And here. ("...punching hippies in the face is politically smart...") --I gotta remember that line.
And here. ("...sucktastically ineffective...")
I knew that the President-elect was going to disappoint various segments of his supporters sooner or later, but I did not expect him to do is so quickly.
As for me, I could care less who the President-elect chooses to be his whatever-they-call-the-guy-who-gives-oath. It's his inauguration, after all.
But I am amused and entertained at the reaction to it.
The SoFA, or "Bilateral Security Agreement" (BSA), contains several things that will change the way we do business here. This is one:
The security pact states that as of Jan. 1, American troops may not search homes or make arrests without warrants "except in the case of active combat operations."This is going to be a challenge, no doubt, but it's worth it in my opinion. "By, through and with" and "rule of law" are two of the most important concepts in bringing a COIN campaign to a close. It's going to be difficult, but 'difficult' is what the US military does.
That will be a big change for the U.S. military _ one of several required under the security pact that allows the Americans to stay for three more years but imposes stricter oversight on their behavior.
The agreement was ratified by Iraq's presidential council on Dec. 4, and U.S. and Iraqi commanders are now meeting to lay out guidelines for how the new rules will work on the ground.
U.S. soldiers - particularly special forces - have in the past staged raids without consulting the Iraqis when going after time-sensitive targets.
Quite a while ago, I fisked the same sort of academic who was upset over the fact that the US no longer conscripts its troops. (I note for the record that we never actually did hear back from that professor.)
Any way, the writer of this article, one Danielle Allen (who has some sort of post at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton) manages to observe this:
Military institutions across nations and throughout time have always been important creators of culture. They strive to develop unbreakable bonds of solidarity among their members based on shared values, experiences and outlooks.
I spotted the link between military service and regional partisan divisions when I was researching not military history but Internet political communication. After spending time on political Web sites of the right and left, I noticed that posts on right-leaning sites often employed military lingo -- habits of developing monikers and jingles and of using the vocabulary of military tactics and strategy. Left-leaning sites, in contrast, mostly lacked any easily recognizable features of military language.
This is one sign that our public sphere already suffers from a division between military and non-military cultures. The division is not trivial, and without institutional change it is likely to be durable.
And finally this:
It is time to think seriously about a structure for national service -- both military and non-military -- that could successfully integrate young people from different regions of the country so that they will come, at least, to understand each other. We need to weave a fabric of shared citizenship anew.
As I said then, (and I don't really think I can say it any better now):
A universal duty to service is already there. It exists whether or not there is a draft law. To fufill that duty, all it takes is to walk into a recruiting station and say, “I wish to join.” The professor could have done that at anytime in his life. He appears to have chosen not to. In short, the professor himself is at the heart of the professor’s argument that there is a disconnect between the citizenry and the military. Enough of the professor’s generation decided that a draft was unnecessary and made its feelings known quite loudly that the draft was abolished. And now the professor is complaining because there isn’t a draft?
She manages to make the connection between military culture and "the" culture at large, (I wonder if she read Martin van Creveld's "The Culture of War", he talks alot about the military and culture in that book), notices the distinct lack of military jargon on left-tard sites, and can only come up with the idea that we'd better draft people so that they 'weave a fabric of shared citizenship anew'. Oh, and its supposed to be both 'military and non-military' too.
BUT SHE JUST DOESN'T GET IT.
All those people on left-tard sites could have joined up. but they didn't. They. Did. Not. Of their own free will. 40 years of academia, movies, books, radio, rock and roll etc, etc, etc, running down the military will do that, you know. And now she wants to change it? Good luck with that.
The duty is there whether it performed or not. All you have to is Do. Your. Duty.
PASSERSBY in Central London have been treated to the bizarre spectacle of two mediaeval knights fighting to decide what is the best cheese.
The two warriors clashed in Baker Street on Thursday in a
joust for the title of "King of the Blue Cheeses". In the blue, smelly corner was Saint Agur, representing the French cheese of the same name, and in the other blue corner was St Ilton, representing Albion's own Stilton.
Advertising I'm sure Grim would approve of.
You are probably unaware of this if you're reading it in America, but this is also holiday season in Iraq. The Hajj season is winding down, having been ongoing here for quite a while now. Thousands of Iraqis have traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the rites of the trip to Mecca. This week is one of the great festivals of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha. Iraqis are celebrating by, among other things, touring Saddam's palace in Babylon. But it's a major celebration all around. I gather that the sheep market is booming, as sheep are used as sacrifices to honor ancestors; apparently sales this year are strongly outpacing last year's.
The media aspect of this war is a well-known difficulty. It's not just that AQI needs only to set off one bomb, anywhere in the country, to make the reporting on any given incident all about them. That's true, and it's a problem -- if they set off a car bomb and kill a dozen or forty people, you lose track of the fact that literally millions more people went about their day untroubled by al Qaeda.
But there is another problem, which is that when al Qaeda isn't able to carry off even a single bomb on a major holiday, there's little news to be found at all. This time, every one of those millions of Iraqis enjoyed their holiday with no violence; but I'd guess that around 1% of America even knows there was a major holiday here last week.
As a consequence of this dual difficulty, every last news story the average American hears about the war is about something violent that AQI did. The truth is that all the extremist groups put together are now only trouble on occasion; and much of the time, no trouble at all.
This place will get more interesting in January, however. The new Bilateral Security Agreement is going to change the way business is done here in some significant ways. I'm not sure how many of those ways have made the press yet, as I don't get a chance to read as much of the news as I'd like. I'm not going to talk out of school about it; let's just say that it's interesting in several ways, and a wise reader who wants something to think about will watch carefully how it is implemented.
However, whatever difficulties it has for us, it represents two invaluable things: a movement to the rule of law, and a chance for the Iraqi people to realize that they really are in control of their destiny. Their laws, and their votes, shall rule this land.
That, I think, is the hardest of Saddam's legacies to purge -- getting people to stop waiting to be told what to do, and to stop believing there is some conspiracy at work in their lives. It's the real gift of our microgrant strategy. The economic gain of such grants is powerful, don't get me wrong. Alexander Hamilton structured American policy after the Revolution to create small pools of capital in private hands, and out of those pools flowered an ever-growing economy.
These microgrants, though they seem small, can help to do much the same thing. Yet more than the economic output of these very small businesses, we're giving them a chance to realize that they have a chance to make a life for themselves. They can buy the tools to repair tires on these rickety old vehicles toddling down the roads. They can fix the vehicles. The guy who owns the vehicle, he may be delivering things for a living, or getting a little money from each of several friends in exchange for giving them a ride to work in a nearby village or town. The farmers bring their crops to market, and people have money to buy them.
There are bigger Civil-Military Operations as well -- canal cleaning for irrigation, filtering programs for drinking water, schools, repairs to public buldings, parks for children, and so forth. These are certainly also important. In the end, though, I think it will be the microgrants that really matter. They target the people who are ready to learn that lesson, and ready to take another step on their own road.
I'm guessing you didn't see it on the news, and you probably won't. I've seen it, and met some of the people involved in it. They're proud of their work, and I hope you're proud of them.