Tag Archives: Iraq War

Some way to change the subject

I don’t know for certain why Donald Trump chose this particular moment to kill an Iranian terrorist leader, but it certainly has yanked the nation’s attention away from the other big story on a lot of Americans’ minds.

That would be the pending impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. Yeah, we still have that matter to settle, too, but back to the crisis of the moment.

The president ordered the air strike that killed Qassem Sulemaini, head of the Revolutionary Guard. The Iranian government is angry. As in fiercely angry, you know? Who can blame ’em? Imagine some hostile power launching an air strike that killed, say, our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sulemaini was, I suppose, the equivalent in Iran. Except that he was a hostile enemy combatant. He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. service personnel and thousands of others. Therefore, his death is nothing approaching an “assassination.”

However, it has steered our attention away from impeachment. I suppose that’s — politically speaking — good for Trump. He is now dealing with the potential after effects of this surprise hit.

I’ll be candid on this point: Given the stakes involved with a potential Iranian response to Sulemaini’s killing, public discussion about impeachment juxtaposed with the dire peril that might be lurking will seem even more like a partisan exercise than it is already.

I guess my sincere hope at this moment is that the Donald Trump administration is pulling out all the diplomatic stops in an effort to prevent war with Iran. Trump says such an event would be over quickly, and that Iran wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of firepower from the world’s pre-eminent military power. Remember, though, the Bush administration said as much about going to war with Iraq; it didn’t work out that way.

The president did say the other evening that he prefers peace over war. Uh, so do the rest of us, Mr. President. The sooner we can resolve this Iran crisis the sooner we turn our attention to pondering that impeachment trial.

War on terror: a conflict with no end in sight

While the world digests the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of U.S. Delta Force and CIA commandos, it is grappling with what the Islamic State leader’s death means in the war against international terrorism.

I want to offer this perspective, which is that al-Baghdadi’s death won’t signal the end to the war against terrorists, let alone against the Islamic State.

It is my view at least that 9/11 signaled a new era in U.S. geopolitical activity that doesn’t appear to have an end anywhere in sight.

We’ve known for many decades that terrorists were out to “get” us. The 9/11 attack 18 years ago simply burst that awareness to the front of our minds. Al-Qaeda’s daring attack signaled to us all that we were perhaps more vulnerable than we ever thought.

So the war has commenced. I share the critics’ view that the war on terror has taken a bizarre turn at times, particularly with our invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the misery that the Iraq War brought, given that Iraq had no connection with al-Qaeda, nor did it possess weapons of mass destruction.

However, the war on terror is likely to continue until the world no longer contains terrorists willing to die for the perverted cause to which they adhere.

In other words, we’ll be fighting this war forever.

Whether we fight at the level we have been fighting remains to be seen over the span of time. If 9/11 taught us anything it should have taught us that we cannot let our guard down for a single moment.

Not ever.

9/11 still seared into our memory

Many millions of Americans are recalling a terrible day that dawned 18 years ago today. It didn’t start out that way, but it got dark in a major hurry.

They’re remembering where they were when they heard the news. Me? I was at work at the Amarillo Globe-News.

My colleague walked into the office and stuck his head in the door: “Did you hear the news. Someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center.”

I asked two questions: How big was the airplane? How was the weather? I don’t recall my colleague knowing it was a jetliner. He did say the weather in New York City was beautiful.

“What kind of moron would fly into a building?” I asked with all the appropriate derision.

I turned on a small TV I had in my office. I watched one of the towers burning. Then — in real and horrifying time — the world watched the second jet liner crash into the other tower.

In that moment, we knew what we had: an act of war!

The Pentagon was hit by a third jetliner. Then we heard about the Shanksville, Pa., crash involving a fourth hijacked airplane.

We would go to war in Afghanistan. We would toss the Taliban out of power in that remote land and then launch the hunt for al-Qaida terrorist leaders who masterminded the hideous attack.

I will admit to being frightened in the moment. Anger? Absolutely!

I wanted the nation to fill with resolve to defeat the bastards who committed this horrific deed. Sadly, I fear our nation has lost some of its collective resolve. We’ve been torn asunder by a war that President Bush launched against Iraq, telling us that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “something” to do with the terrorist attack … when he didn’t.

To be honest, I remain puzzled on how we “declare victory” in this war. Or if we can ever actually make that victory declaration.

However, the fight goes on. It must go on.

War with Iran? Are you really serious about that?

The chicken hawks who are advising Donald Trump to launch military strikes against Iran need to have their heads examined.

Yep, they’re aboard the “war with Iran” hay wagon. They are led by national security adviser John Bolton, who long has favored “regime change” in Tehran. This is frightening and dangerous stuff, ladies and gentlemen.

The Iranians reportedly have been launching attacks on commercial vessels sailing in international waters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says U.S. intelligence has confirmed Iranian involvement. In an ironic twist, I should add, Pompeo has endorsed the intelligence analysis on the Iranian involvement from the same people he and Donald Trump have dismissed when they said the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016; go figure, eh?

We must not go to war with Iran because of attacks on commercial vessels.

