Monday, May 28, 2018

Momento Mori

I never quite know how to deal with this day.

Typically I simmer all day in a sort of low, sullen...not quite anger, more like...irritation, like a peat fire smouldering deep below the surface. My fellow citizens' clueless, careless, indifference to the whys and hows their soldiers died is bitter gall, and the unfortunate alternative is a kind of fawning reverence for some imaginary soldier who has "fought for their freedom" that is almost more irking than the cluelessly indifferent.

I understand that most of these people are trying to say or do something "nice" on a day that has been set aside for what they dimly sense as a sort of patriotic celebration of GIs. They usually have no clue that this is something different from Veterans' Day, and, like a drunk at a wedding, proceed to either offend, with their jingo patriotism, or by their hiding their eyes from the abyss that is death in war.

I want them to just say it; "These men and women died not for me but because of me, because of my choices, or because I chose not a make choices. And many of them, and all of them that have died since the end of the Korean War in 1953, died for damn near nothing, died chasing the ghosts of my fears and ignorance. They died because I thought of dominoes, or of Evil Empires, or of fighting them there so we wouldn't have to fight them here. They died because I let unscrupulous men lie me into fear, into foolish anger, into hate. They died because I was a bad citizen.

And I have never come to terms with that. I've never admitted that, or repented of that, or apologized to the dead for my acts or my indifference."

I know that won't happen, and that galls me, too. We Americans are bad at things like regret, repentance, and apologies.

So I'll say it here.

Fuck, I'm sorry, guys.

I fucked up. I trusted people I never should have. I didn't rage with fire and steel against those people who killed you. No, not the people you fought. The people who sent you to fight for nonsense, or hubris, or greed, or stupidity. And once I knew that they were fools, or criminals, or both I did nothing to punish them for murdering you. They still live, many of them honored and respected, while you are nothing but dust and ashes.

I am ashamed.

All I can promise is that I'll try and do better in the future. I'll try and make sure that they can't make any more of you.

That is all.

Take a break in place and smoke 'em if you gottem.

And, as always on this day; this.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

May 26th, 2018

Seventeen years ago, George W. Bush launched his war against Afghanistan...because...reasons.

I guess he didn't like he Taliban, didn't like Afghani's...who knows, all I know is B-52's were used extensively to deliver our government's opinion on the former Taliban government...then switched to boots, tires, and tracks to further ensconce our opinion that we no likey Taliban...and oh, by the way, you wouldn't have happened to see a tall guy, thin, gaunt, wear's a turban, Arab, well, then a pity we're going to have lower some topography.

War in made sense if one just doesn't look at the utter failure of diplomacy, and just stuck to "it's on bitches!" post-9/11

But, no...the splendor of kinetics and energy disbursement amongst mud buildings seems so...quaint...but wait, lo and behold, W. turned his eyes to Iraq...ah yeah, you gonna git it!

And so.../sigh...George W. Bush, with one war in the basket, Afghanistan, starts another fucking war in Iraq...rinse, repeat, toss out the old, set up the new...aaannnd, now let loose the sectarian fighting...because now the Shiites have had enough the Sunni's shit for the last fifty years, so it's on bitches!
Shiites gunning for Sunni's, and then Sunni's gunning for Shiites, throw Al-Qaeda in the mix, oh hey, and throw Iran in for shits and giggles, and then incomes frat boys attracted to a kegger, ISIS fills in because, while Iraq is falling-the-fuck-apart, Syria lights up.../sigh...

And we stood there in the middle of those groups thinking, "uh...wut?!?"

We're supposed to been greeted as liberators, friends, Americana, Apple pie, 4 billion dollars in cash, high-level visits...damn, people, what more do you want?

USA out of Iraq?

And so with a new President Obama, of which I expected small changes, changes that would pull us away from two wars...instead embraces the tar-baby Syria, and commits.

Fuck me!



And so, now, we have...Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria.


17 fucking years of war.

And now it looks like Bolton humped Trump into gaming Iran for war.

So this memorial day, lets try to  remember that period of time...which seems to be getting dimmer...of when there was no war.

