Saturday, March 19, 2016

Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom (table of sources);
Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ (explanation of law and policy, fact basis);
A problem of definition in the Iraq controversy: Was the issue Saddam's regime or Iraq's demonstrable WMD? (historical context);
10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: thoughts (retrospective survey);
Recommendation: How to talk about your Iraq vote (advice to Hillary Clinton).

1. Explanation (link) of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2. Saddam: What We Now Know (link) by Jim Lacey* draws from the Iraq Survey Group (re WMD) and Iraqi Perspectives Project (re terrorism). * Dr. Lacey was a researcher and author for the Iraqi Perspectives Project (link).
3. Security Council Takes Action to End Iraq Sanctions, Terminate Oil-For-Food Programme as Members Recognize ‘Major Changes’ Since 1990 (link) by VP Joe Biden on behalf of the UN Security Council.
4. Withdrawal Symptoms: The Bungling of the Iraq Exit (link) by OIF senior advisor Rick Brennan.
5. How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq (link) by OIF official and senior advisor Emma Sky.



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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Guest post: Defense attorney discusses the legal basis of Operation Iraqi Freedom

PREFACE: This post is by the author of retired blog, Between Worlds. He responds to the "legal analysis" in the Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ with his thoughts on the legal basis for OIF, including discussion on the limitations of international law enforcement and insight from his experience as a defense attorney. Enjoy:

The legal analysis is about the same as my own, although I didn't research primary material. However, I seem to recall that even some mainstream media at the time published analyses that followed a similar line of thought as we have, namely, that Iraq's failure to abide by Resolution 1441, which itself laid down an ultimatum for Iraq's well-documented failure to abide by the resolutions ending hostilities in 1991, was the proximate legal authorization, which can even be seen as revoking the cessation of hostilities as laid out in the 1991 resolutions.

The discrepancy in the political discourse can be chalked up to exactly that: politics. And of course, differences in politics ultimately reflect differences in policy preferences and Weltanschauung--although the prominence of cults of personality, whether against or for a particular person, certainly figures into the discourse as well.

One interesting point you bring up in your blog is the question of burden of proof. My time as a defense attorney has added nuances to my internal discussion. Those who insist that the burden of proof is on the prosecution tend to see international relations as an extension of domestic criminal law, and are uncomfortable with the power of the US to act as law enforcement and judge/jury. I imagine that, from their point of view, those who do the accusing have the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Of course, international relations are nothing like domestic institutions: there are no official legislative, executive and judicial institutions with the power to bind individual states.

Legislative: while statutory international law, in the form of treaties, have a certain binding effect (which the US observes in the breach, by refusing to ratify treaties that may obligate the federal government to legislate in fields where it is not empowered to do so), customary international law does not, other than the fact of its observance--it foists expectations on all nations, and individual states keep count as to who is living up to expectations, and who is not. Yet ultimately, the reality of international relations boils down to the willingness of the powerful to be bound by rules set by the weak. The US, despite its many transgressions, has been extraordinarily willingly to defer to such rules, whereas others, such as Russia, China and even France, tend more aggressively to pursue their national interests, narrowly writ.

Executive: how many divisions does the UN Secretary General have? One of the primary responsibilities of the executive is to send men with guns to enforce the law. The UN has peacekeepers, but they are ad hoc groups assembled for each crisis. There is no global policeman, notwithstanding the longstanding characterization of the US as such. The other primary responsibility is to enforce the law by prosecuting criminal actions against transgressors. The UN does not have its own prosecutors. Uniquely, in international law, prosecution takes place in one of a few international courts, such as the ICJ and the ICC, or in national courts of states that self-proclaim universal jurisdiction, such as Belgium.

Judicial: despite the existence of bodies such as the ICJ and the ICC, many states are not signatories, and may properly refuse to accept their jurisdictions--unless there's something in it for them. The US is not a signatory to the ICC due to fears that its soldiers may become subjects of prosecution brought by various entities. (This may not ultimately be due to lack of confidence in the ICC so much as a desire to maintain the jurisdiction of the UCMJ.) A counterexample is when Serbia ultimately accepted jurisdiction of the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal when it became clear that Milosevic's days were numbered, and the EU would not extend more carrots without such acceptance.

In short, international law simply doesn't work like domestic criminal law. While international law has become more predictable over the years, the fact remains that a recalcitrant state may make an unpredictable move with little if any objection; see, e.g., Russian actions against Georgia and Ukraine, and the Saudi-Iranian proxy war in Yemen.

Even if international law could be shoehorned into the strictures of domestic criminal law, the analogies proffered by those who opposed the war are mistaken. The 2003 US invasion of Iraq is not a fresh encounter between an officer of the law and a criminal suspect analogous to officer-involved shooting incidents that have come to light in the news (Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, etc.). Rather, Iraq was the beneficiary of a suspended sentence handed down by the UN for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraq was essentially haled into court via the Iraq War. The cessation of hostilities was a plea-bargain, where Iraq was placed on probation in exchange for cessation of military hostilities and non-occupation of Iraq. In California, at least, probation is often subject to terms and conditions, which in the case of the end of the 1990-91 Gulf War, were that the Iraqi state had to account for and eliminate all its WMDs and subject certain parts of its territory to no-fly zones. A parallel to California drug laws may be in the form of drug classes (account for and eliminate WMDs) and random searches and drug testing (no fly zones). Continued failure by the Iraqi state to adhere to these terms and conditions meant that the Coalition was not obligated to refrain from renewing hostilities and occupying Iraq. In essence, Resolution 1441 was a "court order" that extended probation and clarified the possible consequences of failure to meet the terms and conditions.

One potential infirmity is that probation is supposed to be for a set term of time. I doubt that the original Gulf War resolutions set a time beyond which WMD inspections would no longer be conducted--meaning that the "probation" was indefinite. Nevertheless, Resolution 1441, as I understand it, cures that infirmity by extending the term of probation--which in California, judges have the power to do when a convict has been found in violation of his probation. The burden of proof in violations cases is probable cause, which is even lower than preponderance of the evidence, a civil court formula awarding victory to the producer of "50%+1" of the evidence. Further, all that was necessary for the "prosecution" to show was that Iraq had failed to cooperate with weapons inspectors; it was not necessary for the "prosecution" to prove that Iraq did have WMDs.

Sorry for the long analysis, but you caught me with a little free time on my hands, so there you go. Feel free to use the material, but please don't use my real name if you do want to use the material. And of course, send me a link if you do use the material.


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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Explaining the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom to a law professor

PREFACE: I responded to University of Utah law professor Chibli Mallat's misrepresentation of the grounds for OIF in his 09NOV15 The Guardian article, Ahmed Chalabi was right that Saddam Hussein had to be removed. Professor Mallat's e-mails in the exchange are omitted.

from: Eric
to: [Professor Mallat]
date: Sat, Nov 21, 2015 at 4:09 PM
subject: Your November 9 article in The Guardian misrepresents the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom

Professor Mallat,

Thank you for the reminder of Mr. Chalabi's worthy motivation to free Iraq and the just cause of deposing Saddam's regime.

At the same time, I would like to address your misrepresentation of the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), in particular that "WMD was the only common platform they could find" and the suggestion that a human-rights basis for the Iraqi regime change was rejected.

Relating a meeting you had with Bush officials in 2002, you state, "the path to war was set. WMD was the only common platform they could find within the administration". In other words, you suggest that the casus belli for OIF was formulated ad hoc in 2002. That suggestion is incorrect.

The reason the WMD issue was given the priority of place in the case against Saddam is the disarmament standard prescribed by UNSCR 687 (1991) was the principal condition of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) mandated for the Gulf War ceasefire. The casus belli for OIF, i.e., Iraq’s material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, was established long before George W. Bush was elected President of the United States - indeed, years before Ahmed Chalabi gave his lecture to Winep in the mid-1990s.

