By Piper Bayard
My heart is heavy today thinking about our soldiers killed when our enemies brought down their Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan last week. Seventeen Navy SEALs, five conventional forces, three Air Force forward air controllers, five Army helicopter crew members, and eight Afghan military personnel. I did not know them, but I know others of their ilk. To a person, they are the most honorable, high-minded people I’ve ever met. To lose these devoted men to an enemy attack is not only a tragedy for their families and friends, it is a tragedy for every American.
The Current Administration is busy sending ever more Special Forces to Afghanistan, while pulling out “regular” troops. They are doing this as a way to cook the personnel books for the upcoming election. The theory is that one Special Forces soldier is the equivalent of two “regular” troops. The Current Administration wants to be able to win votes by saying, “We have reduced our forces in Afghanistan.” That doesn’t mean we have achieved half of our as-yet-to-be-defined goal in that country. It means that much of the American public wants Afghanistan to go away, and politicians are in the business of making people think they are getting what they want.
This completely ignores the fact that there is no such thing as a “regular” soldier. Each and every job in the military is important, from the supply clerks stateside to the deployed infantry, artillery, medics, and cooks, every soldier is important to the functioning of the whole. Special Forces are trained as Special Forces. They have a specific function. They aren’t a distillation of our military; they are one part of a diversely trained, functioning military. Therefore, to “reduce our presence in Afghanistan” and try to fill the gap with Special Forces is the same as saying, “Your left leg is really strong so we’re going to cut off your right leg.”
This is my Two Cents. I’m calling out our Current Administration for putting its political interests above the interests of our nation, and above the interests of the men and women who serve our country.
We are at war. Our enemies are Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. I would ask you, Current Administration, what is our specific goal? It hardly takes a student of military history to know that a war can’t be completed if there is no defined goal, and I and others have yet to hear one. And no. While “protecting the American people” is a politician’s answer, it is not a specific military goal.
Also, every Al-Qaeda and Taliban dollar comes from opium or oil—either the opium poppies grown in Afghanistan, or the oil dollars coming in from their sympathizers. If we cut off their funding, we eliminate their relevance on the planet.
I would ask you, Current Administration, what are you doing to eliminate the opium production in Afghanistan? I know you engage people to encourage farmers to grow soybeans instead of poppies. But is it just an option you give them? Or do you destroy the existing poppy fields? Do you have buyers for those soybeans? Do you take on the drug lords as the full allies of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban?
And more, what are we doing to eliminate our dependence on Middle Eastern oil? We only get around 20% of our oil from the Middle East (U.S. Energy Information Administration). Surely we can cut back our usage and develop alternative fuels by that much. We’re hardly on a petroleum shoestring in this country.
Current Administration, you are telling us to buy, buy, buy, spend, spend, spend, and the war is something happening “over there.” We don’t need to look back past World War II to see that, when you transmit that message, you are not behaving like an Administration at war.
Our nation is not behaving like a nation at war.
I challenge you, Current Administration, to step up and accept responsibility for the fact that we are, indeed, at war. Send whatever troops, equipment, and ordnance are necessary to root out our enemies. Stop cooking the personnel books for your election image.
I challenge you, Current Administration, to ruthlessly destroy the poppy fields and the drug lords of Afghanistan without apology, and to commit to long-term, Marshall Plan style reconstruction in Afghanistan, as we did with Japan and Germany. Fill the vacuum left behind by the elimination of the criminal enterprise with viable options people can actually eat and sell on the open market, and prevent a re-infestation of criminal, extremist vermin.
I challenge you, Current Administration, to not allow oil from any Middle Eastern countries to be marketed in America, unless those countries openly, consistently, and unapologetically stand as our steadfast allies against Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and all Islamic extremists.
And I challenge us as Americans to behave as a nation at war and reduce our gasoline consumption, as our grandparents did in WWII. If we cut our oil consumption by 20% and wholeheartedly develop alternatives, we will need nothing from the Middle East.
Take a moment and imagine how different our Middle Eastern policy would be if those countries were no more relevant to us than Easter Island. Isn’t that worth a few bicycle rides? A bit of car-pooling and public transportation?
If our Current Administration and we, as a nation, accept responsibility for the fact that we are at war, . . . if we develop the WWII mindset that each and every one of us is responsible for the war effort, . . . Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will dry up and shrivel into footnotes in our children’s history books. America’s strength has always been in her independence. I call on us all to remember who we are.
In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are with our deployed troops, and with the families, friends, and commanders of the fallen. May our country step up and do them justice.
What’s your Two Cents about our Current Administration replacing our “regular” soldiers with half as many Special Forces?
Click here to learn more about the men our enemies killed last week.
All the best to all of you for a week of independence.
“[P]oliticians are in the business of making people think they are getting what they want.” That’s one of the best descriptions I’ve ever heard of the business of politics. It reminds me how the New York State Legislature was once described as bribing taxpayers with their own money. Good post.
