RANGER AGAINST WAR: November 2009 <

Monday, November 30, 2009

Operation Paperback

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read

--Groucho Marx

The mere brute pleasure of reading --
the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing
--Lord Chesterfield


Ranger does not normally endorse groups even nominally affiliated with the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), but give a nod to the non-profit Operation Paperback, which collects "gently used" reading materials and sends them to troops overseas. Gary Calloway, an RVN combat veteran, is the Tallahassee Regional Coordinator. He can be reached at gary - at - operationpaperback - dot - org.

The national contact is Operation Paperback, P. O. Box 65572, Lubbock, TX 79464,
websit: www.operationpaperback.org.


Global Post

Just a note:

We've put
Global Post's news feed in the sidebar, because we think they provide a valuable online source for news stories often outside the venue of mainstream media. Their writers are top-notch reporters released from other postings, often due to financial constraints. Global Post's stated goal is "integrity, accuracy, independence and powerful storytelling," and they are syndicated with 20 major news outlets (including Reuters.)

(h/t to Left is Right for the suggestion.)


Fire and Brimstone

He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell,
but he can most easily do it

--Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,

Jonathan Edwards

You tell 'em
I'm coming!
And Hell's coming with me,
you hear!
--Tombstone (1993)


Our troops are embroiled in two solidly Islamic countries, but our leaders struggle to maintain the fiction that this is not a war against Islam, but rather,
Islamic extremism (as opposed to, the liberal Islamic faction?) and al-Qaeda.

Yet the new weapon of hope delivered by our secular nation is the
Hellfire missile, a sobriquet which implies the U.S. is unleashing the fires of hell upon those who oppose us. These missiles are used against anyone bold enough to oppose the U.S.-imposed Afghan national government, a target list which includes Taliban, nationalists, and local anti-government insurgents.

For a government preaching tolerance, the religiosity implied by the Hellfire is as unfortunate -- and as transparent -- a label as Mr. Bush's analogizing of the U.S. invasions to The Crusades. Praise the lord, and pass the ammunition.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Epic Fail

I've come to doubt all that I once held true
--Simon and Garfunkel

Obama’s blend of chill opportunism,

draped in high-minded verbiage,

is beginning to rile some liberals –

the same way Jimmy Carter’s similar mix did thirty years ago

--The Auld Triangle Goes Jingle Jangle,
Alexander Cockburn


Fearing the military mindset, the Founding Fathers set up a cumbersome command relationship
to preclude rampant military games. But ultimately they wanted the people to decide if they wanted war or not, as it was a decision to be made by their proxies -- Senators and Congressmen.

The Founders did not forsee a civilian authority driving the war machine, as we have today. Instead, the civilian C-in-C was envisioned as a brake that would be applied to slow or halt a military march to madness. The power of Congress to declare war (or not) was another set of brakes which, taken together, should stop any ill-advised military action. The will of The People should trump that of the C-in-C, though that is not how it has played out.

Andrew Jackson used the military in defiance of the Supreme Court to order the Army to evacuate the Cherokee in the Trail of Tears. President Polk wanted a war with Mexico; same for Wilson with Germany in World War I. Franklin Delano Roosevelt wanted war with Germany and Japan.

With Truman, we saw a C-in-C commit to major combat action in Korea without a declaration of war. Same with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Same as George HW Bush, Reagan, George W Bush and now, riding on their coattails, Barack Obama. Except now, there is no war or even country to fight.
Now, we fight wars against groups of people.

What do we as a people do when our leaders fail in their constitutional duties? Politics has become more important than life-and-death issues such as war-making. The Congress and the Courts fail to counterbalance an aggressive, war-hungry Executive, and the electorate accepts this travesty as democracy.

It is a self-evident truth that
democracy is a non-functional concept when the President can unilaterally commit U.S. troops to major combat actions without a whimper of dissent from the Congress or the People.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tripping the Light Fanstastic

Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly,
be contrite of heart, confess with the lips,

and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction

, Seven Sacraments

Who are YOU?
I -- I hardly know, sir, just at present --
at least I know who I was when I got up this morning,

but I think I must have been changed several times since then

--Alice in Wonderland
, Lewis Carrol

Ranger continues with Part Deuce of playing fast and loose with history . . .

In 1950 the U.S. fought a war to protect the South Koreans from the North Koreans, which seems odd since our policy the previous year was to allow a Communist takeover of China. Why fight over little Korea, while allowing the Chinese to take over a large segment of the world's population? If the Chinese are inscrutable, the U.S. is even moreso, at times.

Is this a continuation of the trend begun in the Spanish-American War, dictating domination of little guys, while allowing the Big Dogs to do as they wish? It seems we still inhabit that mindset today since the U.S. likes to play tough guy with little states while acquiescing to the really powerful.

Next came French Indochina, or simply, Southeast Asia: A foray into building nations that were not even nations, and fighting a French colonial war by extension and calling it
containment and anti-Communist crusade. A rose by any other name ... We kept the dominoes from falling and killed bunches of Communists before throwing in the towel

Then came the invasion of Grenada, which proved that 11,000 U.S. soldiers, Marines and a few SEALS and Delta dudes could kick ass on 300+ Cubans. Let that be a lesson. Flush with victory, we invaded Panama to practice a little regime change.

