The Bush administration is making much noise lately on how it is going to “punish” Russia. Taking into account a looming defeat in Afghanistan and soaring suicide rates in the ranks, this is irresponsibility of the highest order. The following stories document this assertion. Read this and weep. This is what George Bush and his junta have done to this country, and the neocon foreign policies of both Obama and McCain would only continue this lunacy. How low have we fallen?
Army Looks For Outside Help to Reduce Suicides
The Army’s top medical officer says commanders are looking to their counterparts in the Air Force and in civilian agencies for ways to cope with an alarming increase in suicides. “We work real closely with the Veterans Administration, who have for many years taken the lead in this”, Lieutenant General Eric B. Schoomaker, the Army’s surgeon general, said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “We’ve also looked across the services and at other models that have been more successful than our own”. The Army’s suicide rate was 18.1 per 100,000 last year, the highest since the service started keeping records in 1980. It was 9.8 just five years earlier. The US civilian rate is 19.5 per 100,000.
Leading factors behind soldier suicides are troubled personal relationships; legal, financial and work problems; and repeated deployments and longer tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army says. Schoomaker said the Army has redoubled its prevention efforts and looked outside for new models, especially to the Air Force, which he said successfully encouraged support systems to reduce suicides. The Army’s program includes removing the stigma from asking for help, encouraging soldiers to look after each other and a campaign called ACE, for “Ask, Care, and Escort”.
“We ask that people extend themselves to a fellow soldier or family member that may be suffering”, General Schoomaker said. “We ask that you make the effort to ask, ‘Are you in trouble?’” Offering care may be as simple as keeping a weapon out of a troubled soldier’s reach, he said. Soldiers and families should then escort the soldier to a medical facility. Schoomaker acknowledged that encouraging troubled soldiers to ask for help requires a cultural change. “We are an Army that has historically been associated with strength and being impervious to threats to the human psyche and the body, and of course that’s a myth”, he said.
He hopes to use the Army’s “warrior ethos” to get soldiers to look out for one another’s mental health. “It’s an extension of our warrior ethos that no soldier is ever left behind”, he said. Schoomaker said the Army will analyse individual suicides and suicide attempts, police reports, and incidents of misconduct as well as the overall numbers of suicides and attempts to see if the program is working.
11 September 2008
Pentagon Admits Afghan Strategy Not Succeeding
President George W. Bush secretly approved orders in July allowing US Special Forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without approval from the Pakistan government, the New York Times reported on Thursday. The disclosure is certain to further anger Pakistan’s military, whose Army chief said on Wednesday that Pakistan would not allow foreign troops to conduct operations on its soil, after a cross-border incursion last week by US commandos. The new orders reflect concern about safe havens for al Qaeda and the Taliban inside Pakistan and an American view Pakistan lacks the will and ability to combat militants, the Times said. “The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable”, said a senior US official who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity. “We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued”. The newspaper said the orders also reflected a belief some US operations had been compromised once Pakistanis were advised of the details.
Helicopter-borne US commandos carried out a ground assault in Pakistan’s South Waziristan, a sanctuary for al Qaeda operatives, last week, the first known incursion into Pakistan by U.S. troops since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. The raid killed 20 people, including women and children. Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani Kayani said in a statement on Wednesday, “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost and no external force is allowed to conduct operations … inside Pakistan. There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border”, he said. The US action complicated the situation for Pakistan’s new civilian president, Asif Ali Zardari, who was sworn in on Tuesday, having forced former army chief Pervez Musharraf to stand down last month after nearly nine years in power. Mr Zardari, like General Musharraf, has vowed to defeat the Taliban and support the West’s mission in Afghanistan, but the civilian government has to pay more heed to public opinion than General Musharraf had done in a country rife with anti-American sentiment. At the same time, Pakistan is highly vulnerable to any reduction in US financial support, given the rapid depletion of Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves, which has sparked talk the country could default on a sovereign bond early next year unless it gets billions of dollars of foreign financing.
