Saturday, July 24, 2004

Surrealism I

I received two emails damning me for my apparent support of the caste system I described in Kuwait. In my previous post I merely stated that Kuwait was a pleasant place to visit as a US soldier. I did not state that I believe or disbelieve their form of societal controls is good or bad. It is a complicated circumstance in Kuwait. I suppose the bottom line is that folks there seem to accept things as they are. TCN’s continue to willingly move there to work even though they are in essence the lowest rung on the social and legal ladder. Mothers continue to insist that their daughters abide by the social norms for women even though women are without most of the rights enjoyed by western women. I do not and did not judge their system. I simply described it.

I suppose that my previous post meshes well with my thoughts here. It is a basic dichotomy that Americans support the stationing of troops in Kuwait and the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 and oppose systems equally restrictive in places like South Africa. There is really little difference in apartheid in South Africa and the system in Kuwait. In each system one group benefits from the labor of others. In each instance one group enjoys legal privileges and protections not enjoyed by others. It is a form of surrealism to consider how one system is accepted and another rejected.

A few notes before I continue. I have been asked why I have toned down my political observations. It is simple and complicated. I do not fear retribution of ill treatment. If there is something that must be said I will say it. There will come a time some day for me to reflect and ponder on the "whys and hows" of all of this. I do not believe I have the time right now to properly think on these things. Also, there is the fact that I am with people 24 hours a day that go out and make sacrifices, large and small. There is a time to ask why and there is a time to accomplish the task at hand. So as I find time to write and post my topics will be, well rather boring observations of the world around me. I will leave commentary, hypothesizing and opining to a latter day.

I will not discuss a lot about what I do either. I really do not want my blog to become about my life and me. I think that writing about observations over the next few months might assist future readers in grasping the full meaning of the opinions I will eventually express. Where I find it impossible to tell the story of my observations without fully excluding me as the participating observer I will endeavor to minimize my role.


It is fascinating how much things have changed in Iraq in just a few months. It is amazing how much the US military has changed here. I left an army here that was a fully arrayed army of invasion. I find now a well-entrenched army of occupation. The differences in those two configurations are significant.

The army of invasion of my memory was hot, dirty, uncomfortable, on edge. The atmosphere was very much wild west in nature. All of the manuals and books on how to fight a war go out the window soon after bullets begin flying. War has always been thus.
Many people mistakenly assume that military men are warmongers. This is of course not true at all. We are much like anyone else. Those few that are true warriors by nature enjoy the opportunity to escape from the text bound rules of peacetime. The horrible costs of war are the only things that prevent a man of conscience from being a seeker of battle.
During every war technology, tactics and terrain force men to devise new and innovative ways of accomplishing their missions. This is exciting and challenging. This tests one’s full intellect, skill, resourcefulness and creativity. It is exciting and exceptionally terrifying, especially for those that make decisions and give commands. General Lee said it best, "it is good that war is so terrible, else we would grow to love it". I cannot think of a truer statement to describe the reality. In a very real way the love/hate relationship is a dichotomy creates a very surreal situation.

The army that I left was filled with innovation, creativity and resourcefulness. The old peacetime rules were abandoned immediately when it was found they no longer made sense.
To the casual observer I suppose the first sign was universal modification of uniforms. First Sergeants have busied themselves for years ensuring that troops wore their field gear in just such a way. Everything was standard, everything taped down just so. Command Sergeants Majors patrolled field sites enforcing these standards. Primarily because that entire rank group has long ago abandoned their primary role as chief trainer but also because these folks have little else of importance to do.

All of that standardized nonsensical uniformity was discarded soon after bullets began to fly. The equipment a soldier has to carry to survive is heavy enough. The desert is very hot and unforgiving. Soldiers began to wear what war needed.

Another big change that was quickly adapted as a grassroots effort was additional armor for vehicles. In very short order one began to observe vehicles of all makes and intents outfitted with homegrown add-on armor. Heavy weapons were mounted to vehicles that no peacetime book ever intended. People began to do what needed to be do in order to survive and win.
Leadership began to change also. Many a young captain with six to eight years in the service never previously had the opportunity to really lead. By that I mean the opportunity and chance to make momentous decisions that would result in life or death, success of failure. Many of these decisions were made in circumstances that did not match the peacetime textbook solution. It was an exiting time. There was a mission to be accomplished but no real clear rules on how to do it. There were simply a lot of young folks out there figuring it out day to day, using whatever training they had before but more importantly they used their individual skills and intellect.
Of course all of that is very different now. To be sure there are some elements of chaos involved. However it is a more standardized sort of chaos. It is the sort of chaos that is partially controllable and partially predictable. This of course allows for folks that believe they know best to begin writing rules. It allows for the numerous headquarters weenies at every level to begin doing what they do best; writing copious standard operating procedures for everything.
One can still observe the effects of the "wild west" period. There are still a fair number of joes that spend their days tired, hot and on edge. The modification of vehicles into up armored battlewagons has continued. The fact that the military cannot provide enough factory modified armored humvees will ensure this trend continues. Most joes have avoided a return to peacetime uniform and equipment standards; although the trend toward standardization for the sake of standardization is slowly beginning to take hold.

