Saturday, January 29, 2005
Biography can be boring and resumes can be padded. But, there are some things which lend credibility to the unknowns we encounter on the Web. I've attempted to do a bit of that with my web page: www.thunderchief.org. And, I'll freely admit to not being an "org"--but .com was already taken.
You'll find a bit more about flying jets and what I've done over the years and a lot less about my political positions. There's background on my books, review links, a bit about my past, and links to Amazon.com where you could (if you had an insatiable curiosity) buy the books or simply read what readers have posted regarding the stories.
Drop by if you've got the time or the curiosity.
It seemed appropriate to offer a bit of a response to the editors on their positon:
The Post editorial “That Sturdy First Amendment” (1/29/05) misses a significant portion of the Ward Churchill brouhaha. While Churchill certainly does have a First Amendment right to speak out against the evils of America and his university has the cloak of “Academic Freedom” to permit his espousal of anti-establishment positions, even the students that I faced while teaching political science classes in the local community college were expected to display a much greater level of academic rigor in presenting their positions.
The outrage expressed by the students, parents and contributors of
Maybe it was the statement that a half million Iraqi children died as a result of US targeting of water supplies and sewage facilities in a “counter-infrastructure” bombing campaign of Desert Storm. There’s plenty of documentation of the bombing campaign to demonstrate the focus on command/control, air defenses, communications and lines of communication in the forward operating areas.
Or possibly that the “Highway of Death” bombing was not fleeing Iraqi Army units and supply vehicles but some sort of “conscripted civilian workers”? Or possibly my favorite because I’m a retired USAF fighter pilot with more than 250 combat missions, “The men who flew the missions against the WTC and Pentagon were not "cowards." That distinction properly belongs to the "firm-jawed lads" who delighted in flying stealth aircraft through the undefended airspace of
Dr. Churchill has a First Amendment right to his opinions, but a University that hopes to achieve academic respect has a right to demand that senior faculty, department chairs, and top administrators address issues with discipline. Facts aren’t required for First Amendment protection. But, facts and rigor are expected of academics. Expecting the state of
Friday, January 28, 2005
Now, none of those accomplishments have been perfect. "Sovereignty" as bestowed upon the interim administration in Iraq is more nominal than actual. There's not nearly enought legitimacy, very little truly established authority and even less of wide-spread acceptance. But, it is a step and it certainly doesn't smack of occupation or American imperialism.
What many choose to ignore is the fact that Iraq as a nation is a modern contrivance. Sometimes these post-colonial constructs work and sometimes, as in the case of Yugoslavia, they are abject failures. Having a first-world power declare borders and "nation-hood" while generally ignoring tribal, cultural, religious and language differences has been common in the 20th century and few places demonstrate the short-sightedness better than Iraq.
The Shia, Sunni, Kurds and other components of modern Iraq have a long history of distrust and dislike. They may succeed, if the leadership emerges that helps them to understand the advantages of sublimating their religous and tribal differences while seeking the greater political good of nation-building and democracy. Hands-across-the-aisle efforts in building the first elected government have a potential for success. Insuring that the Shiite majority doesn't establish overwhelming control to the detriment of the Sunni and Kurdish populations is a good start. Established representation of minority components of the nation might not be the purest implementation of democratic process but is one with a lot of potential for success.
The thuggish terrorists will be doing their damndest this weekend to upset the elections, but from this viewer's perspective, they won't succeed. There will be an election. There will be accusations of fraud. There will be loss of lives and terrorist acts. And, predictably, there will be a lot of Americans (mostly in the US Congress) who will highlight the shortcomings and downplay the successes. But, there will be democracy of a form established and progress on the road to nationhood.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
War is never easy. Losses are part of war and the inability to forecast what tomorrow or even the next second will bring to the battlefield is not a simple cliche about the "fog of war"--it is a reality. Are we winning "hearts and minds" in Iraq, in Saudi, on the Arab Street or even in central Europe? Yes. Are we alienating former allies, hardening prospective terrorists and destroying good will worldwide? Well, yes again.
The essential question is whether the balance is more of one than the other. Time will tell, but the goals enunciated by the President in his recent inaugural address seem well worth supporting. Arguing against the establishment of democracy to replace authoritarianism is pretty futile and supporting oppression over freedom is ludicrous.
Here's a quote that many fighter pilots I've known had engraved on plaques that hung in their offices and homes:
“War is an ugly thing, but it is not the ugliest of things; the decayed and
degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is
worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to
fight, nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety, is a miserable
creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by better men
John Stuart Mill