TERRE HAUTE —
“Master, master, old news! And such news as you never heard of!” — William Shakespeare
It’s the same old, same old when I read the newspaper. Republicans believe (or pretend to believe) that the 7 percent of union members in America’s workforce caused the Bush Depression. Charlie Sheen again demonstrates which part of “Two and Half Men” he is. And college sports scandals continue to blossom and smell stronger than the sweat in a crowded locker room or the money in a big booster’s off-shore bank account.
Not getting as much attention is the same old news on America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I guess the expiration date on interest in these costly wars (trillions and counting) and deadly (thousands and counting) has run out.
So in case you aren’t current with the same old news in regard to Iraq and Afghanistan, here are a few items sitting in the “Let’s just forget about it” bin from last month’s reports.
In Iraq, the citizens of this American-assisted “democracy” project are upset about the lack of jobs, electricity and clean water, better pensions and medical care. The “Days of Rage” demonstrations took place across the country, starting as peaceful gatherings and ending with 19 dead as the “elected” government’s security forces used tear gas, water cannons, sound bombs and at times live bullets to disperse the crowds.
We have 47,000 American troops in Iraq. Remember when presidential candidate John McCain speculated that the United States might be in Iraq for maybe a hundred years?
Who buys and reads the books by the Bush war architects and cheerleaders? Trying to paper over his role in the tragedy that is Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld is out plugging his just released memoir, “Known and Unknown.” The book might as well be titled “Forgetting and Dissembling.” For a guy who is good at numbers he tries mightily to squirm away from a blood and treasure cost analysis of the war he did so much to push us into. This is old, old news.
Another new book out last month knows what Rumsfeld ignores and General Petraeus and President Obama refuse to acknowledge. Bing West, an infantry officer and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, decided at age 70 to spend time, a lot of time, embedded with American troops in Afghanistan. He saw and studied the war there up close — in Garmsir, Marja and Nawa in Helmand Province; Barge Matal in Nuristan; and the Korengal Valley in Kunar. The title of his book doesn’t say it all, but it has a forthright ring to it that is missing in Rumsfled’s trip down a rabbit hole. Thank you Bing West for your “THE WRONG WAR, Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan.”
Here’s an old story from West’s book. “For three years, the provincial reconstruction team had lived in a compound a few blocks from the scene of the tragedy [a grenade blew up a truck in Asadabad in 2009 killing a number of civilians]. The P.R.T. had paid over $10 million to hire locals, who smiled in appreciation. Every time a platoon from 1-32 patrolled through town, they stopped to chat with storekeepers and to buy trinkets and candy to give to the street urchins. Yet the locals had turned on the soldiers in an instant.” … “‘Kill the Americans!’ the Afghans shouted. ‘Protect Islam!’ Only later did a videotape of the incident show clearly that an Afghan had tossed the grenade.”
West’s recounting of this old story fits perfectly with a mid-February shift in troop deployments. Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander for eastern Afghanistan, ordered the withdrawal of Americans from the Pech Valley, an area previously described as “central” in the fight against the Taliban. Over 100 American soldiers have died there. “I don’t want [to give] the impression we’re abandoning the Pech.” General Campbell said. As troops who fought hard and died hard in the Pech were leaving, General Campbell put a nice double-speak spin on the withdrawal: “I prefer to look at it as realigning to provide better security for the Afghan people.”
In a moment of candor, someone familiar with the withdrawal decision with stars or bars on his helmet [in a not-for-attribution comment] offered this assessment: “What we figured out is that people in the Pech really aren’t anti-U.S. or anti-anything; they just want to be left alone. Our presence is what’s destabilizing this area.” This conclusion is painfully old news to those who have been opposing the war for nine years.
Then there was this from our current Secretary of Defense. “… Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.” I doubt if Gates will be reading Rumsfeld’s “Known and Unknown” but he seems to know Bing’s “The Wrong War.”
Finally we have the new old news of brave Americans paying the ultimate price in these wars. The Defense Department reported that CARPENTER, Andrew P., 27, Lance Cpl., Marines; Columbia, Tenn.; Second Marine Division; HIDALGO, Daren M., 24, First Lt., Army; Waukesha, Wis.; Third Squadron, Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment; and SISSON, Robert C. Jr., 29, Sgt., Army; Aliquippa, Pa.; Fourth Infantry Division, died in Afghanistan sometime in February.
To date, 1,467 American service members have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations; 4,439 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. The seriously wounded exceeds 40,000.
