Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 12th


My last post was a straight-up rant, and one that those who know me have learned to dread. By late August they are avoiding meeting with me, or attending any sort of event where politics or recent history may be discussed, but as early as the First of September they are even dodging my phone calls and deleting my text messages before reading them, knowing that my vitriolic bile will be reaching explosively toxic levels.

The actual detonation is usually reserved for the collision of some innoffensively idiotic television 9/11 retrospective and my forebrain which leaves me flecking the innocent phosphor screen with spittle shouting about 1948, Lebanon, Charlie Wilson's War, Rummy/McFarlane, the cake and the Bible, and the House of Saud.

After that things return rather quickly to normal, and by 13 SEPT I can even hold normal conversations with friends without more than an occasional mutter about "the fucking moron-grade American public..."

All very entertaining, but...now that the ranting is done, what now?

Andy brought up a post on the blog "Zenpundit" that he considered the best observation of 9/11 he had read that day. I went over and read it and found a generic "The Day History Changed" (because, of course, the Soviet Union never fell in 1989...) sort of thing, with the usual mild "perhaps we should re-examine some of the choices we made that day" caveat at the end.

And that got me thinking. Okay, so, first; what things DID change that day?

Well, remember on 11 SEPT 2001 the U.S. was snakebit by one of the snakes we'd been handling since 1948, and not in a good way (our snake made the other snakes play mean, and we had done some snake-slapping ourselves) so while it shouldn't have been a surprise the sheer effectiveness of it was a nasty shock. We'd gotten used to the idea that those Allah-pesterers were pretty much hopeless fuckups, so the notion that they could kill large groups of Americans (that is, large groups of Americans not dispatched on pointless show-the-flag-missions in the Levant by Saint Ronald of Hollywood) using boxcutters and lead pipes was a novel one.

So overseas we did what we do; we went and fucked us up some wogs. First in Afghanistan (where, in justice, the tricksy bastards who smote us were lurking and, besides, it was a wretched hive of scum and villainy, anyway) but then in Iraq (which had nothing the fuck to do with 9/11 but, hell, Saddam was a right git and his sons had stupid names (Uday? Who the fuck is named "Uday"?) and we'd been itching to pimpslap him since back in '92) and then pretty much all over the Arab world, with drone aircraft, anyway. Busy, busy little Yankees!

But at home we were even busier! We did some things we hadn't done - much - before; we set up secret ways to spy on people (who were supposed to be Evul Terrists but, hey - it was SECRET. So who the fuck knows?), we started files on everyone who was different and scary; Muslim clerics, peace activists, chicks with hairy pits, Mormons (oh, wait, no...Mormons were only scary to teabaggers. Oh, wait - most of the people we spied on were scary to teabaggers. Carry on).

We passed something called the "USA PATRIOT Act" which let cops and spies do all sorts of cool stuff they'd been forbidden to do for years because, well, the last time they did it they railroaded a bunch of people for stuff they didn't do and spied on domestic political "enemies"...and that was just the part we KNOW about - supposedly there's this "Secret" PATRIOT Act that lets the door-kickers and snoopers do a lot MORE stuff, except, y'know, it's fucking SECRET, so we have no fucking idea what it involves.

We jammed a bunch of different agencies - the Coast Guard, the DEA, the guys who inspect poultry - into this monster superagency, called in the "Department of Homeland Security", tossed an assload of money at it and told it to go and...do stuff to scary brown people. Or something. We opened secret prisons and put secret prisoners in them because...well, it's SECRET, dummy, so we didn't know exactly why they were there except our Leaders told us they were bad, scary people, the "worst of the worst".

Except the ones we let go because, well, they turned out to be goatherders, or innocent Canadians, or carpet beaters ratted out by the guy who was sleeping with their wives.

Yeah, that.

But, anyway, I think we've pretty much pegged the stuff that Zenpundit's guy said we should "re-examine"; a bunch of wars abroad and a bunch of domestic snooping and spying at home.

So let's "re-examine" them. Let's. Let's put on our Yankee Thinking Caps and try to figure out whether there was anything different we could have done about all that crap.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Believe it or not, I don't actually think that the original, 2002, 114th Afghan War (surely they must be up in at least the low three figures by now, right?) was all that bad a move. Probably could have been done a little slicker with some cunning diplomacy, an assassination and a bribe or three, but, really - they're Afghans; feud, revenge, making an affray, putting in fear...that's cake and ice cream to them. Even the Taliban probably expected the hiding they got. It's the Afghan Way, the central Asian version of a chicken in every pot; a cluster bomb in every Islamic Center.

