Saturday, April 15, 2006
Mything the Point of "Not On My Watch"
NOT ON MY WATCH
That's Something Men Say. Hard men with a soft spot like John Wayne, James Arness, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Bruce Willis. It's the sort of reassuring thing they tell the kid so he'll bunk down and catch some shut eye. Beaten, bruised, bone-tired but brave and indomitable they scan the surrounding darkness for danger and thoughtfully savor their coffee. The coffee is a metaphor for their life. It is cold, crappy and leaves a bitter taste in their mouth, but they enjoy it anyway. They know it may be the last cup they ever drink.
Samantha Power's book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide takes a hard look at a hard topic and asks the hard question, "What does America do when faced with evidence of genocide?" Unfortunately, the answer is somewhere between "nothing" and "too little, too late."
For some unknown reason, a National Security Council aide sent a memo to President Bush summarizing Power's chapter on Rwanda and Clinton's failure to stop the genocide in 1994.
For obvious reasons, word leaked out and it became well-known that President Bush penned a clear response in the memo's margins. He reportedly wrote, "NOT ON MY WATCH."
When this story first circulated in 2001, Bush was riding high in approvals. He had been re-cast from cheerleader with bullhorn rallying the kids to Leader With Bullhorn Rallying The Troops. Although no one actually asked him what the notation meant, everyone interpreted it as a strong statement of principle. People read it as a moral Maginot Line. It was a perfect example of the Compassionate Christian's Righteous Anger. It was the kind of thing you'd expect from a Texas Ranger.
Time passes; things happen and people start asking questions. First off, we have the ongoing genocide of Darfur. When Colin Powell used the "G" word at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on September 9, 2004, it set off a whole flurry of speculation. People were positively breathless with anticipation as they waited for the next shoe to drop. They didn't have to hold their breath too long to learn this was just the political equivalent of a Hallmark Moment. By Christmas, Powell was gone and the issue disappeared with him. The killing continues.
Here's why I bring all this to your attention: Recent events have forced everyone to accept the fact that Dubya is capable of using language just as deceptively as Slick Willy. Whatever happens in the Plame Game, one thing is crystal clear. George Bush initiated a multimillion dollar investigation even though he knew he was the guy they were looking for.
To Joe Six Pack-- and everyone else -- comments like "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it." Sound an awful lot like "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
When reporters, cops, and scientists are caught making misleading statements in the public record, everything they ever did becomes the subject of scrutiny. We don't hold our politicians to that standard because we expect them to lie like used car salesmen. But when a president runs on a platform of restoring honor and dignity to the Presidency, I think it's fair to go back and take a fresh look at that notation.
It's possible he meant it the way people interpreted it when he wrote it, but since then he's changed his mind. I'm not sure he deserves the benefit of that doubt.
Maybe he meant, "This did not happen on my watch... so what?"
Maybe he meant, "This will not be an agenda item on my watch."
Maybe he meant, "I won't resort to this on my watch."
We'll never know for certain, because unlike Bush, we don't claim to have the gift of looking into men's souls and judging them good. Mere mortals can only judge men by what they do and the consequences of their actions.
The cruelest lies are often told in silence.
-- Adlai Stevenson
Mything the Point:
"Examining unexamined beliefs America accepts on faith value"
Friday, April 14, 2006
Mything the point of "Support the Troops"
SUPPORT THE TROOPS.
Architects, apologists, and apparatchiks for the neo-cons constantly tell us we have to "support the troops" and blindly send them into a meat grinder for no clear reason. I saw a bumper sticker that said: "I support our President and I support our troops." I left a note on their windshield that said, "Pick one or the other because you can't support both. I pick the troops. Why do you hate America?"
Here's the bumper sticker I want to see:
The only generals who support the Bush Doctrine:
General Electric and General Dynamics.
There's a reason for that. Army command strives to live according to Seven Values, while this administration seems intent on committing The Seven Deadly Sins. Let me walk you through the disconnect:
Lucky Number Seven.
Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. constitution, the Army, and other soldiers. Be loyal to the nation and its heritage.
I won't even begin to list the number of times this administration has spit on, pissed on, kicked, mugged, and raped the U.S. constitution. All I will say is they demonstrate what happens when you place loyalty to party over country.
Fulfill your obligations. Accept responsibility for your own actions and those entrusted to your care. Find opportunities to improve oneself for the good of the group.
I can't think of an administration that is more allergic to the idea of accepting responsibility than this one. And if you think they have any sense of obligation to the people entrusted to their care, I have one word for you "Katrina."
Rely upon the golden rule.
How we consider others reflects upon each of us, both personally and as a professional organization.
I can't think of anything further from the Golden Rule than the Bush Doctrine. Instead of doing unto others as you would like them to do unto you, this administration is doing unto everyone before they think about doing anything.
Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.Selfless service leads to organizational teamwork and encompasses discipline, self-control and faith in the system.
When you look at the neo-cons who bang the drums of war from the safety of their magazines, TV and radio shows, and op-ed pieces, something surprising emerges. Guys like Cheney, Perl, Woolsey, Donnelly, Kristol, Ledeen, and Pipes are making a killing on all the killing. Teamwork? Gee...don't get me started on the Office of Special Projects. Suffice to say, when Stormin' Norman calls Rummy "scary," things are beyond out of control.
Do what is right, legally and morally.
Be willing to do what is right even when no one is looking.
It is our "moral compass" an inner voice.
"Integrity" is not a word that springs to mind when you have a President who thinks the Geneva Convention is "quaint" and the Fourth Amendment is a nuisance. The fact that Bush initiated a multimillion dollar investigation when he knew all along that he was the guy everyone was looking for is just another example of how deep a hole you leave behind when you take integrity out back and shoot it in the face.
Our ability to face fear, danger, or adversity, both physical and moral courage.
It's easy for the President to say "Bring it On" and swagger off stage to the safety of his security bubble. Donald Rumsfeld is happy to tell folks, "YOU go to war with the Army YOU have, not the one YOU would like to have" and then retreat to the relative safety of his security detail which seems to have everything HE wants. I won't even try to point out the cowardice of Cheney and his "undisclosed locations." That would be like shooting fish in a barrel.
Live up to all the Army values.
If ONE active duty general stands up and resigns they will be embraced by EVERY American who is fed up with this madness. One man stood up to a tank in Tiananmen Square and became an icon. It's time for a tank commander to simply stop.
Let the military pledge allegiance to the Constitution and they can count on our support. Americans of all persuasions will salute a military that refuses to enable the nuclear nightmare this administration seems intent on unleashing.
Here's why I bring all of this to your attention: We support our troops because they are OUR children, OUR parents, OUR spouses, and OUR neighbors. We support our troops who support the Republic. While Bush & Co. lie, our kids die. It is time for we, the people, to all join hands and say Semper Fi! "Semper Fi" means "always faithful." However, it is not a pledge of fealty to a king, a party or a class. It is a pledge of loyalty to one another and the Constitution. Now is time for all good wo/men to come to the aid of their nation. Now is the time to pick a side. Do you support our troops, or do you hate America?
Mything the Point:
"Examining unexamined beliefs Americans accept on faith value."