Again, wildly successful, unless one stops to ponder why or what the purpose of the exercise happened to be. Again, it was indubitably a lesson that the U.S. can kick around the little guy without breaking a sweat. Why have a massive Department of Defense apparatus if you can't play with it now and again.

Next to the First Gulf War, or GWI to those in the know, and the
liberation of Kuwait. Which implies, erroneously, that Kuwait is part of the liberal democratic tradition. Kuwait is free of Iraq, but so what? Freedom per se is absent, despite our best publicity efforts.

Whether a royal family member or Saddam Hussein controlled the oil, where lies the benefit to the American people who lent their Army to exiled royals living large in London while our troops
freed their little sand box.

Now, Afghanistan and Iraq are the essential wars du jour. What will they gain for the U.S.? What will they lose?

So that's Ranger's non-rigorous, unscientific whirl around the U.S.'s modern historical dance floor. The question is:
What was the purpose of any of it?



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dancing with the Stars

--PlayBill, Mr. Fish

I'm sick of their timid, lying morality

--Col. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

Never interrupt your enemy
while he is making a mistake

--Napoleon Bonaparte

Kiss his boots or you'll be through

Out of the night comes a soldier right

Line you up in his gunsight

His mind's exploded, ego's overloaded

--The Cult
, Soldier Blue

Happy Day After Thanksgiving
-- hope everyone enjoyed a nice holiday. I'm sure we all count our blessings. We are grateful for our many kind readers, without whom this project wouldn't fly. We began the blog as naifs, and feel fortunate to have established friendships with many fine and fascinating people along the way. For that, we are thankful.

p.s. -- and if you suffered a bit of familial stress over the holiday, today's graphic is in the spirit of offering a little larf (those screwy Republicans, always upping the outrageousness bar ... )

Today, Ranger presents a two-part ramble through history, a whirlwind tour with a goal; Ranger's history lollapalooza. As always, commentary is welcome.

Let's dance through U.S. and world history reflecting upon our choice of partners and tunes as we whirl around the dance floor to the tunes being played. Just for fun.

Up first: Spanish-American War. This put the U.S. firmly in the imperial club by adding former Spanish colonial possessions to the U.S. collection of colonial properties. This was seen as a good, forgetting that democracy and colonial domination are contradictory terms.

The Spanish-American War can be seen as the initial campaign of World War II since U.S. possessions and interests in the Philippine Isles led to direct imperial and colonial conflict with the Japanese. This Spanish war was fought with a large professional Navy and a small professional Army augmented with volunteer-type militia units.

The Spanish-American War got the U.S. into the business of insurgency.
In the Cuban theatre the U.S. supported the anti-Spanish insurgents and in the Philippines we fought the anti-colonial forces of evil. Those fighting against U.S. forces failed to recognize the beauty of being colonial possessions. An older generation of McArthurn led troops in that Philippine Insurrection. Let us not forget that this and the colonial Boer Wars were the first modern historical British and American usage of large concentration/internment camps for civilians.

The U.S. then became involved in the Boxer Rebellion suppressing Chinese insurgents who erroneously believed that China should be ruled by the Chinese. Silly naive and ignorant Chinamen. The U.S. at the time was originating a counterinsurgency policy which boiled down to the basic tune: Do what we say, or you're going to meet the U.S. Marines. And we all know that is a fate worse than messing with Mother Nature herself.

Next up, World War I, offering to "Make the World Safe for Democracy." A joke, since the war was actually a European family squabble about which nation was to get the largest share of the colonial pie. U.S. allies called themselves democracies and they were, except for the fact that the sun never set on the British, U.S. French, Dutch and German colonies.

Democracy triumphed, and France and England got to appropriate former German colonies.
The Middle East became a playground for British and French interests and Southeast Asia became a French plaything. So the Allied victory in WWI secured democracy, but it is difficult to find any beneficial recipients of this blessing.

WWI set the stage for WWII in the Pacific theatre, which in turn caused U.S. entry into the continuation of WWI in Europe, the continued squabble between old enemies and friends.

The inspection of the Pacific War boils down to the U.S., British and French desires and policies to deny Japan any Imperial colonial aspirations. The white men can do as they please, but the little yellow people were denied the same possibilities.

So the U.S. fought a two-front war to deny Hitler and Hirohito hegemony, replacing these enemies with a Stalinist Eastern Europe and a Communist China, not forgetting that the French
are still playing around in SE Asia.

Next: Korea.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Doggies R Us

Truth and love must triumph over lies and hatred
--Vaclav Havel

We keep hearing assurances from the United States,

but we are, like, once bitten, twice shy

--Afghan President Hamid Karzai

During Ranger's time playing soldier the Marines had a derogatory term for doggies: Bullet Magnets. As though doggie wasn't lowly enough.

Welcome to the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©), the Great Equalizer: now members of both services have become bomb magnets, and it is no laughing matter. A recent 60 Minutes news report covered a purely volunteer EOD in Afghanistan whose mission it was to run roads and search, defuse and/or serve as targets for roadside bombs (IED's). the Unit was commanded by an 06 and appeared to be an element of the Michigan National Guard.

