2-1: Italy’s ‘Humanitarian Corridor’

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from The Daily Beast.]

Activities at U.S. airports dominated the weekend news and have caused on-going outrage and debate ever since. By way of contrast I offer an alternative piece—not an alternative fact—written by Barbie Latza Nadeau about a contemporaneous incident at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

Yearning to Breathe Free

In Italy, Saving the Syrian Children

FIUMICINO, Italy — It is just before 11 o’clock on Monday morning at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and Nour Essa is waiting anxiously in the arrivals hall of Terminal Two for a very special flight from Beirut, Lebanon.

From Fear to Hope

The 30-year-old Syrian refugee knows that in a few minutes, 41 other refugees like her will be crossing the threshold, essentially moving from a state of fear and uncertainty to one of hope thanks to Italy’s “Humanitarian Corridors” safe passage program.

Like her, the refugees on the other side of the opaque doors have been hand-picked from refugee camps, vetted and invited to be resettled in Italy. And, as it was with her, they have no idea just what to expect on arrival.

Essa, 30, shared the same sad journey from Syria to Europe as those coming today, even though the last part of her path from to Italy from Lesbos, Greece, last April was the result of very special dispensation: She and her husband and young son were among 12 refugees Pope Francis brought home to Rome with him from an apostolic voyage to the island.

At the time, she told The Daily Beast that she was scared and nervous and didn’t know what to expect. She and her family had been given less than a day to decide whether to go with the pope or wait and try to get to northern Europe to join other Syrians from their village outside of Damascus as they had planned. “I hope we are doing the right thing,” she said at the time.

Now, she knows she and her family made the best decision. That’s why she is at the airport to offer the newcomers comfort and hope.

Churches are not buildings.

Essa, who trained as a microbiologist in Syria, will start a new job as a biologist with the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome next month. She and her family have learned Italian and have moved into their own apartment after living in a shelter provided by the Sant’Egidio Catholic Community, which is sponsoring today’s arrival along with the Federation of Protestant Churches, the Waldensian and Methodist Churches in Italy….

Sheltering the Homeless

Most of Monday’s arrivals were from Aleppo and Homs. The youngest was a baby born on December 12. Most were broken families like that of Kiamam Habat, a young mother with four children, age 13, 12, eight and 18 months in tow. Her husband died before her youngest son was born in a refugee camp along the Syrian border with Lebanon. She had no financial or other means to get to Europe on smugglers’ ships with her children. And she had no home to return to in Syria….

“O! woe is me, / To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” –Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, I, 169

Habat’s eyes, red from exhaustion and emotion, seemed unable to hide the horror she has seen. As she spoke of hope, her children sat quietly around her, the older ones each holding small bouquets of flowers and notes of thanks they planned to give to the caretakers where they will be spending their first night in Italy.

They will be moved to Palermo, Sicily, where they will live in a group home with other widowed Syrian families. “I hope they can return to Syria one day in the future,” Habat says, holding back tears as she looks at her children. “But for now they need to go to school and be normal. And we all need to heal.”

Can any parent, any civilized person, not understand Habat’s plight?

I hope they can return to Syria,” she says. That is home.

But for now they need to go to school,” she says. That is what children do. They go to school.

But for now they need to be normal,” she says. War is not normal. It must never be made to seem normal.

And we all need to heal,” she says.

Let us stop the bleeding so that the healing may begin.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-31: Gandhi, Truth Teller

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from history.com.]

January 30, 1948

Gandhi Assassinated

This is the first half of the first paragraph published by history.com addressing the brutal and untimely death of a great man.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic. Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence….

For a man who chose to live simply, Gandhi left us a biography filled with complexities. As with all great personages, his life merits our attention, his cause deserves reflection. I have tried in the quotes below to honor Gandhi’s memory by trying to capture universal truths … leaving the last word to Gandhi himself.

Thomas Jefferson, “First Inaugural Address.” “Equal and exact justice to all men; of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations …”

Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed. “The spiritual perfection of man consists in his becoming an intelligent being—one who knows all that he is capable of learning.”

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. A Thousand Days (1965). “Above all he (John F. Kennedy) gave the world for an imperishable moment the vision of a leader who greatly understood the terror and the hope, the diversity and the possibility, of life on this planet and who made people look beyond nation and race to the future of humanity.”

James Monroe, “Annual Message to Congress.” “The Monroe Doctrine.” “… with the governments … whose independence we have … acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling, in any other manner, their destiny …”

Denis Diderot, “Essay on the Merit of Virtue.” “From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.”

