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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Friday, June 30, 2006

WaPost dickers with bickering recording

From the Washington Post,

A Spat Over Iraq Revealed On Tape: Rice and Russian Caught Bickering At Private Lunch

That alone should be enough reason to put down the paper and find something else to read.

Basically, at a meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow, a recording was "made when an audio link into the room was accidentally left on".

After reading the transcript, I think the real story is one of juvenile reporters getting a little slap and tickle "gotchas" on the foreign ministers, particularly Secretary Rice and the spokespeople at the State Department. And how did they get that recording, huh?

I guess the rest of the news from the meeting was not worth reporting.

bin Laden wants Zarqawi's body

From an AP story in the New York Times,

Bin Laden said Bush should return al-Zarqawi's body and that Jordan's King Abdullah II should allow the militant's family to bury him. The Jordanian government has said it will never allow al-Zarqawi to be buried in his homeland because of a November triple suicide bombing his followers carried out in Amman hotels that killed 60 people.

"What scares you about Abu Musab after he's dead?" bin Laden said, addressing Abdullah. "You know that his funeral, if allowed to happen, would be a huge funeral showing the extent of sympathy with the mujahedeen."

I am sure the Administration would gladly hand over the body to bin Laden, if he should care to present himself and sign for it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Spin test:
   Reid: "But, we said it first!"

On the Senate floor Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid made this statement about one of General Casey's proposals for possible troop withdrawals out of Iraq,

Mr. President, this afternoon, I would like the Senate to note how similar General Casey’s apparent plan to withdraw U.S. forces is to the plan put forward by Senate Democrats last week.

Our plan—designed by Senators Levin and Reed—said much the same thing as our military leaders said in the New York Times. Specifically, that it is time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their own security and government, so that the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq can begin by year’s end.

As we all know, the Republican Majority rejected the Levin/Reed proposal, even though it represents our best chance at making sure our troops in Iraq succeed and Iraq as a country succeeds. And even though it is entirely consistent with the plan of our top military commander in Iraq.

By rejecting our amendment, Republicans made clear they were intent to “stay the course” and stay forever in Iraq.

But Mr. President, I wonder how the Majority feels today, now that that General Casey’s plan is in the open?

Reid misses (ignores??) the point. The Levin/Reed proposal was rejected because the majority believes troop withdrawals should be based on success on the ground, not the arbitrary timetables that the Democrats propose every six months. Stay the course, indeed. Forever? That is Reid's word, not the Republicans. That the majority has, and is, deferring to the commanding General; that the commanding General is indicating that time may be approaching, does not vindicate the catcalls from the left.

Stand up every hour of the day and declare the sun is about to rise doesn't make you a prophet when it finally happens.

To answer Reid's not-so-rhetorical question, how does the Majority feel about withdrawal in the wake of the General's plans, well, I leave that to your imagination.

The words "Ok" and "Cool" come to mind.

Protecting America:
   Law enforcement vs Police State

Does technology threaten our traditional American values?

In the past, the FBI attempted to modernize their investigatory tools with Carnivore computer software to monitor emails, which is analogous to wiretapping. And it has been charged that the US Army's Able Danger data mining efforts before 9/11 could have prevented that horror, as well as the attack on the USS Cole, had there not been as much a privacy stigma on using such potentially powerful technologies.

The federal government's response to 9/11 has led it to more aggressive investigatory practices. There was LibraryGate, AT&TGate and now SWIFTGate, where the Treasury Department and the CIA have been examining international bank transactions that traverse the SWIFT network, which is the world's largest financial communication network run by a consortium of international financial institutions.

The news stories (notably here and here) about the government getting access to these international bank transactions does not trouble me. Not only do I not believe in the inevitability of slippery slopes, but the fact that major news agencies are once again braying like donkeys and circling like vultures at this latest "violation" of privacy rights has got my ire.

According to the New York Times,

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

Being a bank employee of many years who is required to regularly review my obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and the US PATRIOT Act of 2001, I take exception to this misrepresentation of facts.

The collection and reporting of data on large cash deposits, withdrawals and wire transfers (in excess of $10,000) is routine and mandatory among US banks (pdf files from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury Department, here and here). The purpose of such reporting is to ferret out money laundering by organized crime. This is a legitimate law enforcement activity. So is catching terrorists and their financiers.