Now, having done the traditional punitive expedition, the notion of hanging around trying to kill enough Pashtuns to turn the place into Waterbury with more goats was simply stupid. But that was eclipsed by the Really Big Stupid; Iraq.

And, frankly, there is only one way to "re-examine" Iraq. Aggressive war is a crime under the Nuremburg verdicts.

We hung people like Jodl and Ribbentrop and Tojo for it.

Until Dubya and Dick and Wolfie and the rest are hanging alongside them we will never be able to "re-examine" Iraq in any sane fashion. Admitting that we - that members of our elected government, with our tacit approval - committed a war crime (that lead to the useless, meaningless deaths of thousands) and many subsequent crimes is the only possible first step to "re-examining" that lunacy and preventing its repetition.

And that, we will never do.

And the other thing we will never do is "re-examine" the two main pillars of our treatment of the Middle East; the Israel First, and the Your Gas Is Really Our Gas policies.

We made a conscious decision to put Israel's welfare before our own selfish interests back in 1948. All the old State Department hands - the guys who had made their bones in the Middle East, the guys who (mostly) were defenestrated by the Red witch-hunters after State "lost China" in the late Forties and early Fifties - warned Truman about that. But we made our bed, and we choose to continue to lie in it.

You know how I feel about Israel our "ally". But I am a very small minority, and I accept that so long as we have Israel's back - with all that entails, such as supporting pro-Israeli/anti-Islamist dictators like the Mubaraks and the Sauds - we put ourselves at odds with the bulk of the Middle Eastern Arab and Muslim populations.

So, too, our incessant need for petroleum, which means our need for pliant bobos or buyable clowns on the gaddis of the petroleum states. So we prop up the Shah in Iran, or the Gaddafi's in Libya, or the Malikis in Iraq, regardless of the enmity...and until the wrath...of their own peoples becomes too great.

But in the process we ensure ourselves of a constant, running, low-grade warfare with certain elements in the Islamic world. There is no element of the foolish "Islamofascism" or "hating our freedoms" so beloved of the GOP's wingnut brigade. Rather, they hate our Israel, or they hate our porn, or our bare-legged women, or our greed for their petroleum, or their disregard for their lives.

This makes them no better (and no worse) that we. They are acting selfishly, their selfish interests will always collide with ours if we persist in the policies we have pursued - and we show little or no interest in or willingness to change them - and so we are fated to encounter these Islamic characters until either we change or they do. There is no real other option.

We simply cannot have Israel, cheap Arab petroleum, and peace with the hard-core Islamists and Arab nationalists.

So that "re-examination" leads to the grim conclusions that we are in for a long, long century.

The Laughing Policeman

On the Home Front, however, what holds us back is not inevitable collision but moral and political cowardice.

We have erected, brick by brick, a monstrous edifice of surveillance and secret machination. Little in U.S. history since the Alien and Sedition Acts, or perhaps some of the most extreme lawlessness enacted in actual wars (such as Lincoln's violation of habeas corpus or Roosevelt's Japanese internment) can equal the sheer grandiosity of this vast and secretive erection. We have granted, out of our fear and anger, immense powers to our most uncontrolled servants and trusted them to remain servile.

Why, I do not know.

And, by and large, these powers have gone unneeded and unused for the demolition of actual "terrorist" plots and plans. Most of the domestic acts of "terror" have been foiled by simple citizens, or random customs agents, or street cops snitched on to someone. Several of the most "nefarious" plots appear to have been largely the work of government agents, who have tracked down various disgruntled and unhinged individuals, coaxed them, coached them, made their weapons for them, even driven them to the "terror" site before arresting them.

And many of these powers are even less comprehensible than that, like the 21st Century equivalent of the lettre de cachet, the "national security letter", that cannot even be mentioned under pain of imprisonment. We cannot know if the lettre de...excuse me, the "national security letter" has been misused...because those against whom it has been used cannot speak of their misuse, and if they attempt to do so they will find themselves in another modernization of Bourbon justice, the Chateau d'If of the "secret prison".

Can you imagine a United States with "secret prisons"? With nameless prisoners, latter-day Monte Cristos but in their orange jumpsuits and hoods? With secret letters demanding secret interrogations, carried on in secret and then buried below further layers of secrecy, lowered into a well a midnight, never to be known?