Mohandas Gandhi, True Patriotism: Some Sayings of Mahatma Gandhi. “Nonviolence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another. There is no god higher than truth.”

 

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-30: South China Sea From China’s POV

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from South China Morning Post, January 27.]

I remain troubled and concerned by Sino-American double daring in the South China Sea. Consider Friday’s reporting from South China Morning Post’s Liu Zhen.

China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’

Reporter Liu Zhen writes that “China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US” and warns (my word) that “Beijing is bracing itself for a possible deterioration in Sino-US ties, with a particular emphasis on maritime security.” She goes on to write: the “People’s Liberation Army said in a commentary on its official website last Friday … that the chances of war have become ‘more real’ amid a more complex security situation in Asia Pacific.”

We rarely read in the American press such strong rhetoric coming from China. Thus, my fear. Liu continues,

The commentary written by an official at the national defence mobilisation department in the Central Military Commission said the call for a US rebalancing of its strategy in Asia, military deployments in the East and South China Seas, and the instillation of a missile defence system in South Korea were hot spots getting closer to ignition.

“Instillation” is her word—not a misspelling of installation—which bears thought, as we think of instilling values in our children not installing them. Liu then paraphrases from an official publication of the Chinese government, People’s Daily:

China’s military [will] conduct exercises on the high seas regardless of foreign provocations. [For example,] China’s sole aircraft carrier Liaoning passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait last month.

More troubling, she adds … to her Chinese readership:

New White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a press conference … that the US would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.

Spicer told the press “the US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there” … “It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” he said.

From what source do we, the USA, derive unilateral authority to “defend international territories”? China responded quickly and directly to Spicer’s comments.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying [told] the US “to be cautious in what it says and does, so as to avoid harming the peace and stability in the region.”

Warning!

Liu notes: “President Xi Jinping is overseeing massive reforms within China’s military to improve its fighting capabilities.” She also states ominously,

Vice-Admiral Yuan Yubai, the former North Sea Fleet commander, has been promoted to head the Southern Theatre Command, which focuses on the South China Sea. “Promoting naval officers to command theatres is aimed at utilising them to the maximum and getting ready to win wars …”

As I have worried before, openly in this space, our military presence throughout East Asia is not a trifling matter. Without the invocation of trite slogans such as “defending freedom” or “keeping the world safe,” I would genuinely like to hear from our government a concise definition of “American interests.”

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-27: Another Despicable Cheney

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from the Huffington Post.]

Shades of Cheney

I believe wholeheartedly that draft dodging, chicken hawk, former Secretary of Defense, former Vice President of the United States of America Dick Cheney is a war criminal. In addition to the countless corpses left in the wake of his neocon assaults on humanity I believe he benefitted financially through the award of no-bid war zone contracts to Haliburton, the company he led before he weaseled his way into the George W. Bush White House. And today Cheney’s shameless daughter, a Republican Representative from Wyoming, carries on the family business of evil.

With the exception of added subtitles (in bold) the article below is presented as in the original, in its entirety. These are scary people.

Liz Cheney Supports Waterboarding, Attacks CIA Torture Report

PHILADELPHIA ― Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) praised President Donald Trump’s reported decision to order a review of how the U.S. is handling the war on terror ― opening up the door to reinstating banned interrogation techniques previously used by the nation’s intelligence gatherers.

False Bravado

As Republicans in both chambers met outside of Washington to discuss their agenda for the year, Cheney told reporters she supports a review, and tore into the Senate’s CIA torture report. Cheney also asserted that waterboarding works, and that it helped in securing crucial information leading to the capture of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (a debunked theory).

“It’s been clear, certainly since we stopped the enhanced interrogation program, we’re not even in a position anymore, frankly, where we’re very often capturing people,” Cheney said. “We have nothing to do with people when we do capture them.”

Family Allegiance, Family Curse

Coming full circle in the debate over whether officials should use enhanced interrogation methods to extract information from prisoners, the freshman congresswoman echoed her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, on Wednesday, arguing that waterboarding is not torture.

Ignorance

“What we know is that the enhanced interrogation program provided some of the information, and some of the evidence, that eventually led us to be able to locate, capture and kill bin Laden,” Cheney said. “I do support enhanced interrogation, I think that it’s something that clearly has helped us in the past to save lives, and so I was glad to see President Trump take that step.”

Ineffective Brutality

Cheney said she expects the review, once finished, to reveal the “usefulness” of interrogation techniques like waterboarding ― a method used in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program for years. That CIA program was investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and found to be more brutal than the CIA originally disclosed and ineffective in producing intelligence. Some details of the investigation were released in a 2014 report.

