Archive for the War Category

THE KING WHO STUTTERED

Over the recent Christmas holidays, my daughter and her legally-wedded husband went to a movie which must have had to do with George VI of England who stuttered. Apparently my daughter was impressed by the film, which my mother would have called a “picture show.” Eva Baker and Frances Licht, who are associated with these essays, also saw the movie and were favorably impressed by it.

My mother’s belief has always been that picture shows are the consummate work of the devil, which accounts for the fact that I did not see a picture show until I was 13 years of age. At that point, “The Sign of the Cross” was being shown at the Shady Oak Theater in Clayton, Missouri. I persuaded my mother to permit me to see that show on the ground that it contained religious content. It was an atrocious film and for the rest of my life I have avoided movie theaters. Nonetheless, my daughter and her husband thought that the film about George VI was impressive and for that reason Suzanne, the daughter, made a request of me. Rather than interpreting her thoughts I simply offer her email for your consideration.

Suzanne’s email request for an essay January, 2011.

Pop and Judy –
Yesterday Carl and I went to see a movie. We rarely do this, but it was a holiday, so we did. We went to see “The King’s Speech” which is about the stuttering problem that King George VI had and his relationship with an unorthodox speech therapist. The relationship had to be kept hidden at first. It was actually well done as a movie.
What struck me about the movie that I thought would be of interest to Pop was the depiction of the importance of radio in the lead-up to WWII (George VI had to make speeches to rally England, of course, so being a “stammerer” was quite a problem), and the introduction of news reels in the late 30’s. In the movie, everyone in England was basically glued to their radio as George VI announced the declaration of war on Hitler, as Hitler refused to relinquish Poland.

I said to Carl on the way home that it was sad that in less than a century we’ve gone from radio/newsreel/TV broadcasts of major events that the whole country collectively sees and experiences together — to today, when the news is splintered into internet and cable TV news and everybody gets their news their own way at the time they choose. That led us to speculate about the news reels that were shown in theatres. Did everybody see them in the late 30’s? Once a news reel of Hitler came out as he invaded one country and then another, would most everybody be in a movie theatre in the next week or so to see it, or would just a few people in the US see it?

Pop, how about an essay about living in the US and the run-up to WWII – news reels, what you remember about it, what was the prevailing opinion in Missouri about what was happening in Europe and how did people get their news.

That is my request for 2011.

-Suze

As a preliminary to my response to my daughter’s request, there are some points that need to be made. If there is any one else in this world who is less of an authority on movies and pictures shows, I would like to meet him. I believe that I own that title exclusively.

A second point that must be made at the outset is that the generation to which my daughter belongs is unacquainted with the thought that there was a time in this country when there was no television at all. None! Furthermore, there were no computers and ipso facto there was no such thing as email and internet. None! This may be hard to choke down, but as we used to say in the Army, “Them are the facts.” No television, no computers, no email, no internet.

Our means of communication were local radio, national radio, newspapers, and news magazines and the local and long distance telephone system. There was no such thing as saying, “I saw it on television last night.” Charles Osgood appears on a CBS television program on Sunday mornings and always uses his long term radio sign-off, “I’ll see you on the radio.” But Osgood was not around in the pre-war period that we are talking about. And so, let us proceed to parse Suzanne’s email with the hope that in the end it will make a bit of an essay.

At the outset, there seems to be a misconception that newsreels were a major source of information for the American public. While I was not a theater goer, I believe that is hardly the case. If I understand the concept of newsreels, they are short features of news reports shown between films. It must be remembered that in the pre-war period, those newsreels had to be shot by hand, developed, and then distributed. My guess is that the newsreels that you might have seen at your local theater reported events of perhaps two weeks prior. Also, it is my belief that newsreels had to show such things as successful bombings and the stance of our troops in victorious poses.

May I suggest that nowhere was the Bataan death march or any similar event shown on a newsreel. That would have been a downer and I suspect that downers were not the subject of newsreels. My belief is that newsreels were designed to give the audience a pumped-up feeling that everything was right in this world. For the first two years of World War II, there were very few things American audiences could feel encouraged about.

So the net result is that newsreels had their place in the theater between the major attractions as a source of information. They were not intended as a major source of news. I would have considered them unreliable and late in arrival.

Our main source of information came from the radio and from newspapers. Curiously, the news on the radio was usually confined to a fifteen-minute segment which had few commercials in it. What we got was 14½ minutes of news rather than the current situation where we cannot tell what is news and what is advertising. The news, in my recollection, came on at 6:00PM. It was often followed by orchestras such as Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.

There was no such thing as “all the news all the time” stations. We had entertainment and at 6 PM or thereabouts we had the news for 15 minutes. It is possible that there was national news on for 15 minutes followed by local news resulting in a half-hour news broadcast. But of that I am not quite so sure. The reader here must remember that in those days of 1942 until August of 1945, I was not a resident of this country. By enlisting in the United States Army, I found myself in Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

It was the custom of the broadcasting companies in this county to station correspondents in many of the major capitol cities where news events were to be anticipated. The foremost correspondent abroad belonged to CBS. He was Edward R. Murrow and was stationed in London throughout the war including the “blitzkriegs” of the German Luftwaffe. When correspondents could not get their reports to the United States, they would use Murrow to establish that link. Murrow was a jewel as it relates to the news during the war.

But during my overseas service, when noontime approached, we would search for a radio receiver that could pick up the news broadcast from the BBC in London. I can remember with great clarity that the programs usually started with a signal followed by an announcer saying, “London calling.” The BBC broadcast had almost no propaganda and no commercials. It told the news as it was, good or bad. As a result, the troops paid a great deal of attention to what the British Broadcasting Corporation had to say. If there are any kudos to be passed out for the run-up to the war in Europe, it must go to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Now we advance to the question asked about the prevailing opinion in the great and glorious state of Missouri. For many years, probably starting in the 1920s, a major voice in the run-up to the war were the reports in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. When I was overseas, my mother read those dispatches faithfully in the hope that she would find my name in them. But that was not the case. The Post Dispatch had bureaus in Washington and published reliable news during the period when Hitler was invading several countries and when Tojo, the head man in Japan, was doing the same in the Far East. The Post Dispatch did not hide the facts from the people. In the early part of the war, we were losing. It was after this time in early 1942 that I joined the American Army. There was no good news during those days, and I suspect that my parents may have believed that their youngest son was going away for good. But the fact is that the mainstay we were able to rely upon were the newspapers such as the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

I gather that there were other newspapers, such as the Chicago Tribune run by Bertie McCormick, who published glowing reports of our successes or near successes. But that was not the style of the Post Dispatch or the New York Times. So in retrospect, I must conclude that the main source of news came from newspapers and radio.

Prior to our entry into the war, a group of senators led by Robert Taft of Ohio seemed determined to keep us from engaging in that conflict. Taft, for example, was wildly opposed to the “lend-lease” program which released destroyers from the United States to Great Britain to help in their defense. But I must conclude that the general outlook in Missouri was that there was a job to do in the war, and that we should set about doing it promptly.

On the other side of the ocean in Great Britain, the Prime Minister was a gentleman named Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain and Taft were two of a kind. History will record that Chamberlain made a trip to Germany and came back with a document that he said would guaranteed “peace in our time.” The ink was hardly dry on that piece of paper when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia.

Finally we turn to the question about the generational divide. There is some debate as to whether we are better informed today than we were in the run-up to World War II. The recent disclosures in the private dispatches from our diplomats as demonstrated by Wikileaks would lead me to conclude that in many cases, we are being hoodwinked. But before the Second World War, most Americans could trust what appeared in reputable newspapers such as the New York Times and the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow. I cannot say the same thing for the news that appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

In all likelihood, we must be better informed today than we were back then. On the other hand, if you want a biased opinion today, on the Republican side you must tune in to Fox News. If you wish to have a biased opinion in favor of Democrats, you must tune in to MSNBC.

St. Louis, which was a sophisticated town, had the Post Dispatch, as I have mentioned. We had the National Broadcasting Company appearing on the KSD station of the Post Dispatch. Then we also had the Columbia Broadcasting System outlet on station KMOX. If the American Broadcasting System (ABC) existed at that time, I am unaware of it. Mind you, I am speaking as a person who has long ago kissed the 80th birthday mark goodbye. It seems to me that between KSD, KMOX, and the Post Dispatch, we were reasonably well informed.

But if I massage this question a bit, does anyone believe that the Bataan death march would be included in the news broadcasts of the current era? And that was not the only example of thoroughly unpleasant news.

But again, I am a biased reporter. You realize that at this juncture in my life, I cannot see a damn thing. Accordingly, all of the information I receive has to come through my ears. May I assure you that the oral presentation ain’t so bad. This is precisely where I started in the years before television intruded on our lives. For a St. Louis native, that would have been around the period 1948 to 1950 when television came into being there.

With my sight being the way it is, I now receive my news orally and I am not here to complain about it. Now I do not recommend that all of you lose your sight so that you may enjoy oral presentations of baseball games and the news of the world. I am here to say that television has added a new dimension to our lives. But on the other hand we were getting along quite well without it.

In conclusion, my hope is that Suzanne’s email has been sufficiently parsed, and that you have some idea of the feelings of the American public as World War II approached.

Now as to the story about King George, I must add that the inspirational speeches were made by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The King often was found at flower shows and receiving Boy Scouts and wholesome things of that nature. The job of informing the British public and inspiring them was left almost exclusively to Winston Churchill. King George was regarded as a nice person but when compared to Churchill, he was clearly the second, or third or fourth banana. During that time, I was serving with British troops in Italy and Africa. I believe that I am correctly assessing their views on the Royal Family. The King’s job was to visit military hospitals and occasionally say a few words to the British public. Before and during World War II, George the Sixth was more of a bit player than a person of significant influence. And as for newsreels, my belief is that they had limited newsworthy qualities during that trying period.

