General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com
Friday, September 13, 2002
The blogosphere seemed to really dislike the idea of the government's proposed TIPS program. The idea of the people who come through your neighborhood having the means to report unusual things is seen as a great threat to civil liberties. Personally, it never bothered me. In fact, I think we definitely need some established way of reporting wierdness.
From 1991 to 1997, we lived in Colorado Springs a city with 5 military installations including the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The house next door to us was a rental property that typically changed lessees once a year. Most of the renters were people who were building or buying and temporarily renting. They were nice people and good neighbors.
In late 1994, the house was rented to a group of what appeared to be Mid-Eastern "students". We never did have an accurate count of the number of people living in the house, but we saw up to 15 at times. They all drove expensive cars and never seemed to sleep with the lights being on all night. Although we had twice a week garbage service, they chose to throw theirs in the backyard. In the 6 months they were in our neighborhood, they never spoke to any of the neighbors even when spoken to. As the appearance of the house deteriorated and the garbage piled up, people in the neighborhood tried contacting the house owned to no avail. Finally, one neighbor called the health department. After looking at the house from outside, the HD inspector called the police. The police visited the house and that day the people moved out.
The house was totally trashed, clothing, electronic equipment, food and cash were left lying around for the owner to clean up. The HD condemned the house and the owner spent thousands to repair the damage. We never learned who the people were or what they were doing in Colorado Springs. They apparently were not students. None of their cars had student parking stickers. Were they part of a terrorist network or drug dealers? I don't know.
Over a period of months, several of my neighbors called the police because they were concerned. The police never came out until the Health Department called. Now I think they should have checked it out, but there was no procedure for them to do so. Calling 911 wasn't the right thing to do since there was no emergency. There was no process or procedure that was well known to report such things.
There should be.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
TIME TO BRING THEM HOME
The US has around 200,000 troops in Europe. This is down from the half-million or so we had there during the Cold War. Why do we still have troops there at all?
The Soviet Union is no more and Russia isn’t capable or apt to launch an attack on Western Europe anytime soon. If it were, then you would expect the Europeans to act as if they thought it was a possibility. The EU has a greater population than the US and apparently an overall higher standard of living, so it seems they should be able to provide for their own defense. Ha-Ha you say, but the fact that they seem unwilling to do so should have no impact on where we base our troops.
Ah, you say, our forward deployed troops are closer to the action if we attack Iraq. Well, history shows that Germany will limit our ability to use troops stationed there. Since that is the vast majority of our Europe deployed forces, the benefits of forward deployment may not be realized. Even then, why forward deploy troops in what is arguably the second most stable region in the world?
From a purely National interest view, there is no reason to keep the troops in Europe. I believe that are two reasons they remain, inertia by which I mean we have had troops in Europe for 62 years and can’t imagine not having them there. The second is that there is nowhere to put them if we pull out. All our US forts and bases are maxed out on troops. If we pull out of Europe, we are faced with a large bill for new barracks, headquarters buildings and training facilities. You can just bet that Congress will vote billions for the needed facilities. The most likely scenario is a large cut in troop levels and no military leader thinks that we can do that and still maintain the strength levels needed to be able to meet the Nation’s defense needs.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
This TechCentral Station column by Melana Zyla Vickers is right on. I spent over thirty years as a soldier. My daily routine for many years was an hour and a half omn freeweights and doing pushups and situps. I ran four miles M-F and 6-7 on Saturday and Sunday. For fun, I ran 10k races.
I never considered being any type of Special Forces soldier because I was not tough enough. I had the privilege of serving with a number of former SF soldiers and never failed to be impressd by their abilities, intelligence and calm natures. Think of the ten toughest guys you know. Chances are not more than one of them could make it through any type of Special Operations training.
Absolute privilege leads to absolute depravity
Recently I saw an advertisement for a TV show that purports to report the crimes of the super rich. The idea seemed to be that the super rich come to think that the rules don't apply to them or that their money will solve any problems caused by their anti-social behavior. We get reports of this just about every day. Whether it is a CEO destroying a company while reaping millions or a politically connected rich boy who escapes punishment for murder for thirty years, the idea is that if you are rich enough you can do whatever you want, anytime, to anyone.