False Expediency

“The use of enhanced interrogation has been ― when it was in use ― very limited,” Cheney said, “limited to only three people who were waterboarded and used in a situation where we had to get information to save American lives.”

Orwellian Mumbo-Jumbo

“It’s the responsibility of any chief executive, any commander in chief to make sure we use every tool at our disposal,” she continued, “understanding that it’s not torture. We don’t torture, we haven’t tortured. What we’re talking about is the ability to get information from people who don’t want to provide information and who have information that could well save American lives and prevent attacks.”

False Narrative

Reminded that the Senate torture report refuted those claims, and pressed for evidence that such techniques were, in fact, useful in finding the courier that led intel officials to bin Laden, Cheney lambasted the document. (The full report remains classified.)

“That report was actually put together without interviewing a single person who was involved in the program, and you have people on both sides of the political aisle,” Cheney said.

End of Article

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-26: No More Torture

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece.]

Torture: Why Is It in the News Again?

Headlines of torture bleed off internet sites today. Yes, torture. Suddenly that ominous, Medieval scare-word has returned to American vocabulary. Do not let barbarism define us.

Here is what people everywhere can read about the discussion in America.

Jordain Carney, The Hill

McCain to Trump: We’re not bringing back torture

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) pushed back Wednesday against an effort by President Trump to revisit controversial enhanced interrogation policies, saying, “We are not bringing back torture.”

“The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law,” McCain said in a statement. “We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.”

Tim Mak, The Daily Beast

GOP Pushes Back on Draft Trump Black Site, Torture Order

A top Republican leader pushed back against a proposed presidential order that would reexamine more aggressive interrogation techniques against terrorist detainees, telling reporters that torture is illegal.

Employing waterboarding again “would take a change in the law, and Congress is on record,” Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “With respect to torture, that’s banned… we view that to be a matter of settled law.”

Media Matters for America

Joe Scarborough Shut Down By Sen. McCain after Claiming Sleep Deprivation Isn’t Torture

On the January 25 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough complained that “suddenly” so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” became “abhorrent” after public outcry over abuses during the George W. Bush administration. After it was reported that President Trump may sign an executive order that would “order a review of the Army Field Manual to determine whether to use certain enhanced interrogation techniques” again, Scarborough said that he “see[s] absolutely no problem about doing a study on enhanced interrogation techniques.” He added later in the segment that “there has been such a broad brush put across this entire topic of, quote, ‘torture.’ Suddenly sleep deprivation is torture.”

In the final hour of his show, Scarborough, who previously told a former naval intelligence official that he was wrong in saying that waterboarding doesn’t work, asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who experienced torture, to “define torture,” inquiring whether “sleep deprivation and other techniques like that” in fact “fit” McCain’s personal “definition of torture.” McCain shut Scarborough down, stating unequivocally that “extreme sleep deprivation is certainly not allowed and, again, it is very clear and laid out” in both the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual …

A J Vicens, Mother Jones

Trump Is Reportedly Considering Reopening CIA “Black Site” Prisons:

A draft executive order follows a suggestion by his new CIA director that he might be open to torture.

President Donald Trump is considering reopening the notorious CIA “black site” prisons, undoing the ban imposed by President Barack Obama, after his new CIA director suggested he’d be open to using torture methods on detainees.

The administration’s plans were reported by the New York Times on Wednesday after the paper obtained a draft executive order titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants.” The order would roll back many of the restrictions on detainee interrogations and detention that Obama put in place, including one that gave the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detainees in US custody. But in his daily press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the draft was “not a White House document.”

The CIA’s black sites were a series of facilities located in various countries around the world where the CIA detained, questioned, and often tortured detainees with practices including waterboarding, confinement in small boxes, beatings, and extreme sleep deprivation.

I say again, do not let barbarism define us. The use of torture demeans us as a people. It is wrong.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-25: Do We Really Want a Military Showdown with China?

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece filed at Worldpost by Reuters.]

As written here recently, disturbing activities in the South China Sea may prove volatile, if not downright belligerent, soon. China’s actions and American reactions, if not resolved diplomatically, do not bode well. Yesterday’s report from Reuters is reason for pause.

China Insists It Will Protect South China Sea Sovereignty

At first, China responded publicly to declarations from Washington, saying it

… had “irrefutable” sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea after the White House vowed to defend “international territories” in the strategic waterway.

Here is what spokesman Sean Spicer said at a press conference that prompted China’s strong words.

