The Course is Stayed. Orwellian Style. ©

Since George W. Bush was selected, the comparison has been clear.  George W. Bush channels author, George Orwell.  Laws that deny citizens their right to privacy are titled, “The Patriot Act.”  A unilateral attack on Iraq, an attempt to “change the regime” is declared, “spreading democracy.” 

Just as Bush senior coined the phrase, “collateral damage” to define the loss of innocent lives during the previous Persian Gulf War, Baby Bush does the same.  The two play with words.  They each plot to gain strength and resources in the oil rich Middle East, and call their endeavors “compassionate.”

While the litany of lexicons is ample and I might submit many for your consideration, I will focus only on the most recent, our change in tactics.  You may recall the strategy is the same.

Bush Won’t Change Iraq Strategy.
Associated Press.

President Bush conceded Friday that “right now it’s tough” for American forces in Iraq, but the White House said he would not change U.S. strategy in the face of pre-election polls that show voters are upset.

With Republicans anxious about the potential loss of Congress – and with conditions seemingly deteriorating in Iraq – Bush addressed the question of whether he would alter his policies.

“We are constantly adjusting our tactics so that we achieve the objective, and right now it’s tough, it’s tough,” Bush said in an Associated Press interview. . . .  Despite calls for change, Bush said, “Our goal has not changed. Our goal is a country that can defend, sustain and govern itself, a country that which will serve as an ally in this war.  Our tactics are adjusting.” 

Were it not so painful to experience, the Bush presidency would be my pleasure.  After all, it provides ample humor to [the demeaning term often used to identify Democrats] an intellectual.

I invite you to enjoy the rhetoric, reflect, and realize, the past is the present.  We live in 1984 on an Animal Farm.  In 2006 this is the World According to George.

I ask you to delve more deeply into the universe.  The Sandwichman at MaxSpeak offers a glorious assessment of the course, the discourse.  Please enjoy Stay the (Dis)Course.

Learning to love Big Brother George W. Bush channels George Orwell,Daniel Kurtzman. San Francisco Chronicle. Sunday, July 28, 2002
Bush Won’t Change Iraq Strategy. Associated Press. Military Advantage. October 21, 2006
Animal Farm. George Orwell
1984 George Orwell

War in the Wind, Blast Buries New York City Building ©

9/11 Photograph, By Ted S. Warren, Associated Press.
WABC News. Photograph July 10, 2006.

A building in New York City is buried.  Fires are blazing.  It is highly possible people were killed or injured.  The public speculates.  Could it be a bomb blast, an act of terrorism, homegrown or international?  Might the cause be a gas leak or an electrical explosion?  Perhaps, it is a crime of vengeance.  Early on, suicide was not considered.  For me, while the cause is important, it pales in comparison to the fact.

War is in the air; it blows with the wind.  Acts of violence travel.  They cannot be isolated or contained to lands far from our shores.  If we accept war anywhere, we consent to it here.  Warfare is not a concept; it is concrete.  Combat comes easily to the minds of men or women in conflict.  Witness today, yesterday, and everyday.  We as a nation are at war.  While the struggle is far from our shores, it looms large in our collective psyche.

Our leaders reassure us, and on the surface, Americans accept the façade they present.  [Some] Americans love when Bush bellows and Cheney chants, “We will confront them overseas so we do not have to confront them here at home.”  Americans applaud this non-sequitur logic.  They surmise war can be isolated and they are insulated.  In 2004, that was the battle cry.  There were no terrorist attacks on American shores since September 11, 2001.  Therefore, the theory was proposed, President Bush and his hawkish policies protected us.  Many accepted this as true.

They then cast their ballots for this magnificent man.  They gave the Bush, Cheney team their mandate, or so that is how the Administration framed it.  Again, and again the Emperor exclaimed he had capital to spend and he spent it.  Thus, we have the cost of war.

Causalities abound; the numbers are climbing.  Iraqi civilians are raped, maimed, murdered; yet, they do not count.  They are merely collateral damage.  Citizens of the United States remain safe, sane, or so it appears.  Thus, we support our President and allow him to continue in office.

However, in our heart-of-hearts, we know; America is not out of harm’s way.  We recognize war is in the wind.  When a building explodes or implodes in New York City, we all panic with reason.  Citizens understand what they never wish to express.  As long as we accept war is an option, we are admitting that it can and will touch us, just as it affects our “enemies.”  No one is sheltered from the scars combat causes.