Then yesterday, I read about Quana Jones' experience with the Saudis and the idea above came to me. Take a rich family, give them absolute legal authority and you get the Saudi princes. Absolute privilege, Absolute depravity. As with America's People magazine rich, these people do things that any moral human knows is wrong, but there are always those who defend their actions because the actors are "important people".
Unfortunately, in the case of the Saudis, the defenders are our Defense and State Departments and our Nation's leaders. Maybe a democratic Iraq is the antidote to this particular social illness.
Monday, September 09, 2002
Note the comment below about "the most meticulously planned incident in human history". What kind of idiot writes something like that. Where did they get their education, one of Paul Simon's outstanding thirdworld institutions? The "incident" doesn't make the top 10 in the last 50 years in meticulous planning and execution. It appeared to be well planned and coordinated only because of the failure of airline security people to look at all possibilities and develop strategies to counter the type of hijacking that occurred. It never dawned on them that there could be anything other than a hostage hijacking.
When the merely mediocre compete with the truly incompetent, they look like real winners.
LittleGreenFootballs has this jewel From the ARGUS a Bay area paper:
The Sept. 11 tragedy and the most meticulously planned incident in human history could not have been planned by uneducated and fanatic people from the backward Islamic countries, as most Americans seem to believe.
The well-planned and coordinated event points to an established intelligence service of a more advanced and capable foreign government that has free access to American intelligence.
I think the ARGUS is correct in a perverse way. The vast majority of the Arab Street is of little danger to the US here at home. The lack of any real education and knowledge of how a modern society works means that most of them will not be able to function well enough in a western country to do any real harm. But that means that all the Arabs in American and European educational institution should be watched very closely. It takes education to operate effectively in the modern world. Take way the education and you take away most of the threat.
Now I don't think that we can or should eliminate educational opportunities for Thirdworlders, but we had better become really good at how we go about selecting those who come here to partake of what our colleges and universities offer.
Chris Johnson has some interesting idiotic statements from thankfully EX-Senator Paul Simon about how Americans should be going to the really great educational institutions in the Thirdworld. Could it be that the reason for that is that there are no good educational institutions there. The University of Paris and Oxford were formed in the 12th Century because of the stultifying effect of the Church on free exchange of ideas. If you can't talk about things the "kings" or "mullahs" do not understand or approve, your chances of getting an education approach zero.
Why leave the US to get an education unless you can get one better than that offered by the typical third tier state college in any US state or territory. Just for fun, name a half dozen foreign universities. It doesn't count unless you know the institution actually exist.
Quana Jones writes of her experience with a group of Saudis early in her career. Her experience parallels those of friends who have had the pleasure? of working in Saudia Arabia either with oil companies or with the US Army Program Manager Saudi Arabia National Guard. They tell of a bunch of non-performing Saudis standing around while Americans, Filipinos and other Nationals do the work. It seems to be the norm. Without people from other nations to do the hard work of making a semi-modern infrastructure run, they would quickly collapse back to a semblance of a 19th Century Desert society, but only for a short time since a desert society depends on great skill and hard work for survival. It is time to let the Sauds stand on their own two feet...if they can.
Christopher Hitchens asks:
But more to the point, why are we so timorous in the face of such a contemptible foe? Why did our vice president go into hiding? Why are we so bent on the useless collective punishment of law-abiding air travelers, none of whom are any better protected from a determined suicide-murderer than they were this time last year? What is the point of all these ominous "warnings" issued by the authorities, which resemble airport or subway announcements in being very loud but highly incomprehensible? Where is the spirit of Flight 93?
The people on Flight 93 acted without regard to the political consequenses of their actions. Tom Ridge and his political comrades can no more act outside their very natures than they can make the Sun come up in the West tomorrow. They are professional politicans and act based on what they expect the reaction of the media to be. Experience has taught them that the most public criticisms will come from those who regard every act to actually increase security to be an attack on freedom. Our professional political class is much more concerned about an adverse attack from the NY Times than they are about poor security at Airports. Thus we get the for show inspections of old ladies and lactating mothers while young Mid-Eastern men pass unmolested through inspection points.
Don't expect to see these fish walking on land like the Snakehead Menace. The most we can expect is to see them crawling in the mud blaming someone else the next time some horror happens.