Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You know something is fun when…

A)Crazies on the right what to ban it: Alcohol
B)Loons on the left want to tax it: Bottled Water

These quotes sum up the nuttiness quite nicely:

"If it can be voted out anywhere, it will be here because so many Christians are against it," -Teresa Thomas (works in a Christian book store)

"We believe that God will honor and bless our city,"-Rev. Eddie Gooch

(Gee, dosn't that sound familiar?)

“People enjoy jogging or driving with a bottle of water. There’s a cost associated with this behavior. You have to pay for it,”
-George Cardenas

Friday, June 29, 2007

Where’s the fence?

I am not entirely sure why, but this commercial really amuses me. Perhaps it is the thought of three old ladies cruising along the United States/Mexico boarder looking for a fence. All I know is that it has me asking “Where’s the fence?”

Who needs the first amendment anyways?

John Gibson of FOX News has the best take on the proposed reissuing of the fairness doctrine I have read to date. I am a firm believer in the United States constitution and to me the first amendment is the mother of all amendments. It is what keeps us from becoming communist China, Cuba, or Venezuela. Any attempt to limit it by anyone, conservative or liberal, is just plane grotesque. This is why I am extremely annoyed at the many democrats, and yes even a few republicans, who are trying to silence their critics by reissuing the fairness doctrine.

If your policies cannot hold up to public debate, then how good of a policy do you honestly think it is?

If you still decide to implement this doctrine, then you best be prepared to apply it to all media and to all opinions. If you do not, then you are no better than Mao, Castro, Stalin, and Chavez, just to name a few.

Let us keep free speech free. I may not enjoy everything I hear people say, but I will always defend their right to say it. It is the American way, it is my way.

Another right-wing conspiracy?

Damn you Halliburton! Damn you greedy oil companies! Damn you Bush! Damn you evil conservatives. There you go gouging the consumer again. First it was gas prices, now you are after milk! Is there no end to your evil capitalist scheming?

Geesh! Do you think the whiny sector of our society is going to demand congress investigate the soaring prices of milk? Do you think they are going to demand we tax the profits of the dairy farmers? Do you think they are going to demand more subsidies for alternative dairy sources? Do you think they will demand we cut back on milk consumption?

Somehow I do not see any of that happening.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Iraq: What went wrong?

I have had this post in rough draft form for some time now and I have decided to just post it. I could spend days editing this post as there is a lot in it and I have a lot to say about the subject. So in the interest of just getting this post off my chest, I am going to post it as is. So I am sorry if parts are a little jumbled or oddly worded. Anyways, here goes:

Welcome back to the Sensible Logic analysis of the war in Iraq. I hope you have sufficiently digested the first blog post and are ready for more.

I concluded the last post essentially saying I could not fault President Bush on getting us into Iraq. However, I do find many faults on how this war was conducted. It is worth admitting that I am not an expert on military strategy or counter terrorism, but after listening to hours of analyses and reading page after page about this subject, I have many opinions on the subject.

I will start off by giving my main thesis as to what went wrong. I believe that, coupled with the complete lack of cooperation of the Iraqi people and government, we were under prepared, under staffed, and over confident to handle what came after the fall of Saddam.

To start to dissect my thesis, we need to start at the beginning. The start of the war showcased the best of the American military. No military in the entire world is as advanced, well trained and proficient as ours and the ease to which we took Bagdad proves that. If the war ended then, no one would be second guessing the reasons for going into Iraq, President Bush would be a hero, and the Democrats would not be in charge of congress. Sadly this is not the case, the war did not end there and people have every right to expect better from their elected leaders, especially of the President. He failed to have a “what next” plan for after the fall of Bagdad. This has lead to a series of catastrophic mistakes that has caused us to be in this war 4 years later.

