Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: July 31, 2004, 01:27:56 AM
A friend forwarded this to me.
2003 Newspaper Photographer of the Year Rick Loomis. Rick has written about his experience in Fallujah which I have received via email and posted in full below. Also check out his exceptional images he took in Iraq here.
I finally tried to wash the Marine's bloodstains from my pants the other day. It had been nine days since the battle and a daily dose of dirt and dust had all but masked what I knew lay beneath.
>From the relative comfort of "Dreamland", a reasonably secure U.S. base of operations just outside Fallouja, I swirled my pants around in square metal pan containing four inches of precious water. With each spin around the pan, the water turned a deeper brown. And as the stains of Sgt. Josue Magana's blood became more apparent, I thought back to the day he was shot.
At zero five A.M, just before dawn on April 26th, the Marines of Echo Company was ordered to take two homes on the northwestern edge of Fallouja. For the prior three weeks, since Marines had first moved to cordon off city, there had been constant exchanges of gunfire between U.S. forces and insurgents in the area known as the Jolan Heights. After all, this was Fallouja, heart of the notorious Sunni Triangle, home to the root of U.S. occupation resistance.
The Marines had hoped that theirs would be a 'hearts and minds' mission leading up to the June 30 deadline to hand power over to Iraqis. It turned sour after four American contractors were gruesomely killed on March 31st. Insurgents hung two of their burned and mutilated bodies from a bridge that crosses the Euphrates River. And now the Marines found themselves in the position of battling Iraqi bodies instead of winning over Iraqi hearts and minds.
In their initial push into Fallouja, Marines fought to gain a toe hold in the city, and for Echo Company this consisted of three homes and a school, all within 300 meters of each other. This was now Echo Company's base from which to do battle, and the company hoped to engage insurgents known to be operating in this city of 300,000.
Having gained their toehold, they worked to fortify their positions using sandbags, 24-hour a day watch posts, concertina wire and sniper positions. By the time I arrived to be embedded on the 22nd of April, the neighborhood around them was a ghost town. Most residents had fled the fighting, save for one blind Iraqi man next door whom was dutifully being fed by a Kurdish translator working for the Marines.
In the houses and school, Marines had parked themselves and their gear in every room. M-16 rifles delicately perched against the glass doors of a cupboard holding the family's finest dishware. The luckiest Marines claimed the couches; the rest sprawled out on the floors each night.
Walls that once separated neighbors were broken down to allow easy house-to-house access. Doors were taken off their hinges and laid down to bridge the gaps between the roofs of the houses.
On the roof there were gun positions for M-240 machine guns, a larger .50 caliber machine gun and a Mark 19 grenade launcher. Shoulder fired rockets were also stored on the roof for times of need. Small 'mouse holes' were pounded out of the roof retaining wall allowing snipers to cover key positions as well, with the ability to pick off targets at great distances.
Through one such hole is a clear view down 'sniper alley.' The remnants of battle are apparent. A bullet-riddled car abandoned in the middle of the street. Deep craters where parts of the road used to be. Massive chunks of asphalt strewn everywhere and downed power lines sagging across the roadway. The homes on either side were broken and battered by gunfire. The stench of rotting cows and dogs, who met their deaths in a crossfire, could be detected if the breeze was just right. Nothing stirred on this street anymore.
Also in view from the sniper's nests, just across the cemetery, were objectives A and B, the targets of that tragic morning's raid. The two homes, known as A and B, had been in view for weeks, and it was from there that Marine commanders perceived a daily threat.
* * *
One reinforced platoon of Marines crept through the darkened streets, lining both sides. Only a wail could be heard breaking the silence in the distance - it was time for the Muslim call to prayer. Useless with my camera in the darkness, I fumbled to record the ominous sound with a digital recorder. It was too dark to see the buttons so I gave up - the sum of me nothing but a complete liability at this point.
Up ahead, two squads of men were breaching the homes, breaking down doors to clear the buildings, which were directly across the street from each other. Suspected of being used by insurgents, they approached with caution but discovered they were empty. Marines poured inside objectives A and B, taking up defensive positions and on every floor, a set of eyes on guard from nearly every window. Dawn had come and the cobalt blue sky began to brighten.
It was all starting to seem too easy when an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) smacked the front of the house with a thunderous crash. The walls trembled. If the Marines had started to relax, it put them on alert that someone knew where they were. The Marines returned fire with their M-16's and then there was silence.
Once they knew their presence had been discovered, the men further prepared their defensive postures. Mattresses were upturned to cover windows, bags of rice stacked on top of one another to slow speeding bullets headed into open doors. Holes were sledge hammered through the walls at strategic points to make sniper positions. Then, nothing. Sitting. Waiting . Resting. Drinking. Eating. Nothing. No shots. No enemy sightings. Nothing.
Five hours had passed since the start of the mission and Marines were sprawled out on the floor, catching sleep when they could. I visited the roof briefly to eye the sniper positions. Then down to the bottom floor, looking in on sleeping Marines. Returning to the second floor, I spent many minutes trying to perfectly capture on camera the reflection of a Marine in a bullet -riddled mirror. I too, was bored.
The sleeping Marines stirred a bit as shots rang off in the distance. I sneaked a peek out the window, looking across the graveyard toward the mosque. Nothing. There were reports of seven insurgents, scratch that, six insurgents (one was reported over the radio to have been shot by a U.S. sniper) in the area of the mosque. An incoming mortar round hit the house adjacent to the one we are in and a fire starts to burn from within.
The Marine commanders decided that one squad, about 12 men, should respond to the mosque to the shooting from the mosque area and engage the remaining insurgents. So out of the houses and into the graveyard they flooded, keeping space between them as they slowly moved toward the minaret and the mosque on the other side of the cemetery. The minaret loomed high above, offering an unobstructed view and perfect firing position for a sniper to shoot down on approaching Marines. Short bursts of running, two or three men at a time, edged them closer to the mosque. They stopped for a time to take cover behind headstones, their eyes darted between the windows of the mosque and the minaret overlooking them.
There was no movement or firing as they made their approach. It was bright and hot and quiet. Marines quickly moved in to secure the mosque and the minaret, searching hopelessly for the reported insurgents. Curious, I looked around myself but found no shell casings left behind; no blood and no body. There was only a partially damaged mosque, curtains moving in the breeze that was coming through blown out windows. I began to wonder if anyone had ever been there.
Nonetheless, the complex was thoroughly searched and the men trod back through the cemetery and made their way back to the two houses they had taken in the pre-dawn hours. Things were still quiet at the houses and I felt much less exposed than in the moments prior as I had trailed Marines around and over graves at an accelerated pace. Running thorough a cemetery seems a violation of those lying beneath. I was glad to be back in the house.
It was about the moment I felt the most secure and had the least suspicion that the mission would get any more dangerous when all hell broke loose. The Marines were under a coordinated, full-scale attack. Insurgents had crawled and snuck into positions covering about three hundred degrees on all sides. They let loose a continuous barrage on the house. Marines scrambled to their feet to fight back the ambush. "Roger, we are taking heavy fire. You need to orient to east, over the mosque complex," the confident company commander Capt. Douglas Zembiec barked into the radio without a hint of panic in his voice.
The sound was deafening at times. The rumble of machine guns and the returning loud crack of AK-47 rounds flying toward the building pounded in my eardrums. In the next room a Marine fired his machine gun from the second story window. I was watching the seriousness on his face as he fought the onslaught. At that moment a flash of fiery orange enveloped the room. An RPG had scored a direct hit at head level of the Marine I was photographing. So sudden and violent it was, I only have a blurry frame to serve as a reminder. Only the wall of the home saved him from certain death. He was shocked however, screaming as he was knocked to the ground, stunned from the concussion and deafening roar of the grenade.
He took only a moment to regain composure and assess his emotions. He was clearly pissed. He stood back in the window and began firing with more determination than before. It wasn't long until another RPG crashed into the same position. Insurgent forces were well aware of the Marine's position and were determined to score a kill. The barrels of two M-240 machine guns became so hot from the rapid succession of fire that they melted and seized.
On the roof, another battle was raging. Marines on the roof were in such close contact with the insurgents that the two were lobbing hand grenades back and forth. Shrapnel was shooting all over the roof tearing into Marines fighting there. At least one pickup truck full of 15 to 20 fighters was seen heading into the fight.
At this time, another Marine who had rushed out to a second floor balcony moments earlier yelled, "I'm hit." One of several thousands of rounds fired in the opening 30 minutes of the battle had found its target. He gave an agonizing scream and yelled again that he was hit, hoping someone would rescue him.
Sgt. Nunez threw open the door and rushed out, returning moments later dragging Sgt. Magana across the floor by the grab handle on the back of his flak jacket. Confusion ensued. He was eventually dragged into the room where I was hunkered down. He had been shot through the back and was in severe pain.
While corpsman were concentrating on his injury, I could see that he was beginning to fade. His eyes were empty and began to close. He was mumbling about a letter from his daughter and I'm sure he began to concede that his life could end right there on the floor.
I was compelled to grab his hand and assured him that he would see his daughter once again. I looked him straight in his eye, telling him to look back at me, then squeeze my hand so I knew he was still with me. It was all I knew to do.
I felt caught between being an objective journalist and responding as a human being. I apologized to a news crew that was sharing this horror with , "I have to be a human first," I heard myself saying awkwardly. It was a lesson I had learned early on from a photo professor that had a profound effect on my life.
I shot only a few frames to depict the scene; some right as he was being dragged into the room and then some after he began to stabilize. I felt satisfied that I had both done my job and also done what was right in a potentially life and death situation.
Rounds were cracking off all sides of the building and now a second wounded person made his way to the same doorway. Everything seemed to be unraveling. Here were a group of men, 37 of them in all, that I viewed as courageous warriors, well-trained and well- equipped, and they seemed to be falling one by one right in front of me. I began to wonder: is this it? What if, by sheer numbers and the great desire of those opposed to them, these Marines and myself were about to be gunned down, right here. The stairway to the bottom floor was unguarded from my view. I wondered if all the Marines on the bottom floor were fighting to their last bullets.
For an instant, I imagined the following scenario. As I peered from the doorway, insurgents with AK's are rushing up the stairs, firing at those working on the wounded Sgt. Magana as he lay there in a lifeless state. Three easy kills for the insurgents. What would I do? Would I cower onto the ground, scream "sahafi, sahafi", meaning "journalist, journalist," and hope that at that instant I could separate myself from the Marines. Would I find myself, the barrel of a gun pushing into my skin, begging for my life? Would I be killed instantly, no distinction made, in a hail of gunfire. Or would I pick up a weapon myself and fight for my own life and for the rest of those around me.
These decisions are guttural, instinctive. Every move seems to be analyzed in some split second thought process. When the fight was raging, I was making decisions, based on saving my life and doing my job - in that order.
But at that moment I knew that photographing a gunfight can be like photographing a triple play in baseball. While it's certainly a dramatic moment - a photograph sometimes can't serve to capture the essence of the drama you are witnessing. The pictures of the men shooting out of the window in the next room conveyed little of the life and death intensity of the moment, the sound of gunfire, the smell, the gulping sense of mortality. They could have just as well been during a moment when they were shooting at tin cans in the alleyway.
I knew the bullets were aimed at people who were in turn shooting back at them. But my photographs did not depict the intensity that ultimate sense of risk. But was I going to make a target of myself when at least two men were already shot and RPG's were bouncing off the walls as fast as the men shooting them could reload.
The short answer was no, I would not risk it all for one frame. At this moment I thought of my mom, and how shattered she would be getting that phone call that no mother wants. It would be early morning, in a tiny northern Michigan town, the phone ringing as my mom prepared for work that day. Someone I don't even know would probably deliver the call. No one frame was not worth it.
Just being in this country as a journalist is an elevated risk, I thought to myself. And here I was feeling more exposed to danger than at any point in my career.
A momentary series of thoughts, contemplating the immediate future for myself and those around me, and I was snapped back to the reality of the moment I was already in.
The house was still taking a serious pounding, there were wounded in both the buildings and the insurgents were still bringing a vicious attack. Then I heard a familiar and welcoming sound----two tanks rumbling up the alley. I peered out the only window in that second floor room to photograph them. They were our ride out. But something was terribly wrong. The main gun on one of the tanks was pointed right toward our window. For a split second I thought, "Oh shit, they think WE are the insurgents and they are going to fire on us!"
Friendly fire is a sad fact of warfare and I never believed it possible until I saw it with my own eyes during the march up from Kuwait just 13 months earlier. I wondered if the tanks had been talked onto the right spot, if they knew that those were 'friendlies' staring at them from the window above. I stepped back into the depth of the room, away from the window. A useless move as a main gun tank round would surely obliterate us all no matter where we were standing.
"OK, we are punching out of here now, and we are punching out hard! We are getting everybody out of here ASAP!" yelled one of the commanders standing on the second floor. The tanks were giving us the time and firepower needed to run back down the same alley we had crept through in the pre-dawn hours earlier that day.
The call was made to bring everyone and everything from the top floors down to the first floor. At the same time, the wounded from the building to the north were filtering into our courtyard. Four Marines carried the limp body of Lance Cpl. Aaron Austin into the courtyard. He would be listed as "killed in action" from the fight that day. His heroics would earn him official recognition for his actions - albeit posthumously. Austin, an only son, was shot multiple times in the chest as he attempted to throw a hand grenade from one rooftop to another. Making that throw was the last effort in his life.
Sgt. Magana was already lying on a broken door in the second floor bedroom. The others used it as a litter to carry him downstairs. It was creaking to the point of breaking but made the trip to the bottom floor. Everyone else cleared the rooms and the roof and began to gather in the foyer.
It was a bloody mess. Magana was lying on the door, a look of fear now appearing in his eyes. And Lance Cpl. Lucas Sielstad, merely 18, a wiry but tough Marine by all accounts, had bandages on his right arm soaked through with blood. His pants were ripped by medical sheers from the waist down to treat a shrapnel wound on his leg and he was bleeding from his lip. He looked tired and stunned, but there he was, still standing.
Another Marine came down from the roof with a haphazardly tied rag wrapped around his bleeding head. He was suffering from wounds in at least a couple other places. Still, he was calm and alert, and oddly a bit saddened by not being able to finish the fight.
The move to evacuate called for us to trace our steps back the same way we came. One by one, we hustled through the door into the courtyard. For a moment, I felt like a skydiver taking his first leap out the door of the plane. I felt so vulnerable out there, wishing for the cover of darkness that had offered some protection earlier that morning.
The courtyard was hemmed in by walls 7 feet-high shrouding us from view to anyone on the streets outside. But the Marines were an easy target for gunmen on the second story or rooftops of any of the surrounding houses.
Crouching low and near the wall, my instinct was to run for it. To break free and run, not wait behind all the Marines in front of me exiting in some sort of formation. We were all bunched up in the courtyard and it felt like time was of the essence for getting out of this.
What seemed like hours passed before my turn to exit was in reality probably less than two minutes. One by one we filed out and hustled down the street. I did not know exactly from what direction the firing was coming from - or how much was incoming or outgoing. I just knew it was heavy and I wanted to get back to a place of relative comfort.
My gear seemed so heavy and awkward as I approached the gate leading to the street. And in addition, I was also asked to carry several 203-grenade rounds in a blood-soaked pouch that was taken off a wounded Marine. But when the two Marines in front of me finally moved, I bolted out behind them.
Along the wall we ran beside, about halfway down the block there was a 4-foot gap that offered anyone in the houses to the west a clear shot at us. Any sniper would have to anticipate when a Marine might pass this gap but it made me worry. A scene from the movie "Enemy at the Gates" popped into my head, which depicted celebrated WWII Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev popping off targets at will. Why a movie scene found its way to the front of my head I don't know.
What I do know is that when it was my turn to expose myself for that half second, I hesitated my step so as not to pass with exact same frequency as the Marines ahead of me. The well-trained and well-disciplined sniper waiting for the perfect shot was a figment of my imagination. But the rest of the gunfire all around was real.
We were almost home free, as we had successfully run the gauntlet down the entire block. I could see the school in my view, less than two hundred meters away. When I crossed the street there were three Marines struggling to carry a wounded comrade the rest of the way to the school. One of them motioned me over as I approached their position, slowing my run. He asked me to help carry him the wounded man. For a split second I thought, "Are you crazy, my job right now is to run like hell so I can live to do the job another day."
The split second happened about the time I was grabbing the injured Marine by his right shoulder and arm. Along with three others we ran him to the schoolhouse, a fairly fortified structure. His legs were inside the door two steps up, and I tried to ease him in but he was being pulled too fast from the other end. He escaped my grasp and the grasp of the Marine carrying his other arm. His limp head hit the concrete step with a thud, the least of his problems at the moment.
Several more Marines piled into the schoolhouse. The machine guns on the roof were already wailing away with everything they had. With all the Marines piled back inside the building their fields of fire were clear and they were engaging everything in sight. Several more RPG's pounded the school, as did small arms fire from AK-47's. It felt much safer in the school, with its two-foot thick walls and sandbagged shooting positions covering every corner.
The scene on the bottom floor was that of pandemonium, resembling an ant nest after it's been disturbed. One Marine was running around barking orders "We need more M-16 rounds on the second floor!" Another was shocked, helmet off and head in his hands. The wounded were piled up until a transport Humvee could get through to get the rest of them out. I took a moment to catch my breath and take stock of everything that had happened up to that point. Pure adrenaline had been pumping through my veins for two hours, and my body needed a break.
The wounded were hauled a kilometer or so away, fifteen in all, to a field hospital, which was nearly overwhelmed with the volume. Commanders started sorting out the chaos in the school, with their main mission being to keep their gun positions humming. Suppressive fire hammering enemy positions kept any insurgent advance at bay.
When the platoon stationed in a house 300 meters away gathered in the doorway of the school to make their run back, I joined them. One last run to safety.
As we approached our position I noticed something was missing from the scene. It had marked my landscape for the week that I had been in Fallouja. The minaret, the same one that loomed overhead as we ran through the graveyard earlier that morning, had completely vanished. I was told later on that is was leveled by a tank round after a sniper was reported to be shooting from it.
Inside the house it was not the same optimistic group of people I had been with the day before. All of them looked exhausted. These men had seen battle, and they wore these looks in their eyes. It had silenced them for the moment and I gathered that it had changed some of them forever. They had seen a young man die that day, one of their own, in a brutal death that left his body torn and bloody. They had watched another of their comrades lose an arm from an enemy hand grenade.
It would be awhile before these men would laugh again. I knew these men to be tough and ready, but this shook them at their foundations. The physical and emotional scars would not be quick to heal.
As word of the battle and its damage spread, a Navy chaplain made a visit to the men of Echo Company that afternoon. The solemn faces of over fifty men crowded the room; at its center was simply a mound of dirt. As the chaplain finished delivering words of encouragement, each Marine pushed a lit candle into place into the mound. Soon the dank room was filled with candlelight and void of people as they withdrew to collect their thoughts. I shot just one frame of the last man placing his candle. He bowed his head in prayer as he did so.
