Friday, November 6, 2009

Cold, Dead Fingers

In the previous post, Publius noted that "...we have events at Fort Hood today. A major with an Arabic name, maybe helped by two others—still unknown‚greases 12 GIs, wounds 31. Arabic name. Huh. Anybody think this won't profoundly affect the dialog?"

As Spencer Ackerman notes here, it already has.

The frustrating thing about this is what it reveals about:

1. How lazy and incompetent our "news media" are. I have gotten to the point where I ignore the first 24 hours of coverage because the news agencies rush to get everything into print or on the air regardless of its veracity. The sad part is that I suspect that many Americans get most of their "information" from just this period. By the time the actual facts emerge Joe and Mary Lunchpail have lost interest.

2. The degree to which we just don't frigging LEARN. Didn't we go through this one before? Weren't we wrong then? Why, then, all the bloviating about this incident as some sort of betrayal of an Islamic Fifth Column?I think we've all talked about this at some point, but, once again, this sad and sorry tale brings out the degree of dysfunction in our polity. We're often badly informed and then use that misinformation to stoke our fears and stupidity. In a system based on the premise that the People are Sovereign a People so easily fooled and so prone to emotional foolishness - the People as Fool - are a dead weight and a crippling liability.

Update, 11/6 p.m. The American People need help being fooled. And shout-radio has just the man Mike "Savage" Wiener.

According to Paul Campos "Yesterday Savage was obsessing on how nobody was going to be allowed to say that the army base shooter, Nidal Hasan, was an Islamic terrorist."

I'm gonna rant here for a bit.


I call bullshit on the "terrorist".

More. I say that if Nidal had been one of ours, and had done what he did in a jihadist madrassa in Lahore, instead of the "Soldiers Readiness Processing Center" at FHTX we'd be writing him up for a DSC.

(Now also for the record I don't think Nidal was a hero, whatever his motive. I think he is a whacko, and I think we'll find his brain housing group is pretty effed up.)


When I first read about this my thought was, oh, great, some sick fuckstick gone and shot up the Main PX, or a shoppette, or the Commissary. I expected to read about not just my soldier brothers dead but their wives, kids, girlfriends, and civilian buddies all randomly shot down by this SOB. But...

It seems like the SOB was a choosy SOB. 13 KIA: 12 GIs and one DoD civilian. I have no idea of the WIAs, but so far the guy seems to have killed soldiers and only soldiers. Unarmed soldiers, sure, but...

Look at it this way. For the better part of 10 years the Army paid me to train to kill enemy soldiers. I trained to kill them with my cannon battery from miles away. For all practical purposes they might as well have been unarmed. Pregnant women troopers? Yep. I'da killed 'em. Young peach-faced privates right off the rice paddy? Deader'n shit. My job was to kill the enemy, destroy his fighting power. Not to give him a fair fight. Shoot him in the back, blow him to bloody rags with high explosive...whatever it took. If I could have caught him unarmed in a "Deployment Center"? Battery six, mothafucka, and xin loi for your ass.

And guess what?

We're at war with Al Qaeda, the Talibs and a half-dozen other odds and sods Islamic organizations. All of us. The guys on the MSR out of Ramadi. The joes manning the LP/OPs in the Panshir Valley. And the casuals milling around the "Deployment Center" at Ft. Hood.

You and me, too. "Total war"? Ever hear of it Got lots of pregnant women, kids and everything else killed in places like Dresden, Coventry, Hiroshima, Hue. You do what you need to to defeat The Enemy.

If this guy HAD been an AQ covert ops dude?

These people were just as much his legitimate prey as any GI in full battle rattle in an M998 on the main road to Kandahar.

If he had been an active enemy when he kacked them (and not just a nutjob on a spree) he was no more a goddam "terrorist" than I would have been calling for a battery three with WP in effect on a helpless convoy of North Korean signal service troops.

So. If you ask me:

1. Once he recovers from his gunshot wounds "Abu" Nidal Hasan needs lots of electroshock therapy. Lots.

2. Mike "Savage" Wiener is a goddam crank with a sock for a brain, and

3. If any significant portion of the U.S. public other than goddam sock-brained crank Mike "Savage" Wiener thinks an enemy killing U.S. soldiers - anywhere, anytime, anyhow - is "terrorism" rather than "war" it's time to piss on the fire and call in the dogs because the U.S. public wouldn't know a fricking war if it bit them on the fricking ass. The People as Fool. Jesus wept! WASF!


