Tag Archives: war on terror

ISIS Strategy for Victory By The West

Saddle up and let’s go for a ride through the headlines and old times.  Still the cheapest ride in town.

Many rightfully bemoan the lack of a comprehensive strategy to defeat the ISIS scourge.    It doesn’t need to be that complicated from a grand/political view.  The Commander in Chief (Lords knows we could use one) would issue orders to our military and such allies that will join with us to seek and destroy ISIS and all is cohorts and supporters.  Defeat being defined as utter destruction of organized fighting capabilities of the enemy.  Eisenhower’s orders when invading Europe in 1944 were that straightforward.  In 1945 when Germany surrendered he simply advised the Combined Chiefs of Staff that the “mission of the Allied Expeditionary  Forces  was completed on May 8, 1945 at 02:40 hours”.

The bigger issue among the effete left is collateral damage and winning hearts and minds.  As Twain said history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme.  The Nazis and Japs were pure evil and deserved to be destroyed root and branch which we accomplished and the world became a better place for it.  We can’t eliminate every evil heart in the world but we can stop any organized mayhem and slaughter.  Sure there will still be bad guys down the road but they would fall legitimately into the category of criminal activity rather than and organized assault on western civilization.  Only the naive or ideologically bent would deny that this is a war to preserve our Western culture.  Because the foes certainly are clear that that is their aim.

Don’t be sucked into the false argument that this would be a racially motivated war against those with dark skins.  Several have made that argument before and try to give the impression that Allies were harsher against the Japs than we were the European Nazis.  That is simply incorrect.   Check the actual facts for yourself.  We killed many more German, Italian, Hungarian and other assorted European Nazis than we did Jap soldiers.  That is a fact.  Many argue that we only used the A Bomb on the Japs and never would have on the Nazis.  Again check that facts. We bombed the stuffing out of Germany and killed many more German civilians than we ever did in Japan even including the two A Bomb drops.

To be successful we need to not be squeamish about collateral damage.  It will happen if you want to wage a military campaign that will succeed.  War is nasty and messy business.  It is not laser brain surgery.  It is digging a big hole with pick and shovel.  We killed with our bombing during the War tens of thousands of French, Czech, Danes, Dutch and Belgians and assorted others from North Africa to Berlin.   As our troops advanced from the west into Germany we would destroy with artillery any village or town that put up any resistance.  Those where there was no resistance were allowed to stand.   No one stopped the fight for victory because of concern over collateral damage.  This is not to say that many involved in the bombing and artillery salvos weren’t depressed or disturbed about the cost in human life and suffering but that was the price for victory.   We should have an announced and public policy that any town, village or neighborhood that shelters or condones any ISIS or affiliate will face destruction.  They outnumber that bad guys  by huge amounts (or so the moderate Muslims always tell us) and don’t have to harbor them.

Any occupying army must have cooperation or at least fearful acquiescence from the local population.  Yes, I admit the locals might be fearful but they need to have some courage too if they truly believe these are evil guys doing the Devil’s work.  Going along to get along with ISIS is the same as supporting it.  By refusing to resist at all the locals are in fact harboring the people who behead and burn those they perceive as infidels.  The locals need to fear us more than the fear the Islamic radicals if that is what it takes.

The Allied military should move how, when and where the military commanders direct to complete their mission.  Their mission is to destroy a fighting force, not to engage in any nation building project.  The Allied countries should also not embark on any Marshall Plan as some have suggested.  Let the Arab world and Mid East determine their own future and build it themselves with their own resources.   We should likewise make is fundamentally clear that we will come back and do it all over again any time a similar threat arises.  If the Muslims can behave like a civilized society they can peacefully participate fully in the community of man and practice their religion as they see fit.  This is a war about evil actions not the religious thoughts of anyone.  Like all wars of great enduring significance this is one of ideas and taking the higher moral ground as difficult and abhorrent as that may be.   We don’t always get to choose the era in which we dwell.

“The moral forces are amongst the most important subjects in war.  …”There is only one decisive victory; the last “.  olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Ok, sports fans and the great unwashed out there, buckle up for another ride on the
Wabash Cannonball express down the valley of curiosities of the inquiring mind.

Ebola hysteria reigns at least in the headlines and surely in many a concerned household.  But recall that mankind has dealt with far worse plagues and disease outbreaks in times past and we are still here.  The Roman Empire had two major episodes with plague, the 14th century saw an estimated 25 to 33% decline in population from the plague and likewise the 17th century had a horrible outbreak on the plague.  London was hit with the plague and the Great Fire in the 1660’s.  There were two common themes to all these occurrences.   First the plague eventually played itself out.  Either there weren’t enough hosts left to support it or mankind developed its on immunity through the natural processes of biology, or some combination of both.  The medical treatment was simply to let the sick lay down and give them nurture from those willing to risk being near them.  The second feature all those centuries ago was a quarantine.  History is replete with ships from suspected areas of contamination being denied access to port.  They were told to sail away, as recently happened with that cruise ship that was denied docking in Belize and Mexico.  Even with their less sophisticated medical knowledge the ancients understood the basic benefit of cutting off all intercourse with infected areas or people whether that was a nation-state, city or individual.  We really don’t need to try and re-invent the wheel here.  If we did absolutely nothing,  ebola would die away at some point but we can accelerate that process with sensible isolation policy.

