Saturday in the park – a few grumbles while I walk

I have shared before that I like to cogitate as a I walk. Often, this time permits me to organize a few thoughts for a post, but it also allows me to have fictional arguments with people who are not present that pay attention to spurious news sources. It is when those arguments become aloud that other folks give me more space. Fortunately, some may think I am on the phone.

I have a few grumbles in mind that I want to share:

-Disenfranchised groups of people do not often have voices at the table; this is a key reason I advocate for those in need. What bothers me most is when these folks are harmed by folks who are basing decisions more off perceptions or sound bites than truth. 900,000 Americans have died because of a poor response due to COVID, and yet some elected officials have made it political because it is easier to win votes posturing than to fix the problem. We also have a prison system industrial complex that is part of a new Jim Crow era where far more inmates are non-whites who committed the same crimes as whites that went free.

-What also bothers me is when people are harmed or killed because of decisions made by so-called leaders. Folks in the Ukraine are dying because of Vladimir Putin’s ego and the fact Russia’s struggling economy is largely based on fossil fuel exports. Like he has done before, Putin has invented a reason to invade another country. And, take it to the bank, he will do it again making up a similar reason. Putin plays a long game, while the western leaders play a short one; being an autocratic leader, he does not trouble himself with how Russians react, as he will just have opposition “handled.” Over 1,700 anti-war protestors were jailed in Russia earlier this week.

-Americans and Brits should not be too pompous about involving ourselves in other countries, as our histories have been based on that very fact. The US helped Iran’s military overturn an elected leader in 1953 to establish the Shah of Iran – this is a key reason Iranians do not trust us. And, the US invaded Iraq under false pretenses with the guise of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and we involved the UK and other allies. A UK study came to the conclusion that the US president George Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair misled UK citizens. Of course, the British Empire was built based on imperialism.

-Finally, not knowing or understanding history leads us to make decisions that are repeats of earlier bad decisions. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, who had been in the Defense department and is a Vietnam veteran, stood up in the Senate and said if we invade Iraq, be prepared to stay there for thirty years. That was about twenty years ago, and we are still there. Also, not planning to fight an invasive war, not defining what success looked like, not defining an exit strategy, etc. leads to disastrous results. No foreign army has won in Afghanistan – ever. The terrain and tribal nature of the country do not permit control. This is why the soldiers and sailors invented a term that applies to poor planning – it begins with “cluster” and ends with a derogatory term for intercourse.

The common people are the ones who get hurt by misinformed and egotistical leaders. The line from the movie “Troy” comes to mind to explain this in the context of war. “War is old men talking and young men dying.” That includes women as well. It also goes beyond wars.

24 thoughts on “Saturday in the park – a few grumbles while I walk

  1. Note to Readers: For readers not familiar with “The Pentagon Papers,” please Google the subject. Publishing these papers was the theme of the movie “The Post” with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, where President Nixon went out of his way from stopping the printing of these papers. In essence, the papers noted the US military and government knew they were fighting an unwinnable war in Vietnam, but hid that fact from Americans. As a result, more Americans and Vietnamese died. And, it was a bipartisan failure and cover-up, with two Republican and two Democrat presidents involved. We learned about twenty years from tapes of the South Vietnam leader (who did not trust), that Nixon committed a treasonous act by telling the leader to stall peace negotiations before the 1968 election. It took five more years to garner peace with more American deaths as a result. LBJ knew of Nixon’s conversation, but decided not to pursue it.

  2. You summed this all up perfectly, Keith. I have not only shed a tear once during the past 48 hours. The injustice is unprecedented. Still, I see that this all comes from one person supported by too many who are afraid to step up against this insanity. Still, I believe, no, I am convinced that this world is rather on a way of togetherness than separation. All of the signs around the world and even in Russia confirm that. I honor every person that has been going on the streets in Russia and demonstrates for peace. Peace 🕊

    • Erika, there seems to be a lot of support for Ukraine and even the Russian troops are surprised at the level of push back. I hope some of this news is seeping into the Russian living rooms. I hope more folks see Putin for exactly what he is and in turn, I hope the blowback on folks like Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson occurs for their inane support of a tyrant bent on empire building. Keith

      • Your word in God’s ear. Maybe the experiences of those past years will have an impact on those on Putin’s side. I am ok with sacrifices due to sanctions for Russia. It shows even more how clear the (most part of) the rest of the world looks at Putin and his deeds.

