Wednesday, November 22, 2006

All Rangled Up


A couple of people have asked what I thought about Charlie Rangel's call to renew the draft.

My personal feelings on the draft are that there's nothing worse for any country to do to it's citizens. I've always felt that if a country can't manage to field an army of volunteers to defend itself, perhaps it doesn't deserve to exist. Or, as we find ourselves in America in 2006: If you can't convince enough young men and women to be the enforcement arm of your imperial ambitions, perhaps you need to scale down your occupations of other nations.

Call me crazy.

At the same time I see Rangel's point about this current situation. Maybe John and Jane Q. Public would find themselves a bit more interested in foreign affairs if there was the chance their offspring might be the canon fodder in the unfocused, criminal, and doomed-to-failure "War on Terror."

Then again, if hell did freeze over and America instituted a draft, you would simply have the same problems that faced young people in Vietnam: The wealthy and influential would move heaven and Earth to keep their kids out of harm's way, while the poor and unknown would have to once again bear the burden.

What it all boils down to is pure politics. Rangel knows this will never fly. This is shadow and fog and I'm not really happy about it.

If you want to end the war and bring the troops home, then for God's sake, say so. Don't waste our time with resolutions and silly spectacles created to simply push buttons.

This is one of the main problems Democrats face: They do not understand the exercise of power. In January they will control both the House and the Senate. If they want to end the war then cut off the money and be done with it. Let the boy-tyrant stew and let the talking heads howl, but show them from the very start just who is in charge and that their business-as-usual warmongering is finished.

This is why the Democrats won. This is the only way they will keep power.

By not being afraid to use it.


Blogger politiques USA said...

The medical system in the US

A few months ago a herniated disc had appeared after a clumsy movement in my bed. The result was 3 weeks off work without compensation. Later on I found out that my company had given me 6 weeks of convalescence before laying me off without informing me beforehand. Fortunately I was able to go back to work again before reaching my assigned time disease.

At the time of my first visit to the doctor, I was diagnosed with a large herniated disc (L1-S4) and sciatica, and my doctor had recommended the surgical operation due to tremendous pain and a limping back. Obstinately, I had refused the surgical operation for many reasons: first of all there is the surgical operation, and they do not give any chance of success, and then there are 4 long months of physical rehabilitation. In short this solution was not appropriate to me at all, especially professionally because I cannot afford to lose my job, and financially too, since a surgical operation in the US costs tens of thousands of dollars. Thereafter I had health complications with panic attacks and depression due to a pinched sciatic nerve.

2 months later, after 4 visits to the doctor resulting of hundreds of dollars for a 5 minutes visit, my doctor had prescribed me tons of drugs which were unable to reduce the pain (zoloft, xanax, naproxen, flexoril, and percocet). Yesterday finally, after being tired of the drug treatment I have chosen physical therapy. Thus this morning, I bring myself to this specialist and start describing my health problems: I was laying down on a table and as the physiotherapist starts touching my back I suddenly feel a large pain right in the top of the back causing me severe convulsions, and very delighted to know what causes me these panic attacks I say quiet frankly to the therapist: “this is where my problems come from!”. And the specialist replies back to me: “you were diagnosed with pains at the bottom of your back and not at the top of the back, if you want that I deal with the top of your back, it is necessary that you go back to your practitioner with a new ordinance and a new referral”.

Wow! It is not the first time that I have really a bad opinion of the business has Las Vegas, but I am more and more persuaded that here in Las Vegas that business and humanism cannot be reconciliated. Healthcare is very expensive here, but it is more proportional to the thickness of our wallet: they even upsell in the health fields. That was the morality of my story for today.

Thu Nov 23, 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous UT said...

I added a public counter on my blog. Lots of people from Russia are surfing on my blog lately, after one of them found an article I had written in the past about Bush and the Bible. The text was translated into russian and spread all over the Internet on russian blogs.
Gosh the world is so small :)

Thu Nov 23, 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger politiques USA said...