The priority conformed to the policy. The grounds for the Iraq intervention were not “the only common platform they could find within the administration”. Rather, they were "the only common platform" prescribed in the law and policy of the Gulf War ceasefire that was handed down to the Bush administration from the HW Bush and Clinton administrations.

Neither UN Security Council resolution 1441 (2002) nor Public Law 107-243 (2002) was novel. The 2002 documents reiterated the UN-mandated "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" and the US law and policy enforcing the UNSCR 660-series resolutions since 1990-1991. The additions in the 2002 documents were updates and enhancements to standing terms, not novel terms.

Although you recommended a worthy new approach for confronting Saddam in 2002, the Bush administration carried forward the standing basis for enforcing the Gulf War ceasefire that had been established since 1990-1991.

As such, the principal trigger for OIF was the March 2003 UNMOVIC report of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" in violation of UNSCRs 687 (1991) and 1441 (2002), which followed the precedent of the UNSCOM report that triggered Operation Desert Fox in December 1998.

I recommend this explanation of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom drawn from the primary sources of the mission:[.]

You also suggest in the article that a human-rights basis for the Iraqi regime change was rejected by the Bush administration. That suggestion is also incorrect.

In fact, President Bush exercised a robust humanitarian policy on Iraq, which was carried forward from President[s] HW Bush and Clinton’s humanitarian policy on Iraq.

The evidence for your contention is your recommendation for a new "security council resolution based on the human rights record of the Iraqi dictatorship and the need to remove it, plus a security council plan to promote democracy through the deployment of human rights monitors" was turned down in 2002.

Again, the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" for the Gulf War ceasefire was established before 2002. In fact, the UN mandates already included a cornerstone humanitarian component: UNSCR 688 (1991). UNSCR 688 was recalled in UNSCR 1441.

The simplest reason that the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687 were given the priority of place over the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688 is UNSCR 687 is a Chapter VII resolution. UNSCR 688 is not a Chapter VII resolution and, thus, is subject to Article 2 Paragraph 7 of the Charter. (Note: The US controversially justified invasive enforcement measures for UNSCR 688, such as the northern safe zones and no-fly zones, by claiming UNSCR 688 was enforceable under UNSCR 678 (1990), which is a Chapter VII resolution.)

Most significantly, your proposal called directly for Iraqi regime change, which contradicted the operative enforcement framework for the Gulf War ceasefire. The relevant UNSCRs for Iraq - from the original 660 to 1441's "final opportunity to comply" - provided the opportunity for Saddam to prove compliance in order to switch off enforcement. None of the resolutions, including UNSCR 688, called directly for Iraqi regime change. Under the operative enforcement framework, an enforcement response such as OIF was predicated on confirmation of Iraq's noncompliance such as the March 2003 UNMOVIC report of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues".

That being said, distinct from the UN resolutions for Iraq, the humanitarian mandates were valued on par with the disarmament mandates in US law and policy. That meant that while the UN enforcement procedure prioritized the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687 for the casus belli, the US also prioritized the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688, which was reflected in President Bush's approach to the Iraqi regime change and the subsequent UNSC resolutions for the peace operations.

I recommend this selection of the law and policy for[from] the humanitarian grounds for OIF:[.]

I hope my explanation has helped you to better understand the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom and the response by Bush officials to your worthy recommendations in 2002.



from: Eric
to: [Professor Mallat]
date: Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 2:29 PM
subject: Re: Your November 9 article in The Guardian misrepresents the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom

Professor Mallat,

Thank you for your attention to this issue. It's important, most of all for legal scholars, to set the record straight on the 'why' of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

If you were a proponent of the material breach argument in 1998, then President Bush followed your guidance in 2002-2003, to wit, "Resolution 1441 gave Iraq one last chance, one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences" (Powell, 06[05]FEB03) and "The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable" (Bush, 12SEP02).

The view that "the war is being considered illegal, since WMD were found not to be in Iraq, officialy, by the Bush-appointed investigation" may be a popular one, but it is demonstrably incorrect on the law and the facts.

On the law, the assertion that "the war is being considered illegal" is incorrect according to the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). UNMOVIC, not the post-war Iraq Survey Group, provided the determinative fact finding that triggered enforcement. The ISG investigation is post hoc to the decision point for OIF and thus irrelevant to the casus belli for OIF.

According to the law that controlled the operative enforcement framework - i.e., the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" mandated by UNSCR 1441 and enforced under Public Law 107-243 - the UNMOVIC inspections mandated by UNSCR 1441 confirmed that in "[Iraq's] final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations ... Iraq [has been and] remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 ... Recalling that in its resolution 687 (1991) the Council declared that a ceasefire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that resolution, including the obligations on Iraq contained therein" (UNSCR 1441).

The casus belli for OIF was established by the UNMOVIC report ("Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes") that was conveyed to the Security Council on March 7, 2003 with the finding of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" in violation of UNSCR 687. The UNMOVIC findings are dispositive according to the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" for disarmament.

On the facts, the assertion that "WMD were found not to be in Iraq" is incorrect according to - again - the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" for disarmament. The Iraq Survey Group corroborated UNMOVIC's confirmation that Iraq was in violation of UNSCR 687 for casus belli. To wit, on January 28, 2004, David Kay, who preceded Charles Duelfer as head of the Iraq Survey Group, reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee:
"In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point of the Iraq Survey Group, and in fact, that I reported to you in October, Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities -- one last chance to come clean about what it had. We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material."
In fact, the ISG findings are rife with disarmament violations, e.g., "the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories" and "From 1999 until he was deposed in April 2003, Saddam’s conventional weapons and WMD-related procurement programs steadily grew in scale, variety, and efficiency". In other words, ISG found an active program in the IIS that was proscribed under UNSCR 687. You would know better than I about the notoriety of the IIS for its principal role in Saddam's WMD program, terrorist network (which was also a violation of UNSCR 687), and abuse of the Iraqi people.

The political sleight-of-hand behind the popular view that "the war is being considered illegal, since WMD were found not to be in Iraq" is the misdirection from the actual legal-factual basis of the casus belli for OIF - i.e., Iraq's evident[ial] noncompliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" - to focus inappositely on the predictive precision of the pre-war intelligence. However, the pre-war intelligence did not set the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" nor was it a legal element of the casus belli for OIF.

On the substance, Saddam was evident[ial]ly guilty of material breach across the board of the Gulf War ceasefire, especially the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687, terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, and humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688. The real argument that OIF is illegal is not substantive, but rather based on the longstanding procedural dispute in the Security Council over the decision authority for enforcement with Iraq. The procedural dispute over OIF was the same Security Council procedural dispute over the no-fly zones and Operation Desert Fox.

I unpack this issue with greater depth in my answers to "Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq?" [and] "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?", starting at .

Okay. That's enough for one e-mail, Professor. I look forward to further unpacking the legal controversy over the decision for OIF if you'd like. As I said, it's important to set the record straight on the 'why' of OIF. Meanwhile, I recommend again that you review my OIF FAQ explanation of the law and policy, fact basis of the decision for OIF drawn from the primary sources of the mission.

I'll finish this e-mail with an observation: again, there wasn't a new and distinct "Republican platform" formulated in 2002.

Review the Clinton administration's enforcement record with Iraq. President Clinton, not President Bush, is actually the best source for understanding the 'why' of OIF. Bush's case against Saddam was really Clinton's case against Saddam, updated from 9/11. Likewise, Bush's enforcement procedure with OIF carried forward Clinton's enforcement procedure for Iraq, updated from Operation Desert Fox, the penultimate military enforcement step.

