Iranian leadership chose not to share the stage with representatives of more than forty governments who found their way to the campus of Annapolis for a Middle East peace conference. But they still know how to throw one helluva party on their own.
Iran displayed a bit of their history, patriotism and fleshly clout on Monday when Iranian news outlets reported that approximately eight million members of the Basij Organization hit the streets for a nationwide drill in preparation for “outside threat”. That would be “us”, by the way.
With the national anthem sounding out across approximately four hundred cities and towns, the able-bodied of the Basij prepared to flex their muscle. Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei recited Al-Fatiha in front of a Martyr’s Memorial, delivered a rousing speech which was broadcast live to the nation and President Ahmadinejad inspected an honor guard along a one-kilometer route.
The Iranian Basij Organization burst forth onto the stage in November 1979, during the Iranian Revolution. A populist uprising for the consolidation and rise to power of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, it has grown from a wobbly infancy into a paramilitary force standing on two sturdy legs. Somewhat of a secondary parallel governmental religious enforcement agency on the domestic front, an apparatus for humanitarian relief on the side, the Basij cannot be discounted because of numerical strength and historical perspective. Just looking at the human wave of the Basij cut loose against Basra in 1984, with men minus equipment also functioning as mine sweepers, is enough to make me shudder. The Iran-Iraq War was a bloody mess and the Basij played their part to support the Pasdaran. Many times functioning without adequate equipment and insufficient strategy, this militia-type force sustained an extremely high death toll.
Organizationally functioning under the auspices of the IRGC, should the Basij ever be mobilized by the Commander-in-Chief it is most likely that each local mosque (masjid) will function as a mini command center for information and initial movement of this volunteer force to supplement and interface with the regular armed forces should there be a massive call up. There is a disparity as far as what the Iranian government projects as actual numerical strength and what Western analysts project in this regards. The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Iranian leadership chose not to share the stage with representatives of more than forty governments who found their way to the campus of Annapolis for a Middle East peace conference. But they still know how to throw one helluva party on their own.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Many of us are still in the afterglow of fond memories. Our own Thanksgiving celebrations across America brought us joy. But we need to stop and reflect for a moment. The reason we celebrate in peace is because of the generations of Americans who have taken the oath, put on the uniform, continuing to head out to the furthest reaches of the earth on behalf of our government and best interests.
Hundreds of sailors and their families were looking forward to Thanksgiving celebrations in Hong Kong. The Chinese government patiently waited until the last minute and denied the U.S. Naval Fleet entry for a port of call. Jerking the chain a bit harder, they later rescinded the order, knowing full well they had created a diplomatic crisis what would not be resolved with a simple "Oops", a little handshake and common agreement, "Let's just forget this all happened."
Our sailors ate their turkey at sea. The families who had flown to Hong Kong for a quickly snatched moment in time with their loved ones ate their Thanksgiving meals ashore. Cameras without pictures and most likely Christmas gifts, made their way back through customs and to America, where families will now fall back on "Plan B" for gift delivery. Wives did not get to see their husbands and a new nightgown was never worn. Husbands awaiting the arrival of their wives did not get to deliver their flowers. Children awaiting parents, and parents awaiting children were dealt an emotional blow. A nice "bird" of their own, served up by the Chinese government.
But our sailors are tough. They ate their Thanksgiving meal aboard ship within their battle group and sucked up the disappointment. They serve, for you. So when you see a member of our Armed Forces in uniform please shake their hand. Thank them for their sacrifice. God Bless our Troops.
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Islam has a snake in the bed. It is devouring her children. Cultural underpinnings, any hope of progress and competitiveness with the West, and future stability depend on the ability of the Muslim community to begin to hold back the tidal wave of destructive thought which is penetrating their ranks via their mosques, basic recruitment on the streets, and internet website influence. The snake in the bed is an Al-Qaidian Imperialism which manifested its self first by seeking targets of opportunity in the West. This doctrine of imperialism through jihad now rampages through Muslim lands. It is strongly seen today with the encroachment of Al-Qaida into the fabric of society within Pakistan.
Sir Muhammad Allama Iqbal was a noted philosopher, scholar and poet, knighted by the British government for his outstanding literary thought. Presiding over the open session of the Muslim League in 1930 he spoke of the need for a consolidated Muslim state to rid its self of the vestiges of Arab Imperialism. Many of these visionaries later entered the political midwife role after the partition of India by the British allowed for the opening of the cervix of nationhood. It followed with waves and waves of continuous birthing pains as what was yet unseen within the womb of history finally made its appearance: a new Islamic state. Some of these visionaries, such as Qaid-i-Azam Ali Jinnah, set the foundation for Pakistan into place.
But the foundation is quaking today. The children of Islam are comfortable with a snake. This snake is a global ideology which manifests its self in the same manner as do all bad ideologies: it requires the blood of children for survival. Al-Qaida is the newest wave of imperialism in the world and its waves are lapping onto our shores also. While the average American sleeps on this issue, Pakistan is in a war for their national soul. We would do well to follow their national course and learn the lessons of their folly.
Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin Ladin was a hero of sorts after involving himself in the engagement against the Soviet attempts at dominance in Afghanistan. A boy David against a gargantuan Goliath played well to the Muslim psyche and grasp for empowerment in the 20th century. The man and his followers found safe haven along the border corridors of Afghanistan and Pakistan after setting sights on a bigger target, the United States of America. To this day, he dwells in safety. He has been given safe harbor.
One thing about soothsayers of false ideology remains constant: The public is spooned up just enough truth to swallow the bigger lie. The truth is that Muslims are seeking more room at the table politically, economically and socially. But they have swallowed the bigger lie that a deconstructionist and destabilizing package of violence is the means to achieve their goals. Many have embraced Al-Qaidian Imperialism as opposed to the slower and more rational process of good governance. Al-Qaidian Imperialism satisfies the immediate need for a sense of gratification when a Western target is annihilated. A secondary sense of empowerment unsues at the expense of actual and solidified progress into global financial markets, trans-Atlantic negotiations to better equalize power structures, and things which require patient due process or multi-lateral treaty agreements.
So Islam has allowed a snake into the bed with their children. In modern historical context Germany, Italy, Cambodia and other nations allowed their own snakes in the past. The cost was counted in gallons of blood and national upheaval which swept nations into such destabilization spirals that decades were required to reconstruct healthy government after the snakes were killed. Pakistan is at the lip of the vortex. The snakes of ideology no longer sun themselves on the rocks but are entering the towns and cities of Pakistan in strength. There is a low and mournful sound in the air. And who within the Muslim community will begin to rescue the children from their beds?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The old rooster was already weak the winter the dog died. But it was not until the first thaw of spring that the fox made her appearance. Silently moving along the perimeter of the henhouse the fox began to make slow but daily progress in picking off the baby chicks as they moved along the fence line away from their mother.
One day, the rattlesnake also appeared. Winding his body slowly down the post furthest from the henhouse he flicked his tongue lazily at the hen while he presented an interesting proposition. “What use is it to you that you sit and warm your eggs, while the fox is taking off with such beautiful little live chicks? Give me just one egg a week for my own sustenance and I will protect and guard the young from the fox.” Although the hen was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing she did consider the snake less of a threat than the fox.
The arrangement worked quite well for several weeks. The fox stayed away, the snake collected his earnings, all the while discreetly consuming his egg a short distance from the hen and her henhouse.
One day a second rattlesnake appeared. More than slightly alarmed at this point, the hen clucked and clucked for the better part of a day. The first rattlesnake slowly approached the hen, swishing the sand slowly with his tail. Lazily flicking his tongue he admonished the hen earnestly, “There is no need to worry, my fine and fluffy little friend. I shall now move to this post nearest the henhouse to make sure that this new fellow will behave.”
The hen was slowly lulled back into passivity. The fox stayed away, the second snake kept its distance and the protector of the hen and her chicks continued his weekly collection of an egg, always remembering to discreetly devour it a short distance away from the sight of the old hen.
