Know your enemy: a brief history or Iraq

Sun Tzu wrote that “not only must we have worthy goals to be successful, but our methods, the last of his five factors, must be honorable as well. … Sun Tzu teaches that leaders must be honest.” Source: Frugal Marketing.com

How honest was America’s political leaders when it came to starting the war in Iraq?

“Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the Bush White House’s case on Iraq’s alleged biological-and chemical-weapon stockpile in a dramatic Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. Security Council.” Source: USA Today.com

More than a decade after President George W. Bush started the war in Iraq, those weapons of mass destruction have not been found and no one is looking for them because they didn’t exist.

Instead of going into detail starting with 3500 BC when Mesopotamia became the world’s first known civilization in South Eastern Iraq, I want to focus on several elements that are eerily similar to Afghanistan.

332 BC: Alexander the Great conquers the Persians and the area we know of as Iraq becomes part of his empire.

In 633 AD, Muslims conquer the region that is Iraq today.

Mongol invaders led by the grandson of Genghis Khan destroy the Muslim Arab Empire that includes Iraq in 1258 AD.

The British—militarily and politically—become involved in the region in the 19th century to protect their trade routes with India and the East. In 1917, British troops occupy Baghdad and in 1920, the League of Nations gives Great Britain a mandate to rule over Mesopotamia. The British then set up King Faisal the 1st as the monarch of Iraq.

Then in 1932, Iraq becomes Independent and during World War II—wanting to get rid of British influence in the region—allies with Germany, Italy and Japan.

Great Britain defeats Iraq in 1941. In 1945, Iraq helps form the Arab League that declares war on the newly formed nation of Israel.

King Faisal the 2nd becomes Iraq’s leader in 1953. But in 1958, there is a military coup and the monarchy is destroyed. In 1979, Saddam Hussein becomes the Iraqi President and in 1980, Iraq invades Iran starting the Iran-Iraq war. In 1990, Iraq invades Kuwait. In 1991, a coalition of 39 countries starts the First Persian Gulf War and liberates Kuwait. Iraq accepts a ceasefire. Source: Dates and Events.org: Iraq-Timeline

In July 2012, Con Coughlin writing for the Uk’s Telegraph reported, “The modern-day states of Iraq and Syria once formed the ancient kingdom of Mesopotamia. They share the same tribal culture, heritage and a lengthy border.”

What does that tribal culture look like?

The Council on Foreign Relations says, “There is … a consensus among experts that tribal traditions remain culturally important to many Iraqis. … Tribes are regional power-holders, and tribal sheiks are often respected members of Iraqi communities.

“Among Iraq’s Shiite majority, [Islamic} religious leaders appear to be a more potent political force, … That said, religious leaders … appear to derive some of their strength from tribal connections. …

“Some tribes pre-date Mohammed, the prophet of Islam … For centuries, the tribes were the primary form of social organization through much of the region. While their influence has diminished through the years, the Ottoman Turks, the British, the British-backed monarchy, and the Baathists all sought their cooperation.”

Do you see the similarities between Iraq and Afghanistan? Both regions were conquered by Alexander the Great and ruled over by the Greeks. Both have tribal influences that have been around for centuries.

The Islamic religion swept over both regions about the same time. The Mongols rolled over both regions. Then the British arrived followed by the American military.

You may have noticed that there has been no mention of Russia yet, but starting July of 1979, Saddam Hussein “used the Soviets to support his program of military expansion and to strengthen his regime. Baghdad acquired arms and advisors from the USSR; the KGB and East German Stasi also trained the Baathist secret police apparatus.”  After Saddam argued with the Soviets, France became Iraq’s second biggest source of military aid after the USSR as Iraq’s dictator-for-life played the West off against the Communists in Russia. Source: History in Focus: The Cold War

Remember how the Mujahedeen were supported by the United States and some of her allies as they fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Later, the same Islamic, Mujahedeen warriors that the US trained and supplied with weapons become the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Do you think it is possible to build a democratic nation in Iraq where all of the different religious, political and tribal factions will learn to cooperate sort of like the very honest and moral [tongue-in-cheek] Republican and Democratic Parties do in the United States?

Continued on August 16, 2013 in A brief history of Vietnam or start with Know your enemy: a brief history or Afghanistan

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

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The Noble Nightmare: Part 1/3

After reading a post on the Iraq War by an individual who thinks the war was moral and just, I left a comment on that Blog, and then decided to continue the discussion here.