In that regard, the position in your November 9 article that the Bush administration dropped the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) is incorrect. PL 105-338 was raised in the preamble of the 2002 AUMF (Public Law 107-243). More significantly, in the operative portion of the 2002 AUMF, section 7 of PL 105-338 was raised in section 4 of PL 107-243.

As I said, the 2002 documents were not novel. UNSCR 1441 and PL 107-243 reiterated the standing terms of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement. The reason that section 7 rather than section 3 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 was raised in the operative portion of 2002 AUMF is President Bush pointedly did not call for direct Iraqi regime change, contrary to your impression from your 2002 meetings. The controlling law and policy are clear that Iraqi regime change would be triggered by confirmation of Iraq's material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire.

That being said, after 12 years of Saddam's intransigence, your impression from your 2002 meetings follows that few US (and UN) officials realistically expected Saddam would reverse course by proving the "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions" mandated by UNSCR 1441. Nevertheless, President Bush made sure that Saddam was provided a full "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) in order to switch off enforcement. Unfortunately, Saddam, as expected, responded to his "final opportunity to comply" with "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" (UNMOVIC) in violation of UNSCR 687, which triggered the credible threat of regime change and then section 7 of PL 105-338 via section 4 of PL 107-243.



from: Eric
to: [Professor Mallat]
date: Tue, Dec 1, 2015 at 4:14 PM
subject: Re: Your November 9 article in The Guardian misrepresents the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom

Professor Mallat,

I'm hoping you will. [Note: I am responding to the remark, "You should consider writing a book about this."]

By showing you my work with the primary sources it's based on, I'm hoping to inspire you to invest your personage in setting the record straight on the why of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) for policy makers and the public.
In your November 9 article, you expressed that deposing Saddam's terrorist regime was right from a human-rights perspective (albeit you've evidently misunderstood the operative enforcement framework, including the humanitarian grounds, for the Iraq intervention). As a human-rights advocate, I trust you to understand why it's critical to de-stigmatize OIF in order to re-normalize the paradigm of 'strong horse' American leadership of the free world that manifested with OIF.

Excerpt from the answer to "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom a strategic blunder or a strategic victory?":
"Misinformation and mischaracterization have distorted the public's understanding of the context, stakes, and achievements of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement that President Bush carried forward from President Clinton and the groundbreaking peace operations by the US military in post-Saddam Iraq. The corrupted public perception of the Iraq mission has enabled President Obama's elementary, catastrophic errors, undermined the enforcement of international norms, and curtailed the further development of peace operations."
In other words, there currently is a taboo bolted onto the 'strong horse' type of American leadership needed to enforce liberal standards in less-than-permissive situations like Saddam's Iraq. The taboo is premised on a stigma derived from demonstrably false premises about OIF, such as "the war is being considered illegal, since WMD were found not to be in Iraq". If you wish to break the taboo and free America to lead liberally again like we led against Saddam's terrorist regime, then it's critical for you to set the record straight on OIF at the premise level of the zeitgeist.



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Sunday, February 22, 2015

New York Times writer posits "Thank you for your service" is offensive to veterans. I disagree.

Byron Wong at bigWOWO asks:
Hey Eric,

I just saw this:

I'd be interested in your opinion. Could you blog about it? (I usually don't request this, but I think lots of people might also be interested.) All considered, I think the vets are right about those who don't serve--it's what you're supposedly supposed to say, without any kind of thought.


I was a soldier and, thus, I will always be a veteran. I have advocated for veterans in the civilian-military context. I have been thanked for my military service, so I have some insight on the topic. That being said, I qualify my reactions to Matt Richtel's article with I am not a 9/11-generation war veteran and even if I were, veterans are opinionated individuals with diverse takes on being thanked for their military service.


_Mr. Richtel's article would have been better rounded had he teamed with a thoughtful veteran, preferably a contemporary 9/11-generation war veteran, as a co-author.

Nonetheless, the perfect is the enemy of the good. I encourage people like Mr. Richtel to explore, however imperfectly, veterans issues from the civilian side of the civilian-military divide. His article implies that veterans prefer a social firewall to shut off acknowledgement and conversation from civilians who are not members of the American military fraternity and lack the basic framework to understand it. Perhaps some veterans feel like that. Not all do. I don't believe most veterans feel like that. I take a different tack. In college, creating a vital civilian-military cultural interface was one of my foundational reasons for starting MilVets. Bridging the civilian-military divide has carried forward as a core element of MilVets' mission on campus and, for years, the group has been almost entirely 9/11-generation war veterans.

_The response from Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried, highlights a key point that I feel strongly about, too: the politics of war matter to veterans.

We know when we volunteer that selfless service and sacrifice, potentially of our lives, are part of the deal. They're core elements of American military heritage. By oath, we trust up front that our nation's leaders will invest our lives in worthy causes. That doesn't mean, however, soldiers don't care about the politics of war. Of course they care; they live the wars and stake their lives in them. It mattered to me why my fellow American soldiers and I should potentially die defending Koreans from Koreans. The same question has been asked about the wisdom of Americans dying to defend Vietnamese from Vietnamese, Somalis from Somalis, Iraqis from Iraqis, Afghanis from Afghanis, and possibly someday, (Taiwanese) Chinese from (mainland) Chinese. The question really is one of fundamental premise: should America be a 'leader of the free world' at all that stakes the lives of America's sons and daughters for the sake of other peoples across distant shores.

Other than outliers like Ehren Watada, the politics of war take a backseat for soldiers while they're engrossed with the tasks, conditions, and standards of the mission at hand, and keeping their men, their buddies, and themselves sound. But the why and the outcome of the war matter very much to veterans when they reflect on their experiences, contextualize them in narrative form, and weigh the consequences for their own lives, their families, their comrades, their country, the people over there, and the world.

What categorically separates 'good' wars from 'bad' wars is the prevailing narrative of the why and outcome. While the wars viewed as honorable in the zeitgeist are just as harsh in their ground and personal effects as the wars viewed as dishonorable, the prevailing narrative sets the contextual frame that colors the social value of a veteran's military service. For that reason, it's critical for the sake of Iraq veterans to correct the political distortions of the law and policy, fact basis - the why - of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Setting the record straight in the zeitgeist is most important for the young children of our KIA in Iraq who will only ever know their father or mother through the prism of the cultural legacy of the Iraq War.

_How have I personally felt when I've been thanked for my military service? A bit awkward.

The conventional responses to "Thank you", such as "No problem" or "You're welcome", don't squarely fit because overseas military service, generally speaking, is a national security action in the global context for the sake of the collective us. National security (i.e., national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests of the United States) is not the same thing as homeland security. Overseas military service is not a direct conveyance from American soldier to American (civilian) citizen, unlike say, a Coast Guard sailor or National Guard soldier who directly engages fellow Americans while serving on a search-and-rescue, peacekeeping, or disaster relief mission in the homeland. The good of my service in a national security mission in Korea to my fellow Americans was collective, indirect, and largely abstract.

As such, I would advise veterans who feel cynical like Hunter Garth to not interpret the statement, "Thank you for your service", from the viewpoint of their personal relationship with the thanker. Instead, they ought to adopt a more social view that a citizen on behalf of the nation is expressing civic appreciation to a soldier or veteran as a representative of the military's greater contribution to the collective us as the American nation.

The same civic concept underlies the "any soldier" letters from American schoolchildren that are distributed randomly to soldiers serving overseas. As a 20-something soldier in Korea, I felt awkward and vaguely objectified receiving a handwritten letter from a 4th grader in Ohio thanking me, too. The letter wasn't to me, though. It was to an American soldier serving over there and I was an American soldier serving over there.