ISIS–never go to war half-heartedly and without an intention to destroy and defeat your enemy.  History makes this point clear.  One has only to look at Korea and Viet Nam to see the efficacy of that maxim.  As has been said before War is too important to be left to the politicians.  Once the decision is made to answer the bugle’s call, let the military achieve their assigned objective.   And certainly never telegraph your punch.  Don’t tell the enemy what you will or will not do militarily.   To the contrary let them know that you will do whatever is required to destroy them.   As evil as ISIS is we should eliminate them.  Yes, send in combat troops to every center where they are now nesting.  Kill every one of them we can find.  Sure some will survive and the ideology of hate of that branch of the Muslim world will still exist.  But not one dime of help, aid or nation building.   Destroy what we have to and leave.  Be prepared to come back and do it again in a few years if necessary.   Such a p0licy would encourage most Muslims that there is a better way to express their religion and to function in the modern world with peace and such progress economically as they choose and pursue on their own initiative.

I noted the recent article pointing out how ordinary folks were having their bank accounts seized by the IRS because of a pattern of making cash deposits of less than 10k.   People, that has been the law for decades regrettably.  I have always abhorred those RICO and money laundering laws.  I do understand the desire to corral the mafia and other assorted bad guys,  I don’t like them and wish them nothing but the worst life can offer.  But go after them for an actual crime and why create a “crime” for someone doing what they wish with their own money?   That law is especially egregious.   You can be convicted of a crime for simply taking your own money, honestly earned, and depositing it in your own bank account if you do so in a manner that some damn assistant US attorney in his mind thinks is a “pattern to avoid reporting requirement”.  Hells bells what have we come to?  This is  supposed to be the US where you can mind your own business and live you live quietly and even off the grid if you prefer.  Unless it is stolen money or the fruit of some specific criminal activity you should have the right to do with your money as you damn well please and not be required to offer and explanation to anyone–including the Feds.   And if it is ill-gotten gains then the Feds must be required to prove that in court before they can lay hands on your money.

Karl Marx viewed everything and explained everything in society and the economy as part of the class war.  Modern Democrats divide all Americans by class and view all their political strategies as part of a class struggle.  Black and white, the 99%, war on women, you name it.   They clearly have read their  Marx thoroughly.   Capitalism was the great evil Satan for Marx and what Democrat these days (with rare exceptions) has anything decent to say about Capitalism?  Bernie Sanders is an openly avowed Socialist and believes government should own the means of production for many major industries just as Marx proposed.  Today the Demos don’t advocate direct takeover but they accomplish their goal a bit more subtly by Federal regulation.  They have just turned the entire health care industry into a government utility.  Their prices, services and means of operation have to all  meet Federal standards.   Even the Marx dictum of “the dictatorship of the proletariat” is alive and thriving in the Democratic agenda.  Now the dictatorship is the elites in government whether elected or part of the vast army, literally, of bureaucrats doing the will of their party at EPA, HHS, FERC, FCC , etc.   They know better than the common man  what  is good for him.   Just as the Commies the Democrats don’t really trust the people at all.   You think FDR’s old buddy Stalin trusted those millions in the Ukraine that he starved to death?  Or the other countless millions he and his successors condemned to the Gulag.  Read your Solzhenitzin.

“Where men cannot freely convey their thoughts to one anther, no other liberty is secure”  Wm. Hocking, American 20th century philosopher.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Let those with ears, hear……we’ll sort through the flotsam and jetsam of the world events and random thoughts of the inquiring mind….

One wonders how folks 25 years from now will try to explain to their kids what “sequester” means or was all about.  When it is googled their kids will find some reference to a writ of sequestration issued by a court and they’ll really be confused about what the Congress or President was trying to sequester and who was issuing the writ.

Interesting to note that our chief lawyer in the land, Attorney General Holder spoke just a day ago about the drastic and dreadful cutbacks as a result of the sequester and the “cuts” in federal spending.  He was predicting how difficult such cuts would be on our vital Federal programs under his purview.  What was interesting and telling was the location of the remarks.   He spoke at a local Ritz-Carlton in the DC area.  Naturally, only the Feds could talk about the need to spend, spend spend and avoid any reduction in Federal spending by doing so at a Ritz-Carlton.  Haven’t they ever heard of a local community center, a Y, or thought of using the Holiday Inn conference room?

I got the physics of what makes those jet planes lift up into the sky but it is still counter intuitive to me.   We have all at one time or another held our hand out the window of the moving car and felt the wind as the car moves lift and push our hand higher.  You would think the same thing applies to those jets moving through the sky but it is actually the vacuum created above the wings as it moves through the sky that gives the lift.  The plane moves up into the vacuum.   I got that but it still just doesn’t seem right.

You want proof that the world is a dangerous place?  Let’s  make a quick list without referring to any Google or Yahoo searches or news media of all the locales where there are active ongoing wars of one level or another.  Colombia, Mexico?, Mali, Nigeria, Congo, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Southern Philippines, Chechnya, Timor, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Burma.  How many did I leave out? And of course this doesn’t count the low-grade conflicts within some countries.

