Friday, December 10, 2010

Deadliest Warrior TV, Spike Network

I was recently invited to participate on the Deadliest Warrior TV show which airs on the Spike Network.

The show pits a warrior and his army against another famous warrior of the same era and through computer technology attempts to determine who the winner would be. The show I was involved with had George Washington and his army fighting against Napoleon Bonaparte and his forces.

In the early stages of the show, certain experts travelled to a remote area where they fired cannons used by Washington and cannons fired by Napoleons warriors---the efficiency of each cannon was evaluated and the data was entered in a computer to determine who had the best artillery. The same was accomplished with the firing of muskets and long rifles.

Typical tactics and maneuvers of the two armies were looked at and their attention to the principles of war and a lengthy string of other important elements associated with warfare were evaluated by computer. While I was not privy to the details of the information gathered and evaluated, I was certainly impressed with the broad range and depth of questions and answers that were placed under consideration.

My role on the show was to answer a few questions associated with leadership, intelligence, battlefield management, terrain, weather, training and other issues important to attaining victory on the field of battle. Most of the questions presented to me were anecdotal in nature and did not fit a computer program very well. Just how my answers will be weighted and considered is a mystery to me.

All in all it was a very interesting day and I met some very knowledgeable people, all friendly, and all accomplished in their fields of endeavor.

If you are interested in this facet of history you might consider watching this series and this particular show which will air in the April/May 2011 time frame.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The interview with Stephen Mitchell

The Interview

I was interviewed by Stephen Mitchell, a friend and associate to whom I was introduced about four years ago. The interview was conducted in a TV studio in Sherman Oaks, California. The resulting program and DVD will be used as a promotion piece for me and my projects (one of which is a new book I am writing) and also to promote Business on-demand, a business news channel conceived by Stephen in which I will play a part.

I am convinced that the production will be a valuable product which will enhance my career--not because of what I said or how I performed. It will be due to the professional approach utilized by Stephen in guiding the proceedings.

The Process

His technique involves meeting with the interviewee a few minutes before the shooting is scheduled. He came to the meeting fully prepared with a plan, notes and questions--a virtual roadmap of where he was going. This was comforting for me and I’m thinking, “Well at least he knows what we are going to do.”

I did take note of the fact that he wasn’t very specific concerning precisely what questions would be presented. So I was comforted on the one hand but concerning the questions--well, I was a little on edge.

He quickly sent me into the studio area to sit-in while his assistant set up lights and worked out the sound in preparation for the interview. In other words he left me to “stew” over the possible questions for 15 minutes or so.

In retrospect, my reaction was interesting. During the 15 minute interlude I felt as if the chemicals in my brain were activated and my interest in what was going to occur was piqued and I actually began to focus before the interview. I was ready for the challenge of Stephen Mitchell.


The command, “Roll camera” came and he hit me with the first question--an easy opener and then another question. I responded with a rather long answer to question two opening up a myriad of pathways for Stephen to pursue. At this point I noticed that Stephen put his notes aside and he went full steam ahead--he was underway--guiding, directing and asking for amplification, explanation and more details. We talked for over an hour.

Post Interview Thoughts

I was amazed at how effortless and easy the interview turned out to be. We simply had a conversation--yet the interview was powerful. I wondered to myself, “How did he do it?” Now I know--he came prepared, he gave me time to get the adrenaline moving, he opened slowly and ultimately followed his instincts to highlight important points for me to discuss.

In my view the key to a quality interview lies with the interviewer--Stephen Mitchell is a Master at the interview game.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Early Army days

It was colder than hell at Fort Benning, Georgia that morning of February 4th. We were marching off to take the Ranger swimming test. The test was a do or die requirement, a major barrier that had to be overcome. Each candidate had to pass the five events of the swimming test to get into the Ranger school.

I had decided about a year earlier that I was going to be an army Ranger. It is a small, elitist club of military personnel and my ego was such that I had to become an army Ranger. If I could not compete on even terms with the best in the army I would give up my commission and become a civilian.

I spent about six months getting ready for the course and I had put in a lot of hours swimming to build my strength and endurance. I spent time doing laps in swimming pools and tried my hand at swimming in lakes and even a river. I knew there was a lot of emphasis on swimming and operating at night in swamps. But I had no idea that I would suffer as I did to make it through the test on the first day of school. And most of the suffering had nothing to do with the actual test.

As we marched along that morning with our 10.5 pound M-1 rifles, everyone was energized and ready to meet the challenge of Day One. It was extremely cold and there was a light breeze blowing and we were wearing just a fatigue uniform. I figured because of the season and the weather that the test would be at an indoor, heated swimming pool. I soon learned the awful truth. The test was going to be administered outside in a pool full of near freezing water.

I knew immediately that this was not going to be easy. I also knew the cadre was using this as a tactic to try and break the candidates down and cause then to give up and quit. I was told it was part of the process, but I was surprised that it would occur on the very first day of school.

Having advanced warning about this weeding out system, I had worked on myself and steeled myself for harassment and un-reasonable treatment and I had developed the attitude that I was not going to quit under any circumstances. Quitting was not in my vocabulary and not on my mind that day or any other day during the training. I would never throw in the towel. No, I had resolved that I was going to go on no matter what challenges and obstacles the instructors threw at me.

The first station of the test was a blindfolded leap off the high board in combat boots, fatigues toting a rifle. I remember hitting that water. “Oh my God this can’t be real” as the shock rippled through the body---it was like electricity. The muscles went numb and coming to the surface was a struggle.

The first time in was an absolute killer but worse yet was the fact that the test took almost all day to complete because there were five stations that two hundred candidates had to successfully pass through. In between the actual test, while a nice brisk wind was blowing, each candidate stood on the side of the pool in soaking wet clothes waiting his turn before re-entering the water.

The waiting was absolute torture. It was so bad that suddenly a lot of people simply decided they could not cope with the water and the temperature. They began to walk away in droves back to the barracks and back to their units beaten on the first day.

For us hangers-on, well, our knees were slamming together. Also I felt like I was shaking internally as well as outwardly. There was another strange physical reaction, which I must share. I, along with many others, suffered a major under carriage reduction event and many of us also lost sight of our other thing. The fact of the matter is that the entire undercarriage retracted and disappeared not to be seen for about eleven days. As the reader might suspect, the under carriage retraction phenomenon can be embarrassing and it can also be a sobering development. When you can’t find yourself for several days you do lose a good part of your self-esteem.

Going through some old photos I found the the one above which is a shot of me careening into the frozen Chattahoochee River at Ft Benning during the preliminary part of the Ranger Course. The rope is about 35 feet above the river and the river was frozen--so the instructors cut a hole inthe ice and the idea was to land in the hole. Great fun.

In retrospect that first day was a real killer. We lost about one hundred forty candidates. Suddenly our class was cut to sixty remaining hard core soldiers. We ultimately graduated forty-eight fully-trained Ranger personnel.

I got to know each of the graduates on a personal basis and came to trust each of them and to rely on them totally. They were well trained, honorable, dedicated and we were all very close to each other. To participate and complete the Ranger course with my fellow students was probably the best demonstration of male bonding and male team building that I have ever witnessed in my life. I do not know where any of these Rangers are today--but I do remember many names and if I met them tomorrow I imagine we would be friends. As students we helped each other, pulled together, covered for each other and grew together. We truly graduated as an elite military organization.

The Ranger training experiences gave me a lot of determination later in life--in both good and tough times. When I lose focus I can think back on those trials and tests and on some occasions it has helped me to regain my composure. A little fire and a few tests and passing through the trial of a very demanding military course of instruction can show the candidate his inner strength, his resolve and his capability to react under great stress and tension. Life is filled with challenges and being a Ranger candidate simply puts great emphasis on a concentrated series of tests and risk taking measures. And when added together, such an experience accelerates growth toward maturity, leadership and results in success more often then in failure.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Virginia Military Institute

Colonel Harold Dorsett sent Captain Black Jack Murphy and me to the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia to meet the School Commandant and arrange an invitation for the cadets of VMI to travel to Fort Lee, Virginia to witness an airborne demonstration.

