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Kurds and Jews
December 2003 edition you state that Iran was responsible for the chemical
attack on Halabja and other Kurdish cities, using a New York Times
article as your evidence. However, that article (and viewpoint) has been
That link was one of many that sprung up to refute this expert. They claim that some "new documents" provided by Kurds prove otherwise. Since the Kurds have wanted the USA to intervene for years, I would not be surprised they forged documents.
I have written nothing about Israel, although I do post links to articles about Israel's continual expansion into Arab lands. For example, since the 1978 Peace Accords in which Israel agreed to halt more Jewish squatter camps on Arab land, the number of "settlers" has grown from 4000 to 230,000, mostly fueled by one billion dollars a year in subsidies made possible by billions of dollars in US aid. These camps are established whenever a group of Jews from Israel (often born in the USA or Russia) grab their weapons and locate some Arab land they like and run off the Arab families who have lived there for generations.
This is the basic cause of conflict in the West Bank, and has been denounced by every nation on Earth, even the US government, yet the American media is so tightly controlled that very, very few Americans are aware of this ongoing ethnic cleansing. In the latest land grab scheme, thousands of Arabs are being kicked off their land to make room for a "security fence" which somehow requires 51 square miles of Arab land. President Bush acts upset about this, but has done nothing, except withhold a few million dollars in aid while allowing billions of US dollars to continue flowing to Israel.
Now I have to endure an onslaught of irate hate mail from religious nuts who think that a book thousands of years old serves as a land deed which allows Jews from New York or the Ukraine to claim land in the West Bank, Syria, Jordan, and even parts of Iraq and Egypt. All Arabs and even one-third of Israeli citizens reject this idea of Jewish eminent domain with zero compensation, and so do all nations on Earth, the Bush administration, and myself.
Gassing the Truth at Halabja
I can't really get the point why Halabja is so important to the US. Middle Easterners killed Middle Easterners. No US people involved, neither on perpetrator nor on the side of the victims. So why all the outrage? Sure, Saddam was a brutal tyrant - but the US also ignored the butchery in Rwanda, they stood and watched hundreds of thousands being butchered without intervening to "rid the world of the evildoers". This selective outrage doesn't contribute to the US international credibility. But Halabja sure is a good crowd puller where people have rarely ever heard of Rwanda.
At the time of the Iraq-Iran war, with more or less active support by the
US, Saddam enjoyed not only intensive intelligence support by the US, he
also got candy like Anthrax and, according to some sources, old US chemical
munitions (cheaper to let Saddam use them against Iranian human wave attacks
than to dismantle them) and he had the privilege, also shared by Israel, to
be allowed to kill US sailors unpunished, that was when one of his missiles
hit the USS Stark and killed some 30+ US sailors.
The US administration was quite supportive until Saddam attacked Kuwait, and
even then it took them quite a while to take offence on Saddam's adventure: .... National Security Council's first meeting after Iraq's invasion of
Kuwait was equally low key. As one participant reportedly put it, the
attitude was, "Hey, too bad about Kuwait, but it's just a gas station-and
who cares whether the sign says Sinclair or Exxon?.....
From what I've read, the US didn't provide Iraq with chemical munitions, except thousands of 155mm white phosphorus rounds. These are supposed to be used to mark targets, but it is simple to remove the phosphorus bag and insert a deadly chemical. American military aid to Iraq was paid for with two billion dollars in agricultural loans funneled through the Atlanta branch of BCCI.
I find the debate about old Iraqi loans humorous. The US is pressuring other nations to formally write them off. One might ask why the American puppet government doesn't simply declare them "Saddam's loans", and refuse to pay? Well the USA would never allow a precedent to arise in which an impoverished nation is allowed to refuse to payback billions of dollars loaned to and squandered by their former dictator.
The next question is if Syria will be invaded as part of the 2004 election campaign. Insider Gore Vidal says it has already begun, citing the demonizing stories flowing from that great imperial voice called the NY Times. Bush recently announced that two additional combat brigades will go to Iraq next year. And why are all those US tanks and that artillery still sitting around in Iraq?