The most significant change is in the role of leadership at the lowest level; events are less fluid now, they appear more controllable. Technology enables higher commanders to observe and virtually control the actions of team size elements. Since the pace of action has slowed to a circumstance that allows these higher commanders to pick and choose their operations they choose to engage in just as many events as they can personally oversee. There are no more young captains out maneuvering their companies in a chaotic and dispersed environment far from their boss and his control. Thus innovation and creativity have been replaced by control and standardization.

I would be remiss if I did not describe the nature of life of the troops involved. Whereas in the army of invasion troops went for days and weeks without even seeing a tent many troops now live in air-conditioned tent cities. Many live in portable trailers complete with electricity and AC. Where water was at a premium it is not readily available. Shower and latrine facilities are exceptionally nice. There are Exchange (military Walmart) facilities on almost every camp and a couple of very large facilities on the larger camps. Burger King, phones, internet cafes, laundry facilities and even pools (thanks to Saddam) on some camps.

Of course the nicer camps house the majority of the headquarters weenies. These are not the sort to ever seek being dirty or uncomfortable. However, even the camps that house the men that go out each day and do bad things to bad men have most of the amenities described above. Part of what makes this so surreal is the fact that inside the wire there is all the comfort of home, if you removed the oppressive heat and added family members one might think that the location was Fort Bliss Texas, just outside the wire there lurks the danger of the bad men. It is difficult to keep that in perspective. You look around and see soldiers that never leave the wire, living relatively comfortable lives and then realize that this is still a place where people die.
The bad men try as best they might to remind all the HQ weenies that they are supposed to be earning the combat pay they receive but really do not earn. Almost weekly there occurs random mortar attacks on many of the camps. Not really shelling, generally just one or two rounds. They bad guys know that counter battery radar can easily pinpoint their location so more rounds would surely shorten their life expectancy. The rounds are not really well aimed, just sort of in the general direction of the camp. In a large camp with thousands of people it is pretty unlikely that any particular individual will be unlucky enough to be on the receiving end. It is just enough to remind those that never leave the comforts of the camp what is outside waiting on those that do.

That is more than I intended to say on that. I intended to describe more of the bizarre realities here, such as Saddam’s Al Faw Palace and reserved hunting grounds. This place would make any good ole boy that has ever joined a hunting lodge envious. I will do that in a latter post. Amazing stuff really. I hope my words will do justice to the amazement it brought to my mind.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Thoughts from the edge of limbo

I continue to have the privilege, or misfortune, to receive continuing instruction in the lost art of patience. It seems that being a mere number in a database precludes one from any degree of personal consideration.  As I have pointed out before I am an individual on this deployment.  I am without a unit and the accompanying support one gains from that experience. 
 
It seems all of the delays I experienced getting to this point were just preparatory training for further delays. I am but a mere captain awaiting space on a flight that will take me from Kuwait to Iraq.  I am part of a queue of “patiently” waiting souls that include all manner of ranks, job specialties and military services.  Unfortunately for me, as I scan the room filled with others in my predicament I painfully realize that in this particular circumstance being a mere captain holds little weight.  There are many folks much more senior than I awaiting flights.  I am certain in the battle of whose situation is more urgent I will continue to lose my battle to secure a seat on a north bound plane. Ah yes, being a number is trying indeed.
 
I am disconnected with much of the ordinary events of the world.  I read the Stars and Stripes, I watch the news during chow, but otherwise I know very little of what is occurring in the world outside of my little slice of it.  I get a few fleeting moments of access time to the Net each day.  Otherwise it is just me sitting atop my bags with a couple books and my laptop.
 
 
I have been to Kuwait several times in the past.  Most were under much happier times.  Kuwait is a fascinating land.  It is unlike any other place on earth.  For sure it is a Muslim nation but it is not nearly as repressive or radical as that concept might engender in the mind of the uninitiated.
 
Kuwait is one of the few truly modern aristocracies existing and functioning today.  The population is neatly divided into five castes; the royal family, native Kuwaitis, Western military, Bedouins, and third country nationals.
 