The $10,000 threshold is the only requirement necessary to trigger an investigation. In fact, banks and their employees are required to fill out Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) for lesser amounts where there is reasonable suspicion that the transaction is not kosher. Even a bank employee living beyond ones' means qualifies as a red flag. And this data collection does not even require the ubiquitous "administrative subpoena" mentioned in both articles, nor is the bank or its employees permitted to reveal to the target of the SAR that a report is being made. That the government desires similar access to SWIFT international transactions does not surprise nor alarm me.

The real question is, when does law enforcement activities become precursors to a police state? In these recent invasion of privacy "scandals", it seems the defining issue is not the violation of privacy per se, but the potential invasive scope of these technologies. Wiretapping (a new technology for the 20th century law enforcement community) was inherently singular. Putting in one wiretap did not expose millions to surveillance. Data mining, email packet sniffing, etc opens the flood gates as the discrimination between discrete targets and mass collection blurs in cyber-virtuality. The digitization of telephony has opened similar barn doors in recent years. Even in this latest expose, SARs are likewise singular; one SAR manually filled out for one bank transaction.

That there is a potential danger to privacy, and that public policy needs to catch up with technology, I do not dispute. But in every outrage, there has been little, if any, actual abuse reported. We need a more rational and measured response.

Or so the Democrats keep saying.

I just don't get the knee-jerk, batten-down-the-hatches hysterical Luddite hype.

   Taking the Long View

Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, takes a long view towards Iraq's future,

Iraq is most likely to see a protracted internal war and economic difficulties for years to come. A mildly optimistic scenario is possible but so are some outcomes that would be destabilizing for the region, unpleasant for Iraq, and detrimental for U.S. interests.

Iraq's difficulties are disappointing to the Iraqi people, who so hoped that the American invasion would at least mean a return to peace after twenty-three years of war and near-war. The violent insurgency now raging is not likely to end any time soon; neither the government nor the insurgents are strong enough to win a decisive victory. Instead, the war is likely to continue for some years, and -- especially if the forces behind the current government prevail -- the fighting is likely to phase down rather than to end abruptly.

The interesting question to ask is what will be the situation five to ten years from now, for that is a time frame long enough that one or the other side could have become strong enough to prevail. It is possible that by then, modest democratic forces will have prevailed. Yet the most likely future is that Iraq will remain a weak and fragile society challenged by an insurgency. However, it is also possible that an Islamist state will emerge. Also, there is always the outside chance Iraq will split apart.

The prospects for Iraq are not particularly attractive. The most likely attainable outcomes would still leave a weak and divided society, not just a fragile government. As a rough rule of thumb, reconstructing a society after a major war takes fully as long as the war did; for instance, Germany's recovery from the six years of war from 1939 to 1945 took until the middle 1950s. Saddam led Iraq into twenty years of war, first against Iran and then against the U.S.-led coalition. It therefore would be optimistic to expect that Iraq could recover for some decades. Moreover, pre-Saddam Iraq was no paradise. It was at best a middle income country with serious tensions among the ethnic communities. Meanwhile, some of Iraq's neighbors -- especially the Arab monarchies and Turkey -- have made great economic, social, and yes, even political advances. Even the regional laggards -- namely, Syria under Assad, father and son, and the Islamic Republic of Iran -- have done remarkably better than Saddam's Iraq. As a result, there is little prospect that for many, many decades to come Iraq will be able to recover the same position relative to its neighbors that it had when Saddam came to power. His rule effectively ruined Iraq's chances for regional leadership for a century.

That is the best case. Much worse cases are quite possible. Most troubling for the international community is the situation in which Iraq becomes once again a source of regional instability, this time due to unrest, terrorism, and communitarian violence spilling over from Iraq onto its neighbors. It is striking how little Iraq's neighbors are doing to counter such a threat. Indeed, Syria and most especially Iran are feeding the flames that may one day engulf them.

The difficult situation in Iraq was almost certainly made worse by errors in the U.S.-led occupation. That said, the fundamental cause of the problems is the social destruction during Saddam's days, which drove Iraqis to seek security in elemental communal structures of sect and ethnic group. Saddam hollowed the government and the other social institutions of the Iraqi middle class. He empowered radicals of many sorts, including in his last decade intolerant Islamists. No matter how his rule ended, Iraq would have been a mess afterwards.