I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who first warned about the dangers of social programs and how they lead to politicians bribing people with their own money. I have no doubt the New York State Legislature is doing exactly that. There appears to be a widespread political philosophy that it’s ok for candidates to do and say anything to get elected. As voters, it is our duty to educate ourselves and not allow ourselves to be bought with our own money. Thanks for stopping by.
My heart goes out to those lost. Unfortunately, they won’t be the last.
You raise an interesting point there about living as we did back in WWII. If the governments gave us a directive on how to live and how to ration our food and resources, as they did back then, would we be able to do it with our lifestyles? More importantly, would that be the only way that the general public demand that something is done about the Middle Eastern wars we’re still in and force the officials to do ‘something’ to stop it or at least have an end goal?
I wanted to include something I read last night. http://www.komonews.com/news/local/127623973.html It tells the story of a soldier who took his life after being deployed EIGHT times to Afghanistan and Iraq. Eight times. Is there really any need to to subject soldiers from all over the world to such harsh and terrible conditions, over and over again when it should — and could — be curbed?
Thanks for the interesting and thought provoking post, Piper x
You raise an excellent point, Xandra. Would we be able to ration our food and our resources and become a wartime economy? I am no economist so I don’t understand how we could have become an economy that must keep getting fatter to survive at all. There’s something fundamentally wrong about that. It’s like America has become the person I saw on the Geraldo Show who was so fat they couldn’t leave their own house any more.
Thank you for your link. My heart cries for Staff Sgt. Hagemann and others like him. I believe when men sign up for duty and have the honest goal of protecting our country and the innocents around the world, we and our government should be honor, respect, and support them in every way we can. Not use them up like office supplies in a self-serving corporatocracy.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for stopping by.
Hi Xandra, Thanks for pointing out the issue of multiple deployments. In my opinion, given our nation’s population, there should be no need for the same individuals to serve four or more long deployments in combat zones. Your office supply analogy is painfully accurate. It is a reflection not just of our military situation but to our culture as a whole. American companies no longer have “personnel” divisions. They now have “human resource” divisions. Americans have become data points on corporate spread sheets. I have to shake my head in disgust when I hear corporate big shots bemoaning their employees “lack of loyalty”.
Hello Piper. This post is obviously heartfelt and I think all Americans are ready for a defined goal in this war. I also think we as a people will stand together if we understand that the enemy is the Taliban, and not the politician from the other party. Thank you for a great post.
You make an excellent point, Kerry. Politicians demonize Brand X far more than either Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. It’s devisive and tears down what little nationalism we have left in this country. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
Thanks for calling out the politicians on pulling out the troops just to “look like” they delivered upon their promises. Argh!
You’re welcome, Mindi. Thank you for your support and for stopping by and commenting.
Powerful post. I would love for the words Taliban and Al Queda to someday be footnotes in our children’s history books. I would love to hear a politician say that and then do something about it. Our country is in a mess. My thoughts and prayers go out to all soldiers who are working to protect us. God bless them all.
Wouldn’t that be amazing? If we had leaders more interested in the good of our nation than in their own re-election campaigns? Thank you, Kate, for stopping by and commenting.
Even in World War II, the British government tried to ignore the fact that war was coming, and Germany is much closer than Afghanistan. Governments don’t want to admit that they’re at war. No doubt there’s some social scientific reason for that that I don’t have the background to put into words, but in general I think governments want their people to feel safe. Safe people don’t make waves. Safe people vote for the status quo because it’s safe. I think that’s what I’m thinking, but like I say, I haven’t the background to make full on, well thought out arguments on the subject. Just my two penn’orth.
I think you make an excellent point, Anne-Mhairi. War is an inconvenient truth. Corporations are heavily invested in the status quo, as are individuals and politicians. They don’t want to rise to the occasion of change. Thank you for your Two Cents.
Thank you, Nancy.
I appreciate your support, Callene.
Acting like Afghanistan is a pretend war is just so wrong, it’s not pretend people who are dying and getting hurt and being away from their families.
It’s about time the gov came up with an excuse why they’re there.
Great post, Piper!! It needs to be said.
Well put. It’s not pretend people dying. So many are ready and willing to defend our country, but our government owes our soldiers a defined goal. It owes our soldiers the respect of recognizing that they are human beings, not cyborgs. Each is irreplaceable. Our leaders are failing us, and especially our military. Thanks for stopping by and adding your voice.
It’s also not pretend for soldiers who are court-martialed for conducting themselves as soldiers but are slammed by the all-too present media attention on every little bit of their lives. We would have lost WW II if we’d had the media coverage back then second-guessing every action by the commanding generals and the foot soldiers alike.
I can’t believe I’m going political, but here’s a sound byte.
I challenge us, as Americans, to give up our gas eating cars. To start buying electric cars.
What? You have the need for speed? Screw you! You are giving your money to people who hate us. Learn to slow down, live cleaner. Teach your children to do the same.
I’d like to see the government start working to incentivize new forms of clean solutions to oil (and I don’t mean drilling in our own backyard, and I don’t mean hydrofracking, which is proving to be underwhelming and frought with problems), I mean something new.