That day I spoke with their Captain, Douglas Zembiec. From a roof overlooking the houses we were in that morning he said, "If is wasn't for the valor of those young Marines we would still be over there. They fought like lions. They kept their cool and evacuated the wounded. I get tears of pride when I think of them fighting like that." I could barely converse with him as two Marine Cobra helicopters fired their 3-barrel 20mm guns into those same houses. The clacking roar of the machine gun and firing of hellfire missiles surely demoralizing as well as demolishing any insurgents who might have been rejoicing about the reclaimed position.. Zembiec later added that, "I've ordered men to their deaths, and that's a cross I have to bare."
I spoke with the mother of Lance Cpl. Austin several days after he died. It took awhile to get the courage up to ring her at her home in New Mexico. There was nothing I could do to bring her son home. Would a phone call from someone in the media infuriate her? All I had to offer her was a photo of her son reading the mail from home that I had shot the day before he died. I thought she might want that as a memory of her son in a place she had perhaps imagined, but would never see.
She received my call and my unpolished speech about her son. "Hello ma'am," I said, "I was with your son on the day he died." She told me how proud she was of him and I started to break down when she told me how if she were there that day she would have carried his limp body out of the house herself. She wanted to have any photo I had, to gather any scrap if information, conversations about him, anything she could hold onto. He was her only son.
A few days later I called Sgt. Magana as he lay in a hospital bed in Bethesda, Maryland. He spoke only in a whisper, and sounded very weak. I was sure he did not remember me holding his hand or talking about his daughter but he seemed appreciative that someone would call him from Iraq. He asked that I tell his comrades he was keeping them in his prayers while they were still on the battlefield. I told him I would.
Those Marines in battle were not the only ones certain to be changed by that day. I liken my desires as a journalist to be similar to the way I like to live my life. I want to get close enough to the edge of the abyss to look in but I don't want to go over. As I knelt over that square pan of water, scrubbing my pants vigorously, the bloodstains of that day did not fade away. They now serve to remind me just how easy it can be to slip over the edge.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: July 29, 2004, 09:21:02 PM
A New Approach
In Terror Readiness
Latest Efforts Address Specifics on How People
Can Respond to Attacks; Where to Find Shelter
By AMY DOCKSER MARCUS
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
In the past three years, a lot of attention has focused on making sure hospitals, corporations and government offices are prepared for a terrorist attack. But a new push is under way to address the possibility that in the first hours after an attack, individuals may have to act on their own.
Much of the first round of preparedness advice focused on basics, such as disaster kits and supplies like duct tape and bottled water. But several groups are now attempting to offer concrete advice about how to respond to a detailed range of possible attacks, from conventional weapons to biological and chemical agents to "dirty bombs" laced with radiological materials. The Bush administration has warned about the possibility of an attack timed to disrupt the upcoming political conventions, though it hasn&t raised the official terrorist threat level.
Much of the recent effort has focused on unconventional weapons such as biological and chemical agents, because it is these sorts of attacks in particular that may require quick action on the part of individuals to minimize risk. The goal is to offer guidance on how people can act in the critical hours after an attack, while the government is preparing its response.
One problem is that many Americans don&t know the difference between types of unconventional weapons, nor the very different responses that would be called for in each circumstance. And despite government recommendations, today only a small proportion of households have even a rudimentary disaster-preparedness kit.
A public symposium being held today in Washington, sponsored by the American Red Cross and the Department of Homeland Security, among others, aims to explore why so many people are not prepared for the possibility of biological, chemical, nuclear or radiological attack, and what steps can be taken by individuals to help themselves survive.
See how to prepare for and react to different kinds of terror attacks.
Rand Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank, has created a small reference card, designed to fit in a handbag or pocket, that summarizes a recent report it published on steps people can take in response to various types of terrorist attacks. The card is free and can be downloaded from the group&s Web site, www.rand.org
. The Council for Excellence in Government, a Washington think tank, has issued its own report with advice for individuals.
Some groups have emphasized breaking a terror attack down into only few simple strategies to remember. In the event of a chemical attack, for example, Rand says the overarching goal is to find clean air very quickly: Take shelter in the closest building if the attack is outdoors; open windows if the attack is indoors. Remove clothing and shower once you are protected.
For radiological attack, people should avoid inhaling dust that could be radioactive. A dust mask or even a shirt can be helpful. In the case of nuclear attack, the main goal is to avoid radioactive fallout. Go as far underground as possible -- or high up in a multistory building -- until evacuation is possible.
One problem of course, is how to find out what type of attack is under way. For that, the Rand report suggests adding a battery-operated radio to any emergency-preparedness kit to monitor government announcements. The report, which costs $15, says a terrorism-preparedness kit doesn&t need to be elaborate and requires only a few items over and above the first-aid supplies and canned goods that might already be in someone&s emergency kit. In addition to the radio, the report suggests a dust mask with a N95-rated particulate filter that can be readily purchased to protect against radiological dust or fallout and biological agents, as well as duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal openings in a shelter.
The Duct Tape
Duct tape has been alternatively recommended and ridiculed as a protective measure. But while it can&t completely seal a home from contaminants, it can be helpful, the Rand report says. "What we found is that the most critical steps are simple to do and not hard to understand, but can make a tremendous difference," says Lynn Davis, senior political scientist at Rand Corp. and co-author of the organization&s report.
In general, preparedness experts aren&t counseling people to stock up on medications or gas masks, which have very limited value in an emergency. Cipro and other antibiotics, for instance, have a short shelf life, and indiscriminate or incorrect use of them could leave someone worse off. Gas masks need to be on at the time of an attack, or within a minute, and therefore are impractical since there is rarely sufficient warning of an attack.
Potassium iodide, which has a five-year shelf life, can be beneficial in protecting against the thyroid cancer that can result from a nuclear or radiological exposure. "But it has a very limited use" because it works only if certain types of radiation were used, says Christina Catlett, medical director of the Center for Emergency Preparedness at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington.
Some of the groups examining the issue of individual preparedness have studied the example of Israel, a country which has a long history of experience with terrorism and relies heavily on individuals to be vigilant against threats. Israelis are regularly reminded in public-service announcements to be on the lookout for suspicious objects or people. Most communities have citizen guards that take turns patrolling neighborhoods. Many schools have parent volunteers who help bolster security efforts. And nearly all homes have a designated "sealed room" with supplies and a phone jack where a family could retreat in an attack.
Convincing individuals to prepare for an attack hasn&t been easy. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security launched its Ready campaign, urging individuals to stockpile supplies such as water and canned goods and create a family emergency plan in the event of a terror attack. In a report to be presented at the Washington symposium today, the Red Cross found that only one in 10 people have made a disaster plan, prepared an emergency kit and received some kind of training in CPR or basic first aid.
The Council for Excellence in Government has sponsored town halls in seven cities, including St. Louis, Miami and Seattle, and this year published a "citizens& agenda" of actions individuals can take, such as lobbying for the creation of one telephone number, similar to 911, for citizens to report security threats and learn emergency information. The full report can be obtained at www.excelgov.org
Meanwhile, amid concerns about an attack timed to the election, efforts to insure that there is an ample national supply of smallpox vaccinations and antibiotics continue. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control said it had shipped thousands of so-called "ChemPaks" to Boston and New York containing Cipro and other antibiotics, medical supplies and masks, and other supplies and medicines. For use by hospitals, the packs are meant to ensure that hospitals have supplies necessary to deal with biological, chemical or nuclear attacks.
Write to Amy Dockser Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be Prepared . . .
Some steps you can take to prepare for a possible terror attack:
Take an emergency-preparedness course:
The American Red Cross and some hospitals and community groups offer emergency-preparedness courses. For a list of courses, contact: American Red Cross at www.redcross.org;
George Washington University&s Response to Emergencies and Disaster Institute at www.readi.gwu.edu
Prepare an emergency kit:
Checklists with helpful tips&such as don&t forget an extra set of prescription eyeglasses and medications&can be found at: Department of Homeland Security at www.ready.gov;
America Prepared Campaign at www.americaprepared.org
Learn in advance about potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers fact-sheets with information about illnesses associated with unconventional terror attacks at www.bt.cdc.gov
. The sheets include helpful information, such as the fact that anthrax isn&t contagious; that many effects of chemical agents such as sarin can be minimized by removing contaminated clothing and showering with soap and water; and how to recognize symptoms of various exposures.
Identify gaps in public preparedness and lobby for changes:
The Council for Excellence in Government published a report of suggestions of how emergency preparedness can be improved, such as creating one telephone number that people can call for information, available at www.excelgov.org
. Trust for America&s Health published a report about gaps in public-health infrastructure in each state and plans to update it later this year, available at www.healthyamericans.org
. . .How to Respond
If there is an attack, here are some simple steps individuals can take to improve the odds of survival.
TYPE OF ATTACK TIPS
("dirty bomb") Avoid inhaling dust that could be radioactive by covering nose and mouth with any available cloth&even a shirt.
Nuclear Avoid radioactive fallout by evacuating the area quickly or seeking the best available shelter, either as far underground as possible or, if not available, in the upper floors of a multistory building.
Biological Go to a medical provider if symptomatic. Follow instructions from public-health officials on when and how to administer medications.
Chemical Find clean air quickly. In an indoor attack, open windows for fresh air or evacuate. In outdoor attack, find shelter&seal a room by closing windows and doors and shutting off air flow. Remove clothing and, if possible, shower.
Source: Rand Corp. A full copy of the report and recommendations are available at www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1731
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DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gathering of the Pack
on: July 29, 2004, 07:15:10 AM
If we didn't let first-timers fight, how would we get any second timers?
In other words, sure. Just pre-register and all is well. Most people do prefer to witness a Gathering first just to see what they are getting themselves into, or at least watch several of our videos.
Does this answer your question?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia
on: July 26, 2004, 12:40:11 PM
By Nikki Usher, Times Staff Writer
They were wearing their trademark red berets, white shirts and combat boots. But on Hollywood Boulevard, amid the throngs of tourists and street performers impersonating Marilyn Monroe, Superman and Batman, they barely stood out.
"I want a picture of you guys!" said Mike Cow, a tourist from San Diego. He turned to a bystander and added: "They're weird. I've never seen them before."
It was perhaps not the most auspicious reintroduction for the Guardian Angels, who this summer returned to the streets of Los Angeles for the first time in a decade.
The volunteer citizens brigade, using martial arts and citizen's arrests, gained national attention in the 1980s by patrolling inner-city neighborhoods that are plagued by crime.
While the Angels made their greatest mark in New York City, the group also had several hundred members in seven branches that patrolled neighborhoods from Venice to the San Gabriel Valley in the 1980s and early '90s. They left amid complaints from police and after several members had been attacked ? one fatally.
Back then, the Los Angeles Police Department "would treat us like we were the Bloods or the Crips. And since the police didn't respect us, the gangs didn't," said Curtis Sliwa, the group's founder.
Now they're hoping for a renaissance. The group has come back to a Los Angeles different from the one it left, where community policing has taken root and crime rates are generally lower. Sliwa said the Angels have changed with the times, working more closely with police and conducting more training for volunteers.
Sliwa said the group decided to come back to Southern California because of LAPD Chief William J. Bratton, who worked with the group when he was chief of the New York Police Department in the early '90s.
Bratton, who became L.A.'s chief two years ago, has offered a conditional welcome to the Guardian Angels. He said his experiences with the group in New York were largely positive.
But he's reluctant to see the Angels in some L.A. neighborhoods. He said patrolling Los Angeles is much more challenging because the city is spread out and there are fewer officers to back up the Angels. Moreover, he said, the group's conspicuous presence and aggressive tactics could backfire in the city's strongest gang enclaves.
"If they wear those red berets in the wrong area, the gangs will shoot them in a second," he said.
So far, about a dozen Guardian Angels have begun regular patrols along Hollywood Boulevard and at MacArthur Park.
Bratton said he's comfortable with the group's presence in Hollywood, a tourist district that already has strong police staffing.
"The visibility and eyes and ears they provide is fine, but just don't do it in areas where they are going to be in great risk and danger," the chief said.
Others aren't so sure.
L.A. City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, the police chief from 1997 to 2002, said that he couldn't support the Angels, and that professional police officers should be the only ones doing law enforcement work.
"It's hard enough to train police and keep them abiding by the law," he said. "These were people we knew nothing about."
Since the Guardian Angels left Los Angeles, the LAPD has tried to work more closely with community leaders to identify and target high-crime areas. Los Angeles also established a network of neighborhood councils that have a voice in law enforcement and other city policies.
But the Angels have yet to establish ties with the councils, according to community leaders in Hollywood and at MacArthur Park, who said they were surprised to hear that the group was back in town.
Sylvia Valle, a MacArthur Park neighborhood activist, said she worries that the patrols might make the situation in her neighborhood west of downtown less stable.
"There are four gangs in the radius of two blocks. This is just going to add fuel to the fire," she said.
Hollywood community activist Ferris Wehbe worked with the Angels when they helped patrol the Yucca Street area in the 1980s. He said that effort was effective because the group worked with neighborhood groups. This time, however, he doesn't see that partnership.
"We don't really need them here," he said. "The reason they worked in Hollywood was that they were connected to what the community was doing and really knew us?. I have had no indication of that happening this time."
In the 1980s, when the group was most active in Los Angeles, it had a decidedly mixed record.
It garnered praise when members patrolled the 1984 Summer Olympics. But a few years later, Sliwa was arrested for allegedly clubbing a man in an area of Hollywood the group had sealed off in an unofficial drug sweep. In 1993, in one of several attacks on group members, Angel Glenn Doser was shot to death when he tried to stop a robbery in Hollywood.
The Guardian Angels of the past, Sliwa and others said, could be aggressive and intimidating. They'd march into high-crime areas and ask tough questions, look for confrontations and try to break up drug deals.
"They were just these young guys and women, many of them ex-gang members, looking to rough someone up, get into a little trouble and feel like they were on the side of the right," said Todd Clear, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
The L.A. group has so far been drawn from veteran Southern California Angels and a few new recruits. There's a mix of young and old, and a few women. Sliwa says they're better trained than the Angels of old.
Under new policies, recruits undergo three months of standardized training, during which they learn martial arts and how to make citizen's arrests. They are also subjected to verbal abuse to see how they respond. Guardian Angels are not armed, though many carry handcuffs and cellphones.
Though they've been absent from Los Angeles, the Guardian Angels have remained a force in other cities, mostly on the East Coast. In Washington, D.C., members are working so closely with police, patrolling gang and drug areas, that the department gave them police radios.
Sliwa said the Angels want to pick "mild" targets in Los Angeles, building a record of success, before going into more hostile gang areas. So far, he said, members have encountered little action.
During a recent evening patrol in Hollywood, members didn't make any arrests or break up any drug deals, but they did help an elderly woman and her caretakers push a wheelchair over the curb at Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar Avenue.
An appreciative Vernadette Rebold smiled from her chair and thanked them. "We remember you from 20 years ago, in New York," she said.
Patrol leader Dave Eagle shrugs when asked about the lack of public memory about their Los Angeles days.
"Sure, we're remembered for New York, and maybe people don't remember us here, but we were here and we are here," said Eagle, who was with the group during its Los Angeles heyday. "It's hard to compete with where you started."
If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: July 26, 2004, 12:30:11 PM
July 26, 2004 E-mail story
Mexican Puppy Mills Breed Grief in Southland
Owners learn too late that their new pets are diseased or too young to survive on their own.
By Richard Marosi, Times Staff Writer
SAN DIEGO ? Smugglers are flooding the Southern California pet market with disease-ridden puppies from Mexico, prompting law enforcement crackdowns, raising public health concerns and breaking the hearts of owners who watch their dogs die, often within hours of buying them.
Animal control officials estimate that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of puppies have died since an underground market, stretching from puppy mills in Mexico to street corners in San Diego and Los Angeles, was uncovered last year.
The puppies ? usually small breeds like poodles, pugs and Chihuahuas ? are typically sold through newspaper ads to bargain-seeking buyers who pay cash. The dogs, bundled in hand crates, appear healthy.
But some suffer from parvovirus, distemper, scabies and other hard-to-detect ailments. Separated from their mothers too early, some die from starvation because they are so young they lack teeth to chew food. Such very young dogs also often fall prey to diseases because their immune systems are not fully developed.
Marietta Ruttan of Oceanside paid $600 to a Moreno Valley woman for a Maltese puppy that died less than one day after the purchase. "I tried to cuddle and cradle it, and be good to it, but it wouldn't eat, move or do anything," Ruttan said. "I was going to name it China but it didn't live long enough," she said.
The "puppy conspiracy," as some call it, first came to authorities' attention last year when complaints started flooding in to local law enforcement agencies. Officials in the tight-knit community of animal control agencies began hearing similar stories.
After answering ads hawking puppies in local newspapers, buyers meet sellers in out-of-the-way public places. The sellers, carrying the puppies in crates, don't take checks. Sometimes they follow people to their ATM machines before handing over a pup for cash.
Excitement often turns to grief as buyers watch their puppies slow with sickness. Telephone calls to the sellers go unanswered. The sellers, who frequently use disposable cellular telephones, disappear.
U.S. Customs agents, responding to requests from local agencies, have added sick puppies to their list of contraband items, like drugs and weapons, for which they search vehicles crossing the border at San Ysidro. Agents have found puppies stuffed in packing crates and hidden away in spare-tire wheel wells. If puppies appear distressed, agents give them to animal welfare agencies. Drug-sniffing dogs sometimes alert agents to their sick canine cousins.
"We're big fans of dogs, and we hate to see sickly, very young pups crammed into little spaces," said Vince Bond, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Since April, about 50 people trying to bring in puppies have been stopped. Many are let through if they have a few dogs and carry the proper paperwork, which includes proof of vaccination. But others are turned back.
Last week a young man from Tijuana was caught trying to bring in 11 puppies at 4:30 a.m. They were packed in two crates and covered under clothing. He said he planned to give them to relatives. Instead, the puppies were given to the San Diego Humane Society, where six have died of parvo-related illnesses. The man was cited and fined $2,200.
"It's awful that people do this," said Vanessa Frazier, an animal-care attendant, as she cradled a nearly motionless, brown-haired cocker spaniel in the agency's dog isolation room. In the next cage, four Maltese puppies ? their grimy hair shaved clean ? trotted about and seemed to be recovering. The cocker spaniel's prospects, however, appeared bleak.
"I don't think he's going to make it," Frazier said.
The puppy pipeline from Mexico is apparently filling a tremendous demand in a long-maligned industry. Animal control experts discourage people from buying puppies in pet stores because they say many of the animals come from poorly run puppy mills in the Midwest.
Reputable breeders are recommended, but those puppies often cost more than the Mexican puppies, which cost from $300 to $700. Also, small breeds are sometimes hard to find in animal rescue shelters. For the puppy brokers, showing off a fluffy coat seals the deal.
"There is no such thing as an ugly puppy," said John Carlson, director of San Diego County's North Regional Animal Shelter. "It's almost like drug peddling, except that it's not illegal to possess a young puppy. But it is illegal to be selling young puppies that are sick."
Where exactly in Mexico the dogs are bred is a mystery. Some dogs could be from Tijuana, where many people sell puppies from the backs of vans. But many animal control officials suspect that the animals are bred in puppy mills in the interior of Mexico and then flown in to Tijuana.