The royal family and those descended from families that claim the land from the time of the first Emir comprise Kuwaiti citizens.  They alone have franchise to vote; they are given special protection under the law.  In reality, Kuwaiti citizens comprise much less than half the population of Kuwait.  Kuwaitis perform no real work.  Some few hold professional positions in the military, law or medicine.  All of the Kuwaiti officer corps is comprised of Kuwaiti citizens. Others hold positions in government; often these are no more than titular positions.  Kuwaiti businessmen seldom take a very active role in the day-to-day operation of their enterprises. All true Kuwaiti citizens receive a stipend from the government; a form of oil profit sharing for the aristocracy.
 
Bedouins occupy a unique and odd position in Kuwaiti society and culture.  According to their own traditions and Kuwaiti law they are forbidden from establishing permanent residence. The realities of the modern nation-state and controlled borders combined with the amenities available to a people that establish some roots to the land have effected a change in the lifestyle of the Bedouin.  Today all across Kuwait Bedouins pitch their tents in what have become basically permanent arrangements.  Their tents are equipped with satellites dishes, swamp coolers, utility connections, driveways, landscaping of a sort and several vehicles parked out front.
 
Third country nationals, known as TCN’s, comprise the majority of the population of Kuwait. They pick up the garbage, cook and serve food at restaurants, mange the shops, drive the buses and taxis. Without this labor force Kuwait would not function.  Stated more accurately, without TCN’s Kuwaitis would actually have to perform these functions. TCN’s live a precarious life.  They fall under a different set of laws; they are subject to arrest for things Kuwaitis are immune to.  They can be and are deported with ease for minor violations.  In the mind of egalitarians in the West this might be viewed as atrocious.  When one considers that work in Kuwait presents a real opportunity for these guest workers and when the happiness that these workers go about their daily existence is considered it appears that this is a system that works.
 
This leaves of course Western military inside Kuwait.  In all honesty we are treated far better here than any treatment I have ever received anywhere in the United States.  The first time I visited the country after the war in 1991 a Kuwaiti that I had conversed with aboard the plane invited me to his home for tea.  In the Arab world this is a great honor.  Each and every time I have flown into the Kuwait City airport I have enjoyed a speedy transition through customs.  Never once have I stood in the lines that the majority of visitors endure; never once have my bags been searched; never once has the customs officials said anything more to me than “thank you, enjoy your visit to Kuwait”.
 
Imagine that treatment compared to the hypersensitive Nazi’s that work airports in the United States under the careful supervision of the Transportation Agency and the insidious Homeland Security goons. As a commissioned officer, sworn to defend the Constitution and cleared by other hypersensitive intelligence Nazis in other government agencies to access classified material, I have been subjected to searches and detailed questioning on more occasions than I can count.  There have been occasions when, because I purchased my ticket late or my arrangements were one way, I have been pulled out of the security line for in-depth questioning. This while folks remain that look much more threatening than me to me; this in the country I am sworn to defend.  Not so in Kuwait; in this land we are treated as the benefactors of freedom.
 
In Kuwait it is not uncommon for citizens to come up to you and personally thank you.  It is not uncommon for people in line at McDonald’s to offer to allow you to move to the front of the line.  The one time that I was pulled over for speeding here in 1997 we were allowed to go immediately when the police realized that we were US military.  In Kuwait, Kuwaitis understand full well that their aristocracy and well being rest squarely on the soldiers of other nations that fought for and stood in the desert for a decade defending the continued right of the Kuwaiti system to exist. 
 
Right or wrong, Kuwait is a nice place to visit because of the genuine love and affection demonstrated by Kuwaitis. 
 
All the same….I will be very happy to board the “next thing smoking” in a northern direction.  My ability to remain positive in the midst of nothing constructive to do is lapsing. 

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
El Cid 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I am a Fundy

I have recently given thought to something that continues to puzzle me. I am amazed at the degree, depth and breadth of the outright hatred of Christians and Christianity that exists in the blogshpere. I have never before taken notice of this fact because I had no occasion to.

As you probably know I support the idea and the concept behind Christian Exodus. I have written a couple of times expressing this. I have yet to fully articulate here the multiple reasons that I support this idea; that is something I will do when I have time. It is sufficient to say that nothing that group stands for conflicts with the views, opinions and principles I advocate here almost every time I post.

I began to notice the hatred expressed toward Christianity when I noticed traffic coming to my blog here from blogs I had never heard of or visited. It seems that I am one of the few blogs on the net that openly supports the idea behind Christian Exodus. All of the new traffic I have been receiving is from the various sites that quote me as a supporter of the 'fundies'.

What a fascinating term, 'fundy'. This is my first experience with the term. It obviously is a derogatory term for fundamentalist. Like any term applied carte blanche to a wide group of people in stereotypical fashion this term is inaccurately applied. I am in fact a Bible believing Christian of definite conservative leaning. Of this there is no doubt.

