Archive for the ‘SPC Williams and his Howling Commandos’ Category

Was It Something I Said?

August 2, 2008

The kind of people who like to get upset about things are upset about some Muslims trading in Labor Day for the Islamic feast called Eid al-Fitr. (Read the comments. Priceless). So they want to exchange one totalitarian based holiday for another. Big fucking deal. Try talking to your children instead of getting sending outraged emails to people who don’t give a shit. Maybe your kid won’t grow up to be a single mother giving handjobs for drugs in truck-stop parking lots. Maybe.

Now this here story I’m about to unfold took place in the early ’90s – just about the time of our conflict with Sad’m and the I-raqis. I was learning how to savvy the I-raqi language in what, according the Arabs who taught there, was a US Army madrassa.

One of the testing methods was the fabled oral examination. Not nearly as erotic as it sounds. Most folks who have taken a foreign language have had to sit through the awkward exchange of the fluent instructor talking to the student in the native language in much the same way one talks to a small child or a mentally retarded adult.

I always found that having a wee dram or three would help loosen my lingua franca come test time. Like making the sexy talk to women in the bar, speaking Arabic for test purposes is a lot easier with a couple of highballs in the bloodstream. Same principle. It lowers inhibitions and allows one to bullshit with impunity.

One day I’m flop sweating my way through one of these tests, only understanding about a third of the words being asked. The stern faced team of bitter, expatriate Levantines are clearly not impressed with my mastery of their language. They miraculously proceed to ask me a question that I happen to understand. Or at least I presume to. They asked me to tell them a story. Or a joke. I’m still not clear which. The only word I could recognize means BOTH story and joke.  Fucking Semites!

The joke I told went like this: “What does the Chancellor of Germany and an Islamic feast have in common?”

No reaction from Mr. and Mrs. Kill the Infidel.

I went on with an air of desperation, “One is Adolf Hitler and the other is Eid al-Fitr.”

With that, the test was over.  I was relieved to get out of there, regardless of how badly, if you’ll pardon the expression, I bombed.

I just don’t think those folks have much of a sense of humor.


Pulling Out Is Hard To Do

May 28, 2007

Here it is, another Memorial Day.  For a change, I’d like to turn on the news and see more dead televangelists than dead soldiers.  Alas, as I’ve been reminded constantly for the last forty years, You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

The news coverage lately has focused on Congress wanting to pull the financial plug on the Iraq War.  If our national polity were a sitcom, we would find out that Mr. Bush doesn’t know how to balance his check book and the nosy neighbors, Mrs. Pelosi and her dullard husband/submissive, Mr. Reid, have decided to teach him a lesson.  The episode ends with everyone hugging and countless lives being saved.

Or not.

It does remind me of a class I took about the Vietnam War.  Back in the mid-Eighties, many people looked at the Rambo movies as having the same historical gravitas as a Ken Burns documentary.  Every single guy in the class was about to be commissioned as an Army officer, and had to take the class as part of the required course of study.  Many of these guys had fathers who fought and/or died in Vietnam.  The professor was a unrepentant West Coast leftie who delighted in bursting the preconceived notions of his students.

The inevitable clash of cultures happened on a daily basis in the classroom.  Most of these guys were either business or physical education majors.  Having to think on their feet while arguing was not something they were prepared for.  Mostly, they had to memorize laundry lists, bullet points and bold-faced glossary terms in their fields of study.  It was like they had trained to fight a mechanized infantry war in Europe, but wound up fighting a guerilla insurgency in South East Asia.  But, I digress.

The debates in class would go something like this:

Student:  We would have won that durn war if’n the politicians in Congress had let us.

Professor:  How did the politicians stop us from winning the war?  Didn’t they control the military’s purse strings?  How exactly did Congress prevent the troops from “winning”?

Student: [Angry denunciation of the material covered in the textbook.  Change of subject to something like, say, the US won every battle it fought.]

Professor: [Sarcastic Inquiry as to where the student came about his facts and if he could find a source that substantiated any of his claims he should let us all know about it.  Completed the quote about US battlefield victories by saying, “That may be true, but it is also irrelevant.”]

Student:  That’s not how I heard it?

Professor:  Who did you hear it from?

Student:  Um, my dad told me it was all Congress’s fault.

Professor eyes roll 

Me:  Funny, I heard it was your dad’s fault we lost.  (I could be a jerk back then.)

So, here we are decades later and looking at the same argument.  This same guy who got all pissed off in class is now a Major or a Lt. Colonel.  He will be able to tell his children that the reason we lost the war in Iraq is that Congress wouldn’t let us finish the job.  No amount of fuzzy-headed college professors will prove him wrong.

We need to find a way to get out of Iraq with the least amount of bloodshed.  Here’s my plan.