State law requires retailers to provide documentation of age and medical history of puppies, but the burgeoning underground market is virtually unregulated. Authorities have launched some animal cruelty investigations, but the puppy peddlers have proven difficult to track down.
One of the few cases to result in charges involved a Moreno Valley woman who was cited last spring on 19 counts of animal cruelty. She sold the animals from her Riverside County home, but purchased them from people suspected of bringing them in from Mexico.
Pet stores in Compton and Huntington Beach also purchased sick puppies from people peddling dogs from Mexico, say animal control officials. Three people, including the Tijuana man, have been cited for trying to smuggle ill dogs through the port of entry at San Ysidro.
The situation raises public health concerns because some animals carry diseases contagious to humans. The Dionese family of Lake Elsinore came down with scabies after taking in Chloe, a Maltese puppy they named for a Cabbage Patch doll.
Fearful of passing the skin mites to others, they stayed indoors for four weeks. Kelly Dionese said she lost her job and that her children couldn't go to school. She said the parasite attack caused severe itching, and that it felt like being "eaten alive."
"My children cried for nights," Dionese said. "That is the devil's bug."
Dionese said she saw no signs of sickness when she paid $400 for her puppy from the Moreno Valley woman who was cited. In an ironic twist shared by others, Dionese said she bought the dog from a private party because she had heard horror stories about pet store puppies.
But Chloe was sick. And she grew rapidly sicker until she had to be euthanized.
"Chloe suffered," Dionese said. "It was traumatic for all of us."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Membership
on: July 23, 2004, 01:54:02 PM
"Guess what I was wondering about was what kind of resources do you get access to as a member, and how much it's possible to learn from them. Could you also explain what is meant by "to walk as a warrior for all your days"?"
Our mission is for our members to have genuine growth on their respective missions "To walk as a warrior for all their days".
To this end, the DBMA Ass'n offers
1) The Members site.
3) Vehicles for training in DBMA
1) The Member's site is large, active, and continuously growing. There is a large library of technique sequences and a huge amount of readings on FMA and related matters of interest-- and as evinced here on the public forum, "related matters of interest" is defined rather broadly!
And there is the Forum. The forum is the equivalent of the campfire for the tribe-- where all come together about matters of shared interest. It might be a question about one of the vid-lessons or about DBMA theory. It might be the instructors sharing the progressions of their class/training sessions e.g. This week we worked "bilateralism"-- here's the progression we used". It might be concerning evolutionary pyschology. And it might be about WW3: political posts are channeled into one of a handful of threads dedicated to these matters and here too the rule is "Friends at the end of the day"! It might be a thread concerning training tips, or another concerning diet. There is "the Fire Hydrant" thread where we keep each other informed of what we are up to and hook up with each other. Etc etc etc.
2) The vid-lessons are usually
shot on professional cameras, and usually casually edited. Because they are vid-lessons and not releases for the general public, we can go into things more deeply than would otherwise be the case. And note the synergy possible-- if there is something you do not understand or a question you would like to ask, then you can do so via the Forum. It is not a matter of "Send your money, here's your video, and good luck!" Rather we look for you and us to have an ongoing relationship.
3) We look to offer people ways that they can personally train in the system. For example:
a) The PTP (Personal Training Program) with me are at a 10% discount to the price for the general public. If a member is attending a seminar and wants to have some private training the day before or after the seminar, I make every effort to adjust my schedule to make that possible.
b) DBMA seminar attendance is also at a 10% discount.
c) DBMA instructors: In a steady but measured way we are expanding the number of certified DBMA instructors and of DBMA "Training Groups". These instructors and training groups receive support from us so that they can best serve you.
The idea is that the interaction amongst these three offers a synergy that yields a sum greater than the parts.
Concerning "Walk as a Warrior for all your days" (tm):
To answer this we delve into a bit of what some have taken to calling "the DB philosophy". In the DB/DBMA philosphy there is a goodly dose of evolutionary pyschology. Austrian Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz is the starting point here.
Most martial arts today are about young males doing what young males do-- they compete in some form of hierarchical ritual fighting. BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA, TWD, Wrestling, etc are all examples of this.
Although we certainly have that in good measure, ours is based more on the tribal energy-- as such the fighting is not so much about hierarchy as it is about strengthening the tribe so that we may stand together to defend our land, women and children. This is what allows us to fight without keeping score and fighting without keeping score allows to fight the way we do. In my humble opinion, if one knows where to look, this tribal energy is present to an unusual degree in the FMA and the FMA are the core of DBMA (speaking in shorthand, DBMA can be said to be an "impure FMA" system).
Thus, unlike in hierarchical fighting, wherein the energy is "up or out" i.e. one tends to quit as one's youthful fighting skill peaks, as a member of the tribe one is always relevant. Given the role and prevalence of weapons in this system, this is IMHO realistically possible-- if in the real world we are cornered into a problem we use weapons as necessary. See for example the story somewhere on this site of an 80 year old Filipino taking down some 16 year old burglar some 30 pounds bigger than him in his home and capturing him for arrest (!)by using a pipe he kept handy.
When we have this sort of capability as our goal, then as our competitive skills decline we still remain motivated-- for we no longer compare ourselves to others or what we were when we were younger.
Does this help answer your question?
PS: I see that you are from Norway. Please note that our European program is becoming very strong under the leadership of my personal friend and close private student, Guro Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner of Bern, Switzerland. Not only does he bring me in twice a year (the next time Oct 9-10) but he is authorized to do seminars and PTPs on his own.
PPS: A bit of a tangent, but I mention that Top Dog speaks Norwegian.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Understanding what I see online
on: July 23, 2004, 12:39:27 PM
Woof Ziggy Bob:
I suspect that the lack of answers to your questions may be because that people often try to avoid questions that call for assessing the specific merits/drawbacks of a particular style.
That said, I'll take a brief nip at your questions.
"1. Understood this grip to be a "normal block" and not something for drilling only.
2. Don't understand how control of the stick could be maintained while blocking even a mid power strike."
Differences of opinion are common in the martial arts and especially so in the FMA! You are not the only person to have this thought/question. In my experience it is often a good idea to remember that different styles/systems are intended for different paradigms of fighting.
"My questions are:
1. Was stickfighting a training tool for later works with blades?"
In some systems, the answer is yes and in others the answer is no.
"2. Is our/my focus on power making me miss something?"
We too tend towards the power-crazed end of the spectrum. I find it a good idea for me to remember that blades require much less power and that some striking tools are of a nature that require less body mechanics. For example a short metal bar, (especially if striking surface is shaped like a blade or a triangle) intended for concealment may have considerable striking power with the snapping motion you question.
"3. Are these wrist only strikes such a real threat?
(I do train with very minimal protection and have been on the recieving ends of many types of strikes. In fact, we were actually hitting each other in different places to see the effectiveness of the wrist/flip strikes and was surprised at the ineffectiveness that OUR strikes had on each other.)"
See my answer to the previous question. I do agree that it is good to test things as you seem to be doing.
"4. Why does this information that is being taught seem so far away from what I think a real fight with sticks would be?"
Perhaps because you have a different paradigm in mind?
"5. Is Stickfighting different than fighting with sticks and is Kali so different from stickfighting? (I realize that Kali is much more than combat with sticks but I hope you understand my meaning."
The FMA are notorious for disputes of near-theological intensity over matters of terminology. Indeed, I often joke that consistent use of terminology between systems violates the traditions of the FMA.
HTH a bit-- sorry I cannot be more definitive in my answers.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: July 08, 2004, 01:08:19 AM
CLINTON FIRST LINKED AL QAEDA TO SADDAM
By Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Clinton administration talked about firm evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network years before President Bush made the same statements.
The issue arose again this month after the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States reported there was no "collaborative relationship" between the old Iraqi regime and bin Laden.
Democrats have cited the staff report to accuse Mr. Bush of making inaccurate statements about a linkage. Commission members, including a Democrat and two Republicans, quickly came to the administration's defense by saying there had been such contacts.
In fact, during President Clinton's eight years in office, there were at least two official pronouncements of an alarming alliance between Baghdad and al Qaeda. One came from William S. Cohen, Mr. Clinton's defense secretary. He cited an al Qaeda-Baghdad link to justify the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.
Mr. Bush cited the linkage, in part, to justify invading Iraq and ousting Saddam. He said he could not take the risk of Iraq's weapons falling into bin Laden's hands.
The other pronouncement is contained in a Justice Department indictment on Nov. 4, 1998, charging bin Laden with murder in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
The indictment disclosed a close relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam's regime, which included specialists on chemical weapons and all types of bombs, including truck bombs, a favorite weapon of terrorists.
The 1998 indictment said: "Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."
Shortly after the embassy bombings, Mr. Clinton ordered air strikes on al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and on the Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.
To justify the Sudanese plant as a target, Clinton aides said it was involved in the production of deadly VX nerve gas. Officials further determined that bin Laden owned a stake in the operation and that its manager had traveled to Baghdad to learn bomb-making techniques from Saddam's weapons scientists.
Mr. Cohen elaborated in March in testimony before the September 11 commission.
He testified that "bin Laden had been living [at the plant], that he had, in fact, money that he had put into this military industrial corporation, that the owner of the plant had traveled to Baghdad to meet with the father of the VX program."
He said that if the plant had been allowed to produce VX that was used to kill thousands of Americans, people would have asked him, " 'You had a manager that went to Baghdad; you had Osama bin Laden, who had funded, at least the corporation, and you had traces of [VX precursor] and you did what? And you did nothing?' Is that a responsible activity on the part of the secretary of defense?"
This article was mailed from The Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20040624-112921-3401r.htm
For more great articles, visit us at http://www.washingtontimes.com
Copyright (c) 2004 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: July 06, 2004, 09:44:45 PM
The IRR: Emptying the Cupboard
July 06, 2004
By George Friedman
The U.S. Department of Defense is now activating the Army's Individual Ready Reserve for combat duty. Given the inherent problems associated with such a move, it is clear that U.S. war planners were caught in a trap: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "revolution in warfare" has not evolved as expected.
On July 6, 5,600 members of the U.S. Army's Individual Ready Reserve will start to receive notices that they are being recalled to active duty. Members of the IRR are generally soldiers who have completed their primary active-duty assignments. They are not part of the regular Reserves or the National Guard, but are simply kept on a list as available for recall. In general, this has been simply a formality. IRR members have been called up on only two occasions: Once was in 1968, following the Tet Offensive; the other was in 1991, in the context of Operation Desert Storm. There have already been some smaller call-ups of essential specialties, but this is the first large-scale mobilization. The Army has indicated that there likely will be more.
The recall is neither routine, nor what the Army would like to be doing.
First, the reactivated reservists will have been out of the Army for several years. They might not be in appropriate mental or physical condition for a tour in a combat zone -- where, according to the Army, most are going to be sent. Since the current plan is to keep them on active duty for no more than a year, there is little time for an extensive conditioning program if the troops are to spend much time in-theater. These are not the forces commanders want to lead if they have a choice.
Second, although this call-up might fix the Army's quantitative problem in the short run, it can wreak havoc in the long run. The volunteer army depends, obviously, on the willingness of people to join. That rests on a large number of variables, one of which is the idea that the volunteer can control his term of service, building it into his or her long-term plans. It has always been understood, in the fine print, that calling up the IRR was possible, and soldiers who are being recalled cannot complain that they did not know -- they can complain only that they did not expect it to happen. However, people who have already served and completed their tours -- and are busy with careers, children and mortgages -- are now going to be sent into combat zones. Their younger siblings, cousins and friends are going to be watching the chaos in their lives and could well decide that, while they would be prepared to serve a given term and even have that term extended during war, giving the Army control over their lives -- and those of their families -- for years afterward is simply not worth it.
The Army, the Defense Department and the Office of the President are all acutely aware of this problem. Nevertheless, they have chosen to go this route. Given the inherent defects of the choice and its obvious potential cost, they did not make this move frivolously; this was something that was absolutely necessary. That said, the question now is this: How did the U.S. Army get into the position of having to make this choice?
The call-up of the IRR in 1968 came in the midst of a crisis surrounding Vietnam. The United States had miscalculated troop requirements and found itself short of critical specialties that it could not make up from the pool of available conscripts. No one planned for the circumstances that presented themselves in 1968 -- or for those that prompted Desert Storm either. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait left little time to redesign the Army's force structure, and by 1991 it was dealing with a surprise. The IRR has been utilized twice, both times in the face of the unexpected. Sometimes it was mismanagement, sometimes reality, but always it was an attempt to cope with the unexpected -- and unwanted -- event. The 2004 call-up obviously fits into this category. The issue is what was unanticipated, and why it was not expected.
The Sept. 11 attacks certainly were unanticipated. This cannot be disputed, although whether they should have been is going to be an interminable debate. However, this large-scale activation of the IRR is taking place not six months after Sept. 11, but almost three years later. That indicates a much broader and deeper surprise than the attacks themselves.
The first surprise had to do with the nature of warfare. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was an advocate of what has been called "the revolution in warfare." This concept is the belief that as technology of all sorts comes online, the need for massed armies will decline. Few would debate that a revolution in warfare is under way. The issue is whether it has matured to a sufficient degree that policymakers can depend on it, or whether it still has several generations to go.
Throughout his tenure, Rumsfeld has been highly critical of the Army. He felt that it was too heavy, in the sense of relying on armor and artillery -- supply hogs that take a long time to get to the theater of operations. Rumsfeld's view of the war against al Qaeda was that it would require very small, very fast and very lethal forces to execute. Rumsfeld was right, but he failed to factor in two things.
The first was that while the deployment of small, fast, lethal forces potentially could take out al Qaeda units and could be used to destabilize nation-states, those units could not be used to take control of those nations. There is a huge difference between shattering a government and governing a country. Indeed, there is little value in destabilizing a nation unless it can be pacified; otherwise, destabilization opens the door to al Qaeda, rather than shutting down the network. Therefore, insufficient thought was given to the problem of pacification -- not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan. Denying terrain to al Qaeda means being present on the ground in sufficient numbers to make a difference. Rumsfeld constantly tried to find a way to transfer responsibility for the ground to an indigenous government -- failing to recognize that the high-tech destruction of the state creates a vacuum that either is filled with U.S. forces or left in chaos.
Rumsfeld focused on the first phase of the war: regime change. This phase was certainly amenable to the kind of war he favored. But the second phase -- regime construction -- is not at all influenced by the revolution in warfare. It requires a large security force -- and even that might not be enough. Rumsfeld's hostility toward the Army's cumbersome, traditional ways of doing things caused him to make a massive miscalculation: Rather than building up Army ground forces in 2002 and 2003, he restricted the growth of the Army, thereby leaving it short of troops for the prolonged second phase of the war.
Rumsfeld's second surprise was a persistent underestimation of the enemy. In particular, he seemed to genuinely believe that with the occupation of Baghdad, all organized resistance would cease. The idea that there would be people in Iraq who, out of support for the Baathist regime or simple patriotism, would resist the American occupation in an extended and effective way seems never to have been factored into plans. Indeed, when Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was very much concerned about extended resistance, argued before the war that in excess of 200,000 troops would be needed in Iraq for an extended period, Rumsfeld attacked him as being alarmist. Rumsfeld failed to plan for occupying a country of 25 million people or policing a city of 5 million people -- both in the face of resistance, albeit relatively light resistance.
Occupying a country or a city takes manpower. That is a requirement -- though not necessarily the only one -- for success. Rumsfeld's view of warfare did not take into account the complexities of occupation. The tension between Rumsfeld and the Army created a situation in which dramatically pyramiding responsibilities for the Army were not met with equivalent increases in manpower.
This is the first global war the United States has waged in which neither the command structure of the armed forces nor the force structure evolved dramatically in the opening years. The fact that there has not been a doubling or tripling in size of the U.S. Army is startling. In spite of the fact that it is involved in a variety of combat operations in remote areas of the world -- and that the enemy can choose to open new theaters of operation that are unexpected (such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan) -- the armed forces have not grown substantially in three years.
Rumsfeld apparently thought the war would be easier than it has been, and he believed that technology would be more effective than it possibly could be. The need to occupy, pacify and govern hostile nations was not built into the war plan -- nor is it there now. The fact is that the call-ups from the IRR are Band-Aids on a fundamental issue: The United States is involved in a land war in Asia again, and it is trying to fight that war with a military -- especially an Army -- that was designed for peacetime in the 1990s. It cannot possibly stretch.
The central conceptual problem in Vietnam was that the United States did not want to spend its resources on doing the things that might give it an opportunity to win the war. Having insufficient resources, the United States simply decided that they were sufficient.
In Vietnam, the military had recourse to a draft. It did not work very well. Not only did it create deep social tension between those who served and those who did not, but also a two-year term was not sufficient to master most of the specialties of warfare -- including rifleman skills. Between two years of service and a one-year tour in Vietnam, the military lost its people just when they were learning to do their jobs. The draft -- particularly as it was structured during the Vietnam era -- was the failure point, not the solution.
Two-year conscription is simply too short a period of time to master the specialties the military needs now. Today's military does not consist of cannon fodder, but of highly trained specialists who need two years to begin becoming proficient at their jobs. Moreover, another draft in which half the eligible candidates were exempt would rip the United States apart. Universal conscription creates too large a manpower pool. It creates more problems than it solves. What it needs is an expansion of the volunteer force.
For that, very large sums of money are needed, making it attractive to choose the military as a profession. The problem is that the United States is out of time. The time for this expansion should have been early 2002, when it became clear that al Qaeda would not be easily defeated and that other military campaigns would be coming. Had the Bush administration asked Congress for sufficient money to expand the volunteer Army, large numbers of well-trained troops would be coming out of the chute just about now.
No such request was made. Rumsfeld ignored Army requests for increased manpower, focusing instead on surgical tools for regime change. The force structure did not undergo a quantum expansion. As a result, when the worst-case rather than the best-case scenario came to pass in Iraq -- guerrilla war -- the United States was unprepared for it. It had to reach into the IRR for a few thousand men. The military is, in effect, cannibalizing itself, using up its reserves. Since this war is not likely to end soon, and the IRR is not a bottomless well, it is clear that something will have to be done.
Copyrights 2004 - Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: July 05, 2004, 12:17:54 PM
Climbing the ropes to ability
Disabled Sports USA is helping injured veterans and others discover the power of an unbroken spirit.
By Tina Daunt, Times Staff Writer
Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva survived stepping on a landmine the first day of the ground war in Iraq, but he spent months in the hospital ? wishing he had died.
Flying shrapnel had shredded his right leg, forcing doctors to amputate it above the knee. His right arm and hand were mangled, and his left leg was broken.
Alva wondered whether he would ever be able to walk again.
"In the beginning, the hard part is not accepting your injury," he said. "You hate life. You hate what happened. You're angry, but you're mostly sad. I can remember day after day and countless weeks of nothing but crying."
At first, Alva was alone in the wards at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and then at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. But as the war went on, dozens of soldiers were brought in ? almost all of them with similar injuries. Alva decided it was time to pull himself out of bed, learn to stand and then walk, with the help of a prosthetic leg.