A time of peace.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Peace Prize Playing Hooky

Cancellation?  Oops, there goes the Peace Prize.  The chickenhawk war consigliere Bolton appears to have triumphed.    South Korea seems blindsided that the meeting was cancelled right after Punggye-ri nuclear test site was demolished (IF it was demolished?).  

Moon just called an emergency National Security meeting at the Blue House in Seoul - at midnight!!!. Japan looks clairvoyant in their earlier skepticism about this summit.

Some are saying that Kim and company set up Trump to cancel, making Kim look like the adult in the room with Chinese and ROKs both in his corner.   Maybe, but I'm not so sure.   Trump does not need anybody's help in making himself look like a buffoon.

Update 5/24: FDChief here (sorry to horn in, mike, but I couldn't resist...) Fred Kaplan at Slate has a worthwhile take on the "probable-why" the Art of the Dealer called this off:
"In short, Trump is sleepwalking into a potentially historic summit with a determined leader who knows what he has and, more importantly, what he wants—while, until very recently, Trump has shown no awareness that this knowledge is fundamental to diplomacy, to leadership, to making a smart deal.

Maybe Moon will snap Trump out of his torpor when they meet in Washington on Tuesday. Both of them want the summit with Kim to take place and, by some measure, succeed—Moon to reduce tensions and promote peace between North and South Korea, Trump to bolster his self-crafted reputation as a deal-maker extraordinaire. Moon has some idea of how to get to a plausible, if modest, accord; Trump has no idea. The question is whether Trump will acknowledge the disparity and let Moon write the script for the reality show in Singapore. If he doesn’t, he might as well bang on the table and shout, “Fuck you!”
Which Trump now seems to have done, in effect.

To add to the ridiculousness of this tragicomedy, here's the letter Trump wrote to Kim cancelling the summit. It's...bizarre, is perhaps the best description I can come up with. If one of my high school students wrote it in response to a "draft a diplomatic communique" I'd have given him a C-minus.
"I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history."

To me the real tragedy of this is that now we will never be able to have this awesomely majestic challenge coin:

Update 5/24 p.m. This is just too good not to add:

Update 5/24 p.p.m. And this is even better:

When I can stop and think coldly about all this, there's really nothing to laugh at here. The chief executive of the largest, most heavily armed polity on Earth has been shown to be a poorly-informed, badly-led, credulous, monstrously egotistical, self-deluded fool.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


It has been over sixty years since Sartre first termed the word 'neocolonialism'.   I read or tried reading his opus Colonialism and Neocolonialism years ago.  But Jean-Paul was too deep for my military mind, or maybe it was the fault of the translator.   Or maybe it was because years before that I had read Larteguy, and had a bias towards Bigeard's paras taking names and kicking butts.   Plus I never liked Sartre's portrayal of DeGaulle, whom I had always admired despite his antipathy towards my own country.  Sartre and many others since have put the blame squarely on the West for a later brand of colonialism.  Mostly in Africa.  But also in Asia, especially for the US in the Philippines, and Vietnam, and Laos, and Lebanon, and Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Syria, and others.  Maybe so.

But there is also an even newer cutting-edge neocolonialism going on in Africa in the 21st Century.  China's Xi Jinping AKA the Marquis of Belt & Road and co-prince of Africa is using a modern twist
of a much older colonial notion.   Xi does not stoop to conquering a country to exploit its population as labor and its natural resources.  He now uses debt bondage and/or bribery on an international scale for the mercantilist exploitation of resources.   They probably got the idea from the West.   Although they are doing it to an extent that dwarfs anything the World Bank tried to do in the past.  They are also buying influence by interfering in elections a la Trump-Russian collusion.  They probably got that idea from the West also.

But the colonized are now fighting back.  Not just in Africa but also in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.

Within my grandchildren's lifetime they will be doing the same to us.   What goes around, comes around.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Muddle East

I get a fair amount of stick around this joint for my up-front contempt for His Fraudulency, the 45th* President of the United States and his coterie of meeching grifters, flaming morons, inchoate rage-drunk wingnuts, and just simply simpletons.