We now return you to your regularly scheduled weekend


  1. What is funny is the first thing I heard/read was that an Army psychaitrist went nutzoid, and I'm thinking, "yep, I can see that happening."
    Didn't know he was Arabic, but I think this just points out one salient point...doesn't matter what nationality, or religious preference a Psychaitrist is...they all have a screw loose...or two.

    But yeah, I bet anything FOX news is pissing themselves with all sorts of conspiaracy theories while wrapping their penises in the American flag for good round of encircling fun.

    And to think people actually take Fox seriously.../facepalm...we're doomed.

  2. Let me add that I have no idea to what degree - or to any degree - that this man's religion and Palestinian ancestry affected what happened at FHTX.

    What I do have no doubt about is that the notion of a man's country hunting down and killing his co-religionists in their own countries, many of them for no "crime" greater than fighting against a foreign invader, while appearing to cuddle and coo with a different foreign country whose actions have and are injuring the people of his parents' native land might well place stress upon the man's love for his nation. The possibility that this man was acting out of some sort of Muslim or Palestinian grievance is entire possible and within the realm of legitimate speculation.

    It does not, of course, explain or excuse this act of vicious murder. There is no honor in killing except in defense of one's own, and none at all in the slaughter of unarmed passersby.

    What this does not and should not mean, or be taken to mean, or even implied to mean, is some sort of blanket slur on the patriotism of Arab-Americans or American Muslims, any more than the act of a single neoNazi should reflect on German-Americans or the attack on Pearl Harbor should have been used as a pretext to imprison Japanese-Americans.

  3. I was going to comment on Publius' statement above in the previous thread, but I refrained. But since we started a whole new thread, what the hell.

    FDC, I think you said it best, a single act of an individual should not reflect on the heritage of the individual.

    No, I don't think it will affect the dialogue. Does anyone remember SGT Akbar, the guy who threw a grenade into a TOC in Kuwait before the invasion? Most people don't, but I do. Not just because I was in Kuwait, but because I took command of that company a few years later. Do I or anyone else that I knew who was involved harbor any ill will against Muslim Americans because of what that individual did? No. We all understood that this was one idiot. I don't think it will be any different this time. Based on how the news is currently characterizing this Major,
    I don't think he will be considered by anyone as anything more than an absolute nut-job, an exception and an outlier.

    Sadly, but probably for the best, a year from now, just like the Virginia Tech shooter, or the DC Sniper, this story will only be remembered and talked about by the victims. No, I don't think it will affect the dialogue.

  4. bg: It shouldn't, and it doesn't, for those of us here. But it does for the 27-percenters. They remember Akbar, and the sad little group of Ft. Dix plotters, and they'll remember this guy.

    The people whose picture of the U.S. is of a huddled, embattled Christian fortress under siege from dusky hordes of Godless Heathen and dirty wetbacks see and hear this stuff and remember it. So I'd argue that it DOES afect the dialogue.

    When push came to shove why didn't we close Gitmo? Pretty much even the CIA and DoD admitted that the guys there were useless, drained of whatever itel they'd had if any. So they were just POWs, and like POWs could be reasonably transferred to a POW camp just like the hundreds we ran here between 1942-1945, or in Korea in the 50s and Vietnam in the 60's.

    But the image of the dusky infidels spreading their message of jihad inside SupeMax was just too powerful for the diehard Terror Warriors, the Glenn Beck and Mike Savage listeners. So that ulcer is let open to continue to inspire more jihadis.

    It's not the smart people I'm worried about taking the wrong ideas from this. It's the dummies - that is, the bottom 30% of the voting public.

  5. Here's what I'm talking about:

    "Yesterday Savage was obsessing on how nobody was going to be allowed to say that the army base shooter, Nidal Hasan, was an Islamic terrorist. He was particularly enraged with Fox News's Shepard Smith, who had just reported that Hasan's cousin had said that Hasan had been teased as a child for being of Middle Eastern ancestry. To Savage (and a couple of his callers), such a report was a typical exercise in PC rationalization, which requires blaming America for being a racist country that drives people like Hasan to commit terrorist acts.

    The upshot of Hasan's attack, Savage predicted, would be more required sensitivity training courses for Army personnel, more pressure for diversity hiring throughout the military in particular and the country in general, and more calls for "understanding" the terrorists' perspective."

