Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Random thoughts.......or Rummy needs a math lesson.

I've been in a real down mood the last couple of days. Not sure why and it probably something I need to set down here in this forum, but I'm not quite ready do it just yet.

There have been some very thoughtful articles and posts that I have been seeing in Bloggerville, these last few days. I sure wish I could write like that!

Lots of talk about the Newsweek scandal:

This is what the cover of next weeks edition should say.........

Most of it beats up on Newsweek and I am not about to say they don't deserve it. However I think the other side of the story, the fact that Moslems went nuts about something printed in an American magazine, says something ridiculous about Islamic sensitivities. I've said for months that Islam is an albatross hanging around the neck of much of the world, and the Arab world, the "Stan's", Iran and Indonesia will make no real progress forward until they jettison it. Newsweek is not to blame for 15 people getting killed, idiot Muslims who can't keep any sense of perspective are to blame. As well as their governments for allowing an atmosphere where wackos feel free to roam. That does not absolve Newsweek from being blamed for poor journalism....but good grief, Al Jazeera ( All terrorism all the time) prints far worse stuff every day about Americans. You don't see us "heathens" marching in the streets. In other words, I just cannot get overly excited about the story.

And as for the prisoners in GTMO? I could care less if they are offended by anything their guards say or do. They gave up the right to be offended, when they made league with Osama.

Back here in Japan, Koizumi is still having to explain something that he should not have to explain, namely visiting the Japanese Shrine at Yasukuni. As the Prime Minister points out, " Every country wants to mourn their war dead, and other countries should not interfere in the way of mourning". I agree. The war is over and has been for a long time.

The Peking Duck, has a link to a great speech given by Bill Moyers at a recent conference on media reform. Here is an excerpt, go to the Duck's site then follow the link to the Salon web site. Its worth reading in its entirety.

The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo -- the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration's patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao's little red book on every official's desk, omnipresent and unread.

But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapels while writing books and running Web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They're in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks even as they call for more spending on war.

Speaking of flags, I attended a ceremony this morning where the National Anthems of both Japan and the United States were played. I always marvel when I hear the two songs played back to back. First comes Kimigayo which is a short but haunting song, especially when played by a band or sung by a really good female singer. Its not an upbeat song at all, however it is thought provoking and a good anthem for Japan. Then of course, comes the Star Spangled banner which is totally different in its tempo, its words, its outlook on the world. As an American, even though I am totally committed to living over here in Asia, I can never fail to be stirred by hearing the Star Spangled banner. Taken together, it provides in my opinion, a fitting commentary on the nature of the American and Japanese friendship. Two cultures which are very different, but whose futures are inextricably linked together.

Plus, both songs have a lot of history associated with them. The link I gave tells the story of how the song started with a British band director, then evolved.

JR West's president has resigned, which is not suprising since his zealous insistence on meeting timetables is blamed for Japan's worst train wreck in history killing 107 people out side Osaka. He had been adamant for days he would not leave, I think the pressure got to be too much . Over here, there are folks who would just as soon push him under a train......which if JR were true to form, they would send him a bill for the cleanup of the remains.

Gaijin Biker has details. Here is the long and the short of it:

Train derailed at over 106Km/hr....hits an apartment building. Much pain and suffering ensues.

Japundit has an interesting article about the rules for Japanese anime, which anyone who lives over here and watches Japanese TV will appreciate. Trust me they are very true.

The other thing that Japundit commented on was what Japanese call dekichatta kekon (出来ちゃった結婚)which in English is a "shotgun marriage". ( except that here in Japan, being pregnant out of wedlock is not as much of a deal as it is in the states.)

Finally, its time for Rummy's math lesson. The Christian Science Monitor, published an article that talked about the conflict between Rumsfeld's desire for a smaller Army and the real issues that are facing the US Army today: too much to do and not enought people to do it with over the long haul:

For more than two years, Congress has hammered the Pentagon on this point, claiming that the reliance on more than 60,000 National Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq is a sign of an Army stretched dangerously thin. And for more than two years, Mr. Rumsfeld has remained unshakable in his conviction that the answer to any manpower problems lay in ongoing efforts to transform the military from its cold-war excesses into a leaner and more efficient fighting force. Last year, when Congress ignored his counsel and mandated a permanent 20,000-soldier increase for the Army, the tug of war played out as a battle of wills, pitting the Pentagon's vision of the future against Congress's concerns about the present. Now, the House is poised to take up the cause again, considering a measure that would tack on another 10,000 troops. As the war in Iraq enters a crucial period - one that could help decide when troops can start coming home - it is an issue that cuts to the core of the military's prospects for success. On Wednesday, legislators must weigh whether more soldiers will help the military despite itself or simply add new budget, training, and recruiting burdens to an organization already pushed to its limits. As was the case last year, the provision would merely be added to the National Defense Authorization Act - the Pentagon's 2006 budget. The subcommittee debate Wednesday could move the measure forward for a full House vote.

So Master Donald, here is your mathematics lesson for today. 480,000 does not equal 2.4 million(Active and Reserves together). 480,000 is the size of the Active US Army. When Rumsfeld looks at it, he always lumps the reserve numbers in and then goes and argues that the other services should do more......thus he gets the figure that the 150,000 folks in the Iraq Army of Occupation are not placing a strain on the force. Plus Rummy believes that he can outsource every non combat job and create more trigger pullers and in consequence further reduce the size of the Army. I have news for him, even if you succeed in your misguided attempt to out source every rear echelon job to higher paid civilians, you still will not have enough trigger pullers to man wars in : Iraq, Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, and coming to a theater near you Korea and Taiwan. The type of "transformation" Rumsfeld seeks is only good for wars that you win in about 6 months, not occupations that go on for years and years. What Rumsfeld and the other "business managers" see is the cost: "People are expensive". Well yea, they are . That's because they are worth investing in.

It is not as if they were not warned. The former Army Chief of Staff said that it would take a lot more troops to occupy Iraq than invade it, and in hindsight he has been proved right. The Secretary of Defense's response was to discredit the messenger, rather than hear the message. There are other signs of strain as the Army has continued to use a back door draft of IRR soldiers to make its numbers. These are not volunteers, they are guys who did their bit, and now want to move on with their lives. Instead they are being forcibly dragged back in.

Time to stop, because everytime I think about this particular subject I get angry. I am still in a very down mood, so it would do know good. Thinking about giving the S.O her walking papers.........more to come.


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