Is this the United States we pledged to as children? And if not, why not?

Because of some raggedy Islamic fantasists plotting in some dumpy motel in Lahore?

Or because of...us?

In a sane world we would shake our heads like a dog shaking off water, and immediately eighty-six about 99 percent of the ridiculous security rigamarole we've invented since 9/11, starting with the "PATRIOT" Act, the AUMF, and continuing from there. We'd relegate "terrorism" to the nuisance status it deserves and making in the province of our State Department and our spy agencies, who could make the appropriate recommendations to Congress and the President when they spotted another bin Laden lurking behind the arras.

Because, as I said, he will come. When you fight an old enemy long enough he will throw out the occasional Mosby, or bin Ladin, or Francis Marion.

But sending out troops to beat the hustings where he may be born...or sending in police to snoop and sneak on Americans guilty of nothing more than disliking WalMart or protesting foreign policy...is worse than a crime. It is a mistake, and one that we have been paying for this long decade.


Again, to undo all of this harm would be to admit that we were sniveling, mewling cowards to begin with. To admit that we fucked up dozens of people's lives for no better reason than our own bed-wetting fears. And to accept the calumny due us for being frightened little weasels too small to deserve the freedoms we so boldly lay claim to, and yet so quickly piss away rather than face any potential for harm.

And we would rather give up ALL those freedoms than accept that.

So, in brief; abroad we cannot have peace with a segment of Islam - unless we radically change our goals and interests in the Middle East, which we have and continue to show no interest in doing - while at home we will not have liberty - unless we radically accept responsibility for our own panicked fuckups as well as the risk inherent in living in an open society.

So in that sense the dead of 9/11 really DID die in vain, or worse - their deaths have made their nation a smaller, meaner, more secretive, less dynamic place.

By their deaths we were given a chance of greatness and instead we went shopping - on credit - whilst fools and knaves led us into dark places.

"It is by our own feathers, and not by others' shafts, are we now stricken"


  1. As for the survivors of 9/11, never have so many been so disappointing.

    One benefit for the world is that our serial in-effectiveness in all things military/foreign policy have probably permanently neutered our standing. Few if any actors probably see the point in poking at us except for the lulz (seriously, where do you go after an underwear bomber?).

    At least the Chinese are smart enough to build a carrier and fly some shiny new planes around, they know how to troll a superpower.

    As for zen, I'll bet all this decade-late serious navel gazing will result in... a vote for Reagan's heir.

  2. One of the things the late and unlamented OBL expected when he started this round of madness was that the US would rip itself apart in fear and madness. Check, although it managed to outlast him.

    The rest of his predictions were crap but we lowered ourselves to his expectations while the rest of the world flew blissfully above them.

    SRV's prediction has already come true. All of the Republican candidates view themselves as Reagan's heir. From his actions, so does Obama. Most of the third party candidates view themselves as Reagan's heir. What was it with that guy?

    I'd argue that the primary reason was that other than the 4 years of George I's reign (also obviously Reagan's heir) and a couple of Bill Clinton's years, it was the last time we had good government of any sort in the White House.

    All we've had since then is personal dissolution and power-grabbing. And that's what set us up for the OBL's prediction and 9/11.

  3. Again, to undo all of this harm would be to admit that we were sniveling, mewling cowards to begin with. To admit that we fucked up dozens of people's lives for no better reason than our own bed-wetting fears. And to accept the calumny due us for being frightened little weasels too small to deserve the freedoms we so boldly lay claim to, and yet so quickly piss away rather than face any potential for harm.

    And we would rather give up ALL those freedoms than accept that.


    And there ain't no savior coming around this time offering to die for these sins of ours.


  4. It sounds like it is time for a man on a white horse to appear.

  5. Chief,

    Glad to see you back. This latest post is, I think, all too familiar as it's one you've written, in one form or another, dozens of times before. As I said in the last thread, I've lost interest in re-hashing old battles and going over, yet again, the same territory we've been going over for years now. Where has it gotten us?

    That said I agree with your post in a general way, if not in every detail.

    This I'll comment on though:

    Again, to undo all of this harm would be to admit that we were sniveling, mewling cowards to begin with. To admit that we fucked up dozens of people's lives for no better reason than our own bed-wetting fears. And to accept the calumny due us for being frightened little weasels too small to deserve the freedoms we so boldly lay claim to, and yet so quickly piss away rather than face any potential for harm.