    It's these guys that are electing the winguts that are willing - if they can't rule - to jam the process so nobody else can, either. This story just feeds their narrative.

    The worst part of this is that heads should roll because of this outrage BUT we know that won't happen.
    From what I hear this guy gave of several indicators that he shouldn't be wearing the uniform AND NOBODY DEDUCED THIS AND DEROS'D HIM.
    The chain of command let these dead and wounded down-big time. At least his rater and endorser and senior endorsing officer should have known his proclivity.
    Both you and me talk against the war but we're no longer inside the wire. That's the difference.
    I have to cmt on your WP cmt.
    You are a little confused- we only use WP to mark targets.

  7. Jim-

    Sadly, this guy was still serving his initial obligation, and there was nothing to eliminate him from service except extreme measures. You almost need 8x10 color glossies of sodomy with a minor or similar felonies to dump an initial obligation officer. Or at least you did in my day, and I doubt the applicable regs have changed significantly. Not saying that candidates for the trash can should be granted leniency, just that it's a lot of work to send an initial obligation officer packing, and far too many would just opt to transfer the problem and let it "self-correct" at ETS. We are talking about a "Stop Loss Army" that holds on to less than stellar performers an extra year or so to meet manning requirements for deployment.

    I'll hold judgement on this until more info is in, as I am sure it will be investigated with a microscope, whether anyone wishes it were or not. However, if the FBI was looking into the alleged internet postings, and his fellow and/or superior officers were aware of anti-war rants on his part, his deployability was definitely questionable. Don't need "active resisters" doctoring the troops on the line. Of course, there is probably a wall between the FBI and the Army in the case of unproved suspicions, even though many other civil rights have been suspended.

    It's sad, sad, sad, tragic. That's the only concrete thing that I think can be said at this time.

  8. The FBI is prohibited from opening investigations purely on the strength of web postings. First, even in this era of decreased liberties, DOJ apparently realizes that Internet fishing expeditions are questionable. Second, from a practical standpoint, given the amount of crazies posting bizarre stuff on the nets, trawling the web would soon become a full time job for everybody in the FBI. So ISTM the bureau doesn't take the hit here.

    Now the Army is a little different. We've already seen stuff from Army sources—I recall one 06(!)—indicating that this dude was positively radiating what we used to call subversive tendencies. As we all know, the Army is not exactly what we might call big on civil liberties, so, once again, we have to wonder just where the institution and the asshole's senior officers were hiding. How many times do we have to see this shit in the Army? Abu Ghraib. Tillman. Etc., etc., etc. Just once, I'd love to see a dereliction of duty charge. Just once.

    Oh, and we should also recall all of the great shit that was available to the so-called intelligence community in the summer of 2001. Frankly, it's pretty clear to me that we have a government where those who are in charge of various and sundry agencies/bureaus/departments dearly love to push around law abiding citizens, but who somehow are counted among the missing when it comes to actually anticipating and staving off serious trouble. Officers in the Army love to tell kids to get haircuts, lose weight and run five miles, but when it comes to actually doing their jobs and being alert to indicators of problems with a troop, 'It's not my yob, mon." Obviously, vigilance is not the Army's strong suit.

    And then there is Islam. One of the things I fear is that despite all of our kumbaya PC rules, certain adherents of this particular religion believe that the Qu'ran actually dictates death to those who don't practice Islam; further, I've seen stuff indicating that some Muslims also prescribe death for other Muslims who don't believe in killing infidels. I don't know the Qu'ran that well, but I'm starting to see that it may be so subject to intepretation that any whackjob out there can set up shop as a holy guy and then tell the other whackjobs that sign up with him that Allah commands them to do just about anything. Recall the defense attorney in Gitmo? I had no problem with him defending those dudes—it's what we do, plus it looks like most of them were railroaded, with the bad guys being mishandled and mistreated as well—but this officer in the U.S. armed forces went way overboard in his zeal to defend co-religionists.

    Anybody remember a fellow named Jim Jones—a "reverend"—and the fun times he and his band of whackos had down south of the border? Or, nearer in time, Waco?

    I do feel sorry for the vast majority of practicing Muslims, law-abiding, decent folks all. But I wish they would do a better job of policing their own ranks. Their passivity and willingness to accept the most egregious behavior isn't doing them any good. The last thing any of us need is outsiders policing religion. But then look at the Catholics and the priest scandals. Due to the failure of the church to police itself, outsiders finally had to weigh in. There is now going to be even more pressure on Western authorities to do the same with Islam.