The author of that post is an advisor on Foreign and Security Policy and a fellow at The Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy. Julie holds a BA in European Politics and an MSc in Conflict Studies (Comparative Politics) from the London School of Economics. Source: Julie’s Think Tank.com

Julie says, “It is important to learn the right lessons from Iraq.”

But I say, “Why do we have to learn from the Iraq experience when we have thousands of years of history to learn from?”

Julie clearly says that she “strongly supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and still maintains the same position.”

And I’m one of those people that changed his mind after the truth about WMDs came out revealing that it was another fabrication used as an excuse to start what many in America still consider to be a just and noble war.

Of course going to war to remove a dictator considered a monster such as Saddam could be seen as a moral and just cause, but why do so many Americans see the United States as the global force to do that and then not continue this in other countries that were listed by The Atlantic Wire as ruled by dictators?

Continued on February 25, 2013 in The Noble Nightmare: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy, a suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Follow”.

Unwanted Heroes

Many unwanted heroes defend our nation and fight its wars—right or wrong. When America’s leaders declare wars based on lies (for example: Vietnam and Iraq) or the truth (World War I, II, Afghanistan and Korea), unwanted heroes do the fighting and pay the price.

On the side of a bus at the VA medical clinic that I go to, it says, “All gave some; some gave all.” I have a credit card sized VA Department of Veterans Affairs ID card.  It says below my photo: “Service Connected.” That means I have a disability connected to my service in Vietnam in 1966 when I was serving in the US Marines.

What is the price many unwanted heroes pay for trusting their leaders?

This post has the same title of a novel that was recently released, and I had the privilege of editing Unwanted Heroes by Alon Shalev.

In Unwanted Heroes, Shalev brings together a long suffering, battle weary Chinese American Vietnam veteran suffering from the trauma of PTSD and an idealistic and somewhat pretentious young Englishmen, who both share a love for San Francisco, coffee and wine.

Alon Shalev, the author, grew up in London, and has been a political activist since his early teens. He strives through his writing to highlight social and political injustice and to inspire action for change.

Moving to Israel, he helped establish a kibbutz where he lived for 20 years and served in the Israeli army.

Shalev then moved to the San Francisco Bay area and fell hopelessly in love with this unique city. Being new to the US, however, he was shocked to see so many war veterans on the streets. He regularly volunteers at initiatives such as Project Homeless Connect and the San Francisco Food Bank where he meets and talks with war veterans. These experiences lend authenticity to the novel.

In fact, according to NIH (the National Institute of Health) Medline Plus, “PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults” … and “members of the military exposed to war/combat and other groups at high risk for trauma exposure are at risk for developing PTSD.

“Among veterans returning from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD and mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often linked and their symptoms may overlap. Blast waves from explosions can cause TBI, rattling the brain inside the skull.

“The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31% of Vietnam veterans; as many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans; 11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, and 20% of Iraqi war veterans.”

NIH says, “PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders.”

In addition, “between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year, and on any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the US. … About 33% of homeless males in the US are veterans and veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless. One of the primary causes of homelessness among veterans is combat-related mental health issues and disability.

The incident of PTSD and suicide rates among veterans is also climbing and 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness including PTSD. Source: Veterans Inc.org

The New York Times reported, “Suicide rates of military personnel and combat veterans have risen sharply since 2005, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan intensified. Recently, the Pentagon established a Defense Suicide Prevention Office.”

“The CDC Vietnam Experience Study Mortality Assessment showed that during the first 5 years after discharge, deaths from suicide were 1.7 times more likely among Vietnam veterans than non-Vietnam veterans. …

Why? “The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter.” Source: History.com – Statistics about the Vietnam War

I did not seek help for my PTSD for thirty-eight years, because I did not know the VA offered counseling.

Discover A Prisoner of War for Life

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Casualties of the Mind (part 1 of 3)

Associated Press writer Heidi Vogt wrote “Casualties of the Mind”, and I read her piece in the Bay Area News Group about the trauma of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The copy I found on-line was from the Fresno Bee and had a different title, Dying faces, body bags: How trauma hits a US unit (you may read the whole piece here). I checked. It’s all there.

Vogt writes that 20% of the 1.6 million troops who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSD).  I’m sure the numbers are higher.  After all, many do not report the symptoms.  Even if it were 20%, that’s still 320 thousand Causalities of the Mind, and the casualties from Vietnam, my war, may be higher.

Each troop interviewed by Vogt relates symptoms that are connected to the combat they experienced. For me, it was the long nights waiting for the enemy to infiltrate or hit our hill one more time or the night patrols and ambushes outside the wire moving through rice paddies on hyper alert in inky darkness because the enemy could be anywhere and hit at any time. The enemy could even be buried in the dirt we walked on waiting to blow off our legs if we stepped on one.