Gradually, the hen and her brood became adjusted to the companionship of the two snakes. There was little alarm when new snakes began to sun themselves on the rocks, gazing lazily at the hen and her growing flock of chicks. The fox stayed away, the second snake kept its distance and the remaining few barely moved among the rocks, tails swishing slowly, tongues flicking in and out as their small coal eyes appeared to observe everything and yet see nothing. Shadows lengthened into evening and the morning sun arose each day with dawn’s pink phalanges spreading across the plains.
One morning the hen actually invited the snake into her home. Taking care to coil himself in a place furthest from the nest of eggs the rattlesnake took a leisurely nap, exchanged a few pleasantries with the hen and her chicks and then lazily moved back into the yard taking extreme care to show neither fangs nor to flaunt his rattle.
Legend has it that the night was dark and the wind whistled a low and mournful song the night that the hen, all of her chicks and the nest of eggs disappeared. No one is quite sure, what happened to the snakes.
Monday, November 26, 2007
There is a lot of spitting across political fence lines regarding the abortion debate. Just the fact that Americans remain sharply polarized on this issue causes me to believe that SCOTUS made the blunder of the century when they received the arguments for Roe vs. Wade and the gavel fell in favor of legalized abortion. The fight against this decision has mobilized voters again and again whilst causing angst for political candidates who really have the crosshairs of their political scope lined up to tackle other issues which are also of tremendous importance to our nation.
The Christian Right is taking the testicles off the man in forcing our candidates into an all-or-nothing stance on this issue. Pro life? You keep your testicles. Not pro life? We castrate ya politically.
Part of the problem has been the steady encroachment of the abortion industry into communities which want to have nothing to do with pre-natal violence and everything to gain from pregnancy centers and broader adoption options. This encroachment has been aided by the court system flaunting the muscle of power against the legislative branch of the state. Local initiatives to curb the apetite of the abortion industry traditionally suffer in the courts. Remember, the abortion industry always needs more funds. Kid thyself not. This is not solely a “women’s health” issue. This is about money. This is about an industry which would like to continue sustaining its self minus the goodwill of some communities. They seek to plant their dirty little hands into neighborhoods in spite of much local protest, exampled by the fairly recent strong attempts by the citizens of Austin to block the construction of an abortion facility near the UT Austin campus. Abortion industry paycheck earners don't mind taking the life support off a babe in the womb while clinging to their own financial life support systems for sustenance.
Sadly, the workforce provided by future little citizens of the United States of America is of zero concern when it comes to abortionists. Lemme see. Is it possible we are now carping about an illegal immigrant workforce because we have aborted our own work force into oblivion over the last couple of decades? Pardon me for not being politically correct. But some of you have had the same thought but are too timid to express it. Being timid, is an emotional stranger to me. Remember: Babies in the womb aren't bugs, they are national treasure and resource.
But on to the fight! I will support any candidate who will merely encourage individual states and citizens to tackle the societal ill of abortion in America. Read my lips. They do not have to be a purist regarding this issue. They don't have to make me any promises. Just pat me on the back and tell me to do my best with my own effort. It does not have to be an all or nothing approach to get my vote.
Using a national level approach to kill abortion has not worked. If the strategy is flawed, why don't we have the sense to admit it and bring new and viable strategy into play? The only consultant needed for our old unworkable strategy is a taxidermy consult. The thing is a damn corpse. Bury it. Let's move the battle more steadily into the arena of the states and focus efforts on initiatives which are supported by our states in response to the desires of their demographic and within their geographic boundaries.
I prefer that the abortion industry suffer a slow and painful death in the same manner they have killed little Americans. Fair is fair. So let each state, all fifty of us, take a shot at the industry based on the social mores of the local citizenry. Texans may seek a restrictive near total ban on abortion in the state. There are ways to bring it about, ladies and gents. We just need a few more legal hoops for the industry to jump through. We just need to be more clever. New York may be happy with the status quo. Oklahoma may seek to also restrict access. Virginia may not give a flip. I can live with it. But if groups within each community will give a damn and a dollar and rise to the task at hand, abortion rates will decline substantially in our nation. Rate our successes state by state. And let’s legally suffocate the life out of the abortion industry.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Why are women raped? The answer is quite simple. Every society has a small segment of men who are rapists. That is why sane governments institute criminal penalties for the violent crime of rape. We cannot keep rape from happening. But we darn sure can punish the rapist when we catch up with him.
Turn your gaze to the House of Saud. Apparently gang rape is followed by a beating and a jail term for some of their women. Following the line of reasoning that if a woman is raped she must have somehow done something to merit such punishment, the presiding judge increased the penalty when the poor woman’s family complained. Yes, the culprits are also in jail. But let the news sink in: A raped woman has been handed down a sentence of 200 lashes and a jail term in a legal courtroom environment.
I guess it doesn’t matter if we look at the reality of this crime: little girls, pregnant women and elderly women in nursing homes suffer rape. Rape is about lust and sometimes anger. It is not about carelessness of the victim. Rapists will find the opportunity. It is their job to make it happen.
Sadly missing from this picture are any viable rape statistics from Saudi Arabia. Our own government has distressing statistics regarding the rape and sexual assault of our women. It happens too much. But these statistic exist only because some women are willing to report the crime of rape. Overall, it remains a crime of silence. Women just don’t tell. They don’t tell their husbands and they sure don’t tell their mothers. They suck up the pain and move on. I would imagine that at this point, the next rape that is reported in Saudi Arabia will be after they have a five inch snowfall.
Normally I do not support our government meddling in the internal affairs of another nation and how they manage their courts. But to say that I am slightly pissed off at our State Department response is an understatement. Sean McCormack stated that this verdict caused a “fair amount of surprise….” Being fairly surprised is what I feel when noticing that I was driving over the speed limit as police lights flash in my rear view mirror. Fairly surprised is when you find out the bride chose a carrot cake for her reception. But to have someone barely work their mouth around the words "fairly surprised" when speaking of this particular situation leaves me pondering: Does someone need to pull their head out of their hindquarters?
I wrote the Saudi Embassy in Washington. I offered to take the lashes for the woman. My offer is certainly not symbolic in nature. Early in my nursing career I walked into an emergency room where a nineteen year old girl was waiting for a rape exam. She was tightly cradled in the arms of her father as she wept. He was weeping too. It takes broad shoulders to encourage a woman to endure a rape exam at a local hospital. The areas of her body that were forcibly penetrated in rape are now explored and examined by gloved hands and swabs. If she has been beaten, bitten or scratched, photos are taken as evidence. It takes a strong heart for the woman to speak to a total stranger regarding any identifying characteristics of the male, or to repeat what was said to her during the attack. It takes a strong woman to then go home and pretend that things are normal. She cooks dinner, she bathes the children and she folds the clothes. But when she looks in the mirror, she isn't pretty anymore.
Women who have been raped don’t need to be lashed. They need love, acceptance and emotional support from their family. They need crisis intervention. Yes, hug them when they weep.
*Some readers do not realize that the link is embedded in the text where there is an underlined phrase. Click here for the same link. And thank you for reading from across the Atlantic! smile
Friday, November 23, 2007
Jesus Christ--Everything else pales in comparison to Him. All that He gives us and accomplished on the cross is so much, I think we don't realize what that really means and what a gift His salvation truly is.
The men and women who left everything to come to the new land and start an experiment which was later named "America"! In the first year, half the Pilgrim population died and the people were not going to go back to England. They knew what they were doing was going to be a great thing, it just needed to be started and time to grow.
Our founding Fathers who put all they had on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They believed in this country and it was worth all they had. John Adams wife later said she was afraid the coming generations would forget how much it cost them in all they did to make America free! Oh, how right she was!
The men who didn't quit the Civil War. It cost so much yet it accomplished much.
