"Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it."
Oscar Wilde

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Memory of September 11

Like most Americans, I watch videos of the Twin Towers with horror. Seeing the Trade Centers
crashing to the Earth, I feel like something in me is going down with them. Why did they do that? Why did they attack the America of 2001: peaceful, rich, and employed?
I don't think the skyline of New York is as good without those Towers, once the highest in the world. Without them, our greatest city is not as brilliant; not as beautiful. Now, not only is the skyline altered, but it is darkened by the deaths of 3000 people. Every time I see New York without the Towers, I think of 9/11, and every time I see New York with the Towers, I wonder how many people who were in the Towers when the photo was taken perished on September 11. To think that terrorists were even able to do that sickens me. Their motives sicken me more. These people attacked the civilians of the United States, the workers, the businessmen and women. They thought that to combat America, their only hope was to kill her people. People who believe in this doctrine are vile creatures, and so far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as a "war crime" against them or those who support them. Mercy is not to be shown to those do not intend, and did not show mercy to us.
On September 11, a beautiful Tuesday morning, two hijacked American Airline planes crashed into the Twin Towers: one at 8:46 a.m., and another on 9:03 a.m. The South Tower fell at 9:59 a.m., and the North followed at 10:28 a.m. Both taking with them thousands of workers, fire fighters, and policemen. 2,606 people died in the Trade Centers, 411 of them were emergency workers, and the remaining 2,195 were civilian businessmen and women.
I have often thought about how I would have escaped these burning towers if I was above the point of impact, and I usually concluded that I would have gone to the roof, but I recently learned that the doors to the top level were locked. Imagine the horror of finding that you had no hope of escape. 90% of the casualties in the towers were at or above the points of impact. In the North Tower, about 1,355 people were trapped above the point of impact, and subsequently died. Only 107 people below the point of impact died, leaving to imagination how many actually escaped from below the crash. In the South tower, 630 people died, partially thanks to the fact that people left the building or did not enter the South Tower when the North Tower was struck, and that one stairway remained intact,  so some of those above the point of impact were able to escape.
90 nations lost citizens in the collapse of the Twin Towers, along with the other attacks on September 11.  The North and South Towers, World Trade Centers 3 through 7, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the Deutsche Bank Building, and two buildings of the World Financial Center all suffered significant damage or total destruction.
Personally, I am not ready to forgive for the destruction of the Twin Towers. Whenever I think about this subject, anger builds inside me, not so much for the loss of 3000 people (this, while ghastly, has been sustained by the United States, and many other countries before), but by our incredible inability to pinpoint and punish those responsible for the attacks. The killing of Osama bin Ladin should not be the end of America's hunt for justice. Unfortunately, the deaths of 919,967 people in the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of 9/11 is only further adding to the death toll of that horrible day in September. Every soldier, civilian, or policeman who dies in our War on Terror is another death caused by the attacks on September 11. Is justice being done? I personally do not think so.
Rest in peace to those who died, and rest in peace to those who died as a result.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A House Divided

Abraham Lincoln said: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
This statement is true on a good many accounts. When people are set against each other, they cannot cooperate. They cannot work towards a common goal. Instead, they work to undermine and discredit the other. I believe whole-heartedly in his statement, and off of it will I base this post.
I will try my best not to voice any opinion in this post, but simply to point out a striking similarity and possibly an impending difficulty. The Republicans and the Democrats run American government, they work in the Senate and the House of Representatives and pretty much run the entire system. It is from them that a President is produced, and it is from them that deals are passed etc. However, they are brutally set against each other. The recent crisis in Washington reflects this. Have these two parties ever been so set against each other that they are willing to fight to the bloody end for the sake of a relatively minor deal? Have they ever been so against compromise between them? Under President Reagan, the debt ceiling was raised something like 18 times. According to a firsthand account (my parents) there was very little debate on this. The Republicans and Democrats simply examined what they thought was best for the country at that time, put party inclinations away, and made a decision. Why can't we do that today?
As I read a Civil War book, Battle Cry of Freedom, I was startled by how similar the actions of the Confederate and Union politicians resemble the actions of modern Republicans and Democrats. I am not saying that a secession is likely, but it is alarming how divided our government is. Can we stand "united" when we cannot decide to raise the debt ceiling? "United we don't stand" is more like it. Never have the difficulties in our government alarmed me as they do now.
When Abraham Lincoln said that a house divided cannot stand, I believe he was right. In his case, he was, and a massive war resulting in thousands upon thousands of American casualties resulted. Does history repeat itself? Can a divided house stand now? I do not know, but I wish to bring to the attention of any/all of my readers how strangely similar the unwillingness to compromise just before the Civil War, and just recently in the debt 'crisis' has become.
What do you guys think? Delusion theory? Possible Theory? Let me know in the comments, please. Don't worry about controversy, this a controversial blog. However, I will not tolerate insulting and/or fallacy ridden posts, such as those in the "Odyssey Dawn" comments below; be polite guys. Any such posts will be promptly removed. Once is all I need. Twice is too many.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Cemetery Theory