Unfortunately, I dictated this essay on the same day when the killings were taking place in Tucson, Arizona. All of this accounts for my making hash of this essay. Next time, I will try to do a bit better, providing we don’t have more murders by deranged people with guns.

E. E. CARR
January 8, 2011

~~~

I don’t think this was a botched essay whatsoever. It’s interesting to encounter another medium that Pop was deliberately closed off to, though. No fiction, no movies, very little internet. Clearly his strategy worked for him, but it’s hard to imagine being isolated from so much content for no convincing reason.
I think the 24-hour news cycle probably does more harm than good. Presenting news only when newsworthy things happen, in my estimation, makes the news more reputable. As it is, it’s constantly full of meaningless fluff content, and news channels grow ever more indistinguishable from entertainment channels. Fox and CNN are the worst offenders. Fox is just a joke, whereas CNN pretends to be a news channel but is basically just theater; it hires talking heads to come say insane things, then reacts to those things.

THE PARADISE OF LARRY CRAIG

The morning newspaper in what I generally refer to as my home town was called The St. Louis Globe Democrat. The name of the paper is misleading in every respect. The Globe covered local affairs and rarely ventured into global concerns or even national concerns. Secondly, the Globe Democrat was the voice of the Bob Taft Republicans in eastern Missouri in that they opposed Franklin Roosevelt’s initiatives at every turn. They opposed the establishment, for example, of social security, just as they opposed the lend-lease program that enabled the British to survive the early stages of World War II. While the Globe Democrat had many shortcomings, it did have a lively sports section and it published daily a horoscope. I know nothing about the stars being in perfect alignment but when the whole episode about Larry Craig came to light, my personal stars must have been in complete alignment. The events surrounding Larry Craig cry out to every essayist and newspaper man: “please write about me.”

My horoscope in this matter seems to remain in perfect alignment because of three developments of the past week. First there was the request of the Bush administration for another 192 billion dollars to continue the war in Iraq for another month or so, shortly followed by Larry Craig’s suit to overturn his confession about being gay and his announcement that he could not force himself to say goodbye to the Senate. Finally there was an announcement by the president of Iran about moral turpitude in that country.

Even the Globe Democrat would have had to depart from its coverage of local affairs to report on news of this monumental sort. It seems to me that these are events that change the history of mankind.

My personal belief is that the war in Iraq is a misbegotten adventure. We will soon have squirted away a trillion dollars of our finances and we have suffered the loss of 3,800 dead American soldiers. This is to say nothing of the 20,000 that have been wounded. On top of that there is the displacement of the Iraqi nation.

My proposal takes on all of the aspects of the George Marshall plan which restored Europe after the Second World War. I am proposing that we take the zillion dollars, including the most recent 192 billion dollar request, that we are going to squirt away on the Iraq war and simply buy both Iraq and Iran. They will become our possessions after we pay a fair price. The casualty lists that are published daily will soon disappear.

Now with respect to the second aspect of this proposal: we are assured by none other than Larry Craig himself that he is not gay nor has he ever been gay and that he will serve out his full term in the Senate, regardless of what his Republican colleagues have to say about him. There is abundant evidence that the senator from Idaho is in fact gay, and this old essayist says “so what.”

Finally, last week, the president of Iran announced to a jeering audience that there are absolutely no homosexuals in all of Iran. Simply put, there are no gay people or lesbians within the confines of the great nation of Iran.

Because we have bought Iraq and Iran, we have the freedom to rename them. I propose that they be renamed Iraqaho and Iranaho respectively. This would be in keeping with the name of the state of Idaho, which is stoutly represented by Senator Larry Craig. Senator Craig cannot say goodbye to the Senate, as he has now loudly proclaimed. So I now propose that he be appointed the permanent senator from the two new states that will be added to our federation. This may seem immodest but I would compare it to the Louisiana Purchase, which brought the south and the west into the jurisdiction of the United States. Besides, it stops the daily casualty lists and it gives Larry Craig something to do. If Larry Craig can master the name of Idaho, he ought to be able to handle the names of Iraqaho and Iranaho.

The Globe Democrat stopped publishing in 1956. I suspect that a story of these monumental proportions might even make its pages. I now leave you with the thought that it is time for me to go to work to get Iranaho and Iraqaho membership in the United Nations.

E. E. CARR
April 6, 2007

~~~

I really, really wonder how many acres of Iraq or Iran we could have gotten for the cost of the war if we somehow got them to agree to sell to us. I don’t know how acquiring them would stop the infighting but I think if you’re going to throw money at a problem it’d be good to make some permanent progress towards a solution. Purely from a cost perspective, if you spend a bunch of money to bomb some terrorists, generally speaking you’re just going to make a bunch of new terrorists so you haven’t accomplished a whole lot. But imagine if, instead of bombing them, we were just really shitty landlords. We’d piss them off, nobody has to die, and our bad-landlording would be significantly less likely to create new terrorists than killing them does.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE TAUGHT

In 1948, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote the unforgettable musical “South Pacific.” It starred Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin as lovers. Among the melodic offerings were such things as “Some Enchanted Evening,” and “This Nearly Was Mine.” Slipped into this epiphany was a song called, “You’ve Got to be Taught.” This little song was an anti-hatred offering. It has great meaning today, nearly 60 years later. Let me try to show you what I mean.

“You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

George Bush, Commander in Chief, Chief Executive, and Chief Decider for the whole world, speaks repeatedly of “the enemy.” I suspect that “The enemy” are the people opposing American forces in Iraq, but Bush never gives them a name. It is simply “the enemy.” We killed so many enemy soldiers today and we imprisoned some more enemies. I presume all of those are members of “the enemy” forces. But Bush never associates them with the name of a country or organization. They are just “the enemy.” I am an old soldier and I have trouble figuring out who is “the enemy.” Is “the enemy” people who disagree with Bush? Is the New York Times an “enemy”? Is “the enemy” all of the Arabs? In all of his pronouncements, George Bush has never named the enemy. We are simply asked to take it on faith that there is an enemy out there that we must wipe out. At this point, I am inclined to believe that the Arab race is in fact the enemy that Bush has in mind, but that is simply an old soldier’s intuition.

“You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

Richard Cheney, the Vice President of the United States, is often viewed as the man who led George Bush into invading Iraq. In his speeches to right-wing audiences and in his interviews with the most right-wing of all radio commentators, Cheney invariably refers to “radical Islamic elements who would establish a political caliphate extending from Spain through the Far East.” Now let us suppose that you are a 19- or 20-year-old American soldier in Iraq and you see an Arab come down the street. You do not speak his language and he does not speak yours. Are you going to thrust your rifle in his face and inquire of him, “Are you a radical Muslim element who is bent on establishing a caliphate from here to there?”

Of course, the Arab, not understanding your question, will shrug his shoulders, and under current conditions that makes him guilty and may cause him to have his head blown off. The American soldier may well think that he is carrying out the wishes of his commanders when he blows the head off of a young Arab man because he has failed to answer the question about being a radical Islamic Arab. It would seem, under the Cheney Doctrine, that every Arab is a radical one rushing headlong into establishing a caliphate. Being an Arab in Baghdad is just tough luck for our “enemies.”

“You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

Now let us consider that the young soldiers coming in to serve in the Army and the Marine Corps are taught by older soldiers who are not particularly literate. I can tell you this because I spent a good amount of time under those illiterate or nearly illiterate soldiers. They are the leaders who instruct our troops on who the enemy is. They are the ones who instruct the young troops to kick down doors and to humiliate the male members in front of their families.

And unfortunately, we recently learned that our troops are the ones committing the atrocities against the enemy which includes women and children. Simply put, the enemy is the Arab, those radical Muslim Islamists who wish to establish the caliphate. It must be the Arabs because they are only people opposing us.

The soldiers are melded into what is called a “comprehensive unit” and given a mission in Iraq to wipe out anything before them. In the Marine Corps, the motto is “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.” When 19- or 20-year-old soldiers and marines get hyped up with this comprehensive unit business, and then perceive that the Commander in Chief and the Vice President have named a non-Christian enemy, it is fairly clear that the enemy is none other than all of the Arab race. So you see these young soldiers have got to be taught to hate. And it comes as no surprise whatsoever that our troops are involved in atrocities against Arab civilians. Hatred is a terrible thing and it is being taught to our young soldiers. Because of the leaders proclaiming that the enemy is our source of trouble, it is no wonder that these soldiers, imbued with the faith, find that every Arab needs to be killed. The original general in Iraq, General Tommy Franks, said repeatedly of Arab deaths that “We don’t do Iraqi body counts.”

Children who witness our conduct will hate us for the rest of their lives. And who can blame them?

I am an old soldier who understands a little bit about warfare and a little bit about hatred. I suppose for a long time, many of us came close to hating the Germans because of the operations of the Nazi war machine in WWII. Somewhere in the 1970s, I went to Munich with my friend Howard Davis, who likes to drink beer before noon. I do not care for beer, morning, noon, or night, but nonetheless we walked into this beer garden where there were tables about waist high where the beer could be placed and consumed while standing. A local came along and joined us. After a while he pointed to me and inquired, “Amerikanisher soldat?” I answered in flawless German, “Ja.” He then inquired, “POW?” Again, I answered in flawless German, “Ja.” He then went on to tell me in passable English that he had been a POW of the English for more than three years where he learned the English language. Before long it became clear that he was a very nice fellow. From that time on, whatever dislike I had of the German race tended to disappear. So you see the lesson in this case is that there is great merit in having beer gardens, even though I don’t drink much beer.

