Categories
Government

Soldier, Human or Both?

Just let it out
Just let it out! Photo: SuperFantastic/flickr

As the controversy surrounding Rolling Stone‘s profile of General Stanley McChrystal (and the comments of his staff) winds down, NYT columnist David Brooks offers up an interesting thought about soldiers, or really, anyone who is a subordinate: They complain.

And they’re human.

Venting is part of being human. And even though members of the military are held to a higher behavioral standard than a common employee, is it really that extraordinary that McChrystal and his aides had some not-too-flattering words for the US president and his administration?

From Brooks’ article:

Military people are especially prone to these sorts of outbursts. In public, they pay lavish deference to civilian masters who issue orders from the comfort of home. Among themselves, they blow off steam, sometimes in the crudest possible terms.

Now, as to the intelligence of the military folks who decided to blow off steam in front of a reporter (it seems that McChrystal was done in more by hearsay than anything else), that’s a whole other post.

But, do we hold members of the military up to too high a standard by expecting them to remain ‘strong and silent’? Shouldn’t they be allowed to kvetch, vent, gripe and do whatever they need to do (within reason) to let off steam?

Since, at least in the US, they volunteered to put their lives on the line for their country, shouldn’t they have the right to complain…even if it is about the commander-in-chief and his administration?

Another question: Does complaining about someone or something automatically equal a lack of respect for that someone or something?

Again, I think it was absolutely asinine, especially in the day-and-age of gotcha journalism for McChystal’s aides to repeat his words in front of a reporter, but if you’re in the type of high-pressure situations that military members find themselves in, perhaps kvetching is understandable.

Because even though they’re in the armed forces, they’re humans too.

Categories
Environment Foreign policy

Double Standards

Demonstrator at rally for Bhopal victims, courtesy of Ascanio Vitale/Flickr

The ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and and the 1984 Bhopal disaster have been hot topics in the news as of late. Both events have reproduced a popular debate regarding multinationals using and abusing their host countries, particularly within the environmental context. But rather than analyzing the power of the multinational companies in relation to the state, what appears more noteworthy is the conflicting attitude of the US. This in turn has influenced the hierarchy of states that exists on the world stage.

What I find interesting is how aggressively the US has condemned BP’s activities, even in the face of damaging trans-Atlantic relations. Yet, it has been so passive about the extensive damage done by American Union Carbide Chemicals, now Dow Chemicals, in Bhopal.

Categories
Government Foreign policy CSS News

Change in US Nuclear Policy?

CSS Analysis no 74: "Obama's Nuclear Policy: Limited Change"
CSS Analysis no 74: “Obama’s Nuclear Policy: Limited Change”

One year after Obama’s Prague speech, has the announced change in nuclear policy actually taken place?

In a newly published policy brief, CSS senior researcher Daniel Möckli assesses the practical results achieved by the Obama administration so far.

On the plus side, he argues, Obama has succeeded in reintroducing nuclear disarmament to the international agenda. But domestic factors, alliance policy, and strategic considerations limit the scope for major turns in US policy.

According to Möckli, neither a sustainable reinforcement of the non-proliferation regime nor substantial progress in multilateral arms control are in the offing.

The publication can be downloaded here.

Categories
Government Audio/Video

Freestyle Iraq, fo shizzle

Freestyle Iraq from The US Defense Department
Screenshot: Freestyle Iraq from The US Defense Department

Yo yo yo wazzup y’all.

I’m late to the party with this ish…but I just wanna pull your coat about this sick video podcast I found while chillin like a villain. It’s da deelio on what’s going down when Uncle Sam’s throwin’ down.

YaknowwhatI’msayin? This tight joint is from the US DoD fo all y’all.

Oh, excuse me. I was just feeling Freestyle Iraq.

From the Pentagon Channel site: “Freestyle Iraq is a lifestyle news magazine set smack dab in the middle of a combat zone…yep, IRAQ! ”

Yep. It’s a hip and happening look at how US troops cut loose when they’re not dodging

Blazin (a cigar) on Freestyle Iraq
Blazin (a cigar) on Freestyle Iraq

bullets from insurgents. Freestyle Iraq full of MTV-style jump cuts, pans, and an on-cam crew trying their best to get their hip-hop swagger on.

And hark, I think I heard a little Public Enemy in the soundtrack of one of the episodes.

Does Chuck D know about this?

Some of the dialogue is cringe worthy (The host said “Bring your A-game” in reference to being on top of your game on the basketball court. The last time I said “Bring your A-game” to anyone I was…wait…I’ve never said that to anyone.)

All kidding aside, Freestyle Iraq does two things: It attempts to show the human side of US troops, which, right or wrong, is important for fashioning wartime imagery; and it presents the military in an attractive manner to prospective recruits (who shouldn’t be too hard to find).

And the fact that it’s available on the official Pentagon channel is something to note.

Perhaps the folks in uniform are ready to get buck?

Categories
Uncategorized

GOP – Quo Vadis?

Rocky Road sign / photo: Sara Kuepfer

Any successful political movement or party requires enlightened leadership. And especially after suffering political defeat, a self-critical evaluation of the party’s mistakes is needed to get the party back on its feet – and on a solid ideological footing.

I am not saying that the GOP lacks spokesmen. The diatribes of the Rush Limbaughs and the Sarah Palins are omnipresent. But I can’t see much leadership, not to mention an “enlightened” one.