Bring home all our troops so we can focus on us for a while. We’re broken. We need to be able to offer educational scholarships to our best and brightest so they can help find clean energy solutions, create businesses, and fix some of our aging infrastructure.
It’s OUR ethos that needs to change. Who is willing stop driving his or her gas guzzler? Install solar panels on his roof? Recycle regularly? And be relentless about contacting congressmen and women about changes we’d like to see made.
Yeah. That’s kind of what I thought.
People say they are sad and that they want to bring home the troops. But did you know it is estimated that 60-70% of the troops have PTSD and will require extensive medical/mental care? Which they are entitled to have. They are entitled to better rates on home mortgages and many other benefits, too. Problem is some people have been deployed too many times and they now have some real trauma. And many are living on the streets, homeless. Having a hard time readjusting to life back home.
We have a long haul before us, no matter how we slice this. As far as I’m concerned, bin Laden did exactly what he set out to do. His actions on 9/11 created a knee-jerk reaction on the part of then President, George W. Bush, who proceeded to do everything bin Laden wanted us to do. He used our freedoms against us. Which scared us into a war that has bankrupted us, allowed us to gladly turn over one civil liberty after another, created impossible conditions in our airports, made us afraid to fly, made the cost of living skyrocket. and everything rise. I could go on.
Maybe it is not to late to fix things. But we have to look to ourselves to make our changes first. Those changes will influence whatever Administration is in place. That’s the way you start a revolution: if we demand it, politicians will come.
But WE gotta want something. And, sadly, most people walk around daily without even thinking there are wars going on.
Yes. OUR ethos needs to change. We have created an atmosphere in this country where it is impossible for decent people to run for office at any level above the local. We must demand something different from our leaders, and we must be willing to change to get it.
I see our current petroleum dependency as being comparable to the slave economy of the pre-Civil War South. It is a bad system. It is destructive in every way. But it is an inherited system that has no current replacement. To eliminate it in a day would result in total, long-term devastation.
You hit on what I believe is the answer. We must put ourselves wholeheartedly into developing fuel alternatives and sustainable lifestyles, or we will keep throwing ourselves and our nation under the bus just to keep the bus running.
And as to our freedoms, I agree with you. Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda have seen their efforts to destroy our nation pay off big, but they only got the ball rolling. We have destroyed our own freedoms in the name of “Homeland Security” in ways they never would have had the power to do. It started on 9/12, grew into the abomination known as the “Patriot Act,” and has continued full force with Obama’s TSA and his dedicated efforts to gain control of the internet in this country. And it is not Bush or Obama who are at the root of our loss of freedom. It is us, the American people, who support our politicians in revoking our constitutional freedoms in the pursuit of the illusion of safety. We must stand up and take responsibility for our own safety to whatever degree we possibly can and not expect our government to be the all-providing parent.
We are becoming a nation of kennel dogs.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
Short of a Second American Revolution, or Civil War II, I doubt we will see anything but politics as usual. America has given her politicians too much power, and they are not likely or easily going to give it back. Don’t give a shopaholic an unlimited credit card and then complain about the bill at the end of the month!
There are no easy solutions to the nested problems we face today. Alternative fuels to supplement and replace our oil dependance? Good start. Everyone drive electric cars? Fine, but short sighted – we’ve traded oil dependency for electric woes. Our electric grid has enough demands on it now, do we all need to plug in our cars at night? Only if you want to face rolling brown-outs/blackouts year round. Come enjoy a Summer Day in Texas with no air conditioning because of a rolling brown-out. You’ll jump in your gas guzzling car and drive around, just for the AC.
It will take something drastic to slice through this Gordian’s Knot.
You make an excellent point about electricity not being the answer. I have heard of engines that run on used cooking oil and even human waste, though. Seems those would be viable avenues of sustainability that could make excellent alternatives to oil. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
I appreciate this post and wanted to comment too about the soybeans replacing poppies. Look up suicide farmers. The farmers are being tricked into buying GMO seeds which are sometimes more than 1000% more expensive than the seeds they’ve been saving for generations or “regular” seeds. They are sold these seeds under the promise they will not have to spray the fields for pests or fertilize or water as frequently or anything else which costs money so then the higher price of the seeds is a wash.They’ll actually make so much more money, they are told, because these seeds have a higher yeild. These seed salesmen actually visit the individual farms, door to door, to sell the seeds that other countries have banned.
So, they buy the seeds, sometimes taking out loans to do so, they have families to feed and the income and promised yield are very tempting when you’re starving. And then they have crop failures with these magic seeds. They find out they DO need to be fertilized, herbicided and pesticided, they DO need to have the same expensive water just as frequently as their old seeds and the crops still fail. Then they are left without income or product with high loans they cannot repay and a new planting season coming just around the corner. So the farmers take to the fields and drink their own pesticides.
These high debts can reach as much as *one thousand US dollars*. Yes, you read that right $1000. And we allow US companies to go over there and do this to them while we ignore the fact we’re at war.
I’ve heard of seed companies doing similar things, but I hadn’t heard about this scam, specifically. That sounds positively criminal on so many levels. I’ll definitely be looking this up. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated.