As a non-believer, for many years I have been an objective observer of the prejudices and hatreds that occur in religious organizations. The Moslems hate the Christians and the Jews and want to wipe them all out. I suspect that there is not much love lost on the Christian side as it relates to the Moslems. I am a fortunate guy in that my parents who attended primitive churches, such as the Nazarenes, the Pentecostals, and the Free-Will Baptists, simply referred to people in other faiths as those who could not join them in heaven. Significantly, my unschooled parents never taught me to hate. They felt sorry for all those Jews, Catholics, Episcopalians, et. al. who would not be admitted to heaven. But hatred was never part of that equation for me. But a good part of organized religion seems to be devoted to dislike or even unstated hatred.

So you see, hatred is a miserable human condition. It is a destructive condition but I fear that it is going to be with us for the rest of time. While it will be with us perhaps for many years to come, I suspect that Hammerstein and Rodgers were absolutely right when they contended in their little song that “You have to be taught.” That, my friends, is what George Bush is teaching. That, my friends, is precisely what Richard Cheney is teaching. And that, my friends, is what the Army and Marine Corps are teaching these young soldiers. In the long run, hatred will consume such soldiers.

In any case, it is instructive to review a song like “You’ve got to be taught.” It was written following the most horrible combat that the world had ever seen, that being WWII. Now, if you believe Mr. Bush and
Mr. Cheney, we are engaged in a war on terror. Again, as an old soldier, I suspect that when history is written, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney will be remembered for having taught us to hate. What a terrible epitaph.

E. E. CARR
June 26, 2006

~~~

First time I’ve heard it, but I’m a fan. I think “To hate all the people your relatives hate” is the line that stands out to me because it forces a “social” issue to be considered at a very personal level. “Society” isn’t the reason that you hate people — by and large, the culprits are probably your parents. Now that’s maybe a little bit different in the case of war, where dehumanization of the enemy is advanced as a military tactic to make it easier to pull the trigger, but I think your standard run-of-the-mill inherited hate is the more common problem.

It’s a sad irony that the start of the Caliphate that Cheney was talking about ended up forming out of the power vacuum we created with our series of cowboy invasions. And now Trump has just gotten it in his head that bombing things makes him popular, so god knows what comes next.

STAYING THE COURSE

A week or so ago, the English Prime Minister, Tony Blair, came to Washington to discuss how things were going in the war against Iraq. Blair and Bush appeared after their conference to hold a meeting with the press. None of the major American networks carried the program. It didn’t even appear on the Public Broadcasting Systems. It appeared only on MSNBC and perhaps on CNN. That will tell you what the networks think of the importance of the news to be made.

At the news conference, Blair and Bush both appeared to have had a very trying day. Their mood was not upbeat. Quite to the contrary, it was somber and, in both cases, there were apologies or semi-apologies for opportunities missed.

For example, Bush acknowledged that when he said “Bring it on” and “We want Osama Bin Laden, dead or alive” that he should have used “more sophisticated language.” The fact that Bush expressed himself in the language of a cowboy was not lost on the world, yet Bush contended that he should have used more sophisticated language because the rest of the world did not understand what he meant. So you see it is our fault for the mistake we made in not understanding Bush. From my point of view, there was no mistake in the phrases of “bring it on” or “we want Osama, dead or alive.” These comments were extremely provocative and now that the insurgents have “brought it on,” Bush is distraught.

If Bush thinks that he was misunderstood solely because he used unsophisticated expressions, here is my suggestion for a more cerebral comment:

In more sophisticated terms, I should have told you terrorists that we are prepared to engage in stepping on toes, insults, fisticuffs, mud wrestling, torture or controlled and compassionate manslaughter. So kindly advise us whichever you wish to be engaged in. However, if you bring us a televised broadcast statement from Ann Coulter, it will cause us to wilt and plead for mercy.

On Osama bin Laden, I should have said we would like to have him presented to us either pre or post mortem.

Using the terms of “bring it on” or “We want Osama dead or alive” were horrid expressions and we apologize for their lack of sophistication.

Blair was equally regretful for some of the actions that the English had taken. But in the end it must be considered that the limeys have absolutely learned nothing. The British troops are in charge of the southern part of Iraq, based largely around the town of Basra. For the duration of the war, the English had contended that Basra was a model of good behavior, which I assume was a tribute to their troops. In the last few days, we have learned that the new Premier of Iraq has gone to Basra and has lectured people because it is a lawless city that has fallen prey to tribal and sectarian influences.

What the English have always misunderstood is that when they occupy a country, hatred is the inevitable result. For 800 years, England occupied Ireland. The result was warfare at every turn until the English were thrown out in 1922. In all of Ireland, there is not a statue honoring the English occupation. In most cases, the English are reviled and those thoughts of revulsion are passed on from one generation to the next. What England is doing in Iraq, as we are doing also, is generating hatred for years and perhaps hundreds of years to come.

Yet Tony Blair indicated no understanding of this fact. If, for example, an Arab army were to occupy the United States, I probably would be the first one to oppose them with the thought of killing them at every opportunity. In that case, I would become a full-fledged insurrectionist. That is what occupation does to the natives. In West Africa, in Ghana and Nigeria for example, the English excused their occupation on the ground that they were bringing Christianity to the natives who did not know Jesus. Again, I am quite certain that there are no monuments to the Brits in either Nigeria or Ghana now that the Brits have departed. In those two countries, the English required every black native to refer to any white man as “Master.” It made no difference if a British soldier had worked in the garbage disposal vat of a British slaughter house, he was to be addressed as “Master” when he arrived in West Africa. Does anyone now consider building a statue to the former masters? Of course not.

The press conference between Bush and Blair had all the hangdog looks that go with people who had been wrestling with a problem that could not be solved, mainly the occupation of Iraq. Yet, a few days later on Memorial Day, Bush attended a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery to honor our dead. Now remember this is the president who has never attended the funeral for a soldier killed in Iraq. As of this morning, 2,492 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq and almost 19,000 have been wounded. Yet Mr. Bush declines to attend a funeral, even those held in Arlington Cemetery where he was speaking.

At the Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, Bush had recovered from his performance at the press conference with Blair and now spoke a little bit more confidently. He repeated his mantra that the only way you can pay tribute to all of these dead soldiers is by staying the course. This means that staying the course may well produce another 2,500 dead soldiers and 15,000 more wounded and that, somehow, according to Bush, is a means of paying tribute to the women and men who are to be interred in Arlington Cemetery. That is the most backward thinking that any chief executive could be capable of. The point is, we should get out of Iraq and do it now before we incur further losses.

Bush and Blair unfortunately are clueless about how to end this war. Somehow they seem to think that incurring more casualties pays tribute to fallen soldiers. I am here to tell you that is not the way to pay tribute to anyone, alive or dead. What we need here is someone with a brain and I am sorry to tell you that between Blair and Bush, they do not have a brain between them when it comes to this war that they started.

This of course is a downbeat assessment of where things stand in Iraq, but that is the state of the record. As long as the United States is stuck with the clueless George Bush, the killing will go on, the execution of civilians as happened with the Marine Corps recently, and the abuses at our prisons will continue to take place. May I ask, is this the image we want to extend to the Arab world as well as to the rest of civilization? Of course not. The fact of the matter is that when Bush told the insurgents in Iraq to bring it on, they brought it on and now George W. is whimpering.

E. E. CARR
June 6, 2006

~~~

The United States could have saved plenty of lives and money if someone had bothered to write a picturebook that explained the concept of a “sunk cost.” Doubling down on a terrible idea very rarely makes it a less terrible idea.

Fun fact: this is the only essay known to me that has an identical title to another essay. A month ago I published its counterpart.

MORE WAR ON TERROR

On Sunday, November 26, 2006 the United States will have been at war in Iraq for the same length of time that we were involved in World War II. As an observer of human events for the last 80 years and as a veteran of World War II, I believe that it is incumbent upon me to offer some straight talk. This will not be the tortured syntax of George Bush’s speeches nor will it be the lectures of the hapless Condoleezza Rice. It is much too late for that sort of thing. This will be as straight-talk as can be imagined.

The so-called war on terror is at heart, a fraud and a myth.

Simply put, the so-called war on terror, which is primarily the invasion of Iraq, is flawed because it was based on the lies of George Bush and his administration. Dozens of books are now available which recount the lies told by the President of the United States which led us to war. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has stated that in the first cabinet meeting, it was apparent that Bush intended to take this country into war against Iraq. Richard Clarke, the adviser to the National Security Adviser has testified in the same vein. There is an abundance of evidence flowing from our main allies, the British, to the effect that the intelligence was manipulated to support a war in Iraq. The Downing Street Memo and other British government documents are the most damning of the Bush lies that led us into this war.

Rather than go through each of the points which are so amply documented in dozens of books, I believe it is fair to say that on this subject, George Bush is a bully, a coward and a consummate liar.

And now we turn to the myth making. According to the Bush administration, Iraq was awash in weapons of mass destruction. There were references to the smoke billowing from an atom bomb to which we were led to believe that Saddam was on the verge of achieving. There was the brilliant moment when George Bush stepped out of his airplane on the deck of the carrier Abraham Lincoln to announce that as far as the war in Iraq, it was a “Mission Accomplished.”

After the WMD excuse did not fly, we were told that the idea was to democratize the Middle East. Events over the Thanksgiving holiday, 2006 make it clear that we aren’t going to democratize anything in the Mideast. What we are trying to do is figure a way out of Iraq without being slaughtered. This is not the “victory” that George Bush imagined.

The fact is that any dream of establishing a new democracy on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers has been replaced by an active civil war which is killing thousands of people every month.

