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I stumbled across a story of the problems the Canadian military is having with marijuana. No, it's not what you think:
Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three metre) high marijuana plants.The story continues with what happened when the Canadians tried to burn down the offending forest while some of their troops were downwind.
General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defence staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.
"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.
A remarkably fluffy interview with Lynndie England (she of the man-ass pyramid). Lest one gets the impression that she and Graner were operating some grand conspiracy on orders from Don Rumsfeld himself as opposed to one sadistic shitbag and one dingbat chick:
But England refused to give him up. In March 2003, she went with Graner and another soldier to Virginia Beach. During the trip, Graner took pictures of himself having anal sex with England. He also photographed her placing her nipple in the ear of the other soldier, who was passed out in a hotel room. Soon, it became their new game: Whenever Graner asked her to, England would strike a pose.
"Everything they did, he took a picture of," says Hardy, her lawyer. "I asked Lynndie why she let him. She said, 'Guys like that. I just wanted to make him happy.' She was like a little plaything for him. The sexual stuff, the way he put her in those positions, that was his way of saying, 'Let's see what I can make you do.'"
To think that the efforts of so many good and honorable people were rendered almost null by a friggin' Jerry Springer episode.
Oh there's more:
During that time, Graner instigated another kind of amusement: sexually charged weekly theme parties in the barracks. "Naked Chem-Light Tuesday," he called it. A Chem-Light is a light stick used by soldiers that's akin to a flashlight, containing hydrogen peroxide and a fluorescent dye packaged in a small plastic tube. Break it open, and the stuff glows for hours. One night, Graner pulled his shorts down, poured the contents of a Chem-Light onto his penis, and walked around naked.
And pose for more pictures. In a supply room, Graner takes a shot of England performing oral sex. England adds a flourish for the photos: a thumbs-up sign. In another photo, England is standing near a detainee, Hayder Sabbar Abd, a 34-year-old taxi driver, as he is being made to simulate masturbation. Again, she gives a thumbs-up.
Apparently, John Murtha has had enough.
A year ago when I presented my plan for Iraq, I did it to provide leadership and protect our troops. The Republicans have spent their time name-calling while the situation for our troops in Iraq gets worse.
They've tried to smear me, other veterans, Democrats, you and anybody who stands up to them. Well, let me say one thing right now: screw them. Those gravestones at Arlington cemetery don't say Democrat or Republican on them.
Major John. I'm with you. They did an outstanding job with that ad. Right tone at the right time.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton put forth her positions on Iraq today in the New York Daily News.
No obvious moon-battery here, and reasonable sounding. She’s made some good points, she’s someone to at least hear out, doesn’t it sound?
Forgive me for a certain skepticism about how genuine are Sen. Clinton’s convictions about the threats to National Security, how she would lead as Commander in Chief, how she would direct Iraq policy differently than the Bush Administration.
More importantly, how would she make judgments between the eternally opposed perspectives of the CIA, the State Department, and the Pentagon? Does she even recognize that these three spheres are in covert (and often overt) battle with each other? Is she already a party to the internecine warfare?
One clue is here prescription, described as “Step 2: Diplomacy:”
The second thing that needs to happen is an international public gathering of the parties in the region. Right now, we have sort of private conversations with all these different groups, with the exception of Iran and Syria. So we talk to the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Jordanians, the Turks — but we're not bringing them to any kind of resolution about what they will publicly do and get them on record in a way that we can then bank on.Here we go again. All we need is an “international public gathering of the parties in the region.” Kind of sounds like a UN solution, doesn’t it? Sen. Clinton maintains that the reason all of our various private and public conversations with all these interested parties (excepting our sworn enemies of course), is one of a failure in “bringing them to any kind of resolution.”
So, there is no understanding. The Turks are massing troops because they're scared to death about the Kurds and the infiltration. We know what the Iranians are doing. The other Sunni countries are playing their double game. And we're basically sort of watching it.
Our failure to have even backdoor talks with Iran and Syria with respect to Iraq and everything else in the region is, I think, another in a long line of mistakes on the part of the Bush administration.
Has the Junior Senator not had a chance to get briefed up on the UN and other natter-ma-bob organizations? Can she really be that naïve?
The problem is with her premise, which fails on multiple counts. Nations conduct international diplomacy as a helpful but largely irrelevant backdrop for whatever practical steps they take behind the scenes. Nations lie, cheat, misrepresent, and try to manipulate foreign and domestic public opinion. Communist Dictatorships and other autocratic and fascists regimes, do it at orders of magnitude more.
The Senator Clinton, in just the next breath suggests that, despite our neglect in opening private conversation with them, “We know what the Iranians are doing.” Senator, might you go ahead and state what that is? I know I know, but I sure would like to believe you do. I don’t, because I know by not saying, you don’t really believe whatever you’d say, and whatever you’d have to say publicly, you wouldn’t agree with at all.