So what should be done? As Clawson inferred, this is more than just a problem of Iraqi stability; the whole region is at stake.

I believe that we are seeing, in a very broad sense, something akin to world politics in the 1920s. There is an obvious need for real reform and much work is required to build a modern society in the Middle East. Yet all the costs-benefit analyses, the real ones, the ones that count, the ones that decisions are being made upon, are too focused on parochial and short term interests, and a willing blindness to the dangers in the foreseeable future. Coordinated international efforts are about as ineffective and lost as the League of Nations was. For all his efforts Wilson could not get America to reject its growing isolationist movement, much less temper European lust. Bush, I fear, is suffering from a similar predicament. But Wilson was too much of an internationalist to force the issue.

If history is much of a guide, and if the Chinese economic dynamo falters, we may be making similar comparisons, ten years hence, to the 1930s. We need to make effective changes now, while we can still afford it.

Real progress in Iraq requires real progress in the whole of the Middle East. To be more than a bit cavalier about it, all we need is one good sheriff.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Reblogged: Disingenuous Dimwits
   Feingold: the Archetypical Braying Donkey

Harsh words, perhaps. But I have a very rational and logic explanation for portraying Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) as the ultimate personification of the Democrats’ traditional mascot.

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has offered amnesty to insurgents who have not committed terrorist acts, including those who have killed American and Iraqi forces in combat. On Meet the Press, Feingold, perhaps the one Democratic Senator who has honestly and consistently opposed the Iraq War, has expressed outrage over giving

amnesty for people who have killed or are trying to kill American troops, ... [and] we, as Americans, cannot tolerate the idea that people who have murdered American soldiers should get off scot-free.

Senator. A moment of your time, if you please. An armed conflict is a conflict between armed combatants. When the war is over, arms are laid down and combatants go home. Like it or not, the insurgency has been an armed conflict between the Iraqi insurgents on one side and Iraqi and coalition troops, especially American, on the other. Those who have committed acts of terrorism against non-combatants are explicitly exempt from al-Maliki’s peace offer.

The purpose of war is to prevail. Soldiers carry weapons, not for defense, but to kill the enemy. That is not murder, regardless of which side you are on. That is why when our own troops come home they will not be arrested for murder. If an insurgent has restricted his combat to enemy soldiers, if a peace is negotiated, then an amnesty is not even needed. They lay down their arms and go home and POWs are released. Combatants are not criminals, no matter how much you may hate them for killing our soldiers. That is in accordance with every notion of warfare.

If a significant number of insurgents accept the offer, it would be in complete alignment with the sacrifices our troops have already made in Iraq over the past three years and we would not be dishonoring their service. It would also be a resounding affirmation of President Bush’s strategy since Day One. We are not there to kill insurgents; we are there to help establish peace and democracy in Iraq, particularly as a bulwark against terrorism.

But the good Senator is in favor of one kind of amnesty,

I understand that there might have to be amnesty for certain individuals have—who have committed some kind of criminal acts.

You mean, crimes like murder? The beheading of civilians, of diplomats, perhaps?

Feingold is playing to both a 2006 and a 2008 audience. He cannot accept the Commander-in-Chief getting credit for ending a war, for prosecuting a war until the enemy gives up. He cannot accept the wind being taken out of his campaign sails.

Feingold’s politicking is what makes the horror of war, so horrible.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Reblogged: 2006
   Blue, Then Pink

As we gear up for the summer campaigns, pundits scramble for meaningful indicators. I think I found one.

Potbellies is a sub shop aggressively expanding in and around my neck of the woods. Great sandwiches built to order on an incredible human assembly line that makes Subway blush. Located in the Crystal Court of the IDS tower in downtown Minneapolis, the line stops traffic cold in our skyway by 11:30 (for sun-drenched readers, many northern cities have built transparent hamster tubes elevated above the streets, opening up the second floor of the connected buildings that substitute for sidewalks and retail space -- and yes, "sidewalk" cafes -- on even the coldest of January days, or the hottest of our dog days of summer). Yet the people at Potbellies get you in and out so fast, you still have plenty time to enjoy your sub, even on the most stingiest lunch break. My favorite is the Italian, the works, no oil, extra jalapenos.