King George II cannot protect and defend America from farther feuds; nor can Cheney or Rumsfeld.  These lovelies created what comes closer.  With thanks to our beloved President and his Cabinet, the possibility of war within the United States is real.

For now, the prospect settles only in the recesses of our minds, and on drawing boards elsewhere.  Still, we all know the threat is valid.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can rant and rage about States rights; yet, she too has no power to guard against the aggression she helped to promote.

Once the notion is placed on the table, the tremors will be felt throughout the globe.  No man is an island; nor can any of us ever be insulated or isolated.

After receiving many replies to this treatise, I realized that what might be so obvious to me, the writer, is not apparent, to many a dear reader.  Perchance I was not clear in my communication.

Possibly some are so offended by this Administration and the ample accusations; terrorists are everywhere, they missed my message.  Those persons, and admittedly, typically I am among these, distrust Bush and the Bunch so much, that they see any talk of terrorism as a means for distracting Americans from the real issues.

There are those that awoke hours after the initial blasts.  They already read and heard the theories.  These individuals knew the explosion was likely a suicide attempt.  Therefore, these bookworms thought I was telling tales.  I was stirring the National Security soup of the day.  For these persons, I was making an issue of what was nothing more than a “normal” event in the course of any day.

Numerous persons are concerned even consumed with an exit strategy.  They want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  An event in a single day is not their focus.  These individuals might not question the entrance into war per se.  They struggle with the constant loss this conflict brings.  They may think stuff happens; hostilities occur, related to Iraq or not.

I am repeatedly reminded, that as a whole, most people think war is an option, the one of last resort; however, the alternative is often considered acceptable.

Conceivably, that may be the challenge.  When I wrote this treatise, I was speaking of my truth.  For me, “War is not an option, not now or ever!”  I do not think terrorism is a reason for combat.  I believe slavery, genocide, homicide, rape, and racism were not the causes of wars in the past.  Economic power and the desire for supremacy are, in my mind, the rationale behind battles and bickering.

For me, the blast was a reminder of where we have been.  It is where we still are.  On this planet, war is in the wind!  It has been for centuries.

For those that rose hours after investigations began, they could again sink into the comfort of complacency.  For the many that bash-Bush, more power to you.  I was not denying the validity of your beliefs.  I share these.  My only question was and is, why is war an option, ever?  I believe that if it is in the wind in the East, it will be in the air traveling westward.

We can sit in the comfort of our cushy chairs.  We can profess how terrible the terrorist are or how awful the insurgent Bush is.  However, as long as we, Americans, allow for and accept war as an option, on our shores or on those aboard, then we can never know with certainty where the next strike will hit.  I think this is why those on the streets at the time of the blast were shaken.

When I penned this missive, I was speaking to the stress exhibited by those there, near the building in New York City.  I was also addressing my own eternal anxiety.  Why is violent behavior ever an option?  Even now, believing the cause of the blast was an attempted suicide does not ease my mind.  Why do we aggressively strike out and hurt others or ourselves?

I hope this communiqué helps to clarify my intent.  Perhaps, those that felt confused will re-visit the message.

Please Peruse the Possibilities When War is in the Wind.

Four-Story Building Collapses on East Side of Manhattan, New York Times. The Associated Press. July 10, 2006
New York building collapses, burns, CNN News. July 10, 2006
At least 11 injured in Manhattan building collapse, By Wil Cruz, Lauren Johnston and Chick Benett. July 10, 2006
UPDATE 2-Building collapses in New York City, Reuters. July 10, 2006. 9:59am ET
President Bush Discusses Progress in the War on Terror July 12, 2004
Policies in Focus. National Security Strategy, The White House.
Cost of War.
Iraq Body Count.
Bush has a big agenda for 2005, By David Gregory, Chief White House correspondent. NBC News. December 30, 2004
President Holds Press Conference. “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” November 4, 2004
Iraq insurgency in ‘last throes,’ Cheney says, CNN News. Monday, June 20, 2005
Iraq: Collateral damage, By Ashok Mitra. India Limited. March 25, 2003
Bush Began to Plan War Three Months After 9/11. Book Says President Called Secrecy Vital. By William Hamilton. Washington Post. Saturday, April 17, 2004
How Many Dead Iraqis? Guessing about collateral damage. By Fred Kaplan. Slate.Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Strictly Confidential. Likely Humanitarian Scenarios. United Nations Document.  December 10, 2002
Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?, By Tim McGirk, Baghdad. Time Magazine. March 19, 2006, PDF version
The Promise of Democratic Peace, Why Promoting Freedom Is the Only Realistic Path to Security. By Condoleezza Rice. The Washington Post. Sunday, December 11, 2005
Remarks at the American University in Cairo, By Secretary Condoleezza. Rice Cairo, Egypt. June 20, 2005
“America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, and to make their own way.”
The Iran Plans,
Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. April 17, 2006
North Korea missles rattle European markets, El Financiero en línea. July 5, 2006