The recent American elections on November 7th of this year have told the Bush administration that the American people at long last, no longer believe him. Bush now is irrelevant. The fact that he is making foreign trips simply causes him to seem more silly. He finally arrived earlier this month in Vietnam, some 40 years late. Bush copped out on that war.

His meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq in Amman was, in large measure, a disaster because Bush is asking the Prime Minister of Iraq to disarm the militia groups of his own sect. Simply put, Maliki is unable to do that and even if he were able to do it, it is highly improbable that he would even set out to accomplish that end.

In the meantime, while we are engaged in what Bush has told us is the central front on the war on terror, there is strife in Nigeria. In Zimbabwe, we have the president, Robert Mugabe, terrorizing his opposition. In the Darfur region of the Sudan, the Arabs are killing and raping the black inhabitants. In Lebanon and Gaza, there are excesses by the Israeli Army that border on atrocities. Last week an Israeli artillery shell landed in a crowded settlement killing 18 Palestinian women and children. The prime minister of Israel issued a muffled I’m sorry kind of excuse but no investigation followed. The point that is obvious here is that there are plenty of terrifying incidents around the rest of the globe, but our attention is tied to Iraq where we are bogged down and looking to Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia for some thought that would lead us to escape with the skin on our backs.

The end product of George Bush’s war in Iraq is a new set of civil strifes. According to an American source, as many as 600,000 Iraqis have been killed. General Tommy Franks, who was decorated by Bush with the Medal of Freedom, has announced that, “We don’t do Iraqi body counts.” Soon we will have lost our three thousandths soldier in Iraq not to mention the losses of the British, the Polish, the Spaniards, and the Italian contingents. Bush has told us that we must make the sacrifices so that the war is kept over there and not over here. Does anyone believe that?

Throughout the history of the invasion of Iraq, Bush has taken his vacations in Texas and has ridden his bicycle. He has never attended a funeral of one of the soldiers killed in Iraq. Perhaps one of the largest myths that George Bush seems to believe is that, to the extent that we train Iraqi soldiers, we can then leave the battlefield. Friends, the fact of the matter is that no Iraqi soldier is going to defend American interests after we leave. Obviously, they are going to pursue their own interests. They would say to hell with the interests of Americans.

This has been an unhappy experience for this old essayist to record. But it is a matter of straight talk which you haven’t heard from George Bush or Cheney or the hapless Madame Rice. America is much less safe today than it was before Bush initiated his invasion of Iraq. Much less! For that we have to thank the Iraqi invasion because it was based on fraudulent evidence and the hopes of myth makers. The man in charge was George Bush who is nothing less than a bully, a coward and a consummate liar. It would be my hope, which is forlorn, that Mr. Bush could hear this summary from my own lips. In the meantime, this essay will have to do.