Piper, I too would like the world a better place. I hear about soldiers, young and old, single and married, male and female, dying every day and it saddens me. I was pleased they were being ‘brought home’, and it never occurred to me they were in fact being replaced with ‘higher’ soldiers. Buy One, Get One Free springs to mind. That’s like our SAS replacing our boys out there. (Maybe they are or already have). It doesn’t make sense. These soliders are trained to take on certain jobs. Our boys on the ground are trained to do another, just like the boys in the air are trained to do another. Holmes would know more about this than I, but I think it is totally wrong and degrading to the soldier already fighting on the ground.
And on the subject of petrol? Don’t get me started. I wish I could give up my car, but I can’t. For a number of reasons. Living in the middle of nowhere, and schools miles away, I need my car. However, on the plus side, other than school runs, I hardly use it. I am at home nearly everyday – writing 🙂
Great post Piper. And GO ON THE BOYS!
I’m not sure if the UK is doing the same thing. I’ll certainly ask Holmes about that.
You bring up a good point about our schools being so far from our homes. There is no way my kids could walk to school or ride their bikes safely. It’s a good five miles away, and part of it through heavy traffic. I think localizing family needs would be a huge step toward eliminating our dependence on oil. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
We could, if school was a set of interactive online courses that are done at home.
What a great post, Piper. Really got my attention this morning. I had no idea what our current administration was doing, and as usual, it makes me ill. Washington D.C. is so broken right now. There is no such thing as a “regular” soldier. A foot solider just a few years in is no different from a special ops soldier. Both alike are more of an American than any of those serving the voters on Capital Hill.
It’s like unemployment – I hear repeatedly how “so and so” many jobs have been created, but they’re not including the positions that have been eliminated – therefore, the numbers are skewed. How stupid do they think we are? A perfect example – the census workers. I had a family member working during the census going door to door to ensure everyone submitted the necessary household paperwork. I kid you not – she was let go and rehired multiple times once she completed her current assignment. Why? I’m sure because it counted as a “new” job. Give me a break.
Oh, that’s pathetic. I hadn’t heard about how they were juggling the census workers by hiring and firing them to cook the personnel books. All of this is beyond shameless.
As far as how stupid we are, there are people who really do buy their crap. But I think the stupidest ones are the ones dishing it out. They are eating our children and driving us toward a third-world reality. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
My liberal friends would jump me for bringing up Glenn Beck, but that was where I found out about the scam hiring numbers associated with the last Census. If you’re looking it up, Piper, I’ll bet you can find a show clip on it in his archives.
Poignant post. Americans are largely supportive of military actions with defined missions and reasonable expectations of success, and they are willing to sacrifice when called upon to help that happen. But we often forget that our troops are in daily life-threatening battles while we complain about $3-4 per gallon gasoline. Thanks for the perspective.
There is a great disparity between the lives of our military and their families who are fighting our wars and the lives of civilians who have the luxury of choosing whether we even acknowledge that we are at war. The least we can do is be mindful of our troops and do what we can to fight the war here at home. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
I don’t have an intelligent comment to make because you’ve said it all. Can I just pump my fist and holler “right on” and not be a lazy jerkhead?
Catie if everyone did that, I would have no post to write. Thank you for your support.
I don’t usually join in political discussions, but as the wife of a former US Marine (medical discharge from a stroke) who served a combat deployment in Iraq, I felt the need to add a little note to this.
First off, thank you for your kind words about military personnel. My husband has many stories he could tell about people in the US who criticize and even spit on military personnel who return from Iraq/Afghanistan. (He also has many great stories of people who thanked him.)
Second, his opinion and mine is that the solution isn’t to pull troops out. The problems are still there–as you so eloquently pointed out–and if we stop now, they’ll only get worse. And that would be like spitting in the faces of the men and women who have already sacrificed so much.
The solution, as you said, is to change our mindset, set goals, and finish what was started.
Hi Marcy. Thank you for your sacrifice. It’s never just a soldier who sacrifices. It’s his/her entire family and all of their friends to varying degrees. I very much appreciate your input, and I hope our leaders will do right by your husband, your family, and all of our soldiers. I appreciate your stopping by.
Dear Ms Kennedy I thank you and your husband for keeping my wife and children safe.
Should I see anyone spitting on my fellow vets I will respond appropriately. I am confident that with the proper educational opportunity the criminals that are committing that form of assault on our citizens can be helped to rise up from their current parasitic existence and become people, or at least become less kinetic parasites.
I offer your husband my humble but sincere salute. His theater has changed and his battle continues but he is by no means alone.
Thank you both for your kind words 🙂
I came across this courtesy of my friend Ms. Tiffany White. Really great post. If only more people felt this way and actually did something about it. I half-heartedly kid my sister for growing her own vegetables and living very frugally, but I know she has the right idea. It’s people like her who will be less affected if and when things get worse in this country. My husband and I are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where I can walk or ride my bike to the grocery store, bank, dentist, etc. It’s so hot and dry here in West Texas right now, so I don’t do it as often as I should, but I think little changes like that make a big difference in the grand scheme of things. My heart goes out to the families of these brave men. They don’t get the credit they deserve.