Afghanistan Troop Surge
Admiral Michael Mullen (1946- ), Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff
US President George Bush, days before his final 9/11 anniversary in office, said this week he will send more troops to Afghanistan as his top military officials told Congress America was not winning a fight against the nearly seven-year insurgency. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee success in Afghanistan would require more civilian effort beyond the military fight. “Frankly, we’re running out of time”, Admiral Mullen said. “I’m not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can”, he said, offering a sober assessment nearly seven years since US-led forces toppled the Taliban after the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Violence in Afghanistan has soared over the past two years as al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have regrouped in the remote region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “These two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them”, Admiral Mullen said. “We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan … but, until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming”.
US commanders in Afghanistan have requested three more combat brigades, about 10,000 soldiers. About 33,000 US troops are already there, including 14,000 who are part of a 53,000-strong NATO military command. The officials said the West should do more to help Afghans with new investments in roads and other infrastructure, education, and crop assistance. “These are the keys to success in Afghanistan”, Admiral Mullen said. “We cannot kill our way to victory”. He said Afghanistan badly needed a national security force supported by local leaders. Gates supports an Afghan government proposal to double the size of the country’s army by creating an active-duty force of 122,000 troops by 2014. However, US reinforcements depend on Washington’s ability to reduce forces now deployed in Iraq, where the Bush administration has waged an unpopular war that critics say distracted attention from Afghanistan and al Qaeda.
11 September 2008
The atmosphere in the White House today can only be compared to that of the Führerbunker in January 1945. The economy is tanking, extended unemployment benefits are now standard, Fannie and Freddie have been seized by the government, there is a gigantic deficit in next year’s projected federal budget, and there is expected to be yet another huge deficit in foreign trade as well. Add to this sorry mixture a looming defeat in Afghanistan, troop morale in the toilet (as illustrated by the rising suicide rate, stop-loss orders, and re-enlistment drops), and a dicey situation in Iraq (the Pentagon refuses to withdraw troops); one sees that the USA is only a step away from defeat.
That is why the coming election is so surreal. McCain, Palin, Obama, and Biden all offer more of the same ol’ remedy that got us into our present fix. All of them are nerveless neocons, but, the worst is obviously Sarah Palin. Her political record is patchy, her knowledge of the world outside of her immediate circle is nil, and she is a member of a fringe religious cult. Her claims of “conservatism” are belied by the fact that she is a Pentecostalist, the most radical fringe of Radical Protestantism (often mislabelled “Evangelical Protestantism” in the USA). It is open to doubt whether these people are actually Christian as the term is usually understood, or, whether they are completely outside the ambit of Christianity, as are the Mormons.
Reflect on the fact that John McCain is not in the best of health. If he were to die in office, this ignoramus religious fanatic would accede to power. She would have access to nuclear weapons, ponder that. I cannot in good conscience say, “vote Obama”, because of his obvious socialism and class-war rhetoric. A person of conscience has a hard time this year. Only warmongers are on the ballot. For us as Orthodox Christians, it is even harder, as we reflect that all four major candidates are exponents of secular nihilism and all oppose Orthodox Christianity and its teachings. Do not be fooled by Palin’s loud “testimony”. Anyone who named her children Track and Bristol is no Christian, but, rather, a secular nihilist in disguise.
God have mercy on America.
This is the country that is threatening Russia. Russia is a country with a booming economy, a genuinely-popular government, and a growing revival of Orthodox Christianity. In fact, what saddens me is that it is the last fact that worries secularists in the West the most. They are trying to impose Western godlessness and license on Russia. What worries me is that the West may try imposing its nihilistic atheism on Russia by force.
If so, I would warn Bush, Cheney, Rice, McCain, Palin, Obama, and Biden. Remember 1242, 1380, 1612, 1709, 1812, 1853, and 1941. “All those who march on Russia shall be put to death!” (from Aleksandr Nevsky: A Cantata, Sergei Prokof’ev) They should reflect on Grand Prince St Aleksandr Nevsky, Grand Prince St Dmitri Donskoi, the boyar Dmitri Pozharsky and the butcher Kuzma Minin, Tsar Pyotr Veliki, Marshal Kutuzov, Admiral Nakhimov, and Marshal Zhukov. In all these cases, Russia was pushed to the wall and beyond, yet, it came back to win.
America and Russia should be friends, for their interests do not collide. That is why I cannot understand the Russophobia currently regnant. If Russia wishes to be a society based on Orthodox Christian principles, America should respect that. If America wishes to be a society founded on secular nihilism, Russia shall not care for it, but, it would respect it. Is it so hard for America to respect others? Truly?