Jack and I jumped into an Army Otter and took off for VMI. I noticed that Jack had brought two maneuverable parachutes along and I asked him why. He simply smiled.

Jack was a great army companion, a West Point graduate; he had a major accident when during a training incident an artillery round exploded near him and gouged out his eye.

The accident didn’t stop Jack—he was full of life and full of fun. He would go to parties with a set of glass eyeballs in his pocket that included question marks, written messages, the 8 ball, the ace of spades, king of hearts and a variety of other images embossed on the fake eye. He would install the crazy eyes after everyone had a few drinks and it always elicited a lot of laughs.

Jack was a man’s man and a wonderful soldier warrior and a good friend.

So we headed to VMI and when we reached the campus we flew over the grass landing strip and spotted our contact guy on the ground---Captain Bob “Machine Gun” Drudik who was waving at us as we flew past.

However, there was a problem and the problem was a strong wind that was blowing across the grass runway. The plane could not land due to the wind and if we flew to the municipal airport we would be delayed well over two hours.

Jack hollered to me saying “Lets Jump”

I said, “What do you mean let’s jump---the wind is so bad that the plane cannot land and yet you want to jump?”

“Of course,” he responded.

I said, “Jack we have no medical coverage, no permission to jump from the local authorities and we don’t have Dorsett’s permission to use his parachutes.”

Jack said, “Yes, I know now throw out the wind streamer on our next pass over the runway and let’ see where it goes. The wind streamer took off and disappeared in the strong gusty wind.

Without a word Murphy put on his parachute and leaped out and I had no choice but to follow. The wind was very strong and Murphy was well off in the distance during his descent.

I tried to maneuver my chute but I didn’t get what I wanted in steer-ability. As I am looking around to locate Machine Gun and Black Jack I suddenly see a large barn with an aluminum roof and I am heading right for it. I try to maneuver to miss the barn but seem to be on a course to hit the barbed wire fence running off the end of the barn. As I get closer it is clear that I am going to hit the fence and as an added feature there is an unhappy, mature, full grown, snorting and stamping bull in the barnyard.

I slam into the fence, back first, and the parachute drapes over the fence and is billowing in the wind making the bull very unhappy. He is snorting and carrying on and the wind is blowing and pinning me to the barbed wire leaving me with an uncomfortable barbed wire feeling.

After a long hard run my two buddies reach the barnyard and unhook the chute and the bull calms down. The three of us spend the next fifteen minutes laughing uncontrollably.

We arranged the invitation for the visit by the cadets and had to be driven to town where the Army Otter was located so we could fly back to Fort Lee. We arrived in Colonel Dorsett’s office at about 1700 hours.

We had to tell him that we had taken two parachutes (“accountable” items) and had made an unauthorized parachute jump at VMI.

We reported to the Colonel and Black Jack began to paint the story of the day----and as he laid out the events of the day the Colonel’s face was getting redder and redder.

Suddenly he jumped to his feet and hugged us and shook our hands screamed out,

“You boys are heroes. You have saved the day because we have gone for 630 days with at least one parachute jump on each of those days. Our string was about to be broken today due to high winds---but you two nut cases saved the day and kept our record alive. Let’s go get a beer!!!”

And that was the end of our illegal parachute jump and just another day in the Army.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Colonel Harold Dorsett

Fort Lee, Virginia is the setting and the Airborne Department of the US Army Quartermaster School the organization involved.

Colonel Harold Dorsett is the Director of the Airborne Department and he is a tough old coot with a booming voice and a rather short temper. He, was in charge of the Parachute Packing and Parachute Air Delivery Department of the Quartermaster School---tough paratroop boys. Harold had invited the Cadets at VMI to come to Ft. Lee to witness an airborne demonstration. The public was also invited and it was to be an exciting day with three or four thousand civilians and the cadets coming to witness the event.

I was a captain at the time and one of Harold Dorsett’s crew. I went to the drop zone early and my job was to jump out of an Army Otter airplane and serve as a so-called “wind dummy.” The wind dummy helped the follow on skydivers to see how the wind might impact there parachute flight path. This technique was used long before the sophistication of skydiving we know today.

Two of my companions and I flew across the drop zone and jumped out at the appropriate time. We let the wind take our parachutes on a nice ride and we drifted across the drop zone and as a result the skydivers who would follow us could get a good idea of how the wind would affect their flight path. When I landed, I removed my parachute, and my job was done for the day so I went to the bleacher area and took a seat to watch the big show.

Dorsett and his bunch of skydivers took off and flew to altitude for their demonstration jump. As they were making their final approach I had a strange, powerful premonition--I knew Colonel Dorsett was going to land in the middle of the parking lot and on top of my car.

I so believed this would happen that I ran to my car as the jumpers left the airplane and I watched them descend. Sure enough, the colonel--and only the colonel--was heading for the parking lot (which was full of cars) and on course to hit my car. At the last moment before impact he raised his feet which allowed him to clear the top of a Volkswagen by inches and he smashed into the side of my vehicle. I owned a four door station wagon and he hit the back door on the passenger side, breaking the window glass, cutting his hands, placing his chin on the top of the car, loosening up all his teeth, crushing the door, breaking two ribs and leaving large abrasions on his knees all before coming to rest on the ground, on his back between my car and the Volkswagen.

I was standing over Colonel D and he said to me, “What the hell was that all about? Did I hit your car?”

I responded with a “Yes Sir.”

He countered with, “Very good--at least we kept it in the family.”

Colonel Dorsett retired about six months after the incident and at his retirement party we gave him the door. We had painted our names on the door and he was mightily surprised to receive such a valued gift.

Colonel Dorsett went on to become a professor at a university somewhere in the USA (I do not know where). Some several months later it was reported by one of the Airborne Department officers who visited Dorsett in his new home after his retirement that:

"The mighty Colonel Dorsett had hung the battered door with our names painted on it in a place of honor in his home------over the fireplace in the living room."

I will always remember the colorful gentleman who was Colonel Harold Dorsett.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Terrorism: A Growth Industry and the Intelligence Analyst

I wrote Terrorism: A Growth Industry and the Intelligence Analyst as a text book for certain students of Corinthian Colleges Incorporated. It describes the intelligence cycle but more importantly demonstrates how the cycle operates by developing a series of problem stories where the creation of intelligence is necessary.

If you are interested in the basics of the intelligence business this book is for you. From this book you can gather ideas about strategic intelligence planning, tactical intelligence techniques and industrial intelligence as well.

The book teaches through story telling and avoids long lists of procedures or steps one must memorize to put together an intelligence program. Give it a read and you will definitely have a better understanding of intelligence and you might even get a laugh or two. I've included a short excerpt below.

Richard Wilmot


Analysts should know that there are situations where members of the establishment will not listen. And also be aware that the higher up you are in the bureaucracy the more difficult it is to get action. If you find that gem of information that sets your intuition all aglow, keep pushing and striving to get someone’s attention and follow up action. Don’t give up, be the squeaky wheel, be the conscience of the industry.


Possibly the most famous piece of key terrain in history is in Israel at the site of what was the town of Armageddon. For thousands of years hundreds of pitched battles were fought at Armageddon as invaders tried to take this prominent terrain feature and the town. Its value stemmed from the fact that whoever controlled Armageddon controlled the caravan route along the shores of the Mediterranean. The occupiers of Armageddon taxed the caravans that traveled the route below and its citizens lived the good life.

Armageddon had one other very important feature---it had a well and that well provided good, clear, pure, cool, sweet water. One day a couple of millennia ago, the well went dry. Armageddon lost its value as a key terrain feature because it could not sustain life and it disappeared over night.