The men and women over the years who gave up their future or possible future to fight for us so we can be free and write this thank you. They are brave, wonderful people and what a great cost they are and were willing to give, so the rest of us could be enjoying this celebration thanking the Lord for all we have.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Sometimes I forget to be thankful. So I am thankful for one day established by Abraham Lincoln for remembering to give thanks to the One who gives us all we need. And if we stop to thank God, loves to continue with His kindness.
I am thankful for a good family and great friends though few, are truly friends. I am grateful for a country where we have freedom (for the most part) to live as we choose.
I have enjoyed the blog Tammy, and haven’t seen Tom write in a while, but the two of you provided great thinking material.
Happy Thanksgiving to you! Tom Gordon is doing well. Next week blog readers will be back in the foxholes and putting on their flak jackets. Going geopolitical, Baby!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
When it comes to thanks I am blessed with my health, my extended family and the freedom to worship as I please. I am grateful for the soldiers who are defending our freedom, wherever they are serving.
*John is my older brother. He has cerebral palsy and resides in a wheelchair. Last year our family spent a few hours in a family waiting area at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas while John had a tumor the size of an orange removed from the frontal parietal region of his brain. He then underwent both radiation and chemotherapy. Sometimes John has garbled speech and other times it is clear. But he did his best to express his thanks along with the other blog readers.
I love my brother! Happy Thanksgiving John!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
First, I am thankful for God. People around the world call Him by many different names, and interpret His will in many interesting ways. The God I believe in reserves judgment and vengeance for Himself. He wants us to honor our parents and love our neighbors. He is pleased when we take care of ourselves, and when we help to take care of others. He wants us to have full and happy lives, living as closely to Him as is humanly possible. He will forgive me if I fall short. No, not if, but when. I know I am blessed to have such a loving and caring Father.
Second, I am thankful to God for everything I have. I don't have a perfect life, a cookie-cutter family, or the riches of King Solomon; but I do have a loving family and extended family, a few true friends and several close acquaintances, good health, enough financial wealth to be comfortable, and a pretty good disposition most of the time. I have enough wisdom to know there are many things I don't know. I have enough humility to laugh at myself. I have enough bravery to stand up for my
rights and the rights of others, even if it does get me in trouble sometimes. I have enough compassion to pray for strangers. I have enough hope to believe that peace is not an unattainable goal. Remember: With God, all things are possible.
Happy Thanksgiving! God bless us, every one!
And from the Chaplain:
I am thankful that God took over my bankrupt life when I asked him to save me from myself. When I let him operate as CEO, he turned me into a useful product and saved me from the trash dump. Since he began recycling me, I have accomplished things that I could not imagine when I was making decisions and acting on them. Under his new management, he makes the decisions and enables me to accomplish his plans for me.
Happy Thanksgiving to both of you!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Dr. Jeff Cunningham, D.C. is thankful for his Glock:
When I was given this assignment by Prof. Tammy I felt it would be easy. What in the world do I NOT feel thankful for? Why not make a list of that? But then in breaking it down, there are few things in this world that I am really thankful for. I am proud to be a Christian and an American. I am proud that I have a wife and daughter who love me in spite of a few itty bitty flaws. I am not wealthy and I am not dead broke today. That is really something for which to be thankful, on both ends of the scale. I am 51 and my mother is still alive and healthy and all 4 of my siblings are still with me. You can’t buy that kind of thankful. I have a Glock 27 in my closet for my personal comfort, further proof that Texas is a great state to live in and possibly ruin a bad guy’s day. While I have my share of friends, I have a lot more than I know about and so do you. It may not seem like it at times, but when strangers come to your aid in times of trouble you remember them for the rest of your life. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Except for Tom Gordon. Too liberal.
*Yes, in Texas we thank God for the right to bear arms! And Dr. Jeff, Mr. Gordon probably does not wish you a Happy Thanksgiving either. No need to worry though. Liberals only carry pepper spray. smile
Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Next week our nation celebrates Thanksgiving. The blog belongs to the readers this coming week. If you care to contribute your thoughts and tell others what brings you joy, that for which you give thanks, please write into my e mail and let me know. I will post writings throughout the week as they make their way to my e mail.
There is so much for which I am thankful in my own life.
*Holding a neonate and looking at their little digits.
*Chocolate! That is always at the top of my list!
*Music! Mancini, Beethoven, the Eagles, Seal, the list is long.
*Books! Oodles and oodles of books!
*People. I like people.
Make a list and send it along! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving week.
Friday, November 16, 2007
You will die quickly. That is the good news. The bad news is how many could die before the CDC identifies the agent and stops the spread of a biological attack. Mandated quarantine and other measures will kick in to safeguard the greater public. But for the families of the ones who die and for the nation at large it will be a time of sorrow. This news was brought home to me again with the story of wildlife biologist Eric York, who was found dead a mere three days after performing a necropsy on a mountain lion that later tested positive for plague. Forty-nine people who had contact with Mr. York received antibiotics as a precautionary measure.
Attempting to sicken the public by introduction of a pathogen is nothing new. In the olden days of warfare a favorite trick was to poison wells. It worked well enough. (No pun intended! smile) Some theorize the death of cattle during during Moses’ day was merely the lowly Anthrax spore. The Soviet Union killed a few of their own two-legged creatures when Anthrax was accidently released from a biological weapons factory to then float into the lungs of the unsuspecting local population. While the government tried to cover up their blunder claiming the population had suffered from tainted meat sources the truth later emerged. Yep, inhalation anthrax pure and simple. Here is a good link.
But let’s discuss plague as a bioterror weapon. Yersinia Pestis is the critter that causes plague. It is a bacterium carried by rodents and the disease is transmitted by fleas. From the 14th through the 18 century besieged cities were at times the recipients of catapulted bodies of the victims of plague. Nothing like having a rotting 180 pound inbound projectile loaded with disease landing on your street. The Japanese military certainly had no qualms about furthering the tradition of using Y. Pestis in the 1930’s. They happily dropped plague-ridden fleas off aircraft over portions of China. The former USSR had active bioweapons programs in the 1990’s which also included experimentation with aerosolized plague. The city of Surat, India and surrounding areas experienced a frightening outbreak of plague in 1994. Shortly after the rats started dying, people began to die too. It didn't take long for the government of India to figure it out.
Our government and the CDC have done much work to understand the kinetics of an outbreak of plague if an aerosolized form of the bacterium is released into a high density urban population. Should this ever occur our healthcare infrastructure would be temporarily stressed and the eventual economic downturn of such an attack could run in the billions of dollars.
But what about panic? How to manage panic is another issue. When we had an Anthrax attack in the U.S. a few years ago I distinctly remember one thing. There was a low-grade sense of panic among my own medical community. The panic increased when a baby was found to have contracted cutaneous anthrax. I know doctors who stocked up on antibiotics for their families and took masks and gloves home to open their personal mail.
The death of Eric York from Yersinia Pestis is a remote event. The potential for a large-scale biological attack against a targeted population within our borders is also hopefully a remote event. But we need to remember that the world in which we live has greater danger. Assuredly, better technology and medical surveillance to track these events in their infancy will aid our fight.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It defies logic. In fact, it smacks of cruelty. The Egyptian woman in my care had undergone a gynecological surgery at my hospital. After she was draped in the operating room the nurse was unable to insert a urinary catheter because of her botched anatomy. A urologist was called to perform the task. Prior to arrival in PACU (post anesthesia care unit) the surgeon warned me of what I would see. The room started to go black on me when I pulled back the covers. She was missing her labia majora, labia minor and clitoris. The book, “No God But God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam” by Geneive Abdo addresses the topic of FGM (female genital mutilation) among Egyptian women. Although the author states that the practice has no basis in Islam, it does, in fact, derive from a Hadith which states that perhaps a little bit of cutting on the female, is allowed. In prior decades, the rate of female genital mutilation among Egyptian women was approximately ninety percent. Due to much screeching by modernist Muslim females, the rate is now decreasing, below the eighty percent mark. The primary practice is removal of the hood of the clitoris, but a scholar informed me that a piece of the clitoris “the size of a pea” was permissible. Germany has documented Egyptian immigrants returning to the homeland for “circumcision holidays” with their young daughters. An educator in a local school has a primary age school girl who is unable to urinate properly because her urinary tract has been damaged by such a senseless act. Lest you think this is all about stirring up Islamic hatred, you are wrong. But it is about bringing pressure to bear upon the Islamic community to cast aside such a barbaric and illogical practice. Read this fatwa on the topic and weep for the women of Egypt. Although the act is now officially banned, the practice is still rampant. Certain scholars at Al-Azhar, the well-known Egyptian Islamic institution, still support FGM. Please note that Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has since changed his stance on this. Hadith which allow physical harm to women, brings harm to the greater societal structure. This Hadith needs to be permanently flushed.