  3. Tucker Carson and his ilk are either what the Serbian Folk would call ‘Korisne Budale’ (Useful Innocents), a terms used by the then Yugoslav Communists for democratic folk who supported them, thinking they would install the same type of government or deniers hoping it will all go away.
    Carson may also be a snake oil merchant who just says controversial things to maintain his ratings.

    • Alison, thanks. It is true. When I was watching Ken Burns’ excellent documentary series on the Vietnam War, one of the combatants said something like if anyone thinks wars can be won, he has never fought in one. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: Per The Washington Post, a Russian scientist named Oleg Anisimov was critical of his country’s invasion of Ukraine at a Climate Change conference.

    “’Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict,’ Anisimov said, according to a participant in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent session.

    The comments by Anisimov, a scientist at the state hydrological institute, mark a rare public rebuke of the Russian invasion by a government official. His apology came after an impassioned speech from his Ukrainian counterpart, Svitlana Krakovska, who linked the invasion of her country to the global challenge the ministers and scientists sought to confront: climate change.”

  5. “The US helped Iran’s military overturn an elected leader in 1953 to establish the Shah of Iran – this is a key reason Iranians do not trust us.”

    Regarding longstanding U.S.-Iran tensions, I understand that the Iranian Revolution’s Western-nation expulsion was primarily due to U.S. (and even British) interest in further exploiting Iran’s plentiful oil resources.

    Not surprising, the expulsion was a big-profit-losing lesson learned by the foreign-nation oil corporation heads, which they, by way of accessing domestic political thus military muscle, would not willingly allow to happen to them again. Perhaps Iraq and its oil are an example of this.

    I feel that if the relevant oil-company heads were/are in fact against Iran, then likely so are their related Western governments and, via general news-media support, national collective citizenry.

    • True. Most things in the middle east (and elsewhere) are about oil. Even, the invasion of Ukraine is in part due to Russia having too much of its economy based on fossil fuels and wanting Ukraine, as the bread-basket of Europe in their fold.

  6. “And, the US invaded Iraq under false pretenses with the guise of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and we involved the UK and other allies. A UK study came to the conclusion that the US president George Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair misled UK citizens.”

    One can still hear or read praise, or conservatives’ scorn, heaped upon The New York Times for their supposed uncompromised integrity when it comes to humanitarianism and ethical journalism. Yet, did they not help create the Iraq War, through then-U.S.-VP Dick Cheney’s self-citing via the Times’ website? That would be the same Cheney who monetarily benefitted from the war via Iraqi oil fields — a war I consider to have been much more like a turkey shoot, considering the massive military might attacking the relatively weak country.

    I recall reading that The Times had essentially claimed honest-ignorance innocence on the grounds that it was its blogger’s overzealousness that was/is at fault. But is it really plausible that The Times did/does not insist upon securing the non-publishable yet accurate identity of its writers’ anonymous information sources — in this case, a devious Cheney — especially considering that Cheney himself would then use that anonymous source’s (i.e. his own) total BS about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify a declaration of war that inevitably resulted in genuine gratuitous mass suffering and slaughter, both domestically and abroad?

    I believe that The Times may have jumped on this particular atrocity-prone bandwagon, perhaps due to the massive 9/11 blow the city took only a few years prior. There was plenty of that particularly bitter bandwagon going around in Western circles back then. Quite memorable was New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s appearance on Charlie Rose’s show (May 29, 2003), where he ranted about the war’s justification and supposed success. “… We needed to go to that part of the world; and what they needed to see [was that] American boys and girls going house to house, from Basrah to Baghdad, [and] simply saying, ‘suck on this’.”

    It’s as though they all decided: ‘Just to be on the safe side, let’s error in favor of militarily assaulting, invading and devastating Iraq’. … Every culture/nation has its own propaganda and core beliefs, true and false; though some culture/nations — usually the biggest, most powerful — are much more corrupt and brutal than the smaller, weaker ones. And western mainstream news-media are a significant part of this moral problem.

    • Thanks for your detailed comment. There was a lot of jumping on a bandwagon that needed more investigation. I am of the belief, before we send troops in harm’s way, we should exhaust every other avenue. You may recall how the country band the “Dixie Chicks” were vilified for questioning the invasion, when their right to do so should have been applauded.

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