    And we would rather give up ALL those freedoms than accept that.

    I think to begin undo the harm all we have to do is begin to actually undo it by starting to roll back some of the excesses of the last decade and begin to chart a different course. To me, that was the essence of Zen's post. Furthermore, beginning to roll them back is a tacit admission that we were wrong even if we delude ourselves into thinking otherwise. Of course, that's just the beginning - changing our present course is going to take a long time and a lot of effort. There isn't going to be a national "a ha" moment where everyone realizes what exactly went wrong and what's needed to fix it.

    So I think you are kidding yourself if you believe there is any chance of some kind of national cathartic confession anytime soon, which is what you've been arguing for all these years. You can look for yourself at the history of these things and judge for yourself the likely timeline before we finally, collectively and publicly acknowledge our misdeeds. A lot of people are still waiting for us to acknowledge a host of misdeeds in the third-world, not to mention the purposeful and deliberate incineration of hundreds of thousands of civilians during our various bombing campaigns in WWII. Then there's Vietnam - have we come to grips with that yet?

    I see little purpose in waiting around for decades or longer, angry and bitter, for the catharsis you seek. It's both a mistake and an excuse to insist we have to have that catharsis before things can change. History shows otherwise. No thanks, I have better things to do than wait around for that. I have my kids and their future to worry about and I want to actually change things sooner rather than bang my head again and again trying to achieve a perfect outcome that doesn't exist and may not come in my lifetime even if it does.


  6. (cont from above)

    Finally, to be honest the milpub is beginning to feel like a never-ending bitch session. Where has it gotten us? Except for the fun inherent in the art of debate, there is little joy here in the comments and most of the posts, little in the way of affirmation or hope, little in the way of practical solutions. We end up agreeing on most of the big-picture policy issues yet fight, sometimes bitterly, about secondary and tertiary concerns. And I realize that I'm a big part of that problem because of my too-strong tendency to be a contrarian and pick out things to disagree with in other people's comments. That's an issue with my style of debate I've resolved to work on.

    On the other hand, these aren't exactly good times in America and the world and the trend-lines don't bode well for the future, so some negativity is warranted and necessary. Still, it was the call for an affirmative reassessment in Zen's post that struck a chord with me, especially in conjunction with the historical context he laid out. The bitter divisiveness and partisan bickering and deck-chair-rearranging isn't getting us anywhere. Zen's post was free of that kind of rhetoric as well as the simplistic notion that all we need to do to solve our problems is give the right political party control over the levers of power or wish that our political opponents suddenly became compliant. Frankly, that's what most policy and political analysis boils down to these days and it's, at best, a distraction. It's time for something different and I hope Zen's roundtable will generate some positive discussion and new ideas in that regard.

  7. Andy-

    There are time when I wonder, "will we ever learn", but more than anger, my emotion is disappointment. Yes, the inertia and/or momentum of where our country is going is discouraging, and there is no "silver bullet". Unfortunately, our culture is one that is not introspective, nor encourages admission of error, except on the other guy's part. Who is right (or the ability to make it seem right) is far more important that what's right. Witness the long drawn out debate over whether or not Saddam had WMD. I fear that our culture prevents us from being a truly enlightened society. "Belief" and ideology trumps rational inquiry. Sadly, that's the human condition.

  8. Good post. I have nothing to add because I've seen it in my professional field, no one has learned a damned thing over the past ten years on how to develop national strategy that has articulated and achievable ends, ways and means. Everyone sees the "threat" (whatever that means to each individual agency) but we still don't know how to develop public policy and strategy that works. Same old circle jerk going on, and I don't know if that ever changes. We haven't found the right leadership on either side of the aisle to push for a change in the process.

  9. Pluto,
    I saw Obama as more of Nixon's heir, our last liberal president. But it was naive to think we would trend back to that norm. Bush II's legacy is the new norm.

    There isn't bitter divisiveness and bickering. There are crazy sociopaths and there are sane people. Ideologs like this:

    "Friday, March 21st, 2003
    PREDICTION: if the war in Iraq continues to go as well as it has in the coming days the antiwar Left, the Bush-is-Hitler crowd bloggers, Howell Raines, The Congressional Progressive caucus, the frustrated star pundits like Paul Krugman will become ever more hyperbolic, vicious, hateful and irrational as their months-long campaign for America’s defeat comes to an inglorious but well-deserved end. This time around let’s not graciously let the Lefties off of the hook when we start opening the Iraqi archives, torture chambers, presidential palaces and weapons labs and mass graves. Let’s trace the money that flowed out of Iraqi coffers through third parties to organizations and perhaps individuals in the West and reveal Saddam’s shills for what they were."

