Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Last Word

I'm going off the grid on this post. It has nothing to do with trading but a lot to do with timely issues that effect the life and death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and our ability to function in an atmosphere of national honesty and transparency . . 2 critical traits that have been woefully lacking in our current administration lately. There's plenty of blame to go around and this is just one vignette to illustrate my point. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction and after reading this piece by respected Sunday Times of London war correspondent Christina Lamb I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.

If you're wondering what's really going on in Afghanistan where US soldiers are dying every day for "freedom" here's a little peek under the sheets that our esteemed leaders would probably prefer remain unmentioned. Regular readers know that I live in Oceanside, CA., close to Camp Pendleton, the West Coast Marine training facility, with over 55,000 on base and an adjunct Navy and Marine Miramar airbase close by. While I am not a hawk and make no claim to understanding military strategy I am a humanist and detest and abhor the waste of life and the collateral misery that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced both in terms debilitating physical and mental injuries and the consequent destruction of family units. I get even more riled up when I think about the $ billions that have been pilfered by our "allies", squandered or stolen during the course of these wars. The problems facing the 50,000 troops now returning from Iraq are immeasurable and long term and I couldn't even begin to catalog them. What is a fact is that today's economy with (realistically) 22% unemployment and continued dim prospects in the civilian sector offers little encouragement for these returning vets except as possible conscripts to guard the Mexican border against the illegals. Is this the future they fought and died for? I hope not, but there it is, with no fix in sight for years to come.
My wife and I play golf at Camp Pendleton at least once a week and one of the unique features of Pendleton it that you never know who you might be paired up with. A few weeks ago we played with a highly decorated Marine pilot with 5 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now my spin on things is that we call in the Predator drones and the Hellfire missiles and just win the war and get the Hell out of there before we lose any more of our guys. "Not so easy" says my new pilot friend. Turns out the war is governed by the ROE (Rules of Engagement), at least pertaining to how our side acts. If the pilot's on a mission and a guy shoots at him from the ground and then runs into a building the pilot can't just send gunfire or a missile into the building. He's actually got to see new muzzle flashes aimed in his direction and even then he may be precluded from firing. The pilot further flabbergasted us when he said that it's not unusual for Marine pilots to be accompanied by Marine lawyers on their missions who advise the pilots whether or not it's OK to drop their ordnance or release a missile. That reminds me of the American Revolutionary war with the British in their red uniforms marching and firing from rigid formation while our forefathers picked 'em off from concealed positions in hopscotch ambushes. Remember how that war turned out? Until our political leaders decide they really want to prevail in Afghanistan or just pack up and leave and let those folks sort things out for themselves we will continue to be faced with the tragic and costly consequences of this farce of a war. This in no way is meant to denigrate our service men and women, many of whom I count as true friends. They are just doing their job putting their lives on the line every day because they have been trained to follow orders. It's the politicians and war profiteers that engineered this mess who are responsible and they are the ones that must bear the blame and the shame.

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