The Best Decision I Have Ever Made

Last month, after ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley and posted the video on the internet, I decided enough was enough. The parade of bad news was an anchor dragging on my sense of well-being. Besides the turmoil in Iraq and Syria, there was news that more than a thousand Russian troops had moved into the Ukraine, there were protests over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Congress left on summer vacation without addressing global warming or immigration (in fact, this Congress addressed little other than their own reelections). Throughout all this, the cacophony of arguments and counterarguments spewed forth on the television and the internet, never ending, rarely slowing, and devouring such cherished aspects of debate as ‘nuance’ and ‘facts.’ All of this served to foster in me feelings of anger, anxiety, frustration, and even a smattering of despair. This is something that had been building for a long time. Politics is nothing if not a soul-sucking enterprise. It never ends. There is never any resolution to the debates. Increasingly, it has turned into a zero-sum game. One side has to win and the other side has to lose. The greater the pain is for the losing side, the better. Continue reading “The Best Decision I Have Ever Made”

No Winners

Politics can wear a person down. The endless push and pull, the lack of continual progress, and the realization that most of our leaders are in it for themselves and their paymasters, is enough to make even the most impassioned observers develop hard hearts. I look at the state of the capital today, and I have a difficult time mustering either enthusiasm or outrage. Politics is what it is. We, the people, are the sucker at the poker table. But, unlike in real life, we cannot just get up and leave. We are trapped here. Continue reading “No Winners”

The Iraq War

Ten years ago today the American military began its invasion of Iraq. Ten years on the war still incenses. Politics today is in the grip of hyper-partisanship. The GOP is blatantly obstructionist, the Democrats flailing as they try to play small ball with legislation and the economy. The rancor in Washington and in the media is poisonous. Our leaders are growing increasingly cloistered in that world of theirs, and seem either blissfully unaware of the damage they’re doing to the country, or, worse, unconcerned. It’s a disheartening time. But, I would rather see a broken government than the one that so efficiently led us into war in Iraq. Continue reading “The Iraq War”

The Iraq War Is Over

This past weekend, the last American troops crossed the border from Iraq into Kuwait. It has been almost nine years since the invasion of Iraq commenced in March of 2003, much of it passing through the same spot on the border the troops crossed on their way home. The costs of the war have been measured and reported, to the point they have become abstractions. 4,800 American and coalition dead, somewhere around 30,000 belligerents dead, over 100,000 civilians dead, and over $800 billion drained from the national coffers. It was a war of choice begun on false pretenses. We toppled a toothless dictator at enormous cost to ourselves in the form of lives, treasure, moral standing, and freedoms at home. We destabilized a region of the world hardly known for its rigidity, and emboldened Iran, one of our more consistent enemies. Continue reading “The Iraq War Is Over”

So the Iraq War Is Over, Right?

Richard Engel was there as the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division (the 4/2 from here on out), poured through the border from Iraq into Kuwait last week. He’d been in and out of Iraq since before the invasion in 2003, and it was fitting that such a public face of the reporting of the war be present as the last combat troops left their theater of operations. The war made his career, and deservedly so. Engel was doing his best to add the proper amount of gravity to what the viewer was seeing on the screen, with ample backup from anchors and retired generals back in the MSNBC studios. The moment of those troops leaving should have been a profound one, but was, per usual, overplayed by the talking heads in the studio. Even Engel was not immune, there on the ground, bearing witness to what could not have been anything less than a true anchor point in his life. He was improvising on the fly, flailing in his attempts to convey to the viewer that what was playing out on screen did indeed have import. But really, it didn’t mean a damn thing. It, like everything else of real consequence in current events, got between the media machine’s efforts to make all stories equally sensational, and a public immune to the gesticulations of an apoplectic, even epileptic, tactic. Continue reading “So the Iraq War Is Over, Right?”

Once More Into the Breach

First off, I have to address past opinions expressed on these pages. I was against the Iraq surge. Back in an article from December of 2006, I wrote, in reaction to the report of the Iraq Study Group, which advocated withdrawal from Iraq, that the report “...does not advocate defeat, rather, it recognizes that defeat has already happened. Any attempt to pretend otherwise does nothing but extend our folly.” Continue reading “Once More Into the Breach”