It is not the gasses or elements in our atmosphere that make the sky blue.  It is the rays (radiation) from the Sun that get refracted by those elements into the blue spectrum of the electromagnetic field that give us that bright blue sky.  At night those rays are not hitting the atmosphere and thus no refraction and a black sky.

There is nothing more peaceful to the heart than watching a toddler taking a nap holding their favorite stuffed animal.  Not to mention the momentary respite for mom to quickly get some of those chores done around the house during that short thirty minute rest time.

Just watched Maxine Waters asking questions of Bernancke.  I have a rule in life that has stood me well over the years.  Never trust anyone who wears a wig!   Man or woman.  If they are so vain or so willing to present a false front of themselves then why do you think they would be honest with you about anything else if they can’t even show who they really are.  Only exception is for those in chemo,  God Bless ’em and they can do whatever they want.    Had a professor in college who taught Philosophy of all things who wore a wig.  I guess he never really got the message about to thine own self be true.

Who are these people that spend all their time tweeting or reading tweets or making posts on Facebook?  That is not rhetorical.  Don’t they have anything to do.  With those and all the countless online sites available for all manner of interests you can sit all day doing nothing but following pointless info.  I mean who really cares what Justin Timberlake thinks about Sequestration or the Yankees?   We have always had an interest in pop culture from the old dime novels to the daily comics but those were momentary indulgences not 24 hour obsessions.    Do students study anymore and do folks on the assembly line or in the office do any work?  If they do, then really, who are those doing all that junk communicating.

Compromise if the big word these days in all the news outlets as they comment on the current political disputes regarding our debts and deficits.  Compromise is good, standing by your principles is bad.  That is the message.  How are you supposed to compromise with a policy you believe will lead to ruin?  Compromise–Britain tried that with Hitler and still didn’t delay or avoid WWII.  Even the Vatican entered into a compromise with Hitler which most don’t like to  remember.  It had  a concordant with Nazi Germany.   Compromise is necessarily a good thing.  Compromise is only ok if you agree on the end you wish to reach but have disagreements about the means to achieve that goal.  At present the two parties want completely different results and futures for the country.  Like it or not there will be a victor for that future and the loser will buckle and accommodate to that reality or there will be civil discord.   Those different versions of the future can’t co-exist so why should rational men expect a compromise at this time?   Like it has always been politics is a winner take all game.

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”  Proverbs 25, 28  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Gitmo, Prisoners and Perspective

For the last few years the whole issue of Gitmo and prisoner treatment has been mostly relegated to the back pages of the news.   There was first the whole Abu Grub ado and then the alleged burning of Korans in Gitmo and allegations of abusive treatment of the prisoners there.   I doubt anyone rationally believes in the gratuitous maltreatment of prisoners during any war.  That was clearly the specialty of the Japs.  They killed maimed and tortured their prisoners often for no other  reason than having fun with them.   Please don’t take my word for it read just a little of that history and the facts will jump out at you.   Very few Allied prisoners during the War had any intelligence of use to the Germans or the Japs.  Mistreatment by the Germans was the exception rather than the rule contrary to the Japs.

During our current war we have had to deal with the reality that many of the prisoners we capture do in deed have information that would be useful in preventing a future attack on the West.   That creates a completely different dynamic in evaluating what is proper treatment of a prisoner.  As a society and the institutions representing that society (CIA and military) we made a rational decision to push much harder on prisoners to extract actionable information to thwart other attacks and save lives.  I don’t believe we mistreated prisoners for mere enjoyment or to even humiliate them.  Yes, that is what Abu Grub was all about and those responsible had the world fall in on their heads.  Mistreatment for fun was truly not an American value.  It was acknowledged, condemned and punished and rightly so.   It was certainly not policy approved and encouraged from those higher up the command chain.   Prisoners during wars have always faced scary and uncertain futures because they are at the mercy of their captors.   Some would say that decent and civilized societies would never permit cruelty to prisoners.

Everyone forgets that at the end of WWII the Germans had a very large well-armed force stationed in Norway.  It was some 400,000 strong and except for some relatively small engagements at the beginning of the War had not faced serious fighting.   It was a formidable force that the Allies were not eager to take on for obvious reasons.  It was the hope that if we defeated Germany on the mainland of Europe they would surrender without having to fight them.   While they sit watching and hearing the results of the fighting in relative safety in Norway the Allies advanced and their continued to garrison Norway.  It worked out for the Allies as they wished.  When German forces collapsed completely in the first week of May, 1945, the Germans in Norway were also ordered to surrender.   They did at the same time as the rest of the German forces.  They stacked arms and were now the prisoners of the people they had dominated for 5 years.   Some 12,000 Norwegians who had been trained in Sweden now descended on their homeland along with 20,000 plus Allied troops to take control of Norway and the prisoners. 

Those prisoners were not returned home right away.  Norway had suffered very little damage during the War compared to the rest of Europe.  But the prisoners were put to work as the government saw fit.  One of their main jobs was to remove the minefields they had laid at strategic locations around the country.   Most had never been trained in this work.  They did the job under the guns of the Norwegians.   They learned on the job.  About 400 of them were injured or wounded from the exploding mines and almost 300 were killed outright.  The Norwegians and Allies doing the same work suffered only a couple dozen injuries during this time.  On more than one occasion when an area had been deemed cleared by the Germans they Norwegians would make them then run across the field in a zig-zag pattern to assure all the mines had been removed.  Several of the Germans were killed while being forced to do this.  The guards often fired shots at them to make sure they would move and made it clear that if they didn’t run everywhere indicated they would in fact be shot.  The prisoners were finally started on their journey home in late 1946.   Of course all  this treatment was a clear violation of the Geneva Convention but there was not complaint for any quarter.

