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The International Writers Magazine:: US Politics + Readers Letters

G.I. Joke
James Campion
U.S. Military's Revolving Generals & Endless Campaigns of Chaos


New commander-in-chief, same old crap; the United States Armed Forces is in chaos.
    Already recovering from decades of abysmal derailments and disasters in Korea and Viet Nam to ill-fated underground black-ops from Cuba to Nicaragua to Beirut, and the latest nonsense begun by the dumbly-fabricated braggadocio of Desert Storm and its baby brother in the half-assed colonizing of Iraq to the longest running campaign in American history in Afghanistan, the once proudly invincible U.S. military has now become our longest running pun.
    Less than two days after a freelance journalist coerced the commander of international forces in Afghanistan to commit professional suicide in the pages of whatever cheap imitation of pop culture schlock is now Rolling Stone magazine, President Barack Obama was forced to relieve General Stanley McChrystal of his duties. At least the disgraced and quite obviously half-mad general will no longer have to face the embarrassing possibility of retiring during what started out nine years ago as a vengeance jag for 9/11 and to bag its architect, the long-dead Osama bin Laden, but after the loss of 1,000 American lives and a projected cost of $1 trillion has become something of its own tragic comedy.
    For the president, embroiled in a half dozen looming and already raging domestic disasters, it is bad timing to say the least. This is Obama's war, and McChrystal is his man, or was his man, as the swift half-hour White House meeting of 6/23 would attest, the substance of which had the insubordinate general out and the hero of overdue mop-ups, General David Petraeus in. Later that afternoon, a visibly angered president took to the Rose Garden and tried his best to gloss over what has been an overlooked sinkhole of his administration -- long debated and dissented by close advisors.
    It was the very same advisors, along with the vice president and the president himself, who McChrystal and his aides casually mocked from the fringes of the battlefield, on the record and during operations, to a left-leaning rock periodical. A more damaging sabotage of morale and decorum is difficult to contrive beyond a blatantly defiant Douglas McCarthur-like implosion. It was as if the rot of what has become the ceaseless fighting in a desert wasteland pocked with hidden caves and unforgiving mountain ridges had frayed the edges of the U.S. Army's top brass. The focus of the RS piece, "The Runaway General," is not merely the bent rant of an over-worked and rancorously loose-lipped army lifer, but a manifestation of the abject lunacy which permeates an uncertain end game to a War on Terror mismanaged for so long by so many voices and fought by so many brave and run-ragged forces it emerges as a dizzying inertia of bedlam.
    It stretches even the most elastic credibility to believe in this day of media by the second and by everyone coming from everywhere that even a man resembling a less provocative but no less puzzling Captain Kurtz from Coppola's Apocalypse Now could be so irresponsible or haphazardly calculating to publicly call the National Security Adviser "a clown" or paint his commander-in-chief as "uncomfortable with military leaders and initially unengaged on defense policy". Then, after being presented the finished article prior to its publication, approved its content without so much as an obligatory retraction. The whole shebang reeks of a symptom of a disease beyond this president and his war or his commanders and their last vestiges of a "strategy".