The evolution of the U.S. military is where I think our problem begins. Being the most dominant military force, there has evolved this sense of not wanting to be “too tough” on the enemy as it will certainly make us look like bullies. Imagine if you will the Boston Red Sox playing a baseball games against my 8-year old nephew’s little league team. Do you expect the Sox to bring their “A-game” and play at a major league level? What would you say if Curt Schilling threw a brush back pitch because an 8-year old was crowding the plate? Why I assume you would be little disturbed. With respect to war, since we know we could easily crush a much weaker Iraqi army, what would be the world perception if we just went in there and mowed them all down? There would be outrage, even though I think being super aggressive in the beginning would have significantly reduced future causalities. Unfortunately we will never know if this is true.

Since, in my opinion, Vietnam, this trend of not wanting to be too “mean” has only gotten worse. In the first gulf war, we only fought just enough to force Iraq out of Kuwait. Had we pressed Saddam further, perhaps we would not be in this mess at all. It is the Sensible Logic position that if you make the decision to go to war, you go with the full resources you possesses and use whatever amount of force it takes to guarantee a complete victory. It is important for me to also say, that what force we do take comply with the rules of warfare set by the Geneva Convention and punish those within our ranks that break these rules.

This first mistake leads to the second mistake of being under prepared. Since the United States felt this would be a swift victory we did not bring enough troops and supplies to secure the country or be able to endure a prolonged war such as it has become. This coupled with our absurd desire to be “politically correct” in conducting this war has created the mess we are in.

Because modern warfare has become more of a gorilla type style of fighting, our attitudes need to change as well. This is where the cold hand of reason and logic needs to brush aside the warm feelings of peace and love. Remember we are not the ones who decided to fight street by street in downtown Bagdad. We are not the ones hiding behind innocent civilians. We would have been more than happy to meet in the middle of the desert, but the bad guys are much smarter than that. They know of our reluctance to use brut force when innocent lives may be lost and they exploit this to their advantage. It is a sad reality of modern warfare that civilian causalities are to be expected. If we were to only accept this in the beginning and use the full force of the American military and deal with the fallout of world opinion after, I honestly believe that fewer civilians would have been killed and displaced in the long run. Again, there is simply no way to know this, but I believe it to be true. If you go back to my December 5th post, I tell how Iraqis actually see our reluctance to risk the lives of civilians as a weakness, and these are the Iraqis on our side. You can imagine how the bad one feels.

The third mistake was the complete disbanding of the Baath Party. The Baath party was the ruling party under Saddam and consisted of several levels with Saddam being the highest level member. It is also known that not all levels were equally as evil. It would have been beneficial to remove the upper level members such as Saddam and his family and advisors and work to reform the lower level members. However, we removed all the members, and got rid of all the people who knew how to govern and all that was left was chaos.

When you remove a dictator from power it is inevitable that there is going to be a power vacuum that someone is going to full. We were not prepared to fill it so chaos instrued. As we saw with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Muslim extremist poured into Iraq to fight the “occupiers”. Once this happened, Iraq did become the central front of the war on terror. This is what I mean when I say that President Bush “accidentally” got this right. So while we wait for Iraq to form a completely new governing body, we have people pouring in from all across the region to blow us up.

Our fourth mistake was our ill placed faith in the people of Iraq to embrace democracy and welcome us into Iraq as heroes. We were fooled. We actually thought that the Iraqis wanted to be free, to live together in peace. But we forgot one key aspect to Iraqi culture, which is the thousands of years of distrust between rival sects, not to mention the whole Sunnis exterminating the Shia under Saddam. We weren’t expecting them to forget about that were we? I guess we did. The now Shia majority in the government do not trust the Sunnis and thus have been unwilling to bring them fully into the decision making process. This has led to resentment by the Sunnis which have fueled sectarian attacks. It is a vicious cycle. The suicide attacks on Iraqi civilians by Muslim extremist only serve to fuel the sectarian rift and keep the cycle of violence going. Until the people of Iraq end this cycle, nothing we can do will have any positive effect. You can lead horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. As I said in an earlier post, you can lead people to democracy, but it is up to them to decide if they want to take a sip.

