Thursday, June 19, 2014

Iraq 3.0?

If you do not appreciate my “night time martiniesque” sense of humor (dry and dark) STOP READING, please!

So I am not an expert on international politics or military strategy. But some things are obvious even to an aging guitar hero like myself.

The United States screwed up in Iraq. We repelled the Iraqi army from Kuwait with the help of the world. And we left Saddam Hussein in place. But there really was no viable alternative. Was there?

Then every intelligence organization on the planet determined that the Iraqi government was hiding WMDs. And the United Nations (I am no fan of the U.N.) determined that we must go and secure them. But only after the French and Russians stalled for time. The Iraqis used that time to fly the WMDs into Syria where they are now being used in the mess there. Then, when the WMDs were successfully removed and hidden again, the United States invaded Iraq (timing is everything after all). And the American Government did what it does best. They killed people and broke things. That is what armies are supposed to do. One of the things that we (they did it in my name whether I like it or not) broke was the Iraqi government and another was the Iraqi military. The USA attempted nation building in Iraq (a fools errand). It has not worked.

And now Iraq brings us another challenge. Some of the most vicious terrorists on the planet, ISIS, are about to conquer Iraq. Along with the people and lands of Iraq come 20% of the worlds oil. If we allow this to happen this extraordinarily vicious terrorist organization will be filthy rich. And that means they will be able to buy all kinds of nasty things from the Chinese, Russians and yes... the French. So what is a forward thinking person to do?

There are options. And all of them are bad. These are just the first three I could think of.

1.) Leave it alone and take our chances that being rich is good enough to take the terror out of the terrorists. ( yeah... that will happen)

2.)Send a quarter million or so soldiers into Iraq again and capture it. Then occupy the place long term to protect it from future invasion. (that will make us REAL popular with all the cool countries)

3. Nuke the oil fields in Iraq. That way, no one can use that oil for a few thousand years. That makes it worthless to the terrorists. And it would make the environmentalists happy. What's a little nuclear fallout among friends? But the price of gas at the pump will skyrocket to levels we could never have imagined. (can you say global depression?)

What is a responsible Super Power to do? What do you think? Better yet, who has the stones to make the decision? I don't think that I do.

I think that I know what the Libertarian course of action should be. Initially... nothing. Well I would probably already have evacuated the American Embassy in Baghdad to mitigate the danger. But if there are American diplomats and/or citizens in the embassy and they are left alone, the United States doesn't have a dog in this hunt. However... if the ISIS terrorists attack the Baghdad installation... that is another matter altogether. Contrary to many of my libertarian friends, I subscribe to the asymmetrical battle strategies put forth by folks like Jeff Baxter. If we are attacked, the U.S. Air Force should rain “daisy cutters” down on these guys until there is nothing but sand and dust. But like I said earlier, we have a responsibility to protect our people and mitigate the danger before it gets to that point.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Asymmetrical Relationships

I have this friend. A talented and creative guy. A good family man. He has a really big heart and a kind soul. As you might have guessed I really like him. However I would have to believe that he does not have the same opinion of me. But I came to terms with asymmetrical relationships many, many years ago. You are probably expecting the “but” to appear anytime now. You are going to have to wait a bit longer. Asymmetrical relationships can be quite painful until you understand why they exist. In the typical asymmetrical relationship one party genuinely has affection and respect for the other party as they are. While the other party seeks to change the first. Or at the very least wishes they would change.

These relationships manifest themselves through the differences in spiritual beliefs most commonly. But this also spills over into political differences as well. I will skip the romantic versions of this phenomenon for now. Although I can safely say that I have observed them as well, both from the outside and the inside.

Now if you have spent anytime reading my previous work you already know that I am a Libertarian and an Individualist. This often confuses people when they learn that I am also a Christian minister. There are folks out there that simply can't reconcile these belief systems. I find it perfectly natural. Although I guess that I would have to. And for me part of that comes from having a rather clear vision of right versus wrong and smart versus stupid. My vision may be wrong. But I don't think so. And it was my faith in God and Jesus as well as my faith in myself that led me to the ministry in the first place.

Now some would call my relationship with God asymmetrical. But it doesn't really fit my definition. You see I am not foolish enough to want to change God. Nor do I believe that God wants to change me. Because surely God could change me with very little effort. But rather God wants me to choose to change for myself. Do you see where the Individualist part works there? God wants me to study the bible. He wants me to maintain the context and try to teach the lessons contained therein to others. This is no easy task. The language translation can be arcane. And with so many people, with ulterior motives, taking verses out of context, you really have to read constantly to deflect outside influences that don't have the best interests of the text at heart. In short, ministry is a full time job... plus. And I am retired.

I am occasionally challenged by people, oddly enough almost always men, with my memory of this chapter or that verse. I almost never engage. There is no point. I will never have the bible committed to memory. And the chances of having a productive discussion with someone obviously seeking to prove their superior knowledge are pretty slim. That's right. I tend to not take shit from some guy that has pride issues. That also confuses them. I am an unlikely minister. And I choose to own that.

Back to my friend. As you might have already surmised, we disagree politically and spiritually often. But we nearly always maintain civility and respect. I really look forward to our exchanges until he becomes personally insulting. I believe that the differences between us can be summarized like this. When we disagree in a fundamental way, I believe that he is either misinformed or misguided. On the other hand he seems to believe that I am evil or mean spirited. And that is about as clear an example of asymmetry as I can describe. But then again, how many of us found our school teachers to be evil or mean spirited?

So when we find ourselves in an asymmetrical relationship, and we are having a fundamental difference of opinion, perhaps we should ask this question. “What do we have a right to expect from the other party?” If we can honestly evaluate our expectations and our rights as they relate to others, then perhaps respect, kindness, and even affection can take the place of anger, coercion, and force.