The real secret of effective terrorism is leveraging. Go cheap and leverage by using that which is available while taking out a major target. Make the event significant enough to create headlines, and this will set terror loose within the general population and such fear will modify the daily life of the average citizen---the bottom line is the terrorist WINS.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Soviet T-72 tank

The Tank

In the very early 1980s the Soviet Union designed and built T-72 tank was thought to be the supreme battle tank in the world. Its characteristics---such as speed, weight, range and capabilities such as main gun range, ammunition types and armor piercing ability (killing power) were largely unknown. The U.S. Army was very concerned about the threat this tank presented especially since the Soviets had thousands of these machines arrayed against NATO forces.

Concurrently President Regan was making noise to Mr. Gorbachev about America’s Star War capabilities and the upgrade of the concept to full potential. Suddenly it dawned on the government, at the highest levels, that we did not have a Star War capability---it was largely hot air--- and if the Soviets believed we were moving in that direction, where they were defenseless, they might consider a sudden strike against NATO with mass T-72 tank attacks and possibly even the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

This idea of conventional war in Europe against the T-72 was very troublesome because we had not fully recovered from Vietnam and our R&D programs had not kept us current with the Soviet army and the equipment they were fielding. Some key officials were very concerned about our situation.

The Request

I was working in the Pentagon at the time of this developing concern over the T-72 threat. My boss, the Chief of Intelligence for the US Army called me to his office early one morning and said to me---

“I will provide anyone you want or need so you can put a team together. I will provide you unlimited funds and your task is to quietly figure out a way to obtain a T-72 tank and deliver it to me.”

That was a real bombshell and as I headed back to my desk I was thinking---maybe I can get one of these damn things at a Sears Department Store.

I did form a team and I did spend some money and I tried a variety of methods but I was never able to deliver the tank. Eventually I was re-assigned to be the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Intelligence School and the tank burden was lifted from my shoulders.

The Second Chance

Ultimately I retired from the Army and re-located to London to work for a gentleman there who was in the business of procuring material and equipment for the C.I.A. and the Department of Defense. After about five years on the job a request came to our office to obtain for the U.S. Government a T-72 tank. Of course, I was startled to see such a request and anxious to succeed after failing the first time.

We worked the project for about a year looking for a way to get a tank, cajoling various owners of the tank to sell one to us, holding surreptitious meetings, keeping Washington officials informed and watching for the long arm of the K.G.B. Finally, under arduous circumstances, we got the job done delivering 12 tanks, with full loads of all types of ammunition, spare parts including operations and maintenance manuals.

The process we went through was complex, dangerous and exciting. It involved East Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, The U.K., Switzerland--shipping companies, banks, insurance companies and many well known, influential and important people.

While the war in Europe never materialized and the U.S.S.R. came unglued, obtaining the 12 tanks was vital in the 1990 war “Desert Storm”---because Saddam Hussein’s army had several thousand of these behemoths--but since we had reversed engineered the T-72 we knew all there was to know about these tanks.

We beefed up our own tank killing ability and the ground war lasted 100 hours because we knew exactly how to kill the famed T-72. This was a modern day intelligence coup.

If you would like to read about the full story of the T-72 look for my book Plausible Denial to be published in the near future.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Charlie Reese, formerly of the Orlando Sentinel

The following document was e-mailed to me by a friend:

This is an article written by Charlie Reese, a former columnist for the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper. Very interesting perspective on the state of our Nation!

By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine SupremeCourt justices 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like 'the economy,' 'inflation,' or 'politics' that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!"

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.What you do with this article now that you have read it is up to you, though you appear to have several choices.

1. You can send this to everyone in your address book, and hope they do something about it.
2. You can agree to vote against everyone that is currently in office, knowing that the process will take several years.
3. You can decide to run for office yourself and agree to do the job properly.
4. Lastly, you can sit back and do nothing, or re-elect the current bunch.

I must say there is much I agree with in the material provided and the author, Charlie Reese a former columnist with the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, hit a chord with me. I believe it is time to throw them all out--every incumbent of the House and the Senate must be replaced. The president is on his way out and we must also find a way to oust the lifetime appointees of the Supreme Court. All of them gone, now! They have totally failed the people. Un-tested and with no experience, maybe a new crowd would do what is right for America.
Of course we need to have the public set some rules for these leaders and I would be first to volunteer to help write a rule book with job descriptions for the legislators and the president. The incumbents of the last 50 years have not been able to figure out what is good for the country and how to get the nation moving--so we must tell them with a rule book. I suggest we vote in a whole new crowd. Let's give it a try and if the new incumbents fail we bring in another new group to run this country. There has got to be honest folks in the general population who can bring us back to prosperity, fairness, decency, and honor.

Friday, September 19, 2008



About two months ago I received an e-mail, probably from a friend, that included an attachment which discussed the real meaning of a billion dollars. I have lost track of who sent the e-mail but because I found the attachment so intriguing I did keep it and the following paragraphs amplify some of the data found on the attachment.

By the way I see the name Becky Hickman on the attachment and if she wrote it---well thanks Becky and I hope you have no difficulty with me using the essence of your document.

Also, I must warn the reader that I did not verify any of the arithmetic used in the attachment but simply took the calculations at face value.


Our politicians and our government casually and consistently talk about spending a billion dollars for this or a billion dollars for that as if they are discussing popped popcorn. Please Mr. Politician, you are talking about dollar bills, money, legal tender, the green stuff. And if you talk about the expenditure of government funds, you are actually talking about the use of the people’s money.

AIG has been saved with an 80 billion dollar bail out. That was my money---where the hell did it go, and how long did it take to spend it, and who is going to monitor its use, and will any of the senior executives at AIG receive pay raises, and will AIG be back for more in ten years?

What is a billion dollars? It is not easily comprehended.

Consider this:

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive and the Roman Empire was flourishing. But what about those Roman politicians? Along with the Roman Emperor, they were probably contemplating spending a billion gold coins on something or other---rumor has it that they were considering bailing out the developer who went broke building the Coliseum.
Remember the Roman Empire came un-glued and ultimately fell apart---did it have anything to do with fiscal responsibility?


A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
A billion days ago no one with two feet walked the earth.
Clearly the number “One Billion” is a big, big number. It is so big that no one can really comprehend its magnitude especially when we hook the word dollars to it. And because it is incomprehensible it is an easy number, rolls off the tongue and so spending a billion dollars has become a “no thing.”


I recall while working in the Pentagon several years ago I was trying to get approval to spend approximately $50,000 to buy a few automobiles for an Army unit in Japan. These vehicles were needed---but I was turned down on the request. Yet that very same day the Army spent millions and millions of dollars on a computer program with no fiscal remorse---Why? Because everyone understood the magnitude of $50,000, it was quite a bit of money and the expenditure was quickly rejected---no matter the apparent need. But no one could comprehend the magnitude of an expenditure of several million dollars and so it was quickly acted on---because a program that expensive most certainly had to be important and was therefore compelling.

I agree that the city of New Orleans needs further assistance to complete its recovery. And I believe the Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D) has asked congress for 250 billion dollars to rebuild New Orleans. What does that number really mean and is it realistic?

If you were one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans you would receive $516, 528.

Or if you owned one of the 188,251 homes in the city, your home would receive a $1, 329,787 face lift.

Do you get the idea that the Senator is a little out of line? She surely doesn’t understand a billion dollars.


The government spends too much money--in fact money it does not have. A housewife goes to the super market with $60.00 in cash. She watches what she purchases and when she reaches the cash register her bill totals $52.48 and she can look for some change when she checks out at the cash register. She is fiscally responsible.

The government is not responsible--a government buyer at the super market, using $60.00 of government money, would attempt to buy $83.50 worth of goods. But the supermarket manager would say,

“No!---Put back $23.50 worth of merchandise and we can make a deal.”