For once I’m going to skip the political issues and just state that I sent a donation to the Navy Seal Foundation: http://www.nswfoundation.org/
The Navy SEAL Foundation’s mission is to provide immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and their families.
Thank you for the link Tech Guy. For anyone that feels inclined to take action I will point out one other opportunity. If you have yet to experience the incredible rewards of volunteering at a V.A. hospital I recommend that you consider it. Not everyone lives near a VA facility and if you have small children at home you should not be risking the exposure that comes with frequent hospital visits.
For those who are in a position to do so and who are inclined to do so, you may be surprised at what a great experience it can be to spend a few hours with our vets. I won’t pretend that they are all saints or that the day will be “easy,” but you will not be asked to do more than you wish to, and I promise that it will be rewarding.
Great blog. I grieve for my brothers in arms, but guess what? If we want to honor them, then we need to get tough, grow a hair, and start kicking butt the old fashioned way, one bullet at a time.that’s the only way to honor a warrior that I know of. I’m no politician, but let me make a few comments.
Now hear this.
Our goal is to break the will of those that would bring arms against us.
That’s the overall goal, secondary is to stand up a soverign government that can take care of themselves. That’s a trickier one, nationbuilding is a very long term commitment. How long did the US take before they were truly independant? It wasn’t a few years.. Holmes and I should blog together about this one, lol.
We’ve allowed the politicians to decide miltary strategy. We can’t break the will of the people if we aren’t allowed to close with and destroy the ones that oppose us. Currently, we aren’t allowed to make things miserable for the population in order to break their will to support those that are taking up arms against us. Basically, our goal is roadblocked by politicians. The very ones that sent us there in the first place. How about this, let us do our jobs, the most honorable of all professions, and let the politicians stay out of it. Don’t worry about us, we got this!
As far as the comment about going all electric, all I have to say is get ready for the cost of electricity to cost more than fuel. The government will reapply the loss of the fuel surcharges and taxes to electricity. That, and I live in the USA, and value my freedom of choice.
Thank you Shawn. I agree with you %99. I think that we can do a lot of effective things without going out of our way to make the locals more miserable than they already are. I do think that a more aggressive stance in Iraq would reduce our casualties as well as civilian casualties. By playing the “catch and release” game we allow terrorists to strike at will and at low risk to themselves.
In my opinion our “nice war” tactics in Iraq have allowed various Iraqi criminal gangs to grow at the expense of US and Allied personnel and at the expense of innocent civilians. We do the Iraqi civilians no favor by refusing to take charge and get the job done.
At the moment I am currently constrained by professional ethical considerations and I shall resist the temptation to comment on our policies and tactics in Afghanistan.
Suffice to say there are tactics, techniques, and procedures that allow for the prosecution of our enemy. That’s all the public really needs to know. We know what were doing, and I also have confidence in the committed units and other organizations in the AOR, to execute the strategies better than any civilian or politician could ever imagine, given the proper support of course. I believe were far smarter than the public at large gives us credit for. This is not military/foreign service/agency of 25 years ago. A more agressive posture is what helps keeps us alive. Case in point Oct 3, 1993. Fear of the way our forces presented themselves from requested assets, caused the casualties it did. Undoubtedly, that same thinking and mindset carried over to Iraq. And in some cases September/october/November of 2001, may have turned out quite differently in Afganistan, if the aggresive posture and requested assets were allowed. Thank you for your service.
Hoo. Piper, you have been listening in on my thoughts. Thanks for leaving out the swear words.
I typed a lot more, then decided not to set fire to your blog with my opinions. So, just, thanks for the post. It took courage and grace to come out the way you have.
Good to see you, Texanne. I have no problem with you setting my blog on fire with your opinions. I have always been impressed with the quality of your thoughtful comments, and I am always interested in what you have to say. Thank you for your compliment, and thanks for stopping by. Feel free to cut loose any time.
Piper, This is the most important read I’ve seen in quite some time. You and other commenting on your blog have pretty much spoken my mind. One item missing from the discussion thus far, however, is domestic oil production.
Why do we tolerate putting areas like ANWAR off limits for oil production while we fund our enemies in the Mideast? Why have we moved so slowly to develop new fields like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan, which contains more proven reserves than Saudi Arabia?
At some point in time, we’ll need to replace oil with some renewable fuel, but that’s not going to happen next week or next year. Meanwhile, we need to put every possible effort into developing our own domestic sources of fossil fuels.
Of course, this won’t likely happen as long as tree huggers are allowed to put their private agendas ahead of our nations needs, any more than it’s gonna happen with a man sitting in the White House whose purpose in life seems to be the destruction of the nation he was elected to lead.