“The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” … when asked if [President Donald] Trump agreed with comments by his Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson. On Jan. 11, Tillerson said China should not be allowed access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea….

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, like Spicer, spoke at a news briefing Tuesday during which she said, “the United States is not a party to the South China Sea dispute.” She is correct. So why is the U.S. pressing this issue so vigorously? In addition to protecting the empire,

It’s the oil!

China claims most of the South China Sea, while Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Brunei claim parts of the sea that

  • commands strategic sealanes
  • has rich fishing grounds
  • has oil and gas deposits

The gauntlet is thrown.

Tillerson’s remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing prompted Chinese state media to say at the time that the United States would need to “wage war” to bar China’s access to the islands [in the South China Sea], where it has built military-length air strips and installed weapons systems.

Tillerson was asked at the hearing whether he supported a more aggressive posture toward China and said: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

This is heavy-duty talk.

The former Exxon Mobil Corp chairman and chief executive did not elaborate on what might be done to deny China access to the islands.

But analysts said his [Tillerson’s] comments, like those of Spicer, suggested the possibility of U.S. military action, or even a naval blockade. Such action would risk an armed confrontation with China, an increasingly formidable nuclear-armed military power.

Tillerson’s appointment has moved from committee, where he was approved, to a vote for confirmation from the full Senate.

Are we, the people, ready to risk going to war, again, over oil? Is it not appalling that, even before he is sworn into the office that will direct our nation’s foreign policy, the Secretary of State-to-Be speaks in terms of: waging war and not allowing another country to pursue its own interests? This does not smack of diplomacy.

Nowhere in this brewing dispute have I seen mention of the United Nations. But, then again, Exxon-Mobil never cared much what the international community had to say about anything. Tillerson has claimed—publicly, proudly, and defiantly—that, as CEO, his allegiance was first and foremost to his shareholders … not his country. That leopard’s spots ain’t changing anytime soon.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-24: Alternative Facts

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

Practical politics consists in ignoring facts.

Henry Adams

Stubborn

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Adams

Sacred

… facts are sacred.

Charles Prestwich Scott

Alarming

Facts are apt to alarm us more than the most dangerous principles.

William Paley

Beautiful

Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.

Galileo Galilei

Astonishing

Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.

Henry Adams

Baffling

This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts

Winston Churchill

Imaginary

The right honorable gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests, and to his imagination for his facts.

Richard Sheridan

Wanted

Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.

Charles Dickens

Historical

Let us beware that while [Soviet rulers] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination over all the peoples of the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world…. I urge you to beware the temptation … to ignore the facts of history …

Ronald Reagan

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-23: What did you do during the war, daddy?

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from history.com for January 21.]

[Wars Cause PTSD. Whether tomorrow, a decade from now, or 30 years down the line, the war experience today will torture a soldier’s mind. It is not necessary to argue, debate, or fight about our reason(s) for going to war; it is the act of war that attacks the psyche. End the wars, end the suffering.]

President Carter Pardons Draft Dodgers

On this day in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter grant[ed] an unconditional pardon to hundreds of thousands of men who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.

The not-quite-existential question today is, if the president reinstituted the draft, would women be included?

Bon jour, Canada.

In total, some 100,000 young Americans went abroad in the late 1960s and early 70s to avoid serving in the war. Ninety percent went to Canada, where after some initial controversy they were eventually welcomed as immigrants….

Although I long ago concluded that the U.S. Army had no business in Vietnam, I have never been convinced that all draft dodgers actually, philosophically opposed the war. I believe that, for me, an unquantifiable number just flat-out didn’t want to go to war. At least Muhammed Ali claimed, “I ain’t got nothing against them Viet Cong”; and he suffered the loss of his title, World Champion, and the license to ply his trade.

For its part, the U.S. government continued to prosecute draft evaders after the Vietnam War ended. A total of 209,517 men were formally accused of violating draft laws … If they returned home, those living in Canada or elsewhere faced prison sentences or forced military service.

A word about that. There were judges throughout the country who, when sentencing draft-age offenders, gave them the choice of going to jail or entering the military. I can aver, first-hand, that these individuals did not make good soldiers. Those judges did not serve their country well.

A promise is a promise.