Initially there is this story that tells us a lot: «Bush said he was surprised by the audience's criticism of his son».

This story occurred yesterday in Abou Dhabi, at friend’s place in the Gulf. George Bush “the elder”, 82 years, gave a friendly conference, between old friends, — at those he regards them as old friends, — between tankers, between Texans and men of the Gulf, Americans and moderated Arabs, old accomplices…

A text of AP on this conference is in particular taken again by San Francisco Chronicle and International Herald Tribune:

«The oil-rich Persian Gulf used to be safe territory for former President Bush, who brought Arab leaders together in a coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait in 1991. But gratitude for the elder Bush, who served as president from 1989-93, was overshadowed at the conference by hostility toward his son, whose invasion of Iraq and supports for Israel are deeply unpopular in the region».

Bush-father was amazed by sentences such as this one told by a woman in the assistance:
«We do not respect your son. We do not respect what he's doing all over the world. Bush-father defended his son («My son is an honest man») until saying that he believes that things will be arranged in Iraq: « This son is not going to back away. He's not going to change his view because some poll says this or some poll says that, or some heartfelt comments from the lady who feels deeply in her heart about something. You can't be president of the United States and conduct yourself if you're going to cut and run. This is going to work out in Iraq. I understand the anxiety. It's not easy».

Bush-father even had to fight for America, shocked by an intervention of a student showing his country to make the war only to open the external markets with the US companies: «I think that's weird and it's nuts. To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy. I think you need to go back to school».

In one word, it was a beautiful exercise of blamelessness, so suitable for americanist psychology. It appears indeed inappropriate to us to see some duplicity that it is in Bush-father. His behavior, his reactions appear on the contrary very sincere. From these various interventions, we can draw some assumptions by considering that Bush-father is very representative of the opinion of the moderate fringe of the Washingtonian Establishment

• Besides the feeling of a catastrophe in Iraq, it remains the psychological certainty that America is not really responsible for that. There is something of incomprehensible for Washington and the Washingtonian Establishment: (As William Pfaff wrote: « The existing policy is a failure, yet nothing can be changed because no one can imagine a valid alternative. American intentions and actions have, it is held, been correct, their goals irreproachable. If anyone is to blame it is the Iraqis, who failed to seize the wonderful opportunity the United States offered them».)

• GW is not really to criticize. He is honest, he makes a difficult job. (If there is a culprit, perhaps this is Rumsfeld, whose James Baker had personally the head.) This position implies that the pressures of the ISG of Baker on the young GW are not and will certainly not be decisive.

• To hear Bush-father, to measure his amazement here and there, it is understood that the current attitude and the policy of the USA are not the fact of an accident or a temporary perversion (GW) but well the expression of a certain consensus. GW represents much more one general feeling which one believes in Europe. That implies that one should not await great changes in the US policy, in spite of a democratic Congress. That will go until the final fall.

Thu Nov 23, 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Again said...

I've always felt that if a country can't manage to field an army of volunteers to defend itself, perhaps it doesn't deserve to exist.

hmmm - you know, the draft exists here and i always thought it a great idea - as long as it is all about defense. Then it is just something like "education" to be able to protect your family. I always thought, that to be paid for is not the same as to do it for yourself - that's the idea of the draft here or in Switzerland

i guess it's just about the point of view - because an army of volunteers is in danger to become an army of legionnaires, mercenaries - because it's their job to kill for money, not to decide why and whom to kill

an army of draftees is much more reluctant to follow orders - is just about the system: if you force someone (s)he will be much more sceptic towards the job than if you make offers and let the people apply for the job. In a country with draft PLUS (!!!!) democracy you always and ever have to convince many, many people of the rightness of what the soldiers have to do, because many, many people have relatives who might be or become a soldier - in a volunteer-army-country people don't have to fear that their relatives will be hurt, because it's your own decision, you are not "chosen" but chose to be part of the military and then? You just have to do "a job" and that means to follow orders no matter which kind of orders that are: You are paid for to obey, not to think and decide

in an army of draftees - killing is a duty to defend your family - in an army of volunteers - killing is a job to earn money

for me, that makes a great difference

Fri Nov 24, 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Again said...