I summarized the abstract social value of military service and the civic appreciation thereof in my biography statement for MilVets:
It truly is selfless service – a lot of love and pride goes into soldiering. It doesn’t matter why someone joins or where he came from, or how much he enjoys (or suffers) his duties. It doesn’t matter who’s making the tough decisions in the White House. Soldiers are part of a heritage that is older, deeper and more essential than the republic for which they sacrifice. Soldiers are of the people. They are the primal embodiment of the social contract we make with each other to be a civilization.

Now, and in all times, our soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen deserve the American people’s gratitude and understanding.
My summary for MilVets followed from the way I had counseled the new soldiers assigned to my care: You're a professional soldier of the United States Army now. Never forget that on your chest, you are telling the world at all times what you represent - your country, your Army, your family.

In my opinion, when a veteran is being thanked for his service by someone who has not served, likely will never serve, and doesn't know what it's like, the proffer of gratitude is not attuned to the veteran's individual service experience. But the expression is not meaningless. The veteran is being thanked by a fellow countryman less for his own sake than as an affirmation of something essential the veteran is part of that is bigger, deeper, and older than himself, that in fact is deeper and older than the American nation. He should accept it as a civic cultural ritual and not reject it as an unintended affront. The thank-you is not personal. It's for "any soldier" and the veteran represents "any soldier" who has served bearing his country, his Army, his family name over his heart.

Perhaps formulating a ritualistic response for veteran thankees would help alleviate the awkwardness of being thanked for our service. I suggest responding with "It was an honor", which deflects the individual aspect and focuses the exchange, instead, on the timeless collective aspect of military service.


To expand a bit on my post, "Thank you for your service" is viewed properly as a civic cultural ritual rather than a unique transaction between individuals. As with any ritual, though, "Thank you for your service" functions only when the meaning and context of the ritual are mutually understood and the underlying ethic is shared by its participants. As ritual, the key pieces currently missing are, one, a common cultural understanding of "Thank you for your service" as an affirmation of a fundamental social value rather than a comment on an individual experience and, two, a formulaic ritual response by the veteran thankee. I suggest the response, "It was an honor", to focus on the timeless collective aspect instead of the particular individual aspect of the veteran's military service.

As analogy, the ritual of the Eucharist is not a quick, thoughtless, throwaway substitute for the spectrum of Catholicism. Rather, the brief ritual is an entry point for the larger clockwork of believing and practicing the faith. "Thank you for your service", properly understood and practiced, should function similarly within a larger clockwork of (secular) civilian-military relations. When the context of the ritual of the Eucharist is subtracted, then the Communion bread becomes just a piece of wheat bread. Ritual context should be added to "Thank you for your service".



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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quick reaction to the proposed AUMF against ISIS

See Letter from the President -- Authorization for the Use of United States Armed Forces in connection with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, 11FEB15.

As previously discussed, the President already possesses the legal authority needed to conduct the anti-ISIS counter-terrorism campaign, which is not the same as a nation-v-nation war, such as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The President's counter-terrorism authority is rooted in Article II of the Constitution, not statutory authority, which has been affirmed by Congress since the Clinton administration. The proposed AUMF is for policy and political reasons, not for legal authority, although it may be legally useful for an anti-ISIS action on territory where the local nation opposes the action.

Repealing the 2002 AUMF (Public Law 107-243) would have limited impact since it was oriented on the threat posed by Iraq when Iraq meant Saddam's regime. At the same time, the 2002 AUMF was already redundant in terms of enforcing Iraq's compliance with the body of United Nations Security Council resolutions that set the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire. From the standpoint of the threat posed by Saddam's regime, there was closure on the 2002 AUMF since Saddam's regime is gone and the UN Security Council determined in 2010 that Iraq was largely in compliance with the UNSCRs. However, the UNSCRs for Iraq contain the overarching mandate to "restore international peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 678) and an argument can be proffered that UNSCR 2170 (2014) reactivated the authority of Public Law 107-243, which also contains a counter-terrorism character.

If the 2002 AUMF is repealed, the 1991 AUMF (Public Law 102-1) and sections 1095 and 1096 of Public Law 102-190 (1991) are still in effect. As far as I know, the UN authorization that P.L. 102-1 is predicated on, UNSCR 678 (1990), remains active, which means the US continues to be authorized "to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 678).

After the regime change of 2003, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338), which mandated the post-war peace operations, moved to the forefront, and since the end of 2008, the US-Iraq relationship has been guided by the 2008-2011 Status of Forces Agreement and the overarching guidelines of the long-term Strategic Framework Agreement. Notice that President Obama did not propose an end-date for the SFA nor whatever SOFA he adopted with Iraq in 2014. Iraq-specific Public Law 102-1, sections 1095 and 1096 of Public Law 102-190, Public Law 105-235 (1998), and Public Law 105-338, counter-terrorism statutes Public Law 104-132 (1996) and Public Law 107-40 (2001), and of course, Article II of the Constitution have not been repealed, either.

There will be no repeat of Operation Iraqi Freedom because this time, the US is working with Iraq as an ally, not resolving a threat by Iraq as an enemy with noncompliant Saddam. President Obama's depiction of the mission for US forces in the anti-ISIS campaign seems similar to the mission envisioned had a residual US force stayed in 2011 to assist Iraqi forces. It's like Obama is taking a mulligan on the error of prematurely removing US peace-operation forces from Iraq. Of course, Iraq's condition now is very different than it was before Obama disengaged from Iraq. What would have been sufficient from a residual US force to protect Iraq then is likely no longer sufficient now.

Add: Legal analysis of the proposed AUMF at National Review and Lawfare blog. A balanced look at the conflicted nature of the proposed AUMF.



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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An appeal to indict the Saddam regime for genocide (1997)

Note: The below text is copied from here. I post it with the qualifications that there seems to be no web presence for the "Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights - UK" nor have I found an official citation of this appeal in searchable United Nations on-line records. Nonetheless, whether or not it was a formally entered appeal with the UN, the content is a useful reference.

An Appeal to Indict the Iraqi Regime for Crimes of Genocide


His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, New York.

Members of the Security Council:
Ambassador Juan Somavia (Chile)
Ambassador Qin Huasun (China)
Ambassador Fernando Berrocal Soto (Costa Rica)
Ambassador Dr Nabil A. Elaraby (Egypt)
Ambassador Alain Dejammet (France)
Ambassador Alfredo Lopes Cabral (Guinea-Bissau)
Ambassador Hishashi Owada (Japan)
Ambassador Njuguna M. Maahugu (Kenya)
Ambassador Dr. Z. Bigniew M. Wlosowicz (Poland)
Ambassador Pedro Catarino (Portugal)
Ambassador Park Soo Gil (Republic of Korea)
Ambassador Sergey V. lavrov (Russia)
Ambassador Peter Osvaald (Sweden)
Ambassador Sir John Weston (United Kingdom)
Ambassador Bill Richardson (USA)

The Iraqi regime has perpetrated many crimes against the people of Iraqi Kurdistan, most of them are considered as crimes of genocide as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 9th December, 1948 which was approved by Iraq on 20th January, 1959. Some examples of the criminal acts committed by the Iraqi regime against the Kurdish people during the last three decades are the destruction of the Kurdish villages and the policy of ethnic cleansing, by the mass deportation of the Kurds and the settlement of Arab tribes in their place, public execution, mass murder, internment, the confiscation of property, torture, rape, large-scale disappearances, the systematic humiliation and demoralisation of individuals and groups of people and the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population.

This programme of destruction has been condemned by the international organisations concerned with human rights and especially those which have conducted research into the documents found in the Security Service and Intelligence departments in Kurdistan, after the uprising of March 1991. Several tons of these documents are in the library of the U.S. Congress in Washington.

