Afghanistan Quagmire

The following is a copy of my letter to President Obama regarding the war in Afghanistan and recent comments made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai regarding a possible war between Pakistan and America.

October 25, 2011

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.  20048

Dear President Obama,

I truly hate writing so often; however based on what was reported yesterday I just have to write once again.  It was reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a Pakistani television station this past weekend that if war broke out between the U.S. and Pakistan, Afghanistan would side with their neighbor.  Considering that we are already conducting drone missile attacks in Pakistan, an outbreak of war doesn’t seem farfetched.  However, I find his comments horrendous and an insult to every American soldier who has given their life during America’s longest waged war.

Long before I learned of Karzai’s comments, I have opined numerous times that this war has gone on way too long and it is far past time to end this military occupation.  We have spent nearly half a trillion dollars and have lost more than 1,700 lives supporting this president and what do we have to show for it?  Granted, Osama bin Laden finally met his maker, paying the price for his horrific attack of September 11th, though I always thought we should have sent a small task group of special ops soldiers after him instead of declaring war against two sovereign nations.  Not only have we kept Karzai in office, I assume that we have also made him a very wealthy man as well, considering how corrupt Afghanistan is.

I urge you and Congress to end this quagmire immediately and bring all our troops home for Christmas as you are doing so in Iraq.

Steven H. Spring

Representative Steve Austria
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Rob Portman

National Embarrassment

Once again, Republican Congressional leaders have embarrassed not only themselves but also their party as well in their contempt for President Obama.  This time, embarrassment comes with the news that Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi was captured and executed yesterday by a small band of revolutionary fighters in his hometown of Sirte.  The cause of the embarrassment was the fact that several high-ranking Republican leaders gave total credit for the success of the mission to France and England, without giving any praise to the president nor the American troops involved in the operation.

It is well known and documented that Republicans not only will not vote for any of President Obama’s proposed legislation but to not give him recognition for his planned attack to remove Gadhafi from power all the while praising other countries not only is an insult to the Commander in Chief in a time of numerous wars but an insult to everyone serving in America’s armed forces.

When the president first announced his plan to attack Libya with the help of a coalition of countries including France and England, Republicans denounced his plan as leading from behind.  Yet, his plan worked out admirably as in just seven months Gadhafi was removed from office without the loss of one American life and a little more than one billion dollars spent.

Granted, a billion dollars is a lot of money to a cash-depleted nation, but when compared to President George W. Bush’s on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while hunting for Osama bin Laden, which have lasted for ten years and cost to date nearly $1.3 trillion and the loss of more than 6,200 American lives, this military endeavor was very economical.  Judging by statistics alone, Republicans should be praising President Obama instead of disrespecting him.  However, we all know that won’t happen.

Steven H. Spring

U.S. Imperialism

Here we go again.  It has been reported that this past week, the United States has once again sent military troops into a foreign country.  We are currently engaged militarily in so many countries right now that you need a scorecard to keep track of them all.  In just the past decade alone, we have invaded or are conducting drone missile attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and now in central Africa, chasing after the Lord’s Resistance Army and its sadistic leader Joseph Kony in Uganda.  When you consider that our government is seriously talking about taking aggressive action against Iran, one cannot help but wonder how we are paying for all these missions, in terms of not only dollars and cents but that also of human life.  Since World War I, ninety percent of all causalities of war are civilians.

In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex.  President Eisenhower stated that “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  Coming from a five-star general, many who credit for winning World War II, America should have listened.

Instead, during the past two decades America has become the world’s most war-mongering nation.  I have written many times during the past five or six years that we are heading down the same path as that of the former Soviet Union, in that we are bankrupting ourselves with all our military endeavors.  America has nearly 750 official military bases located in other countries.  We still have fifty thousand troops stationed along the 38th parallel in Korea nearly sixty years after that war ended, for Pete‘s sake.

With an annual defense budget of nearly $900 billion, we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined.  When combined with intelligence, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year.  Moreover, this does not include America’s ultra secret intelligence budget.  Since September 11th, our government has build up such a top secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs.  The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, yet where has all this spending gotten us?  As a nation, we live in fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, our country is falling apart.  America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call Earth.

In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, again nearly selling as many armaments as the rest of the world combined.  Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world.  One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the ’80s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s.  America has a very extensive history of arming and supporting malevolence dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world.

That great 1960s philosopher, John Kay was right when he wrote in part in his masterpiece, Monster/Suicide/America:

“The cities have turned into jungles,
And corruption is stranglin’ the land.
The police force is watching the people,
And the people just can’t understand.
We don’t know how to mind our own business,
‘Cause the whole world’s got to be just like us.
Now we are fighting a war over there.
No matter who’s the winner, we can’t pay the cost.
‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose,
It’s got our heads into the noose.
And it just sits there… watching.”

Steven H. Spring

Throwback Or Throwaway Uniforms

Sitting down to spend this Saturday watching college football, I was going to first watch Michigan play at Michigan State before watching my beloved Buckeyes play Illinois.  However, when the game started, I might as well have been watching Northwest Southeastern Valley State play Podunk U., as I did not recognize either team on the television screen.  It seems that both Michigan and Michigan State were wearing so-called throwback uniforms.

Maybe it’s just me getting old, but I long for the days when college teams actually wore their traditional uniforms.  Now days, because of all the money being made by Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, you need a program just to keep track of your favorite college football team.  The University of Oregon, because of Beaverton, Oregon based Nike and its Oregon alumnus owner Phil Knight, leads the nation with as many as 384 different uniform combinations.  Why are all these schools wearing so many different uniforms, one would ask.  The answer, as always in America, is money.  These uniform manufacturers can sell many more jerseys to fans by having several different styles instead of just the traditional home and away uniforms.

Steven H. Spring
OSU, Class of ‘87

State Issue 2 V. Unions

As the debate rages and commercials begin to saturate the airwaves throughout Ohio concerning State Issue 2, the November referendum on the state’s new anti-collective bargaining law, I find it rather ludicrous that Republicans throughout the state and nation are blaming governmental unions for the financial disaster politicians have created in this country during the past decade.  For all the good that unions have done this past century, all workers should be eternally grateful.

Trade unions and guilds date to 14th century Europe where they were outlawed until the mid 19th century, when they rose to power during the industrial revolution because of the severe working conditions workers had to endure in order to make a meager living.  To understand why unions, both governmental and private sector are needed, one need only look back in history to the time when employees worked twelve or sixteen hour days, six or seven days a week and children worked in coalmines and factories.  Unions are responsible not only for better working conditions and workplace safety but also for health care and retirement benefits.

The real reason why Republicans are so adamant in their attempt to outlaw unions is that they contribute great sums of money to political campaigns, mainly benefiting that of the Democratic Party.  Republicans know that if they can cut off major funding to Democrats from the various unions, they will have a huge, inequitable financial advantage in nearly all future elections.  To blame our teachers, police and firefighters for the financial catastrophe our politicians and Wall Street have created is asinine.

Steven H. Spring