E. E. CARR
November 25, 2006

~~~

This essay was bundled with another 2006 essay called WAR ON TERROR which I published almost three years ago. In the bundle, he gave this forward:

To the Essay Reader:

Here are two essays on the so-called War on Terror. They were both written in November, 2006. While there are a few redundancies in the two essays, they reflect the fact that the War on Terror is nothing more than a complete fraud and a total myth. I hope you have the inclination to read both of them.

EEC

I think many of the essays were shipped out to readers in bundles with little introductory letters, but for some reason I don’t have access to most of those introductory letters outside of 2006. Some of them are quite short like this one, and some could be essays in their own right.

I had no idea that Bush such an avid biker. Makes me wonder what security must have looked like for those outings. I imagine a two-wheeled version of the motorcade parading through the underbrush.

REFLECTIONS ON A LONG WORKING CAREER

One Sunday morning recently, there was a series of reports about mosque bombings in Iraq. One sect would try to bomb out the other sect. John Warner, the senior senator from Virginia and the head of the Armed Forces Committee in the Senate, got things terribly confused. Warner, who is a mature man, confused sectarian with secular. They have opposite meanings, of course, but on two occasions Warner referred to the violence in Iraq as being secular rather than sectarian. Perhaps his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor impaired his mental capacities.

That put me to thinking about some of the people I had known during my career with AT&T, as a filling station attendant and as a soldier. Some of those people also had a tendency to screw things up when they pronounced a word.

In 1937, I finally found a job at age 15 with Carl Schroth, who managed a Mobil gas station at the corner of Clayton Road and North and South Roads in Clayton, Missouri. Carl was a veteran of the First World War and he invariably referred to himself as “yours truly.” Being new in the business world, it took me a while to figure out who yours truly was. It was simply old Carl Schroth.

Carl needed a truss or so he said. Rather than buy a truss, Carl put a plywood board down the front of his pants. In this filling station, we served some of the most exclusive residents of St. Louis County, who lived in large homes and drove expensive automobiles. They represented the cream of St. Louis society. Sometimes when Carl would go out to wait on a female customer, he would thunk his board in the front of his pants and would say to the female customer, “What do you think of that?” I suspect that the female customer did not think much of “yours truly’s” performance.

Carl was a good guy who wrote me an effusive letter when I enlisted in the US Army. There were several peculiar aspects about working for Carl Schroth. For example, he had a safe sunk in the floor under the desk in his office. After I went to work for Carl, I wondered why I had not been paid. It turned out that Carl’s employees were expected to go take money out of the safe in the floor and leave a note saying “Charlie Kosta took $12 today” or something of that sort. I never was a fan of that arrangement, but that was the way that Carl did business so it soon developed that when I needed some money, I would go withdraw it from the safe in the floor and leave a note there.

Carl Schroth also taught me about con jobs. Sometimes when I was scheduled for a day off, he would say, “Eddy, you’re too valuable a man to be walking the streets, so I want you to come to work tomorrow.” And I fell for it, at the start. So I got very few days off. Fact is – if you wanted to keep your job during the Depression – you went to work.

There is one other incident that has remained with me since probably 1938. Lake Forest is an exclusive community about a mile from Schroth’s filling station. It has very large homes and the people there drove Packards and Cadillacs, and had chauffeurs and maids. On one occasion on a very snowy night we were called to pull a large car out of a ditch in the Lake Forest subdivision. The driver had had perhaps a bit much to drink and had wandered off the road and had become stuck. When Carl told the driver of the car that it would cost him $12 or $15 to get pulled out on a Saturday night, the driver of the car agreed. When he was winched out of his position down in the ditch, he tried to stiff Carl. He said that he didn’t have $12 or $15 and that he would only give Carl $8 or $10. There were three of us there: Carl Schroth, Charlie Kosta, and myself. None of us believed that this gentleman was as broke as he claimed. When it was finally determined that this man wanted to cheat us, Carl simply reached into the car and released the emergency brake. Charlie Kosta was on one side of the car, Carl was on the other, and I was at the radiator in front of the car. Without a word being said, Carl and Charlie began to push the car right back into the same hole from which it had been pulled. When I discovered this was taking place, I joined in that effort. This is called restoring the status quo ante.

We got into our tow truck and drove off. The driver of the car had to find another tow truck operator late that night, which I doubt that he could have done. Presumably he went back to his host’s house and slept there, but that was no concern of ours. We had been stiffed and we had our revenge.

After I went to work for AT&T in St. Louis, there were two or three characters who made an impression on me, and not a very good impression. The first was George Knickerbocker who persisted in pronouncing every letter in the word “miscellaneous.” George pronounced that word as “mis – kell – aneous.” He is also the man who invented the term “pestimistic.” He simply inserted a “t” where none should have existed.

Close by was a fellow named Ken Greenleaf. Ken always pronounced the word “architect” as though the emphasis was on the first four letters. He pronounced that word as “ARCH – itect,” not as “ark-itect.” Ken also became angry one time and wrote a letter to “the editator” of the  St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Near George Knickerbocker’s desk sat a milquetoast named George Kern. Kern had very slim shoulders and a very slight build, but all during the 1930s and 40s, George Kern had been a member of the National Guard, working toward the 20 year retirement plan. The only thing imposing about George Kern was his mustache, which was sort of like that worn now by John Bolton, the Ambassador to the United Nations. It was full and bushy. George was a complete and absolute milquetoast if there ever was one. Yet all during his service with the National Guard, he had become a lieutenant or a captain or something like that. For AT&T, George was simply a low level clerk. At the end of World War II, George presented himself upon his return from military duty as a Brigadier General in the US Army. I suspect that if the Germans had known that George Kern was one of our Brigadier Generals, they would have died from laughter.

About a year after I went to work for AT&T, World War II came along and I enlisted in that effort. One of the fellows I met in Africa was named Merle Yocum. His wife’s name was Elmira. They were Iowa hog farmers. It always struck me that Iowa hog farmers ought to have proper names such as Merle and Elmira.

Elmira had a desire to keep Merle up to date so she sent him the newspapers from their local press. Military etiquette demanded that anyone receiving a newspaper should leave it in the latrine where it could be read by other soldiers. The Merle Yocum newspaper was read extensively, particularly when some of the hogs became, I believe the word is, “in foal,” which means that the hogs are going to have some little piglets. We followed the hog’s pregnancy with great anticipation, all thanks to Merle and Elmira Yocum. By the time we read the news, those piglets were out of the diaper stage, I suppose.

My last assignment overseas after coming out of combat was at an airbase in Accra, which is now the capitol of Ghana. It was a British base which the Americans used for their air transport command operations. Soldiers who worked at this base were like soldiers throughout the world. They tended to demean other soldiers by telling them that they were ugly and unattractive to females. There is no harm meant whatsoever; it just simply flows with being a soldier that other people are not to be praised.

Ordinarily when a soldier is told that he is ugly, he will respond by saying, “You’re not so pretty yourself,” or things of that nature. In one group of American soldiers, there was a man who had come to this country relatively recently. He was of Russian origin. I do not remember his name, but for purposes of this essay let us call him Ivan. Ivan did not understand the nuances of the English language, having only recently been introduced to it. There was one occasion when Ivan was told that he was ugly and instead of responding as the ordinary American soldier would do, he attempted to use an American expression that he had mangled, much as John Warner mangled the secular/sectarian reference. When Ivan was told that he was ugly, he replied, “You don’t like my face, piss on it.” This occurred while two men were on a workstand several feet above the ground working on an engine. They came fairly close to falling off from laughter after Ivan’s remark.

I had not thought of the incident involving Ivan for 60 years or so, but credit John Warner with bringing it back to mind.

Now we move to two individuals, one of whom was the meanest man I ever knew in the Bell System and the other was probably the dumbest person I have known in my life. Let’s take the meanest man first. The Bell System, when I was hired, was basically an organization of electrical engineers. They had the mistaken belief that electrical engineers could perform any function with great distinction. Consequently, they assigned engineers to run the personnel department, the public relations department, and so forth. My recollection is that perhaps some of the accountants were also engineers. They did not try to perform legal functions, which were reserved for lawyers.

The meanest man I ever knew was Henry Killingsworth. He was the executive in charge of the Long Lines Department where I worked. Long Lines had to do with interstate calling and international calling as well. Killingsworth was mean for the sake of being mean. He was a small man in stature. Perhaps that may have accounted for his meanness. There are two examples that I will cite for Henry Killingsworth.

At Christmas time it was the custom for the head of the Long Lines Department, a Vice President of AT&T, to write a letter to all employees wishing them happy holidays and expressing hope for the future. That was not Henry Killingsworth’s style. He used the Christmas letter one year to record the thought that “We have to take up the slack in the trace chains” from now on. This meant that everybody had to work harder and Henry Killingsworth reserved the right to pay them less. To write a letter at Christmas time saying that we had to take the slack out of the trace chains infuriated all of us. Taking the slack out of the trace chains refers to a plow being pulled by a team of mules or horses. We were working as hard as we could and Killingsworth’s letter simply brought to mind visions of a slave master whipping his employees.

Henry Killingsworth had a mean streak that was quite wide. On one occasion in St. Louis, two executives who had wood-paneled offices with secretaries, angered him. When we moved from St. Louis to Kansas City as part of a big reorganization, Henry Killingsworth saw to it that these two people, Bill Haywood and Chester Hotz, were punished. The secretaries and the wood-paneled offices disappeared. They were placed out in the bull pen at steel desks. Clearly their careers were over and they were men in their forties. Parenthetically, it should be noticed that both Haywood and Hotz died from heart trouble within 18 months after their demotions.

There was a gentleman in New York City who worked for Long Lines named Larry Pierce. Larry was a commander in the American Legion and each year he sold poppies on Memorial Day. Killingsworth required Larry Pierce to come to him every year to seek permission to sell the poppies. In any other case, Pierce would be told to go ahead and sell the poppies and don’t bother with coming to ask the big boss. But the big boss had to have Larry Pierce come in and plead with him.

During the time in question, there were nuns who sat at the top of the subway steps which were located within the Long Lines building. The nuns bothered absolutely no one. They simply had a basket into which contributions could be made and the most I ever heard them say was a murmured “Thank you.” The nuns were absolutely harmless.

On this occasion, when Larry Pierce went to see Killingsworth about selling his poppies for Memorial Day, Killingsworth heard Larry Pierce out and then said “Hell, no” to the idea of selling poppies. Then he added, “And while you are at it, get rid of those God damned nuns.” So you see, I believe I am right in stating that Killingsworth was an abominable person, given to bullying and destroying other people’s happiness.

Well, so much for Henry Killingsworth. Now we turn to another Vice President, named Ben Givens. Ben started as an assistant vice president and after a time in a reorganization he was upgraded to a full vice president. He served in what we called the “Washington office,” which was our official terminology for the AT&T lobbying effort. I worked for Ben Givens for three and a half years, and during that time Givens never gave me any instruction whatsoever. There were other vice presidents from New York who came to Washington to talk to me because of my previous labor work, who asked me to accomplish certain things, but Givens was not among them. In any event, Givens was given to malapropisms. For example, he always referred to rare items as “iters collectums.” During the time that I worked for Givens in Washington, there was a saloon known as Duke Zeibert’s, which was supported raucously by Redskin football fans. I once wandered in to Duke Zeibert’s to see what the excitement was all about and ordered a luncheon meal. It may have been among the worst I ever endured in Washington. Duke Zeibert’s was a saloon, no more no less, which appealed to Redskin fans who apparently knew absolutely nothing about cuisine.

In any case, when Ben Givens referred to that saloon, he made hash out of its name. He called it “Zoot Diebert’s” and some other combinations that brought to mind the idea of “iters collectum.” After I returned to New York, I had occasion to pass through the Washington office and went in to talk to Givens to pass the time of day. Givens’s wife had died about a year earlier and on this occasion he went over to the far wall of his office where a picture was mounted on the wall which measured perhaps two feet by three feet. Givens was also a golfer who seemed to believe that all of the people that we were lobbying in Washington were equally nuts about golf as he was. He played at the Congressional Country Club, which he viewed as the epitome of all golfing establishments in this country. Givens told me that on either the eighth or the ninth green at the Congressional Country Club, his recently departed wife would put in an appearance. He pointed to the picture on the wall and said that she appeared to him as an apparition of about that size. He said that they talked to each other about how he was doing and what was happening to the furnishings in the house and apparently the two must have enjoyed a very real conversation. My eyes were rolling while Givens related the story of his conversations with his departed wife. In the end Givens retired and, of all things, became a bishop in some sort of Protestant church. He lived to be ninety years old, at which time he died and so he and his wife can now enjoy their conversations in person rather than at the Congressional Country Club.

We will close this essay with a couple of stories involving reminiscences from the American Army. Not long after I had enlisted in the Army, I was sent to the Embry-Riddle School for Aeronautics in Miami. Because of the urgent need to train many of us as aerial engineers, we were assigned to both day and evening classes. During the day we would march around a little bit, and at about three thirty or four we would start our work as aerial engineers in training. Because we were working in the dark after the sun went down, we had to make accommodations for that fact. At that time of course every airplane was driven by propellers which were mounted in front of the airplane itself. To see if the engines were operating properly, it was necessary to start the engines and to “run them up” to see how their performance was doing. This posed a problem in safety which our instructors were always careful to point out to us. One instructor in my group told us that if we backed into a rotating propeller, it would make “hamburger meat” out of you. I had no intention of sticking my backside into a rotating propeller, but I thought that the hamburger meat was a tautology of considerable importance. And so for more than 60 years, I have always endured the thought that one should not square off with an airplane propeller because it would make hamburger meat out of you.

All of us survived the training on the night shift without being made into meatloaf.

Early in my career as a soldier, there were endless days of marching back and forth on a dusty field in Las Vegas, New Mexico – not Nevada. The field was dusty, the barracks were dusty and so was the mess hall. In any case, there was a person who had identified himself as a former member of the United States Army who was assigned to help train us in our marching. He instructed us on forward marching, on marching to the left and right, and on such things as oblique marching. Somewhere along the line, this drill instructor became confused and I spoke up in an effort to help him with his work. The drill instructor absolutely leveled me with his retort, which has stayed in my memory since the summer of 1942. The drill instructor said to me, “Soldier, you don’t get paid for thinking.” I am here to tell you that indeed soldiers do not get paid for thinking. They get paid to go do what they are told, and what they are told is usually some directive from a politician.

Colin Powell is perhaps among the prime examples of the “you don’t get paid for thinking” dogma. Colin Powell knew that the adventure into Iraq was absolute folly yet he kept his peace and did as he was told. Powell could have resigned in protest or he could have leaned all over Bush in an attempt to avert this disaster in Iraq. Yet, Powell went along and the most dramatic thing that he said was the story about the Pottery Barn rule that if you break it, it is yours. And so you see that my admiration for generals in the American Army is very limited.

Indeed and in fact, soldiers don’t get paid for thinking. They get paid for carrying out orders, including those that result in their deaths. I regret that these are the facts that cannot be changed.

A final note here. For the last 13 or 14 months of my overseas tour, I was serving in Accra in what used to be called the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is now called Ghana. They ran off their British conquerors and they are now on their own. Most of the people in the section of Accra where I served spoke the Ga language. It seems to be a happy language. I learned only one phrase. It is “i-ee-ko.” It was years before I found out that “i-ee-ko” means well done. On the other hand, the Ghanians actually use it as a greeting. They would walk by our barracks where the natives were working and would shout “i-ee-ko” and the fellows who were working around the barracks would respond with the same remark.
“I-ee-ko” is a gentle reflection of the Ghanian people. I am sorry that I learned no more than that small phrase. But it served me well when three refugees from Ghana appeared in our local market. We all regard each other as friends and indeed Daniel Commodore, his English name, said that when I come around, he feels like his father is visiting. I regard Daniel’s remark as the highest compliment available.

Well, these are reminiscences from a long career and they were triggered by John Warner not knowing the difference between sectarian and secular. I enjoyed recalling some of these events because most of them were pleasant. The Killingsworth expressions were abominable, as he was. I suppose it is true that old men like to reminisce. It seems to me that that’s what memories are made of. So I enjoy recalling the incident about the Russian soldier who was told that he was ugly just as I enjoy recalling Merle and Elmira Yocum’s pig farm. These are not monumental thoughts of course, but they please me, which is, in this case, all that is necessary.

E. E. CARR
March 18, 2006

~~~

My favorite Killingsworth essay is here. I wonder if one of his decedents will find this site someday. If by some SEO miracle this happens, feel free to leave a comment!

