Sunday, July 7, 2013

POW/MIA Search SNAFU, and European Junkets

I have some respect for America's armed forces. They deal with a very unpleasant reality: that occasionally force is needed to protect the lives and well-being of Americans and others.

America's military also, for the most part, deals with and corrects blunders and deliberate malfeasance committed by its members. (January 4, 2009; June 30, 2008)

That said, this reeks:
"...The internal report by Paul M. Cole was never meant to be made public. It is unsparing in its criticisms:

"--In recent years the process by which JPAC gathers bones and other material useful for identifications has "collapsed" and is now "acutely dysfunctional."

"--JPAC is finding too few investigative leads, resulting in too few collections of human remains to come even close to achieving Congress's demand for a minimum 200 identifications per year by 2015. Of the 80 identifications that JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory made in 2012, only 35 were derived from remains recovered by JPAC. Thirty-eight of the 80 were either handed over unilaterally by other governments or were disinterred from a U.S. military cemetery. Seven were from a combination of those sources.

"--Some search teams are sent into the field, particularly in Europe, on what amount to boondoggles. No one is held to account for 'a pattern of foreign travel, accommodations and activities paid for by public funds that are ultimately unnecessary, excessive, inefficient or unproductive.' Some refer to this as 'military tourism.'

"--JPAC lacks a comprehensive list of the people for whom it is searching. Its main database is incomplete and 'riddled with unreliable data.'

"--'Sketch maps' used by the JPAC teams looking for remains on the battlefield are 'chronically unreliable,' leaving the teams 'cartigraphically blind.' Cole likened this to 19th century military field operations.

"Absent prompt and significant change, 'the descent from dysfunction to total failure ... is inevitable,' Cole concluded.

"He directed most of his criticism at the field operations that collect bones and other material, as opposed to the laboratory scientists at JPAC who use that material to identify the remains. Cole is a management consultant and recognized research expert in the field of accounting for war remains; he still works at JPAC...."
(Associated Press, via (July 7, 2013))
Related posts:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Egypt and an Uncoup

If the joint chiefs of staff placed America's president under house arrest, locked up the House majority leader, and declared that new elections would be held this august, that would bother me.

America doesn't work that way.

Egypt, President Morsi, and an Uncoup

I heard about Egypt's military prying President Morsi out of office last night. National leaders made the usual 'military coups are bad' statements, while Egypts military leadership said that they'd see to it that free elections happened in the near future.1

President Morsi's truncated term in office isn't surprising. Last year he said:
  • He's making Egypt
    • Safe for freedom and democracy
    • Stable
  • Nobody can change the new rules
    • Except him
    (November 23, 2012)
Maybe I'm too cynical, but when a nation's leader takes personal control of executive and legislative functions: I'm dubious about the leader's motives. 'To preserve freedom, I'm taking over' has an unpleasant ring to it.

Quite a few folks in Egypt were disappointed by Morsi. He'd promised that he and his Muslim Brotherhood would let everybody have a say in how they ran Egypt.

One of the problems with elections and an informed electorate, from an old-school viewpoint, is that 'the Masses' expect leaders to keep their word.

Right now, I think there's a chance what happened in Egypt isn't a coup. Egypt's military may have stepped in to keep Morsi and company from dragging Egypt back to the 'good old days' of elite rule.

Elections and Assumptions

Like I've said before, I like the way America's government is supposed to work. Open elections, accountability, and due process are good ideas: even when I feel frustrated with the lot we've got running this country.

I don't, however, think that every country should have a bicameral legislature and use a photocopy of the Constitution. That system works for us, but every country has a unique history and culture.

I hope that Egyptians develop a form of government that works for them: all of them.

Related posts:
News and views:

1 Excepts from news and views:
"Egypt army arrests key Muslim Brotherhood figures"
BBC News (July 4, 2013)

"Egypt's military has moved against the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, a day after deposing President Mohammed Morsi.

"Mr Morsi is in detention, as well as senior figures in the Islamist group of which he is a member. Hundreds more are being sought.

"The top judge of Egypt's constitutional court, Adly Mahmud Mansour, has been sworn in as interim leader.

"He has pledged to hold elections based on 'the genuine people's will'.

"At a news conference, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad declared 'our full refusal and revoking of the military coup' and demanded Mr Morsi's immediate release, along with the other detainees.

"He declared the Brotherhood's 'full denial of co-operation' with the new regime and said it would take part in all 'peaceful, people-led protest'.

"Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr - who resigned from Mr Morsi's government on Monday - said he had assured US Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone call on Thursday that the overthrow of President Morsi had not been a military coup, but the 'overwhelming will of the people'.

"The upheaval in Egypt comes after days of mass rallies against Mr Morsi and the Brotherhood, who are accused of pursuing an Islamist agenda and failing to tackle Egypt's economic problems...."

"Brotherhood leader arrested, Egypt's Islamists call protests"
Asma Alsharif, Shadia Nasralla, Reuters (July 4, 2013)

"Egyptian security forces arrested the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday, security sources said, in a crackdown against the Islamist movement after the army ousted the country's first democratically elected president.

"The dramatic exit of President Mohamed Mursi was greeted with delight by millions of jubilant people on the streets of Cairo and other cities overnight, but there was simmering resentment among Egyptians who opposed military intervention.

"An Islamist coalition led by the Brotherhood called on people across the nation to protest in a "Friday of Rejection" following weekly prayers, an early test of Mursi's ongoing support and how the military will deal with it...."

"Obama chose his words on Egypt carefully -- for a reason"
Jake Tapper, CNN (July 4, 2013)

"President Barack Obama's statement about the Egyptian military's seizure of power is as telling for what he doesn't say as for what he does: he doesn't mention the word 'coup.'

"He doesn't call upon the military to restore power to 'the democratically elected civilian government,' but rather to 'a democratically elected civilian government.'

"In other words, it need not be deposed President Mohamed Morsy's.

"The thinking of the president and administration officials, according to a knowledgeable source, is that while the administration is not explicitly supporting the removal of Morsy from power -- it expressly did not support the move -- it is seeking to push the Egyptian military in a direction...."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.