It defies logic. It makes no sense. “Woman was created from the rib so that she will remain crooked. Let her be crooked.” If such thing is true, than God intentionally created woman to be inferior to man. I refuse to believe I have a design flaw.
*Imran b. Husain reported that a woman from Juhaina came to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and she had become pregnant because of adultery. She said: Allah's Apostle, I have done something for which (prescribed punishment) must be imposed upon me, so impose that. Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) called her master and said: Treat her well, and when she delivers bring her to me. He did accordingly. Then Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) pronounced judgment about her and her clothes were tied around her and then he commanded and she was stoned to death. He then prayed over her (dead body). Thereupon Umar said to him: Allah's Apostle, you offer prayer for her, whereas she had committed adultery! Thereupon he said: "She has made such a repentance that if it were to be divided among seventy men of Medina, it would be enough. Have you found any repentance better than this that she sacrificed her life for Allah, the Majestic?"
Saudi Arabia still prescribes stoning for adultery. Northern regions of Nigeria are bringing it back. Naturally, these women are the ones who are caught. I do have to ponder the question though. If tomorrow, every person who has ever committed an act of infidelity was caught and stoned, how many orphans would remain in the world? Who feeds, clothes and cares for the orphans? If the state does not assume the care and rearing of the orphans, then to me the stoning extends the punishment to the innocent children. This one, needs to go. The Qur’an its self does not describe stoning as punishment for adultery. It does allow for lashes.
It defies logic. But across the board in many areas there is still active belief that female prisoners of war may be used during times of war for concubinage. I have personally spoken to Islamic scholars who share this belief. It is based on Hadith literature. Hadith by Muslim, Bukhari and Abu Dawud all support this practice.
From the writings of Islamic scholar Ibn Timmiya
"The one who owns the mother also owns her children. Being the master of the mother makes him the owner of her children whether they were born to a husband or they were illegitimate children. Therefore, the master has the right to have sexual intercourse with the daughters of his maid slave because they are the daughters of his property, provided he does not sleep with the mother at the same time"
What you need to understand is that if our female soldiers are taken POW during a time of war, their rape and sexual servitude will be viewed as lawful concubinage in the world of Islamic Hadith. These things, need to change. Rape, is rape, pure and simple. As they teach in the Navy, No means No. Silence, means No. “Maybe later” also means no. Anything but "yes" to a request for sex, means "no". Our Navy guidelines and standards are quite clear in this regard. Women are a fenced asset in time of war and time of peace. They control the fence lines. When the fence lines are crossed, a possible court martial may follow.
As you have noticed, the Hadith presented relate to the care and treatment of women. I know Muslim men who love their wives and families. But one reason the West has prospered has been because of the unique perspective of our society that smart, educated and emancipated women make better wives and mothers. This message, has yet to resound within the hearts of many Muslims. Last time I checked, women still made up fifty percent of God’s creation. I believe we are co-equal in our gifts, talents and what we have to offer in the world. Our roles are different. But when God made women, the design package was perfect and co-equal. smile
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Today we will look at some Hadith that have to do with societal behavior and social structure. We will look at habits, hygiene and morals.
Seeking permission to enter a home:
Kaladah ibn Hanbal reported that Safwaan ibn Umayyah sent him to the Prophet with some milk and cucumbers when the Prophet was staying in the upper part of the Makkan valley. He said, "I entered his house without permission or giving Salaams, so the Prophet said to me, 'Go back out and say: as-Salaam 'alaykum, may I enter?'"
*Muslims have a stronger sense of protocol for every day greetings. There is afforded among themselves a greater level of respect to also enquire of family members, etc. before moving along in the conversation.
Using the Bathroom facilities:
The companion, Abu Ayyoub al-Ansaaree, reported that the Prophet said, "If you go to defecate do not face the Qiblah nor turn your back toward it...."
*Read what Rush Limbaugh, that old wind tunnel, has to say at this link.
Abu Hurayrah reported that Allah's messenger said, "Beware of suspicion, for verily suspicion is the most misleading form of conversation."
*This one, hampers the ability to gather intelligence within the Muslim community regarding any potential threat from radical elements within the ranks. Muslims do not rat each other out. Period. Sadly, Qur'an 5:2 says "Help each other in righteousness and piety, but do not help each other in sin and aggression." Naturally, it is all in how you diagram the thing. Obviously, a certain man whom we have yet to capture and bring to justice did not consider it either sin nor aggression to fly aircraft into buildings in America and kill innocent civilians. To this day, there are Muslims who consider Osama bin Ladin a "freedom fighter".
Abu Hurayrah reported that Allah's Messenger passed by a pile of food stuff and stuck his hand into it. When he found it wet he asked the owner, "What is that?" The trader replied, "Rain fell on it oh Messenger of Allah". The Prophet said, "Why didn't you put it on top so the people could see it? Whoever cheats us is not of us."
*I can relate to this one having grown up purchasing food items in open air markets where produce and meat was weighed on scales. There were many tricks for cheating the customer out of his pesos in the Oaxaca markets.
Zakat: The Giving of Charity
The Prophet told Mu'aadh ibn Jabal, "Teach them (the people of Yemen) that Allah has made charity compulsory on them. It should be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor."
The conditions applied to Zakat are that it is duty for all Muslims above the age of puberty; surplus wealth should be made available for zakat; zakat on crops is given at time of harvest, but material wealth can be retained for a full year prior to distribution of that which is excess and above normal needs.
*Hmmmm. Has anyone approached the House of Saud billionaires club about this?
There is a Hadith which states that a man who marries has fulfilled half of his religion. This is because marriage guards against "zina" which is sexual immorality. It is somewhat of a correlary thought to what is expressed in the book of Proverbs that says a man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.
There are literally thousands of Hadith. I hope you enjoyed reading the few I placed on the page today. And please understand that many common courtesies, perceptions, manner of behavior are governed by Hadith.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. They consider Muhammad the final prophet. He has the title of Prophet among the Ummah, or the community of Muslims.
I dwell within a military community which uses rank and chain of command. I am comfortable with a ranking structure.
As such, if you are one of my Christian readers, please do not be offended by my use of a title of rank, "Prophet Muhammad". It will be used contextually with writings related to Islam on this blog.
If you have ever listened to a person describe an escapade and conclude by saying, "I escaped by the skin of my teeth" the phrase might perplex you. Doing a quick Google search you will find that it comes from the Biblical book of Job. In America, many of our sayings and manner of doing things are based on Christian tradition. The Golden Rule, our concept of caring for elderly parents, child-rearing and many other things spring from "The Good Book". Because these things move with such fluidity within our society at times we are not aware of their impact.
Not much is different when it comes to Muslim communities. It is just that we do not recognize the sources from which they draw their beliefs. The primary source is the Qu'ran, a compendium of thought, the Rope of Allah, made up of 114 Surah or "chapters". This book is the engine of Islam. But the fuel on which society runs comes from Hadith. (For ease of reading, I will continue to use the singular form of the word.)
