Tag Archives: Iraq

Is this the deal breaker?

I once thought Donald Trump’s denigrating John McCain’s service during the Vietnam War would have ended his political career.

Or the time he ridiculed a Gold Star couple whose son, an Army officer, died in Iraq.

How about when Trump mimicked a severely handicapped New York Times reporter?

The coward survived all those missteps. He got elected president.

Now he reportedly has disparaged men and women who have been injured in combat. He calls them “suckers” and “losers.” He supposedly didn’t attend a ceremony at a storied World War I battlefield because the rainfall would mess up his hair. Trump reportedly stood at the grave of a young Marine who died in Afghanistan and said in the presence of the Marine’s father, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, that there was “nothing in it for him.”

Does any of this signal the end of Donald Trump’s hideous tenure as commander in chief?

Oh, I do hope that is the case.

The commander in chief is supposed to revere the men and women he commands. This guy doesn’t. The commander in chief by definition honors their service. Not this one. The commander in chief traditionally speaks of the immense pride of leading the world’s greatest military. Not this guy.

Donald Trump must lose the upcoming presidential election.

Zero, to 34, now to 50 injuries in missile attack

What’s going on at the Pentagon?

The Iranians fired ballistic missiles at our forces in Iraq in response to our killing of Qassem Soulaimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Hey, this was a bad dude, a ruthless terrorist chieftain.

The missiles landed on our base. The Pentagon and Donald Trump said immediately there were zero U.S. casualties.

Wait! Then the number rose suddenly to 34 service personnel. The brass said they suffered traumatic brain injury when the missiles blew up.

Now we hear the number has reached 50 military personnel.

Is this how it goes now? The public gets information handed out in dribs and drabs.

We all are grateful that none of the injuries is life-threatening. Most of the personnel who were injured have returned to duty.

This sloppy information release seems all too common in an administration that simply cannot seem to get its story straight the first time.

The men and women who serve us — as well as their families who pray for their safety while they stand in harm’s way — need to know the whole truth all the time.

Are we ready for the Iranian response?

The U.S.-Iran tension has just been kicked squarely in the gut with reports that a drone strike has killed a leading Iranian military leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American service personnel.

Major Gen. Quassim Suleimani is dead. He was the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. He was an evil individual. I happen to believe he needed killin’, as the saying goes. To that extent I also happen to applaud the action taken by U.S. military officials, reportedly at the direction of Donald Trump. The strike occurred in Baghdad, Iraq, where the Revolutionary Guard has been involved in fomenting violence.

Here, though, is the major qualifier we need to understand fully. The consequence of this strike is likely to produce a retaliation from Iran.

Are we ready for such a reaction? Are our forces set to respond to whatever Iran intends to do to avenge the death of someone considered to be a revered leader in Iran?

It’s one thing to launch a strike against a primary military leader. It’s quite another to take such action without a strategy lined out to deal with the response that is sure to be directed at this country or our allies in the Middle East.

I am hopeful the Pentagon brass has developed that strategy and is prepared to deploy it when it becomes necessary.

Oops, those troops aren’t exactly ‘coming home’

Donald Trump declared his intention to bring our troops “home” from Syria. He made a surprise announcement this past week that he would pull about 1,000 U.S. military personnel off the bloodstained battlefield.

He didn’t want our men and women to fight in “endless wars.”

OK, so the president followed through … with part of his plan.

The troops have left Syria, except that fewer than half of them are going “home.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that about 700 troops are headed for Iraq.

I’ve commented already about the idiotic decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State. What is troubling now is that the president’s decision to leave one battlefield is apparently going to put our troops onto another field of battle, where soldiers are still dying.

I concur with Trump’s view that we shouldn’t be fighting in “endless wars” with no conclusion anywhere to be seen. There should be careful consideration, though, on how you do it. Such a plan needs to be crafted with intense consultation with national security, intelligence, military and diplomatic advisers. It doesn’t appear that the president did any of his seemingly mandatory due diligence prior to making this decision.

What’s more, he is sending troops to Iraq?

What the … ?

