Monday, October 31, 2016

OCTOBER 2016 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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I tried to disregard Donald Trump absurdities this month, but it’s impossible. So, I included some at the end.

1. Former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Bachmann dismissed Donald Trump’s comments bragging about sexually assaulting women by bizarrely claiming Hillary Clinton’s election would “lead to even more sexual assaults.” Speaking with American Pastors Network President Sam Rohrer in a radio interview, Bachmann claimed that the Clinton campaign is trying to drive a wedge among evangelicals by focusing on Trump’s “grab their pussy” tape.
 
“There’s no similarity between what Donald Trump said 11 years ago and what Bill Clinton did,” Bachmann said. “Is sexual assault against women a big issue? You bet it is. And the best thing that Christian men can do is make sure that Hillary Clinton does not become president and the best thing that Christian women can do is make sure that Hillary Clinton does not become president.” And more:
 
“Donald Trump has already released a list of only pro-life judges that he will support. Hillary Clinton will set a standard in this country that will lead to even more sexual assaults against women because she will be setting an anti-biblical agenda.”
 
Bachmann went on to claim that billionaire George Soros is looking for “ways to get into the Christian community to divide us.”
“We need to wake up and resist these lies.”
 
Leave it to the evangelicals; God endorses Trump. With that endorsement, how can he lose?
 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

WHY DID THE U.S. DROP ATOMIC BOMBS ON JAPAN? (Re-Posted)

By Ronald T. Fox

This is a re-posting, with some modifications, of my original August 20, 2015 essay.


(NOTE: This is Part II of my three-part essay scrutinizing the Hiroshima Myth and Legacy)

Aftermath I
Hiroshima Destroyed

When Harry Truman became president on April 12, 1945, upon the death of President Roosevelt, he had little knowledge of international affairs and knew virtually nothing about the Manhattan Project that was developing an atomic bomb. On the first day of his presidency, Truman said in his memoirs, he was told by Roosevelt confidant James Byrnes that the U.S. was building an explosive “great enough to destroy the whole world.” He would be fully briefed on the bomb project on April 25 by Secretary of War Henry Stimson and General Leslie Groves, who had been put in charge of the Manhattan Project. Truman had only a rudimentary understanding of what an atomic bomb was, but what he did grasp was its potential for unlimited power. The idea of its omnipotence was engrained into his consciousness early in his presidency.

As president, Truman, who had been selected by Roosevelt as his vice-president running mate after the nominating convention was deadlocked between Henry Wallace and Byrnes, inherited issues of momentous significance-- foremost of which were to lead the victory over Japan and decide what to do with the atomic bomb, which was nearing completion.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

AMERICA’S CULTIVATED WAR AMNESIA

Many times in Phronesis posts I’ve expressed both astonishment and deep regret at the failure of our political leaders, and much of the American public, to learn lessons from our history of foreign policy blunders, of which there have been many. Why do we repeatedly plunge into ill-conceived wars of choice that prove to be utter disasters?  Why is our penchant for using military force so unshakable?  Why do the American people, who invariably pay the highest price for our military disasters, not hold our leaders feet to the fire and say: no more!  I’ve pointed to the usual suspects--imperialist motives, hubris, the national security state, neo-conservative and Wilsonian-interventionist ideologies and their associated think tanks, and the complicit role of the established media in peddling the unshakable militaristic Washington line—but have always felt that despite the relevancy of such factors something was missing. 

A recent essay by Michael Brenner, which I’m including below as a guest commentary, identifies what might be missing from my analyses: the complicity of American culture; specifically, the persistent capacity of the American people to cultivate amnesia over the consequences of our military follies.  Why don’t we learn from the lessons of history?  Brenner offers an answer.  


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

RESPONSE TO JIM DUBBS ON SOLDIER’S LIVES DON’T MATTER

I received the following comment from loyal Phronesis reader Jim Dubbs on my recent post on the continuing Air Force campaign to retire the A-10 Warthog, which I argued represented a lack of concern for the lives of our troops. Jim always brings a valuable historical perspective to my posts, for which I am grateful.

