A War with North Korea . . . Only by Accident

AlJEZEERA's English Website posted an article today titled "N Korea readies rockets to strike US bases."  "Kim Jong-un gives order and blasts Washington with angry rhetoric after US stealth bombers flown over South Korea."

Order?  Order for what you ask?  "The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) news agency said on Friday that Kim signed off on the orders at a midnight meeting of top generals and 'judged the time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists in view of the prevailing situation'." Give us a break.  Really . . .

Kim Jong-un is a pampered, spoiled little boy who never spent a day in the real world -not even the North Korean surreal one. He talks the talk, but certainly is not ignorant enough to even attempt to walk the walk. . .well, at least let's hope so. 

Here's the bottom line: (1) it is estimated that North Korea possesses an army of more than one million soldiers.  This is what the U.S. Army and Marines call a target servicing problem: so many enemy to kill and only a finite amount of weapons systems and kinetic projectiles; (2) North Korean artillery is so robust that many experts estimate that artillery barrages alone could destroy the South Korean capital city of Seoul without moving a single troop over the demilitarized zone; (3) there are approximately 30,000 American troops stationed in South Korea (give or take a few thousand) and as good as they are, human assault waves of tens of thousands of armed warriors always present a daunting challenge and will register a maximum pucker factor within South Korean and U.S. troops; (4) the U.S. ground forces are but logistically decimated after all-to-many years of warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Equipment is broken, repair parts and supplies are in great demand but scarce. Units are under strength; soldiers are bailing at an alarming rate.  They are tired, battler worn and damaged-many beyond full repair; (5) the tactical nuclear option is no doubt on the table because the United States has nowhere near the necessary boots on the ground to commit to an extended conventional war on the Korean Peninsula.

Our politicians must tread lightly.  An armed conflict with North Korea will not be incurred intentionally by the North or the South.  The only way it can happen is by accident: poor communication, miss-communication, political blunder, inadvertent kinetic release on the ground, or an exchange of fire at sea. 

Reducing the Murder Rate is as Much About Leadership and Accountability as it is About Gun Legislation

In his March 25, 2013 OP-ED column titled The Killing Chain, David Brooks writes, "Robert Maranto of the University of Arkansas points out, in New York police chiefs and precinct leaders are held accountable for changes in the murder rate in their areas. New York has seen an 80 percent drop in the homicide rate. Why aren’t police officials held similarly accountable in many other cities?"  Good question . . .well asked.

Reducing the rate of violent crime and its effects upon victims is certainly dependent upon such factors as universal background checks, magazine capacity and regulation of military-style weapons, Another key contributor often overlooked is the resolve on the part of our law enforcement leaders to "get 'er done." Certainly there are men and women of law enforcement who are up to the violent crime reduction task.  Community leaders and voters need to seek them out, hire them, set time lines and standards and support them to the fullest. If they succeed, reward them.  If they do not, replace them.  No excuses. . . just results. 

The President Has Too Much Latitude In Ordering Drone Strikes

This blog post's title is that of an op-ed written by Richard Haas and published in today's Wall Street Journal.  Haas builds a sound case for stricter U.S. policy on the employment of drone strikes, especially when U.S. citizens abroad are being targeted. As our U.S. drone policies evolve, they must remain consistent with and thus supportive of U.S. foreign policy.  As Richard Haas so eloquently states in his article, " . . a strike must be undertaken only when it includes the near-certainty that the target is a highly dangerous terrorist, that the strike is likely to succeed, that collateral damage will be minimal and there is no viable alternative… Such considerations would rule out “signature” strikes, which target people who are behaving in ways that resemble how terrorists tend to behave—such as groups of men carrying weapons in areas frequented by terrorists. . ." Let us keep in mind that if a drone strike creates more enemies than it eliminates - such as driving persons to the dark side when their loved ones become victims of collateral damage - the justification for why the strike was ordered in the first place, i.e. to reduce the number of terrorists, becomes questionable. 

Immigration Reform

THE PROBLEM OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IN THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN IGNORED FAR TOO LONG; CONGRESS CONTINUES TO "KICK THE CAN" DOWN THE ROAD WHILE 11+MILLION PEOPLE LIVE IN LIMBO AND SLEEP IN FEAR OF DEPORTATION. DID THESE PEOPLE ENTER THE U.S. ILLEGALLY?  YOU BET. DID THEY BREAK THE LAW? ABSOLUTELY.  BUT IT HAPPENED.  AND IT HAPPENED LARGELY BECAUSE WE THE PEOPLE FAILED TO CONTROL OUR OWN BORDERS AND REMAINED CONTENT TO TURN BLIND EYES TOWARDS OUR WEAK AND UNENFORCED IMMIGRATION LAWS. 