    Organized religion should be labeled, "Use extreme caution when approaching true believers."

  9. FDC, I agree that the word terrorism is probably inappropriate (despite the fact that not all of the victims were uniformed soldiers, some of them were civilians who were working at the processing center).

    But from the other perspective, just like Savage and Fox News types shouldn't be jumping on the religious extremist/terrorist statements, MSNBC, Time magazine and others need to lay off their "PTSD" theories. Seriously, they have been spouted that nonsense since the whole thing broke out, talking about how this whole thing is consequence of an unpopular war, and about the poor Army major who was subjected to ridicule and prejudice.

    It also sickens me that many news websites have headlines like "victims of Ft Hood" and next to it is a big picture of the shooter himself. We need not glorify this guy, post his picture, etc, that is how you invite copy cats. Gladwell talks about this in his book, The Tipping Point. Strange enough, the day after Ft. Hood, a shooter goes nuts in Fl. These events are contagious, and the media feeds it with their ridiculous handling of the news.

    Publius, in general I agree with you. Accountability is not the greatest in the military or in the government (or business world for that matter). But to anyone who made comments about how someone needs to be held responsible for this shooting (other than the shooter), about how the warning signs should have been seen and he should have been kicked out, I say this. Bullshit. Please, please, someone lay out an argument as to how anyone could have reasonably expected this man to do this act? In any investigation of negligence, we ask if the investigated individual acted in a reasonable manner, so please demonstrate to me how anyone acted unreasonably leading to this freak tragedy.

  10. Bg, I agree that Major Shooter couldn't "reasonably" have been expected to carry out such a heinous act. However, and here I'm following up on Al's point about OBV officers, what I've seen coming from Army sources indicates that the dude may have been sending strong signals to the effect that he was unfit to serve as an officer. Al's point about OBV officers and the difficulty in getting rid of bad ones is all too true, but OTOH, he also makes the telling point that the "system," and we all know who runs it, is lazy and all too willing to just tolerate a bozo for however long the obligation may be.

    Once they're beyond their OBV time, officers move into "Vol Indef," "RA," what have you. Each and every one of the folks in such categories—with the exception of those who've incurred an obligation through school, PCS, etc.—is then free to leave if he finds himself unable to accomplish his duties without reservation. Why is this? Wisely, the "system" understands the damage that can be done by an officer who's not committed to his work. Officers are by definition leaders, with the youth of America entrusted to them. Service commitment notwithstanding, the nation can't afford to keep officers on active duty when they've got issues with their duties or with their loyalties. No, this guy wasn't a "leader," per se—doctors aren't, except in the Medical Department—but, as a shrink dealing with oftentimes young and impressionable soldiers, he was in a position where he could wreak great harm to the soldiers and to the Army.

    I don't think the American people, who entrust their sons and daughters to the military, will accept the excuse that someone who displayed signs of unfitness was kept in a position of trust purely because of a service obligation.

    Frankly, I've always believed that fidelity to to the nation and those who serve demands that obligation or not, any officer who states he doesn't want to serve in a combat zone, whether it be for cowardice or religious beliefs or any other reason be released from active duty immediately. Being an officer is a trust; those who express reservations must not be compelled to remain in such a position of trust.

    I say let's take a look at the track record, the OERs, etc. Let's indeed take a hard look at this guy's actions and those of his chain of command at his various stops. Let's hear from superiors, co-workers and patients. Maybe you're right, Bg. Maybe it couldn't have been prevented.

    But maybe it could have.

  11. For me what stood out was "he's an Army doctor"? A psychiatrist even?

    The guy's a scumbag and deserves the worst if found competent to stand trial. At the same time, he might be able to "indicate" - by forcing us to actually think a little bit about the current trends and power struggles in our own society - what we are told and what we see as "truth". We are talking about an American field grade doctor as mass murderer . . . Medical doctors are non-combatants, they don't shoot enemy soldiers let alone prisoners (all the murderer's victims were unarmed?), rather they are professionally ethically and duty bound to render medical assistance regardless of nationality. Even the Waffen SS, at least when engaged with US troops, recognized that.

