American Hero: Brad Manning (WikiLeaks)

(Photo: AP)

This WikiLeaks story is very similar to the “Deepthroat” in days past in terms of Spc. Brad Manning bringing the raw truth to the public with his very life and freedom on the line to do so.

With any luck this will mirror the effect of the Pentagon Papers in that it will stir up enough public distaste for these wars that the White House will be forced to take actions that bring this to a quicker close.

Much of what was disclosed are things that I have contended are true, like that thousands upon thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians are killed in Afghanistan by U.S. forces but the corrupt mainstream media will not report it because they bought and paid for by corporate interests that make more money off war and endless bloodshed than any gov’t ever did.

But beyond that they lend credence to what was only speculation in regards to the Pakistani Intelligence being a major funder of Afghan insurgents, which means we pay our tax dollars to Pakistan and then those same dollars go to kill Americans.

People need the truth, not a bunch of gov’t whitewash, in order to make an informed decision.

Right now Spc. Brad Manning is sitting in a jail cell for bringing the truth to the public.

All the claims that this endangered the security of troops is completely false. I haven’t read all the documents but they are mostly reports of missions that happened seven months ago or further back than that.

He got it out of there by using a CD-Rs that originally contained music (Lady GaGa & others that he faked lip-synched to while copying the 95,000 docs) which is something anyone with security clearance could have done.

He didn’t ever hit a security wall because there weren’t any in his way. (According to major networks and press outlets, which have deceived us in the past so it’s possible we are missing vital parts of the story at this time.)

This was a huge amount of accounts of what really happens in Afghanistan that people like you and me are usually not allowed to know until years after a war is over.

Thanks to WikiLeaks and Manning we can see these reports right here and now.

Personally I think that’s a good thing.

I’ve had enough bullshit. I don’t know about you.

This young man is a hero.

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Vanda Felbab-Brown: “It’s All or Nothing in Afghanistan”

Vanda Felbab-Brown has written an excellent piece on the situation as it stands in Afghanistan.

She is less in favor of the “golden path” in the middle between war-hawking and peace-doving than I myself am but I see well the point she has made in this article and where it conflicts with my own views on the situation.

We should not delude ourselves that the middle is the golden path. Instead, we need to decide how much we care about the stakes and whether we are willing to resource the mission properly to achieve them.

In the Afghanistan strategy debate, two basic options have crystallized: a militarily beefed-up counterinsurgency or limited counterterrorism through selective strikes, many from the air and offshore. Public support seems limited for the former. Given the importance of the on-ground human intelligence, the effectiveness of the latter is questionable and, anyway, narrow counterterrorism was essentially the U.S. policy in Afghanistan until 2005 while the Taliban grew and al Qaeda regrouped. Hence strategists are proposing options that lie seductively “in the middle.” But these are unlikely to reverse the deteriorating security and produce a self-sufficient Afghan government.

My point here is simply that counterterrorism strategies need time in order to work, if they are going to have any positive effect at all, and that the true measuring bars of success in the region being brought into a more realistic framework is a step in the right direction. What remains to be seen is if these recent strategic changes will impact the situation for the better, so we might exit the region sometime before I have grandchildren, or if these new solutions have only further aggravated the situation in Afghanistan.

Should all our efforts prove fruitless and our options only include massive counterinsurgency troop build-ups with no clear exit in sight that we should then consider the complete withdrawal as the only reasonable option and to dismiss or diminish the need to seek a workable solution in Afghanistan or start realistically considering complete withdrawal. Just as Vanda put it: “we need to decide how much we care about the stakes and whether we are willing to resource the mission properly to achieve them.”

Neither A Dove, Nor A Hawk

I realize I am casting myself unto outcast island with my support of the Afghan Surge, but this was exactly the policy I was advocating the president take in the first place. A increase in troops only under the predication of a withdrawal time line and clear goals set that are attainable. In essence the nation building that they do, that they don’t want to call nation building, needs to be either stabilized or abandoned. That is the hard truth of the matter, like any other war that we start as a nation we must come to bring it to an end-point.

It sounds rather strange, but I reject the rejection of the proposed draw-down in 2011 as being nothing but a smoke-screen or a political ruse on the left. Even in the announcement of this policy it sparked immediate reaction from President Karzai in terms of a statement about not being ready to handle security for “fifteen years.” That, of course, is absurd but it proves that much needed pressure is being applied for Karzai to take up a stronger level of national security in Afghanistan. There is also the larger foreign policy issue in terms of the surrounding regions being aware that the US is there to fight, but not there to stay on into infinity. Senator John McCain, who aspired to the highest office and did not take the seat that would have made this very decision, disagreed on this point of the Obama war policy utterly and advised against it in his “wisdom.” Then finally we have the matter of simple follow-through in terms of the campaigning in 2008 over Afghanistan being the “right war” from the Obama camp.