These soldiers are equipped with million dollar MRAP's that they use up at a rather quick pace, the concept being it is better to lose equipment than troops. A laudable concept, but a dream I had serves to make a pointed comment on the policy.

There was a dimensional element missing from the operational scenario that should have been addressed. It would benefit the unit's effectiveness if a Light Observation Helicopter (LOCH) with a mini gun were added to the teams.

This aircraft would operate as a "low bird" and air reconnaissance all likely bomber locations, and also help cut off avenues of escape after a manual bomb detonation. It appears that the Afghanistan IED's are electric capped and command-detonated, differing from those generally used in Iraq that were set off with wireless electronic detonations. The Afghanistan resistance is less sophisticated and limited to direct action.

Since an assigned helicopter could prove to be a valuable asset, so why are these soldiers going without? We are spending billions of dollars on Predators but cannot provide vertical support for troops doing an extremely hazardous job?

As for that job,
the bombs are aimed at U.S./NATO forces, not the Afghan people. The best way to neutralize these bombs is first to stay off the roads. This can be accomplished by putting our people on an airplane headed West.

If there are frequent IED's, then it is obvious that the people we are there to protect might have other goals than those being mouthed by Generals Petraeus and McChrystal. Just maybe.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

You say you want a Revolution,
Mr. Fish

(P)ermanent war has become

the de facto policy of the United States

Root Causes, Andrew Bacevich

What do we do?

The standard answer is that we need better leaders.

The real answer is that we need better citizens.

--Advice From Grandma, Thomas Friedman

Cause I'm radioactive oh yeah

Oh yeah radioactive

Don't you stand, stand too close

You might catch it

, the Firm


Counterterrorism expert Roger Cressey, who served in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, said in Tallahassee last Wednesday that trains and subways were the "ultimate soft target in the U.S," -- more vulnerable to attack than any other sector (Counterterrorism Expert: Mass Transit the 'Ultimate Target'.)

Okay -- let's agree that the U.S. transit systems are soft targets susceptible to attack. Has there been any credible evidence that these systems are being targeted?

To digress, the nature of terrorism and terror tactics is that every new attack must be significantly more spectacular than the previous. If a terror network targeted said soft targets, it would only serve to demonstrate their weakness and poor operational skills.

Attacks on low-level transit systems would not create any significant fear factor, or at least it would not have in the past. For terrorism to be counted a success, the fear must be amplified by the target audience's news systems. What has always been the case is now amplified in our 24/7 plugged-in lives.

Everything has become terrorism and we are overreacting, our senses overloaded. Simply stated, there are vulnerabilities that cannot be eliminated but that are low-level, even though they remain soft. No sophisticated terror operative would waste skills and resources to blow up a train or attack a subway system. The Japanese survived Sarin attacks by AUM Shinrikyo in the 1980's and survived without too much fanfare.

Mr. Cressey then delivered the bait-and-switch, and/or non sequitur, by diverting attention to Pakistan, calling it "a mess. There are plenty of forces inside of Pakistan that don't want us operating in their country." Somehow he effected a nexus among the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), Pakistan and U.S. transit systems.

His synthesis promotes an over-response, thereby attracting government dollars to the consultant-fear monger, a self-perpetuating system. One can feather one's nest quite nicely with fear, as evidenced by Mr. Cressey's recent vita:
Cressey's talk at the law school was sponsored by FSU's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and was part of its ongoing series. He is a counterterrorism analyst for NBC News, and has a company that advises clients on homeland security, cyber security and counterterrorism issues.
The PWOT is a government tit-sucker's best friend. In fact, it is a cash cow for many people unqualified for any other useful social function. These people are sub-species of the Homeland Security racket, called "consultants". Consultants make money telling the government what they want to hear. Today, the message is one of fear, and the messengers are well-paid and esteemed.

Our system perpetuates the problem.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Cult of Personality

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize

--Steven Wright

I sell the things you need to be

I’m the smiling face on your t.v.

I’m the cult of personality

I exploit you still you love me

--Cult of Personality
, Living Colour

The basic break between totalitarianism and liberal government is the orientation of the government to the governed. The story of democracy is that We the People matter, and government exists to serve the individual. Totalitarianism is supposed to be the opposite.

In our myth, citizens are unique individuals, not drop-forged identical personalities. We take pride in our rugged individualism, but a survey of the environment says otherwise. We are, in fact, interchangeable and stereotypical. Rappers don't wear Brooks Brothers, and congressmen don't wear their pants around their knees (though a shav may sport a Burberry cap, exercising his maximum ability to infiltrate corporate culture.)

Our educational and religious systems teach conformity and compliance. Bankers, lawyers and tradespeople are all die-stamped and interchangeable. The same is especially true of military personnel. Yet we continue to perpetuate the lie that we are all unique, when the reality is quite the opposite.

Dictators are always considered to be exceptional people, beyond the norm and above the law;
supreme. To Americans, Stalin, or Mao or Il Duce or Der Fuhrer are all considered unpalatable, to be charitable. And yet . . . there has been a recent transference of these ideas onto our perception of our own leaders. Call it an American hagiography of the ruling class.

