Monday, July 26, 2010
The leadup to the trial baffled me. I expected to be deposed by the other side. I wasn't. The only possible explanation for this unseized opportunity by the other side is arrogance. They thought that they had such a qualified, credible expert witness that they didn't want to give me even the experience and OJT of a deposition before getting me on the stand in court. I'm sure they expected to blow me away like a few dandelion seeds.
They grossly overestimated their own position and grossly underestimated what I knew and could show the jury--and I didn't even get to do a third of it in court.
They were seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages. They spent several tens of thousands of dollars in getting to the trial. They left without a penny. It was a sad waste of time and money that could have been invested in the businesses on both sides of the conflict.
Lose-lose situation for everybody.
Arrogance. Flat-out arrogance. Well... maybe some ignorance mixed in with it.
Now comes the WikiLeaks.org report of 92K secret U.S. reports on the war in Afghanistan that confirm a similar arrogance and ignorance on the part of our country in this soon-to-be nine-year-old but forgotten war.
It's not news to me, however. I've heard the same thing from a number of guests on Terry Gross' (best interview show in the business IMHO) program "Fresh Air". Two weeks ago at Powell's Books in Portland, Jean and I heard the same in person from author Jere Van Dyk. JVD spent 44 days as a captive of the Taliban. Hence, the title of his book Captive. JVD essentially said:
1. The U.S. has bloody poor intelligence.
2. Ethnic and tribal loyalties rule the day and the territory.
3. Afghanistan is the most corrupt "government" on earth.
4. Making any kind of gunny sack purse out of the sow's ear we have made of Afghanistan will take far longer than both the purse strings and the patience/attention span of current Americans will allow.
We can't stay, and we can't leave. It's become a Humpty-Dumpty deal.
How did we get into such a mess in the first place? Well, you'd probably have to waterboard half the Bush Administration to find out. But maybe we should have been waterboarding ourselves before we ever started the mess in the first place.
Van Dyk pointed to the work of Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute in building schools in some of the most impoverished areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan as being the only real way forward.
Now comes the word that even the wives of some of America's top generals have read Mortenson's story in Three Cups of Tea and have asked their spouses essentially this question: Wouldn't this be a better way than bloodshed, drones and loss of life?
If I had to describe Mortenson's way succinctly, it would be with these words: the way of Christ. I challenge you to read his book and disagree with that assessment.
Several years ago in a home community group of young Christians, I asked this question:
Suppose that after 9/11 instead of essentially calling the U.S. to war, President George W. Bush had gone on national television and radio and read the Beatitudes and called the nation to a campaign of education and an end to poverty among our enemies. What would have been the reaction of the country?
A young woman didn't hesitate a second before replying "outrage".
So I guess the Jesus we profess and have at times been willing to kill for is really a fraud and a fake? Or not... I guess we'll never know until we are for once willing to try, to actually follow the way of Christ and the way of the cross.
But we might have to first declare war on our own arrogance. And ignorance.
I think we call that repentance.
Practice resurrection. Create peace. Amen.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Over 100 coalition troops KIA in June. Big shakeup in Generals. Or, in general. McChrystal out, Petraeus back in.
Petraeus says he not only supports President Obama's strategy but that he also agrees with it. Elsewhere, he's also said that he expects us to be needed there for a very long time.
Kinda flies in the face of the notion of withdrawing troops come July 2011. To those in certain circles, that means perhaps reducing the number from 96K+ to perhaps 65K+.
To most Americans who only casually think about the "A-word" today, I'd bet that means reducing troops to zero K.
Just read that flareups in the north have spread the conflict areas from the traditional south around the Pakistan border. Afghanistan is tough to negotiate with very few roads and almost no infrastructure. Rich in mineral wealth but no way to get there to get it out.
Same way we have to evacuate casualties and bodies: helicopters.
I came across this pre-school play structure last month. A helicopter with two seats in the cockpit, two more teeter-totter fashion on the outside. They sorta look like machine gun mounts, side mounts for rockets and gattling guns.
Might as well get the youngsters ready for their future mission while they're still in pre-school. 'Cuz until we get a government in Afghanistan that isn't corrupt from top to bottom, and until we get enough infrastructure in place for the country to actually maintain and control itself as anything more than tribal enclaves, the conditions for "peace with honor**" might not exist within our lifetimes.
(**NOTE: See President Richard M. Nixon and Vietnam for the antecedent of peace with honor.)
And the pre-schoolers of today may very well be serving there as helicopter door gunners when they're 21. Well, some of 'em anyway.
Lord knows all of 'em will be paying for it. 'Cuz we sure don't have the money to do it today and simultaneously do the things that need doing in our country right now. We're all worried about deficits now but not about the hole we're digging in Afghanistan. A choice we've made. Yeah, I know. Economic growth was always supposed to cover it all.
Just like your income will ALWAYS increase every year, right? Even when you're old and disabled...
How'd this all happen, anyway?
Pray for enlightenment.