Anti American Trash
I find it hard to believe someone would publish such anti-American sentiments in the garbage editorial comments you make, and claim to be a 'patriotic' veteran. You are obviously well into the John Kerry camp. And equally dangerous, when you abuse the liberties that this country affords such as free speech. Luckily, your poison only affects a weak minded few (who, unfortunately are as vocal as you). Let the next election be the mandate for our just actions in the Mid-east, not the sitting on the hands and partying of the Clinton administration.
You are obviously poisonously anti-Bush, why? And then you quote the NY Times hahahaha. What a fooool, and his foolish left wing cronies! They indiscriminately gassed a residential area...would they have done this in a Baathist area??? Can you answer that honestly? Doubt it. How dare you defend Saddam and deny proven allegations about him. He has been a world wide supporter of terrorism, and encourages and funds attacks against Americans. He pays these criminals to slaughter innocent civilians. The Taliban and al Qaida and their terrorist cohorts declared UNRESTRICTED War on the US and it's private citizens. I had 3 friends and 20 associates killed on September 11. I want these murderers and plotters kept in a dark frigging hole, until there hell freezes over. How could you even support otherwise? You forget to mention here that he had was found carrying a map of the cellblocks and a list of detainees. These are not uncommon for a chaplain? Maps? Put all the co-conspirators, whether military or not, in the same rotting hole. And oh poor babies, unrelieved tension and boredom....how about my friends and associates families whose family member is....DEAD.
Finally, as far as Cheney and Halliburton, $20mm severance pay is small for an outgoing CEO of a major corporation. Also, what other companies in the world can take on a project of this scope? We keep it at home, and reap the tax revenues to offset the money we are putting into Iraq. Sorry to attack you, but please start showing some objectivity. I really don't like public one-dimensionality.
Ed: That letter provides good example of how Americans are poorly informed about the world.Saddam Never Gassed His Own People
That Saddam gassed 5,000 of his people is a favorite chestnut that is
still occasionally trotted out whenever a talking head gets
desperate for some talking points. Only one journalist that I know of
caught this one and provided this CIA link -- now I have no attachment
to Saddam Hussein mind you, however we have all heard the Bush
Administration and Cable News [like the Israeli
owned Fox News] endlessly tell us how Saddam gassed 5,000 of his
own people at Halabja back in 1988 -- now check
out the below Oct 2002
CIA Report and you will find that the CIA says the gassing deaths
of the Kurds/Iranians were in the HUNDREDS NOT MULTIPLE THOUSANDS
-- Folks this is the kind of Kosher approved reporting that makes
Baghdad Bob's stuff look reputable in comparison and begs the
question; why do our media goofs feel so compelled to go
along with spinning the numbers by a factor of 20 or whatever "HUNDREDS" means compared
to 5,000 -- and in who's interest is it, and what else are they
exaggerating??? Check out the number of deaths for Halabjah in 1988 at
the bottom of this table --
The Prisoners at Gitmo
The Gitmo POW thing is tricky, and you leave out some critically relevant information in forming your view. What the ICRC claims is by no means the definitive say on the Geneva Convention - all they are doing is serving as the default "Protecting Power" to monitor humanitarian problems with the prisoners. They hold no legal authority to define who does and does not fall into the category of POW. The notion that the prisoners at Gitmo are POWs is a pretty cut and dried affair - under the GC, they aren't covered regardless of whether or not they should be. Article 43 of Protocol I lays it out pretty clear...unless you are prepared to make the claim that these international terror groups are "subject to an internal disciplinary system which, inter alia, shall enforce compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict." then the members of these terror groups in no way meet the legally defined criteria of the GC of combatants.
There is no definition within the GC into which
international terrorists really fall. The closest is arguably
mercenary but that requires material compensation so that is pretty
questionable as well. The ICRC assertion that the prisoners are POWs
is also a default assumption of the GC - unless determined otherwise by a
competent tribunal, the prisoners are assumed to be POWs but this doesn't
mean that the government cannot make the case that they are not POWs.