The seller would demand fiscal responsibility of the buyer--notice the manager is from the private sector and understands money. However, the government dude has no idea about the value of money because it is not his and this is part of the problem.


The stock market has been in the “tank” for a couple of days as a result of the mortgage industry’s greed and other significant factors. Tens of billions of dollars have been lost and the ripple effect is enormous.

Retirees on fixed incomes with 401Ks that have lost value over night are in a panic about buying gasoline and eggs. In the meantime, the pundits are saying it will all come back to even keel. Tell the guy who just lost his job as a middle manager that everything is OK and the economic fundamentals are strong--he will not believe any of it. People are hurting and in a quandary and this moment is a very troubling time for all of America.


In the meantime the government continues to grind on and it will need more money. So how does the government acquire the billions and billions of dollars it spends? Of course we all know the answer---TAXES. We are taxed for everything. Look at the incomplete list below.

We pay:

Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax
Fishing License Tax
Food License Permit
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges
IRS Penalties
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage tax
Sales Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax
Telephone Federal Excise tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal State and local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non Recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had no debt, the largest middle class on the planet, Mom stayed home to raise the children (if she chose too) and no one had to dial 1 for English.

The world is changing. IS OUR GOLDEN AGE OVER? Did we squander it away?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A perspective on peace


While serving on the U.S. Army Staff at the Pentagon during the Cold War several years ago, it was calculated that there were approximately 75 insurgencies, revolutions, tribal battles and other violent disruptions occurring on a daily basis across the globe. It was clearly a very violent world; a world at that time where all manner of mayhem was practiced and thousands were killed every week.


Fareed Zakaria, a writer for Newsweek, has published a fascinating book titled “The Post American World”.

In his book he suggests that the world today may look very dangerous but, in fact, it is peaceful and calm. He goes on to say that Fred Burr and a team of scholars at the University of Maryland have tracked the data of violence very carefully and have come to this conclusion:

“The general magnitude of global warfare has decreased by 60% since the mid-1980’s and at the end of 2004 fell to its lowest level since the 1950’s.”

Zakaria also points out that Harvard professor Steven Pinker argues that:

“Today we are probably living in the most peaceful time in the history of our species.”

The chances of dying of a consequence of organized violence of any kind are getting lower and lower. The data reveal a broad trend away from wars among major countries; the kind of conflict that produces heavy casualties.

Zakaria goes on to say---Islamic terror, which makes the headlines daily, is a large and persistent problem but one involving a small number of fanatics. It feeds on the dysfunction of the Muslim world, the sense of real and imagined humiliation at the hands of the West, and easy access to technologies of violence. And yet, it does not rank as a threat on the order of Germany’s drive for world domination or Soviet expansionism or Mao’s effort to foment war and revolution across the third world.

In view of man’s long standing proclivity for war, no one can say that the peace trend will continue. However, I am hopeful that mankind is beginning to see the absolute futility of war.


But since the statistics described above show a slow-down in constant and widespread murder and warfare, I ask does this breakout of peace have any effect on the run for the office of president? If we are moving toward a more peaceful world, is Senator McCain relevant today? Or is this just a temporary slow down in violence and will we ultimately need the Senator?

But hold it—wait a moment---because now we have the President of Iran mumbling about blockading the straits of Hormuz. This would send oil to $400.00 a barrel and gas to $12.00 a gallon. Would it also lead us to violence and war? I would imagine so. Does this kind of threatening talk make Obama irrelevant? Is he tough enough to face this tense and potentially violent situation? I hope so and I note that during his visit to Afghanistan, he said that 7,000 more soldiers are needed there to bring calm to the area. Was this a political statement to out flank Mc Cain or is he serious in making this tough and serious statement?


Are we really moving toward a more peaceful world? Where does the truth lie? The concept of world wide warfare is now outdated and these conflicts, as well as countless insurgencies and revolutions, are relics of the past. They may have fallen victim to globalism.

As for peace, and for what it is worth, I see it this way: Statistically the world is getting safer, but in the details of every day life there is still much violence or potential violence to be concerned about. Oil is a precious commodity and we have fought and will fight to control it. We must have our gasoline and it must be cheap and our insatiability will continue to translate into violence, if need be. This sensitive area could be an impediment to peace.

If the recent trend of laying people off by the thousands every month continues, due to outsourcing and economic conditions, we could see a massive reaction in the form of riots here in the USA. The elitists, the senior politicians, the so-called “leaders” of America, are out of touch. They do not understand the impact of the rise in the cost of a quart of milk, a loaf of bread, a pound of beef and a gallon of gas. They must wake up to reality and begin to understand that the masses must be appeased or there will be trouble. The French Revolution is a good example of the people taking charge because of tough times. America’s leaders must examine and react to the possibility of this potential phenomenon and give Americans hope; especially economic hope.
There are still many forms of violence in our country and around the world. There are, for example, gangs and drugs and drug wars and mafia turf battles, which affect a small number of people but which are very violent and are not good for the general welfare of the public. There are other forms of terrorism and violence in our world also---forced prostitution, child prostitution and more. All of these factors are forms of violence and are hidden in the ugly under belly of daily events.

There are roadblocks to peace and those barriers are the violence we see today in relationships and families. If family members cannot live in peace—the world cannot live in peace. Also people will fight over that which they want---we need the oil, I need my job, this is my turf, I sell drugs here so get moving or I will shoot you. The potential for extreme violence (war) is just below the surface of man’s consciousness while other forms of violence and inhumanity are fully operational.

I applaud the trend toward less violence and I am here to tell you that being in two wars is enough to make old warriors like me into peace believers. I want peace across the planet as well as right human relations.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Senator McCain Comments

“The 2013 date is not a timetable it is victory”

According to Glen Johnson, an AP writer, Senator McCain offered some unusual comments on May 15th about the world as he sees it. After reading what he said I would like to review some of his points.

In a Columbus, Ohio speech, the Senator indicated that by 2013 Osama Bin Laden will be dead or captured, Americans will have a choice of paying a Flat Tax, most servicemen and women will be back home, the Iraq war will have been won and the Iraqi government will be running Iraq. He qualified his comments by also saying “The 2013 date is not a timetable it is victory” and McCain went on to say, “I didn’t know when we were going to win WWII, I just knew we were going to win.”

This is a very interesting mix of comments by the Senator. Maybe we will have a flat tax by 2013---I hope it is not 60% of our earnings. If the war has been won and our troops are home that would be very good---but it is a long time from now. And Iraq will be run by the Iraqi government---I say it is about time.

OK, let’s say Osama is out of the way---natural causes or killed in a firefight---will it matter? He will go through some martyr recognition process by his followers---but how many are there? And if CNN and Fox give the demonstrations and funeral very little attention his passing will probably not be too significant---at least not as significant as the money we spent and the soldiers killed while looking for this mythic character.

By the way, how are you going to get the Congress to go along with this idea?

Flat tax you say---and just how does that fit into the rest of the conversation---I don’t know. Oh well, who cares----give me a flat tax Senator but let me review it before you impose it because it must be fair and the guys pulling in millions each month need to be flat taxed like all the rest of us lemmings---and no loop holes allowed. By the way, how are you going to get the Congress to go along with this idea? They are beholden to corporate America and their Washington jobs and support money often comes as a result of the tax breaks they legislate for the big boys?

Soldiers back home and the war won by 2013. That is a strange leap of faith---what happened during those intervening years---did you nuke the terrorists? Did you put the draft back into effect? How many of our folks were killed and how much more cash and political clout did we give up? During the time between now and 2013, did the Chinese economy pass ours up, did the dollar continue to decline, did gasoline go to $15.00 per gallon, did the world come to attention and give us one ounce of recognition and congratulations for our victory? Oh well, who cares; after all, we won. And the Iraqi mafia takes charge in Iraq---we deserve congratulations for that one also.