But the indicator has nothing to do with food. Waiting in line, you see a wide variety of patrons lined up just like you for that succulent sub. Stepping into line today for a highly anticipated gastronomical treat, I was immediately accosted by the most horrific of sights: four guys in front of me with the same light blue dress shirt, over tan trousers.

Just ... like ... me.

Now, I am not the most fashionably conscious guy. I wouldn't know a Teva from a Toga without professional help. In fact, when it comes to fashion, I am as stuporforic as a Sunday afternoon six-pack casualty. The fact that I wear what appears to be a fashionable outfit is a strictly a credit to my wife. But when it comes to an exposure from dreaded "Bobbsey-Twin" characterizations, I take frightful note.

My first instinct was to beat a hasty, but dignified retreat. Unfortunately, it was 11:30 and I was quickly encircled by Potbellies reinforcements. Breathing exercises helped me to resign myself to this indignity. It was then I noticed a whole lot of blue. Over tan. Men as well as women. Intrigued, I took what little time is afforded queued Potbellies aficionados to open my eyes and observe my habitat. Two out of five Potbellies patrons wearing dress shirts (yes, I actually counted them) were clad in blue. Watching the scurrying diurnal skyway migration of workers from office to lunch, I saw the same thing all around. And not just any variety of blue, but shades of light blue. In a state that is still a Blue Stater, but weakening at every election, I wondered what this might portend, if anything.

But then I saw the contra-indicator that confirmed the trend. The second most popular color was pink. Or as some might say, light red. The ratio of blue to red was 3:1.

I wonder if there is a similar national trend...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reblogged: Dimwits and losing America
   Revisionist Political History

I have often concluded domestic political analysis with "The Democrats still don't get it."

Well, have heart. For those with latent progressive tendencies (aka Reagan Democrats), there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Peter Beinart, editor-at-large at The New Republic, offers this defense of President Bill Clinton's legacy,

The moral and intellectual critique [of Clinton's legacy by liberal activists, and by Republicans] starts with the assertion that Clinton stood for little other than his own political survival. By draining the party of its core convictions, the critics allege, he left Democrats in the intellectual wasteland in which they find themselves today.

The charge ignores two small things: the 1970s and the 1980s. In reality, the Democratic Party didn't lose the confidence of its convictions when Clinton became president; it lost them when he was in graduate school.

From Harry Truman through Lyndon Johnson, Democrats stood for three basic things: enlightened anti-communism, an expanding welfare state, and racial integration. Between 1968 and 1972, under pressure from Vietnam and racial conflict, two of those three collapsed. By 1972, George McGovern was urging the virtual abandonment of anticommunism and advocating racial quotas. Then, in 1976, Democrats nominated a relative economic conservative, Jimmy Carter, who showed little interest in extending Johnson's Great Society largesse. And, poof--there went principle number three.

From 1976 to 1992, each Democratic presidential nominee tried to put Humpty Dumpty back together, and each failed, until Clinton.

He became the first candidate in two decades to offer a coherent response. His adviser Bill Galston called it the "politics of reciprocal responsibility." Government would provide opportunity, but it would demand responsibility in return; it would not give something for nothing.

If Clinton convinced Americans that government action could be moral, he also convinced them that it could be responsible. By reducing the budget deficit, he helped restore the Democratic Party's reputation for economic stewardship, which had been gravely damaged under Carter. And, by using market mechanisms to achieve traditional liberal goals, he found ways to fight poverty in an environment where large new programs were politically impossible.


Except it ignores two small things: the 1980s and the 1990s. These decidedly non-liberal ideas, morality in government, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, free market mechanisms, were germinated and pushed for by a rejuvenated Republican Party, rejuvenated by Reagan's Democrats. Clinton, ever the politician, saw the change in political winds and tacked his sails accordingly. It has been the Democratic Party since then, controlled by liberal activists, that persists in sailing due east, when the wind is blowing directly west.

Clinton was not a visionary; he was a very intelligent pragmatist. And that is the only legacy his presidency holds for the Democratic Party.

Yes, the Democratic Party lost their way long ago. But it was the Republican Party that found it for them.

That is what they still don't get.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Reblogged: MSM Bias
   Journalistic Competence Begins With the Reader

As media consumers, we often take it for granted that those reporting the news have sufficient competence to report it accurately. It takes a great deal of effort to question every story we read and hear.