Why the War? ©

Ironically, cosmically, I love these connections, moments ago a friend asked, “Why did we go to war in Iraq?”  This man is proudly a Republican, a conservative, and one whose views, at times, differ from my own.  I presented many options, among these, oil.  This fine fellow stated, “No, not possible; oil is a commodity.  We would not go to war to steal what is traded.”  We continued chatting.  We wondered aloud, what were the true motivations for this “engagement.”

Minutes passed; my email arrived, and there is was, here it is the parallel universe is partaking . . .

Volunteer Armed Forces Or Victims Of Vouchers ©

Are American armed forces a collection of volunteers, or, are most, the victims of vouchers?  We, as a nation, turn to the poor; the hopeless, to those that feel helpless, and we ask them to join the armed forces in the name of patriotism.  Yet, most do not feel particularly patriotic; they do not endorse a war that was instigated on false premises.  Few feel loyal to a country that let them down, one that did not provide for all equally.

Many of these disheartened grew up in substandard housing.  Millions of them have received a less than adequate education.  For some, their race is not treated with respect; for others their religious practice is not honored.  Nonetheless, this country asks these individuals to serve.  A nation that shows little if any reverence for the disadvantaged wants them to enlist.  Knowingly, these men and women refuse.  They decline to place their own lives on the line, the frontline.  The do not wish to tempt fate and this is why recruiting numbers are down.

The youth of American and even those slightly older, those that are now being offered enticements, do not long to be among the hundreds of thousands that leave their homes for a far away place.  Life in a land of war is not their preference.  Coming back to the States with a chest full of medals does not appeal to them.  Numerous have observed, first-hand, that often, a decorated uniform only hides the scars beneath it.

Our less privileged men and women do not wish to return home safely in a body bag.  These men and women do not desire a life of doubt or possible death.  The poor and less fortunate youth of America do not yearn for a career of misfortune.  A flag-draped coffin is not the future they hope for.  For the first time, the Army and Marines admit, for the entire year, recruitment objectives were not met.

Yet, there are appearances to be kept.  We as a country must allude to patriotism; we must establish a sense of strength.  Our citizens must impress upon others that we are a united front.  To this end, the Pentagon proselytizes.

Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine recruiters attempt to convince the youth to serve their country; they ask the youthful to join the armed forces voluntarily.  However, as the wars linger on, garnering “volunteers” is a struggle.

When recruiters cannot induce induction, cannot entice enlistees, they resort to rewards.  The Department of Defense is turning to Congress; asking for further funding.  Armed forces wish to offer rewards to those that relent.  The military hopes that the dire straits of the poor, the helpless, and the hopeless will work to their advantage.  The armed forces are banking on the belief that struggling souls will choose to be victims of vouchers.

Therefore, the armed services are asking Congress to approve as much as $40,000 in bonuses.  The current benefit of $20, 000 is no longer enough; $20 thousand can buy a car; but it cannot buy a soldier.  The cost of war is great and growing greater; lives are at stake.  Perhaps, $50,000 would be better; this amount would help new troops purchase a house.  Nevertheless, novice soldiers will pay for this prosperity.  To receive these benefits individuals are required to enlist for eight long years.  They are obliged to leave their families, to leave their homes, to leave the safety and security that we all covet.  These soldiers are required to give their hearts, souls, and possibly, probably their lives to military service.

For the most part, this nation’s armed forces are not literally “volunteer”; they are not a group of unpaid helpers.  They are a collection of the coerced; cash is the catalyst for their action.  The military seeks out those in need and then offers them money, lots, and lots of loot!  For hard cash seems to quiet the nerves of the reluctant, or at least it allows a person to forget what they are truly facing.

These poor and hopeless are our strength, our numbers, our soldiers, and our troops and thus, we support them.  We buy their patriotism and create a second-class, those that are victims of vouchers.