Can you say Pyrrhic?

How did you divine the year 2013?

How did you divine the year 2013? And you always knew we would win WWII but not exactly when--that is interesting.

Sir, it might have been possible to calculate the demise of the Nazi, Imperial Japanese and the Fascist Italian regime of WWII based on the decline of their industrial base. It was probably directly proportional to their war fighting capability. But to measure the potential for continued terrorist activities is a much more difficult metric to compute. So how exactly did you calculate the year of the end in Iraq as being 2013?

Have you heard about the drug cartels of Mexico?

Can you agree with me that terrorism is much bigger then Osama, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East? If you do agree, Senator, please take a broader look at terrorism because it is at our front door in another form and 2013 is irrelevant. Have you heard about the drug cartels of Mexico?

Somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 people have been killed in Mexico in the recent past. Cartel members, police, military and innocent civilians have been wiped out in the ongoing battle over drugs. And the cartel terrorists recently murdered the equivalent of the Mexican Director of the FBI. That is terrorism in action and my crystal ball says without our assistance in Mexico and with the continued demand for drugs in the USA, it is possible that these terrorists will topple the State of Mexico and penetrate up into Houston, San Diego, San Antonio, Tucson and Los Angeles.
I would be happy to send you my crystal ball so you can take a look at what I am seeing. In the meantime the terrorists are knocking on our southern door while millions of Americans continue to smoke crack.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Long term deployment in Iraq and other developments

The mission?

Apparently the White House has negotiated an agreement with the government of Iraq concerning long term US troop occupation and the discussions include location of military bases, troop strengths and missions to be accomplished by the occupying force. The mission? Well, that is easy: the President has decided to pledge to the Iraqi’s that the USA will protect the government in Baghdad from internal coup attempts and foreign enemies. In return the Iraqi’s have promised to “encourage the flow of foreign investments to Iraq--especially American investments--to contribute to the reconstruction and re-building of Iraq.” The promise will be a bonanza for American oil companies.

What is not clear is this: How long do we stay in Iraq? Do we continue the surge and in what form and in what intensity? I would suggest that a long term deployment of U.S. troops does not go hand-in-hand with a long term surge. Why? Because a long term surge is not sustainable.

…we have already carved out the enclaves we wanted…

Why is the Administration negotiating base locations? Given the construction that is underway or complete, it would seem that we have already carved out the enclaves we wanted without any assistance or approval from the Iraqis who happen to be the citizens of the country in question. We are the occupiers and we are building installations where we want them. Maybe the negotiation part of the plan is only propaganda for the American and Iraqi public. Also with the type of bases and installations we are building, I would say our troops might be in Iraq for forty years not four as Secretary Rumsfeld had suggested while still in office. Huge corporations such as Halliburton and KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers have installed massive installations in Iraq with modern conveniences suggesting we are in for the long haul.

Why is forty years or more a possibility? Because we have a penchant for over staying our welcome. For example, we have been in Europe since WWII ended in numbers in excess of 200,000 personnel. We are still in Japan today, and have manned the DMZ in Korea for over fifty years and we are to be found in numerous nations across the globe. Speaking of the DMZ, isn’t it ironic that probably less then 250 people have crossed the DMZ into South Korea in the last 50 years while 12 million plus have crossed our border in less then 50 years? Where are the priorities---South Korea is fully capable of taking care of its own border and we are a total failure along our southern frontier. It is time to leave Korea.

Do these expensive actions warrant the cost?

How do the planners view these deployments in Iraq? Do they see them as strategic enclaves in the event we have to project military forces into a neighboring area? Do they believe these expensive deployments to be part of our anti-terror program—fight ‘em anywhere but in our country? Do these expensive actions warrant the cost?

Also what does the citizenry of the occupied country feel about our presence? I would not want to wake up every morning to see a bunch of armed Iraqi GIs standing around on the street where I live. I would rebel against such an occupation. I predict that we will be very unwelcome in Iraq as time goes by and the festering unhappiness that will build is going to find American soldiers embroiled in trouble.

So, I suggest that we stop spending money to continue building enclaves, find a reasonable draw down schedule and begin to move the troops out leaving only a token force for training and liaison.

Let me tell you what is really happening

But wait! All that I have said so far is not important to the administration. Let me tell you what is really happening. This entire occupation has to do with OIL. The U.S. government would not be doing what it is doing in Iraq if Iraq were a country without OIL. The people of America have no say in this action; it is a White House edict. It is a payoff to big oil.

I can hear my opponents wailing in the background, “But Richard, we need oil to operate our automobiles. My answer: Go to new technology where fossil fuels have no role to play in auto engines. But big oil will not allow that to occur. They have us over a barrel and a barrel costs damn near $100.00. Wake up, America. You’re being taken to the cleaners and wait till you see the bill for occupying Iraq!

As an aside, the recent revelation offered by the National Intelligence Estimate concerning Iran’s nuclear program is good news and supports the need for a less pressurized environment in Iraq. However, we must be ever cognizant of the Iranian ability to buy nuclear devices from world-traveling and elusive gun runners; this activity is where the real danger lies. But, in the meantime, does reducing the numbers of U.S. military in Iraq seem like such a bad idea? It might even calm Iran and the rest of the Middle East. Couple a reduction of troops with a massive diplomacy effort to try and bring some measure of stability to the Middle East. It might be a softer, gentler way to bring calm in the region

Finally, I see where Mr. Wolfowitz is returning to a high level position in the State Department. He had his turn and he didn’t do too well—he even screwed up the World Bank job. Can we please find someone with some new fresh ideas and solutions to our problems and let Mr. Wolfowitz go back to academia?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Some help for Uncle Sam?

Mistakes, blunders and miscalculations plague our democracy…

The current administration, well into its second term, is in trouble on many fronts. But this is nothing new because many administrations before this one suffered from comparable problems most of which surfaced due to policies and actions that were foolish and ill conceived. Mistakes, blunders and miscalculations plague our democracy and always will because we have mere “people” running the show.

I am not going to condemn the current administration and the President. He has taken us down the path we currently travel because he believed he was serving the nation. I believe he made a few errors along the way, but he still believes he was/is serving America.

The Democrats are now narrowly in power in congress and they are establishing blockades against the President’s programs. I am not going to condemn them because they also believe they are serving the nation’s best interests. But look at it this way---members from both sides of the aisle are only “people.” They have all the shortcomings found in the human species. They suffer from such human frailties as being arrogant, overbearing, egotistical, don’t tell me what to do, know it all, believe they are always right and act out their decisions with emotion and not necessarily with objectivity. We are all frail; even the so-called smart people---who can be dumb as a poker at times.

The electorate looks on with wonder and amazement at what comes from Washington daily

Both sides are making mistakes fighting the political battle while the electorate desires less corruption, more truth and honesty and good reasoned actions. The electorate looks on with wonder and amazement at what comes from Washington daily.

Why does this happen? Why are mistakes made time and again?

Do bad policy ideas and bad recommendations for action come from the bottom up i.e. from the bureaucracy to the decision maker? Does the decision maker do any thinking and pondering over a course of action and consider its implications before deciding? We know they ponder the issues but often only from a political point of view. For example, does this action fit into the Republican plan or does this action fit into the Democratic plan? The question should be does this action serve America?

Are government mistakes related to exhaustion? Do the leaders, the President, Vice President, the cabinet members and other key officials wear themselves out, especially in the second term, and become so exhausted that they begin to make errors in judgment?

Or could it be that some of our elected leaders are out of their intellectual depth and can’t comprehend situations, courses of action and resulting consequences? As a result they make mistakes.

Or could government mistakes have to do with legacy and the leaders want their place in history and a powerful legacy, which causes them to go over the top in certain situations. Does arrogance and ego kick in as the end of the election term nears and all the mopping up is accomplished?