Americans like to think themselves so classless and free, but
we do have a caste system, and it is economic and political.

If we do not clearly see the delusion of our exceptionality, how can we address world issue objectively?

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Whither Thou Goest

--Peray (Thailand)

Where will you go my faithful fair one?
What will you do when ye are on your own?

Whither, oh tell me, shall you wander?

December's hard winds are blowin' cruel and cold

--Where Will You Go?
, Enter the Haggis

So Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is soon to be tried in a New York Federal District Court. And before we proceed, let us remember that KSM is less than pond scum, but that is not a legal concept, but rather a moral and ethical one.
And that he was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, and that his unfortunate visage resembles porn king Ron Jeremy.

After seven years, the U.S. government is finally Doing the Right Thing and bringing KSM to trial. Except it is no longer the Right Thing. Contrary to constitutional law, there are those that are found guilty before the trial. Major Nidal Malik Hasan comes to mind. The legal trick is to pretend --
nod, nod, wink, wink -- that everybody is presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.

Ask John Walker Lindh or Jose Padilla how this concept worked for them. The KSM trial will not deliver satisfaction to the victims of the 9-11 attacks or the American people. We know he is guilty because he was tortured and held in an inhumane manner.
Ad hoc, ergo propter hoc, only, Americans don't seem too troubled by logical fallacies these days. In fact, it is doubtful that he was ever even legally arrested before being spirited away from Pakistan.

The trial of KSM will simply be theater, and the dénouement understood beforehand. The court will provide proof to the world that the U.S. does not follow the rule of its law, not even in our federal court system.

Questions abound in the KSM scenario. We know he is guilty, but the following are questions for which we deserve the answers:

  • Does KSM have previous Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] or Central Intelligence Agency linkage? Has he ever received funding from either source?
  • What was the source of KSM's operational funds? Who funded the al-Qaeda operation on 9-11?
  • If found guilty, will the jurors then be able to find a job, get financing, have a secure future or even have health care?

KSM's trial will be a useless exercise in self-abuse if the preceding questions remain unanswered. And it is a sure bet that they will not be raised or answered. Without this knowledge there will be no closure for the victims of 9-11, a group which now includes all of us.

This trial is 6 1/2 years too late for justice or truth to be served. Why even pretend?

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Shooting for Fun and Profit,
The Salute
(Fall, 2009)

Final trouncing of The Salute: In an economy that is tanking, young people are as vulnerable as fish in a barrel in places like the Army Experience Center (AEC):

"Young men and women pour daily into a storefront in Philadelphia's Franklin Mills Mall. Once inside, they battle enemy forces from helicoptor and Humvee simulators, play a variety of X-box and PC games and work together to accomplish mission simulations and team exercises in a tactical operations center. Is this some high-end video arcade? No.

"This is the Army Experience Center [AEC], where potential recruits or anyone interested in the life of a Soldier can come to play and learn. ..."

The image of pulling drunks out of bars in Shanghai flashes through Ranger's experienced mind. Ranger, like his Army fellows, has shared the Army Experience and it is more than shooting fun guns off of simulators.

What also gives us the heebie-jeebies is the fact that this scenario is a little too close for comfort. I mean, aren't we trying to discourage people from opening fire in malls? It just seems at the very minimum, bad taste.

The military come-on of mall shooting mock-ups has been around for awhile, but usually in discreet chair simulators or through free online game downloads, like
America's Army. GamePolitics.com reports today that in testimony before Congress, the Army reported that game was a more effective recruitment tool than “any other method of contact.”

The picture tells all you need to know about today's Army. Are we generating a force that shoots people from vehicles? Is this what
The Salute calls "defending friendly countries"?

Further, a Washington Examiner story
(Video Game Veterans and the New American Politics) quotes an Air Force Colonel, Commander of a Predator drone squadron, as stating that though the younger, videogame generation were naturals at piloting the remote-controlled aircraft, he thought that the same group suffered when attempting to consider the consequences of their actions:

The video game generation is worse at distorting the reality of it [war] from the virtual nature. They don't have that sense of what really going on. It [videogames] teaches you how to compartmentalize it.

The Salute goes on to laud the fun and games as being superior to the dour routine of "Army recruiters spending long hours cold-calling or going door-to-door to find the next generation of Soldiers".

"Now they have a hi-tech, multimedia environment where they can foster an experience of the Army, as opposed to just talking about it."

"In an Army that has always prided itself as a learning institution,
the AEC is just another example of education, where people can learn about the Army in a relaxed environment (this is truth in advertising?) . . . [the] entertainment draws people in, but they leave with a deeper understanding of their Army and a greater openness to serve."

Do we really think it's cool to recruit kids in a play center? Well, maybe since we just found out that
Baby Einstein doesn't work (Wait, Baby Einstein Won't Make My Kid a Genius?) . . .

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's Special Here?

fr. The Salute (Fall 2009)

More from the propaganda bulletin The Salute ("an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army"). Their creed -- "I was a soldier, I am a soldier, I will always be a soldier" -- already has two out of three wrong.

I am no longer a soldier, nor will I always be one. The days that were given will suffice for a lifetime, so why does the Army propagandize us after retirement?