That implies that one should not await great changes in the US policy, in spite of a democratic Congress. That will go until the final fall.

seems they need a Stalingrad or a Waterloo - reason can't reach the vainglory of Aristocrats and Fuehrers looking at themselves always through red-tinted glasses. They have to lose everything to realize, how "great" they themselves really are on their own, what a bunch of losers they truly are

Fri Nov 24, 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous UT said...

As the days go by, I am more and more convinced that nothing will change for the destiny of Iraq. What was Bush thinking? Here is an interesting link: Ideology Has Consequences

Fri Nov 24, 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger politiques USA said...

I just translated this on the go, it is so interesting:

The iraqi trap confusion and fear of a growing popular disorder in the US

November 24, 2006 — an Israeli expert delivers some categorical opinions on the Washingtonian situation. His contribution is interesting, not only in detail, but especially the general atmosphere in which he tries to fix it, to contribute and to try to include/understand the US situation (much more than Iraq) in all its complexity.

The witness and circumstances initially: «Giora Romm, senior researcher for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, [speaks to] a forum attended by members of the Foreign Ministry and delegates from the American Jewish community in Jerusalem Tuesday [21st November]. »Romm was a former Air Force pilot, Assistant Director of IDF operations, defense attache to Washington and a former head of the Jewish Agency. He recently returned from Washington…»

Romm made some remarks on the situation in Washington. They relate primarily to the “projects” of Washington with Iran, — after having said a word on the “weight” of the Iraqi situation on the americanist Establishment. («“Iraq is sitting very heavily on them,” Romm said, adding that the problems of the Iraq war have robbed President Bush of any credibility».)

Here are the extracted remarks from a report of the Israeli site, on November 22: «Quoting a senior American official, Romm told the forum, “If Bush does something physical to Iran, he will be impeached.”

»“Bush has no military credit. Don't delude yourself by thinking that Bush has a military option (regarding Iran). I don't think the average American is convinced that his country is in danger (from Iran), and isn't moved by dangers in the Middle East. After 3.5 years in Iraq, he won't be convinced by wishy washy intelligence,” Romm said.

»He added that the same source, from the Democratic Party, said, “If there isn't a change in Iraq within six months, I'm told, people will take to the streets like in Vietnam.»

»Speaking to Ynetnews, Romm said he “could see a situation where we would attack Iran and the United States won't, but I can't estimate that now.”»

Popular threat?

Washington “is taken in the trap” (see Kofi Annan’s speech), not only in Iraqi reality but also in its appreciation of the general situation made of fears and needs. The jaws of the trap are clearly identified from now on.

• On the one hand, there is this report from a text of November 23rd, which implies that any withdrawal of Iraq must be carried out in position of control of the situation, paradoxically in a victorious situation: «The only certainty [in Washington] is that all sections of the Republican Party and the Democrats are united in their resolve that the insurgency cannot be seen to have won — raising the immediate prospect of worsening violence and bloodshed, rather than a let-up in hostilities.» The strange idea is although US engagement in the Iraqi trap could increase for allegedly allowing a disengagement “in dignity” (it is a term employed in Washington) of a victorious appearance. It would be necessary to warn the insurrectionists and other resistant of the meaning of the operation.

• In addition, there is this particularly important remark in the confidences of Romm, coming from a democratic source, which expresses a general fear in Washington: « If there isn't a change in Iraq within six months, I'm told, people will take to the streets like in Vietnam». One starts to even consider popular agitations in the USA, which is for Washington one of the worst threats.

This last point is reinforced by the appreciation which gives Romm on the position of GW, his lack of “credibility”, — we would say: “lack of legitimacy”, — in particular to launch an attack against Iran. It is an interesting observation but this relates to a completely surrealist situation in the current context. Could GW think of an attack against Iran knowing he is in a weakness position?