    So here we have a US Army doctor, a Palestinian-American, a Muslim, going on a rampage . . . we should unravel this one very slowly imo . . . to better understand what meaning we can. We would also be better off allowing him to live, no execution, but our own version of "atonement" , however inadequately defined and implemented . . .

  12. "- what we are told and what we see as "truth""

    Should read . . . "between what we are led to believe and what our "strategic senses" tell us is going on around us".

    Thinking about my upcoming 9 November post . . .

  13. I don't know if we'll "learn" much from this guy other than he's a whackjob who finally went off the deep end.

    But what I would suggest is that this sans something pretty sad about:

    1. The OPMS or whatever they're calling the officer promotion management system now that this gomer could make O-4 with so many red flags. And

    2. The sense of our Army as a peacetime organization, still, after eight years of "Global War on Terror". Whack guy shoots down over 40 people in the heart of an Army post and is stopped by a civilian cop?


  14. FDChief-

    I'm not saying we could learn much from him, but rather taking a careful look at the various things that come together here . . . a whole lot of questions come up.

  15. Two comments:

    1. I whole heartedly agree with seyditliz, we should NOT//NOT execute this shooter. Normally, I have little problem with the death penalty, but in this case I feel that the punishment should be the worst punishment allowed by law. If this shooter (BTW, I refuse to call him an officer or even a Major at this point, he is the shooter, the alleged or the nutjub), if this shooter truly is a faithful and crazy extreme Muslim, killing him might be just what he wants. Instead, make him serve out a life sentence in a military prison. Let's see how that works out for him.

    2. The officer development system is, was, will never be perfect. It is too big. To be fair, I am unsure if the bad OER that the anonymous source sites, occurred before or after getting picked up for O4.

    But we are all missing an important issue here. There is a fear in the military today. That is the fear of undue prosecution or prejudice against Muslim soldiers. I've seen it in almost every interview that I've read from soldiers who knew him. It was this fear of being appearing anti-Muslim, not a preponderance of Muslim bashing as some are suggesting for this poor shooter, that partially led to this tragedy. Soldiers were AFRAID to tell the leadership about this nutjob!

    Sure, in this case, he wanted out. But so do a lot of people who volunteered. But if more people had spoken out about this nutjub, maybe his leadership would in fact have given him what he wanted, and that was out.

    Side note, small war story: I had a Muslim soldier who joined after 9/11, but his recruiter told him he would not have to go war(?????). This kid wasn't quite all there either, but he was very smart, but not someone I wanted to take to Iraq with me. (I knew this because my soldiers were very vocal about this soldier and his issues) We got him out, and very quickly (5-6 weeks), and funny enough, on a Psych chapter. I am shocked that this Psych didn't try to push for this chapter that essentially states that the SM "failed to adapt to military life".

    I have no doubt that the money for his education was a major factor, but I also suggest that the political correctness forced upon the military, the fear of being accused of being anti-Muslim, prevented the commanders, the leaders and the decision makers from making the decision to let him out.

  16. Bg: "There is a fear in the military today. That is the fear of undue prosecution or prejudice against Muslim soldiers. I've seen it in almost every interview that I've read from soldiers who knew him. It was this fear of being appearing anti-Muslim, not a preponderance of Muslim bashing as some are suggesting for this poor shooter, that partially led to this tragedy. Soldiers were AFRAID to tell the leadership about this nutjob!"

    Somehow I knew this. And that's a dirty, rotten shame in an organization that's supposed to be above politics, an organization that's supposed to operate as a merit-based entity without fear or favor to any particular group. Unfortunately, it's nothing new; we've seen it before.

    What does this say about the Army's ability to defend the nation in these complex and trying times?

  17. Publius,

    It isn't about politics, perhaps "political correctness" is the wrong word. The military tries very hard, just like other organizations, to create a fair and equal working environment.

    As you know, there are really two Armies. There is the Army back home, where soldiers don't carry around weapons, they spend most of their time doing silly things (like work in the motor pool), EO/POSH training as well as a never ending list of computer based training requirements. At home the military is forced to be a government organization where bureaucracy, political correctness and silly requirements rule the day. In units that are CONUS'd based, that do not deploy, these things are ingrained into their very being (such as the hospitals and other admin non-deployable organizations).

    For the units that deploy, when you are downrange, most of that silliness is set aside and pragmatism rules.

    So what does this say about the Army's ability to defend the nation? Not much IMO, it is as it always has been. At home, the Army is a painful place to be. But when deployed, the Army does what it has to in order to accomplish the mission and the silly stuff is set aside (for the most part).