Hello readers! I just returned from two weeks in the wilds of New Mexico. I was doing a backpacking trip with my Boy Scout Troop out in Philmont Scout Ranch, a legendary piece of property within the BSA.
Anyway, I checked my email and found this spectacular comment to one of my blog posts:

"I recently stumbled across your blog while researching the American Normandy Cemetery. I'm certainly impressed with the quality of your writing and of your thoughts. Keep it up!

That said, I wanted to leave my comment where the post was most relevant, even if several months old. I'm actually looking for an answer, and maybe someone as drawn to history as yourself can shed some light on this curious enigma: when I visited Normandy Cemetery, it came to my attention (as far as I could discern on my walk through the gravesite and from subsequent attempts to discover an explanation) that no Muslims were buried there. An official website states that only crosses and Stars of David act as gravestones (and, if it is relevant, the graves all face the direction of the U.S., "looking home," as it were) but remains eerily silent and unspecific on the "all others" (presumably with respect to faiths) marked beneath "stylized Latin crosses": http://www.abmc.gov/commission/history.php
It is my conjecture that "all others" is limited solely to denominations of Christianity, and also to soldiers who professed no religious affiliation.

Yet it remains a certainty that Muslim-Americans fought in WWII. Where are they buried, if not here, and why on a separate site?"

Well, I am hardly qualified to answer such a question, however, one can always have a theory. In 1945, Germany, Russia, and America were on the world's radar. For sure, these three countries are primarily Christian. The Jewish 'crosses' were probably placed in the cemetaries for various reasons, but one of the most relevant would probably be the fact that millions of Jews had just been killed, and the last thing any country wanted to do was to disrespect their faith in cemeteries. If a religon had just suffered a genocide, those of that faith are going to be buried with all rights pertaining to that religon.
I cannot really explain why those who planned the cemetery didn't simply place a Muslim wing in the cemetary itself, or just mingle the Muslim gravestones with the others. However, after even further research, I found that there is actually a cemetery where Muslims and Christians are buried together. It still doesn't really explain why the main American Cemetery doesn't have a Muslim wing, but... there is a seperate Muslim Cemetery somewhere in Normandy:

If you want a better answer than my theory, you should probably contact the Muslim American Veterans Association. They are a pretty big group and take part in such events as honoring the gravestone of a Muslim Sergeant who was killed in Normandy. If you are interested, here is the link to the site: http://www.mavapost2.com/.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Killing of Osama Bin Laden

On May 2, 2011, four choppers full of U.S. Navy seals mobilized and took off. Their destination? Abbottabad, Pakistan, thought to be the location of Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11 attacks and leader of the Taliban. Bin Laden was rumored to be inside a large, two story compound with multiple guards and high walls. The compound itself was about 100 yards from the Pakistani Military Academy, the West Point of Pakistan.
As the helicopters descended on the compound, shots were fired, and a firefight occurred. One of the helicopters, ordered to land inside the compound, had technical difficulties and crash landed. President Obama said later that memories of Black Hawk Down flooded his mind. However, the forty SEALS rushed into the compound, and forty minutes later had secured it and killed Bin Laden. There were no American casualties. Four people and Bin Laden were killed, one rumored to be his son, the others were his body guards and wife. Bin Laden resisted, and was shot twice in the head by one of the SEALS.
The men who flew the helicopters were part of the 160th Special Ops Air regiment, and the SEALS who carried out the operation are thought to be Team 6, a unit stationed in Afghanistan. The joint American operation was commanded by the CIA.
As news of Bin Laden's death spread, thousands of Americans cheered in New York, in Washington, and all over the country. Bin Laden's death has boosted the morale of the entire nation. Al Qieda is likely demoralized, and will hopefully remain so for as long as possible.
God bless America... and don't mess with us.

