Sunday, July 10, 2005

Rebuttals On Iraq

I got some strong responses to my post asking people to think about the Iraq war in light of the terrorist attacks in London. I have feelings on this issue so I will respond, but before I do so, let me tell you about Master Sergeant James Curtis Coons. He was from Conroe, Texas. I have some personal feeling for this man; he was my age, graduated from high school in 1987, same year I did. Unlike me he enrolled in the army immediately out of high school. He won a bronze star in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the war hurt him. He started to see the face of a dead soldier in a mirror instead of his own face. He was evacuated with a diagnosis of post-taumatic stress disorder and wound up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Sometime before July 4, 2003 he committed suicide. We don't know when because:
Exhibit 32 of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Report referring to July 4, 2003:

"At about 2:15 a.m., lady called who said she was the wife of Rm 179 (Coon). . . . She wanted to know if anyone had seen him since he checked in on the 30th. I asked housekeeping to go over and check it out. Door was bolted from inside. . . . We waited a while then . . . got permission to get key."

Exhibit 6 of the report:"I opened the door, and noticed a strong smell of decay, then saw the body of a male hanging by the neck just inside the door. I immediately closed the door and went . . . to contact the police."

...Coons's autopsy, performed by the office of the D.C. medical examiner, lists the date of death as July 4, the day the body was found. At the request of The Washington Post, the coroner of Allegheny County, Pa., Cyril H. Wecht, reviewed the autopsy and said the level of decomposition suggested that Coons had been dead "at least 72 hours."

Coons missed a doctor's appointment July 1, according to the investigation report, which does not address whether anyone followed up. The date of death matters greatly to his mother, who spoke of her son's patriotism. "For someone to say he died on the Fourth of July, it's an insult to his memory," she said. "He loved this country."
Army Gives Family 'No Answers' In Suicide, Washington Post, November 11, 2004

That is not the only insult to Sergeant Coons and his family:
James's widow, Robin, has another question, not about how her husband died but how he is remembered. Today, as the nation honors the service and sacrifice of its veterans, she wants to know: After 17 years of military service, after a Bronze Star awarded for Operation Iraqi Freedom, why is the name of James Coons not counted among the Iraq war dead?

"That really makes me angry. How can he not be put in there as a casualty of war? I don't understand that," Robin said. "It's like, because he did that to himself, he's forgotten."
Army Gives Family 'No Answers' In Suicide, Washington Post, November 11, 2004

Now, on to the rebuttals. Let's take the easiest first:
You are a real ass for saying that Ramona Valdez died for a "stupid war." You have no right to say that. She was a proud marine and died in combat. You do not deserve to mention any soldier's, marine's or airman's name in your blogs with the attitude you have. You shame them all.
Why am I completely unsurprised this came from Anonymous? I have a simple response to this person:

What a shame we lost Sergeant Coons and are stuck with you. There is something you can do about that: Enlist. It's your war, you wanted it, you got it and you're too much of a coward to go yourself. It's easy to be a patriot when its somebody else who is on the frontlines. You are a disgrace and it is you who should be ashamed. Don't you dare question my patriotism. Every day I am doing what it takes to make our nation better and stronger. A patriot isn't somebody who sits by and watches his nation go to hell in a handbasket. You? You're a member of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. Sign up or shut up.

Now we come to the challenge...rebutting an intelligent and well thought out response from El Capitan. I will have to take this piece by piece. In response to my question about how does Al Qaeda maintain the capability to stage a complex multiple simultaneous attack my worthy opponent said:
Same way Hitler managed to launch the Ardennes Offensive in '44. Same way Quantrill's Raiders kept the terror on even after they knew it was a lost cause. The same way Jimmy Doolittle bombed Tokyo 5 months after our Navy was put on the ropes after Pearl Harbor.
I really feel that the only example that El Capitan cited that has any validity is Quantrill's Raiders because his other two examples were of state sponsored military action which had the logistical, strategic and military capabilities of an entire nation behind them. Al Qaeda has none of that. It is, in a large sense a private enterprise without state sponsorship. That is why it has been so hard to kill. Funding for Al Qaeda comes from nations who we dislike and from nations who are our allies: the funding comes from companies, charities and private citizens.

That is why our war on Iraq was such a colossal fuck up. It allowed the terrorists in Afghanistan to escape and disperse. Before we invaded Iraq, Osama Bin Laden was not highly regarded in the Muslim world as a whole. We legitimized Osama Bin Laden by proving he was right when he said that we were crusaders who would invade and occupy Muslim lands.

El Capitan continues:
Being on the defensive does not equate to out of the fight. These are some tenacious bastards, as well as religious fanatics, and to assume they will fold under pressure and give up quietly is applying Western ideals to minds that have never had such ideals. To expect them to adhere to our standards of justice, righteousness and fair play is not only short-sighted, it's part of why this is dragging on so long.
You are wrong, El Capitan. I do not think Al Qaeda is on the defensive. I think that we have just seen Al Qaeda resuming offensive operations against their primary targets: Great Britain and the United States of America. Al Qaeda has a new recruiting and training ground, one we have thoughtfully provided them.

I honestly don't understand what El Capitan is trying to say when he refers to an expectation that the terrorists will adhere to our standards or that they can be reasoned with. I don't disagree with the contentions at all. I think he is absolutely right: terrorists cannot be reasoned with, bargained with or negotiated with. But the fact they are savages does not mean we must be. That is a fallacy. In fact, if we become savages as well, we infect our nation with a spiritual poison that will erode everything that comprises a civil society. This has already begun.

El Capitan says: You appear to believe that a Democrat Party-controlled United States will lead to worldwide peace and prosperity. Good Capitan, if you believe I am that simple minded, why do associate with me? That's an insult to characterize me so shallowly and you know it. And you don't even get the name of the party correct: it is the Democratic Party.

At this stage, we are so fucked I am hard pressed to imagine any way for us to get out of the trap we have created for ourselves in the Middle East. If Republicans present any alternative to the current plan (whatever it actually is) I'm listening. I don't think a Democratic administration could solve this mess in the foreseable future any more than a Republican one could.

I do know one thing: if you keep doing the same thing and getting the same negative results; it is crazy to expect that by continuing that same course of action you will get any different results.

Andy's fantasy (I can't call it a plan):
Develop alternative energy, do a Manhattan Project on alternative energy sources. Put all of our best and brightest on it and give them any resources it takes. When they come up with viable alternative energy sourses then tell the Middle East (Isreal included) to feel free to kill each other all they want with our blessing, because we ain't playing that game anymore.

That sounds like a dream, but there would be no harm in starting out in that direction. It couldn't hurt.