Backdoor talks with Iran and Syria? Unless that backdoor talk runs along the lines of, “this shotgun is loaded and the next time you step out of your yard into mine, you get both barrels,” dear Lord, I’m not interested. This sounds an awful lot like John Kerry’s “I’ve talked to a lot of foreign leaders” type of foolishness.
(More commentary, and an unexpected Frank Capra reference, over at Dadmanly.)All done!
...must, I say...
Follow this link. Don't forget to read the comments.
With respect to the Ministry of Interior forces, two of the 18 Iraqi provinces now have already assumed Iraqi control in their province. What that means is that the police forces in that province are capable of maintaining domestic order without routine coalition support, and in Muthanna province and Dhi Qar province that is happening. I would expect to see six or seven Iraqi provinces under provincial Iraqi control by the end of the year.
The combined population of DhiQar and Muthana provinces is roughly the same as Kosovo(roughly 2 million). I would note the continued presence of roughly 17,000 "Foreign Troops" in Kosovo 7 years after initial deployment.
While the provincial security forces and governments of AlAnbar and Baghdad continue to struggle the rest of the provinces are getting their acts together at a reasonably quick pace by international and historical standards.All done!
Part III of Cassandra's series, treating the judiciary, is here.
I had to read this two or three times to make sure I read it correctly. At this stage of the election cycle, Senator Durbin had this to say about Iraq.
The security situation in Iraq has improved somewhat since his last visit, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Saturday.Don't think it will make the front page of the NYT, but wow.
"Before, I was confined to the Green Zone. Things have improved to the point where we're able to travel outside the Green Zone. We went to the Sunni Triangle today and met with Marines," Durbin said in a conference call with a half-dozen reporters.
"It is, I think, a more secure environment than I felt a year and a half before, but the battle of Baghdad is still raging.
It really was only a matter of time before Jimmy Carter surfaced again due to the latest North Korean crisis. Carter has surfaced this time in a New York Times editorial which like other editorials from those involved in the failed 1994 Agreed Framework blames Bush for the current nuclear crisis:
Responding to an invitation from President Kim Il-sung of North Korea, and with the approval of President Bill Clinton, I went to Pyongyang and negotiated an agreement under which North Korea would cease its nuclear program at Yongbyon and permit inspectors from the atomic agency to return to the site to assure that the spent fuel was not reprocessed. It was also agreed that direct talks would be held between the two Koreas.
The spent fuel (estimated to be adequate for a half-dozen bombs) continued to be monitored, and extensive bilateral discussions were held. The United States assured the North Koreans that there would be no military threat to them, that it would supply fuel oil to replace the lost nuclear power and that it would help build two modern atomic power plants, with their fuel rods and operation to be monitored by international inspectors. The summit talks resulted in South Korean President Kim Dae-jung earning the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.
His White House contact walked into a on going policy meeting with President Clinton and his top advisors to inform Clinton of Carter's call. Clinton was about to give a go ahead on a military force build up in Korea along with increased sanctions that would ultimately lead to possibly a naval blockade if North Korea did not give up their nuclear program. Does this all sound familiar? It should because it is 1994 all over again today, we just need Carter to go to Pyongyang, and hopefully this time he will stay there.
Carter's announcement was a bombshell to the White House because somebody acting as a private citizen had taken control of US foreign policy and the White House appeared to be by standers. People in the meeting actually called Carter's actions of cutting a deal without White House approval as "near traitorous" and Clinton actually put out an order for people in the meeting to not engage in Carter bashing to media despite their private feelings.
Clinton's instincts initially was that the North Koreans could not be trusted and only understood force to get them to quit their nuclear program, however Carter's actions made it politically impossible for him to take action against North Korea when Carter publicly announced on CNN that he had prevented war by cutting a deal with Kim Il-sung. Attacking a country after publicly announcing that you cut a deal with them never goes over to well internationally or domestically for that matter and Clinton knew it and he was forced to deal.
Additionally the deal was cut with Kim Il-sung who Clinton and even I believe may have been acting in good faith at the time when he agreed to end his nuclear program and allow in IAEA inspectors if the US gave him aid and built two light water reactors. Kim Il-sung I think was beloved by his people enough that he would have been able to survive any reforms that would have opened up the country. Thus he saw this deal as opportunity to feed his people and provide them energy, which in turn allowed North Korea to then focus their limited resources on rebuilding a post-Soviet Union economy.