I fell victim to such complacency when I read about Marine Captain Kimber who, in the wake of the Haditha story, has been one of three officers relieved of their commands by their Division Commander for "a lack of confidence in their leadership abilities." In an AP report that has hit the blogsphere, as well as MSM, like a storm (Google - "haditha political casualty"), the Captain argues that he is being made a "political casualty".

The story starts back in April. In a Time report,

Three Marine officers are being stripped of command, in the first disciplinary action taken as a result of a massacre in Haditha, a town in Western Iraq, ...

The Associated Press is reporting that three Marines have been relieved of command and reassigned "in connection with problems during their deployment to Iraq, including their battalion's actions during [the Haditha killings last November]."

The Marines named are Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; Capt. James S. Kimber, commanding officer of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; and Capt. Lucas M. McConnell, commanding officer of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

and just last week, Kimber's attorney fired back,

Kimber, 33, who was nominated for a Bronze Star for valor in Haditha, was relieved of command last month because his subordinates in the battalion's India Company used profanity and criticized the performance of Iraqi security services during an interview with Britain's Sky News TV, according to [Kimber's attorney Paul] Hackett.

I took umbrage with Captain Kimber and his attorney's apparent attempt to shed his command responsibility and raise conspiracy theories to deflect blame. It was his command and he is ultimately and directly responsible for the conduct and morale of his troops. The whole purpose of command and control in the military is to exercise command and control.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon this at Aljazeera.net,

November 19, 2005 - A roadside bomb kills Lance Corporal Miguel "TJ" Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas, during a patrol by Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Haditha. In the following hours, 24 Iraqis are killed.

Captain McConnell's Kilo Company. Not Kimber's India Company.

A similar snippet made Time.com, yet Time continues to lump all three officers together, if only because all three were relieved of duty at the same time.

The clincher was this lead from the Chicago Tribune over the weekend,

Marine Capt. James Kimber, now relieved of his command, remembers what happened near Haditha in western Iraq on Nov. 19.

That's not because Kimber was in the town where his Marine colleagues are alleged to have shot and killed 24 Iraqi civilians after a roadside bomb attack that killed one Marine. In fact, he said, "Not a soul from my company was in Haditha on Nov. 19."

But that day, at about the same time, Iraqi insurgents attacked all three Marine companies patrolling in the Haditha area--one of them commanded by Kimber. He said he could hear over his radio the shots being fired during a running gun battle in Haditha. "They weren't just Marine weapons. You can tell from the sound," he said.

The 3rd Battalion of the Marines' 1st Regiment played a central role in [a previous October 2005] assault. In the battle's aftermath, the battalion's Kilo Company was given command of Haditha, Lima Company was posted in nearby Barwana and Kimber's India Company was moved into Haqlaniyah [about 3 miles from Haditha].

Part of the confusion may be with the AP. In the April AP report cited by Time, the AP switched the two Company Captains. Kimber was identified as "the commanding officer of Company K". I saw a lot of this kind of misreporting during the first Gulf War, where reporters couldn't tell the difference between a Colonel and a Sergeant or an Air Force F-16 Falcon (small; one tail; stubby wings) and a Navy F-14 Tomcat (whale-sized; two tails; swept-back wings).

I do not mean to diminish the import of what happened at Haditha, but to this day the press continues to refer to the Marines who were involved as "3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment" Marines. So far all reports indicate only Company K Marines were involved. That is like saying all of baseball is corrupt because eight players on one team threw the World Series 90 years ago.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but the hairs being publicly split (and roasted) belong to one jarhead named Captain Kimber.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Reblogged: Support our Troops
   The Proper Memorial Day Tribute?

James Carroll's Boston Globe Memorial Day tribute, "Honor the fallen, not the war", honors neither the fallen nor the war.

He writes:

Because it is natural to regard those who died in war as heroes, it can seem necessary to affirm the wars themselves as heroic, too. The decoration extends to martial rhetoric. This is a human response, dating at least to Homer, but such remembering results, ironically, in a kind of amnesia. The true condition of war -- what continually leaves battle-scarred survivors opposed to war -- is readily forgotten.

No, the true condition of war is not readily forgotten because of martial rhetoric, it is forgotten because of apathy. Memorial Day is about remembering. It is the one day out of 365 when the nation can take pause to recall the "true condition of war". If we did not stop for even a day to remember, and to celebrate heroic sacrifice, then we would surely forget.