I will blog soon as to how I think we can get out with a victory. But the way it is looking, I am no longer sure there is anything we can do. The Iraqi people just do not want to stop killing each other.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The war in Iraq: The sensible logic analysis

I have been meaning for sometime to offer my views on the Iraq war. Since the overall war on terrorism is of great interest to me, I have a lot of views to offer. Being too much for one blog post, I have decided to make this a multi-blog series. First up, how we got into Iraq in the first place. I apologize for the length of this post.

Sensible logic takes on Iraq (part 1): How the heck did we get into this mess?

The simple answer is September 11, 2001. Now before you scream at me and say that there was no connection between 9-11 and Iraq, let me just say you are right, there wasn’t. The link between the two is much more complicated than that. While there was no direct link between Iraq and 9-11, the terrorist attack of that September morning did get the ball rolling.

Despite what some think, 9-11 was a significant event in American history. For only the second time, the United States was attacked on its own soil. And even though only 3000 died, and many more die each year due to other causes, it was still a heartbreaking event. We were caught off guard and unprepared and people died. Now put yourself in the Presidents shoes. Nine months into your first term your fellow countryman are murdered. The innate desire to defend must have been strong. To not feel that way would be inhuman. Ask any parent how they would react if their child were harmed. The desire to protect them, even over protect them, must be strong. Inaction is simply not an option.

The million dollar question now is who does the President need to protect America from? Who attacked us? Al Qaida did, we know that. Ok then, where is Al Qaida? What is the capital of Al Qaida? What does the uniform of Al Qaida look like? Here in lies the problem, there is no country of Al Qaida we can attack, no flag they fight under, no uniform they wear, and certainly no rules of engagement they follow. So how do we respond?

Our first response was to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan. Does anyone think this was a bad idea? You heard very little opposition to the take down of the Taliban, but did the Taliban plan the events of 9-11? What if I told you they didn’t? What if I told you they opposed the attack? Would that change your opinion of the war with Afghanistan? In reading “The Osama Bin Laden I know”, Peter Bergen states that the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, warned Osama bin Laden AGAINST attacking the United States directly. He thought, correctly, that any major attack against the United States would certainly bring about the end of the Taliban. He was right. So, if the Taliban had nothing to do with planning 9-11 and in fact, was against it, why then was it ok for the United States to attack them in response to 9-11?

This is a grey area we encounter with the new war on terrorism. We are fighting an ideology, not a country. The Taliban certainly aided, funded, and harbored Al Qaida. In addition, the Taliban were committing vicious acts of violence against the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban needed to be stopped and I for one fully support the fight against them.

Given the vast superiority of the U.S military, the Taliban was easily removed from power. Even though the Taliban still pose a problem, their influence has been reduced and there is a new, democratically elected government in power. I know there are issues still relating to the war in Afghanistan, but that is beyond the scope if this post.

With the Taliban threat removed, Al Qaida strong holds within the country destroyed, and Osama on the run, the next logical question for those in government to ask is: “Are we now safe from future attacks? Did we do enough?”

To me the answer was no. We were by no means completely safe. Islamic extremism did not end with the fall of the Taliban, as the Taliban were not the single source of terror. So who do we go after next? This is where the politics of opportunity and the psychology of having been as viscously attacked as we were, lead us into Iraq.

I do not proclaim to know what was going through the Presidents mind after 9-11 (no jokes please), so this is mere speculation on my part. But I do assume he must have been feeling a need to further protect from other threats. I will admit it is a more than viable of an argument to make that he ended up over protecting us, perhaps unnecessarily protecting us. But at this time (pre-Iraq invasion) can you honestly say that? I do not think so. After what we experienced on 9-11, it was more than reasonable to want to “over protect”. To not do so and wind up with another 9-11 would be inexcusable. So then the next logical step in this process was to look for other potential threats.