I offer the thoughts of others and references that document the disparity among our troops.

Army Recruiting More High School Dropouts to Meet Goals, By Eric Schmitt

This is an excellent yet, frightening piece, The Children’s Crusade by Jennifer Wedekind, In These Times

Military Families Speak Out About Recruiting Practices; Families Say ‘Examine the Real Problem — Call for A Stand-Down on the War in Iraq

Reluctant Warriors, Recruitment Shortfall ©

In a Memorial Day service President Bush referred to America as a nation of “reluctant warriors.” Recent endeavors to enlist soldiers validate this claim.  NBC Nightly News reports, “For the first time, Army and Marine Corps officials are privately admitting they’ll probably miss their overall recruiting target for the entire year.”

Vigorous attempts were made to lure recruits.  Age restrictions were altered, educational requirements were reduced, pay, and benefits were increased, and still, there are few takers.  Incentives and enticements are ample.  Yet, only handfuls wish to enlist.  Recruiters find great reluctance even among the poor and the black.  In the past, these groups were more likely to volunteer.  These men and women were prepared to sacrifice their lives, merely for a chance to survive, financially.  However, this too has changed.

One Army official stated the outlook is “bleak.”  The war on terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq have taken a physical and emotional toll.  While the Pentagon, the Whitehouse, and the media have attempted to hide the true cost of war, we know.

Though photographs of the wounded and fallen have rarely been seen, we see what they do not wish to acknowledge.  Many of us have family, friends, or acquaintances that have been severely affected by the wars.  Lives have been lost, limbs too.  Hospital wards are filled with soldiers whose vision is permanently impaired; yet, for them, the image of war is vivid.  They may not tell their tales aloud, the pain is too great, yet we hear them.

Our young citizens do not wish to create their own stories of woe; they will wait to join the armed forces.  They will join when there is no threat of war.  Yes, America is a country of reluctant warriors, possibly, more so now than ever before.

The Army has missed its recruiting target for four straight months.  In May, the numbers were off by 25 percent; there were 1700 less recruits than needed.  Actually, the Army lessened its goal based on the previous months lull.  Had the original objective of 8,000 recruits for May been sustained, there would have been a 38 percent shortfall.

The Army National Guard has also repeatedly failed to meet its directives.  In the month of May, they fell short by 20 percent.  While unwilling to release specific numbers, Marine Corps officials say, they have not met their objectives for the last five months.  This is the first time in a decade that the Marines have experienced a truth such as this.

For months, recruiting has been in question.  Reports quietly reveal shortfalls; however, these are always accompanied by a barely plausible explanation.  American citizens are told not to worry; volunteers will enthusiastically join the armed services.  Many wish to serve their country, and they will come forward.  Countless men and women want to protect America from harm.  Patriotism is on the rise.  Can we trust these pronouncements?

President Bush proudly proclaims,  “Because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, two terror regimes are gone forever, freedom is on the march, and America is more secure.”  In spite of these words, there is the news.  There are reports of terrorism.  Afghanistan is said to be a breeding ground.  Pakistan is training more.  Suicide bombings are a daily event in Iraq, and there are divisions within a new and supposed democracy.  It is said that a civil war is inevitable.  Nonetheless, our government wants us to believe that “freedom is on the march.”

Mr. Bush declares, “America is more secure.”  However, those of us at home do not necessarily feel more secure.  There are red, orange, and yellow alerts.  Offices in Washington DC are evacuated; people are in fear of a small plane approaching.  Pockets are emptied and shoes removed in order to board jumbo jet.  President Bush tours the country; he tells the people that the Patriot Act is essential.  Mr. Bush wants this law to be permanently adopted!  The loss of privacy will become our standard, all in the name of national security.  Are we more secure?

Continually, the President and the Pentagon say that this will be a long protracted war; there is no end in sight.  Officials speculate and contemplate while bombs continue to blast.  There is no known exit strategy and the reason for entering Iraq was likely contrived.

Thus, we wonder.  What is true?  Are we a nation of reluctant warriors or a country reluctant to trust?  Is this war wise and do we want to engage?  Yes, there are reluctant recruits, those that do not desire to be warriors.  They are hesitant to believe that this war will ever end and they do not wish to lose their lives, their limbs or more, for what may not bring freedom or make us more secure.

Please visit the thoughts of Steve Soto, from The Left Coaster.  He discusses As Iraqi Army Flounders, US Army On Verge Of Staffing Crisis.