    Side note: This difference in perspective is one of the hardest things for returning vets to deal with when they come home, I am sure most of you have felt this. Down range, everything is important (life or death). When you come back home, nothing is really life threatening, but damn it if we don't treat every stupid little thing like is the end of the world.

    We had many discussions a few years ago about whether or not the Army was going to break (back in the IntelDump days). It didn't. And it probably won't. Soldiers keep reenlisting despite the constant deployments. But, despite how much we bitch about deploying all the time, the truth is, again IMO, is that we like deploying. Life is so much simpler downrange. Garrison can be so painful. So painful.

  18. bg, Publius: Note that my observations on the use of this guy to smear Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans come exclusively from the civilian media, particularly the organs of the Rightwing press. I have no doubt the the USA is a particularly difficult position, both because of the need to be seen NOT to discriminate against those very groups at the same time as it kills foreign Arabs and Muslims as well as the desperate need for Arab interpreters and troopers familiar and comfortable with Arab societies.

    I would argue that the Army's position in "defending the nation" has been pretty abstract since 1945. None of the many cabinet wars we've fought since then has had any real bearing on "defending the nation" unless you thought that the Panamanian Defense Force was going to slug its way up through Mexico and occupy Amarillo or the Amal Militia was going to air-assault into Fort Lauterdale.

    What it says, I think, is that for all the "warrior" talk and the wearing of the Class C uniform 24/7 the Army has gotten VERY much into the habit of thinking of these foreign adventures as just that; junkets that take place overseas and involve us killing dusky heathens "over there". The notion that they'd really give "fighting us here" a chance seems to have dwindled into a GOP talking point.

    The USN and USAF (who did the primary defending during the only "war" that could have truly destroyed us during that time) appear to be either less schizophrenic or just more consistent about their approach to these little wars.

  19. bg: And there you go - pretty much exactly what I meant.

    I would comment that the "accomplish the mission" seems to depend on the OIC. I've talked to several guys who deployed with the 41SIB who talked about fobbit-life as just garrison with fewer showers and occasional mortaring. Certainly I remember being deployed in Central America to places where fighting was taking place several miles across the border and standing in-ranks inspection to get gigged for stuff like guys lacing dogtags into into their boots. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.

    Honestly? To put the entire Army on a war-footing, to try and make every day December 8, 1941, for these little colonial wars would be nearly impossible. Like it or not, much of the bullshit that goes on in garrison is because there's lots of bullshit involved in garrison. We really DO have two armies: a little one that fights colonial wars and a big one for the highly unlikely possibility that the Russians cross the Bering Strait.

    The problem is that small colonial armies aren't supposed to fight small colonial wars for 8-some years. That's one big reason why the old colonial powers got out of the colonial game. For us to pick it up at this late stage is foolish. But, as I mentioned at the top of this post, the Public is an Ass.

  20. "But, despite how much we bitch about deploying all the time, the truth is, again IMO, is that we like deploying. Life is so much simpler downrange. Garrison can be so painful. So painful."

    Bg, that's definitely not for public consumption.

    I'll bet you didn't know that back in the day, many junior officers and NCOs were able to extend in Vietnam merely by refusing to board the freedom bird. Forts Bragg, Hood, Polk, et al, weren't any more alluring then than they are now.

    Yeah, and I think the Chief is on to something here. If I understand him correctly, Big Army really just views such annoyances as Iraq and Afghanistan as war games that interrupt the serious business of spending money on wonder weapons and on getting that next star.

    Vietnam was the same way. Don't tell Lyndon Johnson's ghost, but Big Army never really took it seriously. Nixon and Kissinger knew it. But at least the Army did promote the shit out of the troops, something they won't do these days.

    Big Army will take these small wars seriously when the politicos start firing generals.

  21. Rant - Part 1

    I am willing to bet that in the final analysis, the major had some serious problems to begin with.

    I have thought long and hard about the difficulty that Muslim Americans face in the current Iraqi and Afghan operations. Andrea Elliot gives a snapshot in her recent NYT piece.

    If non-Muslims are debating whether or not these are "just wars", would not Muslims also debate this question? If many non-Muslims have concluded the they are not "just", is it such a stretch to find that Muslims might reach the same conclusion?

