Tag Archives: war

Keep it in perspective

I couldn’t resist sharing this item that showed up on my social media feed this evening. I never really know who comes up with these gems; I do learn something from them.

My lesson here? It is that the pain, suffering, bloodshed, misery, anxiety, mourning and grief that Ukrainians are feeling at this moment put every little petty annoyance we might have in their proper place.

Gas prices going up? I don’t like it any more than the next person. However, it is good to keep some matters in context — such as what this message suggests we do.

More than 1 million Ukrainians reportedly have fled their country ahead of the Russian military onslaught initiated by the madman Vladimir Putin. Those who have stayed behind to fight the Russians are putting their lives in dire peril.

I won’t like paying more for the fuel that goes into my truck. However, I don’t believe I should bitch about it.


Trump takes aim at the brass

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis _92@hotmail.com

I cannot remember ever hearing an American president say the things that Donald Trump has said about the high command of the nation’s military.

Moreover, I also doubt the generals and admirals about whom Trump was referring had ever heard it, either.

Trump called a press conference on Labor Day and then decided to take off on a riff against the brass. He said the line soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines like and respect him, but not so much with the top end of the chain of command.

He essentially accused the Pentagon brass of being war profiteers. They want to keep fighting “endless wars” because it keeps weapons suppliers in business, which Trump said suits the brass just fine.

Hey, I never got close the brass while I served in the U.S. Army, so I cannot speak with any actual authority on the subject. I just will posit the notion that generals and admirals who have been to war want no part of it even though they no longer thrust themselves into harm’s way.

How do I know this? I just do. I have talked over the years with enough junior- or field-grade officers who’ve seen combat to know how they feel about the idea of going to war. They hate war with a purple passion!

So, for Trump to effectively defame the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the officers who answer directly to them makes me wonder: How do these men and women continue to serve silently under a commander in chief who has no appreciation for what they have endured while serving the country they all love?

‘Boots on the ground,’ means human beings

Hundreds of coalition forces servicemen and women met aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, for a September 11 memorial service. During the service, Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of Regional Command Southwest and II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) gave a speech reflecting on not only the lives lost 10-years before, but also on the heroes who have fought for the freedoms America stands for.

Is it me or is anyone else out there growing increasingly annoyed at a euphemism that’s getting a lot of use these days by the political class?

I refer to the term “boots on the ground.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich this morning used the term repeatedly in discussing the crisis in Syria and whether the United States should send troops into the fight.

Let’s put “boots on the ground,” said the GOP presidential candidate.

Boots on the ground!

I happen to like Gov. Kasich, but for crying out loud, we aren’t talking about footwear. We’re talking about the individuals whose feet slip into that gear and who would be put in harm’s way were we to order them into battle.

And yet politicians on both sides of the divide seemingly find it easier to talk about “boots on the ground” rather than what those boots symbolize. They symbolize young men and women with families, with real-world stories, with dreams and aspirations.

I am just weary of this game of verbal dodge ball that politicians keep playing.

If you’re going to support sending young Americans into battle, then call it what it is — and do not disguise it with rhetorical nonsense.


‘Huck’ tries to out-Trump The Donald

Donald Trump makes light of John McCain’s heroism during the Vietnam War and refuses to apologize for it.

His payoff? A surge in the Republican Party presidential primary polls.

Now comes Mike Huckabee to say the Iran nuclear deal brokered by President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and five other world powers will lead “Israel to the door of the oven.”

It’s an obvious and hideous reference to the Holocaust and has enraged some Jewish leaders for its insensitivity to the suffering that families of Holocaust victims feel to this very day.

Is Huck backing off? Oh, no. He’s keeping up the fiery rhetoric.


This, I fear, is what Donald Trump has introduced into the GOP primary contest. He has set a new standard for the level of commentary that voters will accept.