This vet got one heck of a surprise

FOUNTAIN, Colo. — I am about to offer a brief illustration of just how far this country has come in its treatment of Vietnam War veterans.

It has come a long way from the bad old days when vets from that conflict were treated with maximum disrespect and, dare I say, dishonor.

We ventured to this city to meet with good friends. They recommended a place they were anxious to try out. It’s called “Sarge’s”; it is owned by a U.S. Army veteran and it caters to vets. Its walls are decked out in military insignia, pictures, knickknacks, this and that.

The owner of the place came to our table to chat us up. I didn’t get his name, so I’ll refer to him only as “Sarge.” I asked him about his career: He retired in the summer of 2016 after 23 years of active duty; he was an infantryman. “Oh, you must have seen combat,” I said. Yes, he answered, reeling off deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then I mentioned that my last duty deployment was with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which formerly was based in Fort Carson, Colo., just up the road from where we ate our dinner; I served with the unit when it was based at Fort Lewis, Wash. I told him I had trained as an aircraft mechanic and then served in Vietnam with an Army aviation unit and then was sent to serve as a flight ops specialist at the I Corps Tactical Zone operations center in Da Nang.

“The Army, in its wisdom, then sent me to the 3rd Cav and let me drive a five-ton cargo truck,” I said. “Hey, it makes perfect sense me,” Sarge said with a laugh.

Then he summoned one of his employees over, whispered something to him and then declared he was reducing our dinner tab by 50 percent. “I take half off for all Vietnam and Korean War vets,” he said.

I … was … stunned. What none of us realized at the moment was that he discounted the tab for all four of us.

“Don’t I have to show you proof that I served in ‘Nam?” I asked. “Oh, no. You just said it without missing a beat,” he said. “That’s good enough for me.”

This likely would not have happened in 1970 when I returned home from my Army service. Please understand that I did not suffer the indignity inflicted on many other of my Vietnam War brothers. I merely watched it unfold in real time as we all sought to start our lives as we returned to “The World.”

I merely wanted to mention how Sarge has exhibited with a simple act of kindness to someone he didn’t know who merely said he had served in a long-ago conflict.

America, you indeed have come a long, long way.

Here’s a thought: Go after Assad’s house

U.S. military forces tonight launched a few dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian military targets.

Donald Trump ordered the strikes in retaliation for Syrian government forces’ use of chemical weapons on civilians, killing dozens of them, including children.

It was a reprehensible act. The thought occurs to me: The strikes hit military targets, but why not zero in on where the dictator, Bashar al-Assad, hangs his hat?

It’s not unprecedented. I recall when the Persian Gulf War started in late 1990. The first weapon was a Tomahawk cruise missile launched from the USS Wisconsin, the World War II-era battleship that had been brought back into active duty. The ship’s target? Saddam Hussein’s palace in Baghdad!

Saddam commanded the Iraqi military that had invaded Kuwait. He served two roles in Iraq: head of state and the supreme commander of the Iraqi military. President George H.W. Bush, thus, considered Saddam to be a military target.

Assad is just as ham-handed a dictator as Saddam Hussein had become. He also has a tight rein on his military forces. Therefore, he is a military — as well as a political — figure.

We should hit Syrian military targets. What the Syrian government has done is reprehensible in the extreme.

It does nothing, though, without the approval of the dictator who is in charge.

Make the dictator a target, too.

Hitting ISIL ‘harder than ever,’ but is it hard enough?


When the White House announces that the president of the United States is going to the Pentagon to make a statement, I tend to expect something big … maybe really big.

President Obama made a statement today, but I must say it left me wishing for more.

It didn’t come.

The president, though, did restate his anti-Islamic State war strategy but did so with a good bit more vigor.

It looked like a do-over from his brief speech a week ago that left many Americans — even some Democrats who normally support the president — wondering when the commander in chief is going to get seriously worked up over ISIL’s reign of terror.

The numbers add up to significant damage being inflicted on ISIL, the president said. Here’s part of what he said:

“We are hitting ISIL harder than ever. Coalition aircraft, our fighters, bombers and drones have been increasing the pace of airstrikes, nearly 9,000 as of today,” Obama said, adding that ISIL has lost roughly 40 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq.