By winter, the former marathon runner was in Colorado skiing, with the help of a team of Paralympic instructors. Last week in Long Beach, Alva and 25 other Iraq war veterans learned to rock climb, cycle and sail at the annual SummerFest hosted by Disabled Sports USA, a nonprofit group that helps vets and civilians overcome even the toughest disabilities.
"I realize now that anything is possible," said Alva, 33, who is going back to college in his hometown of San Antonio this fall to study sports medicine. "I never believed it at first, but the saying is true: Time really does heal all wounds."
Until the war started in Iraq nearly 16 months ago, Disabled Sports served mostly Vietnam veterans and disabled civilians. That's not the case anymore. Volunteers from the group visit military hospitals weekly, offering sports courses to dozens of permanently disabled soldiers. More than 50 vets injured in Iraq have joined.
"We want to help these guys who are coming back from Iraq with some pretty serious injuries," said Disabled Sports Executive Director Kirk M. Bauer, who joined the group 35 years ago after he lost a leg in Vietnam. "Their bodies are protected by their equipment but not their limbs, and that's what's being blown off by these roadside bombs and other devices.
"We want to show them that they can still lead a full life, and sports is an important tool."
The second annual SummerFest in Long Beach provided a mini-vacation for about 100 civilians and soldiers, their families and friends. For four days, the soldiers had their pick of classes, taught by volunteer instructors. Running, wheeling and scuba seminars were held at Millikan High School. On Mother's Beach, a quiet waterway about half a mile from the shore, people gathered in groups of 20 to learn how to water ski, canoe, cycle and rock climb. In the evenings, they met for dinner and took harbor cruises.
Joe Garrett, a San Diego man who was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident in 1988, said he was surprised to see so many war vets. "It just blows me away that so many of these guys are coming back from Iraq, injured for life," said Garrett, who has been going to events hosted by Disabled Sports events for more than a decade. "It's sad, but I think it's excellent that they're here."
The participants included several recently injured soldiers, such as Army 1st Lt. Lonnie Moore, from Wichita, Kan., who lost a leg when his Bradley fighting vehicle came under heavy fire near Fallouja on April 6. He and his fianc?e, Melanie Disbrow, arrived in Long Beach on June 27 after leaving Walter Reed's outpatient housing facility at dawn.
The following Monday, Moore and Disbrow teamed to learn how to canoe and sail. On Tuesday, they water-skied.
"Look, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I'm a big man and this injury wasn't a big deal," said Moore, who walks with a prosthesis. "There are a couple times I've really broken down. It gets challenging. But the great thing about being out here is everyone pushes and supports everyone else. It's nice to have a group of people who are going through the same thing you are."
Alva was determined to conquer the rock-climbing wall set up on a road along Mother's Beach. It was not an easy task. He had a hard time angling his prosthetic leg while pulling himself up with his injured hand. He would climb about 6 feet before he would lose his footing.
After several attempts, Alva had drawn a crowd of a dozen supporters, who chanted, "Go Marine!" At 20 feet up, Alva declared victory, grinning at his cheering fans. Strapped to safety ropes, he then eased himself down.
Next it was Army Sgt. Johnnie Williams' turn. The 21-year-old veteran from Tampa, Fla., was left paralyzed from the waist down when the Humvee he was riding in was run off a narrow road 100 miles northwest of Baghdad 13 months ago. He was thrown from the vehicle, which ran over him as it careened down an embankment.
Volunteer instructors lifted Williams into a harness. He used his arms to pull himself up a rope to the top of the wall. It didn't take him long. Williams' mother, Vicky Harris, taunted him. "Let's see you do it again," she yelled. He smiled at her and climbed to the top twice more, where he posed for pictures.
"I just wanted to get out here and have some fun," said Williams, who uses a wheelchair to get around. "I've gotten to the point where I've accepted what happened. You have a choice ? either you can keep on living or just fall down and die. So I just do my best every day."
Harris said it was nice to see her son happy. She found out a year ago, on Mother's Day, that he had been seriously injured in Iraq. At first, doctors didn't think he would live.
"He's a trooper," Harris said. "Some days we had a hard time adjusting and dealing, but I thank God we all made it through. He's doing OK. I'm doing OK?. It's a good for him to do things like this. It inspires you as a person who is looking on and a person who is participating."
Disabled Sports USA was established in 1967 in Northern California by several disabled Vietnam war veterans. Now based in Rockville, Md., it has a nationwide network of more than 80 chapters in 35 states. The group offers sports and rehabilitation programs to anyone with a permanent physical disability, including stroke, multiple sclerosis and visual impairments.
Bauer, the executive director, credits Disabled Sports for helping him deal with his own injury after he returned from Vietnam in 1969.
"I lost my leg from a hand grenade during a firefight," he said. "It took six months in the hospital and seven operations until they put me back together again. I contemplated suicide at one point. I was depressed and wondering what was going on in my life. These guys literally dragged me out of the hospital and taught me how to ski in one day. It turned my life around."
Bauer estimates that the group serves more than 60,000 people annually. The veterans attending last week's SummerFest traveled and participated for free, the tab picked up by United Airlines, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, among other sponsors.
"We are able to teach these soldiers a sports skill up through the beginner level in one day, whether it's cycling, outrigger canoeing or sailing," Bauer said. "They will return home with real confidence in their ability to get back and active again."
Arriving in Long Beach from Colorado Springs, Colo., Army Capt. David Rozelle, who lost part of his right leg a year ago in a landmine explosion, said he was eager to learn how to water ski and scuba dive. Along with Alva, he had participated in the Disabled Sports ski clinic in Breckenridge, Colo., in December.
"When you become disabled, you become adaptive," said Rozelle, who first skied at age 3. "In the case of snow skiing, I needed some wedges in my boots?. By the end of the week, I was again snowboarding and competing in a Level 2 race. It was the real deal."
Rozelle, who was in charge of 140 soldiers as part of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, said he hopes to return to Iraq next year to command a new unit. He was serving as the unofficial "sheriff" of Hit, a city in western Iraq, when he drove over an anti-tank mine in June 2003. The explosion sliced through the middle of his Humvee. Doctors amputated his leg below the knee in a hospital tent.
"Any time you are in combat, you feel powerful," said Rozelle, who attended the event in Long Beach with his wife and 11-month-old son. "You feel no one is going to kill you because you are smarter, you are better trained and you are better equipped. You don't even think about it. Then when you get blown up, you realize how vulnerable you are. What matters the most to me is that I'm still alive."
WWII Soldier's Heroism Sent a Message About Prejudice
Torrance's Ted Tanouye fought and died for a nation that incarcerated his family.
By Cecilia Rasmussen, Times Staff Writer
On "Hill 140" northeast of Cecina, Italy, on July 7, 1944, a young soldier from Torrance single-handedly wiped out six German machine-gun nests that had pinned down his unit for two days.
He was wounded, but recovered to fight in another battle. Wounded again, this time fatally, he shouted encouragement to his men as he was carried away on a stretcher. "Go for broke!" he cried ? invoking the battalion's motto.
The soldier's heroism was all the more remarkable considering that, from the time he began training until the time he died, his family was locked in an internment camp by the same government he was fighting for.
Tech Sgt. Ted Tanouye was a member of the all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which together with the 100th Infantry Battalion became the most decorated combat unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history. That's in part because the soldiers had something to prove to the country that had incarcerated many of their families.
Nobody ever questioned Tanouye's courage under fire. His feat in July 1944 earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, the military's second-highest honor.
But, like at least a score of Japanese American soldiers, he did not receive the Medal of Honor, probably because of wartime prejudice. That was rectified four years ago, when Tanouye and 19 other Japanese Americans received the medal, many of them posthumously.
Now Tanouye will be honored by his alma mater, Torrance High School, from which he graduated in 1938. A memorial in his honor will be unveiled Wednesday across the street from the school, and four vintage U.S. Army Bird Dog aircraft will roar overhead in the "missing man" formation.
Until Tanouye came along, Torrance High's most famous graduate was an acquaintance of his, future Olympian Lou Zamperini, who ran the 5,000 meters in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Zamperini became a war hero after his plane crashed in 1943, stranding him on a raft at sea until he was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese.
A stadium and an airfield were named for Zamperini, who earned the Purple Heart, among other medals. But the honors didn't rest easy. "I always felt bad because Tanouye was the real hero and wasn't honored," Zamperini said in an interview.
Tanouye, a second-generation Japanese American, was born in Torrance in 1919, the eldest of six children. While his parents worked on their truck farm, he spent weekends and a few years after graduation working the produce section at the Ideal Ranch Market in Torrance.
He was working Dec. 7, 1941, when news of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor came over the radio. Friends said he cried.
He enlisted in the Army in February 1942, two days after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order to intern about 120,000 Japanese Americans for the duration of the war.
Tanouye and his best friend, Akira Shimatsu, were inducted at Ft. MacArthur in San Pedro while, a few miles away, their families were being put aboard an internment train, bound for an Arkansas camp.
The best friends also wound up in Arkansas, for infantry training. That proved fortuitous; both visited their families before shipping out to Italy.
Independence Day 1944 found Tanouye on the front lines near Cecina. He led his platoon to attack and captured, with precious little cover, a "strategically important hill," as his medal citation called it.
What he did, according to his citation, was this: For two days, his platoon had been pinned down by machine-gun fire. Tanouye crawled forward alone and machine-gunned all the Germans in the first nest. A second machine-gun nest opened fire. He fired back, silencing it.
His left arm injured by a grenade, he refused first aid. He crawled and dashed from cover to cover as he sprayed an enemy trench with bullets.
At last, out of ammunition, he crawled 20 yards to a comrade to reload. He then slithered forward to a fourth machine-gun installation and hurled a grenade. Under fire as he lay on the hillside, he managed to take out two more machine-gun nests.
"His courageous decision to go ahead in the face of suicidal odds, his skillful deployment of his men to keep losses at a minimum, his consideration for them, and his devotion to duty exemplify and reflect the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States," wrote his platoon leader, Lt. Samuel R. Gay.
When Tanouye recovered, he returned to his comrades farther north in Italy. He was sitting in a foxhole Aug. 27, 1944, when he wrote what may have been his last letter to his parents, who were still in Arkansas. He was busy, he said, "dodging artillery fire and bullets," but asked them not to worry. "I'm OK, yet ? only miss Akira."
His best friend had been killed five weeks before while carrying wounded soldiers to safety. Shimatsu received the Bronze Star posthumously.
A few days later, on Sept. 1, Tanouye was crouching to inspect a German land mine along the Arno River when another soldier accidentally tripped the wire. Tanouye took most of the blast, shielding Sgt. Hideo Kuniyoshi.
"If it weren't for Ted, I wouldn't be alive," Kuniyoshi said in a video tribute to Tanouye. Kuniyoshi is flying here from Hawaii for the unveiling of the memorial to the man who died in his stead.
As Tanouye was carried away on a stretcher, Kuniyoshi remembered, he called to his men, "Go for broke!," the motto of the 442nd. Tanouye died five days later.
Seven months later, his mother was temporarily released from the internment camp and taken by military escort to a ceremony in Little Rock, where she received her son's Distinguished Service Cross. Medal in hand, she was returned to the camp.
In 2000, Tanouye's cross was upgraded to a Medal of Honor. "Rarely has a nation been so well served by a people it had so ill treated," President Clinton said at a White House ceremony honoring Tanouye, 19 other Japanese Americans, a Filipino American and a Chinese American.
A short video about Tanouye's life will be shown at Wednesday's ceremony, which follows last year's renaming of the Torrance National Guard armory after him. Documentarians Craig Yahata and Robert Horsting pieced together photos and interviews with family members, classmates, military friends and current Torrance High students.
"He wasn't like other sergeants," Pvt. Rudy Tokiwa says in the video. "He had patience and tried to explain things to his men, not just give us orders."
Horsting said that Tanouye, 24, was "one of the oldest in his platoon and he felt he had to protect his men, who were mostly only 18 years old."
Tanouye and Shimatsu were buried in Italy. In 1948 they were exhumed and returned to Los Angeles. Their funerals were held simultaneously at the Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo, and they were buried side by side at Evergreen Cemetery.
Seven years after Tanouye died, his youngest brother, Yukiwo, serving in the Army, was killed in the Korean War. He was buried on the other side of his brother.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Violence against Women
on: July 05, 2004, 09:35:26 AM
Should this happen, it will be very interesting to observe the reactions of various military, political and civilian players.
Female US soldier in Iraq targetted for kidnapping
PTI[ THURSDAY, JULY 01, 2004 08:48:06 PM ]
WASHINGTON: Terrorists in the Abu Musab Zarqawi network in Iraq are specifically trying to kidnap an American female service member to further horrify the US public, senior defence officials were on Thursday quoted as saying.
The word is being passed within the network on the importance of taking one or more women hostages, The Washington Times reported quoting two senior US defence officers.
"We have heard through intelligence channels that several extremist organisations are attempting to capture coalition servicemen and women. We have instituted additional force protection methods to thwart these attempts," a senior military officer in Iraq told the paper.
Another defence source said there is an "edict, either on paper or as an order," within terrorist networks to capture an American female service member."
Of the 140,000 US troops in Iraq, about 11,000 are women.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Knife Strategies
on: July 04, 2004, 08:37:52 AM
Woof Island Dog:
A pleasure seeing you once again.
As for your question, it is a good one-- but I suspect that people may be loathe to share their "secret" tactics/strategies.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly
on: July 02, 2004, 12:47:52 PM
And in a separate matter, I move over "Danny Boy's post to here:
Judge suspected of masturbating in court
June 25, 2004
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma state judge frequently masturbated and used a device for enhancing erections while his court was in session, charges a petition by the state's attorney general seeking his removal.
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed the petition on Wednesday with state judicial authorities seeking the ouster of Sapulpa District Judge Donald Thompson, 57, for "conduct constituting an offense involving moral turpitude in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution," Edmondson's spokesman said on Thursday.
The judge flatly denies the charges made in the petition, his lawyer, Clark Brewster, said on Thursday. He said the judge received a penis pump for his 50th birthday as a gag gift, which became a source of a running joke in the courthouse.
"The allegations are bizarre and preposterous," Brewster said. "Recently, some members of local law enforcement that are upset with a number of his rulings, used this situation to embarrass and attack him."
The judge, who was first elected to the bench more than 20 years ago in the state's nonpartisan judicial elections, is based about 80 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Photo of Kris on web site
on: July 01, 2004, 07:07:52 PM
Woof Gints et al:
That "Satan-like creature" peering over my shoulder is Pappy Dog, the man that Kris cleverly just headbutted in the teeth.
Anyway, I'll be glad to get the pictures to Kris-- he'll be training with me on Monday.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: July 01, 2004, 03:17:05 AM
Philippines: MILF Peace Talks on Again
June 30, 2004
After President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's re-election, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are ready to restart peace talks. A large portion of the Moro rebels could be ready to end the long-standing insurrection; however, movement toward an accord could spark more violence, while radical members of MILF reject peace.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said June 28 the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in hunting militant Islamist groups Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf. The announcement comes while negotiators from the government and MILF are poised to resume stalled peace talks, and U.S. forces prepare to conduct joint exercises with Philippine troops in Mindanao.
A combination of battle fatigue and U.S. intervention in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao appears to be prompting a large portion of the Moro rebels to cut a peace deal with Manila. Over the next few months, fighting will likely erupt between divergent MILF factions while radical groups that reject peace splinter from the main body of the group.
Now that the presidential elections have passed and Arroyo's government is reasonably secure, political forces in Mindanao are again moving toward a peace deal. The government and MILF are scheduled to meet in Kuala Lumpur in early August to reopen peace talks interrupted by the political contest in Manila.
MILF has sent a series of positive signals in the past week. Rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu congratulated Arroyo on June 24 for winning the election, saying, "We remain optimistic that a peace agreement will be reached under her administration." The Moro rebels are backing up their rhetoric with action, reportedly using intelligence provided by Manila to find JI members among the rebels. Philippine security officials estimate that up to 40 JI members are in Mindanao training members of MILF and Abu Sayyaf.
MILF's cooperation with Manila has won it praise from the government. Arroyo said June 29 that conflict with the Moro rebels "is at an all-time low" following a cease-fire in July 2003.
The statements by Arroyo and the rebels are more than just political niceties before they meet at the negotiating table. MILF appears battle weary and ready to accept an exchange of autonomy for a peace agreement; the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) accepted a similar deal in 1996.
MILF's move to throw in the towel is partially prompted by the U.S. involvement in Mindanao, which has become a front in the U.S. war against Islamist groups. The United States is continuing to support Philippine military operations against the Abu Sayyaf, while using a mixture of economic incentives and military threats -- including U.S. assistance for the AFP if fighting resumes, or development aid once an accord is reached -- to push MILF into a peace deal. By supporting the Philippine military and co-opting MILF, the United States hopes to deny the southern Philippines to militant groups, which use the region as a training ground and base of operations.
There likely will be a dramatic increase in violence in Mindanao when MILF moves to negotiate a peace deal and immediately after any deal is cut.
Small radical factions within MILF probably will reject peace and splinter off into new militant groups or join JI and the Abu Sayyaf. There also will be violent infighting among the rebels as the MILF high command works with Manila to purge its ranks. In addition, some rejectionists within MILF will likely attempt to derail peace talks through numerous small-scale attacks.
Copyrights 2004 - Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Questions for So Cal people
on: June 29, 2004, 09:49:22 PM
Porn Star Dog couldn't get into this thread for some reason and so on his behalf I post his reply for him:
Posted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 9:57 pm Post subject: SoCal Response
I can't reply to the other thread for some reason.
LOL! at Tim for not having housing recommendations.
SoCal pretty much is a different state. I highly recommend a car in L.A. Public transportation can be reliable. The buses go everywhere, but take a long time. A car really makes life easier here. Santa Monica and Westwood are nice areas although a bit pricey. The easiest way to make your rent cheap is to find roommates, or maybe student housing?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing?
on: June 28, 2004, 12:34:32 PM
Woof Tuhon Raf:
Interesting observations. I also admired Prince Naz' footwork greatly. Lots of bilaterlism, lots of triangles.
PS: Going on a bit of a tangent:
I'm a street bum, says broke Tyson
By Anne Campbell, Metro
Boxing legend Mike Tyson has been sleeping in homeless shelters and
living like a 'street bum' since declaring himself bankrupt.
The former heavyweight champion of the world, who once had more than
?165million in the bank and regularly earned ?5million per fight, also
said he has been accepting handouts from drug dealers.
He added: 'For two years I have been a bum, truly a bum in the streets.
'I've got nowhere to live. I've been crashing with friends, literally
sleeping in shelters. Unsavoury characters are giving me money and I'm
taking it. I need it. The drug dealers, they sympathise with me. They
see me as some sort of pathetic character.'
Tyson, who will be 38 on Wednesday, will fight British boxer Danny
Williams on July 30 in an attempt to make some money.
But he is so deeply in debt that even the ?7.6million to be paid to
him by promoter Don King to settle a lawsuit will not lift him out of
He said: 'When I had money I was an animal. I was so belligerent. I
lost all across the board. My life has been a total waste.'