You just have to wonder where any political leadership is on these issues. Ike may have issued the warning about a military-industrial complex, but successive Secretaries of Defense have decided that their survival depends on providing our various military leaders with the newest toys. I recall that McNamara -- who I believe was a car industry executive (Ford), like his predecessor Wilson (GM) -- was touted as this great efficiency expert who was going to make sure of strong civilian management of the armed forces. Indeed, he became lauded as a rather "strong" Defense Secretary. Not hard to understand. Of course, he was: Kennedy's military budget tripled that of Ike's as I recall. However, I think the bigger problem than the toys controversy (A-10 v. F-35) is that, in general, the military always seems to be preparing for the wars of the past, not the likely ones of the future. I would agree that A-10 is best for support of ground troops, but how much of the conflicts facing us now and in the future are likely to involve a significant commitment of troops on the ground? That may be one of the only things Rumsfeld was kind of right on, and he got castigated for tying to fight war on the cheap, right? 

My Response:
 

Monday, October 3, 2016

SOLDIER LIVES DON’T MATTER: THE AIR FORCE STILL DETERMINED TO SCRAP THE A-10


By Ronald T. Fox

A-10 Attacking
An A-10 On Mission

Give the Air Force credit for persistence. Undeterred by a Congressional prohibition on retiring the highly effective A-10 Warthog, the AF is continuing its campaign to scrap it. Its latest scheme is to reduce the number of Warthogs that are combat ready. Manipulating Congress is nothing new to the AF; what is different this time is that the lives of many soldiers hinges on what the Congress ultimately decides to do about the A-10.
 
As I’ve written previously (see links below), the A-10 is a highly effective aircraft that has proven its value in all wars the U.S. has been involved in since 1990.  Designed primarily to support troops on the ground, which remains its main mission, it has also been used effectively for air defense suppression, interdiction, search and rescue, armed reconnaissance, forward air control, and air-to-air combat against helicopters.  Troops on the ground swear by it, its pilots and former pilots taut its virtues, and Congressional supporters on both sides of the aisle, aware that there is no viable alternative (it is far superior to the Army's Apache helicopter), continue to support its deployment. Despite these accolades, and its proven track record in combat, the AF wants to retire it, replacing it primarily with the problem-plagued F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the most expensive weapons system in history. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

SEPTEMBER 2016 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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NOTE:  It seems media sorts are only interested in Donald Trump these days. As a result, it has been hard to find bonehead absurdities from other prominent figures, although I'm sure there were many that didn't get wide coverage.  Though I’d like to avoid boring Phronesis readers with yet more Trump absurdities, I couldn't help but include the following dillies. With apologies, I offer this month’s Trump-dominated selections.

1. Former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann warns of an “impending apocalypse” in which godly moral principles will no longer be defended if Hillary Clinton is elected.
 
“I don't want to be melodramatic but I do want to be truthful,” the evangelical Christian said in an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “Brody File.” “I believe without a shadow of a doubt this is the last election. This is it. This is the last election.”
 
Bachmann, who advises Donald Trump on religious issues and foreign policy (go figure), explained that demographic change in the United States posed a disadvantage to Republican candidates since the country’s growing share of minority voters were more inclined to vote for Democrats.
 
“It's a math problem of demographics and a changing United States,” she said. “If you look at the numbers of people who vote and who lives in the country and who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to bring in to the country, this is the last election when we even have a chance to vote for somebody who will stand up for godly moral principles. This is it.”
 
Bachmann said that if Clinton were elected, she would offer “wholesale amnesty” to undocumented immigrants “so that Republicans will never again have the chance at winning Florida or Texas” and therefore be unable to secure the White House. "She's going to change the demographics of the United States so that no Republican will ever win again," Bachmann insisted.
 
What’s absurd is her insinuation that brown people don’t stand up for “godly, moral principles, not her prediction of future doom for the white-only GOP-- an intriguing prospect, indeed.