Many view it as Obama has placed himself in a box of being trapped to deliver on campaign promises, but I believe his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize was by far the most important and the most revealing speech of his entire political career. He placed himself on one side of an old argument started long ago by Saint Augustine as to if there is such a thing as a “just war” and I happen to be of the view that there is no such thing as this. However, if you remove that element of theological disagreement between President Obama and myself then I believe this speech answers almost every point of contention coming from the left toward the Afghanistan war policy.

This not the policy of a dove, any more than this is a policy of a hawk.

What we must avoid is creating the power vacuum of our sudden absence but at the same balance that fact that you and me everyone else is sick of war and just done with it for no real reason beyond just that. Which is good! But let’s do it right. Let’s bring about an actual “end-game” to this war and if deadlines are extended and we are left with “half a war” as we have in Iraq then I say that it still better than the McCain / Bush policy of “muddling through” in Afghanistan.

I am far from beating the war drums over here and as I have stated before my heart just cries out to “bring them home now!” but there is element of rationality that needs to be applied here to anything that is within the realms of war policy discussions. I am yet another of these “not a dove, nor a hawk” individuals who seek balance out an ugly reality against desires for peace. My support of “troop surges” and “soft power solutions” dissolves quickly as deadlines become discarded like the public option or when the troop increases become “like a drink of water” but as this policy stands I believe that we have to give these strategies a chance to work in order to ensure a future that might finally see an end to the war.

I’m certainly willing to admit to a possibly overly optimistic view on the matter, but I think this was the right policy for Afghanistan as the situation stands now.

Obama Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech pt.1pt.2pt.3

Afghanistan; Operation Enduring Freedom Continues

President Barack Obama West Point Speech

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign then-candidate Barack Obama promised the mother a fallen American soldier to not only end the war in Iraq, but the war in Afghanistan as well. I am of the mind that now-president Barack Obama has not forgotten that promise. Many of my fellow Democrats are feeling disenfranchised by the recent official announcement of the decision to increase planned combat-troop levels to 30,000+ in Afghanistan I believe many in the party are taking a dangerously narrow view of militaristic policy.

I’ll simply cut the chase: you break a nation, you bought a nation.

The consequences of immediate withdrawal, in my view, far outweighs the alternative. Should we abandon this nation at this critical stage, after invading and attempting to remove the native opium crops, would be a tragic mistake that would incur even greater wrath upon the U.S. than this “end-game” measure of increased combat-troop involvement. We must not be blinded by political partisanship nor by strong personal feelings against war, that I personally share in this decision to prolong the war. This troop “surge” is accompanied with a clear strategy for withdrawal as well as some long since needed pressure upon the Karzai government in the form of this planned 2011 draw-down / transition of security responsibilities.

President Obama rebuked me in my comparison of Afghanistan and Vietnam. I agree with his statements that it is a “false reading of history,” upon review. But I disagree that what we are fighting in Afghanistan as being “not a popular insurgency.” The radical Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies are indeed a “popular insurgency” in some regions, while not in others. Afghanistan is a highly complex power structure and in every way different from the recent conflict in Iraq or the situation during the Vietnam War, but this is all the more reason to set attainable goals and prepare an exit strategy. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of counter-insurgency fighting endlessly in the Southern Provinces. We must shift to a counter-terrorism methods in Afghanistan and in order to this it is indeed true that “space” is required, bought with combat-troops of course. The ultimate goal being to seek a similar situation to what exists of involvement in Iraq as of today; a complete withdrawal of all combat-troops.

The sooner it is seen that no nation can “win,” or “lose,” in Afghanistan the sooner we can conduct sound policies in regards to our involvement therein. This is not the no-man’s-land that some make it out to be, much can be achieved with hard work, but we also should not delude ourselves into thinking we can remain troop committed indefinitely to a nation with practically no central government and huge population that is 80% illiterate.

Our humanitarian and intelligence-gathering operations must be secured for the time being and the politically unpopular troop surge is a means to this end. This is a changing in the “face” of this war and I personally hope that we can meet this 2011 time line for beginning combat-troop withdrawal and more importantly that is not simply an arbitrary line in the sand.