Tyson, who served three years in jail for rape in the 1990s and who
bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear during a 1997 fight, still
thinks he can be heavyweight champion again.
He added: 'I know I was a tough, bad-ass talking fighter, but I ain't
no mob figure. I did my time for the rape. I paid my money to Las
Vegas. I paid my dues. I ain't the same person I was when I bit that guy's ear off.'
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes
on: June 25, 2004, 08:58:46 PM
If true, this is evil, wicked, mean, nasty, fascist and Orwellian.--Crafty
LIFE WITH BIG BROTHER
Bush to screen population for mental illness
Sweeping initiative links diagnoses to treatment with specific drugs
Posted: June 21, 2004
5:00 p.m. Eastern
? 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
President Bush plans to unveil next month a sweeping mental health initiative that recommends screening for every citizen and promotes the use of expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs favored by supporters of the administration.
The New Freedom Initiative, according to a progress report, seeks to integrate mentally ill patients fully into the community by providing "services in the community, rather than institutions," the British Medical Journal reported.
Critics say the plan protects the profits of drug companies at the expense of the public.
The initiative began with Bush's launch in April 2002 of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which conducted a "comprehensive study of the United States mental health service delivery system."
The panel found that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed" and recommended comprehensive mental health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children.
The commission said, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviors and emotional disorders."
Schools, the panel concluded, are in a "key position" to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adults who work at the schools.
The commission recommended that the screening be linked with "treatment and supports," including "state-of-the-art treatments" using "specific medications for specific conditions."
The Texas Medication Algorithm Project, or TMAP, was held up by the panel as a "model" medication treatment plan that "illustrates an evidence-based practice that results in better consumer outcomes."
The TMAP -- started in 1995 as an alliance of individuals from the pharmaceutical industry, the University of Texas and the mental health and corrections systems of Texas -- also was praised by the American Psychiatric Association, which called for increased funding to implement the overall plan.
But the Texas project sparked controversy when a Pennsylvania government employee revealed state officials with influence over the plan had received money and perks from drug companies who stand to gain from it.
Allen Jones, an employee of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General says in his whistleblower report the "political/pharmaceutical alliance" that developed the Texas project, which promotes the use of newer, more expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, was behind the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission, which were "poised to consolidate the TMAP effort into a comprehensive national policy to treat mental illness with expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit and deadly side effects, and to force private insurers to pick up more of the tab."
Jones points out, according to the British Medical Journal, companies that helped start the Texas project are major contributors to Bush's election funds. Also, some members of the New Freedom Commission have served on advisory boards for these same companies, while others have direct ties to TMAP.
Eli Lilly, manufacturer of olanzapine, one of the drugs recommended in the plan, has multiple ties to the Bush administration, BMJ says. The elder President Bush was a member of Lilly's board of directors and President Bush appointed Lilly's chief executive officer, Sidney Taurel, to the Homeland Security Council.
Of Lilly's $1.6 million in political contributions in 2000, 82 percent went to Bush and the Republican Party.
Another critic, Robert Whitaker, journalist and author of "Mad in America," told the British Medical Journal that while increased screening "may seem defensible," it could also be seen as "fishing for customers."
Exorbitant spending on new drugs "robs from other forms of care such as job training and shelter program," he said.
However, a developer of the Texas project, Dr. Graham Emslie, defends screening.
"There are good data showing that if you identify kids at an earlier age who are aggressive, you can intervene ... and change their trajectory."
If you'd like to sound off on this issue, please take part in the WorldNetDaily poll.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: June 23, 2004, 09:48:05 PM
Stratfor Weekly: U.S. and Iran: Beneath the Roiled Surface
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THE STRATFOR WEEKLY
23 June 2004
U.S. and Iran: Beneath the Roiled Surface
By George Friedman
We are in a pattern of escalating confrontation between Iran and the United States and its allies. Two issues have surfaced. There is the question of Iran's nuclear program. And there is the more urgent question of Iran's capture of three British patrol boats along the Iraq-Iran frontier. Neither of these surface issues is trivial, but the underlying issues are far more significant. The fact that they have surfaced indicates how serious the underlying questions are, and points to serious tensions between the Iranians and the United States.
Iran has historically faced two threats. Russia has pressed it from the
north; during and after World War II, the Soviets occupied a substantial part of Iran, as did the British. The other threat has come from the west -- from Iraq, from its predecessor states or from states that have occupied Iraq, including Britain. The collapse of the Soviet Union has gone a long way toward securing Iran's northern frontier. In fact, the instability to Iran's north has created opportunities for it to extend its influence in that direction.
Iraq, however, has remained a threat. Iraq's defeat in Desert Storm decreased the threat, with the weakening of Iraq's armed forces and constant patrolling of Iraqi skies by U.S. and British warplanes. But what Iran wanted most to see -- the collapse of the hated Saddam Hussein regime and its replacement by a government at least neutral toward Iran and preferably under Iranian influence -- did not materialize. One of the primary reasons the United States did not advance to Baghdad in 1991 was the fear that an Iraqi collapse would increase Iran's power and make it the dominant force in the Persian Gulf.
Iran Develops a Strategy
Subsequently, Iran's goals were simple: First, Iraq should never pose a
threat to Iran; it never wanted to be invaded again by Iraq. Second, Iran
should be in a position to shape Iraqi behavior in order to guarantee that it would not be a threat. Iran was not in a position to act on this goal itself. What it needed was to induce outside powers -- the United States in
particular -- to act in a manner that furthered Iranian national interests.
Put somewhat differently, Iran expected the United States to invade Iraq or topple Hussein by other means. It intended to position itself to achieve its primary national security goals when that happened.
From the end of Desert Storm to the fall of Baghdad, Iran systematically and patiently pursued its goal. Following Desert Storm, Iran began a program designed both to covertly weaken Hussein's regime and to strengthen Iranian influence in Iraq -- focusing on Iraq's Shiite population. If Hussein fell under his own weight, if he were overthrown in a U.S.-sponsored coup or if the United States invaded Iraq, Iran intended to be in a position to neutralize the Iraqi threat.
There were three parts to the Iranian strategy:
1. Do nothing to discourage the United States from taking action against
Iraq. In other words: Mitigate threats from Iran so the United States would not leave Hussein in place again because it feared the consequences of a power vacuum that Iran could fill.
2. Create an information environment that would persuade the United States to topple Hussein. The Iranians understood the analytic methods of U.S. policy makers and the intelligence processes of the Central Intelligence Agency. Iran created a program designed to strengthen the position of those in the United States who believed that Iraq was a primary threat, while providing the United States with intelligence that maximized the perception of Hussein as a threat. This program preceded the 2003 invasion and the Bush administration as well. Desert Fox -- the air campaign launched by the Clinton administration in December 1998 -- was shaped by the same information environment as the 2003 invasion. The Iranians understood the nature of the intelligence channels the United States used, and fed information through those that intensified the American threat perception.
3. Prepare for the fall of Hussein by creating an alternative force in Iraq
whose primary loyalty was to Iran. The Shiite community -- long oppressed by Hussein and sharing religious values with the Iranian government -- had many of the same interests as Iran. Iranian intelligence services had conducted a long, patient program to organize the Iraqi Shiite community and prepare the Shia to be the dominant political force after the fall of Hussein.
As it became increasingly apparent in 2002 that the United States was
searching for a follow-on strategy after Afghanistan, the Iranians recognized their opportunity. They knew they could not manipulate the United States into invading Iraq -- or provide justification for it -- but they also knew they could do two things. The first was to reduce the threat the United States felt from Iran. The second was to increase, to the extent possible, the intelligence available to those in the Bush administration who supported the invasion.
They accomplished the first with formal meetings in Geneva and back-channel discussions around the world. The message they sent was that Iran would do nothing to hinder a U.S. invasion, nor would it seek to take advantage of it on a direct state basis. The second process was facilitated by filling the channels between Iraqi Shiite exiles and the United States with apparently solid information -- much of it true -- about conditions in Iraq. This is where Ahmed Chalabi played a role.
In our opinion, Iranian intelligence knew two things that it left out of the
channels. The first was that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
programs had been abandoned. The United States did not invade Iraq because of WMD, but used them as a justification. The Iranians knew none would be found, but were pleased that the United States would use this as a justification. The second thing Iran kept from the United States was that Hussein and his key aides did not expect to defeat the United States in a conventional war, but had planned a guerrilla war to follow the fall of Baghdad.
The Iranians had a specific reason for leaving these things out. They knew the Americans would win the conventional war. They did not want the United States to have an easy time occupying Iraq. The failure to find WMD would create a crisis in the United States. The failure to anticipate a Baathist guerrilla war would create a crisis in Iraq. Iran wanted both to happen.
The worse the situation became in Iraq, the less the United States prepared for the real postwar environment -- and the more the credibility of President George W. Bush was questioned, the more eager the United States would be in seeking allies in Iraq. The only ally available -- apart from the marginal Kurds -- was the Shiite majority. As the situation deteriorated in the summer and fall of 2003, the United States urgently needed an accommodation with Iraq's Shia. The idea of a Shiite rising cutting lines of supply to Kuwait while there was a Sunni rising drove all U.S. thinking. It also pushed the United States toward an accommodation with the Shia -- and that meant an accommodation with Iran.
Such an accommodation was reached in the fall of 2003. The United States accepted that the government would be dominated by the Shia, and that the government would have substantial Iranian influence. During the Ramadan offensive, when the lid appeared to be flying off in Iraq, the United States was prepared to accommodate almost any proposal. The Iranians agreed to back-burner -- but not to shut down -- their nuclear proposal, and quiet exchanges of prisoners were carried out. Iran swapped al Qaeda prisoners for anti-Iranian prisoners held by the United States.
Things Fall Apart
Two things happened after the capture of Hussein in mid-December 2003. The first was that the Iranians started to make clear that they -- not the Americans -- were defining the depth of the relationship. When the United States offered to send representatives to Iran after an earthquake later in December, the Iranians rejected the offer, saying it was too early in the relationship. On many levels, the Iranians believed they had the Americans where they wanted them and slowly increased pressure for concessions.
Paradoxically, the United States started to suffer buyer's remorse on the
deal it made. As the guerrilla threat subsided in January and February, the Americans realized that the deal did not make nearly as much sense in January as it had in November. Rather than moving directly toward a Shiite government, the United States began talking to the Sunni sheikhs and thinking of an interim government in which Kurds or Sunnis would have veto power.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani -- who is an Iranian -- began to signal the
United States that trouble was brewing in Iraq. He staged major
demonstrations in January, calling for direct elections -- his code words for a Shiite government. The United States, no longer pressured and growing uneasy about the enormous power of the Iranians, did two things: They pressed ahead with plans for the interim government, and started leaking that they knew the game the Iranians were playing. The release of the news that Chalabi was an Iranian agent was part of this process.
The Iranians and al-Sistani -- seeing the situation slipping out of control
-- tried to convince the Americans that they were willing to send Iraq up in flames. During the Sunni rising in Al Fallujah, they permitted Muqtada
al-Sadr to rise as well. The United States went to al-Sistani for help, but
he refused to lift a finger for days. Al-Sistani figured the United States
would reverse its political plans and make concessions to buy Shiite support.
Just the opposite happened. The United States came to the conclusion that the Shia and Iran were completely unreliable -- and that they were no longer necessary. Rather than negotiate with the Shia, the Americans negotiated with the Sunni guerrillas in Al Fallujah and reached an agreement with them. The United States also pressed ahead with a political solution for the interim government that left the Shia on the margins.
The breakdown in U.S.-Iranian relations dates to this moment. The United
States essentially moved to reverse alliances. In addition, it made clear to
al-Sistani and others that they could be included in the coalition -- in a
favored position. In other words, the United States reversed the process by trying to drive a wedge between the Iranians and the Iraqi Shia. And it
appeared to be working, with al-Sistani and al-Sadr seeming to shift
positions so as not to be excluded.
Iran Roils the Surface
It was at that moment that the Iranians saw more than a decade of patient strategy going out the window. They took two steps. First, they created a crisis with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear weapons that was certain to draw U.S. attention. Second, they seized the British patrol boats. Their point? To let the United States know that it is on the verge of a major crisis with Iran.
The United States knows this, of course. Military planners are updating plans on Iran as we speak. The crisis is avoidable -- and we would expect it to wax and wane. But the fundamental question is this: Are American and Iranian national interests compatible and, if they are not, is either country in a position at this moment to engage in a crisis or a war? Iran is calculating that it can engage in a crisis more effectively than the United States. The United States does not want a crisis with Iran before the elections -- and certainly not over WMD.
But there is another problem. The Americans cannot let Iran get nuclear
weapons, and the Iranians know it. They assume that U.S. intelligence has a clear picture of how far weapons development has gone. But following the U.S. intelligence failure on WMD in Iraq -- ironically aided by Iran -- will any policy maker trust the judgment of U.S. intelligence on how far Iran's development has gone? Is the U.S. level of sensitivity much lower than Iran thinks? And since Israel is in the game -- and it certainly cannot accept an Iranian nuclear capability -- and threatens a pre-emptive strike with its ownnuclear weapons, will the United States be forced to act when it does not want to?
Like other major crises in history, the situation is not really under
anyone's control. It can rapidly spin out of control and -- even if it is in
control -- it can become a very nasty crisis. This is not a minor
misunderstanding, but a clash of fundamental national interests that will not be easy to reconcile.
(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.stratfor.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Knife Fights at the DB Gathering
on: June 23, 2004, 12:00:01 AM
At the previous Gathering all the knife fights were 2x2. To call the
results sloppy and behaviors unrealistic would be an understatement.
Indeed, as best as I could tell, EVERY SINGLE FIGHTER got killed.
So I put it to the guys on the DBMA Ass'n Forum for their thoughts as to how to do it better this coming Sunday. In search of additional thoughts and with their permission, I post the most of the thread here.
From the Invitation
"At each Gathering there is a different focus. At this one again we will be
encouraging people to fight 2 against 2 or 3 against 3 (or 2 against 3?) in
the knife fighting. This was a bit of a disaster last time with all players
repeatedly getting killed so we will try going about this a bit differently
I think it was a disaster only because we weren't all on the same page when it came to the "rules" of the knife fights.
What are the options?
A. You can think of the 1-2 minute knife fights as a bunch of much shorter fights. If you get killed, you acknowledge it, back off for a second or two, then start again. Or in a multiple man fight you have to run and touch the wall or drop and do ten push-ups or something before you can continue.
B. Each fight is one fight, period. You get killed, the fight's over. Or
if it's a multiple man fight, you're out.
C. Same as B, but if you get killed, you can continue fighting as long as
you can hold your breath or maybe you just get a couple of seconds for one last desperation attack as you're bleeding to death...
IMO, B & C, while more realistic, don't offer people enough time to "enjoy" their knife fighting experience if they get killed right away, but I can live with that.
Any other ideas?
Then of course we can debate what constitutes a kill...
In any case, I think it will seem less disastrous if the rules are made
explicitly clear to everyone before we start.
Maybe the multiple opponent knife fights were a disaster because the outcome of a knife fight between four men is disasterous.
IMHO I liked it the way we did it last Gathering. Jump in, figure out what
works, get hit, watch your back, look for your partner, get hit, think on
the run under attack, go go go.
THE problem was already raised. If kills matter, then what is a kill? "I
killed you." "No, I killed you first." "No, you didn't hit the artery, so
I killed you first." I'm sure no one would say it, but I'd be thinking it.
Besides rules require a judge.
I WOULD like to see a couple of really good knife fighters do a one on one
why not put ink or painting on the knife to see which is touched and or it
I tend to view the knife fighting much like option A, as a bunch of shorter
fights. I think it should be on the fighter to be aware when they've been
killed or have delivered a kill-shot. Also, I think people, i.e. bumrushers,
need to be aware of the simultaneous kill. I liked how Guro Crafty pulled
out a live blade and waved it near people's necks at the beginning of the
last Gathering so people would have a little more awareness in regards to
the fight. It's a warm-up, and I feel that too much emphasis on who killed
whom, who delivered a greater quantity of kill shots, etc. makes it more
like a knife competition.
The multiple man fights were chaotic with repeated killings, but we could
assume that it's another wave of attackers, kind of like a prison-riot, or
the old video game Double Dragon. I like the multiple man fighting because it opens a bucket of tactics, and if people are focusing on doing push-ups or running to touch a wall it might take away from the tactical exercise.
Man, that Double Dragon reference sure brings back a lot of memories!
In the context of a Gathering, I think bum-rushing is the typical response
of a fighter who's been cut several times and feels like he has to do
something to keep from looking like he "lost". OTOH I think it's a good
idea to have a plan for dealing with the bum-rush, since it is a desperation
tactic all too likely to be used in a real life-or-death knife fight. I
know of course, since this just happened to me last week!
The group here on Oahu tends to view the knife fighting in the same view as option A, a bunch of shorter fights. Dogzilla and I "kill" each other
multiple times per fight. I like to vary my actions during the knife
fights...some days, I play the knife "tag" game, where I'm targeting his
hand or trying to "defang the snake". Other days, I go only for "kill
shots" (neck, solid thrusts to torso) and couple that with the bum rush. I
think it's good for Mike (considering he works in a federal prison...in the
kitchen!) to be on the receiving end of the "shiv rush". He usually kills
me, but not always before I'm able to do some serious damage. It keeps
everyone involved well aware of the lethality of a real time, real life
situation where the bad guy doesn't always play by your rules.
However I'm playing the game though, I always back off to acknowledge a kill shot before continuing with the fight. In that respect, not only do the
knife fights provide for a fun time because they're longer and you get the
chance to try different tactics, it also serves as a decent warm up period
before the stickfighting begins. I find it also helps me quell the ongoing
mental chatter of stepping out with Dogzilla when he has a stick in his hand and "that look" in his eye. You know, sorta warm up to, "d**n, this is gonna hurt..."
So folks, any thoughts/comments/suggestions as to how to go about this in front of a few hundred people? I like the idea of working multiple
players-- its a core foundational concept of the FMA-- but am not happy with the results so far.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tonight (Friday) UFC
on: June 19, 2004, 07:16:00 PM
I rolled my eyes when I heard that the headline fight was K Shamrock and Kimo. "Oy yey!" I thought-- but then I heard today that Erik Paulsen has been training KS for the past 6 months! This IS news-- EP is awesome and maybe KS will have his first decent fight.
RAW Gym friend Frank Trigg is on the card and has looked fit, rested and mentally ready. Go Frank!!!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: June 16, 2004, 03:07:28 PM
Feeding the Minotaur
Our strange relationship with the terrorists continues.
As long as the mythical Athenians were willing to send, every nine years, seven maidens and seven young men down to King Minos's monster in the labyrinth, Athens was left alone by the Cretan fleet. The king rightly figured that harvesting just enough Athenians would remind them of their subservience without leading to open rebellion ? as long as somebody impetuous like a Theseus didn't show up to wreck the arrangement.