It is impossible to apply the term fundamentalist to me however. Do I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God? Sure. Do I believe that this is the one and only revelation of God? Probably not. Any casual review of the history of the creation of the Bible points to the definite fact that Man had a great hand in the assemblage of the books that comprise the Bible. Man is fallible. We undoubtedly failed in the selection of books to include and exclude and in the translation of books. I believe that certainly God guided man in this endeavor. It just seems that getting all worked up about such things leads to unnecessary conflict. Constantine, the Roman Emperor that commissioned the Council of Nicea, was interested more in creating harmony in the empire than he was in listening to the voice of God. The Canon of 'approved' books was a hurriedly done endeavor with a political purpose.

Sure it is possible, even probable that God used Constantine to advance the cause. It just seems to me that it is pointless to get proverbially wrapped around the axle over issues that we as mere mortals cannot know.

I ask questions, I ponder possible answers, I seek truth where it might exist. I am not a fundamentalist in terms of thinking that God is limited to the interpretations of his word by men.

I suppose my views in this regard place me in the lonely position of neither being in one camp or the other. I am accustomed to this. My views of the Southern Movement and what we ought to do and what is really important have for a long time alienated me from the doctrinaire members of that group.

The same is true for denominational doctrine. I am a Southern Baptist, yet I see no real harm in an occasional drink. I do not go to bars, I do not get drunk but I do drink one or two beers a month. I think the Bible itself is filled with examples of folks drinking a little. The book tells me not to get drunk so i do not.

So I suppose my views of Christian doctrine might also alienate me from someone that interprets the Bible literally by the standard of a group of men.

I believe that man is sinful by nature and that without salvation through the grace of Christ he is lost. I believe that grace is freely given and may be accepted by any man that is open to hear and receive. I think all arguments about other requirements are proven moot by the example of Jesus promising the thief on the cross that because he believed he would share in paradise.

I believe God is bigger than merely being limited to just the creation story as told in Genesis. I believe God could have created the world in such a way; I also believe he could have created the world in a number of other ways and the Genesis explanation was merely a way to explain things to a simpler culture. We cannot know these things for sure. In my simple mind the hand of a wise and awesome God could certainly exist in something like the 'Big Bang' and evolution. Of course these are just theories created by man. The real truth could be something even more fantastic; or it could be something as simple and beautiful as the Genesis story. I just think these are things we cannot know for sure. We have only to believe in a God that could do all of these things and more. Getting all worked up one way or the other is simply wrong and foolish. I disdain scientist that disavow any possibility of God; likewise I disagree with Christians that discount science. Man is falable and we do not have many answers but we may have something on the order of 5% of them, it is possible.

I suppose I am a Fundamentalist that views God as an incomprehensible being in many respects. I think we can know his will and intent for us if we are faithful and listen. I do not think we can with assurance know every answer about the universe though words passed to us by Him in the Bible.

Having said that, and although I will remain an open-minded believer, I would gladly pitch my tent with the fundamentalist any day if given the choice between them and the bigots and haters of the world. It is a far better thing to believe in something bigger and better than oneself than to merely place all of one’s faith in Man. If the fundamentalist is content not to ask questions and rely on the Bible as the end of the discussion I find nothing wrong with that. I can coexist happily with the fundamentalist.

By the way, I am also reading another book just now 'Jesus Freaks'. It is about folks that have died for their conviction to worship and follow Christ. Excellent book. More on that later.

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
El Cid

Hurry up and Wait

I said in my last post that it would be my last post for a few months.  I forgot one of the oldest adages of military life.  I left my home station 11 Jul and reported to Fort Bliss Texas for what was suppose to be a couple days processing and then a flight to Iraq. 
 
Nothing in the military really ever goes the way one plans.  My two days turned into a full week of much waiting around.  My flight has been delayed, once again, until Tuesday of next week.  I am left miles from home with little to do as I “patiently” await my flight date.
 
This assignment is unique in that I am deploying as an individual.  I am just one more body among a sea of faceless souls moving from one point to another in a constant rotation of people.  There are many downfalls to such a circumstance.  Being a faceless body you have little control over your destiny.  You are in fact subject to the whims of a gigantic machine.
 
I have enjoyed the opportunity to be exposed to people and things I have almost forgotten in the last two years.  I have spent my recent assignments primarily with only Army people, in combat formations.  I have had almost no interaction with reserve and national guard soldiers.  I have had very little interaction with members of the other services.  You tend to forget a lot of things.
 
I have forgotten just how “civilian” reserve and national guard soldiers are.  I have worked closely with those folks before and have over the years developed a rather low opinion of their real capability as soldiers.  Nothing against them, this is just a profession that demands more than part-time attention to hone the skills necessary to really perform at the level required. 
 