Hi Donna. Based on public information my understanding is that the SAS, SBS, and Royal Marine Commandos are heavily utilized in multiple locations now. They are doing a great job but it seems to me that they are being asked to create miracles. When a handful of them escorted a couple of politicians into the Libyan war zone and they were unable to parlay with the unknown rebel leaders many in the British press and government described it as “another SAS debacle”. Apparently the press and the political “experts” believe that the results of reduced funding will be bigger and bigger miracles provided by the SAS and their cousins in the Royal Navy and Marines and when a long shot mission with crazy odds doesn’t pay off like a rigged slot machine they will then blame the SAS and call them incompetent.
Great Britain is more reluctant than the United States to finance and man an adequate military. The central theme at the MOD is “keep cutting then cut some more” yet the folks at Whitehall and at 10 Downing have not cut their ambitions and the UK is in a perilous energy dilemma as is the rest of Europe. When British politicians are not too busy building lavish homes at taxpayer expense they spend their time trying to cut the Royal Navy’s food budget.
Based on the current trend in Great Britain the next battle of Britain will have to be fought with paper planes made in China. R.A.F geniuses like Hugh Dowding and Keith Parks would not be tolerated for five minutes in modern Great Britain. Douglas Bader would be tossed in a brig for having his aircraft damaged and for making too much noise over a residential district.
Churchill himself would be arrested for “hate speech”.
I hope that these trends toward lavish self-delusion in the Unites States and Great Britain can be reversed.
I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here. I’m slightly skeptical, but maybe that’s because I’m European and because I study Criminology.
Right now, poppy fields are destroyed daily. Afghanistani are pushed to plant other crops than poppies and are given seeds for free. However, these normal and innocent people, farmers, not at all extremist and not at all wishing for war, suffer for all of this. Whenever a poppy field is ruined, this means another homeless family. Whenever a poppy field is destroyed, it means parents without money to buy food for their children. Nearly every crop except poppies is worthless in Afghanistan, there are no buyers. Are you calling for the US Army/Administration to simply go ahead and make these people homeless and take their sole source of income? Most of these people are not schooled in any way and poppy cultivation is the only trade they know.
What is more, about 80% of the adults in Afghanistan is addicted to the opium. This means that there is a *high* need for poppy cultivation and opium manufacture – which means there is loads of money to be made in the business. Which means that the Afghanistan culture is corrupt to the core and to the highest levels. Which is the case for every country which economy is mainly based on drug trafficking and consumption of drugs. The US will need help from the local government and police force if they ever want to change anything in Afghanistan, and these people are usually involved in the drug trade as well, and will act against the US to prevent them from destroying their source of income.
Let me just state the following.
By destroying people’s poppy fields, thus their only source of income and thus make them unable of buying/renting houses, providing for food, schooling, health care, what have you, what will be the consequence? More Taliban fighters.
You suggest simply shooting these people. How do you decide who is criminal or not? Is simply being a part of the Taliban or Al-Qaeda enough reason to be executed, even if they have not committed any crimes except eating their food, sleeping in their houses out of pure desperation, because they have no where else to go, because the Americans destroyed their homes? Are they criminal if they’ve cooked for Taliban fighters? Are they criminal for bearing their children? Are they criminal for *being* their children? Or do they need to have been active at the front. And if so, how do you know? Put them all in Abu Ghraib-like prisons and see what happens?
Also, what about the logistics? How do you suggest you find all these people? They took 10 years to find Bin Laden. This is not because he was good at hiding (well, he was), but also because Afghanistan is a hell of a country to navigate – it is rugged mountains only.
Then, oil dependence is much bigger than just the US. US is the biggest consumer of oil in the world by far. All European countries together don’t consume as much oil. I would suggest you start driving smaller cars first, because the engines American cars have are absolutely nuts and unnecessary. 5.0 liter engines? You’d do fine with a 2.0. Our most luxury cars here in Europe don’t even have such big engines. Stop driving your pick-up trucks and SUV’s when you can do with a smaller car.
And what would you suggest the rest of the world do? We can’t simply stop using Middle Eastern oil. What about for instance The Netherlands? My country? We don’t have any oil resources whatsoever – our oil also comes mainly from the Middle East. What do you suggest we do? We’re not going to be switched over to electrical cars tomorrow (although our government is trying really hard which I praise and love).
The US’s biggest problem is not these wars, but the economy. What happens when you don’t have the Middle Eastern oil anymore? Prices will go up even more (and to put this into contrast, in NL we pay $8 for a gallon and although we’re complaining, we’re complaining relatively little compared to many Americans). Oil is the driving force of the US. What would happen to your dollar? It’s already crappy, but then? It’d be catastrophic.
If you stop consuming the Middle Eastern oil, what will China do? They’re less ethical (all things considered) than the US – they couldn’t care less and would buy Middle Eastern oil without any doubt. China would be able to produce even cheaper, which would strengthen their grip on the world even more.
The tagline “Consume less” doesn’t work (this has been proven) – the Western world is *about* consuming, and to not consume would be counter-intuitive and uncomfortable. People live in the now and do not think about the future, mostly. People don’t feel, experience the (direct or indirect) consequences of their way of consuming or behavior and therefore often don’t even care. This is also what leads people to become involved in drug trafficking – people without opportunities want to consume like Westerners (i.e. in South American countries like Columbia, El Salvador, countries in Africa, and of course Afghanistan) and thus resort to drug trafficking and sale. It’s a vicious circle. And you won’t just end it by shooting people.