I urge people on the left against rush to judgments all is for naught in Afghanistan by value of the nation’s long history of failed attempts at conquering it. This new strategy is not “conquest” but rather supporting existing efforts and expanding upon the model of political solutions with regional leaders. An opportunity will be created in the next two years for Afghanistan to stabilize, but in the end the stand against terrorist tactics must come of the people. That much is out of our hands, it is true.

From GlobalSecurity.org:

Along with protecting local Afghans and reducing violence, new efforts are focused on cutting off the funding of the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents. US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke spoke of a new thinking on the issue during a June 2009 visit to Pakistan. Holbrooke said the long-held notion that Afghanistan’s illicit opium trade is the main source of funding for the insurgency is simply not true. And, he says US policy is going to reflect that reality. “If the drugs ended tomorrow, it would not have a major effect on the Taliban source of funding,” said Holbrooke. “And, that’s one of the reasons the United States is going to downgrade crop eradication as part of its policies in Afghanistan. We’re going to upgrade interdiction. We’re going to upgrade our efforts to go after the main drug traffickers. But we want to focus on where the money really comes from.”

According to PBS & independent news media this is indeed true, but mainly because the Taliban has moved toward kidnapping, extortion and money-laundering as opposed to opium-running.

I do not support actions that only needlessly escalate war, but this change in strategy is likely the only course of action that will bring our major operations inside Afghanistan to a timely close. The president spoke of “muddling through” in reference to the former policy and I would say the same of those promoting this policy of rapid withdrawal. It appears to me that many in my party and that I agree with on a host of other issues propose “muddling through” the careful process of timely and permanent withdrawal from these costly foreign incursions brought about under the George W. Bush Presidency.

Regardless of progress on the ground the generals will always ask for more troops and the person we charged with the responsibility over such matters has decided that the 30,000 troops in Afghanistan for the elections is going to stay and more will be deployed in months to come. Provided agencies like the UN are included more directly in solution-seeking and the model of focusing on political solutions as opposed to only military solutions to bring an end to the conflict there is no reason to scoff at the 2011 deadline for strategy review.

This was a mishandled war left by the previous president and one does not clean up a rotten pile of eggs by screaming at it; you get a shovel.

My heart still cries out: “Come home, America!”

But this is very similar to my views on the aftermath of the U.S.-Iraq Invasion: rapid withdrawal has serious consequences not to be ignored but it is equally important to note that keeping the pressure on our representatives to set clear goals and bring the U.S. involvement to an eventual close as quickly as humanly possible is the responsibility of citizens that fund these conflicts.

To leave now is folly.

This was a predictable “middle-option” and under the current circumstances I believe it was the best possible choice available to the president and the true value of this decision is yet to be seen.

Post 9/11

In October 2001, in response to the Taliban regime’s protection of al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States, coalition forces forcibly removed the regime from Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban’s ouster in late 2001, remnants of the regime have sheltered in remote reaches of Afghanistan’s mountains, mainly in the south. While they stood little chance of retaking power while the US-led coalition remains in Afghanistan, rogue Taliban members appeared to be regrouping.

Evidence mounted by early 2003 in the southern regions of Afghanistan that the Taliban was reorganizing and has found an ally in rebel commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, labeled a terrorist and hunted by US troops,” the Associated Press reported in early April. The evidence included the discovery by coalition forces of around 60 Taliban fighters holed up near the village of Sikai Lashki, 25 miles north of the southeastern village of Spinboldak. Further indication came from the killings in southern Afghanistan of a Red Cross worker and, separately, of two U.S. troops in an ambush, as well as allegations that Taliban leaders had found safe havens in private homes in neighboring Pakistan’s Quetta province.

While no reliable estimates existed of the number of Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, the Associated Press said in late March that it is believed that “many” Taliban are holed up in the southern mountains.

While a multinational force helped keep the peace in Kabul and surrounding areas, contributing countries have declined to extend the force’s mandate to other parts of the country. Remnants of the Taliban and rogue warlords sometimes threatened, robbed, attacked, and occasionally killed local villagers, political opponents, and prisoners.

This is what I spoke of before on this blog.

Our target was al-Qaeda and we should have handled the matter as a militaristic police force instead of “forcibly removing” this Taliban regime in 2001. This is the very nature of the trap of nation-building and these recent changes in war policy are a reflection of the situation as it is now and how to combat the elements are indeed a threat to national security while avoiding the pitfalls of unilateral nation-building. This is a policy that will hopefully provide enough security to focus on counter-terrorism efforts along with regional stabilization so that our exit from the region does not serve to only further destabilize a volatile situation.

