Been there…done that
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Apr
14

Ten posts down and not a one left to do.  Anyways, i noticed in my google reader account again another piece of fraud going on in Africa.  This time the location was Algeria.  The problem, possible discrepencies in voting turnout and percentages.  We have talked in class a bit about the problems that the nations in Africa face, we have read about them in Ishmael Beah’s book Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, and now there is this article.  It seems to be a never ending cycle of corruption and decipt and the people are the victims.

“[There was] a real tsunami of massive fraud which reached an industrial scale,” the Front of Socialist Forces, which boycotted the election, said in a statement.  Former head of Algeria’s human rights league Ali Yehya Abdel-Nour told the BBC the official voter turnout figures had been exaggerated.”

The Algeria we know today is much more peaceful than that of its past.  It did go through a similar run just as the country of Sierra Leone did.  It seems to have been happening since the Europeans decided to colonize Africa, try to exploit it, then draw boundries which gave these people area to fight about.

“Algeria is slowly recovering from the 1990s civil war which left up to 150,000 people dead.  The conflict was triggered when the military intervened in a parliamentary poll in 1991 to stop an Islamist victory.”

It is hard here in the United States to get a real clear idea, without media bias, about what goes on in the countries over there and which side is right.  The only thing that we can do is read some news source that is deemed impartial.  Or we can read books like Ishmael Beah’s story of why he is fighting and which side is right.  To be educated is the best way of understanding this crazy world.  It will never make complete sense, but to not try is to not care.  I care, so I read and try to understand.

Ishmael Beah Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

BBC News Landslide Win for Algerian Leader

Apr
14

After reading the Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah, I came across this news article that talks about the rebels (PKK) of Turkey and the terror they are trying to inflict.  It somewhat reminded me of what happened in Sierra Leone with Ishmael and the other soldiers fighting the rebel troops.    Just a small sample from the article talks about the involvement that they may have with drugs,

“Illegal drugs which Turkey says the group is involved in.”

As we all know from reading Ishmael’s story, the army of Sierra Leone, and the rebels relied heavily on drugs to give them stamina, strength and motivation/aggression.  If the Turkish government was able to stop the flow of drugs to the PKK this may hamper their ability to operate.  Another thing that the Turkish government has done to slow down the rebels in Turkey and Iraq is,

“Since then Turkish warplanes have carried out regular cross-border bombing raids against PKK targets, undermining the group’s ability to operate in the mountainous region.”

If they are able to keep the rebels in small groups, the villagers that are being attacked have a better chance of defending themselves and fighting off the PKK forces.  Like in Ishmael’s book, the reason that the RUF had just an easy time taking most villages they wanted was because of their superior numbers and relentless fighting.  If we are able to take away the number advantage, they would be on a more even keel.

Although the PKK is a rebel group fighting for their own cause, they have not quite reached the level that the RUF has in terms of killing and violence.  According the article,

“The PKK has been fighting for an independent Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, the vast majority PKK militants.”

That is good news for anyone that is hoping to avoid the travesties from happening in Turkey and Iraq as they did in Sierra Leone.

Ishmael Beah Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Reuters Turkish Army Cheif Says Kurdish Rebels In Disarray

Apr
10

Here are my comments, they are listed 1-10 as per order of the course syllabus.  I hope that they are as interesting to read as they were for me to review and write on.  I may just continue to ramble, but i also may not.

Comment #1

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Comment #10

Semper Fidelis,

Aaron Musk

Apr
08

Just like in the movie, Ron killed people and he felt a lot of remorse for doing so. In the book, Tim does the same thing in “the man I killed”. They both just kind of get stuck in an awe stricken state over the harm they have caused. We don’t know what is going though toms head in the movie about what lives these people may have had, but in the book he goes into great detail for the whole chapter making up a life for this man that he killed. They are both in Vietnam, and then it is hard to distinguish civilians from soldiers, so this was to happen quite frequently. It is a sad way to fight your war, hiding behind civilians and making them your own personal meat shield. The Viet Kong fought their battles by tugging at the hearts of the soldiers and of those back home wanting the war to be over with.