I have been reminded over the last few days during my conversations with several of these folks of the tremendous sacrifice that being a part-time soldier can entail.  I left my family in the diligent care of my unit back home.  There they have access to the same medical and other services they are accustomed to.  The family support group is fully capable of assisting with any problem than may arise in my absence.  For my family the only hardship my deployment entails is just my absence.  My pay remains the same, their life remains unchanged and they have a support system.
 
The reservist does not have these luxuries.  Many leave behind jobs that support their current lifestyle.  Many lose their health benefits or have to pay out of pocket to remain their normal coverage.  Sure they are enrolled in TRICARE, Military socialized medicine, upon entry on active duty but this is wholly inadequate for folks wishing to utilize their regular doctors in their cities and towns. 
 
I could list many more difficulties these folks experience. There is no point.  The simple fact is that the reserve system is inadequate to one meet the needs of the individual and two provide fully trained and competent soldiers.
 
Don’t get me wrong, these folks are very much required.  That is they are required if as a matter of foreign policy the United States is intent on building a neo-empire on the “nation building” model first embraced so firmly in the early 1990’s. The Army and Marine Corps simply do not have the manpower to engage and sustain such operations long term without additional manpower.
 
I wonder what will become of the reserve system in the next few years.  Employers will certainly become reluctant to hire reservist for fear that they will deploy and leave the company without key assets.  Reservist will themselves eventually decide that they did not join up to deploy for months on end in operations that do not directly threaten the security of their homes.  Changes will come because necessity will require change.  It will be interesting to see what form that change takes.
 
I have also met several of the IRR (individual ready reservist) recalled to active duty involuntarily.  News reports depict these individuals as holders of “key” skills that knew full well that they were subject to recall.  This is false.  My estimation is that the only “key” skills these people have is the ability to breathe and walk.  A man that hung up or threw away his uniform two or three years ago simply does not remember enough about his particular job to be immediately useful.   The stories of these folks are actually sad.  All that I have talked to have gone on with their lives, they served honorably, were honorably discharged and got out to get on with the business of their lives. This is in effect conscription of folks that previously volunteered.
 
I understand full well the original intent of the IRR program.  It is a hold over from the cold war.  Back then the idea of being able to quickly put new bodies in boots was necessary.  Back then a real draft of ordinary citizens would have also followed.  The IRR program was never meant to take civilians straight from the street and send them essentially straight to combat, at least not without also demanding sacrifices from the rest of the citizenry. This entire episode is a travesty of the highest form.  It is unfair to force these poor folks to serve against their will while the rest of the nation goes on about their business untouched.
 
Don’t take me wrong; I am not for a return to the draft.  I am just pointing out that it is unfair to draft some because they decided to volunteer to serve some years ago while others that never volunteered go completely unhindered by the troubles of the empire’s wars.
 
I am reading an interesting book entitled “Peace Kills: Fun with America’s new imperialism”. A interesting concept from the book is a theory of why Arab culture has ceased to create things or grow and develop.  The author’s theory is that the tendency toward centralized government combined with an early written language led to stagnation.
 
This is at odds with many that view the conflict and differences between Western and Arab culture and one of religion.  Taken at a purely face value there is not much difference in Christianity and Islam.  Sure, theologically we disagree on several key points.  From the standpoint of “right and wrong” I certainly believe as a Christian that Muslims have it wrong on these points.
 
My point is really about the underlying morality of Islam and Christianity, specifically as it relates to things like commerce.  If one reads the Koran (I have) you see that on points of economics the basics of the religion are very free market. 
 
How then do we explain the apparent departure from the teachings of their religion and the actions of their governments?  I think to really understand the differences between Western and Arab culture we have to look at religion but we also have to look deeper at history.
 
In the West the notion of private property took hold fairly early.  To be certain the concept was limited originally to nobles and landed gentry but the idea was there.  When a man in Europe was granted title to land he knew that unless he committed some grave act against his lord he would retain that land and pass it on to his son. The land became a source of the family’s current and future wealth. The land was this treated as a sort of investment.  Farming for maximum short-term effect was counter-productive.  Instead the trend was to nurture and develop one’s small hold for continued production.
 
The idea of private property never really developed in Arab lands.  Land grants were given to men for specific times for specific service.  The sultans, pashas and other lords used the land as a continual source of patronage. The temporary landholders used the land to reap the greatest benefit in the time they controlled the land. This invariably led to reduced production.
 
Historical estimates demonstrate that the fertile plains in Egypt and Iraq diminished in their agricultural yields with almost each generation for the last 1400 years.  The rape and pillage land patronage system has much of the blame in this.
 