    Exactly why do you think this guy has something useful to add or deserves a seat at some table? Also too, that was a pleasant day for him back in the day.

    Where we are today is a logical result of their ideology. Some of them may have finally gotten uncomfortable with what they've diligently helped enable (or thought they could control), but you won't see Zen calling out the sociopathy of crowds cheering Perry's death count or people dying because they didn't buy healthcare.

    The problem in the world isn't that we have to be more realist or open to the other side of the story. The problem is that the country is full of cowards who won't stand up and ridicule the crazy. That these people have a platform (the web, Fox) and enablers (Zen, Cato, whatever) and a party doesn't mean they deserve anyone's respect.

    We didn't start this war, but your kids lose every day you aren't out pointing at clowns and laughing at them.

  10. Al,

    Somehow we've always seemed to muddle through. Not sure if that's because of luck or some unseen force in the system or what. Can it continue? Probably not.


    Good luck fighting your windmills. Let me know how that turns out for you. Also, nice use of the ad hominem fallacy.

  11. Hi all-

    I've taken note of Andy's comment too.

    Andy, I don't think you thought too much of my perspective when we first came into contact at Intel Dump, but your views of me and mine of you have changed over time. You're one of the most thoughtful and well-reasoned, if sometimes a bit too predictable, commentators here and I greatly appreciate your input. I think you've come a long way in your thinking and I think that our discussions have been part of that. I think maybe you took Chief's rant a bit personally which is understandable.

    As I mentioned before in connection with "anti-empire", the times we live in and the issues we are stuck with are all very depressing and a bit hard to take, the realization - from my perspective - that the real "enemy" is at home and is an ideology or rather Weltanschauung (world view) is difficult to deal with but at the same time provides something of a goal as well.

    That is the problem is perspective much more than it is people, which is something we learned during the Cold War. Sometimes, as back in the bad ole days, we have time in which to win people over to our side, allow them to realize for themselves that it is the noise coming from their own side, the self-serving narrative of a corrupt and disinterested in the real needs of the people leadership which is the actual problem. Any social institution lasts only as long as people allow themselves to be oriented by it through belief, trust or fear, once the scales have fallen from their eyes so to speak the spell is over and reform/rebirth/redemption can commence.

    cont . . .

  12. So, we're talking about a long, hard, slog, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak and it is the opportunity to open a dialog with the some from the other side, the true believers who have acted as something of the intellectual shock troops for the GWOT. Start them thinking about the irrationalities of their own position, their dubious assumptions, the veiled and corrupt self-interest of many of their "prophets" and leaders. If we all have the best interests of the country at heart, not to mention can come to seeing the US performing a positive - if more limited and far more home-based - roll in world affairs, then that would be a great success not so much for our side, but for the country as a whole.

    srv provided an example of zen's thinking back in 2003. I'm thankful that there was no internet when I was in my 20's (which I assume Zen was when he posted that) since I would find some of my comments from the early 1980s a bit embarrassing today. People mature and change with events, the key is to be open to positive change and I think Zen and many of those who share his views are. They're in a questioning mode now and need our assistance, which I for one am willing to provide. I'll simply provide some context and questions (based on my presented view of course) and be there as a sounding board for their responses. Their conclusions have to be their own. It is not personal, us versus them, but a difference of perspective, remember.

    History is also contingent, so the exact timing/sequence in which events will play themselves out is unknowable before hand.

    I trust that the oligarchs will overextend themselves eventually and do the most to bring about their own downfall . . . at which all thoughtful people will have the opportunity to form a more perfect union, yet once again.

  13. andy 6:24
    Keith Richards said that he hasn't written 300 songs , but rather the same song 300 times. I'm ok with that and with Chiefs writings. Hell it's his living room/bar and we're all guests. Surely a navy dude knows this little bit of manners .
    If Chief is guilty of this offense then i am a worse offender since i've written my art. 2500 times.
    Strange we can hear all the crap continually and that's cool, but when we talk counter crap we are not cool.
    What do our leaders say that we don't? I mean in reality based experience? At least we don't sell smoke and label it sunshine.
    If you feel as you do , then why not ruck up?