— Gary W. Daily
TERRE HAUTE —
“Master, master, old news! And such news as you never heard of!” — William Shakespeare
Editorial: Our children in poverty
An important gauge for measuring the long-term prospects of a community is the well-being of its children. For all the effort and progress Vigo County has made in rebuilding the economy and improving its quality of life, chronic problems with the welfare of its children still exist.
- Readers' Forum: March 14, 2014
RONN MOTT: Ukraine 2
The situation in the Ukraine should let us know plainly, and openly, the old saying about a leopard never changing its spots is true. Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer, grew up a communist and, from all appearances, still believes like a communist.
EDITORIAL: Meth battle never ends
It’s been more than a decade since local police officials declared methamphetamine as “public enemy No. 1.”
READERS' FORUM: March 13, 2014
• Celebrating the Girl Scouts
• Challenging the politicians
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts on a cool day (Part III)
• Resolving to praise ISU
• Right down our alley
- READERS' FORUM: March 12, 2014
RONN MOTT: SAWS
A few days ago we talked to John Anderson of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church. He’s the coordinator for a mission of the church that builds ramps and stairs for those who are physically handicapped in Putnam County.
EDITORIAL: Thinking warm thoughts (Part II of III)
• Renewing a local library commitment
LIZ CIANCONE: We’re not only ones ready for springtime
During the most recent of our numerous descents into polar temperatures, I was astounded to see a dozen or more robins up to their ankles in snow. They were fluffed out to about twice their normal size. I suppose that was an effort to provide a bit of feathered insulation against the cold.
READERS' FORUM: March 11, 2014
• Meat-free path to the fountain of youth
• Faulty point?
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts on cool days (Part I of III)
• Something good’s brewing
• Y we can’t take it for granted
FLASHPOINT: Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t
At a public gathering the other day, someone asked me how I’d sum up my views on Congress. It was a good question because it forced me to step back from worrying about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view.
READERS' FORUM: March 10, 2014
• Our government’s heart and soul
• A plea for more give and take
MARK BENNETT: New public-access point begins quest to create more spots to experience river
Fairness holds no power over the Wabash River.
EDITORIAL: Ads on the sides of school buses? What have we come to?
Ads on the sides of school buses do not constitute a sign of the apocalypse. Western civilization will survive.
Flashpoint: President should stop Medicare Advantage cuts
Virtually all elected officials — Republicans and Democrats — share the goal of increasing access to affordable health insurance and helping families receive the best coverage to meet their specific needs.
Readers’ Forum: March 9, 2014
Mardi Gras great event for Swope
EPA regs will cause energy bills to soar
Please pray for Ukraine innocents
Sinful thinking on road to hell
Liberty — or licentiousness
People will not always agree
Botched chance at leadership
RONN MOTT: Radio now a long lost love
I fell in love with radio when I was 16, just a few short weeks before my 17th birthday. The man who did the deed and hired me was Adlai Ferguson.
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
Welcome to girls teams, fans
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
EDITORIAL: What do Sony cutbacks mean?
It is easy to understand why shivers run down local people’s spines whenever rumors hit the streets about Sony DADC’s plant on Terre Haute’s east side. With more than 1,400 people currently employed in Sony’s production and distribution facilities, the community has grown somewhat dependent on the economic stability Sony provides.
- Readers’ Forum: March 7, 2014
RONN MOTT: Knicks
The big noise in the NBA is whether Carmelo Anthony will stay with the New York Knicks or go elsewhere.
If my memory serves, and it doesn’t always, Carmelo left the Denver Nuggets, the team that drafted him, to play in the bright lights of the Big Apple. It was loudly proclaimed at the time that Carmelo wanted to play for a championship team. The Knicks’ ownership bought a bunch of players and spent a whole bunch of money to aid Carmelo in helping the Knicks to get to a championship.
EDITORIAL: More ill will against gays
If you’re a feral cat wandering freely through a trailer park in Indiana, the General Assembly has taken action to make your life better.
Readers’ Forum: March 6, 2014
Utilities do need tighter regulation
Great work by TV sports staff
Editorial: A good place for persistence
The topic of Gov. Mike Pence’s effectiveness as the state’s top governmental leader during this year’s General Assembly will be hashed and rehashed after the session closes down in the next couple of weeks. At best, the first-term governor will get mixed marks.
- Readers’ Forum: March 5, 2014
RONN MOTT: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington
I remember when by edict the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were lumped into a single celebration called “Presidents Day.” I thought it was stupid then, and I still do.
LIZ CIANCONE: Antiques show better than any modern programs
I’m not a big fan of television.
Readers’ Forum: March 4, 2014
Lunatic ravings of the far right
Let IRS take the bullying pledge
- More Opinion Headlines
- Editorial: Our children in poverty