You also have the issue that any of the prisoners who engaged in actions of
trying to hide amongst civilians, a common terrorist tactic, specifically
forfeit their right to POW status per Article 44. This whole mess is
supposed to be sorted out by a specified Protecting Power but because this
"war" is not against another UN member state, there is no
Protecting Power to sort this crap out. Other concerns with that
Ed: It barely made news in the USA, but three US Senators, including former POW John McCain, recently demanded the Bush administration do something about the Gitmo prisoners; conduct trials or let them go. During the US military's preliminary hearing to prosecute US Army Captain Yee's case, it became apparent that prosecutors had "mishandled classified information" by providing details to unauthorized persons. The hearing was postponed, yet those Army officers were not taken away in chains to a Navy brig. Hearings for another American GI "terrorist" at Gitmo have been postponed after Air Force investigators raided the office of his Air Force lawyer. Another odd incident just happened at Gitmo. In addition to a soldier who "disappeared" last year, a soldier was found shot in the head.
I didn't complain about the LOGCAP contracts, just that they were awarded years before Americans were informed that Iraq suddenly became a serious threat. I am also disturbed as to why our Vice President, who is an aging multi-millionaire, continues to accept deferred compensation from Halliburton. Does he really need that $150,000 a year, especially when that company is making huge profits off the invasion of Iraq?Eliminate State Air Forces
Right on! No state or governor needs an air force. If snowed-in cattle need hay dropped to them, a call to the White House should suffice. Here is where a cogent and flexible contingency plan needs to incorporate FEMA and the active and reserve forces. Big problem is the political patronage involved with the Army Guard and the Air Guard. I worked with the Puerto Rico Air Guard when they were a crackerjack outfit (1976-1979) but the politics involved were really something.Walt BJ
The Air Guard is Critical
I would like to take the opportunity to correct some misperceptions and incorrect facts that are cited. There are numerous statements in your article which are hasty generalizations at best and simply incorrect at worst. I will address a few of the most misleading. First of all, the actual roots of the Air National Guard do not trace to the National Security Act of 1947 and "11 musical bands" as stated in your article, but are much older than that. In fact, the first United States military aviation unit was the New York Army National Guard's 1st Signal Company, which purchased and operated the National Guard's first aircraft in 1910 with funds they raised on their own.
The early history of aviation is liberally dosed with National Guard individuals and units who flew significant missions and achieved many of the milestones we are celebrating during this 100th anniversary of aviation. (see http://www.ang.af.mil/History/Features/EarlyGuardAviation Secondly, you state that the "The Air Guard has no State function whatsoever." This is patently false. It is true that an F-15 or F-16 cannot directly perform State support, (although one could argue that the air patrols flown over home cities by the Guard are a significant deterrent and local political statement) but the wings from which these aircraft fly are composed of many other support units that are frequently involved in State missions. Our security, food service, engineering, medical, and other support units participate in State emergencies whenever needed.
These units, like their Army National Guard counterparts, maintain combat mission and mission support capability which simultaneously allows them to maintain proficiency and be able to support State missions. I would suggest this dual-capability is a great deal for the American taxpayer, and is especially important in this new age of homeland security. On a higher plane, our Guard aircraft do indeed have a significant impact on State missions, the latest example of which were the C-130's of the California National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Islands. These aircraft were the first "military" aircraft to respond and did so in State Active Duty status; they were not federalized. Tell the people of San Diego that their Air National Guard doesn't have a State mission. Many other examples can be cited from my own home state; ice storm relief, rescue missions from Long Island, and 9/11 itself.
Third, our Reserve counterparts are far more difficult to access for State missions than the Air and Army National Guard. In order for a Governor to employ such forces, a federal disaster must have been declared and the approval of the Secretary of Defense must be obtained for the use of these 10 USC forces. The Guard, on the other hand, is immediately available when tasked. As an example, here in Colorado two summers ago, the C-130's from the AF Reserve at Peterson AFB sat on the ramp while the Hayman Fire burned over 100,000 acres only 20 miles away. Had they been National Guard instead of AF Reserve, they could have been used immediately by the Governor.