The Security Council has already condemned the inhuman politics of the Iraqi regime in its Resolution No. 688 of 5th April 1991. The General Assembly of the U.N. has also passed many resolutions concerning the situation of human rights in Iraq, in particular Resolution No. 46/134, of 17th December 1991, Resolution No. 47/145 of 18th December 1992, Resolution No. 48/144 of 20th December 1993 and Resolution No. 49/203 of 23rd December 1994.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has also passed resolutions concerning the situation of human rights in Iraq:

1. E/CN. 1991/74, 6th March 1991.
2. E/CN. 1992/71, 5th March 1992.
3. E/CN. 1993/74. 10th March 1993.
4. E/CN. 4/1994/74, 9th March 1994.
5. E/CN. 4/1997/60, 9th March 1997.

The Sub-Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities also passed the following resolutions on the situation of human rights in Iraq:

1. E/CN. 4/1994/2, E/CN. 4/Sub. 2/1993/520, 20th August 1994.
2. E/CN. 4/1995/2, E/CN. 4/Sub. 2/1994/56, 25th August 1994.

Max van der Stoel, the special reporter for the Commission on Human Rights of the U.N. has submitted many reports which also condemn the Iraqi regime:

1. E/CN. 4/1992/31, 18th February 1992.
2. E/CN. 4/1993/45. 15th February 1993.
3. E/CN. 4/1994/58, 25th February 1994.
4. E/CN. 4/1995/56, 15th February 1995.
5. E/CN. 4/1997/57, 18th February 1997.

We can give here some examples of the criminal acts committed by the Iraqi regime which constitute genocide according to the international conventions:

A. The destruction of thousands of villages and small cities and the murder of their inhabitants.

The Iraqi regime began the destruction of the villages close to the Iranian border at the beginning of 1975, and followed this with the destruction of the villages near the Turkish border, and then those on the plains of Kurdistan which are far from the international border. The inhabitants of these villages and small towns were forced into concentration camps situated near the large cities or main roads. They were built especially for them and lacked even the barest necessities and facilities for basic living. These concentration camps were similar to those built by the Nazis during the Second World War which were administered by the Secret Services.

Those rural areas of Iraqi Kurdistan which were destroyed, represented more than 80% of the Kurdish agricultural land which supplied most of Iraq with food. The area was converted into a military zone "prohibited for security reasons". This operation was at its height during the years of the Anfal campaign. "Anfal" was the code-name given to the regime's policy of eliminating the Kurds and it was carried out in three stages during 1987 and 1988. The legal framework for the Anfal campaign was established in a decree, signed by Saddam Hussein, dated March 29th, 1987, in the name of the Revolutionary Command Council, which is the highest legislative and executive authority in Iraq and is composed of all the most powerful figures of the regime. This decree gave, to Ali Hassan Al-Majid, the cousin of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, absolute power over all civilian, military and security institutions and the authority to use chemical weapons. The aim of the Anfal campaign was to force the inhabitants of most Kurdish villages in the Governorates of Kirkuk, Sulaimania, Arbil, Duhok and the Kurdish districts in the Governorate of Mosul and Dyala to leave their villages and surrender themselves to the military or Secret Service. Orders were given to clear the area completely. To this end, any person encountered by the forces was to be immediately executed and any who surrendered were to be handed over to the Security Services. Some of the villagers managed to escape to the borders, but most were obliged to surrender. They were later taken to the desert in the south of Iraq where they were killed by machine-gun and buried alive. The number killed in the three Anfal operations is put at 182,000 Kurds. In May 1991, when asked by a Kurdish delegate to the peace negations in Baghdad, Ali Hassan Al-Majid nervously said, " it couldn't have been more than 100,000"!

These Anfal operations and other previous operations from the mid- 1970s resulted in the destruction of 3,839 Kurdish villages, including many Assyrian christian villages. There were, in these destroyed villages, 1757 primary schools and 2457 mosques, many old monasteries and churches and 271 clinics. 219,828 Kurdish and Assyrian families were deported and, in rural Kurdish society, a "family" would include at least five people. The magnitude of this destruction clearly demonstrates the intention of the Iraqi regime to destroy totally the Kurdish entity.

(B) The policy of ethnic cleansing by the Arabization of some regions of Kurdistan.

The Iraqi regime began its policy of ethnic cleansing in the Governorate of Kirkuk when the Ba'athist regime came to power in February 1963. This policy began in the Kirkuk region because of its oil fields and rich farm lands. It became the policy of each succeeding government and has been extended to include the region of Kanakeen (in Dyala Governorate) and Makhmur (in Arbil Governorate) and the Kurdish districts (in Mosul Governorate). It was carried out in a two-fold process, each stage complementing the other.

In the first phase of this process the Kurds were forced to move out of these areas. The second phase was accomplished by bringing thousands of Arab families from central and southern Iraq and settling them in these areas. They were provided with housing and were employed in various installations or in the repressive government machine, such as the military, the intelligence, the security service, the Ba'ath party organisation and the "Popular Army", etc..

Here are some examples of the policy as implemented in the Kirkuk Governorate:

1. The destruction of 13 Kurdish villages near the city of Kirkuk in mid-1963, in particular those near the oil fields.

2. The expulsion of all the Kurds living in 34 Kurdish villages which were under the jurisdiction of the sub-district of Dubz - now Arabized to Al-Dibiss - and the resettling of those villages with Arab tribes.

3. Changing the name of the Kirkuk Governorate to the Arabic "Al- T'ameem" (meaning nationalisation), with the aim of obliterating the name it had held throughout a thousand years of history. At the same time the regime changed the names of the Kurdish quarters, streets and schools to Arabic names and forced the owners of commercial establishments to change the names to Arabic.

4. Between 1970 and 1990, 732 Kurdish villages with their 493 schools, 598 mosques and 40 clinics were destroyed in this Governorate. 37,726 Kurdish families were deported.

5. The city and the surrounding area was converted into a large military camp and fortification. Its historic castle was turned into a military fort.

6. A major step in the process of the Arabization of Kirkuk was the settling of tens of thousands of Arab families, in successive waves, with guaranteed housing and jobs. Parallel to this, the regime announced the grant of a monetary gift or bonus to any Kurd who would leave Kirkuk, in addition to securing housing for him in southern or central Iraq. During this time more than ten new quarters were built in the city for "new Arab settlers". Many new quarters with Arab names were built for these new settlers.

7. All low-ranking civil servants, including Kurdish elementary and secondary school teachers, as well as workers in various government departments and in the oil company facilities, were transferred to areas outside the Kirkuk Governorate and replaced with Arab civil servants and workers.

8. The Kurds were forbidden to sell their homes and properties except to Arabs and were prevented from buying homes and property under any circumstances. The city administration refused to grant any "building permit" or "permit to renovate" to Kurds even if their homes were badly in need of renovation, in order to force them to sell their homes or to abandon them and move out of the city. From the early eighties, this policy was applied to the Turkman minority also.

9. Four out of the seven districts of the Governorate of Kirkuk were detached from it and attached to the neighbouring Governorates, in order to make the Kurds a minority in the Kirkuk Governorate.

Today, tens of thousands of Kurdish families from Kirkuk live in tents and camps in the region controlled by the Kurds in extremely harsh conditions, resulting in the deaths of many, especially among the children and the elderly. For the most part, they depend for their survival on assistance from relief organisations and international aid.

This same policy of deportation continues to this day. In May and June 1997, more than 3000 Kurds were deported from the city of Kirkuk and its environs in preparation for a government census in October 1997. The names of most of these people are in our possession.

In other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan still under the control of the Iraqi regime, the same policy was enforced. Kurds in all these areas were forced to register themselves as Arabs, under the threat of expulsion from these areas if they failed to do so by the time of the Census.