Huckabee has seized upon it and has now added a new twist: invoking the ghastly memory of Adolf Hitler and Neville “Peace in Our Time” Chamberlain to criticize the deal that seeks to end Iran’s nuclear program. You know about Hitler. Chamberlain was the British prime minister who met with Hitler in 1938 as the Nazi tyrant was about to launch World War II and said he was confident that the world could achieve “peace in our time” in Europe. Well, it didn’t work out that way.

Huckabee’s reference is as the National Jewish Democratic Council described it: The council called the remark “not only disgustingly offensive to the President and the White House, but shows utter, callous disregard for the millions of lives lost in the Shoah and to the pain still felt by their descendants today.”

But what the heck. A candidate’s got to do what he’s got to do to get on that debate stage with those who are atop the polls.

As Trump has shown, outrageousness sells these days.

Hey, how does 'conflict' sound?

A good friend of mine has an idea about how to deal with the word games being played over what we call the current war we’re waging with international terrorists.

My pal Jim, who lives in Arizona, writes: “Let‘s call it a conflict. Didn’t we use that term before to soften the impact?”

Boy, howdy! We sure did.

Remember the Korean conflict? Or the Vietnam conflict? The “conflicts” in Korea and Vietnam turned into  “wars” eventually, but many headline writers and journalists writing about Vietnam often didn’t capitalize the “w” in “war,” as if to suggest that it wasn’t really a war.

Perhaps this sidesteps the issue. My earlier blog post noted the discussion about whether the Obama administration is right to avoid using the term “Islamic terrorists” to describe the enemy with whom we are at, um, war. My point is that we need not quibble over what to call the enemy, but we should instead concentrate our efforts solely on actually fighting these monsters.

Whatever we call the enemy, or the fight in which we are engaged, it’s a war by any known definition of the word.

I’ve noted before that we’re in a form of a world war, although it doesn’t resemble the two previous world wars in which we fought — Nos. I and II. Those wars involved nations declaring war on other nations. It involved mass mobilizations of men, who then were sent to battlefields to fight men from other nations that had done the very same thing.

Our wars since WWII, though, have materialized differently. We’ve had no formal declaration since President Roosevelt asked Congress on Dec. 8, 1941 to declare that “a state of war has existed” between the United States and Japan.

But we’ve fought actual wars. The men and women who’ve died in battle have been killed just as dead as they were in World Wars I and II.

I told my friend Jim that I’ve always hated the term “conflict” to describe war.

Instead, I prefer to call these fights what they are. And what we’re fighting today is no less gruesome and deadly than any war we’ve ever fought.


We’re heading for an Army of robots

This story freaks me out.

A military expert predicts that by the next decade, robots will outnumber U.S. Army personnel 10 to one.


The idea is to have robots on either side of human soldiers scanning for mines, enemy personnel, movement “out there” that could put our soldiers at risk.

Welcome to the future of warfare.

My own desire would be a world with no war. The odds of that occurring are, well, worse than zero. Since the beginning of time, human beings have been at war with each other. I see nothing on the horizon — or beyond the horizon if I get way up on my tippy toes — to suggest that trend will cease to exist.

Scott Hartley, co-founder of 5-D Robotics, took part in a live-fire exercise at Fort Benning, Ga., recently. He talked of how the Army is advancing so rapidly that it will have more machines on the battlefield than human beings.

The story is freaky on at least one key level.

As the writer of the blog attached to this post notes, machines lack human emotion. Therefore, the idea of inflicting death and pain on others may require less emotional investment, which can help preclude the decision to go to war in the first place.

Jesus Diaz, who wrote the blog, notes: “It’s true that military robots — both weaponized or support units — will protect soldiers. But they will also make war even more horrible by taking away the human life loss component. If we can send platoons made of robots to war, people will not fear death in wars. There will be no dead bodies getting home in flag-covered coffins. Like aerial drones, this will inevitably trivialize wars.”

War is not a trivial exercise. At least not yet.