Furthermore, contrary to your
statement, there are indeed Naval Militias, and my own home State of New
The headquarters overhead, base support costs, and aircraft aging problems you cite are not isolated to the Guard. The active AF and the Reserves are experiencing the same pressures and issues. However, if you had checked the facts, you would discover that of all the Air components, the Air Guard is the cheapest way for America to maintain combat air power, primarily because our base costs are far cheaper than the AF and AFR. We do not burden ourselves with unnecessary base infrastructure you find on every AF and AF Reserve base. We do not own the hospitals, commissaries, BX's, libraries, schools, and other services that exist in the active military and the Reserves; our citizen soldiers live in the local economy and we generally operate off a civil airport with a highly favorable cost sharing and operating budget. These facts would seem to argue that Reserves should be absorbed into the Guard, not the other way around.
Finally, you briefly gloss over the most important reason for having a robust and well funded National Guard. In order to understand the mindset of the statesmen and visionaries who wrote our Constitution, it is useful to read about the debates in which they engaged both for and against a central federal government. The Federalist Papers and their lesser known but just as illuminating counterparts, the Anti-federalist Papers, provide keen insight in this area. The reason we have a Militia is not simply for military purposes, or as a force in reserve, but more importantly when taken in the context of the debates during the Constitutional Convention, as a balance against intrusive and despotic federal power. This is purely a political issue, and in that sense, the true nature of the Guard.
The points I raise above are just of the few that counter the
notion that the Air Guard does not add value for our nation and citizens. In addition, the issues you raise are far more complex then
mere turf wars, which are admittedly are a factor, but which are always a factor when resources are scarce. The true measure of merit is hard
to gauge, but I maintain that the Air Guard more than meets any standard: readiness, effectiveness, responsiveness, flexibility,
cost, and political impact. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Ed: I agree that reserve components are valuable, yet I disagree with the need for 54 state air guard headquarters for a separate Air Force reserve component. Modern technology (like the telephone) and the new full-time CONUS defense command (NorthCom) should allow instant nationwide disaster response without the complexity of coordinating with the numerous state Air Guard headquarters. I doubt the Secretary of Defense would object to delegating authority for mobilization of Air Force Reserve transport squadrons to the commander of NorthCom. And I'm sure states would prefer more useful helicopters for their Army National Guard, whose history you borrow for the Air National Guard.
Air Guard assets would cheaper to maintain if they utilized existing USAF bases as squadrons in the USAFR. A direct comparison will show that an Air Guard wing sharing a civilian airport is cheaper than an reserve wing requiring an Air Force Base. However, given that the Air Force base already exists, it is far cheaper for that Air Guard unit to operate from the Air Force base.
All other coastal states seem to function without a redundant "naval militia" that exists in New York. As for the political origins of the Guard, I hope you are not suggesting that Louisiana needs an F-15 squadron to deter despotic federal power. Since the despotic Feds provide for the salaries and retirement for Guardsmen, we all know where loyalties lie. Eliminating the redundant Air Guard will free some 1000 full-time airmen now lounging around state headquarters each day, as well as a few blue suiters there at NorthCom.
Gun Launched Decoys
If the projectile had snap-out wings it would increase the range considerably. A simple vibrating rod gyro activated by setback would give it course-maintaining capabilities. Since the old VT prox fuses were much more complicated than solid state electronics some off-the-shelf components could give the thing a programmed flight path. I wrote a friend of mine - a defense advisor in a friendly country - that decoys could be used to exhaust the supply of air defense missiles such as the S300 series.
Decoys cunningly designed and programmed mixed with real attacks (cruise missiles or aircraft) could drive a defense commander crazy.
Ed: The Army and Marines would find them very valuable to test areas for air defense responses before slow moving helicopters arrive.