    I am sure the jargon of the wars, including "raghead" and "haaji" and "camel jockey" has to be offensive to anyone of the Muslim faith. Further, I have no doubt that people often speak derogatorily about Muslims without considering who might be in their presence, just as I have heard far too often in my Army service anti-Semitic remarks, not just from young, unsophisticated troops, but classmates at Leavenworth. I have no doubt that there is a noticeable number of troops who do see our operations as a war against Islam, and express themselves clearly in that regard.

    As to PC in the military, bg, is it PC or just correct semantics? Are we showing a disregard for humans of a given religion and/or race in general or specific individuals who wish us harm and happen to be of a given race or ethnicity? Is the only "good Muslim a dead Muslim"?

    Long before your time, at the height of the Cold War, the DOD suddenly stopped referring to the "enemy" in doctrinal materials as the "Commies", "Reds" or "Soviets". He suddenly became "Aggressor", even though he was depicted in training films as either a stereotypical Slavic or swarthy Latin. It was the prototype for the bad guys in "Red Dawn". It was oft times laughable, as the definite article was regularly not used, so he was just "Aggressor". I have no idea where that came from. Way too young and junior to be privy to the rationale. Just able to see how ridiculous it was. Nothing new.

    Now, throw into the mix that we just suffered eight years under a professed "Christian", vehemently pro-life President who has inflicted more human misery upon peoples who aren't like him, both abroad and at home than the gifts of regard for human life. You know, casualties among innocent civilians, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and indifference toward the poor of our country and some of their most fundamental needs ("They can always go to the emergency room").

  22. Rant - Part 2

    Whack job Timothy McVeigh felt alienated and he blew up a building full of innocents. Scott Roeder assassinated Doctor George Tiller because he performed abortions. Whack jobs Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 and injured 21 at Columbine High School. The list goes on longer than we are allowed space in “Comments” here. Already had to break this into 2 parts! And all those pathetic nut cases were just surrounded by the general population. Image what a Muslim whack job, surrounded by people who have volunteered regularly and routinely injure and kill Muslims for a living might do. In that long, steep spiral into darkness, we can only guess.

    The all too common answer to a loser’s frustrations in the US is violence. And, it is fueled by both religious and political extremism. If the Pro-Life can glorify killing abortionists, where is the barrier to disturbed kids or Army Majors, for that fact, seeing violence as the response to being outcasts? If Rush can say that someone he opposes (abortionist, for example) deserved to die for his or her actions and beliefs, cannot I also take that authority into my own hands?

    OK, so I've ranted, but again, think about that dark tortured descent a nut job can travel when surrounded by some of the really ugly stuff that moves freely around our society. As we said in the mishap investigation business, "Not causes, but present and contributing factors". Hell, I get hate filled e-mail several times a week from people I know and once thought were better.

    I am reminded of an old Kingston Trio song:

    The whole world is festering with unhappy souls-
    The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles-
    Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch-
    And I don't like anybody very much!

    Hatred, intolerance and killing those with whom we take issue has become too much of a routine part of our national discourse.

  23. Publius: You got me correctly. Pre-1941 the U.S. Army was a tiny, insular organization that was concentrated on its profession. It would be run up immensely for crises such as civil wars and (some) foreign adventures (such as WW1) and would then be hacked back to the roots. It had a very inward-looking officer corps. For the most of that 150-year period its main preoccupation was with winning the guerilla war against the original inhabitants of this continent while bitchslapping Mexicans and preparing for British invasions or the annexation of Canada.

    Post-1945 it has become a Corporation mostly concerned with assuring its own influence, wealth and power. It's real enemies aren't Panamanians, Lebanese, Afghans or Eskimos but the USN and the USAF. It sees itself as preparing for The Big War while loaning out maneuver units for whatever the expeditionary-force-de-jour happens to be.

    The COINdinista versus Heavy Force struggle is perhaps more critical to the peeps inside the E-ring than the "GWOT" since there's no way we can "lose" the GWOT. But if the COIN people have their way the USA will be in the way of losing some SERIOUS procurement fights against the sister services.

    And BTW, here's Marc Lynch doing a WAY better job than I did explaining why the entire "Fifth Column Narrative" about this goofy bastard is important:

    And Al, as usual, points out that the nutjob isn't a real surprise. One thing that American culture does well is throw out these whackadoodles every so often. We're a country of God, Guns and Guts, even down to our crazies.