In examining potential threats in the region, who comes to mind? First and foremost, it should be Iraq given our recent history. However, let us for a movement look at other threats. Saudi Arabia (SA) comes to mind. Certainly there are radical clerics preaching “death to America” within SA. Terror cells operate with in its boarders and there was most certainly Islamic extremism being taught in some, if not most of the schools. So why not attack SA? Unfortunately they are an ally. They have a moderate government which we have a peace agreement with and it was just not an option to attack Al Qaida within SA. Pakistan posed the same issue as SA, a “friendly”, moderate government despite the fact terror cells were operating with in the boarders but again attack was not an option. Iran at this time was little more than an annoyance as was Syria. The only immediate threat to the United States at this time was Iraq. Sure, THERE WAS NO LINK BETWEEN 9-11 AND IRAQ, but Iraq was still a dangerous regime that did pose a threat to stability in the Middle East. There is just no question Saddam was a dangerous man who killed, or was responsible for ordering the killing of hundreds of thousands of people.

This fact, coupled with a deep-seeded psychological need to protect America from further harm is what I believe lead us into Iraq. Perhaps this was rushed, a big leap in logic, or what ever you want to call it, but again, given the psychological impact of 9-11, I simply refuse to fault the President on this one. I honestly believe, for better or worse, that he did have the nation’s best interest in mind. Now I feel I need to preface this, for my liberal readers, that what comes after the initial invasion, I do fault the President on and I will address that later.

Finally, I would like to debunk the “Bush lied”, “illegal war” line of thinking. First off, there is a huge difference between someone lying deliberately and someone being wrong about a particular piece of information. All credible evidence at that time did suggest Iraq was attempting to obtain WMD. Congress read the same material and reached the same conclusion, as did France, Israel, and a whole host of other countries. So when the President stood up and proclaimed Iraq was attempting to obtain WMD’s, all evidence suggested he was telling the truth. Unfortunately it did turn out the evidence was not as strong as thought. Sure Iraq was trying to obtain “yellow cake” from Niger, despite Joe Wilson turning a 180 after the fact, but it turned out that there was no WMD’s inside Iraq. However, there are no mulligans in battle, no do-over’s, no “opps, my bad!” We got into Iraq, deposed its leader and it became our responsibility to see the campaign through. I will address what I think went wrong in section two of this series.

As far as this being an “illegal” war, per the U.S. constitution, the President cannot declare war, nor keep troops engaged in battle over a certain period of time. Only congress can authorize a war, which is what that congress did. So right there this war becomes a legal one. Sorry folks, we do not need UN approval to carry through U.S. foreign policy. The second, and more convincing, case for this being a legal war has to do with the treaty that ended the first gulf war. I have been trying to find the actual treaty online, but have been unsuccessful, if anyone should find it, please send me a copy. Despite not have the text in front of me, I have read a lot of articles that talked about it. One of the provisions in said treaty was that Saddam was to allow UN weapon inspectors complete and unrestricted access to potential WMD sites. It is very clear that between the time the first gulf war ended and the second began, Iraq violated these terms repeatedly. If I am not mistaken, there were about a dozen UN resolutions passed on this matter, and every time Saddam violated them. Hence Saddam was in violation of the original treaty and thus was subject to the military option the U.S. eventually used. I repeat, Saddam violated the original peace treaty, making war a very legal option.

In conclusion I want to say that while mistakes were made as a result of rushing into war, we do not have the luxury of hindsight. What would have happened if we had taken our time, let Saddam violate several more UN resolutions and it turned out Iraq had a nuke, sold it to a terror cell who set if off in the middle of a major American city? Would we be saying: “Sure that sucked, but hey, at least we did not rush to judgment”? Think about it, there is a reason why we always know what a football team should have done the day after we lose a game, what poker hand we should or should not have played after we lost all our chips, but when it comes to people’s lives, Monday morning quarterbacking is simply not an option!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A long hiatus

After a month long hiatus, Sensible logic is returning. To be honest, I was getting a little burnt out on following and commenting on what is going on in the world. Between the on going mess in and over Iraq and the Virginia Tech murders it just got to be over whelming. But after a 10 day long overdo honeymoon in Costa Rica, I am ready to get back to business. First up, I intend on finally giving you my opinion on the entire Iraq mess. How/why we got in, what went wrong, and what we should be doing now. I hope to have this post soon.

In addition, I plan on giving the site a new look and adding some more sections. All I need to do is learn how to write code. No biggie, right?

Check back soon!