Or could the corruption be so bad that as all the chits are called in for payment it is natural that actions and events go haywire. The immigration issue is a lingering mess and no one can come up with a clean, comprehensive, doable, fair solution to this problem. Why? Are there reasons strong and powerful that cause congress to move at a snail’s pace on this massive debacle. What chits are being paid off? Who is benefiting? How are they benefiting? What is the damage to our nation and to the people involved?

… I am at a loss in trying to figure out why government, loaded with these people, cannot get it right

Considering all the bright people we have on the planet, I am at a loss in trying to figure out why government, loaded with these people, cannot get it right. Could it be that the system no longer works, or the efficiency of the bureaucracy is in decline or there is no review process and maneuver room to correct errors. Who knows?

Maybe Uncle Sam’s people need help?

The media attacks the government---but gives very little help. The news people are generally adversarial and constantly complain about this or that or he said and she said and so they stir the pot and make the government defensive. When the government becomes defensive it hides facts, lies, schemes and begins to blunder. Yes, the media does uncover scandals and that is a way of keeping government honest---but the news people rarely come up with answers to questions and issues. They are off looking for the next blunder or scandal.

The political pundits constantly talk but offer very few suggestions for improvement. They tend to blow their own horn, look pure, clean, above the fray and so sanctimonious.
The pundits are the intellectuals, the university guys who write books, quote other professors and rarely get involved with the real world. The pundits are also the celebrities---movie stars, athletes and other well known personages. I believe they should have their opportunity to speak---but they rarely have answers—and since they are America’s idols and heroes they are role models and have the attention of millions of people. Why can’t they offer some positive suggestions? In the final analysis they offer little, except such sweeping generalizations as “we need to go into Darfur right now.” I agree, we probably do but give me a fully thought out, comprehensive and reasonable plan for such an action to include the military, political and economic dynamics of such an effort including the exit strategy.

The clearing house would be a whistle blower system

I have an idea about helping Uncle Sam. Let’s form a legitimate, sanctioned, clearing house. I can hear the politicians screaming in the background---it is not in the constitution. Wow—good reason to not try it out.

The clearing house would be a whistle blower system. If it is to work, the whistle blower system including its people must be absolutely untouchable. If whistle blowers are vulnerable to government harassment such as threats of violence or endless tax audits then it will fail.

Open up your mind and let us explore this possibility. The clearing house is an idea wherein a group of bright, concerned citizens are to work with the big boys. We might have 10 people monitoring the DoD and 10 watching State and 10 looking in on the White House etc, etc. The clearing house would permeate the government. It would become the conscience of the government.

How might the clearing house system operate?

Assume the President wants to go to war with Iran. The clearing house team monitors and demands answers on the entire operation and reports as an outside source to the people. No Democrat and no Republican nonsense---in other words no politics just down-the-middle American citizens asking all the right questions about going to war and informing America about the intelligence, the threat and the rationale for the decision. And the government, if it wants to be helped, will give this body of independent people all the facts concerning this proposed war. The clearing house then passes judgment on the government’s plan and tells the citizens how it feels about the President’s perceived need to go to war.

Imagine if Uncle Sam decides to not cooperate and the clearing house blows the whistle and makes known to the public the government’s non cooperative attitude. The public will react against the government immediately.

I can hear the political parties saying, “But that is the reason for the two party system and we are doing today what you want the clearing house to do.” My answer is---no you are not. You are playing politics on every issue and on every situation and action. That is a major reason that it takes months and years for action when action could be taken in days. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have failed and they continue to fail because they do not see the problems of America as problems that need to be solved for the greater good of the country.

The truth is that all politicians are biased and beholden to someone

The truth is that all politicians are biased and beholden to someone. Therefore they are not acting in the best and highest good of the people and the nation. They are acting for their own good or for a small number of Americans.

A clearing house, a whistle blower, a national conscience, it might work—especially if one adds this to the equation:

Should it be found that any member of government acted to mislead or occlude the clearing house, that member's personal immunity would have been pierced in so doing and he or she would be personally liable.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Business of Intelligence

Rarely do outsiders recognize the hard work involved...

I am always surprised at how the word intelligence generates intrigue among people. Some folks see glamour, glory, an evil aura, sinister settings, sex, money and mystery in the term and all that it is and all that it means or suggests. Rarely do outsiders recognize the hard work involved in generating a first class, accurate and useful intelligence estimate. They see the final product as an aftermath, a conclusion, stark and cold detached from what they feel is all the glamour that went into its creation.

The intelligence business is not easy and is not especially glamorous. It consists of difficult work, constant review, comparison, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, extrapolation, and correction. The analyst is constantly involved in updates and making sense out of the irrational and finally reaching a decision on the weight of the evidence.

We should not skimp in the budgeting process when it comes to intelligence organizations

The President of the United States has a far-flung intelligence empire at his finger tips. He relies on this mechanism--this structure--to give him the latest and best view of the capabilities of potential enemies of America. He asks for and gets details and ideas from his intelligence people. And from what they pass to him and from what he gleans from their material, he makes decisions that move the nation. He decides what short term actions to take, or what planning to set in motion or long term strategies to undertake. He signals the machinery of the government to get to action, new diplomatic initiatives, economic efforts to strengthen an alliance somewhere in the world and the very serious decision to go to war when we are threatened.

Intelligence tips the scale of the decision making process and so it is in our best interest, the citizens of this country, that the president has available to him the best intelligence possible to avoid tragic and costly mistakes. We should not skimp in the budgeting process when it comes to intelligence organizations. But we must also demand good solid management and cost effective policies to conserve assets and funds. And if such policies are not operative we should relieve those responsible for the failure.

I am amazed that we have an intelligence service as good as the one that currently exists

Since the intelligence business carries so much baggage---or at least rumors of dirty baggage---dirty tricks, assassinations, subversion, sabotage, insurgencies and more, it is a hot item for review. The people on Capital Hill in Washington want a piece of this thing called intelligence. They want to know what our collection agencies are doing, how they are doing it, when and where they are doing it and is whatever they are doing the right thing to be doing?

Under near constant scrutiny, how does the government run a secret agency that is victim of all the above plus the constant review and reporting of stories some true some totally false from the press? I am amazed that we have an intelligence service as good as the one that currently exists.

I want and every citizen should want the intelligence apparatus preserved. It should be highly effective, managed by professionals, in service to the nation, using every source of information to reach sound and accurate conclusions.

At the same time I want balance. I want an intelligence apparatus that serves the nation and is partnered with the people of America. I do not want an intelligence service that victimizes our citizens or the citizens of any nation. I want a service that is designed to protect our shores, that works and teams with other agencies of government, shares information with those agencies---not a stand alone, smug, elitist group of eastern establishment intellectuals. I want balance! And, finally I want an intelligence service that uses all the disciplines of the intelligence industry from the most sophisticated technology to the down and dirty spy who is paid for spying in order to make the United States of America a safe place. I want a service that can cleanse itself with counterintelligence measures and protective shields to root out and get rid of traitors in the system. I want a purity of purpose and a pride in performance---even when we use all the tools available to us---including the dirty tools. Why---because in this era of terrorism the game is clear---the enemy is ruthless, he cuts off heads. We are not playing a game here and we must use every asset we can find to protect ourselves.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Let us review

The state of the union speech suggested …

There has been a massive amount of activity within the government and the administration over the past several weeks and it is time for a review to determine if any progress has resulted. I am going to come at the situation with some commons sense ideas—and not as a democrat or a republican.

The state of the union speech suggested that the President is holding strong to the view of sending in another 20,000 troops to quell the factional warring in Iraq. In fact, the troops are now on station. The Commander and Chief has put congress in a tough spot—even though the democrats hint that they will withhold the funding to support this effort in the long term, they probably cannot really take such action. They fear that the American public would see them in a situation of non support of the troops. This is not a good place to be politically. So the funding will probably be there and the deployment will complete and we will lose more youngsters in the civil war in Iraq.