Members of the SS in Norway in for especial treatment and abuse.  The members of the SS were mostly Norse.  You forget that Stalin had attacked Finland in the fall of 1939 before the rest of Europe was invaded.   Norway shares a border with the Soviets.  Lots of volunteers joined the German army during the war to fight the Communist, not because they were Nazis.  No matter at the end of the War.  Stalin was now our ally.   If they had only waited a few years to fight the Commies they would have been hailed as heroes but the clock of fate was against them.

We should never abuse prisoners who are stand up opponents, don a uniform and fight army to army.  Terrorists who sneak and intentionally target innocent civilians are not entitled to the same treatment as prisoners.  If we had been lucky enough to catch a 20th plotter on 9/11 who was on the ground, I would not feel any qualms about waterboarding him for information about future plans, locations of other terrorists or any useful information to protect our society.  The Rules of War apply to those who follow them.

“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.”  Wm. Pitt   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Can We Relate To Those Who Believe In Blasphemy Laws?

There is a lot of interesting news that is reported on the back pages of your newspaper.  More importantly that news is often critical to understanding our world and the threats that we face in the West from those with a radically different culture.  Usually those news accounts carry a by line from some “remote” part of the world that most Americans could not locate on a map.  Only last week there was the news of a protest by lawyers in Pakistan supporting an assassin who had killed a prominent politician there who opposed the blasphemy laws.

There had been some controversy already in the news from Pakistan about the lady who allegedly committed blasphemy by her relationship with another man.   The penalty is death for blasphemy in Pakistan and many other Muslim nations around the world.   The local governor in Pakistan had opposed the blasphemy laws and the possible penalty against this lady.  The local Muslims were outraged that anyone in authority would publicly oppose the blasphemy laws.   Only a couple of weeks ago he was assassinated by his bodyguards. 

But the situation is more troublesome than even that event.  Last week there was a protest by over a 1000 lawyers in support of the assassin!  How often have we been repeatedly told that the Muslim terrorists come from the poor and down trodden in the Muslim world?  That if they had more money from the West, better education and opportunities they would disown any terrorist inclinations.    Who knows the circumstances of all 1000 lawyers who were protesting and calling themselves “slaves to Mohammed”?  Yet it is a pretty fair guess that the overwhelming majority of them did not come from the poor and uneducated classes of society in Pakistan.  They were clearly the privileged and the educated and yet they still avowed violence and barbaric punishments from centuries past that are incomprehensible le to the Western mind.

The facts simply don’t support the notion that Muslim terrorists are from some underclass in the main.  The perpetrators of 9/11 were sophisticated men and many well-educated.  The man who killed the soldiers at Ft. Hood was a psychiatrist for goodness sake.   The terrorists in England all came from decent backgrounds.   Just go through the list of terrorists from the last 10 or more and you’ll see a pattern of folks who have had advantages in life yet they succumbed to the call to Jihad and murder because of their religious beliefs.

If the fact that the well-educated and privileged in Pakistan support their blasphemy laws and support assassination of those who oppose it doesn’t scare the beejeebers out of you then you aren’t paying attention to the world around you or you hide from the truth.   Has it ever occurred to those in power that there is something inherently violent and xenophobic about Islam?   Until we recognize reality and admit to the obvious facts how can we ever develop a coherent policy on how to relate to Islam and the Muslim world?

Does it make sense for the West to continue to allow immigration from Muslim countries to the same degree that they have in recent decades?  Again, if you have been reading any of the back pages of the paper you have noted that European countries from Spain to Germany and from Great Britain to Italy are already drastically reviewing and reducing their prior open -door policy to Muslims.  Even the Dutch and the Swedes are having debates about how accommodating they should be to Muslim immigration and influence in their nations.  The Europeans have always been more inclined to a Realpolitik view of the world than we have.  History would also reveal that in social matters we end up following the lead of Europe for the last couple of centuries.  We are culturally a European country and even with all the influx from Latin American and Asia recently we will remain so at least for generations to come.  We weren’t settled and developed by Chinese or Arabs.  It was Europeans who gave heart and soul to our nation.

We don’t have to go to war with Arabs and Muslims around the world, nor take Draconian actions at home but honest discussion of our policy toward that part of the world is demanded by the realities of the day.  Our politically correct view is dangerous and worse, ignorant.  

“All truth is safe, and nothing else is safe; and he who keeps back the truth or withholds it from men, from motives of expedience, is either a coward or a criminal or both.”  M. Muller  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Pentagon Pork And Other Budget Cuts

The news is out about the budget cuts in the Pentagon budget for the coming year and for the outlying years.  The proposed cuts will draw flak from all corners and stripes of the political spectrum.  It is to be expected because that budget affects so much of our economy and our feeling of security or insecurity as the case may be.