The expelled Kurds wish to return to their homelands in their cities and villages under the protection of the United Nations.

C- The deportation of tens of thousands of Kurdish Shi'ite families to Iran.

In 1971 the regime designated many groups, mainly Shi'ite Kurds living in Baghdad and other cities in central Iraq, as Iranian and deported them to Iran. This operation increased during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 to 1988. All their personal belongings were confiscated, including their Iraqi nationality papers and passports. Most of these people and many of their parents and grandparents were born in Iraq before the creation of the state of Iraq in 1921. Many of them had completed their national service in Iraq. According to figures supplied by the Red Cross, they numbered about 400,000. They were deported in a most inhuman way. Taken by the Security Services to the Iranian border, they were forced to walk many miles in the cold weather, without food, during the war between Iraq and Iran. Their journey took several days and some were killed in the crossfire between the warring factions or by land- mines. In addition to children and old people there were, among them, pregnant women and physically and mentally disabled people.

The Iraqi authorities incarcerated more than 4,000 young people from among these deportees and, to this day, their families have no knowledge of their whereabouts as the Iraqi authorities did not give their names to the Red Cross or to any other organisation. Their families desperately wish to know what has happened to their children.

Some of these deportees now live in Europe and elsewhere as refugees, but most remain in Iran, living in abject poverty and considered neither as refugees in Iran nor as Iranian but as "Iraqi"! These people also wish to return to the land of their birth and to be compensated for their loss.

D. The use of chemical weapons on the Kurdish city of Halabja.

On 17th March, 1988, the city of Halabja, originally with a population of 70,000, was bombarded with cyanide, mustard gas and nerve gas by Iraqi military aircraft. The result was the death of more than 5000 civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly. About 10,000 more were injured and the bombardment devastated the entire area. No life remained. This was the first time in history that a government had used chemical weapons against its own civilian citizens.

In reality, the city of Halabja was not the only place on which chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi regime. Before this incident, many beautiful Kurdish villages in the sub-district of Aghjalar in Kirkuk Governorate, in the sub-district of Karadagh in Sulaimania Governorate, the valley of Balissan in Arbil Governorate and other villages in Duhok Governorate were also attacked. But the attack on a large city such as Halabja, under the direct orders of Saddam Hussein and without condemnation by the international community, encouraged the further use of chemical weapons in the mid-1990s against the marsh Arabs of southern Iraq.

In this criminal way the regime continued to kill hundreds of Kurdish Peshmerga (fighters), on many occasions when there was a general amnesty in force and they had surrendered their weapons. Hundreds of other young Kurds were tortured to death or killed after appearing before a formal tribunal. Some of them were children under fifteen years of age. After the uprising of March 1991, many mass graves were discovered near the cities of Arbil and Sulaimania where the corpses of whole family groups, including children, were found.

We consider these crimes to be genocide, committed deliberately by the Iraqi regime throughout three decades, in an attempt to eliminate more than four million Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan.

It was not only the Kurds who suffered at the hands of the regime. A great many Iraqis were subjected to a campaign of torture and mass execution, especially following the uprising of March 1991 in the Shi'ite cities and marshes of southern Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war 1980-1988, chemical weapons were used extensively against Iranian military targets, and Iranian cities were regularly bombarded with artillery, aircraft and ballistic missiles not aimed at specific military targets. Later, on August 2, 1990, the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait in direct violation of Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter. The regime's obvious intention was the destruction of the sovereignty of the Kuwaiti state.

The perpetrators of all these crimes must be punished by the international community as were those of Nazi Germany, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, etc..

We appeal to the Security Council to create an international tribunal, or to extend the competence of the existing War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, to bring the "higher echelons" of the Iraqi regime to justice.

1. The National Union of Teachers in Kurdistan.
2. The Farmworkers Union of Kurdistan.
3. The Artists Union of Kurdistan.
4. The Photographers Union of Kurdistan.
5. The Union of Agricultural Workers of Kurdistan.
6. The General Workers Union of Kurdistan.
7. The Engineering Union of Kurdistan.
8. The Association of the Clergy in Kurdistan.
9. The Association of Lawyers in Kurdistan.
10. The Association of Economists in Kurdistan.
11. The Association of Technical Engineers.
12. The Students' Union of Kurdistan.
13. The Association of Sociologists in Kurdistan.
14. The Association of War Veterans.
15. The Association of Cultural Workers.
16. The Organisation for Child Welfare in Kurdistan.
17. The Organisation for Graduates in Law in Kurdistan.
18. The Union of Veterinary Surgeons.
19. The Union of Doctors of Medicine.
20. The Union of Chemists and Pharmacists.
21. The Centre for the Care and Protection of Orphans.
22. The Christian Centre of Kurdistan.
23. The Association of Retired Workers.
24. The Union of Geologists.
25. The Union of Nurses and Ancillary Staff.
26. The Civil Service Union.
27. The Union of Working Women.
28. The Union of `Women Social Democrats in Kurdistan.
29. The Women's' Union of Kurdistan.
30. The Kurdistan Islamic Sisters Union.
31. The Salah Hawramy's Cultural Centre in Kurdistan.
32. The Democratic Youth Union in Kurdistan.
33. The Kurdistan Socialist Democracy Student and Youth Union.
34. The Union of Students of Zahmatkeshan of Kurdistan.
35. The Union of Women of Zahmatkeshan of Kurdistan.
36. The Social and Cultural Association of the Governorate of Kirkuk.
37. Ezidi's Centre Abroad.
38. The Labour Party for Independent Kurdistan - European Section.
39. The Kurdish Human Rights Organisation - Sweden.
40. SKKMR - Sweden.
41. The Islamic Union of Kurdistan - British Section.
42. The Kurdish Information Centre - London.
43. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights`- New York.
44. The Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights - U.K.

Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights - UK
London, September 18, 1997


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Thursday, January 01, 2015

hail and farewell to another year

That was quick. Happy New Year.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Army all-weather coat

Excerpt from pages 128 to 129 of DA PAM 670–1 • 2 December 2014:

20–7. Coats, black, all-weather (male and female)
a. Type. The black, all-weather coat is a clothing bag issue item.
b. Description. The black, all-weather coat is made of polyester/cotton (65/35) in Army shade 385. The coat is a sixbutton, double-breasted model with a belt, convertible collar that buttons at the neck, gun flap, shoulder loops, adjustable sleeve straps, welt pockets with two inside hanging pockets, and zip-out liner. The back of the coat has a yoke and center vent. The coat is one-quarter lined with basic material; the sleeve lining is made of nylon taffeta (see fig 20–7). There is no wear-out date for the interim version of the double-breasted coat made from polyester/cotton (50/50).

Figure 20–7. Army black all-weather coat with officer insignia

c. How worn. Personnel may wear the all-weather coat with or without the liner. They will wear the coat buttoned, except for the neck closure, which personnel may wear open or closed (unless otherwise prescribed by this pamphlet). Male and female coats are buttoned and belted from opposite directions. The black scarf is authorized for wear with the all-weather coat. Personnel may wear the coat with the service, dress, mess, hospital duty, and food service uniforms. The black, all-weather coat is authorized for wear with utility uniforms only in a garrison environment when personnel have not been issued organizational rain gear. Officers wear nonsubdued pin-on grade insignia on the shoulder loops of this coat. Noncommissioned officers wear shoulder marks on the shoulder loops. Enlisted personnel wear nonsubdued grade insignia on the collars. When the grade insignia is removed from the coat, personnel may wear the coat with civilian clothing.

The basic design of the Army all-weather coat has not changed since at least World War 2, though the regulation color at that time was khaki, not black. It was worn in the field during World War 2, which is no longer the case. The modern place of the Army all-weather coat is with the sterile wear of fastidious Class A and Class B uniforms rather than the rough wear of rugged Class C uniforms. While its basic design has not changed since World War 2, I guess the contemporary construction of the Army all-weather coat is no longer rugged enough for wear in the field.

