Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Enemy Mine

The Enemy of My Enemy Can Be an Enemy
©2011 Ross Williams

Headline: Pentagon Considers Scrapping Traditional Pensions

Article synopsis
: Soldiers who serve for 20 years can “retire” from the military after 20 years at 50% pay. This carries a huge long-term financial burden for the nation and the Department of Defense is considering going to the 401k-style retirement that other government employees now have. Critics say that there may not be enough incentive to serve the nation without keeping the current retirement in place. Among the changes is that retirement would only be received after retirement age. Grandfathering may be involved.

Broke is Still Broke: Retiring beyond 20 years only increases the percentage of the base pay received. The percentage is calculated by the current pay scale and not the pay scale as it existed when the soldier retired. This means that a soldier can “retire” at the age of 38 – enlisted at 18 and twenty years in service – and by the time he’s 65 he could be making the same as a retired soldier that he did while he was a real soldier.

And because the retirement salary is payable immediately upon retiring, the soldier will receive retirement pay for commonly 40 years or more. The part of this which many people have found disagreeable is that once out of the service, the soldier usually finds a civilian job which pays significantly more than his soldier job paid, and he collects military retirement at the same time he’s collecting his salary. Then, he will often get a job for the civil service doing what he did in the military, thus collecting a government pension as well as a government paycheck ... which would qualify him for a second government pension. We called these “double dippers” when I was in the Air Farce.

So did the double dippers.

In any event, we don’t have the money to continue Business As Usual for the military either, and something needs to be done about it.

Conclusion: While most of the budget issues are going to be affecting the programs favored by liberals, this is one that is favored by conservatives. Tough. Belly up to the bar, sarge; there’s vinegar enough for everyone.

Headline: Multiple Attacks Rip Through Iraq

Article synopsis
: The muslim holy month of Ramadan was shattered by a series of bomb blasts set off by insurgents, the largest killing at least 33. The attacks are being blamed on America over its plan to vacate the country and leave a weak and ineffective Iraqi Security Force to protect the nation.

I get tired of having to say this: The purpose of war is to break things and kill people, not to restructure another nation. It is made impossible to effectively re-invent the conquered nation when the nature of the war is short and surgical, and not long and comprehensive; an unpacified population uniformly resists foreign occupation. This is particularly true in US wars, which have gotten exceedingly precise at the same time as Americans lost the collective stomach necessary for the prolonged – and brutal – occupation necessary to compel a restructured foreign nation. If we want to stay for a century, colonize, systematically obliterate villages that refuse to cooperate ... sure. If we want to cajole and persuade, act like we’re best buddies a week after we just got done shooting at everyone who moved ... no, it’ll never work. We end up wearing the targets instead.

Eight years after invading Iraq to depose the Sunni Ba’athist party led by Saddam Hussein, who was wreaking havoc on the civilian population, the Sunni Ba’athists are no longer in charge, but they’re still wreaking havoc on the civilian population – and American soldiers when they get a chance.

Without the stomach for the necessary realities of occupation, our wars must follow this formula:
1] march in
2] kick ass
3] get what we want
4] leave

No sticking around to rebuild, no helping anyone up, no dusting anyone off. If you piss us off, we’ll kick your ass and leave you with a bigger mess than you had before. Any other plan is doomed to failure, political recrimination, endless self-loathing, and ultimate national irrelevance.

Conclusion: It’s always going to be our fault regardless what happens. Leave or stay ... our fault. Invade in the first place or not ... our fault. When will the rest of you learn? It doesn’t matter what we do, so if we need to kick some other nation’s ass then we need to leave right after we’re done. We’re wrong either way, but we lose fewer soldiers.

Headline: Syrian Troops Fire on Fleeing Residents

Article synopsis
: In the 5-month uprising against Assad Junior’s government, Syria has killed hundreds, arrested thousands, and just recently added naval bombardment of its own cities to the fray. Foreign journalists are banned from the country and cellphone videos are about the only coverage that has gotten out.

Case In Point: The United States is being criticized around the world for not invading Syria to put down the other Sunni Ba’athist regime in the Middle East, largely by the same people who criticized us for invading Iraq and doing it the first time. I hate being right constantly, but it doesn’t matter what we do: we’re wrong. Some people can look at this and become paranoid, others simply conclude that being wrong goes with the territory of being the preeminent world power – which we currently are, though not for lack of trying not to.

In any event, Syria is one of close to a dozen Middle Eastern nations in one stage or another of revolt – including [but not limited to] Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Ethiopia and Somalia – in which one or more of the revolting groups is associated with the same strain of pan-islamist hooliganism that gives the world Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaida and Islamic Jihad.

Whereas Egypt was nominally ruled by a secular dictator not sanctioned by his local hotheads [and therefore a frequent target of same], Syria was and is the front-man for Hamas and Hezbollah. It is desirable – though possibly not rational – to believe that the quasi-revolutionists in Syria have nothing in mind other than to have elections so they can complain and bicker about politics the same as we do, but there is a strong faction in Syria that sees a generation of its failure to attack Israel as weakness and cowardice, no matter how many mortars they supply to Hamas.

So what we have in Syria is a battle between those who want the nation to continue supplying terror groups in a proxy war against Israel versus those who want a real war against Israel; those who “want democracy” do not necessarily desire peace with Israel, but simply wish to have the proxy-war/real war debate in public.

Conclusion: Once again, as was the case in Iraq after we deposed Hussein, and as should have been the case in Libya, when two groups of people who both hate us are too busy killing each other to actively hate us, the only one who can come out ahead is us ... if we let them continue to kill each other. It’s time to pull up the barcaloungers, get a tub of popcorn and a six pack of pop, and cheer them both on.


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