Thursday, May 18, 2006

Are Alligators Green?

I haven't really blogged much about a book I referenced in a couple of comments on other blogs going back a few months ago called "Stolen Valor" by BG Burkett. The author, a Vietnam vet himself, documents the history of misconception regarding Vietnam vets, the war they fought, and what the world has come to know them as. It is a well written, thoroughly researched, and carefully footnoted tome. Needless to say, what you read will shock you. Why? Because we are all conditioned thinkers, myself included, and conditioned thought is a tough nut to crack. Think you’re not a conditioned thinker? Ask yourself this, before I created the context, did you believe alligators to be green?

Michael Yon writes about this in his most recent post from Afghanistan. Yon grew up in Florida and in addition to being a student of all of nature’s creatures, he lived amongst gators all his life. Yon’s been in Afghanistan for a month now and his experience so far contradicts what we see in the MSM. He is very concerned about plans to begin drawing down US troops in the fall and having them replaced by UN forces. He points to a bumper crop of opium about to harvest as a big part of what he sees as a potential backslide into chaos there. This concerns me to no end because I place a great deal of faith in what Michael writes, and what he writes contradicts my perceptions up to this point. I must wrestle with my preconceptions and accept the reality. I think Donald Rumsfeld and the American people ought to do so as well. Yon is calling for the MSM to pay attention and asks them to dig deeper about the goings on in Afghanistan and I echo his thoughts. We have facilitated big positive changes there, but it will be all for not if we don’t pay attention to this “Forgotten War”.

We can ill afford to claim victory prematurely in Afghanistan and pull our troops out too early without giving the new government a chance to secure the country for themselves in both Iraq or Afghanistan. As Michael quotes Gen. Galloway as saying in an earlier post, “When U.N. troops start taking casualties, U.N. Troops go home…”. This is, after all, where the 9/11 bombing plot was hatched. Even the most dove minded amongst us should be behind this train of thought. Let’s not NOT learn something from the “Mission Accomplished” fiasco. Letting Afghanistan degenerate would simply be disastrous.

I’ll leave you with Yon’s final thoughts:

"Misunderstanding the nature of the beast is the root cause of a lot bad decisions. This “Green Gator Phenomena” applies to a lot current situations. For example, no matter what the press says, we are making tremendous progress in Iraq. And no matter what the press says, Afghanistan is a growing problem. Getting a lot of people to say otherwise won’t change the facts, but it might cause some to make bad decisions based on a totally wrong commonly held 'truth'.”

P.S. For those who don't read the linked post, alligators are actually black when they are wet, and gray when dry. Don't feel bad, I thought they were green too.


At 3:19 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

So, if I'm reading you right, what you are suggesting is that not only should we continue the war in Iraq, but send over even more troops to deal with Afghanistan.

I cannot support any further military involment in the middle east on the part of the U.S. - despite what madness awaits.

It is not feasable that the U.S. should fight every malignant faction or government on earth.

So they have a huge crop of dope, what of it? That is nothing new.

My conception, or misconception, is that the use of force only fuels the fire that is rampaging through the middle east.

It cannot come to any good.

At 4:58 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Chrispy said...

Are you suggesting we bomb Florida?

Because I could get behind that.

At 5:31 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

First off, despite what your feelings are about the war in Iraq, our military intervention in Afghanistan was more than justified and warranted. Remember, it was where Al Qaeda and the Taliban actually were based out of. While I can understand why you and others might have your issues about our involvement in Iraq, NOTHING should bother you about making war with an enemy that attacked us first without provocation and I find it hard to believe that you would characterize our response in Afghanistan as something less than appropriate.

Second, I would HIGHLY recommend you go and read what Mr. Yon has to say about the connection between opium crops and stability in Afghanistan (start with his posts beginning from when he first arrived in country). I will guarantee you will discover that your understanding of it is nothing at all what the reality actually is. This is not a partisan debate at all, it's being informed of the facts of the given situation vs. simply taking a stand on what you think the existing state is. Yon can get you up to speed quickly by reading the posts if you're interested.

Third, what the point of my post was (remember, as is obvious I'm not worlds most eloquent writer), is that most reports coming from the MSM paint a picture of a more stable Afghanistan than what actually exists (as a matter of fact, we don't hear much about it at all). Yon has been asked to be on MSM news shows to validate that things are going smoothly over there and when he's commented that things are tentative at best, down right dangerous at worse, he gets hung up on. Are we being conditioned to think that all has been accomplished in Afghanistan to the point of troop withdrawal? Yon seems to think we are. I believe him. Yon and a couple of these retired Gen. are saying that if we don't place more emphasis on the situation it WILL become news. We have an obligation to stay and help ensure that things move forward there. You're free to disagree with the last statement if you choose, but I'd think if you leave your feelings about Iraq out of it, you'd agree.

I know everybody's busy and you can't read everything that is linked, but (and I could be wrong here) I sometimes think that you may not want to read a guy like Yon because you've predisposed him to be a rabid hawk or arch conservative. While you might find some validation of that on some topics, I think you'd be surprised to find a guy who is ultimately dedicated to the truth. Sometimes that truth fits yours/my predisposition and sometimes it doesn't.

Again, not a partisan debate hear at all. It's about knowing as much as possible about what's really going on.

At 6:25 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Yon states in his run down about living with the alligators that they really aren't a nuiscence to humans but more to doodle dogs. On this, I will choose NOT to take his word and do my damnedest to avoid them at all costs.