  24. Now, back to the nutjob. From what I've seen, there are two interesting nuggets out there regarding what various officials in various agencies might have known about the dude.

    First, it appears some more senior officers in the Army may have been aware that Nutso was spouting off with anti-American and pro-bad guy nonsense. I'm all about freedom of speech and all that—and IMO, it's absolute for civilians (other than the proverbial "fire" in the theater)—but it's not absolute for military personnel. Maybe it's just me, but if I'm on active duty I'd do something if a co-worker, superior, whoever was rooting against his own (my) team in a war setting. And if the normal guy who would get such a report couldn't be bothered to listen, then I'd go higher. No room for that shit in Army. Throw the bum out, obligation or not.

    Then there is CIA. Were they or were they not aware that an active duty Army officer was playing footsie with folks linked to AQ? If they were and they got Army's consent to play it for a while to see where it leads, I'm down with that. To those who might not know, all government employees, to include service personnel, "belong" to the intelligence folks of their own service. This means that if another agency wishes to play with or investigate an Army guy, they've got to go to the appropriate Army folks. Everybody in the business knows this and they also know who to contact.

    If CIA knew about this dude and didn't tell Army, CIA's got some explaining to do. If CIA did tell Army and Army didn't do anything, Army's got problems. If CIA told Army, but asked to play with the guy for a while, then, even though both agencies may have done the right thing, they're both going to get hammered anyway.

    Hate to say it, but we see so much incompetence throughout government, I won't be at all surprised to learn that something could/should have done about Major Hasan before-the-fact. Hope not, but like I say, I won't be surprised.

    If we learn of government fingerprints on this thing, what will be especially irritating will be the knowledge that the usual suspects are going to do their best to foment their own brand of jihad against American Muslims. Just because they're Muslim. And that the government had a hand in it.

  25. A couple of things here:

    Agree, the Army likes big wars, that is why Gulf War I was so popular and Vietnam was not. I suspect that the Army suspected the Gulf War II would be even more fun. In the Gulf Wars the Army was able to field entire Corps operationally: MG's commanding divisions and BG's commanding brigades and actually doing stuff. Moving the little tanks across the sand tables really reflected something at the highest level.

    And of course conventional military victory brings . . . occupation duty with all the command and staff jobs and new bases and other new stuff. Duty overseas is the third type of military existence isn't it? And far better than washing trucks at Hood or sucking sand at 29 Palms. Branches like MI are in fact operational in such assignments, at least those whose expertise allow it. How much do you think this tendency in the instance of Gulf War I set the stage for 9/11 as well as our response to it?

    On the other hand, COIN? What is a general to do? Have Captains tell him he doesn't understand what the war is all about? While any land war has its benefits in the struggle for $$, in the long run for "big army" it must be a fairly uninspiring proposition.

    Also been following FDChief's prediction as to how this would be abused by the neocon's to maybe jump start their "war of civilizations" after all. We'll see . . .

  26. Seydlitz: part of this is the tie-in between the Big War and the "clash of civilizations". The civilization-warriors; the neocons, the freddom-agenda-ers, the triumphalist Christopaths, the liberal interventionists...I think they relished this fight because they saw it as the Big Battalions on one side and the raggedy-assed muj on the other. I only wish that Dickie Perle had said something like "How many battalions has the Ayatollah ali-Sistani?" to make it perfect.

    What they GOT, of course, was the War of the Flea, and the big battalions tied down chasing those raggedy-assed guerillas across central Asia (and now they'd like to extend the chase into Yemen, Puntland and god knoweth where else).

    And the problem about this, for me, is that the entire "debate" is being played out in the sphere of "defense spending". For all that we supposedly have a realist Administration divorced from the "Hulk smash!" school of foreign policy, the impotence of State and the relative weakness of the non-military organs of foreign policy make the uniformed services the Big Players in this game. And when your tool is a hammer...well, you know the rest.

  27. Publius: it now does seem that this gomer was on record as spouting anti-anti-Islamic jargon. This begins to look like a failure of the intel folks to spot it and a failure of the man's chain of command to follow up.

    That said, it does make the point that if this is the "terror threat",'s a pretty damn small threat. Sucks to be the GIs cought in his gunfire, yes, but it ain't exactly Pearl Harbor or the Burning of Washington.

    Puts the "threat" of these guys down there with all our other domestic, non-political nutjobs. Nasty, a tragedy for the victims and their families, but not a national security issue on any kind of scale...