In the book and the movie, they both have to think about what is going on back home.  It is sad how many people are lost and the amounts of horror one must see in war, both have seen there travesties and try to deal with them in their own right. There is a loss of friends that happen to both of them and they seem to be the ones to survive it all and have to deal with what comes next. But what does come next for Tim and Ron? I don’t know about tom because the movie was stopped before it could end. Also it just seems the book was just a collection of short stories that were put together, in somewhat of an order, but no real end has come from it. The idea of story truth vs. happening truth is evident in Tim’s story of the man he killed. He says in Good Form that,

“Here is the happening truth. I was once a soldier, There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look…Here is the story truth. He was slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay in the center of a red clay trail near the village of My Khe. His jaw was in his throat. His one eye was shut, the other eye was a star shaped hole. I killed him.”(pg. 180)

Just like Tim, Ron makes his own truth, truth about killing his friend and the innocent civilians that he killed. I’m sure what the movie showed was his version of a story type truth.

Tim O’Brian The Things They Carried

Oliver Stone Born On The Fourth Of July

Mar
24

So I came across an article today that involved tourists heading to Iraq, which strikes me as strange. When I started thinking about it though, it made me think back to the times in Europe when war was all around people, yet they risked their lives daily just leaving the house. I wondered how long it took people to go on vacations around Europe and especially Germany after the end of the war, or were people going there for a little trip even when the war is not quite over yet.

Frankly, the more I read of this article the more it pissed me off. There is one quote in there by an English couple that says,

“And none of the group seemed very concerned about security. It never occurred to me to think it was a risk”.

How in your right mind could you be from Canada and the United States and be that ignorant? It is not like they went and stayed at a hotel in some obscure city in the south of Iraq where it is quite safe, they stayed downtown Baghdad! It says in the article that they would spend most of their days going through checkpoints just to try and get places, so I hope that they are truly not that moronic to never think that their life could be in danger. I hope that they just said that to the news crew to try and seem like everything they are impervious to what is going on there, and try and seem tough.

“It’s quite wonderful to be here. To get here, I mean – come on! – you’ve got to put up with something haven’t you?”

Having that being said, I am glad to see that things are starting to change around there. After world war two I am sure that people were happy to start seeing new friendly faces again and be able to go anywhere on the continent and feel at least a little safe and secure. I would want to visit Iraq one of these years when I know there is not so much hatred towards Americans, just to see what I had experienced again but in a different light. There is some beauty there and a long history of people there. It would be interesting to say the least. I am not the only one who thinks this way,

“And the ministry of tourism in Baghdad hope that, like Northern Ireland, Iraq will recover from its reputation for terrorism – and become better known for tourism – in the “land of the two rivers”, Mesopotamia.”

The people of Iraq would like to see their country back in their control and have it be a thriving economy once again. I do not believe that it will happen anytime soon, but if Northern Ireland, Germany and France are any indication of how one can pull out of a war-torn area and thrive in tourism, than Iraq may have a chance after all. A lot will have to change before that ever happens though.

BBC News Middle East

Mar
24

Our border of Mexico and the United States is not safe, simply put. People seem to think that we want borders up between Mexico and us for the simple reason of keeping illegal immigrants out to save our job. This is not necessarily true anymore thanks to the hundreds and thousands of kidnappings going on right here in the United States and just south of our border. There is a real problem so close to us, yet many are blind to that fact because our news is flooded with tales and stories from our wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not saying that there should not be media coverage on what is happening over seas with our wars, but what I am saying is that maybe we should pay a little more attention to what is going on right next to us and within our own borders.

“More than 6,300 people died in drug violence across Mexico last year and while drug violence in Ciudad Juarez appears to be calming,      killings are rising in the western state of Michoacan and in the normally peaceful northern state of Durango.”

To keep us save here in the United States I think that it may be time to put some effort or ours and troops to the border to help the civil unrest that is taking place there because of the drug trafficking. Mostly the National Guard would be placed there for troop support and federal agents to deal with the international aspect of helping the Mexican government control this almost lawless region of Northern Mexico.