Man, so many of the quotes referenced here come up or are more fully investigated in other essays, but short of appending a big list of related essays in the comments, there’s not a great way to easily navigate you around. I think that after all these are done, I’m really going to rethink site navigation as a whole to make it more useful.

A COLLOQUY WITH TOM FRIEDMAN

Under ordinary circumstances, your old essayist attempts to keep his correspondence separate from the essays that are produced here. In this case, however, Tom Friedman, the New York Times star op-ed writer wrote a piece that should not be condensed or treated in the Reader’s Digest fashion. Friedman’s piece was so wrong and so provocative, that a spirited reply was called for. Again, in the interest of transparency, my readers should see what was said by both sides.

Here, then, is Tom Friedman’s op-ed piece from the June 15th issue of the New York Times:

THE NEW YORK TIMES
June 15, 2005
Let’s Talk About Iraq
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Ever since Iraq’s remarkable election, the country has been descending deeper and deeper into violence. But no one in Washington wants to talk about it. Conservatives don’t want to talk about it because, with a few exceptions, they think their job is just to applaud whatever the Bush team does. Liberals don’t want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don’t want the Bush team to succeed. As a result, Iraq is drifting sideways and the whole burden is being carried by our military. The rest of the country has gone shopping, which seems to suit Karl Rove just fine.
Well, we need to talk about Iraq. This is no time to give up – this is still winnable – but it is time to ask: What is our strategy? This question is urgent because Iraq is inching toward a dangerous tipping point – the point where the key communities begin to invest more energy in preparing their own militias for a scramble for power – when everything falls apart, rather than investing their energies in making the hard compromises within and between their communities to build a unified, democratizing Iraq.
Our core problem in Iraq remains Donald Rumsfeld’s disastrous decision – endorsed by President Bush – to invade Iraq on the cheap. From the day the looting started, it has been obvious that we did not have enough troops there. We have never fully controlled the terrain. Almost every problem we face in Iraq today – the rise of ethnic militias, the weakness of the economy, the shortages of gas and electricity, the kidnappings, the flight of middle-class professionals – flows from not having gone into Iraq with the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force.
Yes, yes, I know we are training Iraqi soldiers by the battalions, but I don’t think this is the key. Who is training the insurgent-fascists? Nobody. And yet they are doing daily damage to U.S. and Iraqi forces. Training is overrated, in my book. Where you have motivated officers and soldiers, you have an army punching above its weight. Where you don’t have motivated officers and soldiers, you have an army punching a clock.
Where do you get motivated officers and soldiers? That can come only from an Iraqi leader and government that are seen as representing all the country’s main factions. So far the Iraqi political class has been a disappointment. The Kurds have been great. But the Sunni leaders have been shortsighted at best and malicious at worst, fantasizing that they are going to make a comeback to power through terror. As for the Shiites, their spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has been a positive force on the religious side, but he has no political analog. No Shiite Hamid Karzai has emerged.
“We have no galvanizing figure right now,” observed Kanan Makiya, the Iraqi historian who heads the Iraq Memory Foundation. “Sistani’s counterpart on the democratic front has not emerged. Certainly, the Americans made many mistakes, but at this stage less and less can be blamed on them. The burden is on Iraqis. And we still have not risen to the magnitude of the opportunity before us.”
I still don’t know if a self-sustaining, united and democratizing Iraq is possible. I still believe it is a vital U.S. interest to find out. But the only way to find out is to create a secure environment. It is very hard for moderate, unifying, national leaders to emerge in a cauldron of violence.
Maybe it is too late, but before we give up on Iraq, why not actually try to do it right? Double the American boots on the ground and redouble the diplomatic effort to bring in those Sunnis who want to be part of the process and fight to the death those who don’t. As Stanford’s Larry Diamond, author of an important new book on the Iraq war, “Squandered Victory,” puts it, we need “a bold mobilizing strategy” right now. That means the new Iraqi government, the U.S. and the U.N. teaming up to widen the political arena in Iraq, energizing the constitution-writing process and developing a communications-diplomatic strategy that puts our bloodthirsty enemies on the defensive rather than us. The Bush team has been weak in all these areas. For weeks now, we haven’t even had ambassadors in Iraq, Afghanistan or Jordan.
We’ve already paid a huge price for the Rumsfeld Doctrine – “Just enough troops to lose.” Calling for more troops now, I know, is the last thing anyone wants to hear. But we are fooling ourselves to think that a decent, normal, forward-looking Iraqi politics or army is going to emerge from a totally insecure environment, where you can feel safe only with your own tribe.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Friedman’s piece had an incendiary quality to it. His call for doubling the troops in Iraq and his ignoring the occupational aspect of our presence there was provoking to this old soldier, so Friedman heard from me.

Mr. Friedman

This e-mail is written much more in puzzlement than in anger. For all these years, I had considered you a writer who dealt in logical realities as distinguished from the Alice in Wonderland atmosphere that marked the machinations of the Bush administration.

The wheels to your credibility came off when you enthusiastically endorsed Bush’s pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. From that day forward, you have seized every opportunity to endorse the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfield-Rice thesis that things are going swimmingly in Iraq. The fact that Rumsfeld was fighting this war on the cheap seemed to give you no problem back in 2003.

Now in your column that appeared in the June 15th edition of the Times, you have given your credibility one more enormous kick in the gut. Your opening sentence says Iraq “has been descending deeper and deeper into violence.” Illogically, in your second paragraph you say, “this is no time to give up –this is still winnable…..” Mr. Friedman, for more than two years you have shoveled garbage of this sort on Times’ readers. It is absolutely nothing more than warmed over born again propaganda from the White House. In my eyes, you have become the designated hitter for the sycophants of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld, et al.

Near the end of your article, you prescribe, “Double the American boots on the ground…” This is a horrid cliché. You are capable of better writing than slovenly froth like this. But that brings us to the heart of the problem. In round terms, we have 140,000 troops “on the ground” in Iraq. As Christian occupiers, that gives the Iraqis 140,000 reasons to hate us. Now we find the eminent war strategist Tom Friedman prescribing 280,000 reasons to hate us. I am confident that strategists such as yourself will then prescribe 560,000 “boots on the ground.” Where does “boots on the ground” end?

The simple fact is that we invaded Iraq without reason. It was a sovereign nation even though it was disliked by Sharon and Bush. As long as we occupy Iraq as a Christian power, hatred will always be our lot – which we richly deserve.

Look at it this way. If the situation were to be reversed with Iraqi Arabs occupying the United States, every patriot would consider it his duty to injure or to hurt the Moslem occupiers. My puzzlement comes from your blindness to this overwhelming point. Mr. Friedman, your column on closing Gitmo was eminently on point. Why are you so blind as to parrot the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld line that this disastrous adventure is “still winnable”?

E. E. Carr

P.S. This letter comes to you from a World War II soldier whose religious beliefs are in total non-belief.

A copy of my reply was sent to Suzanne Carr Shepherd, an Austin, Texas lawyer who contends from time to time, that we are related.
Ms. Shepherd, Esquire, read both pieces and asked, given the indisputable fact that Army recruiting goals have not been met for months, where will the Army find another 140,000 soldiers to put their “boots on the ground” in Iraq? That is a very reasonable question. It would do no good to ask Friedman about additional troops strength because he says he is a journalist, not a general of the Army.

Obviously, it was necessary for someone to step into this yawning void to answer the question from the Texas lawyer. So my reply had to do with costs which are now so great that Bush and the Army have lost count.

Here is my reply to the questions raised in Texas.

The costs of transporting new troops to Iraq are excessive. Then there is the cost of carrying the corpses back to the US and shipping them to home town cemeteries. It would be the ultimate patriotic gesture for new recruits to go to local cemeteries where they can be shot and buried immediately. That saves on the middle men costs and it will give the new recruit a chance to autograph the cross that will be placed over his grave.

Thinking right along with me, the Texas lawyer replied as follows:

Your suggestion makes perfect sense. And as in Vietnam – we can give them back their own country right away, or after 50,000 lost American lives, but either way we give them back their country. Why not do it now? In the meantime, we can shoot the new recruits right here at home until we figure it all out.

At this point, Ms. Judith Chicka, who is related in one way or another to the correspondents, suggested as a means to further cut costs, that new Army recruits be shot before taking the oath as a soldier. This means that the recruit may be denied any bonus and death benefit that might be attached to his or her enlistment. Under Ms. Chicka’s suggestion, the Army could save enough money to underwrite the Social Security program through eternity.

In the final analysis, more U.S. troops will give Iraqis additional reasons to hate us. The sole answer to this problem is to remove our occupying troops. The longer we stay as occupiers, we will harvest the robust hatred not only of the Iraqis but of the entire Islamic world. The Arab world sees us building permanent buildings in Iraq, some of which will be used as prisons. Arabs have every reason to believe that we intend to occupy Iraq in “perpetuity” as a Justice Department said of the prisoners at Gitmo.

This war is a function of ill disguised greed on the part of Bush, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Rice, et al. It has absolutely no basis in justice. Wars fought without justice have a way of biting the aggressor. The unrest that has now appeared in the United States is simply a forerunner to our endless quagmire in Iraq. Sooner or later, our troops will have to come home.

Tom Friedman should know that wars without justice are not “winnable.” This is an unjust war that is wasting lives of our soldiers, the lives of Iraqi civilians and the draining of our treasury. There is no light at the end of the Iraqi tunnel.