Ever since the storming of the Tehran embassy in November 1979 we Americans have been paying the same sort of human tribute to grotesque Islamofascists. Over the last 25 years a few hundred of our own were cut down in Lebanon, East Africa, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, and New York on a semi-annual basis, even as the rules of the tribute to be paid ? never spoken, but always understood ? were rigorously followed.
In exchange for our not retaliating in any meaningful way against the killers ? addressing their sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, or Syria, or severing their financial links in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia ? Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and their various state-sanctioned kindred operatives agreed to keep the number killed to reasonable levels. They were to reap their lethal harvests abroad and confine them mostly to professional diplomats, soldiers, or bumbling tourists, whose disappearance we distracted Americans would predictably chalk up to the perils of foreign service and exotic travel.
Despite the occasional fiery rhetoric, both sides found the informal Minoan arrangement mutually beneficial. The terrorists believed that they were ever so incrementally, ever so insidiously eroding America's commitment to a pro-Western Middle East. We offered our annual tribute so that over the decades we could go from Dallas to Extreme Makeover and Madonna to Britney without too much distraction or inconvenience.
But then a greedy, over-reaching bin Laden wrecked the agreement on September 11. Or did he?
Murdering 3,000 Americans, destroying a city block in Manhattan, and setting fire to the Pentagon were all pretty tough stuff. And for a while it won fascists and their state sponsors an even tougher response in Afghanistan and Iraq that sent hundreds to caves and thousands more to paradise. And when we have gotten serious in the postbellum reconstruction, thugs like Mr. Sadr have backed down. But before we gloat and think that we've overcome our prior laxity and proclivity for appeasement, let us first make sure we are not still captives to the Minotaur's logic.
True, al Qaeda is now scattered, the Taliban and Saddam gone. But the calculus of a quarter century ? threaten, hit, pause, wait; threaten, hit, pause, wait ? is now entrenched in the minds of Middle Eastern murderers. Indeed, the modus operandi that cynically plays on Western hopes, liberalism, and fair play is gospel now to all sorts of bin Laden epigones ? as we have seen in Madrid, Fallujah, and Najaf.
Much has been written about our problems with this postmodern war and why we find it so difficult to fully mobilize our formidable military and economic clout to crush the terrorists and their patrons. Of course, we have no identifiable conventional enemy such as Hitler's Panzers; we are not battling a fearsome nation that defiantly declared war on us, such as Tojo's Japan; and we are no longer a depression-era, disarmed, impoverished United States at risk for our very survival. But then, neither Hitler nor Mussolini nor Tojo nor Stalin ever reached Manhattan and Washington.
So al Qaeda is both worse and not worse than the German Nazis: It is hardly the identifiable threat of Hitler's Wehrmacht, but in this age of technology and weapons of mass destruction it is more able to kill more Americans inside the United States. Whereas we think our fascist enemies of old were logical and conniving, too many of us deem bin Laden's new fascists unhinged ? their fatwas, their mythology about strong and weak horses, and their babble about the Reconquista and the often evoked "holy shrines" are to us dreamlike.
But I beg to differ somewhat.
I think the Islamists and their supporters do not live in an alternate universe, but instead are no more crazy in their goals than Hitler was in thinking he could hijack the hallowed country of Beethoven and Goethe and turn it over to buffoons like Goering, prancing in a medieval castle in reindeer horns and babbling about mythical Aryans with flunkies like Goebbels and Rosenberg. Nor was Hitler's fatwa ? Mein Kampf ? any more irrational than bin Laden's 1998 screed and his subsequent grainy infomercials. Indeed, I think Islamofascism is brilliant in its reading of the postmodern West and precisely for that reason it is dangerous beyond all description ? in the manner that a blood-sucking, stealthy, and nocturnal Dracula was always spookier than a massive, clunky Frankenstein.
Like Hitler's creed, bin Ladenism trumpets contempt for bourgeois Western society. If once we were a "mongrel" race of "cowboys" who could not take casualties against the supermen of the Third Reich, now we are indolent infidels, channel surfers who eat, screw, and talk too much amid worthless gadgetry, godless skyscrapers, and, of course, once again, the conniving Jews.
Like Hitler, bin Ladenism has an agenda: the end of the liberal West. Its supposedly crackpot vision is actually a petrol-rich Middle East free of Jews, Christians, and Westerners, free to rekindle spiritual purity under Sharia. Bin Laden's al Reich is a vast pan-Arabic, Taliban-like caliphate run out of Mecca by new prophets like him, metering out oil to a greedy West in order to purchase the weapons of its destruction; there is, after all, an Israel to be nuked, a Europe to be out-peopled and cowered, and an America to be bombed and terrorized into isolation. This time we are to lose not through blood and iron, but through terror and intimidation: televised beheadings, mass murders, occasional bombings, the disruption of commerce, travel, and the oil supply.
In and of itself, our enemies' ambitions would lead to failure, given the vast economic and military advantages of the West. So to prevent an all out, terrible response to these predictable cycles of killing Westerners, there had to be some finesse to the terrorists' methods. The trick was in preventing some modern Theseus from going into the heart of the Labyrinth to slay the beast and end the nonsense for good.
It was hard for the Islamic fascists to find ideological support in the West, given their agenda of gender apartheid, homophobia, religious persecution, racial hatred, fundamentalism, polygamy, and primordial barbarism. But they sensed that there has always been a current of self-loathing among the comfortable Western elite, a perennial search for victims of racism, economic oppression, colonialism, and Christianity. Bin Laden's followers weren't white; they were sometimes poor; they inhabited of former British and French colonies; and they weren't exactly followers of the no-nonsense Pope or Jerry Falwell. If anyone doubts the nexus between right-wing Middle Eastern fascism and left-wing academic faddishness, go to booths in the Free Speech area at Berkeley or see what European elites have said and done for Hamas. Middle Eastern fascist killers enshrined as victims alongside our own oppressed? That has been gospel in our universities for the last three decades.
Like Hitler, bin Ladenism grasped the advantages of hating the Jews. It has been 60 years since the Holocaust; memories dim. Israel is not poor and invaded but strong, prosperous, and unapologetic. It is high time, in other words, to unleash the old anti-Semitic infectious bacillus. Thus Zionists caused the latest Saudi bombings, just as they have poisoned Arab-American relations, just as neo-conservatives hijacked American policy, just as Feith, Perle, and Wolfowitz cooked up this war.
Finally, bin Laden understood the importance of splitting the West, just like the sultan of old knew that a Europe trisected into Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism would fight among itself rather than unite against a pan-Islamic foe. Hit the Spanish and bring in an anti-American government. Leave France and Germany alone for a time so they can blame the United States for mobilizing against a "nonexistent" threat, unleashing the age-old envy and jealously of the American upstart.
If after four years of careful planning, al Qaedists hit the Olympics in August, the terrorists know better than we do that most Europeans will do nothing ? but quickly point to the U.S. and scream "Iraq!" And they know that the upscale crowds in Athens are far more likely to boo a democratic America than they are a fascist Syria or theocratic Iran. Just watch.
In the European mind, and that of its aping American elite, the terrorists lived, slept, and walked in the upper aether ? never the streets of Kabul, the mosques of Damascus, the palaces of Baghdad, the madrassas of Saudi Arabia, or the camps of Iran. To assume that the latter were true would mean a real war, real sacrifice, and a real choice between the liberal bourgeois West and a Dark-Age Islamofascist utopia.
While all Westerners prefer the bounty of capitalism, the delights of personal freedom, and the security of modern technological progress, saying so and not apologizing for it ? let alone defending it ? is, well, asking a little too much from the hyper sophisticated and cynical. Such retrograde clarity could cost you, after all, a university deanship, a correspondent billet in Paris or London, a good book review, or an invitation to a Georgetown or Malibu A-list party.
Nearly three years after 9/11 we are in the strangest of all paradoxes: a war against fascists that we can easily win but are clearly not ready to fully wage. We have the best 500,000 soldiers in the history of civilization, a resolute president, and an informed citizenry that has already received a terrible preemptive blow that killed thousands.
Yet what a human comedy it has now all become.
The billionaire capitalist George Soros ? who grew fabulously wealthy through cold and calculating currency speculation, helping to break many a bank and its poor depositors ? now makes the moral equation between 9/11 and Abu Ghraib. For this ethicist and meticulous accountant, 3,000 murdered in a time of peace are the same as some prisoners abused by renegade soldiers in a time of war.
Recently in the New York Times I read two articles about the supposedly new irrational insensitivity toward Muslims and saw an ad for a book detailing how the West "constructed" and exaggerated the Islamic menace ? even as the same paper ran a quieter story about a state-sponsored cleric in Saudi Arabia's carefully expounding on the conditions under which Muslims can desecrate the bodies of murdered infidels.
Aristocratic and very wealthy Democrats ? Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, and John Kerry ? employ the language of conspiracy to assure us that we had no reason to fight Saddam Hussein. "Lies," "worst," and " betrayed" are the vocabulary of their daily attacks. A jester in stripes like Michael Moore, who cannot tell the truth, is now an artistic icon ? precisely and only because of his own hatred of the president and the inconvenient idea that we are really at war. Our diplomats court the Arab League, which snores when Russians and Sudanese kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims but shrieks when we remove those who kill even more of their own. And a depopulating, entitlement-expanding Europe believes an American president, not bin Laden, is the greatest threat to world peace. Russia, the slayer of tens of thousands of Muslim Chechans and a big-time profiteer from Baathist loot, lectures the United States on its insensitivity to the new democracy in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East, we see the same old bloodcurdling threats, the horrific videos, the bombings, the obligatory pause, the faux negotiations, the lies ? and then, of course, the bloodcurdling threats, the horrific videos, the bombings...
No, bin Laden is quite sane ? but lately I have grown more worried that we are not.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: June 15, 2004, 08:52:52 AM
Stratfor Morning Intelligence Brief -- June 15, 2004
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1124 GMT -- IRAQ -- A purported letter from top jihadist Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was posted on Islamist Web sites June 15. The letter says that al-Zarqawi's ability to continue to
conduct operations is dwindling and warns that if his group is unable to
assume control of Iraq, it would have to move to another country or the
members would have to die as martyrs. The authenticity of the letter has not
yet been verified.
Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, June 15, 2004
The situation with Iran continues to deteriorate, this time on the nuclear
axis. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Monday that Iran is not fully cooperating with inspectors. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei noted that the particular problem was with Iran's nuclear enrichment activities, saying, "It is essential for the integrity and credibility of the inspection process that we are able to bring these issues to a close within the next few months and provide the international community with the assurances it urgently seeks regarding Iran's nuclear activities."
The nuclear situation in Iran has been on the table for years, although its
significance was reduced during the period of relative detente with the
United States over the past year. It was assumed that the nuclear issue --although never fully handled -- would not be permitted by either Iran or the United States to become a major block to the broader strategic relationship being forged over Iraq. The Iranians certainly didn't want a nuclear device more than they wanted a neutralized Iraq.
However, the world Iran inhabits this June is very different. The strategic
agreement with Washington has collapsed. Iraq is not heading the way it was heading a few months ago, and it is altogether conceivable that -- at the end of the day -- Baathists will play a leading role in Baghdad. Whoever governs Iraq, the dream of alliance or neutralization is gone. Iran now must calculate its place in a much more dangerous world.
Iran has the nuclear card to play. Tehran has observed Washington's behavior with North Korea, where the essential policy has been to find some means to placate Pyongyang while making occasional threats. North Korea has used its potential nuclear capability as a tool to guarantee regime survival. Iran sees its nuclear program in two ways: First, if successful, it is a tool that guarantees that no one will mess with Iran -- and second, even before it is successful, it becomes an important bargaining chip.
Iran has become more aggressive in positioning its nuclear policy precisely because its arrangements with the United States have slipped away. The threat of a confrontation with Iran is the last thing the Bush
administration needs. First, a crisis of nuclear weapons that Iran denies it
has, prior to the presidential election in November, would not play well
after the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Second, the
administration does not need a new crisis with Iran at a time when it wants to portray the situation as quieting down. Therefore it is in Tehran's
interest to assert its nuclear plans -- by stonewalling the IAEA. The goal
is to improve its position for quiet bargaining with the United States over
Iraq. The United States wants to contain the situation; Iran can exploit it.
The danger is this: In order to make its position strong, Iran really needs
to have a nuclear program. Given U.S. intelligence failures, it is very
difficult to trust CIA evaluations. They may be right about Iran, but at
this point, who knows? If the Iranians are really pushing ahead with a
nuclear program, U.S. leaders have to assume the worst case. In the worst case, Iran is close to having a nuclear device or even a weapon. The United States could not tolerate a nuclear Iran, since that would represent a threat to fundamental American interests. It also could not be tolerated by Israel. Therefore there are two nuclear countries in whose interests it would be to take out Iran's capabilities before they become operational.
Tehran does not want this to happen, obviously. It is likely that Iran is
more interested in bluffing a nuclear capability than in having one, since
its use of a nuclear weapon would bring devastating retaliation. Iran is
playing a very carefully refined game.
This is where the weakness in U.S. intelligence becomes painful. Iranian
leaders must assume that the United States knows the status of Iran's
nuclear capability in order for the negotiating ploy not to get out of
control. The United States could well have a clear picture of Iran's
capabilities. However, U.S. policymakers cannot assume that the intelligence evaluation they receive from the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency are accurate. They cannot play a refined game themselves. That makes the situation much more dangerous.
The Iranians view U.S. intelligence as extremely capable and assume that the recent failures were merely political covers for the real policies. It is not clear that they accept the notion that U.S. intelligence is not fully
trusted at this point. They may therefore push ahead, assuming that the
United States understands the limits of what Tehran is doing. If Washington instead goes with a worst-case scenario, a massive collision occurs.
The threat of a U.S.-Iranian confrontation is climbing continually. The fact
that the Iranians are forcing a confrontation over nuclear weapons is
ominous -- and the fact that the normal controls on the progression of the
crisis are not fully in place is what makes it really scary.
(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.stratfor.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: June 12, 2004, 12:47:36 AM
Abu Sayyaf and the Strait of Malacca
June 11, 2004 2019 GMT
Abu Sayyaf threats against passenger ferries in the Philippines raise the security threat across the region because of the group's contacts and possible cooperation with Jemaah Islamiyah.
Philippine security forces arrested a man in Manila on June 10 suspected of attempting to put explosive materials aboard a ship headed for Zamboanga City. Authorities believe the suspect was linked to Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group involved in attacks against Philippine ferries. Abu Sayyaf is loosely affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and al Qaeda, and personnel and tactics employed in attacks in the Philippines could be transferred to the strategically critical Strait of Malacca.
The explosives cache -- 30,000 nonelectric blasting caps, a detonating cord nearly a mile long and 2.4 miles of timing fuse -- was found by a bomb-sniffing dog. The materials could have been part of a planned attack or merely transported for future use, but their seizure follows at least one possible attack against a Philippine ferry and another foiled attack.
The Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for an explosion and fire on a Manila ferry Feb. 26 that killed more than 100 people. Philippine authorities are still investigating the case and have not ruled the ferry blast an attack. The Philippine military, however, said in late April it uncovered a plot to bomb ferries in Mindanao after arresting four Muslim extremists. One of the militants in custody allegedly said the explosion on the Manila ferry occurred after he stuffed TNT into a television set he placed aboard the ship. At the end of May, security forces seized homemade bombs on the southern island of Jolo, saying they prevented an attack on a ferry bound for Zamboanga.
Because the Abu Sayyaf is not an isolated group but jointly trains with the JI, which extends across Southeast Asia, its tactics and personnel can be transferred to other areas. JI and Abu Sayyaf agents working together could employ tactics similar to those used in the Philippines to attack ferries leaving ports in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. But the threat is not limited to ferry passengers in the region. The danger to the Strait of Malacca, one the world's most vital waterways, is also increased.
The 500-mile strait between Malaysia and Indonesia is the major shipping artery between the Middle East and East Asia. As many as 1,000 ships pass through it every week -- including tankers carrying approximately 80 percent of Japan's oil supply and nearly 40 percent of China's oil supply.
Attacking a ferry, or even a handful of ferries, probably would not severely interrupt shipping in the deepwater strait, but the political and economic shock from such an attack would be substantial. World oil prices already have risen after militant attacks in Saudi Arabia -- the world's largest oil supplier. If ferries in the strait were targeted, a similar risk premium would be placed on oil shipments.
But ferries would not necessarily be the only targets. Tactics similar to those used for smuggling explosives onto ferries could be used to place a bomb on a large container ship or tanker. Scuttling such a vessel in one of the narrowest sections of the strait -- only 1.5 miles wide at its narrowest point -- could seriously interrupt shipments. www.stratfor.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: June 12, 2004, 12:29:56 AM
This Dog's Way With Words Turns Fetch Into Child's Play
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
Dog owners have long suspected it and now German scientists have proved it ? dogs can have a large vocabulary and learn new words in a manner previously thought to be unique to humans.
They can't speak, of course, but dogs can understand much more than previously believed, and can learn and retain new words with a facility nearly equal to that of a 3-year-old toddler, the researchers report in today's edition of the journal Science.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig studied a border collie named Rico that had a vocabulary of at least 200 words and was adept at using them. While Rico may be the Einstein of dogs, the researchers said, other dogs, and perhaps even other animals, may have a similar ability.
"We wonder what prevents animals from speaking. The limitations are not their capacity to hear or understand," psychologist Julia Fischer told a news conference in Berlin.
Pet owners already know that dogs ? and other animals ? can respond correctly to spoken commands. Research also has shown that other animals, including apes, dolphins and parrots, can understand as many words as Rico does. But those animals typically learn words by repetition and reward.
The new findings suggest that some animals may possess a higher-level language ability that allows them to acquire and process words like humans, eroding the belief that humans are unique in language ability.
Rico appears to use a technique called "fast mapping," which young children use to learn new words by matching them to new objects. Fast mapping had not previously been demonstrated in animals.
"Rico's word-learning abilities surpass those of nonhuman primates such as chimpanzees, who have never demonstrated this sort of fast mapping," said psychologist Paul Bloom of Yale University, who wrote a commentary about the study in the same issue of Science.
Nine-year-old Rico is owned by Witold Krzeslowski and Susanne Baus of Dortmund. Baus told the news conference that she began teaching Rico the names of objects, mostly toys, when he was 10 months old and was laid up for nearly a year after a shoulder operation.
"At the start, it was three to four objects, but it has risen to 200 or 250," she told reporters. "I don't know what the limit might be, but we've now run out of space."
Some of the items have German names, such as Zitrone (lemon) and Kaninchen (bunny). Others have English names, such as Mr. Green, Seahorse and Big Mac, so Rico might be said to be bilingual.
Rico came to Fischer's attention when he appeared on the European television show "Wetten Das?" ("You Want to Bet?") and astounded the audience with his ability to fetch specific items. Fischer received permission to test Rico in the owners' home.
Fischer designed the studies carefully to avoid the possibility that Rico was taking conscious or unconscious cues from his owner. That phenomenon is known as the Clever Hans effect, after an early-20th century horse who was thought to be performing mathematical calculations but was actually picking up subtle cues from his questioner.
