21 November, 2006

Lu Meng and military order

This story is just the latest example of the failure of command in Iraq. Soldiers behave abominably when left to their own devices in times of war, it is up to their commanders to enforce military discipline so that troops and civilians alike have order and war can be carried out effectively and with the least amount of disruption to civilians. When Lu Meng attacked Guan Yu at Jingzhou, he ordered the troops not to disturb the villagers. When one of the soldiers stole a shawl from a villager, Lu Meng had him executed, after that his army did not disturb the civilians. Lu Meng kept discipline, he enforced military laws strictly and his troops behaved. The fact that such incidents occur with frequency in Iraq is a sign that the military is not enforcing order and discipline, at a time when troops need it the most. If this soldier got a severe reprimand, if rewards and penalties were made clear to the troops, such incidents would be rare, unfortunately I fear they are not. Our army needs more Lu Mengs in command of troops, more importantly it needs proper leadership and strategy from the highest levels of command.

05 November, 2006

If all we focus on is rhetoric then we'll continue to get nice sounding disasters

John Kerry screwed up a speech, this of course warrants hours and hours of debate, discussion and umbrage. Bush screwed up more speeches than can be counted, of course this gets less debate but plenty of discussion. Politicians have sex scandals, this is most important and gets discussed ad nauseum. We expect our politicians to have a facade of perfection - we want them well-spoken, sexually "proper," we want them to look honourable, never mind their actions. Bush has killed nearly 3,000 of our soldiers, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in a war of choice. The government's ineptness hundreds of needless deaths and countless suffering in New Orleans. Halliburton routinely steals money from us in its no-bid contract in Iraq. The fundamentalist extremists are systematically imposing their Taliban-like agenda on persons throughout the country. But it doesn't matter if we don't see it right? We have become a nation of tabloid readers, our "news" media focuses on matters previously reserved for publications such as the National Enquirer, and yet we expect competence and action? Only when we stop expecting a facade of perfection, when we stop equating nice speeches with proper governance, when we start to look at the bigger picture instead of salacious afterthoughts will we have a government that we can be proud of, until then we can just expect more incompetence, more disaster, more lives lost, more of our democracy eroded - but don't worry - it will all sound very pretty.