Some members of the Senate are calling for “retaliatory strikes” against Iran. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, is one of them. To be fair, I don’t include Sen. Cotton in the “chicken hawk” cadre; he served as an Army infantry officer who saw combat in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His prior military experience does not make his argument correct. A retaliatory strike is bound to produce a vigorous military response from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And by vigorous, I mean deadly, as in ferocious.

Do we really want to engage in yet another war with a Middle East nation? Good grief! Please, let us not go there!

The Iranians already have announced their plans to exceed their nuclear enrichment limits as payback for Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement that sought to ban Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The president pulled out even though other signatory nations said the Iranians were complying with the restrictions.

This is not how you “make America great again,” Mr. President.

This saber-rattling is making me very nervous.

Military service becoming a 2020 issue in POTUS campaign?

Here’s a bet I’m willing to make: If Joe Biden becomes the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee, he will not discuss the bone spurs that kept Donald Trump out of military service during the Vietnam War.

Why? It turns out the former vice president has a potentially dubious medical deferment issue of his own. It appears that childhood asthma kept the ex-VP from being drafted into the military during the war. He had a 1-Y deferment, which disqualified him from the draft.

Now, is it more real, more legitimate than the bone spurs that Trump claimed to have while he was getting those multiple deferments back in the old days? I don’t know.

Veterans across the country, though, are looking at the field of Democrats running for their party’s nomination. Of the whole lot of them, we have three vets seeking the presidency: Pete Buttigieg, a Navy reserve officer who served in Afghanistan, Tulsi Gabbard, who served with the Hawaii Army National Guard in Afghanistan as well as in Kuwait and Seth Moulton, a Marine who also saw service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To be honest, this veteran — as in me — hasn’t made military service a determining factor in deciding for whom to vote for president. Heck, I voted for a draft-dodger twice, in 1992 and 1996. Yes, Bill Clinton’s clumsy explanation about not remembering getting a draft notice didn’t go down well with me, nor with other veterans. I feel confident in disclosing that those who did get a draft notice never “forget” that moment.

However, it didn’t deter me from voting for him for president.

Trump’s deferments do seem phony. He also continues to blather about hypotheticals involving that time. He said recently would have been “honored” to serve. Hmm. And this individual who lies about everything at every opportunity no matter its significance expects me to believe that?

I’ll just stand by my wager that Joe Biden damn sure should steer far away from this military service matter if he intends (a) to be nominated by Democrats and (b) then defeat Donald Trump.

The field is full of issues to raise against the president that have nothing to do with bone spurs, the Vietnam War and medical deferments.

Our heroic warriors do not ‘die in vain’

A social media acquaintance of mine tells me that Memorial Day is a holiday he wishes “we didn’t need.”

Amen to that.

I want to offer a point of view, though, that might puzzle some readers of this blog. If it does, I will try my best to explain.

My belief is that service personnel who die in conflicts that are deemed to be “politically unpopular” do not “die in vain.” I hear that kind of criticism leveled at our politicians and, to be candid, it makes my hair stand up; I bristle badly at the accusation.

Yes, this nation has been involved in armed conflict that has sparked ferocious political debate here at home.

In my lifetime, I suppose you could go back to the Korean War, which began just five years after the Japanese surrendered to end World War II, arguably the nation’s last truly righteous war.

The fighting ended in Korea in 1953 but to this very moment, South and North Korea remain in a state of war; they only signed a cease-fire to stop the bloodshed.

Vietnam ratcheted the political debate to new levels, beginning around 1966. The Vietnam War did not end well for this country. We pulled our troops off the battlefield in early 1973, only to watch as North Vietnamese troops stormed into Saigon two years later, capturing the South Vietnamese capital city, renaming it after Ho Chi Minh and sending thousands of enemy sympathizers off to what they called “re-education camps.”

The Persian Gulf War was brief and proved to be successful. Then came 9/11 and we went to war again in Afghanistan and less than two years later in Iraq.

We have lost tens of thousands of young Americans in all those politically volatile conflicts since Korea. Yes, there have been accusations that those warriors “died in vain.”

They did not! They died while answering their nation’s call to duty. They might have been politically unpopular conflicts — but the orders that came down to our young citizens were lawful.

I will continue to resist mightily the notion that our heroic military personnel died in vain. I know better than that. I only wish the critics of public policy decisions that produce misery and heartache would cease defaming the heroism of those who died in defense of the principle that grants citizens the right to complain about our government.

I join my social media acquaintance in wishing away the need to commemorate Memorial Day. But we cannot … as long as young men and women answer their nation’s call to arms.

No war with Iran!

Donald John Trump continues to send astonishingly conflicting messages.

Back when he was running for president of the United States, Trump said he opposed sending U.S. troops into “useless” wars. He cited the Iraq War as Example No. 1 of a war that wasn’t worth the fight. I happen to agree with him.

Now here he is, two-plus years into his term and the president is threatening to go to war with Iran. What the hell?