Page One topic:
"Special Forces to Expand":

"Soldiers wearing the Green Beret are more than just unconventional fighters. they perform special reconnaissance missions, conduct direct action operations, defend the infrastructure of friendly countries and fight terrorism."

Yes, recon is an SF mission as it is direct action, but what does that mean? Look at the above photo -- the Special Forces are indistinguishable from PV1 Rifleman of the Infantry. Do we train SF to perform such basic functions? How is this implementing SF as force multipliers, which is their true asset to the Army?

When did Special Forces become responsible to defend the infrastructure of friendly countries? In fact, one should define just what constitutes a friendly country.
In fact, friendly countries should defend their own infrastructures. My SF/Army should defend our infrastructures, or is that too much to ask? Or, by virtue of our presence, is it all ours?

In a complete non sequitur, the article continues, "Units such as the 75th Rangers trace their heritage back to ranger units that fought the Indians and French prior to the American Revolution."
Has everyone, even Army propagandists, syncretised the Special Forces and the Rangers? They are not the same thing.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Let Freedom Ring

In my many years I have come to a conclusion
that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm,

and three or more is a congress

--John Adams

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in
--It's Alright, Ma, Bob Dylan

The Big Lie in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is that our soldiers are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our freedoms. That is the official cover story, they're sticking with it, and we buy it every time. Except it is not true.

Here is a little story of un-freedom right here in River City (Quincy, FL). The owner of a local car dealership is an avid gun collector, who buys, sells and trades guns. He does not sell the guns at his car dealership, but as a collector at local gun shows.

This activity came under the rubric "freedom," until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and congress started playing with the 2nd Amendment. As a result, a non-licensed collector is now arrested for his pastime of buying and selling guns.

Guns are now a hot-button topic, but the bottom line is: Are we free men or not, beholden to a Constitution which has served us well for over 200 years. The following facts argue against it --

  • Individuals must pay a $5.00 background check every time they legally purchase a firearm. (The background check in Florida is waived if one possesses a Concealed Weapon permit. Cost: $135 for the permit, and $130 for the required weapons handling course.)
  • All firearms manufactured in the U.S. pay a manufacture tax of 12%, which is obviously passed on to us Free Men. One wonders if the manufacturers of voting booths pay an equivalent tax.

A right is not a right if one must spend money to exercise that right. It is illegal to charge a citizen for the right to exercise his franchise, so why must we pay to exercise our gun rights?

Can you spell I-N-F-R-I-N-G-E?

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Toys for Tots

What all schoolchildren learn
Those to whom evil is done

Do evil in return

--September 1, 1939
, W. H. Auden


Canadian reader tw sent us the above photo on Veteran's day with the following description:

In Canada they call Veterans Day, Remembrance Day. The kids in RVN deserve remembering as veterans, too. They had it forced on them. Here's one of their toys.

The Bud can has a empty cartridge wound in a rubber band with a bamboo trigger. Pull the trigger and rat a tat tat you had an M-16. The pistol at the bottom of the pic is made of crate strapping or banding. Roll the spring mechanism back and put it under the handle. Put a stone on top and squeeze the handle and voila! A pistol that shoots stones. (These toys compliments of our interpreters who just loved the kids)

Maybe you've seen them. The toys of a war zone. That's a sad commentary on something! (No wonder they had no problems making booby traps.) They deserve status as vets, too, though.

Thanks, tw.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Battle of the Bulge


The U.S. Army Freedom Team puts out a publication called "The Salute", subtitled (What else?), "I was a soldier, I am a soldier, I will always be a soldier." Their Fall issue offers a gloss on the Battle of the Bulge, some points with which Ranger will take exception:

"On December 16, 1944, two German armies attacked the American First Army in Belgium and Luxembourg. Two divisions, the veteran 28th Infantry and the green 196th Infantry, were virtually annihilated in two days of heavy fighting. Two other divisions, the 99th and the 4th, also took casualties, but remained intact."

While the 196th was green and faced a formidable enemy, they were not annihilated (virtual annihilation only occurs when your crops fail in Farmville.com). While I was recently impressed with revisionist historian Niall Ferguson's interview on the Charlie Rose show, my stomach for revisionism goes only so far. The 422 and 423 Regiments surrendered and ceased to engage the enemy, but they were hardly annihilated, so this is a false historical revision. The division only lost 400 plus killed in the entire 63 days they served in combat.

"The Bulge was closed on January 13 when Soldiers from the First and Third armies met in Houfflalize. In the end it was the GI -- the Infantryman, tankers, engineers, clerks and paratroopers of the U.S. Army -- fighting against the German wave that gave the American generals time to organize an effective strategy. With the plan in place, courageous Americans pinched off the Bulge and defeated the last German offensive of the war."

This is included to salute the bravery of the Americans during the Bulge, a battle which proved as always, American fighting men will carry the day. However, this was not the last offensive, but the last "strategic" offensive. the Germans still operated offensively in a tactical situation. A gander at the Eastern Front will verify this.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Veterans Day 2009

When we are at war, America spends billions on
missiles, tanks, attack helicopters and such.

But the wounded warriors who will

never fight again tend to be put on the back burner

--Max Cleland
, The Forever War of the Mind

We leave you our deaths.