“Since the start of March, when the 7,500 troops and around 2,500 federal police rolled into the city and took over the municipal police and prisons, the drug murder rate has fallen to around two murders a day, police say.”

I commend the Mexican forces for starting to try and control this area, yet they cannot do it alone. With our help we can make our side of the border a safer place to live and raise a family. We are so caught up with what we are doing with the Iraqi people, I think it is time for our government to start thinking of a way to help our own people that may feel abandoned in that part of the country. Two deaths a day is too many, but it is better than the 15 a day that was being averaged before the surge of troops to the Mexican cities.

There has been an apprehension of Ciudad Juarez, which is a major player in the drug ring, and also 775 of his associates all the way down the ones that are slinging dope on the streets with his product.

“The number of violent deaths linked to organized crime in Ciudad Juarez has fallen by more than 70 percent”

If we let people like this ruin our nation and use scare tactics, we are going to be vulnerable to attacks from anyone who wants to try. This in turn will lead to more political strife and military action, likes of which no one will want to see.

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE52M7TV20090324?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

Mar
23

“Maus” was an interesting “read” to say the least. I don’t know one man that does not like to have pictures along with his stories; I believe it is because men are more of visual learners. With “Maus” though I was forgetting that I was really reading a comic, it captivated me and brought me into the story side of it. It is such a compelling story of the travesties that happened during that time period, it is hard to look at it like a cartoon. We have similar events that have happened in our world today, which after what happened with the ethnic cleansing in WWII we thought we would never see again. For example the genocide that had happened in Rwanda, that was going on and there did not seem to be a lot of effort being put forth by the Americans because we have little invested in that region. Darfur is the reincarnation of the horrible events that happened in the “Maus” book.

“Since 2003, at least 200,000 people are believed to have died from violence, hunger and disease as the Sudanese government, often using militias as proxies, sought to suppress a rebellion in the region. Some Darfur activists have put the toll as high as 450,000. The Sudanese government says 5,000 have died.”

What strikes me as odd is that the Sudanese government claims they have only slaughtered five thousand people, as if it is not that big of a deal. It is like what the Germans were saying; we heard during some movies in class them only accounting for a couple hundred thousand of them. These governments act like what they are doing is not as bad as people make it out to be, yet killing of 1 innocent person should be an outrage.

The reality of what happened in “Maus” is undeniable, it has been told by many people time and time again yet some people try to discount what has happened. Darfur is just another instance of that, almost the whole world over is sure that there is genocide happening in Darfur, yet the country that is committing all of these offenses does not see it as others do.

“The Darfur disaster has established, once again, that every democratic country in the world opposes slaughtering large numbers of civilians and, at the same time, that no country in the world will take action to stop such slaughter if it entails any significant risk, burden or price.”

It is sad that many people had to suffer the ultimate consequences of other peoples hate. We ( and when I say we I mean every country in the world with the resources to stop these actions) have intervened too late at the cost of many lives. There is still being judgments handed down against those who have committed offenses against the people of Darfur, yet there is nothing that can be done to bring back the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been lost by the ethnic cleansing in Darfur or in Europe during WWII. I hope there will not be a next time, but if there is I hope that there will be swift and certain action taken at the first sign of these atrocities.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/08/11/EDG9OE5ELM1.DTL

Art Spiegelman “Maus”

Feb
10

Iranian women do not have man liberties but they have found a way to be on the frontlines and fight for what they believe in…when it comes to a revolutionary tide that is. It seems that the women of these Middle Eastern countries and Islamic background are and have been oppressed for quite some time now. From reading this article it doesn’t seem like it is so much of a male-female or religious but more of a governmental issue. I make that deduction based on the fact that they are involved in these revolutions WITH men, yet they do not seem to be objecting their role in the revolution.

“Women took part in the revolution beside men. They felt their freedom and independence would be guaranteed when the country shifted into an Islamic Republic. Unfortunately, they did not obtain the freedom worthy of an Iranian woman. They are still victims of discrimination, such as having their blood money worth just half of men’s and needing two female witnesses in courts to equal only one male witness.”