E. E. CARR
June 25, 2005

~~~

There was never a victory condition outside of a stable Iraq that was friendly to the US. Continued presence of US soldiers in the reason actively worked against both halves of that goal. It’s okay though, because now ISIS controls large swaths of the country — Mission Accomplished, right?

POKING FINGERS IN EYES

The reports from London about the bombings on trains and the bus are saddening and they are sickening. As an old World War II soldier, it was my privilege to serve with elements of the British Eighth Army in North Africa, Sicily and on the Adriatic Coast of Italy where there were often many casualties.

My admiration for the Tommies and their Royal Air Force comrades has been frequently recorded in these essays. While the working class Brits who fought England’s wars have my active admiration, there is virtually no limit to my disdain for British royalty and for England’s upper classes who aspire to be treated as royalty. The casualties in the recent bombings were working class people, not upper crust or royalty. Working people ride on public transportation. Royalty and the upper class ride in limousines.

The people who survived the German Luftwaffe bombing in London in the early 1940’s were working class blokes. Now some 64 years later, they must be wary of riding on the Underground and on London’s buses. How sad – and it needn’t have been that way.

When the dust settles and the sad funerals are held, the British nation must ask why has this happened to us? They say we are law abiding people who subscribe – more of less – to the dictates of the Church of England, the Anglican faith. Why is God’s wrath being visited upon the good women and men who sing “God Save the Queen” as their national anthem? Why us? What did we do to deserve this fate?

The short answer is that the Prime Minister of Great Britan is Tony Blair who threw England’s lot in with George Bush in the disastrous misadventure in Iraq. Simply put, London commuters are being murdered in retaliation for England’s military contribution to Bush’s war in Iraq. Blair became Bush’s poodle, perhaps in the vain hope that Bush would come to his aid when needed. Last week before the Group of Eight (G-8) meeting in Scotland, Bush said that he and Blair have no quid pro quo arrangement. From Bush’s viewpoint, what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine also.

Tony Blair must feel terribly lonely at this point. It is fair to guess that violence has only begun to be visited upon England. Blair is painfully aware that the population of Great Britain solidly opposes his misadventure in Iraq. George Bush is roundly hated by the Brits. He gave them another reason for their hatred when he gave a rousing turndown to Blair’s reason for calling the G-8 meeting; namely, aid to Africa and global warming. Why Blair has tied England’s fortunes to George Bush is a mystery of major proportions.

But in a week or so, there will come a time for a sober, objective determination of why such violence was visited upon London. The answer may come from animals, bees of the apodea strain and ordinary human conduct.

As every farmer knows, if you stand behind a cow or a horse and abuse one or the both of them, your reward will be a hefty kick landing usually in the crotch area. Docile animals, when provoked, will retaliate. Can this be news to anyone?

Wasps build a hive as their living quarters. If a human is so utterly foolish as to disturb the hive, he may well be hospitalized if he survives the retaliatory attacks. Left alone the wasps go about their business and do not seek out humans. But when they are provoked, they are bent on vicious retaliation.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese government attacked Pearl Harbor. In short, they poked us in the eye. The U.S. retaliated and by August 1945, the Japanese Empire was no more. The Japanese paid a heavy price for poking the Americans in the eye.

Three other cases of recrimination come immediately to mind. In England, it is normal to blame nearly every misadventure on the Irish Republican Army. That may be the case in some instances, but please remember England has occupied six counties in Northern Ireland since the treaty of 1922. This occupation has gone on in Belfast, Ireland’s second city, for 83 years. The English surely must accept that there will be retaliation.

In Spain, the Basques hold that the Spanish government has occupied their homeland. Every bombing or disaster is blamed on the ETA, the Basque resistance movement. When the Spaniards leave the Basque homeland, they may well enjoy bomb-less days.

Finally, there are the Chechnyans, who urgently wish the Russian government would let them decide their own fate. To the extent that the Russians try to suppress the Chechnyans, the Chechnyans will and have retaliated.

Once again, the lesson is that occupation and mistreatment provoke not surrender, but rather, recrimination.

Now let us move to 2003 when George Bush with the help of Chaney, Rumsfeld and Madame Rice thought that Iraq was a soft target that could be poked in the eyes with impunity. Our arrogance was unlimited. General Tommy Franks, overall commander of U.S. forces, viewed Iraqi deaths in a cavalier fashion. He said, “We don’t do body counts of Iraqis.” According to Lancet, the British medical journal, more than 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since, as Chaney said, “We liberated Iraq.”

We have lost 1750 Americans so far with another 12,000 to 15,000 wounded. The United States government under Bush is now in its third year of war. Rumsfeld predicted recently that the war could go on for twelve more years. Because of our involvement in Iraq, the U.S. has now concluded that it is incapable of fighting two wars at once as was the case in World War II. In short, Bush has us trapped in Iraq for the foreseeable future. If North Korea invaded South Korea, there is not much we could do about it. If China invaded Taiwan, we could only protest. If the Sudanese government continues its ethnic cleansing in Darfur, we will continue our governmental silence. If the Israeli Army set out to destroy the Palestinians, we would be reduced to ineffective protests.

So for the past two years and more, on behalf of the U.S. Government and people, Bush has poked the Arabs in the eye. And he is incensed that they retaliate with whatever weapons they have in the insurgency. The amazing thought here is that Tony Blair jumped off of Bush’s lap and tried to poke the Arabs in the eyes as well. So as night follows day, Blair and Bush now know that poking other people’s eyes comes with inevitable retaliation.

In Italy, the Premier there is a clown named Berlesconi who envisioned great rewards as he joined in Bush’s attack on Iraq. The population of Italy is solidly against Berlesconi’s stance. Since the London attacks, the Iraqi opposition has made it known that Rome is high on its list for retaliatory attacks. Berlesconi has now had second thoughts as he has announced that Italy will withdraw 300 troops in September. My guess is that with Italian elections coming up, Italy will soon withdraw all its 2500 troops. The substance here is that when Berlesconi found that the insurgence could reach London, he got religion. Simply put, he is gutless in fear of retaliation.

Now we have had bombings in Madrid and in London. More are threatened in Rome and Copenhagen in view of their participation in the war in Iraq. As time goes on, it becomes obvious that New York or Washington or Chicago or San Francisco could well become targets for retaliation. Bush, Blair and Berlesconi went into this war overlooking the completely obvious fact that there would be Arab recrimination. They started the war believing that a parade down Baghdad’s main street would be their reward as soon as Bush made his aircraft carrier speech about “Mission Accomplished.”

What they overlooked was that the Arabs might have something to say about the war’s course. Every normal human being in this circumstance will retaliate as best he can. Even animals and bees do it. The saving grace thus far is that Tony Blair is keeping a stiff upper lip and is not crying, “Poor me. Why me?” He is bright enough to know that people fight back when poked in the eye. On the other hand, if the U.S. is attacked, my bet is that Bush will don the martyrs robe and say, “We weren’t doing anything.”

George Bush started this war with no thought as to things going badly. My guess is that inevitably the U.S. will become a target for terrorism. For the duration of the war, our immature Commander in Chief has been saying “We have to fight them over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here.”

When they show up in the U.S., George Bush will have to explain why the “fight them over there” failed. If past performance is any criteria, he wil probably resurrect his ridiculous claim that Iraq was the moving force behind the World Trade Center destruction. Now when the Arab insurgency eventually reaches our shores, he may have a point.

The point is that it is foolish to poke someone else in the eye and expect no retaliation. Blair is bright enough to understand those facts. Bush, who is a dim bulb, will not understand. In all likelihood, he will cringe and try to call time out. War is an unforgiving business. When the terrorists appear here, Bush will panic. All that bravado of “bring ’em on” will disappear as the insurgents do, in fact, bring it on in U.S. cities. Bush asked for it. Innocent people will die. And Bush will whimper.

E. E. CARR
July 9, 2005

~~~

I think I’ve been over this a few times now, so I don’t have much to add here.

STANDING UP, STANDING DOWN

Once again, the Bush Administration has lied to its citizens. In this case, the lie has to do with getting out of Iraq. Along with the lying, abject confusion about how to deal with the Iraqi insurgency reigns in Washington, Baghdad and all other Army Command posts in between.

In this cursory examination, it is my intention to deal with perhaps only two instances where the Administration and the American military have lied to all of us.

After all the lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s), the Administration offered some subsequent lies to justify the war in Iraq. It was to bring democracy to Iraq. Soon it was claimed that after democracy caught on in Iraq, all the other kingdoms and dictators in the Mideast would fall like dominoes. There would be no need to conquer Syria and Iran, which Bush called evil, because they would be at the bottom of the Middle Eastern stack of dominoes. This would be a precursor to the return of the ghosts of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to those two benighted countries.

The domino theory has long since been forgotten by the Bush Administration and the military movers and shakers in Washington. In its place we now have an ambitious program to train Iraqis to kill other Iraqis and assorted Arabs. At some mystical point, the Americans will pronounce the Iraqis a superior fighting force. At that point, we will be liberated from the Enduring Freedom campaign in Iraq. When our military says the Iraqis are ready to die to keep the deadly unpleasantness OVER THERE AND NOT OVER HERE, the American military will say that the Iraqis can STAND UP and our forces can STAND DOWN and presumably come home.

Does any rational person believe this tripe? Maybe Chaney and Bush or Rumsfeld may believe that garbage, but they are not rational men. They are nothing more than evil ideologues.

You may recall my essay about an Arab Army being an oxymoron. Please remember, that GI’s such as myself reached this conclusion as far back as 1943 in North Africa where we called them “hollow armies.” In the 60 some years since that time, Arab armies think that swinging their arms up to shoulder level during close order drill makes them an effective fighting force. They are still a hollow army and no amount of American training will cause them to be anything but an oxymoron.