Pundits spend the year debating war, the rationale for going to war, the conduct of prosecuting the war. In the heat of our own political battles, some wield those selfless sacrifices made on gruesomely real battlefields only to shut down dissent while others sacrifice the honor of our soldiers on misplaced altars of moral indignation. Taking a day off from divisive debates to truly honor and respect the soldier's sacrifice, and the value of it, makes us remember those real conditions of war. It forces us to consider the valor of the brave soldier who stands firm before the horrors of war and exclaims, "You Shall Not Pass".

For many Americans, the primary exposure to such bravery is in films, fictional or otherwise. In George C. Scott's portrayal of Patton, we see General McAuliffe's response to the German demand that he surrender at Bastogne - "Nuts" and General Patton's subsequent reaction, "A man that eloquent has to be saved!". Ted Turner's Gettysburg portrays, among many other singular acts of valor, Colonel Chamberlain's "reckless" bayonet charge at Gettysburg, knowing he must not fail and cannot yield regardless of the cost in blood and lives. Even such fictional confrontations of good and evil such as in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Gandolf's resolute stand before the Balrog that drags him down into the bowels of the earth can evoke powerful emotions in all of us.

Bravery, Valor, Honor, Integrity. Sacrifice. These are not mere words of martial rhetoric -- they are words that are quite real to the servicemen and servicewomen on the ground and in the line of fire.

The notion that the only enduring remnant of war is that it "leaves battle-scarred survivors opposed to war" is not only ridiculous, but patently untrue. Consider the image of a 4th of July parade where the only person standing as the Colors pass is an old veteran as he rises from his wheelchair. Soldiers are not mere cannon fodder sent home as so much damaged goods. Our soldiers are not brainwashed automatons dancing like marionettes who only come to their senses like Stephen Crane's anti-hero in Red Badge of Courage, after being wounded in battle and seeing the horrors of war. They are reasoning rational men and women capable of enduring sacrifice for noble purposes. Carroll's line of argument, like Crane's point, is that in war there is no honor, and there is no purpose. They are both mistaken.

Carroll continues:

In the 20th century, two occurrences initiated a broad change in consciousness. Industrialized war so devastated the populations of the battle zones that they found it impossible to resume the ancient habit of glorification. The past would be remembered differently.

Germany and Japan, in particular, emerged as pacifist nations -- an extraordinary turn. But, secondly, when nuclear weapons entered the story, the future was transformed, too. Traditional notions of proportionality and civilian immunity were obliterated. For the first time, large numbers of humans began to insist that a world without war was not only possible but mandatory. The most respectful way to memorialize the war dead was to deny that they had to be succeeded.

Shall we honor fallen police officers and firefighters and first responders with the same twisted rationale? Saying that their efforts to hold back the night were in vain? And is the duty of a soldier any different than that of the thin blue line demarcating order and chaos? The only difference between a police officer maintaining order and a soldier clearing the ground for order, is the ground upon which each battles.

War is hell. Some wars have been fought for depraved reasons. But not all wars. Geneva Conventions notwithstanding, there are ultimately no rules. There is ultimately the will to prevail. If we could abolish war, without sacrificing our own values of freedom and dignity, then we should do it. Alas, of course, we cannot. Condemning all wars as merely a game of generals and politicians who send pawn-like soldiers off to their deaths is at best, naive. It is, at worst, suicidal.

Carroll presses on:

This Memorial Day, especially, we yearn to honor the more than 2,700 US soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is the proper way to remember them? Even in condemning what made it necessary, can we not acknowledge the selflessness of their sacrifice? At Troy, soldiers were roused to battle by the promise that their exploits would be sung of far into the future. Is it a betrayal of our soldiers that we no longer want to sing? Does it mean they died "in vain" if we insist that no one else should die?

Yes, because it implies that their sacrifice was unnecessary and unworthy.

Evil exists, evil that would destroy Carroll's world and our own. Someone has to man the ramparts, someone has to go out through the gates and confront and embrace the enemy on those "great battlefields". Someone will inevitably die.

Carroll's exercise in rhetoric, especially on this one day of Remembrance, is a desecration of that memory. If he can say nothing with honor, then say nothing. If only for a day.

How then should we honor the fallen?

As Abe Lincoln honored those who fell at Gettysburg,

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain

Give a soldier his due.