Why Another Blog?

I've decided to set up another blog, (my other one is called Writer's Musings), because there are some topics just too weighty for that blog.

So here it is. In this space I'll explore more serious issues in more detail. I do not expect visitors to agree with me in all cases.
In this forum feel free to take off the gloves, grab a handful of mud and fight for what you believe in.

Simple rules, rather like cage-fighting in the blogosphere:
No direct name calling. No excessive profanity. No whining when smacked in the face with mud.
Sling inuendo. Feel free to ask leading questions even if in a snide tone.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Day Ceremony in Aghanistan

On Monday, Memorial Day at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan, there was a memorial service for the two Americans who were killed on 20 May by an IED. The AP article can be found here:

Associated Press

There is casual mention of Coalition partners and civilian contractors being in attendance, but even that reference is far from complete. What the AP didn’t mention at all was the fact that there were also Afghans in attendance. In fact nowhere in the US media did this story get the kind of attention it deserves. This story is important not for what the AP reported, but for the most significant parts they did not report.

The two Americans killed last week, Lieutenant Roslyn Schulte and Mr. Shawn Pine, were Jewish. They were mentors for the Afghan National Army General Staff. The Afghans they mentored were in attendance and they presented wreaths to honor the fallen. Additionally, two Ministers and other high-ranking officers of the Afghan National Army General Staff were in present along with numerous Afghan Police and Afghan civilians.

Afghan and American Officers greet each other with the "Kiss of Peace"

Most significant was that a high-ranking Afghan officer gave a eulogy for the two Americans. Understand this: a Muslim gave a eulogy for two Jewish Americans. Why does this not make the news? Doesn’t anyone recognize the significance of this?

Afghan Officer giving eulogy for Roslyn Schulte and Shawn Pine

On the day that Lieutenant Schulte and Mr. Pine were killed, there were Christians, Muslims and Jews in the convoy. The other two people in the vehicle that was hit were Muslim and they were wounded. Some of the first people on the scene to assist were Afghan civilians and Afghan police. As the bodies were taken from the scene, Afghans and Americans wept together. Why is this story not told?

During the ceremony it was mentioned that one of the Afghans who worked with Mr. Pine remarking on his death said, “It is as if I’ve lost my brother.”

Jewish Chaplain

Don’t the media recognize the significance of a Muslim calling a Jew his brother and weeping over his death? Throughout the ceremony, several of the Afghan officers cried. When the Jewish Chaplain sang a Hebrew prayer, many Afghans bowed their heads. Afghan officers embraced the Jewish Chaplain before and after the ceremony.

Afghan and American Officers sharing condolences.
Note the Afghan Officer low in the picture with bowed head.
He was crying.

It seems to me the mainstream media want to keep portraying this war as American against the Afghans, but nothing can be further from the truth. A more honest report would have at least included some acknowledgment of the Afghan’s presence at our ceremony. Their presence at the ceremony is symbolic of the larger picture.

Afghan Officer after signing condolence books that would be sent to the families of the fallen.

This is the story that should be told: that people from many nations, Christians, Jews and Muslims are working together in common cause against the true enemy. There is no reason that Christians, Muslims and Jews cannot live together in peace and respect. During our ceremony we showed that it is indeed possible and it is a beautiful thing to see. The differences that truly divide us are no wider than a line in the sand. Yet somehow, the mainstream media do not seem to think this is worth reporting on.

Afghan Sergeants present the wreaths

The wreaths presented by the Afghans flank comrades-in-arms as they pay last respects.

It should also be noted that soldiers from the following allies were in attendance: The United Kingdom, Poland, Germany, France, Turkey, Norway, Hungary, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Spain and Italy. My apologies to any that I may have missed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Twenty-two Reasons...

My thoughts this Memorial Day weekend turn to the sacrifices of fellow comrades-in-arms who have given their lives and who continue to give their lives for our country. I got the idea for this particular post from an email one of my relatives sent me. I expanded upon the original theme.

On his recent “World Apology Tour” the President of the United States felt compelled to apologize for “American arrogance” when the only arrogance on display was his own in assuming that we needed to apologize for anything. The only thing on display in greater abundance than his arrogance was his ignorance of American history.

Without further ado, I give you twenty-two reasons why we needn’t apologize to Europe or the world for our “arrogance.”

1. Aisne-Marne Cemetery and Memorial in France, the last resting place of 2,289 Americans who fought and died liberating France during the summer of 1918 in the Marne Campaign in WWI. There are an additional 1,060 names of those missing in action within the chapel. Belleau Wood is nearby and US Marines captured much of this ground during the summer fighting here.

2. Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, where 5,329 Americans are laid to rest. Most died during the “Battle of the Bulge.” There are an additional 462 names of those missing in action inscribed in the chapel.

3. The Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in France, contains the remains of 4,410 Americans who died liberating Normandy and Brittany in 1944. There are an additional 498 names of those missing in action inscribed in the chapel.

4. Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial in England, contains the graves of 468 Americans and the names of 563 missing in action are inscribed in the chapel.

5. Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial site in England contains the graves of 3,812 Americans. Within the chapel are an additional 5,127 names of the missing in action.

6. The Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France contains the remains of 5,255 Americans who died during the fighting in the Heasbourg Gap during the bitter winter of 1944-45. An additional 424 names of the missing in action are inscribed in the chapel.

7. Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium where 368 Americans who gave their lives liberating Belgium in WWI are buried. An additional 43 names of those missing in action are inscribed in the chapel.

8. Florence American Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy contains the graves of 4,402 who died liberating Italy during WWII. An additional 1,409 names of the missing in action are inscribed on the memorial.

9. Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium where 7,992 Americans who died liberating Belgium in WWII are buried. An additional 450 names of those missing in action are inscribed on the memorial.

10. Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in France contains the largest number of American WWII dead in Europe. The 10,489 Americans buried here died liberating France during WWII. There are an additional 444 names of the missing in action inscribed on the memorial.

11. Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial where 5,076 Americans, most of whom died liberating Luxembourg are buried. General George S. Patton is also buried here. An additional 371 names of the missing in action are inscribed on the memorial columns.

12. Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines is the largest overseas cemetery for American war dead. It contains the remains of 17,202 Americans who died defending and liberating the Philippines and New Guinea during WWII. There are an additional 36,285 names of the missing in action inscribed in the memorial.

13. Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France contains the largest number of American war dead in Europe. Most of the 14,246 American Soldiers buried here died liberating France during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. There are an additional 954 names of the missing in action inscribed on the memorial.

14. North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Tunisia where 2,841 Americans who liberated Muslim Tunisia are laid to rest. An additional 3,724 are remembered on the Wall of the Missing.

15. The World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is the only American cemetery in the Netherlands. It contains the graves of 8,301 Americans who died liberating the Netherlands during WWII. Stretching along the sides of the court are Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded 1,722 names.

16. Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. Buried here are 9,387 Americans, most of whom died on D-Day and in operations immediately following the landings. An additional 1,557 names are inscribed on the Walls of the Missing at the Memorial.

17. Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in France contains the remains of 6,012 American war dead, most of whom lost their lives while fighting to liberate France in this vicinity in 1918 during WWI. An additional 241 names are inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing.

18. Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in France contains the remains of 861 Americans who died liberating southern France in August, 1944. The memorial an additional 294 names of the missing are inscribed.

19. The World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy contains the graves of 7,861 Americans who died liberating Sicily from July through August 1944 and who died at Anzio from January to May 1944. An additional 3,095 names of the missing are inscribed in the chapel.

20. The World War I Somme American Cemetery and Memorial in France contains the graves of 1,844 Americans who died liberating France in WWI. The chapel contains and additional 333 names of the missing.

21. The World War I St. Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in France where 4,153 Americans who died liberating France during WWI are buried. An additional 284 names of the missing are inscribed in the chapel.

22. Originally a World War I cemetery, the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris, France now shelters the remains of U.S. dead of both wars. contains the remains of 1,541 Americans who died in World War I and 24 Unknown dead of World War II. Bronze tablets on the walls of the chapel record the names of 974 World War I missing.

Americans do need to apologize to the world for something else. We need to apologize to the world for electing someone so ignorant of past American sacrifice, so ignorant of American history and so filled with hatred for America that he is willing to destroy your security along with our own. This man who has accomplished nothing in this life beyond self-aggrandizement and playing to the intellectual laziness of American citizens, who was spawned from a family of “Hate America Firsters” and learned to loathe America on the knees of communist mentors, whose closest friends are all about hating everything America once stood for has been foisted upon the world by our laziness, not our arrogance.

The lowliest private buried in these cemeteries accomplished more in his lifetime than our anti-American President of the United States. And this man, who bears the title of Commander-in-Chief, is so filled with hubris that he thinks to mock their sacrifice with an apology.

For those who have not been keeping count, the twenty-two reasons above include a total of 184,453 Americans who did not return home from wars to liberate other people. That’s 124,139 who have marked graves in foreign soil and an additional 60,314 who do not. These twenty-two reasons are just for WWI and WWII. Keep in mind that a total of 116,516 American soldiers died in WWI and 405,399 died in WWII. Most of these Soldiers died rescuing Europeans in wars started by European arrogance.