There seems to be a change happening, and of all places, in Iran. We hear about how evil and bad they are everyday on the news, I am not saying that some of that is not true, yet we do see some civil rights movements happening. It may be just because of a world wide social stigma, that women aren’t as strong and cannot handle war activities like a man could, but as we discussed in class there are trial women groups in our military being run. So I beg to differ that women cannot play the role as warrior just as men can, but it would be a significant percentage less than men. I just do not see the majority of the world coming around to my way of thinking quite yet, when it comes to my views on women’s rights. If they want to fight and die with us, let them.

Feb
10

Whatever happened to the honor of fighting in close range battles, with guns that couldn’t shoot 100 with accuracy, and attaching bayonets to finish people off? I think it that sort of brutality and personal feel to it, war would be less likely to happen on a grander scale. War has become much more impersonal now days to where we can fly an unmanned aircraft and drop a bomb someplace and no one is ever in harms way. It just makes it too easy, like a video game or something. What the suicide bombers are doing is bringing back that personal touch to war, and that makes most civilians see how inhumane it is out there, and want to end this war because we see what is going on and the grotesqueness of this war.  Like here

“Four American soldiers were killed at a checkpoint in northern Iraq yesterday when a suicide car bomber attacked their vehicle, authorities said. Three soldiers died in the attack in Mosul and a fourth died later of wounds. An interpreter also was killed, and two Iraqi police officers were wounded at the checkpoint.”

Just imagine if any one of those people killed were your brother, or lover, or friend, or acquaintance, how bad you would feel and how you would mourn their loss. Now just imagine that on a larger scale with millions dying and how that would almost entirely affect everyone in America. If only we made millions of people die for every time we wanted to start a war, then they would be far and few in-between.

Vera’s book gets back to that intolerable side of war; it tells of things no one wants to hear about, she gets to pick Roland’s brain, based on his letters and her own experience of being a nurse. So many people are affected by what happens and she is right in the middle of it all. I believe that there is honor in dying for your country even though this was said,

“Let him who thinks War is a glorious, golden thing,who loves to roll fort stirring words of exhortation, invoking Honour and Praise and Valour and Love of Country…let him but look at a little pile of sodden grey rags that cover half a skull and a shin-bone and what might have been his ribs…who is there who has known and seen who can say that Victory is worth the death of even one of these?” (pg. 198 )

When most people read and see this, they get the visual of what Roland is seeing; having been in a similar circumstance I have to believe that they would have preferred this to getting hit by a bus. At least they knew what they were getting into and made their choices. There were many words spoken about being ready to die, not many are ready, but some do and at least gave the impression that they were at peace with that.

Jan
19

This is my introduction to the blog with subscriptions that will lead me through the class and help me expand my horizons as a student and an American.

Alive in Baghdad– First I chose the Alive in Baghdad podcast because Baghdad is usually a hotbed of activity when it comes to military actions going on in Iraq. This site seemed to have some interesting videos to search through. It is nice because it’s real people telling their stories, to me that is better than hearing a twisted version of American news on the television.

BBC News| Middle East| World Edition– I chose the BBC News because lately I have been more enlightened from some of the news that I have read from them. They do have their bias but in all it seems to be more honest and willing to tell it how it is, not to water it down or only give us negative feedback to make people scared and to buy more papers from them.

Google Search| Marines + Fallujah the Marines and Fallujah choice for me was more of a personal choice. I was in Fallujah in Iraq so I like to know about some of the court cases that got handed out to some of my fellow Marines and others. It’s also nice to see if when our unit was there, if some of the plans we set into motion worked or not.

Reuters: International News– Once again this is a foreign source of some really good information in which I trust more than almost any other International News outlet. Europe and The Americas seem to place a lot of their trust in this source and so will I.

Milblogging.com– For the Military blog part I wanted to find one that not only gave us perspective on the American side of things, I wanted to check out the Canadian forces and also the UK. This site has blogs from countries all around; I am excited to see what others experience in war and see how it compares to my own views and opinions.