When discussing the military budget it is always best to reflect on a bit of history so we have a perspective.   During the Cold War we didn’t have much of a choice about the size of the military budget because we were constantly under direct or indirect assault from the Commies around the world.  The direct assaults were in Greece after WWII, the Berlin Airlift, the Berlin wall, the Cuban missile crisis, the Korean War, the various insurgent and rebel movements all over South America and the unrelenting secret but real war at sea with our Boomer subs and the Soviet navy.  The indirect pressures were the Hungarian revolt, the never-ending presence and pressure all over eastern Europe where the Soviets had dozens of armored divisions within striking distance of the West, Viet Nam,  Grenada, and the clandestine war of the intelligence agencies around the world.   The list is much more than those but they give a flavor. 

Reagan won that Cold War for us against tremendous opposition from the Democrats at home.  They opposed his military build-up at every turn and ridiculed the Star Wars program and drummed the “he’s a wild Cowboy” mantra without end.  But the Soviet Union did collapse due to that pressure and steadfast resolve of Reagan.  He didn’t even back off from calling them “evil” which was also highly criticized by the left as being simplistic.    The fact of the matter though is that the strategy was successful and we began in the early ’90’s to save billions annually on the military budget.   It was called the peace dividend.  That dividend along with other factors, such as a Republican Congress for several years to restrain spending, had much to do with the boom of that decade.   Of course the internet came to life then thanks to Al Gore and that lead to an enormous increase in economic activity.

It was really only after 9/11 that references to the peace dividend began to fade from the headlines.   The  threat we face today is from muslim terrorists which are at the front of the line but there is the emerging threat of the Chinese as they continue to expand their military capability exponentially.  You may have notice the increase in their missile defense systems and the recent news of their own version of a stealth fighter/bomber.   That will be a very serious concern in a decade or so and certainly within the next generation.   It can still be a dangerous world at there.

Olcranky believes we should begin to seriously cut the spending programs of the Federal government and that the Pentagon is not a sacred cow in that regard.   There is so much political pressure regarding the Pentagon budget because it has an effect on jobs in many congressional districts around the nation.   What is troubling about this budget proposal is that it removes the cutting edge of the military.  It proposes reducing the number of troops, the submarine service personnel, the destroyer fleet while only reducing the civilian workforce by 1000.  

Like any large organization the Pentagon grows moldy and calcified and ends up with a redundant workforce.  People are doing things simply because those things have been done in the past, not necessarily because they are useful now.  You can rest assured that there are more than 1000 civilian workers at the Pentagon today who don’t really do anything more productive than shuffle paperwork.  The military mission is not complicated.   It is to destroy things and kills people when the political will believes such action is in the best interest of the nation’s security  How much money is the Pentagon spending to implement the don’t ask, don’t tell repeal for example?  If that is the new policy so be it but do we have to spend money on training and sensitivity programs for that policy.  The money spent by the Pentagon should be audited with one focus.  Does this program or procurement put good weapons and bullets in the hands of our troops, give our airmen the best fighters and bombers to accomplish their mission and provide the Navy with the resources to scare the hell out of tin pot dictators and wanna be tyrants around the globe.   The other expenditures should be eliminated. 

The Pentagon budget could be cut even further in the opinion of olcranky than that proposed but it should be done with the above mandate.  We should allow the various military establishments decide the cutting.  Give them a set budget and tell them to pick what they really need to get their job done.   They can’t have every new “toy” that comes along.   Let them decide how many civilians they really need to assist their operations rather than the politicians.  The politicians will always aim high on procurements and personnel simply to “bring home the bacon” for their constituents back home.  We have to trust someone with making the monetary decisions for the military.  Let the politicians give the cap as they should under the
Constitution but then let the military allocate the money where it is most needed to accomplish their mission. 

The military budget will still be large regrettably for years to come in all likelihood but it could be reduced significantly.   Cut the civilian pork and we all can have some bacon back home.

Please recall that we had a very small military budget during all the 1930’s.  Our armed forces were minimal and thus the costs. It was a great savings at the time.   The issue is though, how did that work out for us in 1941?   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Razor’s Edge

With the upcoming mid-term elections looming on the horizon and the talk about it being the “most important election” of our lives it is good on occasion to reflect on some of the other moments in history that are not that long ago to have a proper perspective on our own day and times.  Times are difficult now here and around the world.  There are the obvious financial problems at home and abroad with few jobs and an economy that limps along at best.  Then there are the conflicts with real bullets flying in Afghanistan and Iraq.  There is the additional threats from Iran and North Korea.  The atmosphere is tense and apprehension is in the air.  Many think that times couldn’t be any worse.  Yes, they can.

Only a couple of generations ago in the fall of 1939 the War had just started in Europe.  What was even worse about it was that the Commies had joined with Hitler in the invasion of Poland which was the immediate cause of the War.  The fact that Stalin did that is almost universally overlooked these days in the classrooms.   Between them they carved up Poland entirely.  England and France declared war on Germany due to the invasion but held back on the declaration against the Commies.  They were concerned about the ability to fight both powers at the same time.  A legitimate concern but the diplomatic airwaves were busy.  The West wanted the Commies to renounce their association with Hitler and withdraw.  To compound and confound matters even worse the Commies then invaded Finland that fall.  Stalin had an appetite for conquest second to none.  He intended to take the entire world at least Hitler had limits to his ambitions geographically at that time.   The quick victory expected over the Finns was thwarted however by the stout and stalwart defense and fight offered by the Finns.  The Soviets had expected a walkover and quick surrender but what they got was a bloody nose and for a few months a stalemate along the border.  The Finns weren’t the Norwegians or the French.  They wouldn’t be rolled over.