On this Memorial Day weekend, remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice liberating those who, without our blood, would not have been free.

America need apologize to no one!

And remember, you have a President who apologized for the sacrifice of over half a million American Soldiers from two world wars!

To learn more about the last resting places of Americans who actually did something for our country and who paid the ultimate sacrifice, visit American Battle Monuments.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


The article below, in its entirety from The Washington Post, fills me with rage.

This story fills me with rage at those on the left who believe there is no such thing as true evil in the world and who think that the problems of the world can be solved by group hugs and singing “Kumbaya.”

It fills me with rage at those on the religious right in America and elsewhere in the West who believe that all Muslims are out to destroy the West and our way of life.

This story should contain some cautionary insights for both groups.

For those on the left, including our “Hate America first – apologizing for American greatness - bowing to foreign heads of state - appeasement-minded sock puppet President,” it shows the dangers of appeasement. It certainly hasn’t worked for Pakistan. This Administration wants to expand the concept of appeasement to stateless thugs. It’s one thing to try appeasement with a government, even though that path has never worked in the history of mankind. This administration thinks that providing “economic opportunity” will make the Taliban a less attractive option for people. What sort of alternate reality and universe are these clowns living in?

Well guess what? The Taliban are already unattractive to anyone who has real experience with them. They are not about “economic opportunity.” The Taliban are not loved anywhere they go. Sometimes they are viewed as the lesser of two immediate evils by people who are otherwise let down by their government (in both Afghanistan and Pakistan), but no one really likes their policies, ideology, or methods. They take control and rule by fear and intimidation wherever they are allowed to take root. Period.

For those on the right, read carefully about the fear of ordinary human beings:
“We all said to each other, what sort of people have come here? And what kind of sharia is this? Cutting off people's heads has nothing to do with Islam," recounted Karim, 55, a bus driver. "The people were filled with great rage, and great fear.”

“People in Swat are angry and confused, because the government is reaching out to the Taliban and fighting them at the same time,” said Mohammed Riatullah, a relief agency official.

“They are not Muslims, they are criminals who are defaming our religion, and the people of Buner are not their friends.”

I’m not a Muslim, but for most of the last seven years I’ve lived and worked with Muslims in two war zones. Westerner fear of Islam is born of ignorance and misinterpretation every bit as egregious as the Muslim fanatics causing the mayhem. The so-called “Warriors for Islam” have killed far more Muslims than Christians or Jews, so why are we clinging to insane fears about all Muslims?

I’m also not a fuzzy-thinking liberal idiot who believes in the power of group hugs. I’m all for ruthless extermination of these zealots who seek to destroy both the lives of their fellow Muslims and the lives of everyone else. A bullet, not talk is the proper response for these murderers.

Look at the pictures. Read the article below, and then answer these questions:

Do you honestly believe that any of these people want to destroy your life?

Are you so blinded by ignorance and bigotry that you fear these people?

Or do you see what I see – ordinary people trying to go about their lives to make a better future without the fear of some madman blowing up in their midst?

'Great rage, and great fear' in Pakistan

Refugees fleeing Swat Valley tell of Taliban crimes, abuses
By Pamela Constable and Haq Nawaz Khan

The Washington Post
updated 3:21 a.m. ET May 7, 2009

GOLRA, Pakistan - Hajji Karim and his extended family of 70 were camped in a dirt-floor stable 10 miles outside Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. It was as far as they could get from the Swat Valley, where thousands of people are fleeing from the ravages of the Taliban and the imminent prospect of war with government forces.

When Taliban fighters first entered Karim's village last month, he recounted, they said they had come to bring peace and Islamic law, or sharia, to Swat. But the next day, two of the fighters dragged a policeman out of his truck and tried to slit his throat. Horrified, a crowd rushed over, shouting and trying to shield the officer. The fighters let him go, but the incident confirmed the villagers' worst suspicions.

"We all said to each other, what sort of people have come here? And what kind of sharia is this? Cutting off people's heads has nothing to do with Islam," recounted Karim, 55, a bus driver. "The people were filled with great rage, and great fear."

Authorities in North-West Frontier Province said that with the conflict intensifying, they expect half a million people to flee the once-bucolic Swat region near the Afghan border, much of which is now occupied by heavily armed militants. Officials announced Tuesday that they plan to open six refugee camps in the safer nearby districts of Swabi and Mardan, but until then, many who leave home to escape the violence are facing the arduous task of finding their own shelter.

Refugees confused and trapped
As the refugees begin streaming out of Swat and the neighboring Buner district in northwest Pakistan, they carry with them memories of the indignities and horrors inflicted by occupying Taliban forces -- locking women inside their homes, setting donkeys on fire -- as they tried to force residents to accept a radical version of Islam.