PROBLEMS DO NOT GO AWAY BY IGNORING THEM.  BIG BOYS AND GIRLS IN WASHINGTON MUST MAN-UP/WOMAN-UP NOW. IF ONE UNEMOTIONALLY AND OBJECTIVELY ASSESSES THE FACTS SURROUNDING THIS ISSUE, ONE CAN ONLY COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT A COMPROMISED SOLUTION - AS MUCH AS IT PAINS SO MANY OF US - MUST BE REACHED:

* THE U.S. DOES NOT HAVE THE MONEY, RESOURCES OR MANPOWER TO   ROUND UP AND DEPORT 11+ MILLION ILLEGALS.

* THE VAST MAJORITY OF THESE ILLEGALS ARE HARD-WORKING, LAW ABIDING, TAX-PAYING CITIZENS WHO SIMPLY SEEK A BETTER LIFE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES.  THE CRIMINALS AMONG THEM ARE BEING ROUNDED-UP AND DEPORTED AT RECORD RATES. (ALMOST 410,000 DURING PRESIDENT OBAMA'S FIRST TERM AS OPPOSED TO 370,000 DURING THE EIGHT YEARS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.)

* AN INCALCULABLE NUMBER OF THESE ILLEGALS HAVE CHILDREN WHO WERE BORN IN AMERICA; THESE KIDS ARE U.S. CITIZENS AND INNOCENT VICTIMS. SEPARATING CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS IS NOT AN ACT THAT REFLECTS WELL UPON A FREE AND DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY. 

* ILLEGAL LABOR EBBING FROM MEXICO -LIKE IT OR NOT -HAS SUPPORTED AMERICAN BUSINESSES FOR MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS; THE DOUBLE STANDARD MUST END. TURNING A BLIND, LEGAL EYE DURING HARVEST SEASONS SIMPLY DOES NOT CUT IT IN 21ST CENTURY SOCIETY.

Universal Background Checks

The debate rages on. The National Rifle Association, Wayne La Pierre in the lead, refuses to budge an inch on the introduction of universal background checks -especially for firearms purchases at gun shows and private sales. 

Two weeks ago, I sold a Colt AR-15 assault rifle along with and seven, 30-round and two 20-round magazines.  It took a few weeks to find a responsible buyer;  I sold it all to a law enforcement officer.

But in accordance with Colorado State law, I could have sold the weapon and magazines to a perfect stranger in a cash deal with no record of the sale. That's right.  I could have put the weapon up for sale on the Internet, met with a buyer I knew absolutely nothing about, and sold that perfect stranger the assault rifle and magazines.  Thereafter, the buyer could legally keep all 250, 5.56mm rounds loaded into the magazines and in his motor vehicle with the Colt AR-15 at all times, ready to fire. That stranger could have been a cop killer, a potential active shooter, or a person with a documented history of mental illness or violent tendencies.  According to the law, I am not required to ask, I don't have a need to know. . . I don't have to care one damn bit.  All I have to do is find a buyer with cash.

Am I the only one who sees what is wrong with this picture?

Women in Combat

The critical contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan made by female soldiers and Marines participating in and supporting combat missions have most credibly removed the question mark from "Should women be permitted into the combat arms."  The question no longer exists. The Armed Forces ideally treats, judges and rewards its war fighters in accordance with their demonstrated capabilities and performance - not by their ethnicity, race, color, creed, and most recently, sexual orientation. There is no place in today's military for retention of its final, inequitable holdout: gender discrimination. Providing that the Armed Forces do not lower their combat arms qualification standards for female applicants only, thus maintaining a level playing field, for those women who desire to compete . . .have at it, Ladies!

For a great read on the debate, please go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brenda-s-/women-in-combat_b_2551276.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics.  Here are some excerpts:

"women are already in combat. They have been fighting,winning, getting wounded, losing limbs and dying on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan (and earlier) for as long as we have fought those wars. . . "

"If we continue to pretend that women aren't in combat, and close some roles to them, we deny them the promotions that go to the men they fought next to, because "the guy is a combat vet." We make it much harder for them to access care for combat-related health issues, including PTSD, that women sometimes find themselves "ineligible" for. We perpetuate the myth that women aren't really warriors -- and in the military culture that means you are worth less."