While I admire your powerful appeal, I think this is a much bigger problem than just the US. I wish the US became less arrogant, that it would stop thinking it has the power to “fix” everything. And by that I don’t just mean what’s happening in the Middle East, but also other conflicts like the “War on Drugs”.
Hi Manon. Thank you for presenting the European perspective.
Regarding the poppy fields, what I am suggesting is that people plant something they can eat and sell on an open market vs. a black market. I’m no expert on commodities, but I’m aware that there are global markets for corn, wheat, soybeans, and other crops that people can eat. People aren’t going to starve if they are growing food they can eat, and they certainly can’t eat poppies. I’m not advocating leaving farmers high and dry. I am advocating that we ruthlessly eradicate the opium trade that is funding our enemies.
I would point out that I did not suggest shooting these farmers. I would never advocate the unadulterated butchery of innocents, and I realize a large number of people in Afghanistan couldn’t care less who is in charge. Nothing exists outside of their tribes and families. I suspect most of them are just trying to get through their day without being killed. They are not actively plotting against us.
That being said, I will be clear. As to anyone actively taking up arms against my country, their choice of action is their choice of consequence. Period. No apologies.
Regarding European oil consumption, the solution to that is beyond the scope of my experience or this blog. I do not claim to know much about Europe or her issues, and I assume Europeans are more suited to solving European problems, which doesn’t make me a very good arrogant American, but it’s honest. ☺
Our cars? Yes. Some of them are ridiculously large and inefficient, and I think there’s great potential for eliminating 20% of our oil consumption by addressing that fact.
Many people have mentioned electricity in the comments, but I actually wasn’t even thinking of electricity as an alternate vehicle fuel when I wrote this blog. There are endless new ideas for fuel in any Popular Science magazine. And yes, things might get very expensive for a while. But that’s what happens when a people are at war. There is a price, and until Americans have to pay it, there is no incentive to be efficient with our troops and our war efforts.
In WWII, we did consume less. It does work. Our parents did it. Our grandparents did it. And it wouldn’t hurt us to do the same.
As for me, I have no illusions about fixing the world. I would like my country to fix itself.
Again, Manon, thank you so much for playing devil’s advocate and filling out this discussion with the European perspective and the arguments on the other side.
Hello Manon. You bring up very important points. I did not write or help write this article so I cannot answer directly for Piper but I will respond on my own behalf.
I believe that Piper is suggesting that the United States directly finance a market for alternative crops rather than just destroying poppy fields. Your point about leaving families starving strikes me as valid. It may be possible to pay the farmers commodities and some cash to burn their own poppy crops and provide them with a guarantee of higher payment for alternative crops. Cash payments are too easily stolen by the Taliban and other gangsters and introducing too much cash too suddenly would cause more economic misery for the farmers.
Your point concerning Afghan government is important. Today I don’t feel free to directly comment on their government but I am glad that you did so in such a blunt fashion. Usually Americans and Europeans hesitate to describe other nations so bluntly. Our unwillingness to accept other nations for what they are has been an exorbitantly expensive habit.
It’s a shame that you are going into criminology. I wish you were instead in a position to take control of Rupert Murdock’s media machine or some other major media machine. A little open discussion and directness would go a long way toward fixing problems in Europe and the United States. When someone asks us how their art work looks I think it’s fine to be kind and avoid bluntness. When attempting to influence the futures of our nations and other people’s nations with the lives of our soldiers hanging in the balance avoiding the truth is a highly destructive policy.
As for the Taliban or any other “gang de jure” Piper has never suggested killing their children or relatives. You ask how they would be found. That may not be as difficult as many suggest. I can not comment further on tactics in Afghanistan today. In the future I will venture an opinion on the subject.
As for the US being the world’s biggest petroleum junkies you are right. We invented the problem and worked diligently for decades to create the current dilemma, and we can work just as diligently to invent the alternatives. While the word “tax” is as welcome as the plague today in our miserable economy, Europe consumes less oil per capita because they have never had an abundance of oil and because they have always taxed it ruthlessly. The key to higher petroleum taxes in the United States would be how the revenues are used. Unfortunately in the last few decades we have spent our tax revenues like ten year-old children with magic credit cards that Santa Clause provided them. Not many Americans will accept higher taxes from a congress that acts with as much fiscal wisdom and integrity as a meth addict with a stolen credit card. I disagree with you about the future of US oil consumption. It may continue to grow but that is not an absolute requirement. It’s simply the meth addict using that credit card until the cash machine stops accepting it.
The US economy is a major problem for the US and the wars are a large part of that. The other major factor is bank fraud and embezzlement. I will resist launching into a tirade about bankers and certain corporations that have done more harm than Al Qaeda or the Taliban will ever do to us. We have spent about a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq so far. That expense cannot be ignored, even in an economy as large as the US economy.