In a typical test, the researchers would place 10 items in a room in the house while Rico and his owner waited in another room. Rico would then be told to fetch an item while the humans waited out of sight. Rico retrieved the correct item 37 out of 40 times.
He also responded correctly when told to put the item in a box or deliver it to a specific person, indicating that he understood that the words corresponded to specific objects.
Going one step further, the team then placed a new item that Rico had never seen in the room along with six of his toys and told him to fetch the new toy using a new name. Seven out of every 10 times, Rico returned with the correct object.
"This tells us that he can do simple logic," Fischer said. Rico apparently concluded that the unknown name referred to the unknown object.
When tested again a month later with several of the previously unknown objects, Rico was correct half the time. "This retrieval rate is comparable to the performance of 3-year-old toddlers," the researchers wrote.
"Such fast, one-trial learning in dogs is remarkable," according to Katrina Kelnar, Science's deputy editor for life sciences. "This ability suggests that the brain structures that support this kind of learning are not unique to humans."
But Bloom cautioned that Rico's understanding was still very limited. "Children can understand words used in a range of contexts," he said. "Rico's understanding is manifested in his fetching behavior."
He conceded, however, that Rico's feats were impressive.
"Perhaps Rico is doing precisely what a child does, just not as well," he said. "A 2-year-old human knows more than a 9-year-old dog, after all, and has a better memory, and a better ability to understand the minds of adults. Rico's limitations might reflect differences in degree, not in kind."
Biologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh of Georgia State University, who has taught a bonobo ape named Kanzi many symbols that it uses to communicate, said Thursday that she had obtained similar results with two dogs but had not published them.
She thinks that Kanzi, Rico and other animals probably understand words well enough that they could speak if they had the proper vocal apparatus. Rico might already be trying to speak, if only we could understand him, she said.
So dog lovers may have been right about the animals all along.
"Dog owners often boast about the communicative and social abilities of their pets," Bloom said. "This study seems to vindicate them."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: June 11, 2004, 09:07:30 AM
A friend sent me the following piece. Having a box of tissue handy might be a good idea:
Reagan, the Marines, and a Boy
Here's a story I'd been considering posting for a while, but it wasn't until Reagan's death that I was really motivated to scan it. The following comes from the book "Swift, Silent, and Surrounded", a compilation of stories about the Corps, written and collected by a former Force Recon Marine.
In any case, here's the story, the meaning of which those who hate our military and who hate President Reagan will never understand:
On a spring day in 1983, Marine Staff Sergeant Robert Menke was waiting for a hot enlistment prospect he had talked to on the phone. Hunched over paperwork in the Corps' Huntington Beach California recruiting station, Menke heard the front door open and looked up. In came a boy in a motorized wheelchair, followed by his father. Menke noted the boy's frail body and thin arms. "Can I help you?" he asked.
"Yes," the boy answered firmly. "My name is John Zimmerman."
It took the startled Marine a moment to realize that this was indeed his prospect. "I'm Staff Sergeant Menke," he said, shaking his visitor's small hand. "Come on in."
Menke, a shy man, uncomfortable with recruiting, quickly found himself captured by the articulate thirteen year old youth with an easy, gap-toothed grin. For more than an hour they spoke -of training and overseas assignments and facing danger. The kid loved the Marine Corps. Not a word was exchanged about the younger Zimmerman's condition or the wheelchair.
There was one basic reason behind the visit to the Marine Corps recruiting office that day. From the moment Richard and Sandra Zimmerman learned their fourteen month old son had Werdnig-Hoffman syndrome, a rare neurological disease, they vowed to treat him like a normal child. Told that John probably would not live past age two, they refused to believe he would die. Despite tremendous weakness in his legs and back and susceptibility to colds, John simply looked well. They had him fitted with a rigid body jacket to help him sit upright and took him on vacation trips allover the country. They didn't get a wheelchair for him until he was three. Even then, Richard Zimmerman often carried his son, who weighed around thirty pounds, lugging him through amusement parks, into restaurants and to movies.
Werdnig-Hoffman syndrome victims have difficulty fighting off upper of respiratory problems. Before the age of five John was hospitalized three times with pneumonia, with each bout putting him on the edge of death. Richard Zimmerman believed Chicago's cold winter climate was partly to blame, and in 1975 he arranged a job transfer so the family could move to Southern California. There, the boy suffered fewer bouts with respiratory illness.
John, then six, was enrolled in classes for orthopedically handicapped children at the Plavan School in Fountain Valley. About this time he became aware of the Marine Corps at a week-long summer camp for disabled children. Many of his counselors at the camp in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park near San Diego were Marine volunteers. Each summer John would get to know another Marine through the camp's one-to-one counseling program. This sparked an interest that evolved into a passion.
While other children worshipped athletic heroes and rock stars, John gathered every bit of material about the Marines he could find. He plastered his room with Corps recruiting posters, his wheelchair with Marine stickers. His hero was John Wayne. He even dressed like a Marine and, much to his mother's consternation, got a Corps "burr" haircut.
After his initial visit to the Huntington Beach recruiting center, John kept in contact with Menke and Menke's boss, 31 year old Gunnery Sergeant John Gorsuch. Occasionally he dropped by with his father; more often, he phoned to ask questions or just to talk. He frequently devoted his school reports to Marine tactics, campaigns or equipment. When new recruiting posters arrived, Menke or Gorsuch would mail or personally deliver one to John. In turn John built model airplanes, trucks and tanks for his Marine buddies. Though delicate and intricate chores were difficult -and even painful -for him, John would work night after night on the models.
While Marines inspired John, he gave back as much as he got. One afternoon Gorsuch had scheduled seven appointments for potential recruits. Five hadn't shown up, and the other two had to be disqualified. John called to ask questions for a school report. "What's wrong, Gunny," John asked. "You don't sound right." Gorsuch explained. "Ah, come on Gunny," John said. "Look, you're a smooth operator, and for every one you lose you'll get two more." Gorsuch began to laugh. "You're right Johnny," he said. "You know...you're right."
An attempt to move John into a standard fourth-grade class at Plavan failed; because he could not write quickly, he could not keep up. But he made it in the sixth grade after his teachers allowed him to dictate some of his work.
John's family also benefited from his forceful personality. When told something couldn't be done, he would respond, "but did you ask?" Although he realized he probably never could hold a regular job he had no fear of talking with strangers, and figured one day he could help his father, a commercial real estate broker, by making the "cold" call the elder Zimmerman dreaded. As close as he was to his Marine friends, he was even closer to his father. Richard Zimmerman helped his son dress in the morning, helped him with baths and put him to bed each evening.
John rarely talked about the consequences of his disease, but he understood. On a trip to Hawaii in 1982, as the family visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the famed "Punchbowl," John whispered to his father, "I want to be buried here when I die. Can we do it?" Richard Zimmerman was taken aback. "I don't know if it's possible. But sure, John. Sure."
In the spring of 1984, not long before John was to graduate from the eighth grade, his condition began to worsen. His twisted spine was pressing into his internal organs, pinching nerves that sent searing pain through his back and legs. He had difficulty digesting food, and he began to lose weight. But he was determined to attend graduation.
On the night of the ceremony John was weak and nauseated, but to his surprise a Marine sergeant was there to escort him. He and the sergeant led the procession of students into the auditorium. John, thin and twisted, had to use the armrest of his wheelchair to prop himself up. His head, normal size, looked much too large for a body that was deserting an able mind. But to a rousing ovation, he flashed his biggest smile. Then another surprise: it was announced that John was a co-recipient of Plavan's Sergio Duran award, given annually to the handicapped graduate who best overcomes his limitations.
That summer John's condition improved slightly, and he entered Fountain Valley High School in the fall of 1984. During the first semester, however, his condition began to decline again, and his weight dropped to less than forty pounds. While he would have preferred to stay home and sleep, he attended school, confiding to his sister that he went "mainly because it makes Mom and Dad happy."
On New Year's Eve John went into respiratory failure and was rushed to the hospital. Gorsuch and Menke visited daily. Realizing their fifteen year old friend's remaining days would be few, they set out to make him a Marine. Menke secured permission to name John an honorary member of the Corps. Then one of Menke's friends penned a one-of-a- kind proclamation. On January 15, in a hospital room crowded with family and Marines, Major Robert Robichaud, area recruiting director, read the document. "By reposing special trust and confidence in the fidelity and abilities of John Zimmerman, I do hereby appoint him an Honorary Marine."
Two days later John looked at Sandra and said, "I'm a fighter, Mom. A helluva fighter." That night, he spoke to his nurses about dying, saying that his only fear was how his parents and sister would fare without him. In the early hours of January 18, John Zimmerman, U.S. Marine, passed on.
In a eulogy at John's memorial service Gorsuch, his voice cracking, said, "Marines learn never to give up, and John definitely had that quality. We have a motto in the Marines, the Latin words for always faithful. This is for Johnny Zimmerman," he concluded. "Semper Fi." After the service the two Marines approached John's casket. Slowly, Menke and Gorsuch unpinned the Marine emblems from their coat collars and gently placed these symbols of fidelity into the casket with their friend.
During the final week of his life, no longer able to talk, John had scrawled a note to his father, reminding him of a promise made nearly three years before. "Punch bowl -will you visit me?" His father nodded. "If that's what you want, we'll do it," he said. In reality, Richard had no idea if it would even be possible. Yet his son's favorite phrase kept coming back to him: "But Dad, did you ask?" Richard looked into the matter and discovered that such cemeteries are reserved for military personnel and their families. Even though Menke had volunteered to give up his cemetery plot, the Veterans Administration would not permit it, or grant John's wish. Richard decided to try again. This time he wrote to California Senator Pete Wilson and learned that to circumvent the rules he would need authorization from the President. The Senator, a former Marine, was willing to help.
"He never had the opportunity to serve his country in the Marine Corps as he so wished he could have," Wilson wrote to President Reagan. "However, his dedication and courage no doubt had very positive effects on many young Marines and civilians..." The President granted the request, and the Marine Corps went into action. At Camp Smith on Oahu, about thirty Marines volunteered for the funeral detail. And on a windy day in the Punch bowl, with the cemetery's flag at half-staff, John Zimmerman was put to rest with full military honors.
Prior to a 21-gun salute, U.S. Navy Chaplain Jack Graham spoke. "Courage isn't limited to battlefields," he said. "The Marines have a saying: 'The Marines need a few good men.' They found one in John Zimmerman.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: June 07, 2004, 01:41:57 PM
Man's best friend but insurers' foe
Their Assembly bill has failed, but dog lovers continue to rail against breed discrimination.
By Jeff Bertolucci, Special to The Times
In the 1976 apocalyptic horror flick "The Omen," a snarling Rottweiler protects the antichrist child Damien Thorn, allowing him to unleash his devilish proclivities on a naive world. The beast is Damien's pet, and no one in the film questions the wisdom of allowing the menacing canine to roam the halls of the Thorn mansion.
Update the plot to 2004, however, and the family's insurance agent probably would have an opinion. Indeed, two of the five largest in California ? Allstate and the California State Automobile Assn. ? deny homeowner policies to owners of large-breed dogs they deem to be overly aggressive, such as the Akita, boxer, chow, Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler, pit bull, Presa Canario and wolf hybrid.
Many other insurers, including the Automobile Club of Southern California, Mercury Insurance Group, Hartford Financial Services Group, Travelers and Wawanesa Insurance, have canine blacklists as well.
The breed-discrimination policies have drawn a backlash from dog enthusiasts and others. A recent bill introduced in the California Assembly to prohibit insurers from refusing to issue a homeowner policy to owners of certain breeds failed in committee.
Both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States believe insurers unfairly target specific breeds without taking into account an individual dog's disposition or whether its owner is a responsible caretaker. They also claim a growing number of dog owners nationwide are being denied homeowners insurance based solely on the breed of their pet.
"It's a growing trend over the past five to 10 years," said Eric Sakach, director of the Humane Society's West Coast office in Sacramento, who has received at least 50 recent letters from Californians whose homeowner insurance wasn't renewed because of their choice of dog.
However, it's difficult to estimate the number of people who, at their insurer's insistence, are surrendering their dogs to animal shelters.
"People aren't bringing in animals and saying, 'Look, I'm getting rid of it for insurance reasons,' " said Kaye Michelson, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Animal Control, which operates six animal shelters in the county.
Lt. Dennis Carter of the Carson Animal Shelter agrees. "People don't like to admit why they're turning the dog in. They won't say, 'I'm turning this dog in because my insurance is too high.' They just say, 'I've got to get rid of my dog.' "
But at the Burbank Animal Shelter five people have brought in their dogs this year "because the insurance company said they couldn't keep them," reported Lt. Bruce Speirs.
Insurers, for the most part, are upfront about their dog policies. Mercury Insurance steers clear of pit bulls, Presa Canarios and sometimes Rottweilers. Auto Club of Southern California adds a few exotic breeds to its blacklist, including the Karelian Bear Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Russo-European Laika.
Companies look for breeds that "have demonstrated dangerous tendencies," said George Joseph, Mercury Insurance chairman and chief executive. "The pit bull, he's the worst of all. And the Presa Canario shouldn't even be legal."
The Presa Canario, a stocky, barrel-chested breed, gained national notoriety after two Canarios mauled a San Francisco woman to death in the hallway of her apartment building in January 2001.
Dog-bite claims cost the insurance industry more than $345 million in 2002, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit trade group funded by insurers. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of those victims are children. About 12 Americans die each year in dog attacks. And of the 238 dog-attack fatalities in the U.S. between 1979 and 1998, more than half involved three breeds: pit-bull type, 66; Rottweiler, 39; and German shepherd, 17.
Is the dog-bite problem as serious as insurers claim?
"My hunch is that, as always with these insurance mini-crises, the truth lies somewhere in between," said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group in San Francisco. "There probably are somewhat higher incidences of claims among breeds but not enough to justify the extreme overreaction that insurers are having."
Dog proponents believe that homeowners are being unfairly punished for the handful of horrific dog attacks that make headlines.
"Most bad dogs are the result of irresponsible owners," said Sakach of the Humane Society. "It's important to look at who's in charge of the animal."
Dog owners who wouldn't consider giving up their pet ? an animal they consider a loyal family member ? are left scrambling to find homeowner coverage when an insurer shuts them out.
Gloria Kepler, a resident of La Habra Heights, an upscale, semirural community of ranch homes 25 miles southeast of downtown L.A., was denied homeowner coverage by Mercury Insurance when the company's inspector spotted her four dogs, including three bulldogs and a boxer.
"They're all house dogs. We don't have dogs prowling the property," Kepler said. "We've never had a claim, and we've been in this house for 18 years."
But Mercury Insurance's Joseph supports his firm's policies. "There are breeds that are questionable," he said. "We send somebody out to see what the dogs are like."
Some insurers focus more on the individual dog than the breed itself. State Farm, for instance, doesn't discriminate against certain breeds, according to company spokeswoman Ena Alcaraz. But if a dog-bite claim is filed, a State Farm inspector will come to the house and evaluate the dog. If the animal is deemed aggressive, State Farm can have dog coverage removed from the homeowner's policy.
Farmers Insurance Group takes a similar approach. "If your dog bites someone, we'll ask you to exclude it from the policy," said company spokeswoman Mary Flynn in Los Angeles.
But even insurers without dog blacklists shy away from certain breeds.
"The pit bull is going to raise a red flag, but that doesn't mean an automatic rejection," said Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. spokesman Kevin Craiglow in Columbus, Ohio. Similarly, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. doesn't have an outright prohibition against pit bulls and Rottweilers, but it "tends to avoid issuing policies with those breeds in the house," said spokesman John Kozero in Novato, Calif.
A recent attempt to outlaw dog-breed discrimination in California, Assembly Bill 2399, failed to pass the Assembly's insurance committee in early May. Introduced by Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Ca?ada Flintridge), the bill would have prohibited insurers from refusing to issue a homeowner policy to owners of certain breeds.
It also would have allowed insurers to charge a higher premium for breeds considered dangerous and would have mandated a premium discount for dogs that pass the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen obedience program.
The insurance industry lobbied against AB 2399, strongly objecting to the good citizen discount.
"We don't have any actuarial evidence to justify such a discount. There's nothing in underwriting that would take into account a canine good citizen," said Jerry Davies, spokesman for the Personal Insurance Federation, an industry lobbying group in Sacramento.
The bill isn't dead but will be revised. "It's hit a large obstacle. We're going back to the drawing board," said Liu spokeswoman Candice Chung.
What's a workable alternative to breed discrimination? Dog advocates believe insurers should take into account the actions of a dog's owner. Canines that have been spayed or neutered, that live inside the home with humans, that are licensed, vaccinated and have undergone obedience training, are far less likely to show aggressive behavior, said the Humane Society's Sakach.
"If someone can show they've accomplished these things with their dog, there's no reason they should be penalized," Sakach said. "It's unlikely their dog is ever going to cause a problem."
What can homeowners with blacklisted breeds do?
One option is to shop around for a company that doesn't breed-discriminate. Lying to an insurer about your dog isn't a good idea, because the company's adjuster will probably inspect your property and discover the truth.
"If you have a dog that is specifically excluded under your policy," said Bach of United Policyholders, "I would try to find coverage elsewhere."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: June 07, 2004, 09:22:33 AM
A quick comment: I am struck by Strat's lack of reference to the Iranian efforts to complete going nuke-- and by its comment about the US increasingly being seen as reacting to pressure instead of having a coherent plan.
Geopolitical Diary: Monday, June 7, 2004
The realignment in Iraq continues to have expected political repercussions
in the region, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi events are
getting more notice in the media, but the events in Iran are both more
interesting and more ominous. Over the long run, they could pose a problem to the United States in this war that is substantially less manageable than events in Saudi Arabia -- which is saying quite a lot.
Despite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's reserved endorsement of the new
Iraqi government, Iran continues to leak ominous news. A few weeks ago, there was word that Iranian suicide squads were being trained to attack Western targets. That story went quiet for a while, but this weekend, the leaks began again. Agence France Presse moved a story on Sunday about a group called the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the World Islamic Movement -- citing an Iranian newspaper, Shargh, as the source. This time, the group had a spokesman, Mohammad Samadi, who reported that he has signed up 2,000 for the martyrs campaign. According to Samadi, "Suicide operations are the best way to fight the oppressors, and they have already shown their worth in Lebanon and during the war between Iran and Iraq."
Two things appear to be going on. First, the Iranians are letting the United
States know that al Qaeda is far from the only concern Washington will have if events continue along their current trend in Iraq. If Tehran is not going to get the deal leaders thought they had nailed down -- a neutral to
pro-Iranian government in Baghdad -- Iran will respond in exactly the way the United States doesn't want: opening a new front with suicide bombings.
Iran is also delivering a message to al Qaeda and Saudi fundamentalists.
These groups have criticized the Iranians and the Shia intensely for
collaborating with the United States, and Iran's radical credentials have
been tarnished. With these announcements, the Iranians are reasserting their claims as leaders of Islamic fundamentalism and reminding the Sunni Wahhabis that Iranians were carrying out such operations 20 years ago, while the Saudis were the ones collaborating with the Americans.
