Mike's Manifesto !

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Just a page(s) for verbal ramblings, ideas, comments and randomly timed thoughts. Calm, controversial, measured, sometimes just plain rude and confronting. Black humour abounds, be warned. Sometimes, if you are not crying, you have to laugh.

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24 Mar 2003

Everywhere you turn at the moment it's war, war, war. Whether you agree with actions taken by our great and glorious leaders, it is happening, and people, soldiers, civilians and innocents are being sucked into the tumultuous maelstrom of war. I reckon it will go for at least another week or 2 and then we get into "the occupation" and transformation of Iraq into a supposed democratic society free of the despot Saddam Hussein.

Want to learn more about Iraq?

If nothing else good comes of this war at least the level of public debate worldwide has been enormous. The Greeks had a word for people who failed to concern themselves with the running and conduct of their society - that word was idiot. Quite appropriate I think.

While everyone has a right to freely express their opinions, it is usually advised that they actually formulate them before opening their mouth. Anyone hear the totally incoherent interview on TV with Judy Davis at a recent peace protest? Heath Ledger also comes across a man who has thought deeply and intelligently (not) about the issues at hand. I found this link on education interesting also. While education is certainly no guarantee of intelligence or wisdom it makes an interesting point, particularly relevant after listening to Ms Davis and Mr Ledger. I find it hard to understand the cult of the celebrity. Yes they may scrub up well, but look at the divorces, substance abuse, inflated personalities, strange kids and just plain weird celebrities. Talk about suffering for art's sake. Think back through history though, who has survived the test of ages? Many actors or singers. Nope. Lots of great thinkers, generals, authors and leaders. Good and evil but then again you cant have everything. The winners write the history books.

The media continually amaze me by their stupidity, although everything moronic I have seen or heard has been on TV or radio. Wish I could link to some of the classics I have heard the last few days, must be something about the effort of writing that filters out obvious stupidity - although I'm sure if you look hard enough... There are some intelligent media out there but they seem to be few and far between. The media, politicians and military are all condemning the Iraqis showing captured US POW's on TV. Fair enough, it may be against Article 3 of the Geneva Convention but is it really that important? I would be far more concerned if they were physically mistreating the captives. The massive outrage being portrayed by the media is strange when there are so many other things to be worried about in this war - spread of depleted uranium, civilian casualties, winning the peace after winning the war has been done, use and subsequent clearance of landmines, rebuilding infrastructure after the war, etc. Worry more about innocent civilians getting blown to pieces than captured soldiers being interviewed. Show some perspective please. Stricly speaking it is a war crime but give me a break!

The US seems to be rewriting the military strategy and tactics manuals at the moment. Manoeuvre warfare has been taken to its maximum potential. Although as usual, certain precepts seem to be eternal : security always (even from your own soldiers), guard your flanks, defend in depth, concentrate your efforts, maintain reserves, logistics are vital... I could go on, and on. Sun Tsu got most things right. Although George Bush seems to be reading more Macchiavelli than studying more enlightened authors.

Did anyone else get annoyed by the petty point scoring going on between France, Germany, UK and the US prior to the war? Up above I was talking about education, wisdom and intelligence. Sometimes I wonder about the level of maturity of our leaders. And of course, next thing you know every man and his dog has joined the discussion. France lost almost 1.4 million killed and 4.3 million wounded out of it's adult male population during World War 1, Germany more and also another 7 million killed or wounded in WWII. Any wonder that they have a reluctance to jump into another war. US casualties were far less in both wars. More people die every day of bad water, preventable disease, military action and other unnecesssary causes than died in 9/11. Don't get me wrong, I deplore the terrorist actions of 9/11 but a lot of other things are going on/have gone on in the world. Genocide in Rwanda, rampant AIDS in Africa, child exploitation in many countries. Have you read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky? Interesting to see and hear the expected differing perspectives on the reporting on the tactics employed by Iraq and the "Coalition of the Willing". Impartial reporting is hard to find but good to see at least that the reporters are becoming more skeptical of the force fed info from both sides of the FEBA.

Look at what US soldiers may be using in their next war - man portable, miniature air fuel explosive or thermobaric weapons. I lost the link to this one but it is somewhere inside globalsecurity.org.

A detailed analysis on how (and why) the US may be conducting their foreign policy. And a somewhat less structured opinion here.

Rousing speech by one British commander. I liked the line, "The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please." When you read about the mentality of some soldiers you realise why officers and NCO's have to explain things for the lowest common denominator.

And what may you ask is my opinion of the war? A unfortunately necessary thing but I have many misgivings about it's conduct. My opinion has see-sawed several times over the last month or two. But now that soldiers have gone in you cant just pack them up and go home. Once started the military juggernaut has to steamroll its way to the inevitable conclusion.

The conspiracy theorists must be having a field day with George Bush and supposed US motivation for unleashing the dogs of war into Iraq. Only history will tell. I can understand their motivation for hunting down Al Qaeda and other terrorists but the links connecting Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein seem to be tenuous at best. Hussein appears to be a secular dictator with an extreme mistrust of fundementalist extremists and terrorists. No doubt that Hussein is a very naughty boy whose list of misdemeaners runs off the page, but there are many others just as crazy. Kim Jong Il is hopefully is saner than his actions indicate. Many African states have essentially collapsed. Pakistan appears to be a hotbed of terrorism and it's current military leadership is apparently close to be taken over by Islamic fundamentalists. Not that I have anything against Islamic fundamentalists. In fact Christian fundamentalists can be "exciting" people as well. Pakistan has multiple nuclear weapons and a less than happy relationship with India.

Dont get confused by the varying spin doctors in the media trying to maintain sensationalist interest in every little event happening in the war. The massive (in numbers & technology) force that the US has deployed against Iraq will take minute casualities in proportion to it's size and will absolutely win the war in a completely decisive manner. Ol' Saddam is basically a dead duck. The public relations war has been almost as hot as the actual battle with both sides trying to score points.

US/UK casualties after 4 days of operations are 38. Compare this against the 250,000+ troops deployed. The vast proportion of casualties will be Iraqis, as in the last Gulf war. And how many of these US/UK casualties have been friendly fire accidents? Use of military hardware is always a dangerous thing, especially in a live fire zone where the other guy is firing back at you. Friendly fire has been a problem ever since the first bow and arrow. Apparently one of the first casualties of Australian forces in Vietnam was from a live grenade being accidently unpinned during a night training exercise. The actions of a US 101st Airborne soldier fragging his own officers in their tents at night highlights the extreme emotions that a warzone and even service in the military can evoke. Now I know why my company commander in one of my old army units was always moving his company HQ every night during field excercises. Half the time even I couldn't find him, and I was a fellow officer! Shades of Saddam !