Archive for February, 2009

  Boys Of…Summer?

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 28Feb09.

It’s Saturday morning, so I’m at the ball field with one of the Agents of Chaos. It’s partly cloudy and 72 degrees, which is normal for Hawaii, but it’s still a little surreal for every day to be “shorts weather” to someone who grew up near the Canadian border in the Northeast U.S.

Fruitbat’s playing, so it’s T-ball and there’s no problem keeping score. The other two Agents are in those middle age groups where no official score is kept-but every kid still knows. Good for them.

And as you can see by this post, I’m distracted.

  Maritime Strategy News

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 27Feb09.

US Pacific Command waiting for Obama’s orders to shoot down

The Pentagon has said that it is prepared to shoot down a North Korean missile or rocket if it receives such orders from US President Barack Obama.

“If a missile leaves the launch pad we’ll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president,” Fox News quoted the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Timothy Keating as telling ABC News.

North Korea announced earlier this week that it was preparing to shoot a communication satellite into orbit as part of it space program.

The U.S., South Korea and other neighboring countries believe the launch may be a cover for a missile test-fire, saying the action would trigger international sanctions.

North Korea has lashed out at critics warning it not to test a long-range missile, saying that it would punish those trying to disrupt its plan to send what it calls a satellite into orbit.

“If the puppet warmongers infringe upon our inviolable dignity even a bit … we will not only punish the provokers but reduce their stronghold to debris,” the committee said in a statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Keating said the U.S. military is ready to respond to the missile launch with at least five different systems: a naval destroyer, Aegis cruiser, radar system, space-based system and ground-based interceptor.

US-China resume military ties, top officers says

China’s five-month suspension in U.S.-Chinese military contacts to protest Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan has ended with the visit this week of a U.S. Defense Department official, a top Chinese officer said Friday.

However, in opening the discussions, the Defense Ministry’s head of foreign affairs said military-to-military ties remained in a “difficult period,” and demanded that the U.S. remove unspecified obstacles to improvement.

“We expect the U.S. side to take concrete measures for the resumption and development of our military ties,” Maj. Gen. Qian Lihua was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. Saving on Auto Insurance Puts Money Back in Your Pocket

Such routine calls are generally seen as a form of protest against U.S. military contacts with self-ruling Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland by force if necessary.

China put military exchanges on hold in October over a $6.5 billion U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, including such advanced weaponry as Patriot missiles and Apache attack helicopters. China said the sale interferes with internal Chinese affairs and harms its national security.

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  Still No Political Realignment In America

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 26Feb09.

Despite sweeping Democratic gains and all the talk following the election in November, key indicators still suggest Americans have not made a major shift to the Left. For instance :

[A] new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows that the basic views of the American people have not change: 59% of voters still agree with Reagan’s inaugural address statement (“government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”). Only 28% disagree, and 14% are not sure.

And there’s strong evidence that Republicans can turn things around if they can stick with their core, Conservative principles:

Although the Republican Party in Washington veered away from Reagan’s approach in the years since the 40th president left office, 83% of Republican voters around the country still agree with him. So do 40% of Democrats and 60% of those not affiliated with either major party.

In addition, there are signs that Obama’s success, and the success of his coattails, may have had more to do with McCain’s weak credentials as a Conservative than what Obama and the Democrats represent. While Democrats led by a six-point margin on the generic Congressional ballot the week before the election , that lead has dwindled to 2-4 points in the last week, and has tumbled from a whopping 18 point pro-Democrat advantage in late 2007.

If you’re not already watching, the key elections to follow this fall are in Virginia, where Gov. Time Kaine is already trying to quiet expectations of a second wave.

  U.S. Military A “Foreign Legion”?

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 26Feb09.

TomDispatch recently ran a piece by Lt. Col. William Astore (Ret) decrying the composition of the military and its role in American society that’s worth a read . Here’s the lede:

A leaner, meaner, higher tech force — that was what George W. Bush and his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld promised to transform the American military into. Instead, they came close to turning it into a foreign legion. Foreign as in being constantly deployed overseas on imperial errands; foreign as in being ever more reliant on private military contractors; foreign as in being increasingly segregated from the elites that profit most from its actions, yet serve the least in its ranks.

Now would be a good time for President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to begin to reclaim that military for its proper purpose: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Now would be a good time to ask exactly why, and for whom, our troops are currently fighting and dying in the urban jungles of Iraq and the hostile hills of Afghanistan.

For openers, I think Lt. Colonel Astore’s point about the demographics of the military is flawed and overplayed. He seems to be resurrecting the “poor and dumb” canard that’s been thoroughly refuted .

As for how Americans treat the military, Col. Astore’s got some good points. Those Marines in Iraq were right some years ago; the military is at war and America’s at the mall. That problem can be laid squarely on the doorstep of Mr. Bush, who sought to aggressively defended American security but in hindsight set the wrong national tone in the wake of 9/11.

Finally, if you look at the raw data about who serves, what you find is a small, developing military class within the middle class where generation after generation serves while most Americans sit back and enjoy the benefits. Think of it as a self-selecting Praetorian Guard more than a Foreign Legion. Which of course, could be a problem in its own right in several respects.

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