A global ceasefire: a way to remember

blind, deluded militarism

global ceasefireSeveral years ago, I came across a list of American Military Deaths in the Iraq war since May 1st, 2003. Though the list hasn’t been updated since early 2012, and the count since mid-2016, it’s still meaningful. This guy from North Carolina was killed by an improvised explosive device. That guy from Texas died from “wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.”

There is something very powerful about seeing the specifics. These people who died aren’t just numbers. They are spouses, siblings, sons, and daughters. My opposition to that war, from before the beginning is well-documented in this blog.

What happens next?

Will the current regime participate in a global ceasefire or more lost wars? As the subtitle of the article reads: “Like his predecessors from Truman to Obama, Trump has been caught in the trap of America’s blind, deluded militarism.”

“Undercover of highly publicized redeployments of small numbers of troops from a few isolated bases in Syria and Iraq, Trump has actually expanded U.S. bases and deployed at least 14,000 more U.S. troops to the greater Middle East, even after the U.S. bombing and artillery campaigns that destroyed Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria ended in 2017. Under the U.S. agreement with the Taliban, Trump has finally agreed to withdraw 4,400 troops from Afghanistan by July, still leaving at least 8,600 behind to conduct airstrikes, ‘kill or capture’ raids and an even more isolated and beleaguered military occupation.

“Now a compelling call by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic has given Trump a chance to gracefully deescalate his unwinnable wars – if indeed he really wants to.” I assume it’s harder to fight a war when your hands are slippery from hand soap.

There was a recent 60 Minutes report about the military during the pandemic. Exercises were canceled. Extra precautions were taken not to infect servicepeople. Fighting an “unseen enemy” has put the brakes on many activities. Perhaps it is a sign of what we should do going forward.

Or not.

“Mission Accomplished” is Old Enough to Drive

Calling the Iraq war a ‘tragedy’ implies that the U.S. had a legitimate reason to go to war against Iraq in 2003

In response to my post about war protest songs, someone I know IRL, and a very nice guy wrote: “As a veteran, I still have bad feelings about those protesters who demeaned individual soldiers returning from the horrors of war. The young men and women of those days are the PTSD patients of today.

“If you want to protest against something, take it out on the politicians who started the war.”

Far enough. The problem is that by the time the mainstream analysis catches up with the facts, it’s far too late. The American Conservative notes, “The Iraq War Was a Crime, Not a ‘Tragedy.'” Andrew Bacevich, reviewing Michael Mazarr’s Leap of Faith, rejects the author’s contention that the Iraq war was “the product of good intentions gone awry.”

As Daniel Larison points out: “Waging an illegal preventive war cannot be noble and cannot be done with ‘good intentions.’ To embark on an unnecessary war in violation of another state’s sovereignty and international law because you claim to be afraid of what they might do to you at some point in the future is nothing other than aggression covered up by a weak excuse. It is the act of a bully looking to lash out at a convenient target.

“Calling the Iraq war a ‘tragedy’ implies that the U.S. had a legitimate reason to go to war against Iraq in 2003, but there was no legitimate reason and anyone who thought things through could see that at the time.”

That would include between 12 and 14 million people who came out on February 15, 2003, “the largest protest in the history of the world.” I was in New York City where an estimated 200,000 gathered. It was so large that I never got within 40 blocks of the United Nations, the rally’s terminus point. Yet the events were largely ignored.

Now, ‘Mission Accomplished’ Is Old Enough to Drive. We’re still in Iraq. “A few people got rich, a lot of people got killed and the carnage rolls on because too many people thought it was real. My old bar friend was right. The fix was in, and still, too many forget.”

As my buddy suggested of the perpetrators of unnecessary war: “There’s a special place in hell for them.”


Vets say pardoning military service members who were accused or convicted of war crimes is an insult to those who have served honorably.

Now I Know: The Bomb Detector That Was a Dud

Not letting the war-makers off the hook

All wars are political failures worthy of scorn.

As people MIGHT remember, Memorial Day formerly Decoration Day, is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. It was on May 30 from 1868 to 1970, after which it became a “Monday holiday” to extend the weekend.

The tug-of-war between solemn remembrance and summertime fun is almost as old as the holiday itself, so I shan’t rail against its designation as the “unofficial start of the summer vacation season.”

