing at BIAP was like the scene of the emperor walking on the death star in Star Wars remains ongoing.

Operation Un-Ass Iraq

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of "We Didn't Start the Fire". Well the Piano Man should change the tune to "We Didn't Fuck Up Iraq" when referring to these guys. But they're keeping their head down trying to make things better in the Sandbox with the resources they have. The phrase "Support the Troops" takes on a whole new meaning when "the Troops" are doing night patrols to prevent a 120mm mortar from landing on my unsuspecting noggin' while I'm sleeping. Read about them in Newsweek or at Small Wars Journal. Too bad other people their age think the price of their first "dream" home is more important. (H/T to Irritated Vet for the accurate phraseology of "Un-Ass"!)