Now look at this. We are schooling the Iraqis in American military ways. We have taught them how to kick down a door and terrorize the inhabitants of the house without a front door. Yet the Iraqis have not been issued the armament that our forces carry. They don’t have trucks or tanks. Few of them have bulletproof vests. Obviously, they have not been given helicopters or other machines of war. Yet somehow, they are supposed to kill other Arabs and keep the war over there.

An Iraqi general interviewed by Reuters last week pointed out that until the Iraqi Army is given the tools of war, they will never be a fighting force. Until we give them all the tools of war, the insurgents will prevail. Knowing this, it is absolutely likely that the Iraqis will not enter a fight they know they will lose. Under these circumstances, desertion will become a major problem particularly when the insurgents threaten to kill the families of the Iraqi soldiers.

The basic fact is that training Iraqi soldiers is a deadly joke. American military officials will not equip the Iraqis with the powerful weapons we use because it is quite likely that those weapons will be used against us or be used in a sectarian civil war.

Training the Iraqis so we can Stand Down as They Stand Up is a myth of major proportions. Call it what you will, but it becomes clear that we will be in Iraq in great numbers for years to come. And our soldiers will continue to die for Bush’s blunder.

At this moment, the American military is building four enormous bases in Iraq. Each one is designed to house at least 18,000 troops. The soldiers will be stationed there so that when the alleged Iraqi Army has a problem, the American troops will go to rescue them. Construction of these bases is an open secret in Washington, but there has been no official recognition of it by the Bush Administration.

Arithmetic tells us that four permanent bases housing 18,000 soldiers each means that we will have at least 72,000 soldiers in ready combat positions. A question appears in order here. If we have at least 72,000 troops in permanent bases throughout Iraq, what does this say about our confidence in the Iraqi Army to carry the fight to the insurgents? That is point one.

Point two has to do with our standing down. The generals in Washington now concede that we will have 100,000 troops in Iraq for the next several years. Presumably, the 100,000 figure embraces the troops in the four permanent bases. The Army is having trouble finding new recruits which means that our soldiers will do four of five or eight tours of duty in Iraq. Now may it be asked, does it sound like our standing down while the oxymoron army stands up? Not really.

While all this is happening in Iraq, it must be borne in mind that
Osama Bin Laden has not been apprehended. Our troops are in Iraq which leaves the 50 states of the U.S. largely undefended. What would our peerless leaders do if Osama elected to do another 9/11 while our troops are otherwise engaged?

The world is not a peaceful place. While our army is in a morass in Iraq, what should we do if North Korea decides to nuke Japan or South Korea? What should be our posture if China tries to invade Taiwan? Our Army is on the other side of the globe and can do not much at all. Our bike riding president might be tempted to loose our nuclear arsenal against such incursions because our Army is otherwise engaged.

Further, if our army was unengaged in Iraq, it could be used to help in the Darfur region of Sudan or in the Robert Magabe onslaught against his own people in Zimbabwe. But again, our hands are tied. What would we do if Russia acted up? Perhaps we could send John Bolton to Moscow to scare them with his mustache.

Finally, we come to a question that every American ought to be asking. We know that our government and our military have lied to us. There is one more question having to do with our training Iraqis to keep the fighting over there rather than over here.

Does any rational person, American or otherwise, believe that after we have trained the Iraqi Army to keep the war over there, that the Iraqis

will stay loyal to a foreign, Christian government, namely American, for any period of time? Does any rational person believe that the Iraqis will give their long term allegiance to us and not to their own self interests?

The answer is obvious. As we retreat to the U.S. or to our Halliburton constructed bases in Iraq, the Iraqis will pursue their own self interests. In all history, there has never been a case of this sort where an Islamic Arab country will be asked to defend the interests of a Christian country 5,000 miles away. It just won’t happen – now or ever.

And so you see when the Bush Administration says it is only a matter of time before all is peaceful and happy in Iraq, they are lying to you. And the insurgency being in its final throes – that is just one more enormous lie.

E. E. CARR
August 28, 2005

~~~

Yep, pretty much. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27838034

STAYING THE COURSE

Every American essayist prays for a week like this one – even atheists, the Dunkers, and the non-believers ask the One Great Intelligent Designer to give them a week where preachers and politician-preachers become so bollixed up that the whole world shakes its head in puzzlement. The only thing missing is for Charley, the Prince of Wales to screw up, but he has been missing in action since Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles became his new mama.

On August 23rd of this year, the Right Reverend Pat Robertson announced on his 700 Club television show that Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela should be assassinated, presumably by agents of the sweet smelling American counter intelligence forces.

Old preacher Pat, a former contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said assassination of Chavez would save the cost of a war against Venezuela. Presumably, Pat was spilling some plans that the Administration was keeping quiet about Venezuela. Bush and Robertson usually march in lockstep.

Does the fact that Iraq and Venezuela are two countries that sell us oil have something to do with Robertson’s belligerence? Don’t know, but good old Pat wants to save us the cost of another invasion as was done in Iraq. Very holy of him.

The response from the Un-Intelligent Design leaders in the Administration was muted in the extreme. Rumsfeld said that Americans don’t do assassinations. That, of course, is a knee-slapper. We do it but we try to cover it by spin. Karen Hughes, Bush’s long time girl friend, has been appointed Undersecretary of State expressly for the purpose of spinning stories which make all American Republican politicians look like heroes.

In any case, the world saw no response from the bravest of the brave, our Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. The rest of the civilized world is aghast that a preacher can make American foreign policy – but all we have is Rumsfeld saying, “Oh we wouldn’t do such a thing.”

When the next day arrived, Pat started out by claiming that the Associated Press had misinterpreted his outburst – and then he repeated it. So the state of our relations with the sovereign country of Venezuela seems to be that we want to kill its elected president. The honorable Evangelical Methodist, Mr. Bush, is so busy vacationing and making speeches to the heroes of the VFW and the Idaho National Guard and putting down Cindy Sheehan, that he has no time to tell the world that we don’t really want to kill President Chavez. To do so might injure his relations with his political base, and we certainly can’t have that. Robertson now claims that he has apologized, but the words come out again, “Assassinate Chavez” and no Administration official has told the world that Pat doesn’t do foreign policy. Or, does he?

On Monday, August 22nd and Wednesday, our hero president spoke to VFW conventioneers in Salt Lake City and to the Idaho National Guardsmen in Idaho. On Tuesday he rode his bike and visited a recreation area in Idaho. He seemed not to mind as the violence in Iraq went on because he needed to balance his life.

For the record, your old illiterate author has never been tempted to join the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars. My interests are not in beer drinking and retelling real or imagined stories of Army life. Those outfits are not my cup of tea.

In his speech to the VFW on August 22nd, which was largely repeated two days later, our Commander in Chief who never saw service in the Army, Navy or the Air Force, and certainly never overseas, said repeatedly, that the nation owed it to the more than 2000 Americans killed not to end their mission prematurely. He went on to say, “Each of these heroes left a legacy that will allow generations of their fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. We owe them something. We will finish the task they gave their lives for.”

Let’s see how the promise that “we owe them something….We will finish the task they gave their lives for” works out. For rational people, it does not parse. Not at all.

If we have lost more than 2000 people in Iraq and Afghanistan, why do we owe those dead heroes another batch of American soldiers killed as we “stay the course” as Bush demands? This is spending the lives of our soldiers foolishly. This is the time to cut our losses – not to pile up more casualties.

If we “owe” anything to anyone, it is to get out before a sectarian civil war breaks out in Iraq. In that event, we will have 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 casualties before this Administration comes to its senses and finally concludes that the Iraq invasion was one of its monumental blunders.

It is an irony of the first order to memorialize our dead soldiers by condemning other soldiers to the same fate. That’s what “staying the course” in an ill-gotten war has brought us.

It is a particularly ill fitting tribute to the dead Americans when our representatives, who are pressuring the Iraqis who are attempting to write a constitution, have now conceded that one, Islam will have a major role in the new government and two, that women may be worse off than they were under Saddam Hussein.

We want desperately to get a constitution for Iraq in place so that prior to the 2006 elections, the Bush Administration can bring some troops home. It doesn’t matter if there is an Islamic theocracy or whether women are subdued by the law of Sharia. The important thing is the American election of 2006.

The invasion of Iraq was, from its beginning, a complete disaster which George H.W. Bush warned against. But W said he listened to a “higher father.” Unfortunately, the higher father apparently told young Bush how to invade Iraq but not how to pacify it or how to get out.

No matter how you cut it, sending more soldiers to die is not a tribute to the soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. It is not a tribute ever; it is a treasonable act.

There is a paragraph from the August 23, 2005 New York Times Editorial about Iraq. It reads:

“Americans continue dying in Iraq, but their mission creeps steadily downward. The nonexistent weapons of mass destruction dropped out of the picture long ago. Now the United States seems ready to walk away from its fine words about helping the Iraqis create a beacon of freedom, harmony and democracy for the Middle East. All that remains to be seen is whether the White House has become so desperate for an excuse to declare victory that it will settle for an Iranian-style Shiite theocracy.”

This, my friends, is sobering stuff. The sooner we cut our losses, the better off we will be. Staying the course means more deaths and it becomes a matter of self perpetuation. If more deaths occur in our tribute to the fallen, Iraq will become even more of an American tragedy.

When Bush says we owe the fallen soldiers “something,” it certainly is not more dead soldiers which will be the inevitable price for “staying the course.”

E. E. CARR
August 25, 2005

~~~

Pop has expressed this opinion several times over the course of these essays, so I don’t have much to add. I also feel like I’ve been talking about Trump too much here lately, so I’ll spare everybody the Russia discussion.