Is it apparent that politics and political agendas come before common sense and responsible action? Why do we continually lose sight of the goal? And the goal is to quell terrorism, but how?

Iraq and Terrorism in America

Does Iraq have anything to do with terrorism penetrating our shores? Five years ago it probably had very little if anything to do with terrorism in America. What about today? With the fire we have built in the Middle East through our actions in Iraq, I am afraid that we have stoked the embers of terrorism beyond even the expectation of the terrorist factions. The entire region could blow up leading to major issues and we may have caused such conditions to develop and exist through our irresponsible action by invading Iraq.

I have decided that I am going to stop complaining about the situation. I am simply going to state some ideas that I have offered before and that still seem legitimate to me.

Let us get to the bottom of this situation…

The situation in Iraq finds us caught in the midst of a civil war. It is true that some of the combatants are criminals and thugs but essentially it is Sunnis and Shiites battling each other for control.

Let us get to the bottom of this situation by asking---what is it that they are trying to control? Could it be that the warring factions are vying for position to take control of a “new government” beyond the one in place? Could it be that such control would allow the nationalization of the oil industry and the faction in power would benefit from the oil production? It makes common sense to me and so I am going to adopt the idea.

By inaction the government has marginalized every Iraqi citizen…

In an earlier writing I suggested that the Alaska model be imposed in Iraq---which means get the oil industry moving and pay every citizen a stipend from the oil revenues. But the current government either cannot or will not turn this solution to action. By inaction the government has marginalized every Iraqi citizen and said to them “no oil money for you.”

So what is likely to occur? Someone will rise to the top of the heap, and I have very little confidence that it will be the government currently in power---because I don’t believe they are in power at all. They show very little leadership and no solutions to existing problems. They have rigor mortis.

I believe that President Malaki and his colleagues are waiting for the “other shoe to drop.” The other shoe being “who will be the last man standing.” Once that is sorted out and a strong man is identified, they (Malaki and his people) will join with the victorious rebellious leader. But there is a danger in this scenario for the current government---the strongman may take out Malaki and his regime. In any case, once the real leader emerges and takes power the game will begin.

What is the game?

Oil is the game!

Oil will flow from the wells and cash will flow and the government in place will benefit and the common man will miss out on the entire show. It will be back to normal in Iraq and all of our attempts at rescuing this country and bringing democracy to it will fail. Why? The Iraqi’s are not culturally ready for democracy and all of its complex machinations. They don’t have the foggiest notion as to what it means, can’t get their arms around it, democracy is not culturally in tune with life in Iraq--plain and simple--it is a square peg in a round hole.

Why did the modern day whiz kids not see this coming—the big thinkers in Defense and State and the White House? They didn’t want to see it because their arrogance and righteousness caused them to believe that everyone loves the “American model” and that includes the Iraqis.

“Too pushy”

I recently traveled by cab from O’Hare airport to downtown Chicago and the taxi driver was from Jordon. He was a very articulate man and had earned a master’s degree from a prominent American University. He came off as a very bright man and he had an opinion about us Americans.

He simply said America is “Too pushy.” He said, “We Jordanians love the King of Jordon---we have loved him and his predecessors for many, many years. We don’t need democracy; we simply need a strong, just King.”

Sounds like the 1960s and Vietnam…

My call to the administration is---come home America they don’t want our help. Come home America and let us begin to solve our own problems. The administration’s answer to that is if we retreat from the Middle East we might find ourselves fighting terrorism at home. Sounds like the 1960s and Vietnam. The US Government and its whiz kids of that era had the fixation that if we abandoned Vietnam everything would come unglued. They insisted that if we left South East Asia that Cambodia, Laos, Thailand maybe even Indonesia would go communist.

Did it happen? No.

We are giving too much power and too much expertise to the international terrorists. They are simply not as good as we make them out to be. But, there is another problem and let me remind you folks in the administration that we already have terrorism at home. It is going on all around us primarily in our population centers. It is the gang phenomenon where gangs terrorize neighborhoods, fight for turf and the control of drug distribution systems. This form of terrorism is as bad as that found in troubled sectors of Baghdad. But the administration would prefer to fix Iraq rather than fix New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The blogger and Uncle Sam

Let’s play a game for a moment and generate some questions and answers between the blogger and Uncle Sam.

First the blog writer:

How would the administration respond to the idea of it attacking and destroying terrorism in our streets idea?

The administration would say:

You don’t understand Mr. Blog Writer---we are talking about international 9-11 style terrorism.

I would say:

Come home and fight international terrorism from our shores through political, diplomatic, economic actions as well as vastly improved intelligence efforts.

Spend the next 94 billion dollars on re-building a worldwide human intelligence system and training a Special Forces team in the military that can defeat an enemy like those found in Iraq today.

The administration would say:

Get out of the Iraqi?

I would say:

Discover and shut down terrorist bank accounts. Discover who funds terrorism and don’t be too surprised when you find it to be a nation that acts friendly on the surface (they sell us a lot of oil) and behind our backs finance terrorists to kill us.

Uncle Sam’s response would be:

We can’t do that it would upset the international apple cart.

The blogger would immediately ask:

What international apple cart---is it the one full of oil? Are there under-the-table deals cooking that would be impacted if we would begin to tell the truth about our so called allies?

The Iraqi government is not our friend…

Remember just a few weeks ago that one single powerful general the Iraqi government appointed to finish off the war?

Have we ever heard of him again?

Was he appointed?

Did he and our new guy meet yet in Baghdad to develop a strategy?

Or did this newly appointed guy fade away?”

I go back to an earlier blog I wrote: “The Iraqi government is not our friend.” We are being strung out and they are holding on for dear life to benefit later from black gold.

Until we take some of the actions listed above, I will say to you again we are not at war with terrorism. We are playing a game and we are not serious about any of this business.”

We need to try common sense and see where it takes us.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

An historical lesson for the United States of America

They are standing on a rocky road…

The picture above shows soldiers, both young and into their mid-life, on high ground along a mountain road on the Pakistani side of the Khyber Pass. They are probably tired, both physically and emotionally, from the long grinding war. They are concerned about their wives and children, their country, their property and their future. Note that they are taking time out for God. They have an undying faith and they are resilient in the face of tough challenges. They have removed their foot-wear in honor of God. They are standing on a rocky road--shoeless--with makeshift prayer blankets spread out in front of them so they can bow deeply in their ritual to their God.

There were about two hundred of them; dirty, cold, maybe a little hungry, in civilian clothes some wearing shoes made from rubber tires. It was late October and the wind was blowing and the air was fresh and cold. They saw us struggling up the steep road in an old, beat up little car finally reaching the flat place. As I got out of the rickety, oil belching machine they cheered and ran to me and surrounded me wanting to shake hands or make contact in some way.

What the picture does not show…

What the picture does not show is that behind the scenes in every village and town there are legions of people supporting these fighters in every way possible. The weary fighters shown here have the help of collaborators and supporters of all ages from children to the very old, both male and female.

It is that backup support that makes it nearly impossible for a country to be over-run and held in bondage forever. Recent history will bear this out---Japan and Korea, Nazi Germany and Western Europe, the USSR and Eastern Europe, and the colonists who held India and a variety of African nations. Be they invaders with war as their tool or colonists with economics holding the power, it matters not---they will all be forced out.

I asked myself, what made them tough, what gave them courage, what motivated these rag-tag guerillas to stand up against the Soviet army? Could they succeed? What special talents did they possess? What were their tactics and their operational procedures? The following are some of my observations on these questions.