    The latest being the very same McChrystal's oft-delayed siege of Kandahar, which after months of planning was scheduled for "soon", but by the timeline of how the "war" has gone for most of its duration, will likely launch sometime around Christmas 2012. Touted as the pivotal battle to what candidate and now President Obama has called the critical frontline of the aforementioned War on Terror, its snags simmer below the surface of the general's queer and very public commentary.
    Things have not gone well for Obama and McChrystal in Afghanistan, as they had not for George W. Bush for the last seven years of his presidency, or the Soviets in the 1980s, the British Empire in the late 1800s, Genghis Kahn in the early part of the 13th Century, or Alexander the Great way back in 338 BC. The enthusiasm of a new and improved "counterinsurgency" plan to take out Taliban 2.0, which stressed the always-popular road show of "overwhelming on-the-ground force coupled with an amped-up effort to win hearts and minds", has soured into a tail-chasing bloodbath slowly losing traction with a majority of the voting public.
    For many mind-bending reasons, over 60 percent of Americans polled in the winter of 2008 favored a ramped-up Afghan policy. Despite years of dismantling the original Taliban, backed up by the occasional failures to secure the country, and then what amounted to a dormant exit strategy in order to better run roughshod over Iraq; which if you haven't checked lately is still rolling along, there were still some people willing to believe. Of course that willing constituency, after a year and a half of a doom-struck re-packaged plan, has sunk to around 40 percent or so. But plummeting support from the citizenry meant nothing for the better part of the last decade and looks to have crapped out now.
    Into the breach strolled the high command to jam his standard-issued boot into his flapping maw, a grand mistake that has now likely set things back even further. Something that not only infuriated the president, since he had bought into the entire McChrystal war plan, but has rankled high-level Republicans in congress, who all stand firm with the president -- no small feat considering that no matter the issue almost none of whom have so much as budged in Obama's direction. It is especially odd when considering the current anti-incumbent landscape and the fast-approaching mid-term elections.
    The only explanation for such a maneuver is that with no end in sight, and most of the legislature unable to wash nine years of blood from its hands, they're all-in.
    But politics, lunatics and Jann Wenner's flaccid rag aside, the most pressing issue is the sad state of the United States military; spread frighteningly thin and literally holding a shifting line in the sand. How mush shit are these poor people expected to eat before someone with half a brain ends the insanity?
    The answer the president gave to this question would come as he concluded his post-McChrystal Rose Garden address by stating that the change in leadership is not a change in policy. And thus, the Pentagon, in a banner year boasting at least a $700 billion budget, more than 10 times that of the State Department, will continue to toil in the world's deadest of ends; making the Obama pledge to begin the withdrawal of the 94,000 American troops in Afghanistan by July 2011 the biggest joke of all.
© James Campion June 25th 2010


I thought Christie was strong enough to withstand the public cry of "foul!" (N.J. FAUX REVOLUTION 2010) He is trying to do what he was elected to do and, as you so aptly pointed out, people cannot deal with it because it means losing something they've come to "need". I'm sick and tired of public myopia and delusion and political manipulation. But that's another conversation! My beef - not with the gov because I'm prepared to make sacrifices and feel like I already do (especially in having to put up with Obama and his ilk for another long two and a half years) - is with the unions in New Jersey. I don't profess to know anywhere near all there is to know, and I know this is a complicated area; but it seems to me that in this time when people in the private sector are suffering and taking pay cuts to save their jobs, unions refuse to play fair and cooperate; they do not want to give anything back and are among the NJ taxpayer's biggest expenses. 
    It's time for their level of power to be massively curtailed. Unions served a great purpose at the turn of the century and served a good function through the seventies, but have since gone overboard in how much power they wield. As a result, we the NJ taxpayers, until recently, paid 100% of their health insurance from the day teachers start a job to the day they die, plus regularly contracted annual raises and who knows what else (pensions?).  THAT IS TOTALLY INSANE. 
    Thanks to Christie they were required recently to contribute 1.5% of their salaries to their own health insurance, but this is a pittance compared to many of the six figure salaries they earn and a pittance compared to what the regular public pays for their own insurance. Don't get me wrong - I'm not bashing teachers. I love my kids' teachers and have typically gotten very attached to them. But this has to stop. 
    So Christie? Keep it up! Maybe tone down the rhetoric but don't give into the whining and complaining. Save us and save our money! Education (or the money to pay for it I should say) wouldn't be such an issue if we didn't also have to pay for teachers' health benefits, pensions and guaranteed annual raises. Sometimes medicine tastes worse than poison.

Elizabeth Vengen Esq.

It's one thing to cut what we don't need; it's another to--at the same TIME--cut taxes for people making over $400k. But that's the Republican way. You DON'T cut taxes when you are trying to balance the budget; it simply doesn't work.
And as a by the way ... right now, in Randolph, NJ--surely up there with Newark & Camden in terms of crime--a cop on the force for FIVE years makes $80K!! Please don't tell me about hazard pay. Even if it WERE Newark, we have kids coming back from Iraq in body bags who ain't makin' no $80k. And what do you need to be a cop? A GED. Do the supply & demand--huge supply, demand ain't all that high. They should make a lot less.
      And who caught all the hell? Teachers. That makes sense.
      Can't wait to see how it all turns out.