I lost many golf balls last week since I refused to take even one step into the woods surrounding the courses. I took many stroke penalties as a result of my fear of getting munched on.

At 12:02 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

"without provocation" - That is debatable.

At 12:03 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Why should I let one guy mold my view - I have a view, and a valid one - you, Yon, nobody will convince me otherwise.

At 1:02 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

I applaud your desire for the truth, as well as Yon's quest for it. I believe that you will find the truth that you look for. Much like GW and Rumsy found the intel they wanted.

I am not misguided by the main stream media - I don't watch television, and I don't read the newspaper, or news magazines. I base my view on purely a historical perspective. That is what I find lacking in US foriegn policy, nobody seems willing to look to the recent past to see why we are where we are.

You say I should have no problem with the initial military response to 9/11 in Afghanistan. Well, yes and no. Taking out the Taliban could have been a good thing, had we had the forsight to do it right. Instead, like Iraq, it wasn't, we only shooed them across the border into Pakistan for a while, but those who weren't caught are back in business, growing dope, buying guns, business as usual.

At some point we have to let these people mind their own business. They attacked us for a reason. As much as you find it attractive to think they are just crazy zelots, there is reasoning in their actions - they resent our presence, our economic pressure (okay so 'Extorting oil' was a bit of a stretch), and yes our way of life that we feel we have to push on everybody.

They don't want our democracy or our cola, playboy, and rock n roll. Those who do come here and drive cabs.

My position remains - leave them alone.

I also think we should publicly abandon Israel, but that will never happen.

At 1:26 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Circy Nightshade said...

Jackson said "leave them alone".

If it were only that simple.
I could agree with the 'live & let live' mindset if the feeling were mutual. Unfortunately that is not the case. They HATE us and have literally devoted their lives to trying to eradicate us.

At 2:48 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Some of them, yes, and they have reasons. I suggest we look a little closer at that.

Fighting fire with fire get's you....more fire.

At 3:37 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Your historical perspective should then include how we and the British left Hitler alone as he made his empty promises about not invading Poland and the rest of Europe.

Without debating Rummy's or the Presidents choice in the matter, leaving rotting situations alone is failed policy as well.

"They don't want our democracy or our cola, playboy, and rock n roll. Those who do come here and drive cabs."

That's just bullshit and perhaps one of the silliest notions you have ever uttered. The fact is they DO want that and it's the zealots who live in the past who hate us for their own people wanting to join the 21st century with it's democracy, freedom, and equality for women and all other the "western" ills that come with it that you list. What did Iraqis do once they were unburdaned by Saddam? They went out and bought SAT TV receivers and got connected to the fucking internet. They bought cars, cell phones, gameboys, washing machines, and all other western evils forbidden or otherwise curtailed by Saddam. We didn't force them to buy these things, they WANTED them. People want to be free Jackson and not have to live in fear of death for wanting to be "Western".

Sure they attacked us for a reason. For inspiring their people to want to live in the 21st century. Our "western" world isn't perfect by a long shot, but it sure beats the world the Taliban had established in Afghanistan and those who wern't amongst the ruling theocarcy (most of the pop.) knew it.

"Why should I let one guy mold my view - I have a view, and a valid one - you, Yon, nobody will convince me otherwise."

I put weight in Yon's posts because he's there, and is unafiliated with any news agency. His travels are completely self funded by himself and personnel donations from his readership. I think this makes him unique amongst his contemporaries. He's also fairly articulate and well schooled in foriegn affairs, but he is only one of many I read. I thought you might be willing to venture outside your comfort zone with a solid recommendation. I guessed wrong.

I'm miffed that you boast about not reading newspapers and not wanting to read anything other than what supports your current opinion on things. That seems to go against rational thought. While in town you talked about creatig a dialog vs. more polorization and partisanship, yet you state a complete unwillingness to even read something that might put your opinion in jepordy. Sounds exactly like the criticism you level against the principles in the current administration.

At 3:50 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Principals, not principles. Sorry.

At 4:05 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

"Your historical perspective should then include how we and the British left Hitler alone as he made his empty promises about not invading Poland and the rest of Europe."

I missed the Afghani invasion of Poland.

And I didn't say do nothing, I said let's listen to them, try to understand their grievences, learn to co-exist.

"I'm miffed that you boast about not reading newspapers and not wanting to read anything other than what supports your current opinion on things"

I don't boast, and I don't only read things that support my view, you have changed my words. I said I don't pay any attention to the main stream media, which is true, I don't.

"yet you state a complete unwillingness to even read something that might put your opinion in jepordy."

I missed the point where I stated anything like that. I said I won't have one guy shape my world view, not the same thing.

Yon may be an entirely credible source of info, maybe the only one, coming out of the Middle East - I have no idea. I'm not there to see for myself.

And how do you know that I haven't read his posts? Because my position has remained the same?

You got me on the whole cola, playboy ect. thing, though, and I conceed that I was oversimplifying the situation with that comment, BUT, I still don't think going over there with guns and blowing stuff up is going to effect a positive change in their attitude toward us.

At 4:08 PM, May 19, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Oh yeah, and I am feeling crappy lately so don't take any of this personal like, I still think you're cute:)

We both feel very passionatley about this issue, and others, so, all due respect, big ups, word to your doodle cats, and all that.....


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