Look at these guys! Be scared Taliban... be scared.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

War Games

Here is a video that I recorded with my flip. It is a small conflict between myself, my friend (Dexter), and my other friend (Jason). Jason has a very powerful and superior gun, so Dexter and I teamed against him with our slightly inferior weapons. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Operation Anaconda - Shame on the Command

In March of 2002, the eyes of the world were on America, who had recently dispatched thousands of troops into Afghanistan. Because of frustration between the military and press about the slow moving progress in Afghanistan, the Pentagon presented a new American offensive. This plan included truck convoys driving deep into the Shah-i-Kot Valley, where a large number of Taliban and AL Qaeda fighters had gathered in the previous months. The command placed in charge of the operation, CENTCOM, did not want to use Air Support to severely weaken the entrenched Taliban fighters, before sending ground forces in. After a dispute between the Marine and CENTCOM commands, CENTCOM agreed to use some small amount of air power, but not the large amount that could have been used, and needed to be used. Still, the Marine command was very anxious about landing troops on the exposed positions indicated, and desperately requested more air support. It was denied. According to Seymour M. Hersh, writer of the book Chain of Command, General Franks [leader of the operation], simply did not want to use air power. Either this man's ego was too big, or he saw some odd obstruction to air power in the valley, the former is most likely. The excuse offered by General Franks? CENTCOM didn't want to lose the element of surprise; this is simply ridiculous, as the Air Combat Command in Virginia noted, 'it was already known throughout the region that an attack was coming.'
On March 2, 2002, the 10th Mountain division and the 101st Airborne Divisions were to be landed at certain chopper landing sectors while truckloads of American trained Afghan fighters, were to head directly up the highway into the valley. The events that followed justified the caution of the Marine command. The first trucks up the highway, packed with Afghan fighters were obliterated by mortar fire at a fixed point on the road. The Al Qaeda fighters had been waiting for them. The subsequent waves refused to advance, as they knew the first wave had been completely blown away. The American joint ground and helicopter assault fared no better. The soldiers were supposed to jump from helicopters which would then proceed to provide fire support. The Taliban and Al Qaeda would then have been caught between Afghan land forces [the ones that were obliterated by mortar fire] and American troops. Instead, terrorist fighters fired on the American troops as they tumbled from the helicopters, they knew that they were going to land in the area, and there had been no American air support to wipe them out. Right at that point, there was, according to a former C.I.A. counter terrorism official, "A complete breakdown at the tactical level. It was a disaster." A Marine officer added, "The chain of command froze. Young soldiers cried and threw down their weapons. There was a total unit failure." The attack was a complete failure with the landing zones littered with weapons, backpacks, supplies, and radios as the panicked American troops fled down the mountain to safety. The result was fourteen American casualties and large numbers of wounded before helicopters and coalition troops were permitted to rescue them. Had Australian S.A.S. commandos not left their mission and driven off the Afghan troops, a former Marine officer says, "we would have lost the entire team." Not only is this operation a shame, but reports indicate that most of the soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division were not even prepared for combat.
The soldiers who fought in Operation Anaconda were valiant men placed in the wrong situation. In this case, the greatest soldiers in the world were given horrible leadership and training. They were not prepared for the situation they were sent into and neither were their commanding officers. I wish to forever memorialize the valor and sacrifice that those men made, and to forever remember the pathetic efforts of their commanding officers, who were willing to sacrifice the soldiers of the United States of America in the way that they did.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Odyssey Dawn

Well, after a series of unsucessful threats, Libya has been struck. As much as I hate the idea of military action while we are already engaged in a very expensive war, I have to say: eat it, Libya. This operation, awesomely named Operation Odyssey Dawn, has seriously damaged Libyan forces. I do not know all of the details, but I do know that this operation was performed expertly. Not only were ground forces not engaged, which would have been a dangerous gamble, but my USAF theory was semi-proved right! Backed by naval Tomahawk Missles, United States (and coalition, but... mostly United States) planes utterly crushed Libyan airpower and military resources. This is, in my opinion, exactly the kind of operation that the United States should engage in. Why put large amounts of American lives in danger when we can make the enemy eat the damage and the casualties. The ground forces that were used also operated in a very admirable fashion; they rolled in, rescued two pilots whose plane had malfunctioned, and rolled out. The US passed complete control of the Operation to NATO, but while we may no longer be leading the strike, we led and coordinated the initial Operation. Despite this, our units are in the extreme majority.

File:USS Barry fires Tomahawk missile Libya.png
                    The USS Barry firing a Tomahawk Missle. E pluribus unum.