 Vincent Czyz


I actually agree with you to a certain extent. This election and Christie's actions thus far show people have no idea what they want. They want fiscal responsibility but not at the expense of their free shit. They want tax hikes except when they get a little too close to home.
    I think Christie is setting this up perfectly. He is now able to come back to the citizens of New Jersey and scream WTF!!! He can now show the immense depth and breadth of the bullshit going on in our state.
    Free money is no worse than the Cash Money Brothers brand of crack in New Jack City. People took it, they like it and now they know they should kick it but they are too hooked to it.
    I hope Christie makes NJ go cold turkey off of Jersey brand Free Shit.

Bill Roberts

Bullshit. The majority of people do not want to pay for anything that people should be paying for themselves. Government should hire people to fight fires and arrest people. Pick up trash and make the water flow to homes and that is all. Everyone should pay the same taxes -- a flat rate. The only benefit you should get from not working is not having any taxes taken from a paycheck since you don't have one. Family, friends, churches and privately funded charities should take care of the needs of the people not able or more likely not willing to stick with a job. Not the government. The government should be a place where our elected people hate to go and serve their term and leave. Not love it and make it a career or a job. It's not your job. The people of NJ are not ATM's. Get a life, losers.


Yeah reality came crashing down mercilessly on Randy Rand Paul during that Maddow interview. (A CASE FOR THE LOGICAL libertarian -- Issue: 6/2/10) At points he sounded like a seasoned political hack, answering questions with run-on Hemmingway-like ramblings. It's clear he was caught off guard, probably thinking it was going to be some kind of love fest, then scrambled for his helmet when the ordinance started flying. It was unfortunately too late by the time he stammered out what he meant - let the people boycott racist businesses until they get on board with civil rights rather than the government forcing them to, but like a lot of what both he and his father espouse it sounds good...until you put it in practice. I'm sure there were plenty of towns back in the 50's and 60's where the majority opinion was segregationist.
    So much for market forces there, but it's hard to argue against Paul's philosophical point - even though my home is fronted by "public streets...and enjoys the protection of public servants in police and firefighters" the government can't stop me from having a party where upon I purposely do not invite a certain race, so why then can it exert force over my private business? Why can't people today make the judgment as to whether to support an establishment whose ideals are counter to theirs?
    Maddow should know all about that - the people didn't like Air America, and MSNBC is heading that way.

Ken Eustace

Hey tea-baggers!! Forget Sarah Palin, now you REALLY have a fool to rally around: Rand Paul. By parsing the 1964 Civil Rights Act we can see what he and the tea-baggers stand for: discrimination based on race and physical ability. But then the tea-baggers are just a sad group of old, white, rich, malcontent Republicans who hate blacks, Hispanics, Asians, the middle class and the poor and can't stand the fact that we have a black president. When they howl "TAKE BACK AMERICA!!!" they mean to take it back from the minorities. Luckily the middle class and the poor far outnumber the tea-baggers so they will have little effect in November and Rand Paul will fade away.

Mark Montgomery

Hat trick!
1) you expressed my opinions and doubts about Libertarians
2) you got me to thinking about what Libertarians might do if elected
3) you really brought home your upper/lowercase meme in the final sentence
    This entry seems to feature more complex sentences; I had to re-read several and parse slowly and carefully. This may be the most complex topic you've taken on in your ~1000-word framework.
    I liked how the mention of Tucker Carlson got me to look more closely at that guy: At first I thought, "That man is no Libertarian!" but he certainly could be considered as such because he refuses to stick to Republican or Democratic talking points.

Your logic has brought me to a point of view where I see how:
1) We expect our icons to be static and unchanging
2) We expect everyone else's beliefs to be malleable, and reserve this right for ourselves
    It would be very convenient if the world weren't so dynamic. It would make predictions so much easier. It would also be very, very boring.

Brad Morrison

Libertarianism is the philosophical equivalent of "Assuming a frictionless perfect sphere in a nongravitational environment". In other words, being a political "Libertarian" has the same relationship to actual libertarianism as being a political "Democrat" has to actual democracy or being a political "Republican" has to actual republicanism.


Exit Stage Left
James Campion
Obama at a Crossroads with Progressives
... things for Liberal Central have gone from sickly to flat-lined for Joe Cool

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