At home the Great Depression was still in full force.  Yes, there had been some slight improvement due to gearing up for the expected war and the munitions industries here.  But the new jobs were paltry compared to the need.  Most people were dirt poor still in 1939.  Ask your grandparents or great grandparents about that time.  You don’t have to take my word for it.   Our military was miniscule at that time.  The Army only had a little over 100,000 men and the Navy was mostly using ships that had been built during WWI.

There was a very strong move by many to declare war on the Soviets in England and France.  We cautioned to take care and use diplomacy even while the guns were firing and the people were dying.  It was a futile foreign policy then just as any appeasement efforts are today.  The Finns were completely innocent of any wrong doing.  There had been a border dispute for generations with Russia but the Finns were going to invade Russia!  That excuse was all the Soviets needed.  That war was purely for conquest and the expansion of the communist system.  The Soviets could envision the expansion of their communist doctrine right across the Nordic region once they had Finland.  Sweden and Norway would be next up.  Their only concern would be with the ally the Germans.

During the winter of ’39 and ’40 there were few options available to the British to attack and fight back against the Germans.  This was during the period when the “Phony War” prevailed in the West.  The Germans weren’t ready to attack yet and the French as always weren’t eager or stalwart enough for any fight.   Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty during this time.  He was not yet Prime Minister that did not occur until May of 1940.  He pushed for some action against the Germans and the only place they could agree upon with the French was in Norway.  But the rub was that the Soviets were now so close since their war and conquest of Finland was afoot. 

The diplomatic heat went up.  Even the liberals and Soviet sympathizers in Britain had a hard time justifying the actions of Stalin.  Finland was calling on the West for help.  Morality and decency were on the side of the Finns and everyone knew it.  An invasion of Norway was planned to thwart this effort by the Soviets and to deny the ports and raw materials to the Germans.  The troops were embarked and the demands on the Soviets were becoming more pronounced for a withdrawal in the winter of 1940.  The Finns then had to surrender.  The Soviet takeover was a fait accompli.  Stalin allowed as how that was the end of his territorial ambitions.  Those words were hollow and false but the West was eager to pretend they were sincere.  The invasion went forward against only the Germans.  The declaration of war against the Soviets was avoided but only by a knife’s edge.  A few more days and the West very likely would have been at war with the Commies and Hitler at the same time. 

Of course some 18 months later when Hitler invaded Russia we came to be allies with Stalin.  He was a bad bedfellow.  The worst we ever were tied to by far.  If you think some of the leaders in Iraq or Afghanistan stink or are venal then they are angels in comparison to Stalin. 

That was truly a dark time.  The daily apprehension and fear of most people was real.  There were no jobs, no money and the world was marching to war before their eyes.  Except for Britain there were no decent guys around.  Some even demonized Britain because of their colonial empire.  But they played by the rules of the game and the rule of law, not the law of the gun.   Our concerns and worries are legitimate and real at this time due to the direction of our current leadership but we’ve survived much worse.  Use the ballot to avoid the bullets.

“In war, Resolution; in defeat, Defiance; in victory, magnanimity”  W. Churchill  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Is This Turkey Done?

If you think back over a few years or even a couple of decades how often to remember seeing anything about Turkey in the news?  It is a good guess you can’t recall any. Don’t feel bad there weren’t that many anyway.  But if you are a person who does keep up with the news a bit then you will surely have noted that Turkey now appears regularly on the back pages of the paper.   It doesn’t make headlines but there are the little bits here and there.  This has accelerated since the Islamists have increased their power in the government in the last decade.   That increase in power is working its inevitable influence on the Turkish government and policies both domestically and on the diplomatic scene.   These changes have and will have a profound effect on the US and its European allies and present the West with another set of challenges in dealing with the Islamist around the world.

Hate to bore anyone with a geography lesson but it is essential to understanding the importance of Turkey.  It truly is the epicenter of where East meets West and where the Mid East meets West.  It is the bridge between those two worlds and has been for millenia.  From the time of Troy to  Alexander the Great and the World Wars that has been vital territory for empires, kings, tyrants and rulers of all stripes.  It has also been the historic melting pot for cultures and religions over the history of Man.  The US is a new comer relatively speaking as a melting pot compared to Turkey.  It fell under the influence of Islam centuries ago and that conquest was completed when Constantinople fell to the Islamist in 1453 and allowed a permanent foothold on Europe proper for the Muslims that has endured to this day.

Istanbul controls the entrance to the Black Sea.  You may not think that is very important but ask the Russians, it has been their dream for centuries to have power over that vital outlet to the world by access to the Mediterranean Sea.   The Sea of Marmara at Istanbul separates Europe and the Mid East by only a few miles.  You can see across the expanse from one land mass to the other.   Whoever controls that passage controls the Black Sea.  They even have a back on a few miles to the southwest in the Dardanelles and the Hellespont where once again the seas narrow so much you can look across from one to the other.