Give them their meaning

-The Dead Young Soldiers,
Archibald MacLeish


Ranger knows a tad about about Veterans Day and would like to share some personal reactions to the event.

Living life without cable t.v., he is only exposed to it while in public spaces, and a doctor's appointment brought him face-to-face with CNN's coverage of our great national patriotic fervor. It might even warm the heartstrings, if one could see behind the rhetoric.

While the concept of Veterans day is laudable, in truth every day is Veterans Day, though some do not see it. One day of shallow lip service is almost an embarrassment and insult to our service. Ranger is less than impressed by the utterings of the President; simply being able to render a solemn hand salute over dead bodies draped in flags does not a Commander-in-Chief make.

What has happened to society that we allow draft dodgers, drug users and "reformed" alcoholics to assume the mantle of the presidency, thereby becoming C-in-C?
Why are such individuals even allowed to preside over Veterans Day services? What right have they to praise our service when they never felt the obligation to serve this nation as warriors?

The last three U.S. presidents think that being a C-in-C is about glad-handing and slapping veterans on the back and stroking us with speeches at the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War and Disabled American Veterans conventions. And we vets lap it up like hungry puppies, bought off with cheap words of praise.

Ranger is confused by the words and actions on days like Veterans Day. Everybody loves us vets, yet nobody is willing to give us a store discount, nor do the states give us a special price at State Parks or state-run hotels. Ditto federal facilities.
The thanks doesn't translate.

The only place we are in the front of the line is at homeless shelters, prisons and employment agencies. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 25% of the homeless in America are veterans, though they constitute only
11% of the population (Veterans Make Up 1 in 4 Homeless.)

Words of praise from non-military politicians is an insult. You can keep your words.

Ranger prefers real action rather than fanciful ego strokes.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bare Wires

Then time will tell who has fell
And who's been left behind

When you go your way and I go mine

--Most Likely You Go your Way and I'll Go Mine;

Bob Dylan

And if you really didn't know

I swear I really didn't know

So I'm sorry, so sorry

--Sorry, So Sorry
, Howie Day

Ranger Prediction of the Day:

The trial of Ft. Hood shooter Hassan will be classified
and hidden from public scrutiny
behind the veil of National Security


During a recent windy and rainy night Ranger had a dream of Vietnam, long ago. But this was a dream, and not full of stress, anxiety and fear. After 39 years, not a nightmare, but a dream.

The dream commanded me to return to the country as a tourist and look for the lost ones that served the U.S. war cause faithfully -- the Vietnamese nationals.
As a Special Forces soldier, I always felt responsible for the Vietnamese civilians that worked long-term in camp. My interpreter, Lu Tham, was about 35 and had institutional knowledge beyond that of the VN/U.S. chain of command. Then there was Ms. Hoa, Vinh, Pop, Thé, and Tro.

Though my dream told me to go back and find them, better men than me have tried to find and exfiltrate these people with limited success. At this point, it would be an exercise in futility.

Thinking of my camp provides a fine example of the futility of war. Camp Long Thanh was a World War II Japanese ammunition dump for the airfield, and was used by the French in the 1st Indochina War. During the American war, Camp Long Thanh [CLT] was a U.S. airfield, and the ammo dump grew into a U.S. Special Forces camp. (As a small aside, Diem's body was brought to CLT, though it is unclear whether he was killed in Saigon or CLT. This fact was mentioned in
The Pentagon Papers.)

This provenance is presented to show the continuity of warfare and the stupidity of the venture. The Japanese, French and Americans all attempted to hustle the East, but all they learned was you cannot keep frogs in a shallow bucket -- even if you call the fog-keeping by a fancy name like COIN.

It didn't work in Vietnam, and it ain't gonna work in Afghanistan. Regardless of the spin, it did not work in Iraq, either.

The Vietnamese I knew believed in Jesus as their Savior and believed in his goodness and mercy. I sure hope He believed in them.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Slow Song

Jim, Lisa, Pappy (2006)
Passion has helped us, but can do so no more.
It will in the future be our enemy.

Reason -- sold, calculating, unimpassioned reason --

must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense

--Abraham Lincoln

Strumming my pain with his fingers,

Singing my life with his words,

Killing me softly with his song

--Killing Me Softly
, Roberta Flack

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields were glory does not stay

And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose
--To An Athlete Dying Young,
A. E. Housman

There are times when sadness overpowers me, and my center aches and rolls in anguish. Such was the evening of 11/06, when the past interested with the present.

My old friend called, a man that fought in three wars as a combat Infantryman, fought blistering sun, freezing temperatures seemingly beyond human endurance and faced and escaped death on hundreds of occasions. His business was dealing death from a rifle, and it was my pleasure to serve with him both overseas and stateside. He taught me more about soldiering than did any Army school, this man who was the very definition of a soldier.

During his tour in the Republic of Vietnam he earned the Distinguished Service Cross while with the 101st Airborne Division. While there, he was exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange, and his cancer was presumed to be acquired in the service to his country and the Army.

About six years ago he underwent several operations to treat complications from his abdominal wounds received in the Korean War, the result of shrapnel inflicted by North Korean tanks. Later, his prostate cancer was treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Memphis, where he underwent a radioactive seeding procedure.