As far as US arrogance, I don’t completely agree with you. Some Americans are arrogant, but I have found slightly more arrogant people in Europe than I have found in the US. The most arrogant Americans can often be found in the television, radio, and print media and in Hollywood. Some Europeans (certainly not the majority) believe that because they are European they cannot possibly be arrogant. If you ask a thousand different Americans if the USA can or should fix all the world’s problems, you would be hard put to find many that would agree. I will simply say that there is too much arrogance in both Europe and the United States. I think that “American arrogance” is a very comfortable and dearly held mythology for some Europeans and for people from other corners of the world as well. The most damaging form of American arrogance is the subtle arrogant notion that everyone in the world will act just like us as soon as we give them the opportunity to do so. It’s sort of a naive notion that “if we just give them more chocolate and tons of cash they will all love us.” This philosophy has been implemented many times in our foreign policy. It has never worked. They don’t love us. Why would they? Most of them don’t love themselves or each other. Why would they treat us better than they treat themselves? They won’t.
The more honest and realistic approach of the American financed and American controlled Marshall Plan was wildly successful in rebuilding Europe after the devastating destruction of World War Two. It succeeded in part because both the goals and implementation were realistic. It also succeeded because most Europeans preferred to live in a peaceful, civilized world.
The US and Europe face a completely different situation now in Afghanistan.
Hi Terrell. Thank you for supporting our troops. I believe that our problems in the Mid-east and central Asia are bipartisan. This mess was brewing long before Nixon came into office.
While I have disagreed with some of Obama’s decisions I would like to give him credit for avoiding a trap in Libya. What European governments wanted was for us to station two carrier groups and a reinforced amphibious task force off of Libya while the US Air Force daily begged for permission to use European bases to fly missions into Libya. All the while we would listen to Europe complain about how we were killing civilians and interrupting their oil supplies. Though we have spent cash on the Libyan crisis Obama did at least not volunteer for us to become the senior scapegoats in that particular enterprise.
We Americans often judge our current administrations harshly. I support that practice. A comfortably ensconced politician (from any political party) is never a good thing.
You are so right on this one. I had the exact same thought when I heard the “troop reduction” speech. An administration that actually achieves real-world goals will not have a problem being re-elected. Similarly, one which reduces numbers merely to put one over on voters who pay attention only to numbers will have an opposite effect on those of us who actually want to know what’s going on.
And yes, I actually have cut my gasoline consumption noticeably – including renting a more efficient vehicle when making long road trips. Challenge accepted!
It’s so true. “An administration that actually achieves real-world goals will not have a problem being re-elected.” And renting a more efficient vehicle for long road trips is a great idea. That alone could make a dent in summertime travel consumption. Go, Susan! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
Wow, thanks for such in insightful post, Piper. My ‘aha’ moment was when you said we should ration gas like they did for WWII. Too often we get caught up in our daily lives and forget there are men and women half a world away fighting for something they aren’t even clear about. Cutting down 20% of our gasoline consumption is nothing to us, but everything to those fighting for our right to drive a car.
Really got me thinking on a broader level about so many things. Thank you.
I actually heard someone talking about how gas was rationed in WWII several years ago, and that was my “aha” moment, as well. I wonder how much easier we can make it for our troops if we do our part here at home and stop feeding our enemies our oil dollars. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
There is no exit from our predicament without pain, but I remain optimistic. After all…
“”Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”
– Winston Churchill
We will reach a point where we are left with no choice but the right one. At that point, some relatively bold political leader will calculate that speaking the truth will benefit them more than the usual pack of lies and tell us how it really has to be. They will be a leader and act on Harry Truman’s advice. “A leader is someone who figures out which way people are going and gets in front.”
Unfortunately, with our country so divided into special snowflake groups, I suspect that threshold will be vastly different for each of us. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Great quotes.
You said it Piper! This is a statement that bears supporting and as a green living speaker I feel the environment is a part of this dialogue. We should be living life to support one another, the earth, and keep humanity alive and surviving versus doing the damage we are currently doing.
Thanks for the post – well written and well received!!
Thank you, Shawna. I seriously appreciate your comment and your added support to this important issue. You rock!
Where to begin…I come from a military family and really appreciate that you took the time to write this post. I agree with a lot of it and, more than anything, I wish that our nation would stop to remember that we are at war and should behave accordingly.
I don’t believe we support our troops as well as we need to and I do believe that Americans are electing idiots to speak on our behalf in Washington. We are giving up our liberties and constitutional rights at an alarming speed yet most Americans are unaware of it.
My cousin is a founding member of ArmyWifeNetwork.com and Army Wife Talk Radio and the support that is needed for the military and their families is a subject that I’d like to see discussed MORE, not less.
Thank you for shining your own personal light on the subject with such courage and passion.
I agree with you. This country needs to spend more time discussing our military and their families. Entire families sacrifice when our troops go to war, and we, as a country, should do more to honor their sacrifice and support them both during their deployments and after they come home. Thank you for your family’s sacrifices, and thank you for stopping by and giving your perspective.