  14. Andy: "Finally, to be honest the milpub is beginning to feel like a never-ending bitch session. Where has it gotten us? Except for the fun inherent in the art of debate, there is little joy here in the comments and most of the posts, little in the way of affirmation or hope, little in the way of practical solutions."

    Neatly sums up why I rarely post or comment these days, although I would observe that joy is pretty hard to come by these days, meaning that if Andy wants joy, good luck.

    Not going to take sides in the other issues other than to say that I'm totally burned out on 9/11. Lost a young man who was near and dear and then, as a result of PWOT nonsense and general political horseshit, lost a friendship with the young man's father. I say put a fork in 9/11, so far as the weeping and wailing is concerned. Learn the true lesson of 9/11. No, never forget the victims, but always realize that our government has used them as pawns in a grand scheme to subjugate and impoverish all of us.

    My impression of Zenpundit kind of dovetails with srv's, although I should also note that it's not one of my must reads, which means I'm by no means an expert. In fact, I can go months without consulting Zenpundit and not feel as if I've missed anything at all. My impression of this blog is that it's establishment, leaning right and war loving. If anyone cares to correct me, I'll listen.

    Andy, if I'd critique you on anything—and I don't want you to take that the wrong way because I think you're great—it would be your tendency to trust authority. Inasmuch as you're 20 years younger than me, I don't find that all that surprising. You're right there in that sweet spot. And that's where you find yourself differing with us older farts on matters such as "respect for 9/11 victims." We've already buried our share and we know that respect doesn't mean a whole lot. Check Ecclesiastes and you'll see where I'm coming from.

  15. Jim,

    I didn't mean to suggest that Chief's post here was bad, nor did I mean to slam it - I was just pointing out that the ideas he expressed here are ideas he's expressed many times before. Nothing wrong with that at all. After all, I do the same thing - I let few threads go by without mentioning my own hobby-horse, "unsustainability." My purpose in pointing that out was to say that I don't intend to go around and redebate the same points again.


    Thanks for the comment. My views certainly have changed over time - I would be worried if they hadn't. I also agree with you about Zen. Too many people seem to assume that because I found a post I really liked that I'm somehow endorsing everything he's ever written and that I automatically share his political views, or whatever. Or, like srv, that we can safely ignore him because he was terribly wrong once. Frankly, I think we need to get away from that kind of tribal thinking where people are either good guys (who we listen to) or bad guys (who we ignore no matter what they say). That road leads nowhere, in my opinion, except to reinforce one's existing biases. I read a lot of different blogs from libertarians to liberal progressives and I try as best I can to judge their arguments and not simply dismiss them because they subscribe to an ideology I don't share. If I had to ignore everyone who had been on the wrong side of some issue, I'd have to ignore just about everyone.

    And boy, do I ever want to forget some of the stupid things I believed in my teens and 20's. Amen to that - we should welcome it when people change for the better, not dump on them.

    And FWIW, I think many of our past differences comes from the fact that we come at issues from different directions. I'm usually focused on practicalities and evidence for specific claims, while you seem to be operating from a more strategic perspective. I think you find things that make sense on your plane of thought, while I may find they do not make sense on mine (and vice-versa). Nothing wrong with any of that - just different ways of looking at the world.


    I'm burned out on 9/11 too and the only thing I do is take a bit of time to remember the guy I served with who died at the Pentagon. The rest of it I can't really take, but to each his own.

    Interesting you think I have a tendency to trust authority. I would not have thought that personally, at when I compare myself to my peers.

  16. To all,
    My discomfort here is about us and screw the rest.
    We are supposed to be friends, even if we disagree. The last few threads have struck me as ad hominem responses. That cranks my handle.
    We are in Chiefs gracious site and we have a responsibility here.
    I for one do not address his LIKUDNIK philosophy or belief that we should flush the Israelis down the sewer of the ME.I don't agree but i don't attk his position much less his honor or dignity or style of writing. Also i must say here that Chief is better for all of us than is SEAL team 6. I wouldn't trade him for everyone of those questionable warriors.
    If Chief were right about Israel then the Germans, French and English would be targeted in a major way.They aren't. The Brits are more responsible for Israel than is the US. IMO. BUT NONE OF THIS MATTERS ! wHAT MATTERS IS RESPECT AND THE WAY WE WORD THINGS. eVERYTHING aNDY SAID IS WORTHWHILE , BUT IT COULD'VE BEEN SAID IN A NUETRAL MANNER without an implied criticism.
    We don't have solutions because we live in a world of lies or sophistry..
    That's my take.
    Excuse my typing.

