The Military

Quagmires remain

On the ninth anniversary of 9/11 we continue, as a nation and as individual citizens, to reflect on what progress has been made since the attack changed our country forever. Are we safer? Will we ever be?

The end of combat operations in Iraq isn't quite heartening — there is no government in place and the security gains made possible by the 2007 surge remain at risk. An invigorated al Qaeda in Iraq is already working hard on its recruiting, paying Iraqis well and reminding them that the Americans are leaving next year for good.

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War without victory: Laughing all the way

The war in Iraq does not end with a victory march. There will be no sailors kissing nurses at Times Square. It ends with discord and dissent at the exact place where it started, Ground Zero. It did not even end. It just stopped.

In some ways we are worse off than when we started. Today when liberals oppose conservatives, they will do so in support of Islamic opinion instead of Marxist opinion, as in the debate today over the mosque near Ground Zero. Islam now has faces of dissent in opposition to the West worldwide with varied degrees of hostility, opposition and territoriality.

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SF Bay Area Veterans Affairs reaches out to help vets

(Sometimes, the best way to support the troops is to support the people who provide that service. In the Bay Area, we have a lot of people really committed to this. Here's something in their own words. /craig)

VA struggles mightily to reach Veterans and their families to ensure they know what benefits they have coming to them — healthcare, education, home loans, jobs, etc. — but it's not easy. Its especially challenging in the Bay Area, where most of our newest combat Veterans are National Guard and Reserves. It’s even hard for them to connect to each other sometimes.

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Play

“The play's the thing,” Hamlet said as he went to work to find out who killed his father, “wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

Play and work. Work and play.

If you Google “play,” you get 1.93 billion hits. If you Google “work,” you get 2.3 billion. Work usually beats play.

If you play at work, you could get fired from your job.

If you work at play, you could turn out to be Eric Clapton.

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Accountability in the military

Many in the world of armchair quarterbacks are giving President Obama high marks for his handling of the Gen. Stanley McChrystal implosion and subsequent resignation. After all, Obama faced a difficult decision; some in the media world were even dubbing it a “game changer” for his presidency. No matter how difficult one scores the “test” Obama faced, the bottom line is he passed.

For my part, I felt Obama only had one option. Insubordination cannot be tolerated, especially within the military and that far up on the chain of command. I would wager that, for many Americans, too, the president really had one option.

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What the scandal reveals

Let's hope the scandal Gen. Stanley McCrystal created helped President Obama realize just how divided and dysfunctional his national-security team appears to be when it comes to our longest-ever war in Afghanistan. The choice of Gen. David Petraeus was meant to calm and unify the ranks and the remaining team members who must maintain continuity and focus on the mission. But a new general also raises new questions about the largest question mark hanging over Obama's Afghan policy — are we really drawing down next year?

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McChrystal, Geraldo and me: Full disclosure

Don't you just love all the writers, like me, who find it necessary to add a "full disclosure,” which is supposed to provide absolute honesty about a potential conflict of interest?

Of course, a really FULL disclosure would go something like this: "Full disclosure: This reporter is advocating this point of view because it will make him a ton of money.” Or “because he is being blackmailed into saying it by someone who has pictures of him with a hooker.” Or my personal favorite: "Full disclosure: I have no earthly idea what I'm talking about."

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Unraveling …

Shifting leadership is an effect rather than a cause of disintegrating policy, and the shift from Gen. Stanley McChrystal to David Petraeus — back to Petraeus — seems OK in that it brings a familiar face and the appearance of stabilization to an Afghanistan war policy on CTD status. (Not yet dead, but Circling the Drain.)

Let’s hope he’s not a fainter. But things are getting bad now in the Gulf. A liberal blog reports that there’s “been a viral message spreading over the web that there's a life and earth threatening methane bubble in the gulf, caused by the gushing well, which will explode and even cause an earthquake and a real volcano, in some versions of the story. Some accuse Obama of hiding nefarious goings on.”

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Afghanistan: Send in the clowns

The generals have been having a wild time of it lately. It was just a little over a week ago that Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, physically passed out right there for the world to see as he testified before a congressional committee. Now it's Gen. Stanley McChrystal's turn to collapse — or least for his career to. Petraeus apparently had not had enough liquids. McChrystal was done in because he and his aides spouted off in front of a reporter.

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The McChrystal BFD

Among the first things we need to determine is whether Vice President "Bite Me" considers this a "big f--king deal.”

"Bite Me" is the name an aide to Afghanistan military commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal gave to Mr. Biden, if we are to believe a new piece in Rolling Stone by freelance reporter Michael Hastings. Hastings was apparently given close access to McChrystal and his crew, and it is certainly a big f--king deal for them.

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