There are scholars of the Qur'an, scholars of written Hadith literature, and then there is the illiterate Pashtun chieftain meting out Hudood punishment for adultery based on an oral tradition of Hadith which has been passed down from the mother tongue into the tribal structure for generations and perhaps centuries. When you are seated around a table with Muslims and are offered a plate of fruit which contains dates, the eyes peering back at you as you eat know that Prophet Muhammad loved dates. Hadith confirms his love for them and the date palm is also mentioned in the Qur'an multiple times.
If you hear a businessman in a three piece suit and sporting a Rolex say, "Allaahumma innee a'oodhu bika minal-khubuthi wal-khabaa'ith" prior to entering the stall at Heathrow Airport, he does so, based on Hadith. The manner in which a Muslim washes his ankles and feet to pray, how certain sects also manage certain aspects of toiletry, are from Hadith literature.
So what is a Hadith? It is an oral report given of Prophet Muhammad’s words, actions, approvals or disapprovals. These sayings or actions stretch back to the seventh century and were related by a “Sahabi” or a close companion of Muhammad. The term “Sunnah of the Prophet” is applied to practices of the Prophet, but today the word Hadith is used in an interchangeable manner.
Hadith can be a little tricky. There are two interlocking pieces to the puzzle. The Hadith has *isnad, or the narrators and then the actual *matn or text. There can be more than one narrator in the chain and a contemporary example of this would be:
Dr. Condoleeza Rice says that Dick Cheney said that President Bush said, “I am going to Crawford to eat fried catfish.” As such, Dr. Rice and Mr. Cheney are isnad or the narrators and “I am going to Crawford to eat fried catfish” is the *matn. You need to grasp this point to understand some of the Hadith which will be presented in the next two blogs.
Muhaddithun is the name for scholars of Hadith. They have examined both chain of narration and text to then compile these sayings in various volumes stored throughout the world. The most accepted Muhaddithun are Bukhari and Muslim. The Sunni allow much more scholarly amplitude in their acceptance of Hadith from various sources. The Shi’a are much more cautious in across the board acceptance of Hadith. They tend to seek a Qur’anic interface with the Hadith as their standard of acceptance.
Hadith are divided into various classifications. They are classified according to source, such as Hadith Qudsi, which denotes that although the words came from the mouth of Muhammad, the message was directly inspired by Allah. Hadith-e-Nabi are those that are in agreement with the Qur’an. Hadith are also classified according to topic, for example if they apply to beliefs, piety, virtues or legacies, etc. Hadith which are accepted as “Sahih” are the gold standard from which Islamic law can be derived. These are considered both doctrinally sound and authentic. A middle category is Hadith Hasan, which means the saying is still considered good and can be a source of Shari’ah. The Hadith which are classified as Da’ief are discarded based on flaws in the chain of transmission such as if a narrator did not live in the same locale or time frame as the other narrators. This is like playing “telephone” on a much grander scale. The average time spent in study to become an expert in these areas is greater than a decade.
Much of the rigidity within pockets of Muslim communities comes from strict adherence to Hadith as the standard for daily living. There are scholars such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi who write complete books on the subject. If you care to know how to pronounce the name of Allah over the dog, the arrow for the hunt, or the slaughter, he is the man to read. He will tell you in great detail how and why, such things are done. (The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam.) If you read in Islamic chat rooms Hadith are salted into the conversations with great regularity. Muslims believe these words to be true.
The next blog will look at commonly accepted Hadith. The third blog will look at certain Hadith which defy logic, allow for abusive practices against women and overall bring damage to societal structure.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Monday we will move into our monthly Islamic Distance Learning Course.
We will be looking at the Science of Hadith. I will be pulling together the works of noted Islamic scholars Dr. Shabbir Ahmed, M.D., Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D, Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips and Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Each man, with unique talents to bring to the table of thought.
We will move through the process of how Hadith is accepted or rejected, noting the different standards held by Sunni and Shi'a. From there we will move to what are some of the more beloved Hadith which anchor the moorings of Islamic society. Finally we will look at the more controversial and less accepted Hadith, which continue to cause a whale of a lot of trouble for the Islamic community.
As with most things I post regarding Islam, it will be from the perspective that I am educating either the beginning student or one with very little background. If you have not read to completion a translation of the Qur'an with an accompanying commentary you will be in the category of a remedial student. smile
With my dying breath I will defend this land called America and to her also belongs the blood of my children. Our Republic’s arms gather around those who provide a counter embrace toward ideas of government as expressed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Expanding on the vision of our forefathers democracy continues to work well for us! The reasons for our successes are multi-faceted and tied to our history, heritage and geography. Anchored by the sacrifices of the past and secured by future sacrifice, we will remain. This is America! It is a beautiful land.
Because most love our land and way of life, we have grown accustomed to viewing foreign policy as a means of exporting democracy as our gift to other people in the world. But much of the world resides under distinctly different forms of government and manner of living. At the risk of being branded a traitor let me offer stunning claim: Democracy is a hybrid of poor transplant value when it comes to foreign policy. Our foreign policy should not be formulated solely against the backdrop of a purple index finger. Our foreign policy should extend stability as the first and foremost exportable product.
Iraq provides valuable lessons in the pitfalls of nation-building with a superimposed image of America stamped upon a population with vastly different history and cultural moorings. Iraq is a land where the Sunni and Shi’a sectarian fault lines always existed but are now exposed for all to see with the dismantling of the Ba’athist party structure and ensuing power vacuum. It is land where tribal rule and local jurisprudence effects the daily lives of the Iraqi in subtle ways which our Western minds do not grasp. But vastly more subtle is how attempts to bring democracy have polarized the radical extremes and further fueled strong and pre-existing anti-West sentiment. Like it or not, Iraq is a Muslim majority nation currently housing a dominant Shi’a majority both demographically and politically. When will we learn the lesson? Our foreign policy goal should always be stability first. And for stability to be the exportable product we need foreign policy interface with cultural anthropology. Simply put, we need a streak of Margaret Mead within the analyst ranks.
Stability is wed to opportunity. Opportunity brings conception to prosperity. American foreign policy must strengthen to effectively interface culturally with existing forms of government across the world, whether it be China, Russia, the Middle East, etc. Moving among the existing corridors of influence the goal should be to seek out leadership not solely based upon views toward democracy, but seeking out of leadership who retain similar goals for increased stability within their nations.
Stability comes when populations have the basic needs for food, shelter, employment and education met. Foreign assistance through USAID must increase. Supportive interface with viable NGO’s must increase. But more than anything else, we must understand the following: Stability does not emerge with the purple index finger exiting the voting booth. Stability is fostered by workable and solid foreign policy goals which unflinchingly seek to work with non-democratic governments. Foreign policy with cultural anthropology is needed. We will be a better neighbor for it.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The diplomatic corps needs a new wardrobe. But for them to change and update their look, we need to balance out government allocations. According to the testimony of John K. Naland, President, American Foreign Service Association, the current 12:1 ratio of military spending to spending on the diplomatic corps and civilian foreign aid agencies has negated the ability to initiate needed upgrades in the program. The fear is also expressed that negotiations which were managed in prior decades by the diplomatic corps will now be encroached upon by the military, as more capable training becomes available within the officer ranks due to availability to funds. The spindly twin, is seeking a bowl of porridge from the robust and stronger twin. Our elected officials need to look at portion control.
We need our military. They will always be essential to our defense. But we also need to equalize the strength and capabilities of our foreign service community. Effective performance is tied to funds. Our foreign service diplomats need additional funds to train toward more effective negotiation but also greater access to allocation of funds to distribute amongst civilian foreign aid agencies.
To house the new wardrobe the diplomatic corps needs a larger closet. The diplomats serve at the behest of our government to represent our policies and to meet the needs of our citizens who live abroad. Our government should seek investment in expanding consulate services into a greater number of locales worldwide.
