Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August Heat

August is the month of the year when weird things seem to happen. Maybe it is the heat. Maybe it is the fact most populations in northern continental climates go on vacation and things are allowed to hang out – Napoleon and Obama were both born under the sun sign of Leo. Other than that, about the only things these two personalities have in common are that both possess a sharp intellect, both pursue mighty power while young and both have the ability to take action; brains and action are a rarity in political leadership.

The history on Napoleon has been written; on Obama, it has not yet been written. Important figures in the 20th century who fit this intellect/action mold are General MacArthur, Teddy Roosevelt, Churchill, Lenin, Trotsky and DeGaulle. Obama has a steep mountain to climb. For better or worse, or for good or bad, he has the self-generating spark to drive him high.

The world is packed with intellectuals who like to cast sophist bullets, but wet their pants at the prospect of shooting them – they are unnerved by implementation. At the same time there is an over-abundance of those bubbling with testosterone, who are inherently drawn to action, thoughtlessly driven by Darwinian instinct; GW Bush, VEEP Cheney and, of course, Bomb Bomb McCain along with Rocky Balboa, are modern examples. This gang is useful to use to chase after the mechanical rabbits, but are incapable of devising policy that ever makes sense. They thunder action first and then try desperately to devise policy to support their follies. This group still cannot define victory in Iraq or Afghanistan despite the fact they are up to their ears in death and destruction for over seven years. They are of the school that is READY, FIRE, AIM.

Classic example of this modus operandi was illustrated by a statement made by Richard Perle, a member of the Neocon Sandhedrin. After shock and awe and the US invasion of Iraq, he said that now there was no turning back. He understood that once the US was trapped into spilling blood and treasure, inherent American patriotism would kick in and blindly push to victory, albeit undefined. The early 19th century US naval hero Stephen's Decatur's toast, MY COUNTRY RIGHT OR WRONG still works to get the American nationalist juices flowing.

Richard Perle represents the more contemptible elements of American society. He was a prime mover in the invasion of Iraq and is now tangled in oil deals with the Kurds that are illegal and undercut the Iraqi central government; he is a merchant of death. And he cynically used a foolish GW Bush who said he was told by God to invade Iraq.

There was a corollary to Decatur's quote made later in 1872 by Carl Schurz, a US senator from Wisconsin. It went like this, MY COUNTRY RIGHT OR WRONG; IF RIGHT, TO BE KEPT RIGHT; IF WRONG, SET IT RIGHT. This mocks the chauvinism of men like Bomb Bomb McCain and should be recalled the next time Bomb Bomb recites his I ALWAYS WILL PUT MY MY COUNTRY FIRST mantra. He certainly did not when he was a POW and supported enemy propaganda. He is a real piece of work.

This August was the time GW Bush finally succeeded in getting a terrorist conviction at Guantanamo. The man was convicted of supporting terrorism. His name was Hamden, the Yemenese driver of Bin Laden. He was not captured on the battlefield. There is no proof he killed anyone or conspired to do so; he dutifully led his captors to places where he drove Bin Laden

Apart from the the legality and constitutionality of military tribunal proceedings, you must challenge the Administration's judgment on the massive effort expended to fry such a small fry. Does this mean Bin Laden's barbers, tailors and sandal makers are on the terrorist list? GWB probably will go down as the worst president in the US, but there is no question he will go down as the most absurd. He is now cheerleading the US Olympic team in Beijing while his father, Bush 41, plays ping pong with Chinese dwarfs... guess once a cheerleader always a cheerleader.

In 1960s the Army switched from the khaki Eisenhower Jacket and officer Pinks and Greens to the current Army Green uniform. As I was stationed in Southern Germany at the time. I bought a bolt of regulation wool elastic material at the PX and gave it to an old German tailor living near my kaserne.

Since I had to visit the tailor several times for fittings, I got to know him well. He was close to seventy and told me that the most exciting moment in his life was when he was the personal tailor to SS Leader Reinhard Heydrich – aka by Germans: THE BLOND BEAST; and by others as HEYDRICH THE HANGMAN. He was second in command to Himmler and was reputed to be the author of the final solution which led to the murder of millions of Jews in Europe. He was a monster. Our tailor was not. Today, until the US learns to discriminate among entities and perceived enemies more wisely, the Jihadists will not be subdued.

The BLOND BEAST was killed in Prague by Czech partisans in 1942. SS retaliation was fierce – over a thousand Czechs were killed: the Czech mining village of Lidice was obliterated; every male over 16 was shot; women and children were sent to concentration camps; and Jews who were already rounded up were sent quickly to extermination camps.

The German tailor proudly embroidered his name in the inside pocket of my blouse. It was a beautifully tailored uniform and I wore it until it was thread bare; it was certainly singular. The top button was just a little high; the pocket flaps were just a little over designed. All this gave the uniform an almost JE NAI SAIS QUOI... Often wondered why a senior officer never called me on it. Sometimes a little non-conformity is good for the soul, especially in a hierarchical organization.

It is August, and Bin Laden's driver has been in jail for over five years. One has to wonder how my German tailor would have survived under the sanctimonious GW Bush and his Blood-in-the-Eye neocons. Throwing out the most serious charges, the US military court and naval judge let Hamden off lightly with time served – maybe the Pentagon is coming to its senses after 7 long years of deadly robotic foolishness... a little non-conformity by the military establishment is good for the country especially if the political leadership is clueless. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.


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