The development and dissemination of a written language that the masses could grab on to combined with the centralized nature of governments in Arab lands led inevitably to the creation of bureaucracies. Centralized governments with highly developed bureaucracies and codes of law do not lead to cultural development.
 
I think that the germ of an idea contained in the book I am reading combined with a lot of additional thought and research will eventually provide the meat of an interesting essay.  I will endeavor to write this in time. 
 
I think these are thoughts worth pondering and concepts worth investigating.  If the West is truly involved in a cultural war with Arabia then there is a lesson here.  In Arabia we have a system of government that has turned from the concepts that allow freedom of development.  This is a culture that has produced nothing of note for over 1000 years.  If we are indeed in a clash of cultures conflict then we should do well to remember what tends and events have made theirs such a decrepit and stagnant civilization.
 
We cannot win such a conflict if we become the very thing we are fighting.  This is really the notion that makes the righteous quest for Southern independence so relevant.  Our desire to retain and build a civilization that respects the freedoms from an oppressive central government are the very keys to success of civilization in general.  
  
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
El Cid 
  
 

Friday, July 09, 2004

Reflections on What Matters

I prepare now to leave again for foreign lands to fulfill a duty I long ago swore. It is often at these times that one feels as if a great transcendence between worlds occurs. Here hearth and home provide a tranquil repose from the harsh realities of the world. A man has time to reflect on what is and what ought to be. Matters of philosophical and political matters find attendance in the idle mind. The pleasures of simple things become, at times, routine and often lose their rightful significance.

In the final analysis of what is important and what is meaningful it is the things that one finds in this world, here with amoung home and friends, that have the most significant meaning. I shall not for a moment assert that there is not meaning and purpose in the place to which I go. There are young souls in need of guidance, direction and leadership. There is work to be done. God is their in my heart and watching over me as well. I leave this life because at the very core of my being I am and have always been a creature existing in two worlds. I was born for the work that I do and no matter how painful the departure I cannot alter that fact.

The sadness of the goodbye and departure from my life here is nothing new. Yet it is the same emotion each time. These things simply do not become easier with repetition.

I have watched over the last several days as my beautiful, loving and devoted wife has busied herself with motherly preparations; asking me again and again if I packed this item or that. The packing is done, the preparations are complete. She has little to occupy her mind with except the fact that we will soon be apart. This wonderful gift from God has been my wife for thirteen of the nineteen years I have been in the military. She is no stranger to the goodbyes. She is solid and stalwart yet she is also tender and needy as each of us for the company of our companion. I love her with all my being and leaving her is always a sorrowful event.

My children have handled this as they have every other separation. My son has aged years in the last few months since I returned from my last deployment. His understanding of the world has greatly increased. He has had many questions of me that I have never had to answer before. My daughter is just attaining the age that she is capable of demonstrating that wonderful womanly quality of aloofness. She does not understand the reasons I must leave but she certainly has the ability to express her displeasure with alternating hug sessions followed by carefully orchestrated distance keeping. I suppose that is her defensive measure to meter out the hurt over a period of time rather than feel the full weight of it at once.

I am long since past real fear of physical danger. That is not to say that I have lost the ability to feel the rush of adrenaline and the anxious heartbeats that accompany real danger. I have seen real danger too often and escaped unscathed to think I am impervious. I have seen men die of the most inane accidents after facing what appeared to be impending doom and danger in other situations. I have, what might best be termed, a sense of fatalism about these things. Car accidents occur daily and kill thousands, a myriad number of other deaths await unsuspecting souls. What becomes of us here on Earth and what death awaits us is not entirely in our hands. In a very real sense it is not within our control at all. There is no rightful or justifiable purpose in concerning ourselves over these matters. There is no practical sense in having real fear, beyond that rational men have as a method of self-preservation.

My faith in God is always renewed whenever I face real danger. My faith in man is always diminished when I view the depravity that man visits upon man. No creature on Earth is a capable of building great wonders. No creature on Earth is as cruel to its on kind as man. I became convinced the first time I observed war, in all of its awful and powerful destruction, that the best cure for humanism and atheism was for man to go and experience this for himself. A man that can see with his own eyes, and smell with his own nose the result of man’s fallibility cannot with intellectual honesty declare that man is a supreme being.

I shall not post again until I return. This should be an easy and short deployment. I plan to be back in six months; “God willing and the creek don’t rise”. To those few souls that read my occasional rants I thank you and wish you well.

I go now to do what I must do because it is my job. My heart belongs to God, my love and affection remains with my wife, my devotion remains with my children and my hope remains with the freedom and prosperity of my home. Dum Spiro, Spero

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
El Cid

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Revelations anyone?