  17. I've been taking a 72 hour pass - as jim suggested - and I just dropped in to see how everyone was. I don't really want to say more on the topic - I've said everything I have to say (again...) and that's that.

    I do want to restate my respect for everyone here, and for Andy in particular. Like everyone everywhere sometimes even people you like find the right button to push to get under your skin, and Andy found mine. My responses were neither reasoned nor amicable and I apologize for the tone, if not the content.

    I do want to emphasize that I consider this OUR site; it's a community, not a sole proprietorship, and I consider myself no more the "owner" of it than anyone here. And I certainly do NOT consider myself above criticism of the highest or lowest sort. That's why I come here; sitting alone in a room - or sitting in a roomful of syncophants - I learn nothing. It's being exposed to critical discussion that teaches. I hope you never feel constrained by politeness or good manners from flailing away at me. Politeness and good manners I can get anyfuckingwhere. I come here to submit my intellectual head for the washing.

    But I do want to stress one thing. I know I've written this piece before. The depressing thing to me is that it doesn't seem like rocket science. All the problems I talked about and we discussed seem as obvious as used food in the meringue.

    But here we are, ten years after 9/11, eight years after Iraq...and nothing has changed. Oh, sure, we muddled through. Kinda. Sorta. But we also muddled into torture. And secret prisons. And muddled BACK into the sort of viciously psychotic partisanship this country hasn't seen since the Depression.

    I'm not sure how to be happy or optimistic about that. We seem to be utterly clueless, and, what seems worse - there is a significant proportion of our country that seems actually HAPPY about that. PROUD to be feckless and stupid. Someone mentioned the "Tea Party Debate" and I need go no further. To quote Dean Wormer; "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

    So, thanks for the covering fire, jim, but I'm really OK with everyone and everything here. I do need a little down time, so I may not be around for a bit as much as I have been lately. But I am not slain; I'll lie me down to bleed awhile and then rise to fight again.

  18. With the indulgence of the group, I'd like to add my own 2 cents . . . I think we have a great blog. I think it better than the Intel Dump that Phil Carter had at WashPost and as good as the original Intel Dump, although my time with the latter was not near as extensive as some others here.

    We take on a wide-range of issues and subjects. We also come from a broad range of backgrounds which is a plus. If you think about it the barkeeps have something like a 100+ years of collective military/military intelligence experience, although I do not put myself on the same level as the real vets. Those barkeeps without an operational military background provide a necessary balance and perspective to the group in order to keep the blog from getting too "green" which is a plus as well.

    We have thoughtful people who have followed this blog and their comments challenge and expand our views which is once again a plus.

    The times are difficult and I too feel the urge that perhaps one last big rant, "the big push" might get us out of the "mud and the blood" of the incessant "trenchwarfare" we are in politically at home and "to the green fields beyond" . . . Unfortunately, doesn't quite work that way does it? So I have presented a long-term, Cold-War-inspired option as mentioned above.

    Finally, I would like to thank FDChief for his support and brilliant postings which pretty much parallel my own views. Without his work forming and maintaining this blog, this particular low-tech fellow would be left to shouting in the "wilderness" of Northern Portugal . . . much to the annoyance of family and neighbors . . .

  19. Chief,

    Enjoy your respite. Thank you for the apology, but it wasn't necessary. Everyone's allowed to get pissed off from time-to-time. FWIW I'm tremendously appreciative of the work you do here and your ability to cut through the BS with your writing.

  20. Chief,
    In IOAC they made us take ASSERTIVENESS TRAINING.
    The whole point was that we can be assertive w/o being harmful or aggressive. When we get aggressive then we are no better than the Beck universe.
    This is milpub and you hold the keys to the bar. Ultimately one of us must sign the daily orders.
    Yore in the barrel.

  21. bg,
    the last few days have me thinkin' of our initial exchanges which i let slip into a negative mode.
    This is why i stepped in here b/c i was wrong to do so.
    This is not teamwork.
    Glad to have you out there.

  22. Chief, I wouldn't worry too much about any of this. You just keep up doing what you do.

    This is from one of your not-so secret admirers.