Three months ago he was operated on by a specialist outside of the DVA system who told him the cancer had spread to his bladder, and the the pellets had "burned" his intestines. His bladder is now history, and his condition less-than optimal.

The news is currently full of the killings at Ft. Hood, but it is a fact that my friend is every bit the victim as are any of those shooting victims. However, his story will never make it to any news report. He is being slowly killed by a system that discards soldiers after they cease to be useful.

Would any President, Vice President or congressman suffer similar indignities to their bodies without an ensuing hue and cry of "injustice!" My friend did everything and more that was ever asked of him, and this is his thanks. My sorrow is not for the poor treatment alone, but for a nation that allows such indignities to be inflicted upon them.

When Ranger hears his old friend struggling for breath over a telephone connection, it becomes evident that the parade has passed him by. It will be one of the hardest things I've done in my life to visit this man knowing that his passing will take a part of me with him.

Ranger is bitter and filled with tears that cannot flow, and if he were to walk away from these facts, then he would be less than the man who once walked with heroes. I do not believe in an afterlife, but men like this one must go somewhere better than where we are now.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

White Wedding

Ranger Question of the Day:
Did the U.S. electorate charge Barack Obama with the mission

of forcing change on Afghani President Karzai?

Where is the love

You said you'd give to me

Soon as you were free

Will it ever be
--Where is the Love?
Roberta Flack

I'm the liberation of intoxication

The abomination of infatuation

The epitome of the enemy

Perfect agony until infinity


Hey little sister who's your superman?

Hey little sister shot gun!

It's a nice day to start again

It's a nice day for a white wedding

--White Wedding,
Billy Idol


This week's The Week magazine featured a winning cover illustration: Obama and Karzai as bride and bridegroom, in a shotgun wedding with Joe Biden as flower girl.

Why is changing the smarmy m.o. of Hamid Karzai the concern of the President of the U.S.?
The POTUS is not the president of the world, but should focus on his constitutional duties. Karzai is not our concern.

Why would Obama
want Karzai to change on any level? Karzai was selected by the U.S. because he was and is a sycophant for U.S. interests. What's not to love? (You Can't Always Pick your Afghan Friends.)

If Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles were running the world, things would play out the same.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Principles of War

Don't throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

--Everything Old is New Again,

Peter Allen


Ranger submitted an entry to a contest held by the The U.S. Naval Institute's journal
Proceedings several years back on the topic of warfare -- "Rethinking the Future Nature of Conflict". Needless to say, his neanderthal, non-4 GW thinking merited not so much as a nod.

But hearing Tyler Boudreau, former-Marine Captain and author of "Packing Inferno," address the topic of mission on National Public Radio this weekend got us thinking once again about mission and so-called New Nature of War. Simply: Everything is exactly the same as it was pre-9-11-01. No change. Nada.

The Constitution and the Rules of War are exactly as relevant and correct as they have always been. Clausewitz is alive and well. Even Sun-Tzu is still kicking! Asymmetrical warfare my ass. That's the way it has always been, just with new toys, now.

The Principles of War, as defined in the Army FM-3 Military Operations, were taught in 3rd-year ROTC class, so basic that all officers should be able to recite them in their sleep. Since our military leaders seem in a deep slumber, this is probably the only time they ponder the verity of these nine guiding principles. (If the reader doubts this, ask any officer to tick these off. Ranger will buy you a beer if you get a complete and correct answer.)

To a military man, these nine are more important than the 10 Commandments. They are:

  • Mass
  • Objective
  • Offensive
  • Surprise
  • Economy of Force
  • Maneuver
  • Unity of Command
  • Security
  • Simplicity

The principles apply to classic military operations, of which counterinsurgency is anything but. We try to operate as COIN, yet apply conventional combat power to the situation in a most inappropriate manner. Following classic Clausewitzian philosophy, this will ensure that COIN will fail.

COIN is not warfare, and therein lies the rub.
Classic combat operations insure the defeat of COIN theory and practice. Our political and military leaders have futilely been trying to fit COIN into a war formula, and trying to accommodate the war formula to fit COIN. The Principles of War are being ignored in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), though we carry on as though at war.

We have lost our way.
The only things being advanced are careers on the backs of the taxpayers and dead and wounded soldiers. All in a war that isn't a war, and a COIN experiment that isn't COIN.

If a Captain of USMC Infantry can see this, then why can't the Chiefs of Staff of the Services?

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Buying the Farm

Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me.

Land spreadin' out so far and wide

Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside

--Green Acres
, Vic Mizzy

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie

-- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth
-- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic
--John F. Kennedy

Turning Japanese

I think I'm turning Japanese

I really think so

--Turning Japanese
, the Vapors

FarmVille.com's come-on is, "Grow delicious fruits and vegetables and raise adorable animals on your very own farm!" Except it isn't your farm -- it's a virtual farm in the ether.

But if you buy into it, you will fritter away precious hours harvesting those ersatz blueberries in your futile quest for money and satisfaction. Strawberries grow in four hours; eggplant, two days. So unless you buy into the Perelandra paradigm, real life this ain't.