During his 1976 presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter promised to pardon draft dodgers as a way of putting the war and the bitter divisions it caused firmly in the past. After winning the election, Carter wasted no time in making good on his word. Though many transplanted Americans returned home, an estimated 50,000 settled permanently in Canada …

Back in the U.S., Carter’s decision generated a good deal of controversy. [He was] heavily criticized by veterans’ groups and others for allowing unpatriotic lawbreakers to get off scot-free …

A word about that. If submission to the draft is the chief criterion for one’s proof of patriotism, there were millions of unpatriotic law abiding young men who absolutely “got off scot-free” by wriggling deferments out of their local draft board. Scuzzball war mongerer Dick Cheyney did it five times, claiming later when he got promoted to chicken hawk that he had “other things to do.”

Yes, I still have a chip on my shoulder. No, I will not get over it.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-20: Power

Through the Ages

Corruption

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton

Aggravation

The effect of power and publicity on all men is the aggravation of self, a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.

Henry Adams

Balance

Every project has been found to be no better than committing the lamb to the custody of the wolf, except that one which is called a balance of power.

John Adams

Bureaucracy

And thus the bureaucracy, the giant power yielded by pygmies, came into the world.

Honore de Balzac

Desire

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall.

Francis Bacon

Arrogance

The attitude above all others which I feel sure is no longer valid is the arrogance of power, the tendency of great nations to equate power with virtue and major responsibilities with a universal mission.

James William Fulbright

Trust

I repeat … that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that, from the people, and for the people, all springs, and all must exist.

Benjamin Disraeli

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-19: Manning-7, Petraeus-0

Military Justice: It’s Complicated

Two U.S. soldiers deploy to Iraq during undeclared war time, one a 4-star general and the other a private first class. Under ordinary circumstances their names would never appear together … anywhere. Their paths would never cross. But today they do. Both of these Americans, while wearing the uniform of their country, swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. Implicit at their swearing-in ceremony was the willingness to obey all legal and moral orders issued to them by their superiors.

Within the rigid rank structure of the Army, PFC Chelsea Manning could not “order” anyone to do anything. General David Petraeus, on the other hand, commanded the entire force. They served at opposite ends of the chain of command … literally. And yet, it turns out, both had access to “classified” material. And also, it turns out, both leaked said material. They were both wrong. They were both guilty of criminal activity under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It can easily be argued that each in his own way brought harm to America.

In brief, for sharing Top Secret information, which included actual names of intelligence operatives, to his lover/biographer, Petraeus was charged with no crime, never appeared before a jury, and in essence received a “naughty boy, don’t do it again” from the system.

Better than that,

You can read all about the general’s life and career in a hagiography written by David Pietras. For me, the title is almost as creepy as the near-homonym names of author and subject. What I have read of In the Footsteps of a Hero: The Military Journey of Retired General David H. Petraeus nauseates me. I expect more than career building at any cost from my heroes. Petraeus suffers from hubris, the fatal flaw that should have brought him to his knees. Before being outed as a philandering blowhard, Petraeus headed the CIA. The CIA!

Meanwhile, at the lowest rung on the ladder,

Chelsea Manning, who grew increasingly disillusioned with U.S. military presence and activity in Iraq, took it upon himself (living as a male at the time) to release a slew of classified material to Wikileaks. Wrong then, wrong now. Having by the time of her trial been allowed to identify openly as transgender, she was sentenced to 35 years in jail and has so far served nearly seven. Since passage of the “Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917,” no person has ever been sentenced to as many years as Manning, nor has any person served as much time in prison.

Apples or Oranges?

We can argue ad infinitum about the relative damage done to America by the treacherous actions of these two former soldiers. What is inarguable is that they both broke the law.

In one of his final actions as POTUS, Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence. Obama haters take note: he “commuted” Manning’s sentence, he did not “pardon” her. Petraeus walked, walks, and will continue to walk free. I guess the adage is true:

Privates go to jail, while generals go free.

When setting these cases side by side, for me, justice suffers. While we the public learned every detail of Chelsea Manning’s life during her incarceration and trial, as far as Petraeus goes, we mainly heard what a brilliant officer he was, not dragged-out specifics of his adultery and carelessness. Manning at least acted (inappropriately) out of a sense of honor, believing that the mission in Iraq was inherently wrong. Petraeus cannot claim that high ground. He spilled secrets to his mistress/biographer/running partner. His life story was in her hands, why not demonstrate to her how powerful he was?

With all due respect to retired General Petraeus, in the end, judging them by their final acts as active duty soldiers, PFC Manning is the bigger person. Bear with me here.

Remember the courtroom drama in A Few Good Men. Jack Nicholson’s character—the commander at Guantanamo Bay—screams at Tom Cruise’s character, “You want me on that wall.” No, the audience realizes, Americans don’t want rogue soldiers running loose, deciding autonomously and despotically right from wrong.

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The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.