We all understand that our American embassy facilities represent sovereign soil and domain of our nation abroad. But there must be an expansive interface of additional diplomatic personnel who are willing to live within the strata of society of the host nation. These embassy employees will serve as the eyes and ears, feet on the ground to determine the needs of the local communities in which they serve. As embassy staff assesses the political ebb and flow of government there is the equal need of palpating the political pulse of the local community. Pakistan is a prime example of the tenuous nature of government with its own citizens. As our government has sent a steady flow of an approximate billion dollars a year to Pakistan to support “the war on terror” what has been happening within the streets of Pakistan tells a different story.
But one thing is absolutely clear at this point. Strengthened diplomacy is needed. For that to happen, a realignment of resources appears to be in order. Beyond that our policy makers need to reconsider what should be the most important exportable ideology within the diplomatic community as they seek to assist foreign governments. It is not democracy. And it is my hope that the reasoning presented in the next blog will also cause you to think in a new manner as to the role of America as a good neighbor within a global community.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I was not in the classroom the day that the teacher presented the literary work by Mark Twain. I was not a spectator to the conflict which ensued between the instructor and the male student. But I know why the caged birds don’t sing. The cage is full of parrots instead of song birds. Apparently, Birdville ISD does not mind churning out students who can parrot the politically correct party line. Caving to a student’s angst against discussing the use of the word “nigger” in the Mark Twain classic, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” I guess these administrators don’t shop at my mall. What I hear coming out of the potty mouths of our youth is vastly more abrasive. But it scares me to think that a fit-throwing meltdown by a student followed by “the second act” from his mother can prevail against the overriding wisdom that our children deserve the best education. Solid education should include the best classics of American and English literature.
Look at the Birdville ISD mission statement: “Birdville Independent School District in partnership with the community, pursues education excellence and dedicates its resources to create a learning environment that encourages all students to become productive citizens and lifelong learners in a global society.” Looks like a torpedo just hit their boat.
So to enter the fray as to which books should also be banned for Birdville ISD high school students, let me throw out some selections from my own personal library. These are merely the books on my top shelf. Please! Ban these books immediately! The ability of young adult on the cusp of responsibility to think on their feet and retain an inquisitive mind is a small price to pay, folks. Smaller a price to pay then the bullying tactics of a 17 year old student who deconstructed a complete English Department course because he couldn’t handle discussing the “N” word. God forbid a seventeen year old male learn that dreaded five-letter word “think”. Instead, teach them the power of the word “intimidation” or perhaps, “lawsuit”?
So looking at my own bookcase, here is the short list just to get you moving along to your own library shelf. With just a little prodding, we should have a nice group blog bonfire going in no time!
*The Odyssey by Homer (translation by Robert Fagles)
This one has to go, because it will offend the Christian right-wingers. I mean all of this adultery and stuff? Poor Queen Clytemnestra finally caves in to the desire of Aegisthus. Swept off to his house, “lover lusting for lover”, it sounds like these two had quite the wild weekend. “And many thighbones he burned on the gods’ holy altars, many gifts he hung on the temple walls- gold, brocades - in thanks for a conquest past his maddest hopes.” I am really going to miss my copy of “The Odyssey”. sigh
*Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the U.S. by Steven Emerson
Time for this one to go into the stack too, for obvious reasons. I had a hard time reading it anyway as it was long on facts and short on opinion.
*Farewell to the Mockingbirds by James McEachin
There is graphic chapter which describes the lynching of a black man. Mr. McEachin is a black author. But what he put on the page physically turned my stomach. It is hard to make a nurse queasy. He managed it quite well. This one also needs the strike of a match.
*From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
No one really wants to think about the Jewish settlers who hatched a plan to blow up The Dome of the Rock in the 1980’s or to consider the Hama massacre of the 1970’s allowed by President Assad of Syria. In fact, the book just has too much to be gained from the history lessons it presents in such a beautifully written form.
So what is in your library which is controversial, makes you think, and keeps you from being a parrot? I grew up with parrots. “Captain Hook” had about a fifty word vocabulary in three languages and was one of the smartest birds I have ever met. But as he sat in his cage repetitively saying “hello” or “ooh la la” I did note one thing. The poor guy was not a lover of books. Our parrot was about as intelligent as the Kinky Friedman action figure with the pull string sticking out of his back.
Congratulations, Birdville ISD, for allowing your student to play King of the Hill and win. And how much did you pay that consultant this summer? You know, the consultant to make sure that the class would not be controversial? They were no match for a student bent on stirring up his own pot of anger instead of understanding and enjoying the beautiful writings of a man who put cadence and wit on the page that makes a story read like a song. Yes, ban Mark Twain. Keep the cages around the minds of our young adults. Clip their wings. Let them never take flight.
What is on your shelves that needs to be banned from public high schools?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Mother Teresa could walk down the streets of Calcutta without fear. Recognized by the people she loved long before she became a reluctant “star” this woman of slight stature had a tremendous impact on those who surrounded her. A diplomat for Christ, she was mourned and honored at the time of her death.
My parents were also diplomats for the “God government”. Moving with ease in and out of the mountainous villages of Oaxaca I retain lovely memories of my own childhood. After two hours of mind-numbing renditions of “Jesus Yo Te Amo” accompanied by guitars and tambourines which were beat to death upon any available joint in the body my family would travel by foot through rutted paths to small one room adobe homes. Perched precariously on small three-legged stools we would drink hot chocolate whipped into a frenzy of foam by the capable hands of the hostess. Tamales wrapped in aromatic avocado leaves would soon follow. My parents loved the people of Mexico. The people loved us in return. We lived among them.
Something is wrong with the picture today. Diplomats travel in armed convoys with some rarely leaving their compounds. They churn out massive amounts of documents, many of them secret, telling of the political climate of the nation in which they serve, or producing lists of friendlies vs. unfriendlies in the local government. The wives shop at the military PX and children attend DoD (Department of Defense) schools where they mingle with other diplomat's children. The diplomatic community lives within walled fortresses where walled off and stagnant foreign policy has caused us much harm in our global standing. Sure, there are incidents where senior diplomats are assassinated, as in the case of Laurence Foley in Amman, Jordan. But answer this simple question: If our diplomats are only seen by the general population as they travel about in vehicles with tinted windows, rarely mingling with any but the elite of the host nation, what word comes to mind? America needs a few good men. America has an image problem.
The severity of the problem has been exposed with the mutiny within the Diplomatic Corps at the news that there will be a mass call up of diplomats to the Middle East with the option of resigning if the assignment is not accepted. Last time I checked, this group also took an oath. If they cannot fulfill the requirements of the job, yes by all means Dr. Rice, fire their passive little butts. There are too many diplomats and not enough cushy assignments to the Embassy in Geneva or London. Get over it guys. Our government needs some of you to serve in Togo, Bangladesh and Indonesia. It is time for the ranks to be reinvigorated by people of passion, people who are willing to accept challenges of this century. And dare I say it? We need people who actually care about the welfare of the people they are sent to serve. We need a shift in the paradigm that views service toward the people of the host nation as a means of being of service to our own government. Good will. We do not retain a whole heck of a lot in many nations and we have only ourselves to blame. Yes, diplomats are needed to move within the corridors of influence in government. Yes, their safety should be of concern. But we need a new class of diplomat: the diplomat functioning on the local street.
Send me. Send me to the poorest Muslim-majority nation in the world. I will draw water from the well with their village women. Their children will receive school uniforms. The local women will receive a new hijab for Ramadan. But don’t send me to peer out of a bullet proof window to wonder how the poor schmucks in the market are managing to feed their five scrawny children. Send Mother Teresa. She will know what to do.
*We will revisit this topic on Thursday.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The instability of the 21st century has brought challenges to both our military and diplomatic corps. Today we will cover the military. What must be considered for the existing foundational military doctrine to move forward strongly with a viable doctrinal interface which looks to the future? What adaptable processes must be put into place recognizing changes within 21st century operational battle space with consideration of the psychological footing of the warrior as part of the continuum of thought? How do we address troop welfare? America is facing certain pitfalls and hazards for our newest warriors. Documents must be set into motion with training in place to recognize the new issues spawned by a changing geopolitical stage.
