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
GUEST EDITORIAL: Congress now free from the threat of too much work
The headline on the Congress-watching newspaper Politico said it all: “Done.”
RONN MOTT: A friend celebrates his 90th
I went to Charlie Fox’s 90th birthday party Sunday last. He was standing greeting people as they came in the door. I never saw him sit down even one time. He looked more like a man celebrating his 60th rather than his 90th.
Editorial: Bring on the ‘Miracle’
For five miraculous years, Terre Haute’s Christmas festival on a Friday night in early December has grown and prospered.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 6, 2013
RONN MOTT: Cigars
Leaving Baesler’s Market the other day, making my round of errands, I started to re-light my cigar. It was left over from the day before and I did not place it in the humidor. It had gotten too dry, so I threw it into my garbage sack asking myself the question, “Why do I do this?” Well, I do it because I enjoy it.
TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORIAL: Changing attitudes demand GOP action
From all indications, the Republican Party’s legislative leadership will punt away in its next session the opportunity to make a good decision on behalf of all Hoosiers about placing a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 5, 2013
• Anarchy is in the ‘tea’ leaves
Editorial: Help us spread holiday cheer
The kind and generous people of the Wabash Valley are called upon often to help those less fortunate. We are proud to live an area where that call never goes unanswered.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 4, 2013
RONN MOTT: Cats, Inc.
I suppose we should give her a cake and a candle, but she would be happier with a handful of “treats” you can find wherever you shop for groceries. I’m talking about the two-year anniversary of the first cat we adopted. If we had known there were going to be more, her name probably would have been different. She was Orange Crush, a small, bedraggled, starving, Golden Tabby female that wandered into our yard a little after Thanksgiving. She had been badly maltreated.
MS. TAKES: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of. Our friend, Bill, stopped by our table to offer holiday felicitations and the conversation turned, as it often does this time of year, to Christmas.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 3, 2013
• Prestige chosen over practicality
• Tea partiers love country, freedom
• Same old clowns
LIZ CIANCONE: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 3, 2013
Prestige chosen over practicality
Tea partiers love country, freedom
Same old clowns
EDITORIAL: For NESC, transparency best option
The five-member board of the Northeast School Corp. of Sullivan County is in the midst of tough times as it faces a difficult decision on the future of its schools, including Union High School in Dugger.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 2, 2013
‘Ask not …’: Living by the words we speak
MARK BENNETT: ABA’s record proves Bobby Leonard’s a legit Hall of Famer
Bobby Leonard symbolized the feisty competitive flair of the old ABA.
EDITORIAL: Preserving, improving our parks
Few amenities more greatly affect the quality of life in Terre Haute than its public parks.
FLASHPOINT: Getting right with history
I am ornery enough to never much worry about whether I am on the “right” side of history.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 1, 2013
The dangers of aggressive driving
Thanks to Lowe’s for great work
Another ‘Miracle’ set for Friday
Obama lies with malicious intent
Down the path to nowhere
Remembering to help needy
Jihadis, be careful what you wish for
Hanging on to people’s rights
No more trespassers thanks to mayor
RONN MOTT: Collett Park Christmas Walk always a special event
Since I live right across the street from Collett Park, I enjoy very much this particular neighborhood. And since I have walked around it a few times, I’m familiar with the 0.8 of a mile it takes to walk around the park. The Christmas Walk is a walk around the neighborhood. There were approximately 15 homes involved and open to the public this year
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
An expansion of county parks
A teacher, visionary and leader
Reader poll results
READERS’ FORUM: Nov. 29, 2013
Cooperation helps enhance security
RONN MOTT: Rule Changes
Watching the beginning of a new basketball season reminds me of my attempt to play basketball in high school. On the B-team, at a township high school my freshman and sophomore years, I fouled out of a great many basketball games.
EDITORIAL: To be solemn, reverent and grateful
Its label is “Thanksgiving.” As Abraham Lincoln first proclaimed this national holiday in 1863, this 24-hour period celebrates our blessings, to be “solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
READERS’ FORUM: Nov. 28, 2013
Governor can put words into action
Editorial: Newspapers’ greatest day
Those who are limited in their news intake or gain most of their information from broadcast or Internet sources may be under the false impression that newspapers are a dying institution. They may believe that readers and advertisers have abandoned the traditional newspaper, be it print or digital, in favor of some other sort of news flow that relies on shallow streams of broadcast fluff or, even worse, social media.More astute observers of media trends and those who are discerning about the information they consume are quite aware that this newspaper doomsday scenario just ain’t so.
- Readers’ Forum: Nov. 27, 2013
RONN MOTT: A Hornet’s Nest
I seem to have kicked over a hornet’s nest in my criticism of the American health care system.
The basic fact of the matter is this: We do not have, in America, the highest-rated health care system. We are not in the top 10, nor top 20, but somewhere in the middle 30s. Yet we pay more for our health care than any other nation in the world.
LIZ CIANCONE: Mourning a death is a personal exercise
One does not properly “celebrate” an assassination, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to be reminded that there are a lot of nuts out there. Coverage this past week of the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination still has the power to disturb, but all the theories won’t undo the facts.
- More Opinion Headlines
- GUEST EDITORIAL: Congress now free from the threat of too much work