Let’s honor the deceased war heroes, but do our best to keep them safe

On this Memorial Day holiday, we should rightfully and respectfully honor and remember our loved ones, friends, acquaintances and even strangers who fought in the many battles and wars. It is day of reflection of their sacrifices, whether they died in the conflicts or after they returned home. Too many, struggled with what they called “shell shock” after World War I (The Great War) and now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A good friend just buried her twenty-seven year-old former Marine son, who was killed in a motorcycle crash. So, after worrying for several years while in Afghanistan, she has to grieve him for a bad accident. Loved ones bear a lot of angst worrying about their fighting children, fathers, mothers and loved ones. To die so young is a tragedy.

Yet, our leaders must go beyond the call to avoid sending our people into harm’s way. As said in the movie “Troy,” about the Trojan War, “War is old men talking and young men fighting.” Both men and women leaders must understand what war or conflict means. They must know that it is far more than winning battles. It is rebuilding countries and maintaining the peace through better relations. As an example, the following is a voice that was not heeded about these challenges.

In 2002, Jim Webb penned an op-ed in The Washington Post cautioning the US about going into Iraq. Who is Jim Webb? He is a former Marine, Secretary of the Navy and US Senator from Virginia. He has a law degree from Georgetown and has been a member of both political parties serving under multiple Presidents.

Two paragraphs from his pre-invasion op-ed piece are telling:

“The first reality is that wars often have unintended consequences — ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days. The second is that a long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world….

Other than the flippant criticisms of our ‘failure’ to take Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, one sees little discussion of an occupation of Iraq, but it is the key element of the current debate. The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years.”

It should be noted we have been in Iraq for over seventeen years, even longer in Afghanistan. Maybe, the chest beaters should listen to those who have fought and have experience rather than people who understand less what fighting and occupying a country mean. This was a crossroad moment in our history and we have not been the same since. Many thousands of American and allied troops died, even more Iraqi and Afghani troops and civilians died, our reputation has suffered and our debt is much higher. Plus, he was right on the money about American influence being impacted around the globe. Lying to allies and others about weapons of mass destruction has that kind of effect, not to mention misunderstanding the landscape.

I use this example as the words come from someone who knows, not someone who has a false bravado. One of the reasons so many Americans died in the Civil War, besides fighting on both sides, is some of the Union’s generals were chaotic and incompetent. People died unnecessarily because the union generals kept them in harm’s way. Per the Pentagon Papers, our leaders carried on a war in Vietnam long after they knew they could not win, so many Americans and huge amounts of Vietnamese died unnecessarily.

We must honor these men and women who risk their lives by getting this first part right. The best battle is one that is not fought, if it need not be. These people are brave people and deserve our respect and admiration, but leaders who pick or continue a fight that need not be fought or is sorely underestimated, is doing America and our allies a disservice. Both Democrats and Republican leaders have failed in this regard. It is too important to not fail, regardless of what party one serves.

A fable about a mistreated woman

Once upon a time, there was a woman who represented her employer in client relations. She had been doing her job well for about thirty years and was now working to assist a growing, but fragile client.

Unbeknownst to her, her boss’ boss had been told she was not doing what he wanted, which was actually corrupt. She stood in the way of her boss’ boss accomplishing is illicit task. The big boss even hired an attorney to dig up dirt and bad mouth her to the client and others.

Sadly, her boss did nothing to support her. He actually participated in the process. Her long time good service did not matter. When the bad-mouthing hit the press, she was chagrined.

She was eventually fired. Yet, what puzzled her is why did they not just fire her? They did not need to drag her name through the mud. They could have simply replaced her.

This is not a fable. The woman’s name is Marie Yovanovitch and she was the US ambassador to Ukraine. Her boss is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his boss is Donald Trump. The attorney is Rudy Giuliani.

Let’s set all the machinations aside. Of course, the president has the right to fire anyone. But, why did he have to run down Yovanovitch’s name and sully her reputation? That is a damn shame. It also speaks volumes about the relative character of those involved.