We offer Muqtada al-Sadr and whoever else can’t play nice over there a huge sum of money.  If there is anything those folks respect it is filthy lucre.  Let’s say ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS! They get the cash deposited in a Swiss Bank account if they refrain from violence for six months.  That means their whole group and any other affiliated groups.  It brings a level of peer pressure to the whole affair.  If you know that Khalid’s little scheme of car bombing a market is going to cost you a giant pile of cash, you may be motivated to stop Khalid.  They don’t get a dime until the six months is up.  Any acts of violence in their sphere of influence that goes down before the six months is up, starts the clock all over again.

This will give us time to get the country up and running, with a semblance of stability and the ability to claim victory and get out.  Once we are gone, they can go back to killing each other.  As is the tradition of their One True Religion Of Peace.   Let those fuckers go ape as soon as the last American plane is wheels up and headed West.

So that we don’t wind up funding terrorism, we either Welsh out of the deal and leave them with nothing (and like it) or we scam them out of the money by selling them a bunch of defective weaponry through third parties.

If it means fewer families have to learn what Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori means, so be it.  I’m pretty sure that’s what Memorial Day is supposed to be about.  Not only is it what this country wants, but what it needs.

Sold American

May 24, 2007

Throughout the various stages of our lives, we all have someone we consider to be our best friend.  While I was in the Army, John D. Stephens was my best friend.  I don’t have the bandwidth to start telling the stories from when we were soldiers.  My kids will hear most of the stories eventually and will get tired of them all ending with, “Hilarity ensued.”

Most of the major events of our post-war* lives ran parallel.  There’s a certain Lincoln/Kennedy similarity to it all.  Hell, we started our blogs within a few months of one another without knowing it.

He runs a blog called Isoglossia.  It’s a fancy term for some linguistic thingy or something.**  Anydamnway, JDS is living on this Isoglossia, which may or may not be melting, over in Slovenia.  He teaches English to people who will eventually use it against us.  His site is full of pictures of his handsome children, beautiful wife, old buildings and humorous road signs.  If it were any funnier, you would need a diaper and a Wet Wipe Warmer.

His blog is up for one of those blog awards that look fucking awesome on a mantle, bookshelf, toilet tank, in HTML.  I believe he should win so that we may claim to have unfairly influenced foreign elections.   I’ll let Mr. Stephens make his Jerry Lewisian plea to you directly:

I will get straight to the point. Through what is obviously some sort of clerical error, our website,, has been nominated for an honor awarded by A Fistful OF Euros. This is a reasonably widely-read and -respected Eurocentric blog/news site, so we’re pretty agog at having been one of only five sites nominated in our category (“Best Expatriate Weblog”).

You may have already seen my recent self-promoting post on the topic, and maybe you’ve even already voted. We would be happy to see the prize go to any of the other sites in the running, but of course we’d be happiest of all to see it go to us. The odd thing is that while some categories are attracting large numbers of votes, ours is a relative backwater. This makes it conceivable that we could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat  — we started off dismally last and are currently in a reasonably healthy second place. As it stands now, if just a few dozen additional people cast their votes for us we could edge out the Parisian leader. So anyone you could get to vote for us through word of mouth, cheerleading blog post, or forwarding this email message could make all the difference and save me from having to get all sour-grapesy about the faux glory of What Could Have Been.
This is where you come in.  Get yer ass over to this site and vote immediately.   If you don’t, the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys will have won.
* By “post-war”, I mean six weeks in Kuwait a year or so after all the shooting had stopped.

**I know what it is, but part of our comedic chemistry is that I play the uneducated rustic type who uses his ignorance as a cudgel.  Not much of a stretch, I know.

Home Field Advantage

March 27, 2007

One of the oft-repeated lines justifying out Mid-East Adventure is some derivation of: "Would you rather fight them over there or over here?"  or "We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here."  This form of rationalization is so old it has whiskers.  It was old when it was invoked back in the Vietnam era.

I’ve thought hard about this.  All of the evidence and scenarios have been sufficiently examined.

Yes, I would rather fight them here. 

There’s more of us here.  

There’s more of them over there.

Over here it is pretty obvious who is friend and who is foe.

Over there, it isn’t.

Over here we would be justified in defending ourselves, our freedoms and our country.

Over there, not so much.

Just to be clear, I would have been in favor of going over there in a Blood for Oil swap.  If there’s anything worth trading for oil, it is blood.  People talk about our addiction to oil.  Oil isn’t our drug.  It’s the life blood of the economy.  Sounds like a fair trade.  We lost more men in one day at Iwo Jima than we’ve lost in four years in Iraq.   There wasn’t a drop of oil to be found on that pile of rocks.

Let Bagdhad fall.  Let the Shias and Sunnis wipe each other out.  I don’t care.  Let’s cut a deal with the Kurds, who have a big fat oil reserve they are sitting on, and cut our losses.  Redeploy all of our troops to the newly independent of nation of Kurdistan and let the chips fall where they may.

As long as I can fill up the truck for less than fifty bucks, it’s all good.  Wake me when Muqtada al-Sadr and al-Qaeda storm the beach at Malibu.

On second thought, don’t. 