Due to the suggestive name and military origin of the coat, a common assumption is the gun flap below the right shoulder is related to firearm use, perhaps a vestige of a pocket for a pad to cushion the butt of a rifle. Actually, the gun flap covers the open edge of the convertible collar when buttoned at the neck to keep water from running inside the coat. It may be called a gun flap because raising the right arm, such as when using a rifle, tends to open a gap between collar and coat that lets in water. The gun flap is also called a storm flap, which better indicates its purpose. Closing the convertible collar does a good job holding body heat in the cold as well as keeping water out in wet weather.

The common name for the Army all-weather coat is the trench coat, derived from its use in the trenches of World War 1. More on the history of the trench coat here.



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Friday, December 12, 2014

Thoughts of the day

The precepts of the law | are these | to live correctly | to do an injury to none | and to render to every one his own | Justinian (source)

Incisive article on how the Left took over the Democratic party. (h/t) Also applies to the alt-Right and the GOP.

Kyle Orton criticizes the Obama Doctrine. David Hazony's take on the "Mind of Obama". Michael Doran connects the dots on "Obama's Secret Iran Strategy".

Against the tide, Waltz and Woodrow Moss explain Five Reasons Why Cooperating With Moscow On Syria Is A Bad Idea at War on the Rocks. The problem is their 5 reasons assume a paradigm that's obviated by the stigma applied to OIF, which manifested the principles of American leadership of the free world that characterize their article. I tried to give the 'right of center natsec' faction the necessary key to re-lay the foundation of the political discourse so they could argue for everything else, but they 'blocked' my attempts to help them. Instead, they've conceded the demonstrably false keystone premise that fundamentally undermines their sophisticated arguments.

With the OIF paradigm cut off politically, Sam Heller implicates the feckless approach by the Obama administration and lays out the stark choices for the US "proxy war" with Syria. Faysal Itani offers a prescription to the Syria crisis that recalls the OIF Surge yet while skirting the direct military presence at the core of the OIF Surge.

Austin Mackell notes stigmatization of the Iraq intervention, a mission which he opposed, prevents peace operations with Syria and Libya, which he advocates.

The US is circling back to the UNSCR 687 disarmament process with Assad and facing the same Russian-led obstacles we faced enforcing disarmament with Saddam.

Trump is the Kremlin's man according to John Schindler here and here. And Clint Watts here.

RAND: The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model. (h/t)

Richard Landes on own-goal journalism and cogwar. (h/t)

At War on the Rocks, Alex Weisiger and Keren Yarhi-Milo write What American Credibility Myth? How and Why Reputation Matters.

The cyber/information war is underrated, effective, and especially scary for technology unsophisticates.

Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith argues President Obama adopted President Bush's Iraq doctrine. However, I disagree with Goldsmith that the legal basis for OIF was preemptive defense. The legal basis for OIF was Saddam's breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, in which the defense element was baked into the ceasefire. Therefore, although the reason was cited, it was not the legal procedural basis for the action.

University of Texas at Austin professor Will Inboden fisks Jean Edward Smith's propaganda-laden hit-piece biography of President Bush. Notably, Inboden overlooks France's long complicity with Saddam's breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, including assurances that France would prevent military enforcement of the ceasefire mandates, and Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" (IPP).

I'm disappointed that independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin doesn't understand the legal-factual basis of the Iraq intervention.

Thought-provoking article by journalist Jon Foreman, Does US Foreign Aid Really Do Good.

Inconvenient Questions about complaints about the Trump campaign in the historical context by GMU economics professor Tyler Cowen at his blog, Marginal Revolutions.

Professional publication advice from USN CDR Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong. (h/t) Follow-up.

Brian Dunn's contemporary reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

Comparison of the team culture of the Spurs, Heat, Lakers, and Rockets. Update: Duncan, the core of the Spurs' culture, retired and Wade abruptly left the Heat for the Bulls over a contract disagreement. Similarly, Durant, a "founding father" of the Thunder, unexpectedly left for the Warriors.

Tiger Woods is an introvert who's out of sync with the world around him and wants a synchronized vibe.

Insightful: "And that’s how shy introverts succeed – they perform."

A Gen-X perspective on social changes since the 1990s.

40 thoughts on turning 40. Tim Duncan retired at age 40.

An endorsement of strong, willfully obedient wives, which sounds like the captain, first-officer (first sergeant) model.

Interesting search and rescue page by an eclectic individualist.

PhD candidate Zachary Foster makes fun of overwrought humanities academese, which is not like legalese.

Jeremy Lin is joining the Brooklyn Nets on a 3-year contract starting in 16-17, his age-28 (DOB: 23AUG88) season. Yes! Recalled and affirmed, my 2012 argument for Lin joining the Nets. Netsdaily round-up. A relatively long interview with Steve Serby in the NY Post. His advice to Asian-American fans resonates and whether he succeeds as the Nets starting point guard will be a milestone, good or bad for the rest of us.

Alone on History channel is interesting. It's a contest version of Survivorman with 10 contestants who film themselves alone on an island. The longest lasting contestant wins. I've watched season 2 on Youtube. The 1st contestant to "tap out", Desmond, lasted only 5 hours on the first day before tapping out before nightfall. He panicked at the signs of bear scat. Mary Kate and Tracy tapped out on day 7. Mary Kate cut her hand deeply with her axe. Tracy was dismayed at her angry reaction to bears who came close to her encampment at night. Mike and Randy tapped out on day 21 because they were lonely and missed their families. Mike and Randy are interesting because they appear to have conquered the technical and physical challenge of the contest but were mentally or emotionally unable to continue further. It appears as though if they had been less skilled and thus been more preoccupied by the technical and physical challenge, they might have lasted longer. Larry seems distraught a lot and less skilled than Randy and Mike, but it appears that the greater personal challenge is keeping him in the contest longer. Dave seems to be about Larry's skill level and acknowledges he's motivated by the money, which none of the other contestants except Desmond has openly admitted. Jose seems like season 1 winner Alan with a strong skillset and a mindset suited to last a long time. Alan stayed 56 days because the 2nd place finisher Samuel tapped out at 55 days. It's difficult to judge Justin except that he's wry and motivated to help veterans.

The Last Alaskans S02E08 Fire and Ice is beautifully edited, entrancing, finely weaving together the narrative threads of the stars of the show. It stands out as an award winner in an otherwise excellent show. 20-year-old Charlie Jagow, who joined the cast with the exit of Bob Harte, is charismatic and seems too capable to be real. Harte makes a cameo in the captivating ensemble climax of the episode. Apparently, the episode ends season 2.

All about Shawshank Redemption the movie.

Everest (2015) is a slick Hollywood telling of the 1996 tragedy that doesn't add much to the historical narrative given the glut of reported and 1st-person accounts and documentaries on the subject. A point of emphasis in the movie is that commercial guiding at Everest was only a few years old at the time, thus still in its trial-and-error stage, and Rob Hall pioneered it. Scott Fisher may have been killed by his lack of a business mindset clashing with the need to compete like a business in order to succeed. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) is made for fans with the assumption of background knowledge, such as the Battle of Jakku, from stories and games outside of the film canon. Without that knowledge, the character motives and narrative reasons are unclear for what happens in the movie. It mimics the simple but compelling narrative framework, tone, and style from the original Star Wars film. Carrie Fisher, as General Organa, looks and sounds odd. On its own merits, the movie doesn't seem to warrant the high praise it has received.