The volatility index of response against our uniformed men and women is going to increase substantially. This volatility will be fueled by a civilian perception that a fully-armed professional soldier who lives by an honorable creed is an aggressor bent on the destruction of the Muslim world. The myopic focus of a 21st century of "Infidels against Muslims” will be fueled by the internet in a steady feeding targeting the masses without a lick of sense. Much of the world still views us with hostility. Don’t kid yourself. We are in for some very, very rough waters ahead. The Middle East region will be the most politically unstable in the next decade. Our need for fossil fuels compels us to be a shareholder in the region. Turn the key in your engine and think of your own role as a shareholder. So let me throw some things on the page for you to consider regarding troop interface in regional conflicts.
Americans need to demand government policy restraint and judicious use of our nation’s most precious resource, the American soldier. Increasingly, nations and regions will seek military support from our government as we enter a century which will be defined by smaller wars within vulnerable states with flashpoints of civilian unrest. Large demographic population shifts will occur virtually overnight, such as what was seen in Rwanda over a decade ago. Governments will seek American intervention where insurgencies using guerrilla warfare tactics reside alongside civilian populations. Moving freely within urbanized and highly condensed population areas these insurgency-based groups will not play by rules as dictated by the structured international military community.
Our government must further firm up and prioritize regions of the world based on a model which weights the absolutes of strategic importance to our national security. For our military to maintain effectiveness, government must resist the urge to use our troops as the “serving wench” for the needs of governments searching for a quick fix as opposed to political rejuvenation. Our blood, to defend our soil, citizens and national interests. Our soldiers will give nothing less. They should be required to give nothing more. As such, Darfur is way down on my list. Does that mean I lack compassion? Please do not accuse me in such manner. Our troops should not be mobilized based on the compassion of Americans but only for needs of own national defense. We owe it to our troops. Join the Peace Corps or a charitable organization. They will send YOU to Darfur tomorrow. smile
On my bedroom wall hangs the 2006 Marine Corps calender. What peers out from the page at me each month reminds me of that for which we train our young men and women. They are trained for the art of war. In the spin placed on the ever-changing game plan within Iraq we must remember why we have a military. They are not in Iraq to “Sow seeds of democracy”. Our military is not an irrigation system for seeds of ideology. That is the job of the diplomatic corps holding solid and well-executed foreign policy in hand.
In the quietness of my heart there is great concern. We must maintain military training true to purpose. We must not wince when we discuss the truth. Our infantry on the ground are taught to aim at a target and shoot to kill. They are taught to aim true and react quickly so that at the end of their tour their families can receive them back. Yes, we must maintain strong training that instills core values which cause each soldier to retain humanity during chaotic and perilous times. But the insidious danger of teaching each soldier to “win the hearts and the minds” of the local population is to also risk an increase in PTSD when the soldier returns home. The soldier must somewhat be psychologically deconstructed and then reconstructed to follow chain of command, sustain the brutality of a fire fight, care for their own wounded and bury their own dead. We teach them to act and react in war. But care must be taken with double tasking our soldiers with bullets and diplomacy. I fear we are seeing a greater wave of psychological destabilization in our returning warriors as they ponder the oxymoronic task we have placed on their shoulders. Let our soldiers, be soldiers. Let them return knowing that they did their job based on their rate, rank or billet. Let their honor be that of a soldier performing his duty within his chain of command and battalion. Let diplomats be the second wave to “win the hearts and the minds”. I find it distinctly unfair to require both of our men and women in uniform.
Regarding the Middle East, we must recognize the near impossibility of creating new governments and safe pasture for citizens who consider us wolves and not shepherds. Maybe you don’t get it but let me put it simply. Installing a government with three branches and holding elections is not equal to democracy. The Islamic Republic of Iran has three branches of government. So does Pakistan. Open your eyes and see the world. It does not look like “us”.
Small wars will be the challenge of the future. The roadblocks to success will include cyber propaganda capabilities which will present small gains by insurgencies as magnified victories, thus stirring local populations to harbor insurgency forces. Other roadblocks will be pre-existing corrupted governmental scaffoldings which do not support any change from the status quo no matter how many troops we place on the ground or for how long we stay. We need to be realists. We need to be good stewards of our military might.
These challenges and many others face our 21st century warriors. We owe it to them to train with clarity as to their primary task, the defense of our nation. We owe it to them to elect leaders who have prior military experience and understand the sacrifices required. We owe it to them to consider carefully the necessity of mobilization for the security and defense of our nation. We owe them….. freedoms which many of us take for granted. God Bless our Troops.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
When you build a foxhole, build it deep. And secondly, never go into it alone. When you're by yourself, you think, and your mind starts to do all sorts of weird things. You hear the swish of a bomb which sounds like shaking tinfoil. Then the ground shakes, and then you wait for the next one. And the ground shakes again. By that time you really want some company. With two people in there you learn one thing. Look at that sonofabitch, he's scared as hell. And he's looking at you and saying the same thing. Oh, I'm not scared, he's scared. With someone else there, you're able to compensate for the fear, but when you are alone, you sweat.
Battle of Guadalcanal, 1942-1943 Pharmacist's Mate First Class Louis Ortega
As I ran the enemy fire seemed to be coming from all directions. I went forward about twenty-five yards when something hit me in the back real hard and knocked me over on the ground. I fell so hard my breath was knocked out of me.... By then I felt the warm blood oozing down over my back where I was hit. I yelled, "Corpsman!" as loudly as I could. "I've been hit," I screamed through all the noise and chaos.... He knelt at my left side and lifted up my pack to check the wound in my back. There was a pause interrupted by a soft whisper, "Oh my God, Jim!" Then there was another pause, and the corpsman broke out in loud, hilarious laughter. He just kept on laughing and laughing while I lay there, dying and dying. What's this guy's problem? I thought he was cracking up. Finally he was able to control himself and stop. "You dumb-ass Marine," he quipped, "there's nothing wrong with you. They hit you in your pork and beans."
Jim Huddleston, USMC, Iwo Jima 1945
Sugar Loaf Hill changed all of us. A good example of how little we resembled human beings at this time (occurred)when we finally got some hot chow. What a site, all these dirty unshaven characters wolfing down that chow like it was their last. To top it off, there was a dead Jap only partially buried lying in front of where they set up the chow line. No one had the energy or inclination to burying him. If you can ignore the sight and smell of something like that and eat like there's no tomorrow, you are really not ready for polite society.
Private Henry G. Lewis,Easy Company 29th Marines, medical branch, Okinawa 1945
The North Koreans had begun to make a push all along that line. We had to hold it.... One of the tricks we used to narrow our aim at the enemy was for a Marine to stand briefly and draw fire. Since the North Koreans weren't very good marksmen, it was usually a pretty safe thing to do. One of my squad members, Tom Johnson, stood. Everyone zeroed in on where the North Koreans were hidden, but this time someone shot true. Johnson took a bullet through the right shoulder.
Corporal Jerry T. Jolly,USMC, firefight in Hanchun-ni, near 38th parallel, June 1951
"I was scared as hell and was just about mentally broken up when my tour was over. My purpose is to have the public understand what we all went through during this time."
In Vietnam we had free fire zones, no fire zones and pacified areas. This is like being in a fight with one hand tied behind your back. One village that we passed through on patrol was usually a problem. When the residents would disappear, we knew we were in for a bad time - either sniper fire or mines. The last blow was a mine and it took the life of a Marine. Our lieutenant had all he could take. Pacified or not, the village was leveled, burned to the ground.
James Tolomay, Vietnam 1966-1967
Please consider purchasing the book from which these stories are shared. I covered this in a book review for The Marine Corps Gazette (February 2006). Proceeds from this book help fund the National Medical War Memorial and Youth Education Center.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Shall we engage a little controversy next week by flexing our muscles of free speech?