I happen to agree with Obama that we need not send a huge ground force back into Iraq to fight the Islamic State.

To be honest, though, I’m waiting for evidence that the strategy we’re pursuing is actually forcing ISIL’s retreat. The president said we’ve retaken a large percentage of ISIL territory, but then we see reports of ISIL scoring more battlefield victories.

I’m going to continue hoping that one day we’ll be able to hear a presidential statement — whether it’s the current one or the individual who succeeds him — that ISIL has, in fact, been destroyed.

However, I will not hold my breath.


Welcome to the fight, Turkey … finally!

We hear the term “game changer” from time to time.

It refer to events that might be decisive in determining the result of, say, a struggle.

I heard the term today in a National Public Radio interview about Turkey’s decision to (a) allow U.S. aircraft to fly into Syria and Iraq from Turkish air bases and (b) actually strike the Islamic State forces with its own combat aircraft.

Welcome to the fight, Turkey.

The Turks could become the most important ally the United States in this fight against the Islamic State.

It belongs to NATO. It is a military powerhouse with a sophisticated air and ground military force.

And as of a few days ago, it now has suffered grievously at the hands of ISIL forces. A suicide bomber detonated an explosive in a Turkish portion of Kurdistan, killing more than 30 victims. The Turks, therefore, now have skin in this game.

Turkey had been a reluctant ally up to this point, denying U.S. requests to use its bases to launch attacks against ISIL installations in nearby Syria and Iraq. The Turks’ agreeing to allow access to these bases gives our air power a distinct new advantage as it continues its bombing barrage against ISIL.

What’s more, the Turks have engaged ISIL themselves, sending jets on bombing sorties against ISIL strongholds.

OK, does this mean the end of ISIL is in sight, that the fight is nearly over?

No. It does mean, however, that we now have an important ally on our side willing — for the first time — to engage the enemy face to face.

Welcome aboard, Turkey. Let’s hope this development, indeed, is a game changer.

‘Don’t vote for me if you’re worn out by war’


Lindsey Graham today offered the most compelling campaign argument against his own candidacy I’ve ever heard.

The South Carolina Republican, who’s running for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, said it flat out. “Don’t vote for me if you’re worn out by war.”


Well, senator, no worries there.

What he told “Morning Joe” on MSNBC is that he’s going to be the “war candidate.” He plans, if elected to the presidency, to send more troops into Iraq; he also plans to send troops into Syria; he plans to enlist Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and whichever other regional ally will join, to help American troops defeat the Islamic State and then keep the peace.

Oh, how long will they be there? “A long time,” he said.

There’s no exit strategy. No timetable. No end to the bloodshed.

Get ready for battle, he warned.

Oh, if you’re tired of fighting a war, don’t vote for me, he said.

No-o-o-o-o problem. You’ve got a deal, Sen. Graham.


An ‘apology’ for spewing hate?

A Pennsylvania newspaper says it’s “sorry” for allowing a reader to call for President Obama’s execution.

The outraged reader took his anger to an extraordinarily hateful extreme, and the newspaper — the Sunbury (Pa.) Daily Item — in effect sanctioned the reader’s anger by publishing it on its opinion page.


Yes, the paper apologized later after received a storm of outrage from readers.

However, it’s instructive to note the anger that boils in the hearts of some Americans over the actions of the current president of the United States.

The letter, written by W. Richard Stover of Lewisburg, Pa., blames the president for failing to defeat the Islamic State and said that in the wake of the capture by ISIL of Ramadi, it was time for “regime change” in this country. Stover’s message of hate said the only way to do was to execute the head of government by “guillotine.”

Is this what we’re coming to in some corners of the country?

The Daily Item’s apology included this statement: “The procedure at The Daily Item is for the person editing letters to review the content for offensive language and ad hominem attacks. Publication is, however, a signal that the opinion is not one we would readily suppress, which can accurately be interpreted as an endorsement of acceptability — much to our chagrin in this instance.”


Shame is more like it.