I am not a doomesday sort of fellow....but take a look at these headlines on Jun 06 of Drudge....it almost looks Biblical in a strange sort of way.

AIDS epidemic rising at enormous rate, according to U.N. report...

Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high...

UN issues locust plague warning...

Could be nothing at all as most of history has been really...it is odd though..Plauges, strange occurances in the sky, locust and of course war and rumors of war

Monday, July 05, 2004

This Ain't Your Daddy's Corps

"Kidnapped US marine Wassef Ali Hassoun has been taken to 'a place of safety' after he pledged not to return to the US military, his captors told al-Jazeera television in a statement yesterday. "

It has been some time since I went on a real rant about all the evils of “sissyfying” the military. All of the years of indoctrinated political correctness, easing training standards for fear of hurting someone, easing recruitment standards because there are really just not enough good kids waiting to get in, eliminating the ability of commanders at the company level to issue stern punishment; all of these and more are examples of the things I am talking about.

Imagine this, a US Marine deserts and then defects. Unconscionable and unfathomable. The Corps just ain’t what it used to be…and to think I wrote a piece bemoaning the eventual beheading of this criminal.

I suppose this young man, though he be a translator, was never fully introduced to the meaning of Semper Fidelis.

Fallibility

Wonderful piece by Stoney

"'Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.' -- John Adams

Adams was proven right in less than a century, as the Union majority rolled over the South and the Republic died a fiery death. Democracy was established by the sword, and Democracy is our government to this day.

'Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.' -- Benjamin Franklin

Ask any American schoolchild what form of government we have, and they will inevitably answer 'A Democracy!' Those who rule us have been pushing the idea of a democracy since the very beginning. Thus was Adams shown to be right... the 1787 Constitution was wholly inadequate for the governance of those who did not respect it.

Why does this happen?

The answer lies in the imperfection and fallibility of Man.
Only God is perfect. All mankind is fallible and imperfect, because of original sin and our constant rebellion against God. To be saved, washed in the Blood, forgiven, and brought into the family of God is a great thing, and earthshaking thing, and awesome manifestation of the love and power of God...
...but it does not make Man perfect.

He is still rebellious and full of stubborn free will. He is still fallible.
That is why all the edifices of government that Man has erected to his own intellect are doomed to fall. Every attempt at Man governing Man will fail, because perfect government will not exist in the world of imperfect Man.

What, then, do we do? There are hundreds of millions in this country needing leadership. There are billions throughout the world crying for liberty. Some sort of governance, of government, is impera"

The United States, America and The People

I have engaged in several conversations with various people as of late that have shined a glaring light on a major misconception. It seems that in the mind of many it is impossible to differentiate between these three entities. It is a major flaw in one's thinking and limits any subsequent arguments not to be able to tell the difference.

First of all what is America? In terms of the common usage it is really a concept. It is the embodiment of a nation-group of people with a shared history and a shared culture. To be certain within the American cultural group there are many very well defined subcultures; some of these are differentiated enough to qualify as full-blown cultures and people groups on their own.

America is not a nation in terms of existing in one particular form of government. Many countries, even most countries, presuppose the current national government that represents them. As one example Russia, as a country, was represented by the Czar. During the revolution of 1917 Russians did not cease to be Russians and take on the mantle of Soviets. Russia was merely submerged for a time under the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union fell, Russians remained Russia; the notion of a country of Russian had never ceased to exist.

The people groups that comprise America have had many governments represent them. We were represented at the signing of the Declaration of Independence by thirteen sovereign and newly independent States. We were represented by a Confederated central government from 1781 until 1791. We did away with that government and created a new central government under the Constitution. No matter what form or name the central government has taken the underlying fact that America still exists, as a nation-group of people, has remained unchanged.

The notion of America predates that of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In fact we began as a people soon after colonization. Shared values, a common sense of purpose, the belief that man ought to be able to determine his own destiny with his own hands and the aid of God, these things bound us together early.

What then of the People? We, those fortunate enough to have inherited the birthright that is the American ideal, comprise The People. In 1776, we acted through our sovereign states to demand independence for us and all of our off-spring. This was not the birth of the United States; it was simply the birth of freedom. It was the assertion of the inalienable rights of The People to establish for themselves the forms of government that best suited their needs and values.

Americans, i.e. The People, enjoyed for almost eighty years the right and privilege under the Constitution the right to self-government on most matters through their State government. Prior to that, The People enjoyed this privilege to a great degree under the Articles of Confederation and earlier still to a surprising degree of profoundness under the Royal Charters proceeding independence. During the majority of over four-hundred years of American history The People have exercised and enjoyed great latitude in matters at the State level.