Let's discuss our military. What is the primary role of our American troops? Should we be involved in Darfur? At what point should the American public support the mobilization of our troops and what conditions should cause us to pull back from military engagement? Let me give you some things to chew on.
What about our diplomatic corps? I will be passing out their weenie whistles next week.
And it is also time to give out a new award. Now gracing the stage along with the "Policy Midgets Award" given out earlier this year will be a new category. The "Americans Without Backbones" award will go to the Birdville ISD for their absolute nonsense.
You can read the story on this link. Let's talk about this. Remember, we are all adults.
Pakistan continues to worry me. Turkey and the Kurds are playing "what next?" Iraq has some decisions to make.
Tom Gordon is currently on vacation and out of state. He is backing off from the blog at this time and I wish him a nice season of rest. This coming week I will be meeting with a print newspaper editor who is my mentor and friend. We will share coffee as he provides additional professional guidance for this blog. I certainly count myself as blessed to surround myself with people much smarter than me. And a cup of Starbucks with a cookie is always nice too. smile
Friday, November 02, 2007
He killed seventeen U.S. sailors and wounded 39 others. Blasting a hole into a billion dollar floating city (USS Cole) this man displaced a Naval community for over a year while an approximate quarter billion dollars was spent on repairs. He has been convicted in a Yemeni court of law and also indicted in the Southern District Court of New York. His death sentence in Yemen has been commuted to fifteen years. He has escaped prison twice. When he turned himself in mid-October the Yemeni government put him under house arrest. This man, is Jamal al-Badawi.
With security forces the caliber of "Sergeant Schultz", the second escape was the more dramatic of the two. Patiently tunneling approximately 180 meters (most likely with shovels provided by the guards) the resilient 22 inmates, plus Al-Badawi, broke forth into freedom with that last handful of dirt revealing them to be smack dab in the middle of a mosque. Who would have ever thought of it! What unbelievable luck!
Last month, freshly rested from his most recent terror sabbatical, Jamal al-Badawi threw himself into the safe arms of the Yemeni government. My best guess is that death's firstborn were closing in on him. They can kill you with a paper clip. Better safe than sorry. Naturally, this is pure conjecture on my part. But considering this man also had a prior failed attempt to kill our sailors on the USS The Sullivans and that one of the escapees in the second dash to freedom is linked to an attack on the French tanker Limburg, quietly disposing of the threat seems a logical choice.
So what did Jamal al-Badawi do with his time during twenty months of unhindered freedom? That allows for a hell of a lot of time to plan another attack. The man is considered the senior planner for the attack on the USS Cole. He is strategically well-connected and undoubtedly respected within the ranks of Al-Qaedah. He knows his craft well and likes to run with experts who seek out large navigational targets. It is a special line of work and quite a ramp up from the average suicide bomber with minimal education and the I.Q. to match, who walks into a crowd and pushes a button. Plenty of those guys to go around and they are expendable. But Al-Badawi is unique.
Naturally, the government of Yemen did the most logical thing. They placed him under house arrest this time so that he could visit with his relatives. Family man, Jamal al-Badawi. The only reason he is back in prison is because of the stink raised by people such as Rudy Guiliani, who is barking for the U.S. to snatch back twenty million dollars in aid to Yemen and others such as Senator Russ Feingold, who expressed dismay over the whole thing in official correspondence.
We may never know what this man did during his many months of freedom. It is doubtful his talents languished for long knowing of his intense hatred for the United States of America. But undoubtedly our government will be looking for the fingerprint of his methodology and planning strategy on future attacks. Yemen may seem like a negligible threat and a dot on the map to some of us. But to the parents of those slain while afloat the USS Cole, Yemen was their child's last port of call.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Each of us should read with care the words of Senator John McCain. His rich family history of military service includes a grandfather and father serving our nation as Admirals, and his own dad serves as CINCPAC when John was a P.O.W. during the Vietnam conflict. Continued service to our nation as a long-standing Senator from Arizona reveals a man who has the talent to be steady at the helm of the ship of government. These gifts were most likely instilled within him from his generations. So while his essay does not have the same glitzy sparkle on the page as the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the steady flow of his thoughts gives a greater glimpse of the man. A presidential contender for the 2000 election, this man returns to the fighting ring at a time in American history where it is crucial that we reenergize and rethink our foreign policy strategy. Senator John McCain has a steady hand.
The golden thread which can be pulled from the essay of Senator John McCain is his strong identity with and ownership of America and our foundational beliefs. He refers to former presidents Hamilton, Truman, Jefferson, Madison and Reagan. In approaching the issues surrounding Iraq he does not flinch to call this an American war. He states, “This is an American war, and its outcome will touch every one of our citizens for years to come.” Declaring Iraq as our military’s central front against radical Islam he gives recognition to General David Petraeus. Senator McCain understands chain of command. But he is also able to put forth his thoughts in a manner which does not make President Bush the bulls-eye of attack for both the mistakes and things we have learned from Iraq. Once again, this is an American war, backed by an American Congress which was backed at the beginning, by the American people. Four years later, we face our own painful evaluation. Senator McCain clearly states that we lacked sufficient troop levels and realistic plans for success, all of which are sufficiently apparent in 2007. Mr. McCain acknowledges that a counterinsurgency doctrine was not also firmly in place. While Senator McCain supports a strategic posture in Iraq to protect U.S. national interests he differs from Mrs. Clinton, who baits the election trap with a promise to begin to bring troops home within sixty days of moving into her former digs. The truth is quite a bit more painful than any candidate is willing to admit. American troops will continue to rotate in and out of the region for years to come. The destabilization demands a stabilizing military force. Again, it is our American war; it will be ours to clean up.
Revitalizing of our key relationships and transatlantic partnerships must be a priority. We do share many common values with Europe. Senator McCain speaks of a “revanchist Russia” and all are aware of the growing ties with Iran within the broader picture of the Caspian Sea littoral states. The process of assisting the stability of the Asia-Pacific region in this century will also be a monumental task. In seeking to institutionalize the new quadratic security partnership between Australia, India, Japan and the United States there are a couple of flies in the ointment. There appears to be a political recalibration afoot in Australia with regards to the government maintaining a supportive alliance regarding Iraq. Although firmly on the same page for other goals for the region, we can expect to see some winds of change in the coming months. Additionally, because of the unrelenting national tensions between India and Pakistan, any strengthening of alliance by the U.S. with India causes a countermove by Pakistan to strengthen their own global standing. The whole thing is like walking a tightrope without a net.
Senator McCain does not mince words about China, stating that we have “periodic shared interests” as opposed to “the bedrock of shared values”. He does support Taiwan and firmly puts military response as an option on the table with regards to the U.S. and our economic interests in the region. “….the United States will react.” There is no backing away from this particular topic.
The section “Aiding an African Renaissance” is a bit of a catchy yet useless title. The political climate and societal structure is certainly not in place for Africa to be classified as anything near a “Renaissance”. If anyone says "Africa" the descriptive term which comes to mind will never be "renaissance". Active and vibrant arts and sciences and math must be in place for cultural renaissance. Africa is still a salvage operation, plain and simple. The first sentence which identifies poverty, corruption, disease and instability as the major factors influencing the African continent earn the copy edit team a flunking grade for a completely silly title. Either they were drinking at their desks, or they think we are idiots. But yes, eradicating malaria would be great. Having seen African babies with spleens enlarged from malaria I can attest to the nasty nature of the disease. Continued support of programs to curtail the AIDS epidemic are admirable. I do support American leadership, but not American troop involvement in Darfur. This should only be considered if our Senators and Congressmen are willing to send their own darling children in the first wave to accomplish this task. I am personally firmly opposed to American military intervention in Darfur. The greater concerns for our military under the shadow of Darfur, will be addressed in a future blog. I do not stand with Mr. McCain if he supports military intervention.
John McCain concludes with three small words: “I am ready”. The man has been ready for a long time. My best wishes to him as he continues his quest. He remains in the take-a-continued-look column for me.