Hypocrisy abounds with the NFL

Colin Kaepernick, a proven talented quarterback, cannot get a job in the National Football League (NFL). Even non-football fans know the reason is he chooses to exercise his First Amendment rights and kneel in protest during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick does this as he feels blacks are not getting fair treatment in the US and too many are being needlessly killed.

Yet, this protesting prevents NFL football teams from hiring him since his release from his previous team. You would think the man is radioactive. Many fans are stridently against him given a bent to jingoistic behavior. But, before you decide to do the same, let’s speak of three hypocrisies in the NFL leadership ranks.

First, the NFL likes to portray a patriotic theme, with heavy military showmanship. Looking under the covers, your tax dollars pay for that show. Our military pays the NFL for the privilege to advertise their service for employment recruiting purposes. I am not saying we should not be patriotic, but this payment for jingoistic advertising may be the key reason he is not being hired.

Second, Kaepernick is exercising his rights to free speech, which is preventing his being hired. That is more representative of our freedom than a national anthem. But, digging deeper, the NFL has little problem with employing convicted or suspended players who have committed crimes such as domestic violence, drug possession, drug distribution, theft or steroid use. Advocating for Black Lives Matter is perceived to be worse than these crimes.

Finally, it would be well within the rights of Kaepernick to protest the NFL for its role in hiding their concussion problem that led to brain injuries that may not appear until after the players stopped playing. This active and prolonged obfuscation of the truth caused even more players to get concussions and be exposed to brain injury. The NFL eventually settled the law suit against them for $1 Billion which went to impacted players. While this is a major step, the league still tries to avoid some painful truths.

When I see commentators and fans denigrate Kaepernick for exercising his rights, I think of these hypocrisies. The answer for his problem rests with the other players. Unless more than a few kneel out of respect for his rights and his legitimate protests,  Kaepernick will not play again in the NFL. In the meantime, we fans need to understand why he is protesting and support his right to do so.

 

 

 

My heart is out to our Boston friends and visitors

The tragic events of today in Boston have led me to write some thoughts down which I am sure others are doing as well. My wife’s brother was supposed to run today, qualifying for the Boston Marathon. For marathon runners, the Boston Marathon is like one of the Kentucky Derby races, as it is difficult to get into. He made the grade, but had a business opportunity arise that negated his plans. The personal side of this is my wife would have gone with their sister to pull for him near the finish line. And, that is precisely where the first two bombs went off.

This is a horrible tragedy that we are still trying to figure out what happened. I think most everyone detests the loss of innocent life just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only ones who do not are those less than humane perpetrators of this and other crimes against humanity. I personally find the actions of terrorists (big or small) to be detestable and should not be condoned or supported by any regime. If your regime supports terrorism, then your regime is not worthy of recognition. If your hate group acts on its hate, then you are a group of criminals. If you are trying to make a statement, then you did. You made the statement that you should be arrested and tried for your heinous acts. I hope they find the perpetrators and not give them any publicity. They should just have a brief press release saying we got the bastards.

However, that is for the future. For the now, let’s say a prayer for the families of the loved ones lost. Let’s say a prayer for those injured in the explosion and hope they can survive their wounds. Let’s say a prayer for those wonderful police, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners who have done and will do their best to save lives. Let’s say a prayer for the friends and family to be strong and soothe their loved ones in pain, from loss and their injuries. If you are not religious, please think good thoughts for those in need akin to the above.

The day was supposed to be a day of celebration in Boston. It still can be a memorable Patriots Day for better reasons than this tragedy. So, let’s remember our fellow patriots in Boston and say we are with you. You led us down a path of revolution that gained us our freedom in America. We are free to worship any religion. We are free to speak our mind. We are free to tell a Congressperson we disagree with his or her views. We are free to live where we want and try to make a decent living for our families. We are free to form groups that believe in causes, even if we do not agree with them. We are free to do many things in our great country, provided we do not harm others.

To our friends and visitors in Boston. We are free because of what you started for all of us. I am saddened that your day has been filled with tragedy. I am saddened that people lost their lives and are harmed. We will be sad with you and be beside you in your time of need. May God grant you peace and comfort.