FarmVille is currently the most popular Facebook application, with over 60 million subscribers. In a real life nostalgic for the ideal, Washington farmer
Donna Schoonover says of her particpation in the simulacra farming, "This was a way to remind myself of the mythology of farming, and why I started farming in the first place" (To Harvest Squash, Click Here.) Farm Town, MyFarm and Farm Life are other, less popular, online farming games.

Self-described "Hardcore player" Becky Roberts, 49, plaintively says "they will die if you don’t tend to them," which is why she "sometimes set[s] her clock at night to make sure she tends to high-maintenance plants at two-hour intervals"
(Facebook's 11 Million Farmers.)

Adam Nash on his site Psychohistory plots out the game dynamics in,
The Personal Economics of FarmVille. He says most people play for coins, but a few are playing for experience points, which he ignores in his tabulations, obviously a lesser goal.

The Pet Rock was a wonderful spoof of the self-absorption of the Me Decade, which hadn't the time for such trivialities as tending to the needs of others. Ditto the Chia Pet, which did however require some sporadic watering (but little else).

In 1996 the Tamagotchi
pet was introduced -- really, a brightly colored plastic egg with three buttons which would allow the owner to feed, play, clean, or ascertain its "age, discipline, hunger, happiness and other statistics." With neglect, your Tamagotchi would die, a source of deep shame.

AIBO (Artificial Intelligence robot, homonymous with pal in Japanese) was introduced by Sony in 1999, but discontinued in 2006. It was a brief venture into AI in which the AIBO owner could "teach" the robotic dog certain commands, without having the inconvenience of feeding or scooping poop. As with a Tamagotchi, if one got bored, AIBO could be switched off and banished to a corner.

So why the fascination with virtual pets and plants? It's a beautiful day, and I can't wait to go out. Is it that people do not want to dirty their hands? Do they yearn for connection, but not so much so that they are willing to take on all that true commitment requires?

Do they they feel they will fail, and there is less grieving involved in the death of a Tamagotchi? The burial -- an unceremonious toss on the rubbish heap, is certainly easier and less costly and time-consuming than the real thing.
After all, a new and updated model awaits.

Why would one connect with the simulacrum when the real awaits?

[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog.]

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Friday, November 06, 2009



As regrettable and senseless as are the murders at Ft. Hood yesterday, we ask: When a Hellfire missile kills 12 innocent people in Afghanistan why are we not equally as indignant and outraged?

Both events can/could have been prevented. Nothing good can be gained by any of these deaths. When this happens in theatre we and they are issued an apology by a public affairs officer over the regrettable loss of life. Yesterday, the American people were told that former president George Bush and wife, and President Obama, were all praying for the victims and their families.

Apologies and prayers are not sufficient, even when presidentially-mandated.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Unbridled Aggression

We need take no more note of it than of a war

between two African kingdoms in the fourteenth century,
a war that altered nothing in the destiny of the world,
even if a hundred thousand blacks perished
in excruciating torment

--The Unbearable Lightness of Being,

Milan Kundera

And I don't know how you do it

Making love out of nothing at all

--Out of Nothing at All
Air Supply


While our Bill of Rights applies to our citizens, the U.S. is also a signatory to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which applies to citizens in the rest of the world. As a ratified treaty, it is every bit the rule of law as our our own Constitution. Or so the story goes.
Along comes the events of 9-11, and here's the ball game so far, 11-06-09:
  • NATO, which was and is a defensive alliance to counter the Warsaw Pact threat has now become a strike force to implement U.S. policy. This policy is that of aggressive invasions which lack a clearly-defined or evident defensive purpose.
  • US/NATO forces are arresting, detaining and interrogating prisoners that they have no right to arrest, detain or interrogate.

U.S. military and intelligence agencies are employing drones and Hellfire missiles to kill, interdict and intimidate citizens of AFPAK, and are killing people based upon intelligence indicators and reports rather than upon legal decisions. However, belonging to the Taliban and/or being an insurgent is not a death offense.

Any nation has the legal right to oppose and foreign invasion with any power within their means. Unfortunately, that means the Afghan resistance fighters have every right to bear arms against any foreign invader. This is the same right accorded to U.S. citizens were the tables turned.

It makes no difference how the war ends in Afghanistan. Whatever the result, the people will be exploited and downtrodden whether it be by a U.S.-backed lapdog or an anti-coalition amalgam.
Afghanistan will not become a beacon of democracy and continuing the war will not contribute to the destruction of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is not bound by national borders.

The same short-sightedness and muddled thinking that motivates U.S. banking and corporate life is the same feature that defines the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©): You simply cannot make something out of nothing. You cannot make a democracy out of an antrenched clannish tribal hierarchy, and you can't win hearts and minds by dropping Hellfire missiles into mud huts.

The waste of this war is indefensible at every level -- philosophically, militarily, economically and morally. We have lost hold on rational thought, our actions based upon emotion and twisted logic.

It is obvious that Mr. Obama is not going to soon end the wars and bring the troops home, pledging as he did in the elections to trudge on in the
Good War. But this is neither war, nor is it counterinsurgency. It is unbridled aggression, and as such, rife with ignorance and inhumanity.

This is something a good soldier has a hard time getting behind.

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