The government has not helped, refugees said, with its erratic, seesawing efforts to appease and fight the militants. Some said they felt confused and trapped, unsure whether to trust the peace deal forged by the government and Taliban leaders last month, or to flee in anticipation of the fighting that has begun as the peace accord collapses.

Sher Mohammed, a property dealer from Mingora, the main town in Swat, was one of the first people to reach a new refugee camp in the Mardan district with his wife and children Tuesday night. On Wednesday, he kicked the dirt outside their tent despondently, saying that after enduring two years of fighting and Taliban abuses, he had had enough.

"I feel like I have lost my mind," he said. "I work hard to make a respectable life and educate my children. Now we are living in a camp, and my sons are talking of guns."

Mohammed said he did not understand why the country's powerful army had not been able to defeat the militants before they took over the valley. Even now, after a week of sporadic fighting, military officials have not announced an offensive against the militants who occupy much of Swat and Buner. The Taliban has repeatedly rejected government overtures to salvage the peace deal, in which the militants agreed to disarm if sharia courts were made the exclusive form of justice in Swat.

Army officials said 35 militants and three soldiers were killed Wednesday in Swat in sporadic fighting, including a shootout near several emerald mines that Taliban forces are using as hideouts. They said militants looted three banks and occupied police and civil administration buildings in Mingora. The military reported that an additional 50 militants had been killed in Buner.

Not enough help
The United Nations humanitarian office in Islamabad said it has already registered more than 2,200 families in new camps, "many of them arriving with little more than the clothes they are wearing." In a statement, the office said it would also increase assistance to help about 6,000 additional families in existing camps for Afghan refugees.

One private relief agency based in Swat said that it has been relocating hundreds of families at scattered sites in the cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi but that no local government or international agency had offered to help. Its officials said they were concerned that Taliban fighters would try to recruit displaced people relocated in large camps.

"People in Swat are angry and confused, because the government is reaching out to the Taliban and fighting them at the same time," said Mohammed Riatullah, a relief agency official. "There are huge numbers of people with nowhere to go. We are trying to provide them with decent shelter and support, but we need more help so they won't fall into Taliban hands."

Fears of camp infiltration
Pakistan has hosted millions of refugees from conflicts in Afghanistan during the past two decades, with networks of camps in the northwest and in the southwestern province of Baluchistan. There have been frequent accusations that militant groups infiltrate the camps to use them as sanctuaries and recruiting pools. Military analysts say they suspect that the Taliban leadership of Afghanistan uses refugee camps in Baluchistan for these purposes.

Since militants began staging attacks and occupying territory inside Pakistan several years ago, thousands of inhabitants of the northwest tribal region have been displaced by fighting and have relocated to camps around Peshawar.

In Buner, army forces have been battling Taliban fighters for the past week, and the army said Wednesday that the operations were going smoothly. But several people who have fled from Buner to the provincial capital of Peshawar, or who were reached in Buner by cellphone, said that the situation was dire and that Taliban forces were still occupying many homes.

They said Buneris were especially vulnerable to Taliban attacks for several reasons. The district is famous for its Sufi shrines, where people practice a mystical form of Islam that is anathema to the fundamentalist Sunni Taliban. In addition, residents formed militias to resist the Taliban last year, and one village paid dearly for its defiance when voting stations were bombed in December, killing 42 people.

"When the militants entered our area, the people held a jirga to discuss what to do. They said they would never accept them and vowed to fight to the death," said Sirmir Khan, director of an educational charity in Buner who fled to Peshawar last week after Taliban forces occupied his offices. "They are not Muslims, they are criminals who are defaming our religion, and the people of Buner are not their friends."

Afsar Khan, the mayor of a town in Buner who had also fled to Peshawar recently, said that the militants had burned many houses and fields in his area and that last year he had joined an armed posse that attempted to drive them out. "We only had about 100 men, and the militants were coming down from the mountains," Khan recounted. "They fired on us from 5 p.m. to midnight and we were running out of ammunition. We called for help, and the officials kept telling us helicopter gunships were coming, but they never did. Finally we told all the farmworkers to run away, because we could not protect them, and we had to give up."

'Everyone was very afraid'
In a relief agency office in Islamabad on Wednesday, two teenage sisters from Buner huddled on a flour sack next to a few cooking pots, covering their faces with veils. They said they had fled their village four days ago after their father, a farm laborer, was warned by his landlord that the Taliban was coming.
"I don't know what the Taliban are, but everyone was very afraid," said one of the girls, who gave her name as Abzanan. "I am very worried because my father went back to get my brothers, and we don't know what happened to him."
Khan reported from Mardan.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company