The leaks pose a difficult problem for the United States. If Washington
moves along the line of realignment with Sunnis in Iraq, it really could
wind up with another, even more dangerous version of al Qaeda. If the United States tries to placate the Iranians, it will have even more problems in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been doing all the things the Americans have asked for, and they are now virtually in a civil war because of it. If the United States moves to placate the Iranian Shia, that would not only be another nail in the coffin of the Saudi government, but would increase the sense in the region that the United States is now simply responding to pressure and no longer has a serious plan.
Meanwhile, Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Nashmi, the leader of the Al Quds Brigade of the Arabian Peninsula, released a detailed description of the Khobar attacks that gave an interesting insight into the militants' thinking: "We were asking our brother Muslims, where are the Americans, and they showed us a building where companies have offices. We did find an American. I shot him in the head, [which] exploded. Then we found a South African and we shot him too. In our search for unbelievers, we had to exchange fire with the security forces."
It is important to note the use of the term "unbeliever." The primary
purpose of the attacks was an assault on Americans, but the mission extended to the execution of any nonbeliever. Al-Nashmi also discussed the killing of Philippine Roman Catholics and of Indians, referring to both as unbelievers. This is not new, but the intensity with which unbelievers are being targeted -- as opposed to Westerners or Americans -- is noteworthy. The language used matters.
If the view extends that al Qaeda's war is against all unbelievers, rather
than a war against American imperialism, and if it extends to include
Iranians and other Shia, things will get very interesting indeed. We are
getting the sense of a further radicalization in the Islamic world. We also
are sensing that this further radicalization might create non-Islamic
coalitions that do not currently exist. It is a process we will be watching
(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.stratfor.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: June 06, 2004, 02:15:36 PM
Too Much, Too Late
Baby boomers heap insincere praise on the "greatest generation."
BY DAVID GELERNTER
Friday, June 4, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
My political credo is simple and many people share it: I am against phonies.
A cultural establishment that (on the whole) doesn't give a damn about World War II or its veterans thinks it can undo a half-century of indifference verging on contempt by repeating a silly phrase ("the greatest generation") like a magic spell while deploying fulsome praise like carpet bombing.
The campaign is especially intense among members of the 1960s generation who once chose to treat all present and former soldiers like dirt and are willing at long last to risk some friendly words about World War II veterans, now that most are safely underground and guaranteed not to talk back, enjoy their celebrity or start acting like they own the joint. A quick glance at the famous Hemingway B.S. detector shows the needle pegged at Maximum, where it's been all week, from Memorial Day through the D-Day anniversary run-up.
When I was in junior high school long ago, a touring arts program visited
schools in New York state. One performance consisted of a celebrated actress reciting Emily Dickinson's poetry onstage for 90 minutes or so. I defy any audience to listen attentively to 90 minutes of Dickinson without showing the strain, and my school definitely wasn't having any.
A few minutes into the show, the auditorium was alive with student chatter, so loud a buzz you could barely hear the performance. Being a poetry-lover, I devoted myself to setting an example of rapt attention for, maybe, five minutes, at which point I threw in the towel and joined the mass murmur.
The actress manfully completed her performance. When it was over we gave her a stupendous ovation. We were glad it was finished and (more important) knew perfectly well that we had behaved like pigs and intended to make up for it by clapping and roaring and shouting. But the performer wasn't having any. She gave us a cold curtsy and left the stage and would not return for a second bow.
I have always admired her for that: a more memorable declaration than
anything Dickinson ever wrote. And today's endless ovation for World War II vets doesn't change the fact that this nation has behaved boorishly, with colossal disrespect. If we cared about that war, the men who won it and the ideas it suggests, we would teach our children (at least) four topics:
. The major battles of the war. When I was a child in the 1960s, names like Corregidor and Iwo Jima were still sacred, and pronounced everywhere with respect. Writing in the 1960s about the battle of Midway, Samuel Eliot Morison stepped out of character to plead with his readers: "Threescore young aviators . . . met flaming death that day in reversing the verdict of battle. Think of them, reader, every Fourth of June. They and their comrades who survived changed the whole course of the Pacific War." Today the Battle of Midway has become niche-market nostalgia material, and most children (and many adults) have never heard of it. Thus we honor "the greatest generation." (And if I hear that phrase one more time I will surely puke.)
. The bestiality of the Japanese. The Japanese army saw captive soldiers as cowards, lower than lice. If we forget this we dishonor the thousands who were tortured and murdered, and put ourselves in danger of believing the soul-corroding lie that all cultures are equally bad or good. Some Americans nowadays seem to think America's behavior during the war was worse than Japan's--we did intern many loyal Americans of Japanese descent. That was unforgivable--and unspeakably trivial compared to Japan's unique achievement, mass murder one atrocity at a time.
In "The Other Nuremberg," Arnold Brackman cites (for instance) "the case of Lucas Doctolero, crucified, nails driven through hands, feet and skull"; "the case of a blind woman who was dragged from her home November 17, 1943, stripped naked, and hanged"; "five Filipinos thrown into a latrine and buried alive." In the Japanese-occupied Philippines alone, at least 131,028 civilians and Allied prisoners of war were murdered. The Japanese committed crimes against Allied POWs and Asians that would be hard still, today, for a respectable newspaper even to describe. Mr. Brackman's 1987 book must be read by everyone who cares about World War II and its veterans, or the human race.
. The attitude of American intellectuals. Before Pearl Harbor but long after the character of Hitlerism was clear--after the Nuremberg laws, the
Kristallnacht pogrom, the establishment of Dachau and the Gestapo--American intellectuals tended to be dead set against the U.S. joining Britain's war on Hitler.
Today's students learn (sometimes) about right-wing isolationists like
Charles Lindbergh and the America Firsters. They are less likely to read
documents like this, which appeared in Partisan Review (the U.S.
intelligentsia's No. 1 favorite mag) in fall 1939, signed by John Dewey,
William Carlos Williams, Meyer Schapiro and many more of the era's leading lights. "The last war showed only too clearly that we can have no faith in imperialist crusades to bring freedom to any people. Our entry into the war, under the slogan of 'Stop Hitler!' would actually result in the immediate introduction of totalitarianism over here. . . The American masses can best help [the German people] by fighting at home to keep their own liberties." The intelligentsia acted on its convictions. "By one means or another," Diana Trilling later wrote of this period, "most of the intellectuals of our acquaintance evaded the draft."
Why rake up these Profiles in Disgrace? Because in the Iraq War era they have a painfully familiar ring.
. The veterans' neglected voice. World War II produced an extraordinary
literature of first-person soldier narratives--most of them out of print or
unknown. Books like George MacDonald Fraser's "Quartered Safe Out Here," Philip Ardery's "Bomber Pilot," James Fahey's "Pacific War Diary." If we were serious about commemorating the war, we would do something serious. The Library of America includes two volumes on "Reporting World War II," but where are the soldiers' memoirs versus the reporters'? If we were serious, we would have every grade school in the nation introduce itself to local veterans and invite them over. We'd use software to record these informal talks and weave them into a National Second World War Narrative in cyberspace. That would be a monument worth having.
Speaking of which: I am privileged to know a gentleman who enlisted in the Army as an aviation cadet in 1942, served in combat as a navigator in a B-24, was shot down and interned in Switzerland, escaped, and flew in the air transport command for the rest of the war. He became a scientist and had a long, distinguished career. Among his friends he is a celebrated raconteur, and his prose is strong and charming. He wrote up his World War II experiences, and no one--no magazine, no book publisher--will take them on. My suggestions have all bombed out.
If you're interested, give me a call. But I'm not holding my breath. The
country is too busy toasting the "greatest generation" to pay attention to
its actual members.
Mr. Gelernter is a contributing editor of The Weekly Standard and professor of computer science at Yale.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / purchase a knife
on: June 04, 2004, 01:14:00 AM
"Crafty, are there any circumstances under which you would take the pipe over the knife?"
The only that occur at the moment are:
1) If the knive in question was flawed: bad handle, an undependable lock (if a folder), dull blade, etc.
2) He was wearing really hard to get through clothing.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: June 03, 2004, 08:47:50 PM
Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia
June 03, 2004 2217 GMT
By George Friedman
The United States has clearly entered a new phase of the Iraq campaign in which its relationship with the Iraqi Shia has been de-emphasized while relationships with Sunnis have been elevated. This has an international effect as well. It obviously affects Iranian ambitions. It also helps strengthen the weakening hand of the Saudi government by reducing the threat of a Shiite rising in strategic parts of the kingdom that could threaten the flow of oil. The United States is creating a much more dynamic and fluid situation, but it is also enormously more complicated and difficult to manage.
The United States has fully entered the fourth phase of the Iraq campaign. The first phase consisted of the invasion of Iraq and the fall of Baghdad. The second was the phase in which the United States believed that it had a free hand in Iraq. It ended roughly July 1, 2003. The third phase was the period of commitment to control events in Iraq, intense combat with the Sunni guerrillas and collaboration with the Shia in Iraq and the Iranians. The fourth phase began in April with the negotiated settlement in Al Fallujah, and became official this week with the formation of the interim Iraqi government.
The new government represents the culmination of a process that began during the April uprising by Muqtada al-Sadr -- and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's unwillingness to intervene to stop the fighting and the kidnappings. Al-Sistani's behavior caused the Bush administration to reconsider a strategic principle that had governed U.S. strategy in Iraq since July 2003: the assumption that the United States could not afford to alienate al-Sistani and the Shiite community and remain in Iraq.
The problem was that the understanding the United States thought it had with the Shia was very different from the one the Shia thought they had with the United States. It would take a microscope to figure out how the disconnect occurred and how it widened into an abyss, but the basic outlines are obvious. Al-Sistani believed that by controlling the Shia during the Sunni Ramadan offensive of October-November 2003, the Shia had entered into an agreement with the United States that the sovereign government of Iraq would pass into Shiite hands as rapidly as possible.
Whether the United States had a different understanding -- or given its intelligence that the Sunni rebellion had been broken -- the fact was that by January, the United States was backing off the deal. In pressing for an interim government selected by the United States and containing heavy Sunni and Kurdish representation, and by putting off direct elections for at least a year, the United States let al-Sistani know that he was not getting what he wanted. Al-Sistani first transmitted his unhappiness through several channels, including Ahmed Chalabi. He then called for mass demonstrations. When that did not work, he maneuvered al-Sadr into rising against the Americans at the same time as the Sunnis launched an offensive west of Baghdad, particularly in Al Fallujah. Al-Sistani's goal was to demonstrate that the United States was utterly dependent on the Shia and that it had better change its thinking about the future Iraqi government.
Al-Sistani badly miscalculated. The United States did not conclude that it needed a deal with the Shia. It concluded instead that the Shia -- including Chalabi and al-Sistani -- were completely undependable allies. By striking at a moment of extreme vulnerability, the Shia crippled the U.S. Defense Department faction that had argued not only in favor of Chalabi but also in favor of alignment with the Shia. Instead, the CIA and State Department, which had argued that the Shiite alignment was a mistake, now argued -- convincingly -- that al-Sistani was maneuvering the United States into a position of complete dependency, and that the only outcome would be the surrender of power to the Shia, whose interests lay with Iran, not the United States. Following the al-Sadr rising, and al-Sistani's attempt to maneuver the United States into simultaneously protecting al-Sistani from al-Sadr and being condemned by al-Sistani for doing it, the defenders of the Shiite strategy were routed.
A fourth strategy emerged, in which the United States is trying to maintain balanced relationships with Sunnis and Shia, while currently tilting toward the Sunnis. Al Fallujah is the great symbol of this. The United States negotiated with its mortal enemy, the Sunnis, and conceded control of the city to them. What would have been utterly unthinkable during the third phase from July to March became logical and necessary in April and May. The United States is now speaking to virtually all Iraqi factions, save the foreign jihadists linked to al Qaeda. Al-Sistani has gone from being the pivot of U.S. policy in Iraq, to being a competitor for U.S. favor. It is no accident that Chalabi was publicly destroyed by the CIA over the past few weeks, or that the new Iraqi government gives no significant posts to al-Sistani supporters -- and that Shia are actually underrepresented.
The United States has recognized that it will not be able to defeat the Sunni insurgents in war without becoming utterly dependent on the Shia for stabilizing the south. Since the United States does not have sufficient force available in either place to suppress both a Sunni and a Shiite rising -- and since it has lost all confidence in the Shiite leadership -- logic has it that it needs to move toward ending the counterinsurgency. That is a political process requiring the United States to recognize the guerrillas linked to the Saddam Hussein military and intelligence service as a significant political force in Iraq, and to use that relationship as a lever with which to control the Shia. That is what happened in Al Fallujah; that is what is happening -- with much more subtlety -- in the interim government, and that is what will be playing out for the rest of the summer.
In essence, in order to gain control of the military situation, the United States has redefined the politics of Iraq. Rather than allowing the Shia to be the swing player in the three-man game, the United States is trying to maneuver itself into being the swingman. Suddenly, as the war becomes gridlocked, the politics have become extraordinarily fluid. Every ball is in the air -- and it is the United States that has become the wild card.
Changes and Consequences
The redefinition of the U.S. role in Iraq has major international consequences. The U.S. relationship with Iran reached its high point during the Bam earthquake in December 2003. The United States offered aid, and the Iranians accepted. The United States offered to send Elizabeth Dole (and a player to be named later), and this was rejected by Iran. Iran -- viewing the situation in Iraq and the U.S. relationship with the Shia, and realizing that the United States needed Iranian help against al Qaeda -- sought to rigorously define its relationship with the Americans on its own terms. It thought it had the whip hand and was using it. The United States struggled with its relationship with Iran from January until March, accepting its importance, but increasingly uneasy with the views being expressed by Tehran.
By April, the United States had another important consideration on its plate: the deteriorating situation in Saudi Arabia. The United States was the primary cause of that deterioration. It had forced the Saudi government to crack down on al Qaeda in the kingdom, and the radical Islamists were striking back at the regime. An incipient civil war was under way and intensifying. Contrary to myth, the United States did not intervene in Iraq over oil -- anyone looking at U.S. behavior over the past year can see the desultory efforts on behalf of the Iraqi oil industry -- but the United States had to be concerned about the security of oil shipments from Saudi Arabia. If those were disrupted, the global economy would go reeling. It was one thing to put pressure on the Saudis; it was another thing to accept a civil war as the price of that pressure. And it was yet another thing to think calmly about the fall of the House of Saud. But taking Saudi oil off the market was not acceptable.
The Saudis could not stop shipping oil voluntarily. They needed the income too badly. That was never a risk. However, for the first time since World War II, the disruption of Saudi oil supplies because of internal conflict or external force became conceivable. The fact was that Saudi Arabia had a large Shiite population that lived around the oil shipment points. If those shipment points were damaged or became inaccessible, all hell would break loose in the global economy.
The Iranians had a number of mutually supporting interests. First, they wanted a neutral or pro-Iranian Iraq in order to make another Iran-Iraq war impossible. For this, they needed a Shiite-dominated government. Second, they were interested in redressing the balance of power in the Islamic world between Sunnis and Shia, in particular with the Saudi Wahhabis. Finally, they wanted -- in the long run -- to become the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. Their relationship with the United States in Iraq was the linchpin for all of this.
The Saudis, having already felt the full force of American fury -- and now trapped between them and their own radicals -- faced another challenge. If the U.S. policy in Iraq remained on track, the power of Iran and the Shia would surge through the region. The Saudis had faced a challenge from the Shia right after the Khomeni revolution in Iran. They did not enjoy it, but they did have the full backing of the United States. Now they are in a position where they faced an even more intense challenge, and the United States might well stay neutral or, even worse, back the challenge. If the Shia in Saudi Arabia rose with the backing of Iran and a Shiite-dominated Iraq, the Saudi government would crumble.
From the Saudi point of view, they might be able to contain the radical Islamists using traditional tribal politics and payoffs, but facing the Wahhabis and the Shia at the same time would be impossible. The third-phase policy of entente between the United States and the Shiite-Iranian bloc seemed to guarantee a Shiite rising in Saudi Arabia in the not-too-distant future.
As U.S.-Iranian relations became increasingly strained during the winter, the Saudis increased their cooperation with the United States. They also made it clear to the Americans that they were in danger of losing their balance as the pressures on them mounted. The United States liked what it saw in the Saudi intensification of the war effort, even in the face of increased resistance. The United States did not like what it saw in Tehran, concerned that the relationship there was getting out of hand. Finally, in April, it became completely disenchanted with the Shiite leadership of Iraq.
There were therefore two layers to the U.S. policy shift. The first was internal to Iraq. The second had to do with increased concerns about the security of oil shipments from the kingdom if the Iranians encouraged a rising in Saudi Arabia. The United States did not lighten up at all on demanding full cooperation on al Qaeda. The Saudis supplied that. But the United States did not want oil shipments disrupted. In the end, the survival or demise of the House of Saud does not matter to the United States -- except to the degree that it affects the availability of oil.
The United States has to balance the pressure it puts on Saudi Arabia to fight al Qaeda against the threat of oil disruption. It cannot lighten up on either. From the American point of view, the right balance is a completely committed Saudi Arabia and freely flowing oil. The United States had moved much closer to the former, and it now needed to ensure the latter. Jerking the rug out from under the Iranians and the Shia was the U.S. answer.
Oil does not cost more than $40 a barrel because of China. It costs more than $40 a barrel because of fears that Saudi oil really could come off the market, and doubt that the complex U.S. maneuver can work. The obvious danger is an Iranian-underwritten rising in southern Iraq that spills over into Saudi Arabia. The United States has shut off its support for such an event, but the Iranians have an excellent intelligence organization with a strong covert capability. They are capable of answering in their own way.
The future at this moment is in the hands of Tehran and An Najaf. This is the point at which the degree of control the Iranians have over the Iraqi Shiite leadership will become clear. The Iranians obviously are not happy with the trends that have emerged over the past month. Their best lever is in Iraq. The Iraqi Shia are aware that the United States is increasingly limber and unpredictable -- and that it has more options than it had two months ago. The Iraqi Shia are in danger of being trapped between Washington and Tehran. It is extremely important to note that al-Sistani today tentatively endorsed the new government, clearly uneasy at the path events were taking. Therefore there are two questions: First, will the Iranians become more aggressive, abandoning their traditional caution? Second, can they get the Iraqi Shiite leaders to play their game, or will the old rift between Qom and An Najaf (the Iranian and Iraqi Shiite holy cities) emerge once again as the Shia scramble to get back into the American game.
The problem the Americans have is this: Wars are very complicated undertakings that require very simple politics. The more complicated the politics, the more difficult it is to prosecute a war. The politics of this war have become extraordinarily complicated. The complexity is almost mind-boggling. Fighting a war in this environment is tough at best -- and this is not the best. What the United States must achieve out of all of this maneuvering is a massive simplification of the war goals. This is getting way too complicated.www.stratfor.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / FBI studies concealable knives
on: June 03, 2004, 11:16:10 AM
Of course you are welcome here. We are always particularly glad to have players from the homeland of the Art.
From where in the Philippines are you?
PS: A juicy bone of thanks to you for checking out older posts and responding to them. In my opinion, when people do this it really helps the coherence of the forum. Thank you.