Why Does Thou Bloggist So?

I’m The Mad Hatter, as I explained in a previous post, and this is free-flowing cognitive-internet instant-publishing a.k.a. “blogging-for-nothing.”

For those of you who are highly against internet / blogger-net advertising let me tell you a little story:

I once wrote more than one very thought-out essays that were duplicated from my own websites and posted elsewhere on the web with no authorship included, and of course ads all over it.

I gave up on this notion of “internet purity” on that day.

Anything and everything you post on the internet you completely lose the rights to, end of story.

As long as I don’t have the rights to it I guess it really doesn’t matter if I fully “monetize” all my three-platform blogging. So far it’s been two out of three and I don’t really want to put ads on WordPress. I like the site just like that, but in all reality: “If you are not making at least some amount of money on this post you are being screwed.” That is, if you put a piece with any amount of work to it that is only backed by your personal credibility.

I had mixed feelings about being “word-jacked” at the time, and I still do.

I have spoken of a sense of “duality” about myself before. This whole issue expresses it well.

Part of me was angry, nobody will ever read something else of mine if they wanted to and only saw the duplicate, and the other part of me was pleased.

I am the “most imitated.”

Imitation is the highest of flattery.

Thank you, random internet spam-bot / scammer, you promoted my analytical essay on society and politics to a website that most likely obtains far greater hits than I do.

Yay!

As to another topic, the topic in question here:

Why does Eric blog, anyway?

Surprisingly, I’m sure, it’s a dual-effort.

One part of me is on here to “just have fun” as my About describes on WordPress.

The other part of is sitting around going: “Hey! I have rarely spoken point of view and the inside-line on certain elements of hearsay and what have you. I gotta get out the word!”

An example?

The Afghanistan War should have been handled like a police action from the beginning and we should have been out within a year or two, and of course not invading Iraq in the first place. What we have now is this term “quagmire” I am sure we are all familiar with by now.

The Politics of War has to stop. The Politics of War-for-Profit might have taken a heavy blow with the absence of Republican John McCain in The White House and the re-naming of Blackwater to “Xe” but the peril remains in continuing to feed to war machine.

Something like that, probably.

Another example?

Maybe my anecdotal tale of Lockheed-Martin military bunkers and firefighters and explosives and wildfires.

I’m not saying: “I rule.”

I’m saying: “Somehow I don‘t totally suck.”

I have been going through here and “enhancing” my blog-posts. Not taking things out, that’s not it. I have deleted one post, because I was so vague it was upsetting to me to actually read it. It was one of the first posts I did. I like to add links, correct typos / bad grammar o’ mine, rambling sentences, and images / video.

I would like to point out to fellow bloggers that we have a problem here: Nobody, and I mean nobody, goes backwards on the blogs. (I mean even I forget to go backwards and I love blogs!) It’s all running through the cyber-forest at top speed. It’s impossible to write nothing but trying-to-be-impressive-learning-stuff when something random you posted is just so damn interesting to people and nobody reads the items more to the nature of my thoughts on overseas conflicts. That’s my point, the credibility has to come first here in my case. Unfortunately so, since I am trying to expose false-credibility and bad business practices.

There are a rare pack led by Ezra Klein that have obtained a high level of credibility mainly by value of their online-work alone, but I present to you that these people may be some of the great minds of our times. The bar is far too high.

I have the utmost respect for Ezra Klein and his work. I have only neglected to “blogroll him” because of sheer laziness. His work in researching the health care bills should not be overlooked.

I am the soothsayer of the internet!

I spoke of “astroturfing” prior to Nancy Pelosi and prior to Keith Olberman attaching it in front of every word he says.

I didn’t say “astroturfing” but I couldn’t remember that term or the book in which I had read it before, so whatever.

But hey!

I’m running Congress from my laptop over here! Does anybody know this!?!

Now you do!

I’m totally convinced that (not really) that major figures across the nation in media and politics are reading this blog on a regular basis!

You should too!

I hold the Liberal Movement is in palm, where I go they go.

They back me about Fox.

They back about astroturfing.

Before they go there, I have to go there first.

You know what I mean?

The “trend-setters” be known by their own arrogant volition.

It’s writing practice. I have a few novels on the back-burner. When I just completely stop blogging for awhile it’s probably because I am writing a lot.

Those pieces of writing I posted on Open Salon are what I call: “dead ends.”

That’s the “real-life” response when I am asked this question.