However, Kim Il-sung died a month later after striking the deal with Carter. Was this just coincidence or did Kim Jong-il have something to do with it? I for one wouldn't be surprised if Kim Jong-il and others in the military who wanted the nuclear bomb and resisted opening the country did away with Kim Il-sung and installed Kim Jong-il because he promised to implement the Songun (military first) policy which would ensure the elite status of the North Korean military within North Korean society.
Something else I found disingenuous about Carter's article was his claim that his 1994 deal led to the 2000 inter-Korean Summit between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il. Carter made no mention of the fact that the summit only happened, not because of Carter's 1994 deal, but because of the $156 million dollar bribe that Kim Dae-jung authorized Hyundai to give to Kim Jong-il in order for the North Koreans to agree to host the summit.
The dishonesty only continues in Carter's editorial:
But beginning in 2002, the United States branded North Korea as part of an axis of evil, threatened military action, ended the shipments of fuel oil and the construction of nuclear power plants and refused to consider further bilateral talks. In their discussions with me at this time, North Korean spokesmen seemed convinced that the American positions posed a serious danger to their country and to its political regime.
The dishonesty in this article only gets worse:
Six-nation talks finally concluded in an agreement last September that called for North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and for the United States and North Korea to respect each other’s sovereignty, exist peacefully together and take steps to normalize relations. Each side subsequently claimed that the other had violated the agreement. The United States imposed severe financial sanctions and Pyongyang adopted the deeply troubling nuclear option.
So what does Carter suggest to end the current stand off? Well implementing pretty much the 1994 Agreed Framework again:
The other option is to make an effort to put into effect the September denuclearization agreement, which the North Koreans still maintain is feasible. The simple framework for a step-by-step agreement exists, with the United States giving a firm and direct statement of no hostile intent, and moving toward normal relations if North Korea forgoes any further nuclear weapons program and remains at peace with its neighbors. Each element would have to be confirmed by mutual actions combined with unimpeded international inspections.
You have to give Carter credit for one thing, he is persistent in wanting to implement failed policies.
As you can see there were various factors that led to the failed 1994 Agreed Framework. Was it Clinton's fault? Even though the policy failed I don't see it as being Clinton's fault because due to the circumstances he had no choice but to cut the deal. This issue has taken on it's current political context solely because of next months elections. None of this rhetoric is helpful in actually resolving the crisis but since when have politicians cared more about solving issues over protecting their own political power?
So what do I think it going to happen? Kim Jong-il counted on sanctions before he decided to test his nuke and knew that the international community would condemn him including China and South Korea. Even though he would be condemned for the test, Kim Jong-il gambled that China and South Korea would still protect him from sanctions that would lead to the end of his regime like a naval blockade. I would love to see a naval blockade because I doubt the North Korean regime would last a year if a naval blockade is implemented. However, all signs are that the South Koreans and Chinese will not support a blockade and I find it unlikely the US would implement a blockade without a UN Security Council Resolution.
So what does this mean? Well it means that North Korea will get hit by increased sanctions, but China will keep the oil flowing and the South Koreans will keep the food and fertilizer coming in because neither country wants to deal with a collapse North Korea. China doesn't want a possible war or a humanitarian crisis to threaten their hosting of the 2008 Olympics and the South Koreans do not want to pay both the financial and social costs that reunifying with North Korea would cost plus the possibility of war would devestate the peninsula. Plus the North Koreans will be allowed to keep bringing in hard currency through their weapons sales, counterfeiting, and other illicit activities without a naval blockade, which means that the Kim Jong-il regime will survive with more time to develop and perfect their nuclear weapons, while our political leaders aided by the irresponsible US media continue to play politics and blame each other for the crisis, which is just what Kim Jong-il counted on.All done!
This is a great story of how love and loyalty overshadowed the vile Westboro Baptist Church.
Baghdad resident Omar from Iraq the Model:
When the statistics announced by hospitals and military here, or even by the UN, did not satisfy their lust for more deaths, they resorted to mathematics to get a fake number that satisfies their sadistic urges.He's right - in inflating their claims beyond any level a reasonable person could believe they've trivialized the issue of actual deaths in Iraq - an issue that's far from trivial. Read the whole thing (which of course includes comments from American leftists telling Omar - in Baghdad - why he's wrong).
This fake research is an insult to every man, woman and child who lost their lives.
Damn fine responses, all. Too bad you'll be seeing those other numbers cited from now until infinity. (Or until next year's release of the six billion figure...)
Speaking of infinity, I'd like to apologize for the harsh tone of my comments on the original post. It's just... that damn Johnson...
Oh hell, there I go again. And with a tip of the hat to Dadmanly, I propose we adopt the phrase "sorry man... it's just... that damn Johnson! as our own slogan for just such occasions. One - it fits, and two, even if you don't know the reference it just sounds funny anyhow.