13 August 2007

Winning Hearts and Minds?

Well, I see the US military in Iraq has not progressed at all since Vietnam in the art of winning over indigenous populations. A place called FOB Warhorse segregates the Iraqi civilian employees into separate and inferior restrooms, showers, and chow lines. The Army gives two excuses for this: 1) We need to isolate them for security purposes, and 2) they misuse the showers and toilets. Concerning the first excuse, if we can't control whom we let into the house any better than that, these little segregation tactics won't help. Further, many of these Iraqis bunk in the same tents as the troops they translate for. It seems they have all the access they need if they are actually in league with a terrorist group.

Concerning the second excuse, US military personnel have been circulating those stories about every non-Anglo group they come in contact with for just about forever. During the Civil War, it was the Blacks and Irish who couldn't use a toilet properly and had no hygiene. During WWI the French couldn't use a toilet, even though they had to teach us how to build a field latrine. All the Iraqis contacted say they know how to use the plumbing, and there is no indication in the news reports that there has been any training offered for those who don't.

Sounds like the personnel policies are based on bullshit, which should come as no surprise since the whole war is based on bullshit.

What is the Deal with Development?

Last week's Mallard Fillpants reminded me of a conundrum that has been making noise on the right since the Supreme Court's Kelo decision. The right wingers have been thumping their tubs hard over eminent domain being used to turn land over to private developers, claiming it's yet another step toward a socialist dictatorship. The thing that puzzles me is that the overwhelming majority of developers cashing in on this process are themselves right wingers who use significant portions of their booty to support right wing causes and candidates. Is this just the usual conservative logic disconnect, or is there a deeper game going on?