Think of the hot spots in the world today and Turkey either shares a border with it or is within a relative stone’s throw away.  The obvious ones are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Armenia and Georgia.  Israel is only a short drive to the south as is Lebanon.   The Ottoman Empire waxed and waned for centuries but the critical mass of Turkey has been under Muslim domination for lo these centuries.  When the Ottoman Empire was weakened by the events of WWI the young and ambitious in Turkey led a revolt to modernize the country and bring it into the 20th century.  They were successful and although they did not ever come close to abandoning Islam they were mostly secular in their outlook about government and economics and politics.  It was not a theocracy anymore.   The advances they made were so profound that the European Union began to give serious consideration within the last decade to admitting Turkey as a member state.  Recent developments have put that idea of hold if not killed it for a generation of more, depending on the near future events in Turkey.

Under the rule of the Young Turks and their successors Turkey was mostly a civilized and westernized state with basic freedoms and prohibitions on allowing Islam to dominate the government or its policies.  The new party in Turkey has begun to change that and it is rapidly moving to return Islam to the forefront of power.  From schooling to dress to allowing westerners to dress and drink in their many tourists attractions they are clamping down with Islamist injunctions on behavior and culture.   The secularists in Turkey are under assault on all fronts and many have been recently arrested for alleged plots to revolt and eject the current religious party.   You don’t have to be a member of some fancy think tank to observe and realize they are winning and likely will have total control of the country in the very near future.

The new Muslims in charge are already playing more than footsy with Iran and Syria and are suspected of having support groups for Hamas and Hezbollah both covert and overt.  Historically Turkey has been a supporter of Israel out of perceived self-interest but that perception appears to be changing.  Now the thinking there is they are better off in partnerships with the more radical Islamists governments in the area.  That carries serious implications for the US and Europe.  You think it is hard now to travel from Pakistan or Yemen to the US then just imagine how much easier it will be for new radical Islamist terrorist to travel in and out of Turkey to destinations in the West.   Turkey has a well-armed and funded military thanks in large part to the US and NATO.  One wonders if we have been supplying our future enemy.

Once the Islamist have a firm grip on total control of government the reliability as an ally will be questionable at best.   They will be having a new effort to rewrite their Constitution this year.  If that succeeds the US and Europe need to treat Turkey as not an ally but an adversary to be dealt with firmly and looking only to our own protection and interests.  Name one place where the Islamist once in power have ever willingly allowed civil liberties and western rights without a war?  For our own best interest we need to recognize that this Turkey is done and stick a fork in it.   We don’t need to invade or anything that dramatic but we should never turn our back on them for one minute and treat them as hostiles with whom we have a truce.   They will be in the enemy camp or at least their informal allies.

“Almost any man worth is salt would fight to defend his home, but no one ever heard of a man going to war for his boarding house.”  Mark Twain.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Bombs Plots Then And Now

The recent attempt by a foreigner to bomb Times Square should only remind us of the need for continued vigilance from those with a strong foreign influence in their backgrounds including religious motives to oppose the current culture and society.  Like many of you I have been to Times Square several times over the years to see a Broadway show or just traveling through New York.  I have even stayed at the Marriot right across the street from where this Shazhad character left the car bomb.   His intent to kill and maim hundreds is apparent from the location and timing of his attempt.   He isn’t the first religious terrorist and sadly won’t be the last I fear.

In 1605 there was an attempt to blow up the House of Lords by a Catholic extremist.  He believed the Catholics should be restored to power over all Great Britain.  It is unclear if he was born and baptized a Catholic but he was greatly influenced by a stepfather who was a Catholic and was baptized as such in his teens.  His devotion to the Catholic church and dedication to its return to power was strong.  After he inherited a little land he sold it and then went to the Netherlands.  The Spanish who were leading Catholic supporters had been engaged in a was with the Dutch for some time in the late 16th century.  The Dutch didn’t want the Spanish and the Catholic church to have dominion over their lands and an insurgency was in process and often resulted in outright clashes of armed forces in addition to the insurgency actions.  The Duke of Parma was leading the troops for Spain in these battles.  Some of the Spanish mercenaries had revolted due to lack of pay which added to the troubles of Spain and the Catholics.

Our young hero left Great Britain and went to the Lowlands and joined the Spanish army to fight and kill the Protestants who were fighting for their freedoms and religious freedom.  He did well there and was eventually in command of a company of men.  While with the Spanish he received training in the use of explosives.  He was so enamored with his Catholic cohorts from Spain that he took another name–Guido so he would sound more Spanish and more Catholic.   He fought with the Spanish for ten years and then returned to England.

After the death of Elizabeth  I many Catholics thought they saw and opening to return Catholic rule to England.   Henry the VIII and then Elizabeth had ruled since the rejection of Catholicism by Henry.   The religious fervor of the Catholic believers had not waned over the years.    This young man along with several others began a plot to assassinate the King and as many of the Lords as they could and then have a new Catholic King take the throne.  They clearly weren’t paying attention to the public opinion polls of the day or they would have realized what a fool’s errand this would be.

Into the basement of Parliament they secretly planted kegs of powder in the fall of 1605.  The plotters were concerned that some Catholics would be in attendance at the House of Lords and one of them sent a warning note to a relative telling him not to attend the session.  The letter was shown to the King eventually and he ordered a search but nothing was found the first time.  The young man was there but he said he was a servant and doing a chore for his master.  The King ordered another and more thorough search.  This time the kegs of powder were found.  The young man was still there and had matches and a clock with him.