Time to Leave Afghanistan

Despite the valiant and courageous efforts of our fighting men and women and the multitude of civilians who support them, Afghanistan was a lost cause from the moment we ( 1 ) veered away from our primary objective of eliminating al Qaeda and the Taliban and committed to nation building; ( 2 ) withdrew forces and resources from Afghanistan to support our war of choice in Iraq; ( 3 ) refused to realize from day one that national building in a country with no infrastructure was a monumental task that would take fifteen to twenty years and trillions more dollars than Americans could afford to shell out; and ( 4 ) refused to see and acknowledge that tribal conflicts and crime, political corruption and the lucrative, national drug trade are insurmountable impediments to the establishment and perpetuation of any form of a credible, democratic government  

Our senior political and military senior leaders either ignore the lessons learned from past conflicts or are completely ignorant of them. They commit our brave troops to wars that cannot be won.  There are so many inexcusable similarities between how our military leaders and politicians failed in Vietnam and they did so again in Iraq and Afghanistan that it nothing less than inexcusable.

A great read is titled “FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, Revision Issue Paper #2 – Force Ratios" found @ http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/coin/repository/FM324%20Revision%20IP%202%20Force%20Ratios.pdf).  Below is a synopsis of some of the paper's salient points:

Bottom line, history tells us that when the force density/force ratio of counterinsurgency troops (fighting boots on the ground) is less than 20 counterinsurgency troops per 1,000 of the indigenous population, the chance of the counterinsurgency campaign being successful is less than 40%. From day one, the U.S. has never employed even half of the combat troops necessary to achieve a 20 to 1,000 that would have provided a mere 40% chance of success.

Nation building be damned. Post-9/11, the U.S. should have ruthlessly invaded Afghanistan, committed overwhelming force in an unrelenting offensive,  and killed every Taliban and al Qaeda member in country - without subcontracting our missions out to mercenary, indigenous tribal leaders. After the fighting was over, we should have brought everyone home immediately.  Then our president should have appeared on TV to place the world on notice:  If any country harbors terrorists who pose a clear and  present danger to U.S. national security or the safety of American citizens abroad, and that country does not deal with the problem, the U.S reserves the right to drop in unannounced  and ruthlessly eliminate the threat to its national security. People will be killed.  Things will be broken.  The U.S. will not pick up the cleaning bill nor will it stay to nation build.  We will get the job done and immediately return home.                                              

Would that not have been a "don't mess with the U.S." message that would have received the gravest attention from every dictator and despot on the planet?

.”


Qatari TV Network Expands in the U.S.

Al Jazeera has purchased Current TV in the United States, gaining access to millions more viewers (read more @http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/04/opinion/al-jazeera-commentary/index.html?hpt=us_mid) .  

Though often vilified during the Bush administration, al Jazeera is, for the most part, to as "fair and balanced" as any of the major, U.S. TV and cable news stations. One major advantage to watching al Jazeera is that Americans can find out what is happening outside of the United States and, more especially, what is of concern day-to-day to Middle Easterners. There is an entire world out there where important events happen everyday . . . but one will rarely discover these events by watching American news. For those who have never ventured outside of the American TV/cable news venues, JPR recommends trying both Al Jazeera and BBC World. 

U.S. Drone Strikes Continue

During his first term of office and now into his second one, President Obama has increased the use of drone strikes to target and terminate those who end up on the U.S.' "hit list."  The estimated number of deaths by U.S. drone strikes under President Obama is already FOUR TIMES as many as during President Bush's entire eight years in office. (Read more @ http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/06/16376663-us-drone-strikes-kill-18-pakistani-militants-sources-tell-nbc?lite).  

President Obama definitely possesses an aggressive, hawkish streak when it comes to eliminating the al Qaeda and Taliban leadership. The drone strikes inside of Pakistan's sovereign air space do not make us a lot of friends among the indigenous population; war by its nature is nasty and intrusive. Mr. Obama's message to Pakistan is clear: deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda yourselves or we will do it for you. Bravo, Mr. President!

Syrian President Holding Firm

The ongoing struggle of the Syrian rebels to oust their tyrannical president has resulted in the deaths of some 60,000 Syrians.  On January 6, 2013, President Bashir al-Assad outlined what was billed as a new peace initiative.  The opposition leaders saw it as more of the same and al-Assad's staunch commitment to keep up the fight until the rebellion is put down. Read more @ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032507/ns/world_news/

Al-Assad will fall, just as did Tunisian President Ben Ali, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak  in Egypt. and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. These depots, having lived in bubbles and been fawned upon all of their entitled lives - actually develop a skewed sense of reality and security.  They are always verbal and assertive right up to the end.  Al-Assad will flee his country or be killed before summer of 2013. The freedom movement in North Africa and the Middle East will prevail.  The Syrian people have sacrificed much in almost two years of armed conflict against their government.  Let's hope and pray they hang in there.