I am just practicing my writing and at first everything went online and now if I do something really good I probably shouldn’t post it and just hang on to it.

Some pf the stuff I am working on behind the scenes is that which is designed to be very “internet-draft” but still well composed and substantial.

I saw an ad in Harper’s Magazine that caught my eye and I apply the concept to blogging rather than news magazines:

“100% Content Free”

How much of blogging is just “content over substance” and do we give proper regard to those who have substance?
I merely pose the question without pointing any fingers or giving any examples of low-credibility internet publishing.

I’ve always invited people to “fact check me” as Monique C. did when I made the declarative statement that “tea party people did not vote in 2008.”

I believe I still have neglected to reply due to internet-swamping but she was right to point out that I have no statistics.

I don’t. I also say in the body of the blog where I am basing it off of though: people who are either blogging under their own credibility on the right wing or those who espouse on open forums like talk radio / internet domains.

So it is just an assertion of mine and she was right to point out that I probably should have just said upfront that I have no figures or numbers of any kind to back it up, it’s complete web-punditry.

I dunno. I proposed a health care bill over here … I mean, I feel like writing one out just so people can see it’s not magic fairies from pixie-land. It’s called “legislation,” and for some strange reason I can read it.

Strange places this blogging journey is taking me.

Editorializing … everything!

Come Home, America


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew well of what he spoke when he addressed a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4  (1967) in regards to the Vietnam Conflict:

“Come home, America.”

In Harper’s Magazine, Andrew J. Bacevich made the connection between Dr. King’s words and the current war in Afghanistan. I wholeheartedly agree, and would press further this point by taking a look at the heading-titles from the speech itself:

1. “The Importance of Vietnam [Afghanistan]

I believe it well past the point in terms of the expenditure of American Treasure to the nation of Afghanistan to set a clear withdrawal strategy, and then hold to it.

2. “Strange Liberators

We are not the nation to spread liberty and justice for all across the Mid-East. Whatever preconceptions one may have, the fact remains that stabilization efforts that operate outside U.S. Military influence remain intact while U.S. facilities are destroyed and rebuilt in a constant cycle within Afghanistan.

3. “This Madness Must Cease

We cannot afford to throw lives and money into a nation with no clear estimation on how long it will take to achieve this lofty goal of a “terrorist safe-bed” being prevented from being formed. The bottom line is we are pointlessly infrastructure-building and policing Afghanistan, and this madness must cease. Sooner rather than later.

4. “Protesting The War

At this stage, in November of 2009, I do not believe there is a valid anti-war protest platform to take. President Obama is weighing the decisions carefully. However, should his decision-to-come be something to nature of huge troop increases with no time line for withdrawal I believe the voice of the people should be known in the streets.

5. “The People Are Important

The people of Afghanistan are who are important in this issue. The constant fighting takes more and more innocent lives every day. Without a time line and an attainable mission statement, the continued occupation of Afghanistan is nothing but a quagmire. A quagmire that not only costs American lives, but the lives of those caught in the crossfire.

If truly we seek to build up nations that have systemic problems that may effect our national security agenda then as Bacevich reminded us the nation of Mexico would be of primary interest to those in Washington D.C.

The U.S. could take part in other “humanitarian invasions” under these same circumstances.

The entire concept that we can “fix” another nation with increased troops and increased involvement is absurd.

Andrew J. Bacevich:

Fixing Afghanistan is both unnecessary and impossible. Rather, we should be erecting and maintaining a robust defense.

I find it rare to find people willing to make the pro-defensive military argument. I applaud Bacevich for this recent article in Harper’s. Worthy of your attention, to be sure.

I Am The Stone That The Builder Refused

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I am the stone that the builder refused,

I am the visual,

The inspiration that made lady sing the blues,

I am the spark that makes idea bright,

The same spark that lights the dark,

So that you can know your left from your right,

I am the ballot in the box,

The bullet in the gun,

The inner glow that lets you know to call your brother son,

The story that just begun,

The promise of what’s to come,

And I’ll remain a soldier until the war is won.

(Lyrics by Asheru)

These words can be taken many ways and turned to suit the ends of the unjust and the power hungry.

But that is not how these words were writ, not how they were intended.

They are like the mantra of the truth-speakers and the brave souls still fighting for social justice in an age of mainstream racism on media entities like Fox News.

I will remain a soldier until this war is won. I want to make that clear. I am not backing down, nor going away.

They’ll have to kill me to get me to stop spreading the truth about the corruption in our government and our press.