At first he refused to divulge any information and gave a false name.  The King authorized torture since they were concerned that other plots might exist and others were involved and that harm would come to the country.  After some more direct persuasion he confessed and revealed the names of the co-conspirators.  They were quickly rounded up.  They all were hung except for two who died with the troops arrived to arrest them and they resisted.  Even those however had their heads severed and stuck on a pike for all to see what happens to traitors.

Our young man was Guy Fawkes for those who didn’t stay awake during world history class.  To this day the English still celebrate Guy Fawkes day or the Gunpowder Plot as it was known with fireworks and children playing.

So we have a “citizen” who goes to foreign lands to fight with an enemy and receives explosives training and adopts a new name to show his enthusiasm for his religous buddies.  He returns intent on terror and in fact despite his ordinariness he does attempt the bombing.  Only a little luck and quick work by the authorities prevented the disaster from occurring.  Maybe history can teach us a few lessons.

If the Greeks aren’t that excited about reforming their welfare system and getting their deficits and debt under control why should the rest of the world rush to their aid?  The riots in the streets there indicate the people aren’t willing to take care of themselves but want “someone” else to pay for their nanny state.  That is the problem with Socialism like M. Thatcher said–sooner or later you run out of people to pay for everything.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Reagan Dividend–The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Every budget for the US economy submitted for the last 20 odd years has contained a real savings from the Reagan era that we continue to enjoy today and will continue to do so for years to come.  No thinking person could dispute that it was Reagan’s resolve and force of persuasion that brought us victory in the Cold War.  Yes, he ramped up military spending in the ’80’s to offset the egregious shortages in our military preparedness caused by the Carter cut backs following Viet Nam.  The military still was not popular with Americans at that time and we were facing a real problem with Stagflation under Carter.  The in creased cost for the military buildup did cause budget deficits for the short term. 

Reagan had to deal with an economy that was more than stalled, it was moribund when he took office but he brought an attitude of can do and hope with him to the White House.  It was no surprise that the Iranians released our prisoners they had held for over a year on the very day of his inaugural.   Despite intense criticism and no help from the Democrats in Congress he pushed for and obtained that increased spending and even raised the stakes with his SDI, Star Wars everyone called it, program.  The left sought only accommodation with the Soviets and wanted more money for their pet social programs. 

His strong efforts and obvious resolve did finally bring the walls down across Europe shortly after he left office in 1989.  Immediately everyone began talking about what could be done with the “peace dividend” because we could reduce our military spending.  The military budget did come down then and the cost curve for the future was moved lower.  That cost curve is still down from what it would have been but for our victory in the Cold War.  We are talking real dollars–billions every year in savings since roughly 1990.  

The War on Terror is expensive as all wars are.  We didn’t ask for this fight and we didn’t provoke it.  The US was not sending out the CIA or our armed forces to attack and kill Muslim innocents abroad.  Can you imagine what things would be like now if we had not prevailed in the Cold War?  The cultural clash we have with the Muslim world was brought to us outside the normal diplomatic, economic and ideological conflicts of the recent past.  Regardless of our disputes with the Soviets the Muslims would have attacked the Twin Towers.  Please imagine the pressures and tensions we would face now if the Soviets were still dominant in Eastern Europe as they were for four decades.  They usually had at least 50 divisions in East Germany and Poland at all times.  We never had more than 5 or so at any time. Those Soviet troops were equipped with thousands of tanks and thousands of heavy artillery not to mention their nuclear capabilities that could be brought to bear.  They were never hesitate to use their muscle to make trouble around the world.  There was the Berlin Wall under Kennedy, the Berlin Airlift under Truman and the Cuban Missile Crisis under Kennedy, then the Hungarian revolt and the collapse of it and the Czech revolt which was also crushed. 

Facing the threat of the Soviets and the Muslim terrorists at the same time would be an enormous challenge and the costs would make the current military budget pale.   The Soviets would be encouraging and arming the al-Qaeda at every turn if they were still in power.  They probably wouldn’t have given them any nukes but they sure would have given them training and the most sophisticated conventional weaponry they had available.  They would be fostering every Fifth Column communist group in the world and making any deal with the Muslims to cause us turmoil.  It is not a pretty picture to contemplate.  But that is what we would face if the Democrats had their way in the ’80’s because they were uniformly opposed to fighting back against the Soviets with a few exceptions like Nunn from Georgia and Jackson from Washington.  As Khrushchev said they were determined to crush us.  Gorbachev eased some and opened their society a bit but only because of the internal pressures brought to bear by the Reagan strategy of meeting the enemy head on and calling a spade and spade with no wishy-washy words.  He called them evil which they were and told them to tear down the Wall.  While the Russians today are not our best buds they are not our overt opponents threatening our very existence and they even cooperate after their fashion in the war on terror.  We are the beneficiaries each day of that dividend Reagan brought to us, never forget it. 

Why won’t they go ahead and shut down Fannie and Freddie as government sponsored enterprises and put them up for sale to the private market for whatever they will bring.  It is not a good thing when Government, Inc. owns and controls 80% of the mortgage lending business in the US.  Indeed that is a bad thing.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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