(However, some answer “yes”, contrary to Romm, — like Seymour Hersh, for example. But they answer “yes” in a despaired context, when the argument of the absence of “legitimacy” of GW hardly has anymore importance because it is about a taken decision that looks completely virtual therefore unrealistic. In this case, “legitimacy” is invented, if it does not exist. As for a following impeachment, it is possible, but that would be only one element of what would have become, after the attack of Iran, an immense disorder.)

The situation does not cease being radicalized, and the two terms of this “alternative of the devil” are radicalized too. It is true that the situation is in constant aggravation in Iraq, — that requires a US withdrawal, precisely, — and it makes paradoxically increasingly difficult for a US withdrawal, because of growing perception in Washington that such a withdrawal would be for the USA a terrible humiliation. It is certainly the argument which slows down more and more a clear recommendation of the Baker commission (the ISG), ¬ — an ISG increasingly torn by contradictions.

The same spirits are inhabited by growing fear, with impossibility of a withdrawal, of a popular reaction in the USA. It still deals in this report with an appreciation of the Washingtonian psychology. Nevertheless, and this is how the intervention of Romm interesting is, it is the first time that this situation was presented in a such clarified way, and coming from to the democrats which are 1) the best informed ones in connection with the perception of the birth of this kind of movement, and 2) the most entitled and the most accustomed to contain this kind of movement, by channeling it, controlling it, etc.

We have thus a perfect clear indication on the judgment of the Democrat environment; the indication that, for them, their triumphal victory of November 7 implies perhaps explosive requirements of the public, that they obviously fear to mismanage.

Popular threat or not? We would be tempted to answer that it does not really matter. Since the fear of this threat is in the mind of the political leaders, everything will go as if this threat existed. We are after all in the virtual Washingtonian world. During a few years, the virtualism played in a favorable direction to the regime, by affirming extravagant ambitions and claims compared to reality. It forced the reality in a way that turned out to be unbearable. The process ran up against reality, and it broke its teeth.

We discover or will discover the opposite law of the kind. Since the situation is degraded, the “virtual mind”, brought back with force to reality and keeping its old habits, is prompt to invent corresponding threats. It could be well that the law of the kind is reversed because “the worst is always possible” (it could be the leitmotiv of our psychopolitic time) and that indeed the “virtual mind”, in this case, marrying reality since it follows the tendency it ran up against, would likely be to accelerate the effects of them. When one imagines and fears threatening reactions, one puts oneself in position to cause them indeed. The distresses, sometimes the panic of the Establishment, are today dominant factors of the political americanist life. The public opinion feels that. Perhaps it feels that, for the first time since the invasion of Iraq, and after realizing this nightmare, the public is again in a psychological position of force.

Fri Nov 24, 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

"in an army of draftees - killing is a duty to defend your family - in an army of volunteers - killing is a job to earn money"

The US has a giagantic standing army for one purpose only:


With the technological sophistication of our Navy and Air Force the United States could defend it's borders against any invasion force for any length of time.

Why do we need such a large standing army?

Simply for the ability to enforce our will on other nations.

Fri Nov 24, 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Again said...

The US has a giagantic standing army for one purpose only:

yes - and in that case - draft is nothing else than the force of law used to dictate who has to kill and die for you without his/her own decision/freedom to do so

==> draft is nothing else then the end of democracy

Sat Nov 25, 12:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Nemo said...

Apropos to the often spurious notion of "defense", I saw this speech presentated on Democracy Now last night, and was thoroughly engrossed for the entire hour. It probably doesn't read as well if you haven't seen it delivered, but Zinn is certainly a major source of inspiration for uncarving the stone of culturally-induced "American exceptionalism": Howard Zinn on The Uses of History and the War on Terrorism [Transcript].

Sun Nov 26, 05:25:00 AM  

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