Presumably, the point of the American civilian government is to lessen the number of its citizens killed in war. I was taken by a May 2016 article in Forbes by Todd Essig:

“[Honor] the memory of those who died in war not just on Memorial Day but all year long by actively engaging the political process. Read what candidates say. Hold them accountable for who they are, what they do and what they say. Get news from multiple sources. We have to be collectively smart to make sure the next Commander in Chief has the requisite temperament and experience to make decisions that will inevitably result in the deaths of many sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.”

Not incidentally, he stated that the now current White House occupant does not have those important qualities. The United States withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal codifies that for me.

Essig noted: “Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day does not let the war-makers off the hook. It does not mean forgetting that war is always filled with horror and trauma, mangled bodies and lost lives. All wars are political failures worthy of scorn, as are politicians who fail at peace. And unnecessary wars fought on the basis of ideological faith and incomplete, even fabricated, intelligence deserve our deepest scorn, scorn that honors those who have died.”

A 2015 Vox piece suggested a holiday to honor those who try to stop wars. I had not thought of that, but there is some wisdom in that.

Memorial Day 2017: a worrying recklessness

“His bluster creates a generalized anxiety such that the President of the United States can appear to be scarcely more reliable than any of the world’s autocrats.”

One of the things I want in life more than almost anything is a government that does not, willy nilly, add to the number of people that we remember each year on Memorial Day.

There was a point in the last couple months where the sabre-rattling made me fear that the United States might be going to war in North Korea. AND Syria. AND Iran. Possibly at the same time. OK, we’re already fighting in Syria, but I mean against the Syrian government.

The notion that the current regime wants to increase military spending by tens of billions of dollars is troubling enough. The fact that the plan has been offered by an amateur chicken hawk bereft of military experience is terrifying. Yes, he has some military brass in his Cabinet, and indeed, arguably, an overabundance of them. But the defense of the United States is supposedly under civilian control.

From The Atlantic, way back in December 2016: “‘Appointing too many generals would throw off the balance of a system that for good reason favors civilian leadership,’ writes The New York Times’ Carol Giacomo. ‘The concern is not so much that military leaders might drag the country into more wars. It is that the Pentagon, with its nearly $600 billion budget, already exercises vast sway in national security policymaking and dwarfs the State Department in resources.’ In The Washington Post, Phillip Carter and Loren DeJonge Schulman warn that ‘great generals don’t always make great Cabinet officials’ and add that ‘relying on the brass, however individually talented, to run so much of the government could also jeopardize civil-military relations.'”

And when the person purportedly in charge doesn’t seem to stand by the very words he says, it’s a scary time. He praises international strongmen, such as in the Phillippines and even, seemingly, North Korea.

The New Yorker’s David Remick: He “flouts truth… so brazenly that he undermines the country he has been elected to serve and the stability he is pledged to insure. His bluster creates a generalized anxiety such that the President of the United States can appear to be scarcely more reliable than any of the world’s autocrats… When [he] rushes to congratulate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for passing a referendum that bolsters autocratic rule in Turkey—or when a sullen and insulting meeting with Angela Merkel is followed by a swoon session with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the military dictator of Egypt—how are the supporters of liberal and democratic values throughout Europe meant to react to American leadership?”

This letter to the editor of the News Tribute gets to my concerns: “The administration displays a worrying recklessness, and disregard for both international law and constitutional separation of powers. These actions threaten our security and democratic governance. The administration appears to have no/little concern for diplomatic means to conflict resolution.”

My hope and prayer is that the reckless policy does not add to the numbers we memorialize today, but based on history, that is an unrealistic wish.

Community Service

Civil Works Administration improved roads, constructed bridges, upgraded airports and repaired pipelines.

“Musing”, in Rogerspeak, means that I have some idea, but nothing nailed down yet.

JonStewart.service
I spent part of Mother’s Day musing over this kernel of a thought. It was fed by the dire needs of this country, plus noticing that an increasing number of students are taking a “gap year, either right after high school or during their college years.

Also, there’s a bill in Congress that would require women to sign up for the military draft. Yet, it seemed unfortunate that the only area that seems of value culturally Continue reading “Community Service”