The 33 (2015) is okay. Its best feature is showcasing the inherent strength of traditional patriarchal culture. Toxin (2015) is just awful. I guess Danny Glover and Vinnie Jones needed the work. I wonder what Toxin director Jason Dubek thinks of his crappy product.

Wild (2014), adapted from the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, is an arresting story of self-recovery. It's an intriguing option. In the Heart of the Sea (2015) is loosely based on the true story that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick (1851), the sinking of the Nantucket whaling ship Essex in 1820. The movie is light fare but it indicates a fascinating story, nonetheless. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) has some emotional resonance saying good-bye to familiar young characters in a 4-movie series, but the war in the told but not shown backdrop implied a much more interesting epic than Katniss's story, which is essentially a tween girl's self-centered fantasy.

The Peanuts Movie (2015) was something wonderful to watch. The movie captured the spirit of the classic cartoons based on Charles Schulz's comic. Going in, I dreaded a modern-day politically correct makeover and was pleased that, aside from a spare few modern touches and the 3D rendering, the movie was faithful to the spirit of the classic Charlie Brown. Apparently, Charles Schulz's son and grandson retained artistic control of the project. The story reminded me of Moonrise Kingdom. The mysterious little red-haired girl was an idealized Madonna who inspired Charlie Brown to strive to become a better man to win her love, like Suzy inspired Sam. It was insightful of my perspective on the issue. The moral of the story was don't quit because you may have more potential than you know, but you may have to endure a lot of failure and discouragement to realize it. Can't argue with the importance of persistence in the face of adversity. However, the feel-good Hollywood ending in which the little red-haired girl affirms to an agonized self-doubting Charlie Brown that she has seen through his bumbling, insecure, wishy-washy exterior to his admirable traits and is thus rewarding his efforts with the assurance of a summer pen-pal friendship, which recalled the platonic pair-bonding process in Moonrise Kingdom, was a fictional balm rather than a real solution. It stood out for me that her clinically cool response doesn't match his romantic ardor, but a boy who's infatuated for the first time probably wouldn't notice the disparity. When I tried the plain confrontation with girls that Charlie Brown did in the conclusion, I also received some platonic praise and even assurances of continued communication, but I wasn't rewarded with my desire reciprocated and the precious communication with my love was withdrawn in short order. That being said, Charlie Brown is undertaking the first step of his learning curve, and at this stage, her sterile platonic admiration is enough. The positive feedback from his love would be life-changing. It won't be enough when he's older, but right now, he's only starting to learn mastery of his life. She gave him a critical gift and he can yet afford for her to disappoint him later.

Slow Food Story (2013) bothered me because it pulled back the curtain of an appealing, seemingly benign social cultural movement to reveal a political socialist heart. Slow Food combines a nativist, traditional, green appeal, a cult of personality, and state-of-the-art activism and capitalist methods with a crypto-socialist agenda. I'm undecided whether to be wary of it.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), The Walk (2015), Grease (1978), The Revenant (2015), The Finest Hours (2016), Zoolander 2 (2016), The Big Short (2015), 13 Hours (2016), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), Gods of Egypt (2016), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Hail, Caesar! (2016), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Captain America: Civil War (2016), The Last Man on the Moon (2014).

I added a copyright notice with the CC license on the sidebar per this advice, using this site's format, then modified it per this advice. US Copyright Office FAQ.

I'm chagrined that I didn't accomplish mission, but I'm also satisfied I made the right call last night. I was mid-way on a crosstown trek to buy groceries when my lower intestinal area started hurting. I decided to bear the discomfort at first because the week's sales circular included items I wanted: grape jam, sour cream, juice, crushed tomatoes. The hurt came and subsided and came again, worsening with each successive iteration. I felt sick and afraid I would have diarrhea, and realizing the long way there and longer way back ahead of me, I nixed the shopping trip. It was an uncomfortable walk home. I made it without an embarrassing accident in public. I suspected water I had sipped from one of several water fountains was to blame. Some urinary discharge indicated that the hurt was from a packed bowel. I sat on my toilet and stayed there a while until the blockage released, first hard chunks slowly then sludge more quickly. I guess I might not have had diarrheic discharge sooner because the hard chunks acted like a plug. I suspect the cause may be a recent increased ingestion of bannock and brownie and the assimilated flour packed together, combined with a decreased ingestion of fibrous roughage to bore-brush my GI tract and break up the flour packing together like cement. Insufficient hydration may have factored in, too. My lower intestinal area feels better after the discharge, but it doesn't feel normally calm yet. I'm cooking a 10-oz box of spinach right now, flavored with a 5-lb whole chicken, to ingest roughage, which hopefully will help bore-brush my GI tract. On episode 9 of Alone season 2, David increased his bull kelp intake because he was worried he wasn't having regular bowel movements and the fiber worked to make him regular again. Let's see whether the remedy will work for me.

3 months, 3 weeks later, constipation with abdominal discomfort for about 4 or 5 days. Squeezed out some pellets with a lot of effort. Considered using my bottle of magnesium citrate. Finally gathered the best available natural remedies at hand: about 2 oz Dalmatia fig spread, a 8.45 oz Vita box of mango juice, 2.1 oz Isagenize Isalean packet with about 30 oz water, and a lot of water. It worked. I don't know which 1 or combination of remedies worked. I'm guessing the fig spread.

Counterintuitively, boiling meat, eg, pernil and chicken breast, makes for dry meat. Microwaving thawed chicken breast on high for 10 minutes resulted in succulently moist meat, while every other cooking method for chicken breast results in dry meat. Meanwhile, every other chicken part cooks versatilely. Micowaving pernil at 50% power for 10 minutes resulted in decent texture except no char.

I boiled the bones soft after I consumed a 5-lb chicken, then broke up the bones and baked the bone bits and marrow into bannock. It was quite good, crunchy and flavorable, and the marrow added protein body to the bannock. But apparently, lead and other poisons settle in the bones, so I may have poisoned myself by eating the bones. I maybe should stick to just the marrow from now on.

Spoiled raw chicken meat has a sickly sweet odor and flavor that retains when cooked. I defrosted a whole chicken for about a day too long and most of the chicken tasted normal, but some of it tasted and smelled gone over.

Buying and cooking a whole chicken is a working option, but different parts of the chicken cook differently. Chicken breast is the most sensitive part to cooking time and method, but also the tastiest part when cooked right.

Picking at a whole chicken, chicken cooked on bannock pizza has tasted best. Chicken on bannock open-faced sandwich has been okay with various combos of sour cream, tomato slices, cooked spinach, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, mustard, seasoned salt, garlic&pepper Adobo seasoning. It's most utilitarian over rice.

Chicken pricing is interesting. Chicken breast on sale is 1.99/lb. Chicken breast with bone attached on sale is 1.29-1.79/lb. Thighs and legs separated on sale are .99-1.50/lb. Chicken quarters (thighs and legs together) on sale are .49-.79/lb. Chicken backs and chicharron (assorted bits) on sale are .99/lb. Whole chickens on sale are .99/lb.

Baking Betty Crocker milk chocolate brownie using the pan in my bottom-burner-only toaster oven at 275° rather than the instructed 350° takes longer, a little over 10 minutes, but burns less. Pillsbury Dark Chocolate brownie tastes like burned oil when baked at 300° using the pan for about 7 minutes in the bottom-burner-only toaster oven, but bakes much better in the George Foreman grill at 4-5 minutes with good brownie texture and little-to-no burned oil flavor. Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge brownie baked on the pan at 275° for 8 minutes in the bottom-burner-only toaster oven turned out well.

I scavenged 11 2.1-oz packs of Natural Berry Harvest Isagenix Isalean Shake Dairy-Free. It's an expensive product: a 14-pack box sells for about 40-50 dollars. One shake is filling enough for breakfast and lunch plus dinner, too, with bearing some hunger.


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