Why is that? Iranian-backed Yemeni forces have been launching rocket attacks against Saudi shipping. They are threatening the flow of oil out of the region. Trump says Iran’s continuing provocation could prompt a devastating response from this country.

We have sent the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group into the Persian Gulf. We’re flexing our muscles. We’re telling the Iranians: Don’t mess up, here, or else you’re going to pay too drastic a price.

Trump made the correct call to end our involvement in these wars with no end. Now, though, he has surrounded himself with a cabal of uber-hawks — led by national security adviser John Bolton — who seem hell bent on going to war with the intention of overthrowing the ayatollahs who run the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I am not prone to insist that Trump rely on his own instincts, but on this matter, he should do exactly that.

However, Trump also says Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. But wait! We had that treaty that aimed to end Iran’s nuclear development; then the president pulled us out. But . . . there are reports from other nations still involved in the agreement that suggest that Iran is actually complying with the conditions set forth by then-President Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry.

I’m baffled. Confused. Bumfuzzled.

Listen to that wiser angel whispering in your ear, Mr. President.

There he goes again: disparaging another beloved American

I am shaking my head yet again at something the president of the United States has said.

Donald Trump told the Washington Times that he understands why the late former first lady, Barbara Bush, disliked him so much. “Look what I did to her sons,” Trump said.

Yeah. Look at that.

It won’t happen, ever, but a tiny part of still wishes the president could exhibit the tiniest sense of public decency when responding to critics.

Mrs. Bush died this past year a few months before her husband, the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, passed away. She made her feelings known in a new book, “The Matriarch,” written by USA Today reporter Susan Page. She disliked Donald Trump. That, ladies and gents, is no secret.

As for Trump’s response, he denigrated Jeb Bush as “low-energy Jeb” while they competed for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Trump boasted to the Times that Jeb was supposed to win, but was eliminated early. Trump also was highly critical of President George W. Bush’s conduct of the Iraq War; I get that criticism, but then again he did use some inflammatory language to challenge the former president.

It’s not in Trump’s DNA to keep his trap shut. Or at least to offering akin to a statesmanlike acknowledgement that a beloved former first lady is entitled to her opinion.

Oh, no. He has to mock her.

Classless.

PR stunt? Of course it is! They all are!

Donald Trump canceled a trip overseas by Nancy Pelosi, contending that her visit to Afghanistan is a mere “public relations” event.

Wow! No sh**? Of course it was intended as a PR stunt. I mean, the speaker of the House wanted to visit with our troops who the commander in chief thrusts into harm’s way. She wanted to tell them the nation supports them and that despite the partial shutdown of the federal government that the politicians who run the government won’t let them down.

Sure it’s a PR event. However, there is inherint value in it.

It’s as much of a public relations production as the one that the president and first lady performed when they flew to Iraq right after Christmas. The president took selfies with troops, schmoozed with them, hugged their necks, told them he loved them. Then he and Melania flew back home to the chaos that awaited them.

Yeah, these trips are PR events. That’s what commanders in chief and other leading politicians do when they fly into combat zones.

I won’t get into the goofiness of Trump’s cancellation of the Pelosi venture, which looks for all the world to be a retaliatory strike in the wake of Pelosi’s request that Trump delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union speech before a joint congressional session.

However, for the president to say that the speaker of the House’s planned visit to our troops serves no useful purpose other than it being a PR stunt denies the obvious benefit it brings to the troops who get to see and talk directly to the politicians we elect to ostensibly “run the government.”

If only Trump were ‘good’ at lying; he isn’t

Donald Trump is setting some sort of unofficial record for lying, prevarication, misstatements muttered, uttered and sputtered from the White House.

One of his more recent, um, lies takes the cake.

The commander in chief stood before troops in Iraq the day after Christmas. He went to the war zone with his wife, Melania, and told the men and women assembled before him that they had just gotten the first pay raise in 10 years. Lie!

Then he said he fought for a 10-percent pay increase, even though others wanted to grant them a considerably smaller pay raise. Lie!

Our fighting personnel have gotten raises every year for more than three decades. As for the 10-percent raise this year, it didn’t happen. Their raise is considerably smaller than what the president described to them.

Here is what troubles me greatly: Donald Trump’s incessant barrage of falsehoods seems pointless, needless, foundationless. It is gratuitous. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie.

The Washington Post has been keeping track of the president’s lying/prevarication/misspeaking. The newspaper’s total now is past 7,500 such statements — and this is before the end of the first half of the president’s term! His lying is accelerating as well!

I should be more circumspect in calling these statements outright “lies.” To lie is to say something knowing it is false. Some critics have suggested that Trump simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about; therefore, he doesn’t necessarily purposely lie to our faces.

However, Donald Trump has told us repeatedly that he possesses a level of intelligence that few men have ever had. He knows the “best words.” He went to the “best schools.” He got the “best education.” He surrounds himself with the “best people.” Doesn’t all of that suggest to you — as it does to me — that the president should know of which he speaks when he opens his mouth?

The president is a liar. Now he’s gone before the men and women he purports to “love” and revere — our warriors in harm’s way — and lied to their faces!

Amazing.