But it's hard for me not to be infuriated by the actions of this "administration". It's one thing to be a devious cabal of Iran-Contra felons trying to advance a ruthlessly avaricious agenda. I could loathe the Bushies while having a certain amount of rueful wariness for the purity of their selfish greed. They wanted everything and didn't care what they did or how they did it to get what they wanted. Their weakness was hubris; they really thought they created their own reality, and when reality refused to conform they simply bulled ahead until it shot them between the eyes.

But these idiot Trumpkins? Handing them the keys to the presidential limo was like giving a gibbering ape a live hand grenade. Anyone of us who had been familiar with the sort of gluttonously self-deluded liar and cheat the GOP picked to run in 2016 knew that it wouldn't end well. He wouldn't listen. He wouldn't learn. He would do whatever sated his capacious guts, or his tumescent penis, or his angry, aggrieved little hindbrain.

This past couple of weeks has put the reason I warned against electing this dope on painful display.

First was the Iran "deal".

Had the Bushies done this I would have immediately suspected a deep-laid plan to gin up a war in the Persian Gulf for some sort of crass geopolitical and economic gains. As the Beinart article points out, the Trumpkins didn't even have a bad rationale behind the move.
“Sr. European diplomat, on dealing with State Dept today re Iran: ‘All is a shambles there. Total incoherence between State and NSC. Plus, no one has any clue on the day after. There is no strategy.’” That same day, when asked by a reporter whether European governments would support new sanctions against Iran, an unnamed State Department official admitted that in their conversations with allies before Trump announced America’s withdrawal, “We did not talk about a Plan B.” When a reporter asked, “What makes you think that Iran is going to go along with a whole new renegotiation?” the official replied, “We don’t know if they will.”
So there's no real plan here. This isn't some sort of cunning 11th Dimension geopolitical chess. The Trumpkins, like a cranky baby, just threw their bowl of strained peas against the wall because they wanted to. They had no idea, and no plan, for what came next.

And now the final act of the "let's go full-on-Likudnik!" move to Jerusalem.

Now. You know my opinion on Israel. As a country, it is what it is. As a US "ally", it's not worth the tax dollars of an Indiana grandma. One of the single biggest impediments to a sensible US Middle Eastern policy is that it HAS to be warped to accommodate whatever the Israeli Right wants. That makes any sort of working relationship with the Muslim polities nearly impossible, because at some point someone drags the Israelis into the room like a dog into a cattery and everyone goes utterly batshit.

I'd accept this as a form of loathsome realpolitik if I thought that 1) Israel had a practical value as a US "ally", and 2) the Trumpkins had done the geopolitical analysis sufficient to make them confident that the Arab states will throw the Pals under the bus and accommodate with Likud.

I don't.

I think this is just US conservative fantasy wanking, and when one side or the other emerges from the current Shia-Sunni Thirty Years War with a headlock on the Muslim umma we will find out how shortsighted and stupid this is.

But that's "Trump"; shortsighted, unlearned, and uninterested in anything but his own profit.

One thing he DOES have in common with the Bushies, though. It's something you may remember from back in the Iraq War times;

We Are so, so, so, so, SO Fucked.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

History repeats itself

He is at it again.

Sixteen years ago in 2002 Benjamin Netanyahu told the American Congress: "that there was no question whatsoever that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons."  And he mentioned what a great thing it would be if Saddam was overthrown by you-know-who. 

 One month later Congress passed the Iraq Resolution authorizing  the "Use of Military Force Against Iraq".  He suckered us.  The press kind of forgot about Netanyahu's role and blamed it on Curveball and Chalabi.  They had a part for sure, but the blame lies squarely on Netanyahu and his NeoCon proxies in the US who amplified his message.

History repeats itself.  Now he is back pushing us to go into Iran.  And the video above where he fukked us into invading Iraq was so recent that I have eight grandchildren and a dog older than that video.  Yet we seem to have forgotten and are getting suckered in once again.

The scary thing is that it will not stop after Netanyahu either retires or goes to prison for corruption.  His right hand man in the Israeli Parliament, Juval Steinitz, is recently quoted as threatening the assassination of Assad.  Steinitz is considered a frontrunner to succeed Netanyahu by the Jerusalem press.  Referring to Assad, Steinitz said: "His blood is forfeit".  The guy appears to be Netanyahu on steroids.

Will we ever smarten up?