My wife grew up on a family farm in Kansas…

It seems to me that rural people and people of the land are tough. Farmers who work the soil and tend to livestock, out in the weather, up early, planting, harvesting, watching nature and relying on things natural everyday are a grounded strong breed of humans. My wife grew up on a family farm in Kansas. Like her siblings she was given daily chores to perform as a child. They were simple tasks at first and more difficult and physically challenging and important as she grew older and stronger.

As a family member, she felt family ownership of the property and she felt pride in her accomplishments. This made her strong and even courageous. If some outside force attempted to uproot her mother, father, brothers and this little girl from the farm, it would have been resisted. They were devoted to the ground they lived on. They were connected to it and it belonged to the family.

Sun Zu, in his book the Art of War…

What does a Kansas farm have to do with the toughness and resilience of the Afghan fighter? The Afghan rebels who opposed and drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan knew their land. They knew their home and their culture and their religion and their property and it was that sense of rivers, mountains, villages and hamlets and earth that brought them courage and dedication.

Sun Zu, in his book the Art of War written a couple of thousand years ago, made the following point. It is very difficult to invade a foreign land and hold on to that land over a protracted period. The indigenous population will constantly dream up ways to oust the invaders and at some point they will find the power, resolve and method to do so.

Sun Zu also said that there is an easy way to raise up a powerful army. When a threat has been detected along the border and invasion is imminent, he suggested calling all the farmers and landholders to a meeting and telling them of the threat. They are told that if the invaders succeed that everyone’s land will be confiscated, animals taken, rice paddies, wives and children taken and nothing will be left and they will be killed. Such a message will cause a man to fight to the death because there is no other alternative.

… the freedom fighters in Afghanistan came right out of Sun Zu’s book

I believe that a message like the one described by Sun Zu was passed to the Afghan freedom fighters by some very wise leader. In fact, the freedom fighters in Afghanistan came right out of Sun Zu’s book. They decided to become a fast moving guerrilla/terrorist force. You can compare them to a boxer with short arms facing an opponent with long arms. The guy with short arms must get “close” to the opponent and pound away at him with body blows, shots at the kidney and the convenient powerful uppercut. The guerrilla must get very close to his enemy in warfare and hit at him from close proximity.

The guerilla must ask the indigenous population for support. Intelligence support should be first on the list. The Afghans had superb intelligence because the entire country was supporting the rebels and more then willing to report to the rebels all Soviet plans, movement and activities. The local population was in close and actually among the Soviets collecting information all the time. But the civilian population suffered from this practice as the Soviets burned villages and murdered people in an attempt to stop the flow of information. Yet the Afghans would not give up and this courage and dedication is a very powerful asset and it actually spurs the underdog on.

The key to this tactic of getting in close is to do all the damage possible and get out quickly avoiding the air and artillery support that will be called for and will come. The Afghans cached weapons everywhere around the countryside allowing them to move quickly without the burden of carrying the weapons. They picked up weapons and ammunition near the point of combat and right under the nose of their enemies.

Let me ask you…

The Afghans created fear. They got into the Soviet’s brains by attacking them at night, withdrawing and disappearing quickly, showing up where least expected, fighting with terrorist tactics and avoiding head on engagements. The psychological impact of this tactic repeated successfully time and again can become a frightening scenario.

The Afghans wore the Soviets out. They finally delivered the knock out punch when they used the stinger missile to take out the soviet attack helicopter.

In the final analysis the Afghan rebels showed the world that a bunch of farmers and city folks working together with a cause and a fearless attitude can defeat a super power.

Let me ask you, does this very recent event hold any historical lessons for the United States of America?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The End Game

...the end game in the conflict in Iraq is a troublesome...

In a recent speech, I mentioned that the end game in the conflict in Iraq is a troublesome, elusive phenomenon. It has not been identified, quantified or described and apparently no one knows what it is. My question is how do we win---or maybe my question should be how do we lose? What does it mean to win? What does it look like to win?

The last time I talked about this issue I said, WWII ended with the signing of a declaration of unconditional surrender by the Emperor of Japan on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. I want to know---what terrorist will sign a document of surrender for all terrorists? Does anyone beside me see a problem here?

Interestingly, the President mentioned the USS Missouri and the WWII ending ceremony in his speech but he gave it no further attention. I have some advice for the President and his administration. Find out what it means to win in Iraq. Outline it to the people of this country. Then set out with all Americans to get the job done---the job you and the public agree to. That is the one and only way we will get out of this mess.

If you choose to avoid defining success and describing victory then again I must ask, Sir, how does this war end---can 21,500 additional troops, and a few tactical changes, and deeper involvement with the Iraqi government end it? The answer is a resounding, "No", because we don’t know what ending it means. We don’t know what victory looks like in this very peculiar war we are involved in. Please, Mr. President, find the definition of success and go for it and let’s be done with this mess in no more then six months to a year.

The Iraqis claim to have eighteen brigade equivalents of police and military trained and ready to go.

The President’s idea is to have the Iraqis appoint a new powerful Iraqi general who will run the war. The Iraqis claim to have eighteen brigade equivalents of police and military trained and ready to go. I doubt it. Next the plan involves turning over the combat to the Iraqi military and police, embed US Forces with them and go into the neighborhoods and roust out the terrorists. Do I believe that the Sunni military are going to kill Sunni terrorists---no!

Next we are to stay in those neighborhoods and make certain the residents remain calm. I wonder how many years we will devote to neighborhood watch. I say let the Iraqis keep the peace in their neighborhoods.

And are we planning to meet with the most contentious regimes in the area...

The President also said this is not only a military offensive but a diplomatic and economic offensive as well. We are to meet with powers in the region and work out some of the diplomatic issues. Really? And why have we not done this before now? And are we planning to meet with the most contentious regimes in the area---Syria and Iran? If not, why not? And if we don’t have the guts to meet with them, how will we ever fix this crazy region of the world.

What about some of the economic plans mentioned by the President. I recently commented about the Alaska oil model of dividing oil revenues in that state between all the citizens of Alaska. The President mentioned that it is now planned that all Iraqi citizens will share in the oil revenues. Just a few short months ago this initiative was tabled by the Iraqi government. I wonder---was the Alaska oil model a bargaining chip to insure the deployment of the additional US troops? Of course, it was!

My concern is in six months to a year how many more troops will it take to get some real action from the Iraqis with regard to oil revenue sharing? Another 20,000? When will we require a final determination? Will it take all the infighting between the tribes to stop before a decision is made to share oil money? So, is the end game to take place in this century or the next?

The President also said that the Iraqi government will commence a massive infrastructure development program. That is an interesting idea and why was it not pushed earlier?

Now let me get to what is really bugging me

Now let me get to what is really bugging me. Let me tell you there is a second reason why we cannot win in Iraq. It is a reason that no diplomat can utter because it is, heaven forbid, politically incorrect. But someone needs to say it and here it comes.

To deploy 21,500 additional troops to Iraq will make absolutely no difference to the situation. The reason is that the President’s plan places new, difficult and heavy responsibilities on the Iraqi government. And I do not believe the Iraqi government will perform. The problem is, the duly elected government of Iraq is not prepared to take on these burdens. They are inept. Furthermore they have been cheating and scheming behind our backs, undermining our activities and actually restricting our operations in the capital and in the countryside.

Mark my words---the Iraqi government is not our friend and this will not change. They are not to be trusted.

How about this as a test? Let’s watch the clock and count the days as they pass by without any infrastructure development in Iraq by the government. Also, let us watch time tick away while the Iraqis try to figure out how to pay every citizen an oil related stipend. It will not happen and that will be the test that tells us the Iraqis are blowing smoke up through the Washington Monument.

...did I hear the President say he was going to find more troops?

And last but not least---did I hear the President say he was going to find more troops? If he said it, is he on the brink of reinstating the draft? Now that would be a political bomb that would end the war—because the American public would come to life in total rebellion against a draft.

I don’t purport to know what the final answer is to this mess, but what we are now about to do "ain’t gonna work".