Just Because

December 20, 2005

Today is the anniversary of the 1989 Invasion of Panama, known by its nom de guerre as Just Cause.  Who can forget where they were on that fateful day?  I was at the USO lounge in the St. Louis airport.  I had just graduated from basic training and was going home for the holidays.  After a hellishly long bus trip from Ft. Leonard Wood, we arrived to find the nitwits at the Today show blathering on about the invasion.  This was a fine way to start my military service. 

Several of the dopier members of our traveling contingent wondered aloud, "Do ya think we might have to go to Panama now?"

"No," I replied. "It is OUR destiny to die on the plains of Armageddon, near the Euphrates River.  So shut up until your flight is ready to depart."

Now sixteen years later, imagine my disappointment of never seeing either Panama or the End Times.   And if Manuel Noriega is looking for work after he gets out of prison, I could use a good supervisor with Spanish speaking skills.


Late Veteran’s Day Post

November 12, 2005

I never get Veteran’s Day off.  One of my pals always takes the day off and goes down to Tootsie’s for a big drunken bash every year during the parade.  I was shocked to see him still coherent later in the afternoon.  If anything the military life teaches you it is discipline and stamina, both key ingriedients for pitching an all-day drunk.  Then there are the folks like me who have to stay on duty and work. 

So I have to imagine what the big drunk fest is like.  I think it probably looks like this:

Walter Sobchak-716393.jpg Walter Sobchak: Whereas what we have here? A bunch of fig-eaters wearing towels on their heads, trying to find reverse in a Soviet tank. This is not a worthy adversary.


Walter Sobchak: Those rich fucks! This whole fucking thing… I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck so that this fucking strumpet…
The Dude: I don’t see any connection to Vietnam, Walter.
Walter Sobchak: Well, there isn’t a literal connection, Dude.
The Dude: Walter, face it, there isn’t any connection.

Welcome To Information Retrieval!

June 1, 2005

Here is a little factoid about me.  I used to be a Enemy Prisoner of War Interrogator.  
Although now I see that has been renamed Human Intelligence
Collector.  That sounds even cooler.  Kind of like Michael
Palin in Brazil

We’ve been getting some bad press lately.   The damn dirty
hippies (or heroic crusading journalists, depending on your point of
view) at Slate
have pulled out all the stops on writing a comprehensive screed on
current interrogation techniques.  It is as in-depth as anything
I’ve seen about this subject.

Here is the important thing to realize from this article.  The
young men and women who we (meaning the U.S. Army, and by extension,
you the taxpayer) have trained to perform this important and stressful
job are trained using Field Manual 34-52
Intelligence Interrogation.  That book is the interrogator’s
bible.  Everything you can and can’t do is outlined in its
pages.    If you read the Slate article, it is pretty
clear that all of the interrogation techniques contained therein are
perfectly legal and humane.  They do not violate anyone’s human
rights or the Geneva Convention. 

However, where we are getting into trouble are the techniques that the
interrogators aren’t trained on, but are implementing using DOD memos and CIA KUBARK
manuals.   These little documents skate on the thin ice of
effective information gathering, public perception and common decency.

Let me tell you how you have been through the same interrogation
techniques as many of these prisoners have endured, and you haven’t
even realized it.  Have you ever bought a new or used car from a
dealership?  Congrats, you are a victim of interrogation
techniques.  Yep, think about it.  They need to get
information (social security number, checking info) from you. 
They dangle the promise of something you want, usually at a price you
aren’t willing to pay.   How many times have you left the
dealership feeling like you got screwed?  You signed something you
really didn’twant to and now your new car purchase seems tainted
somehow.  Well did they offer you soft drinks, water or coffee to
soften you up?  Interrogation technique.  Did they place you
in a small room or cubicle while you dickered about price and
options?  You got it, interrogation technique.  Did they keep
you there for what seemed like forever?  In fact you started to
lose all perception of time after a while, didn’t
you?    Before you know it you are signing your life
away and writing a down payment check for all the money you have in
order to drive off in a vehicle that loses 25% of value as soon as you
leave the lot.  That is how an interrogation works, provide
someone with the incentive to do something or say something they
normally wouldn’t under normal circumstances.

Sure, it makes good TV when the cops on NYPD Blue or the classic Homicide  get
the perp in the box and play mind games with them until they
break.  Sure, that makes for better TV than six hours of watching
someone get financially sodomized  buying a car.  But the
psychological bag of tricks are about the same.

In my view, these sketchy interrogation techniques are
counter-productive.  Sure we get to vent a little frustration at
these stupid cocksuckers who blow up themselves and others in
skyscrapers and cafes.  But are we winning the war by
showing that brutality is the best idea we have for fighting
them?   Ask yourself this, if someone “tortured” or even
humiliated me,  just how helpful am I going to be to them? 
Or would I, in attempting to preserve some dignity, try to fuck them
over with bad info?  What would you do?

Our interrogation professionals need to get a little more creative in
dealing with  religously zealous, brutal terrorists.  
Maybe galvanizing their hatred for our ideals and actions isn’t the
best way to accomplish that mission.