The United States is but the executive agent of the will of the people and the formal representation of America. It is neither The People nor America. It is a separate entity that was created to serve the needs of these two other entities. If the United States as a government were to be replaced by a different central government we would remain Americans. If the various States were to reassert their sovereignty and elect to discontinue their participation in the union we would remain Americans in much the same way that Europeans remain European no matter the form of various national governments or unions of states (i.e. European Union).

The notion that The United States as an entity is irrevocably meshed with that of America or The People is a dangerous one and acceptance of this idea can and will invariably lead to tyranny. If The People cease to hold dear their right to establish their own form of government and if patriotism to America is so interwoven into patriotism to a government we have no hope of recourse.

Americans of all our various sub cultural groupings must come to agree that it is more important to be an American than it is a Citizen of the United States. Being Americans guarantees us the right to self-determination and perpetual freedom. Being Citizens of the United States guarantees us only preeminence in the world (for a time) while our true values and principles are eroded and stolen at home.

As you ponder the aftermath of this weekend’s celebrations of the bold statement of freedom by The People and their States way back in 1776 try to remember what being American really means. When you feel a surge of patriotism at the waving of the flag remember where that emotion and loyalty truly belongs.

Our allegiance is to God, our families, our home, our country and then the government that represents us. So long as that government represents us well it is fit to stand. Whenever it may cease to serve its intended purpose it deserves neither our respect nor our loyalty. That is a very American point of view.

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
El Cid

Another false alarm

Another major holiday has come and gone. Prior to this holiday as with every event since 9/11 we were told to “be on the lookout”. This time the targets were exploding beer coolers and subway gassing. The holiday came and passed, as all the previous events, with no incident, no major arrest, no nefarious conspiracies uncovered.

It seems that the only terrorists we can find are those fighting in Iraq for their desire to influence the eventual nature of the government there. Where are all of the terrorist? Why are we constantly in a state of alert? Why do we need the Homeland Security Department and the Patriot Act?

It seems that all that these things have really accomplished is to take away more of our freedom and spend more of our money. It is time to stop this Orwellian mirage of constant vigilance against enemies that do not appear. It seems that the real enemy is clear and present and right in front of us. Maybe it is time more folks began to realize this fact.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The looming Republican war

The current tussle in the Congress over the budget is just a precursor to what I think will be outright Republican civil war after this election.

(...)

Whether the coming civil war is about who lost the election, or who will exploit the victory, it's going to be nasty and enduring. No single party can be both for individual liberty and for theologically-based social policy; both for fiscal balance and drunken-sailor spending; both for interventionism abroad and against moralism in foreign policy. The incoherence is just too deep, the tensions too strained. And with the war on terror itself a point of contention among conservatives, geo-politics will not be able to keep the coalition in one piece.

Second Vermont Republic

"The Second Vermont Republic is a peaceful, democratic, grassroots solidarity movement committed to the return of Vermont to its rightful status as an independent republic as was the case in 1791 and to support Vermont's future development as a separate, sustainable nation-state."

Go Vermont!!

Friday, July 02, 2004

US lawmakers request UN observers for November 2 presidential election

This is BEYOND comment....read this closely...take down names of the traitors that propose this!!!

Calhoun's Constitutional Prescience

Still worth considering

American Secession Project

ASP received a link on Lew Rockwell and man did the hits start rolling in.

Warmongering Republican Mercantilists (Sound Familiar?)

Warmongering Republican Mercantilists (Sound Familiar?)
by Thomas DiLorenzo

It appears that the Republican Party has always had a proclivity to start wars to camouflage its mercantilist quest for booty. From Pulitzer prize-winning Lincoln biographer David Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered (Vintage Books, 1947/89), pp. 105-106:

In 1861 "[t]he Radicals [Republicans] intended to enact a high protective tariff that mothered monopoly, to pass a homestead law that invited speculators to loot the public domain, and to subsidize a transcontinental railroad that afforded infinite opportunities for jobbery."

"Secession and the withdrawal of Southern Congressmen from Washington gave the Radicals a chance to enact their program, but an early end of the fighting might imperil the schemes. Ben Wade was, therefore, willing to see the war continued for thirty years, and Charles Sumner proclaimed: 'I fear our victories more than our defeats. There must be more delay and more suffering . . . . We are too victorious.' When peace did come, it must be under terms that would never permit Southern and Western agrarians to challenge the Radical-fostered industrial supremacy."

Historians don't consider Lincoln to have been a "Radical," but he was in fact their front man: His job was to attach his signature to their central banking, high tariff, and corporate welfare legislation, which of course he did in the first twelve months of his adminsitration. James McPherson approvingly refers to all of this as "a blizzard of legislation" that created the "blueprint for modern America."