Then there were the field operations—one time I was part of a five or six man team on a recon thirty miles in front of our lines. We drove through a village where we saw no one but a radio antenna sticking from the top of a tree with a Vietcong flag flying from it.

Continued with Casualties of the Mind – Part 2 and/or discover A Prisoner of War for Life

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Politics as Usual

Amazing.  Politics as usual.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091230/ap_on_go_co/us_airliner_attack_demint_1

Here we are fighting a war with an enemy that wants to destroy America and everyone in it, and the Republicans are putting obstacles in the way of America’s safety net that is supposed to protect America against terrorists while blaming the democrats for what happened on that Northwest flight.

Let’s not forget that Americans are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and many come home missing parts or with PTSD.

In Vietnam, I remember congress passing rules of engagement. We weren’t supposed to shoot until we saw who was shooting at us so we wouldn’t hit noncombatants leading to bad press in the media.

Try that in the jungle when you cannot see anyone and someone is shooting at you.

Near the end of my tour, we had a young lieutenant just out of West Point who drummed it into us that we weren’t supposed to shoot unless we saw who was shooting at us.  Then he was pinned down on a patrol and he was shouting at us to lay down covering fire.

Yea, right!

No one fired. Then a voice, “We can’t see who is shooting at you.”

What are we supposed to say to the enemy who wants to kill us? “Hold your fire! Hold your fire! You aren’t playing by the rules.  This isn’t’ fair. You are a cheater. I’m going to tell your mommy what you are doing.”

What does congress and the media think war is, a game of Risk (that board game kids sometimes play)?  Hey guys, we aren’t made of plastic here. We bleed and even if we walk away, we leave damaged.

What do you think? Maybe we should shoot the politicians and the reporters instead.

Learn more from John Kerry, Purple Hearts, PTSD and Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

The LBJ Induced Anger and Rage

This is a rant. If you are a die-hard Democrat or Republican with more loyalty to your political party than to the country, you do not want to read this. It will get your blood pressure up.

Each time I write one of these posts, I open the cage where the demon raptors live. I write about what happened in Vietnam—the anger, the experiences, the flashbacks or someone else’s experiences, and I hope one of those raptors will use its flaming wings to take flight and never come back.

After forty years, I’ve learned there is no guarantee those raptors will stay away.

Starting last week, I have been angry with LBJ, the Democrat, and GWB, the Republican—AGAIN!

I’m also disappointed in the people that voted for them. President Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people most of the time and most of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” If so, there are many fools out there and some of them will call me worse for writing this.

I don’t know about LBJ, but there are millions that still believe what GWB did in Iraq was right. Those people are probably the ditto heads that listen to idiots like Rush Limbaugh.

LBJ and GWB have a lot in common. Both started wars with lies and deceit. The facts say that both Vietnam and Iraq were unnecessary, and many that served with courage in those wars now live with roadside bombs inside their heads and never know when one might go off.

It’s been documented many times that GWB wanted to start a war in Iraq well before 9/11. “He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade Iraq, if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it—”

But enough about GWB. It’s LBJ’s turn to burn, who, it seems, started the Vietnam War with lies.

Before he was assassinated, President Kennedy talked about getting out of Vietnam. Listen to what Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the house, says.

The next blow to America was the CIA’s alleged involvement bringing drugs into the United States, possibly creating today’s drug problems that are eating the country like a malignant cancer.

What is it that sets America apart from most of the World? The Bill of Rights, right?

The reason for The Bill of Rights was to protect American citizens from the corruption of government. Sad to say, the evidence shows that The Bill of Rights has become a rusty, leaky bucket.

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Letters from Home

While I was in Vietnam, many Marines in my communication’s platoon didn’t get mail—ever. Since my family and friends wrote often and sent packages with cookies, candy and books like Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I had books to fill the days when we weren’t in the field. At night when I was on radio watch in the bunker, I read too. I shared with my “brothers” in uniform who didn’t get anything. The cookies were popular. I loaned the books out too.

If someone who has never faught in a war listens to the news, it sounds like our troops are fighting 24/7. My mother believed it. Evertime she heard about combat and deaths on the news, she cried. My dad told me this after I came home.

Too bad, she didn’t know the truth.  During those down times, soldiers get lonely and think about home. For me, books helped fill the empty hours. Those books also helped get my mind off what was waiting at night and beyond the wire when I wasn’t on a field operation, out at night with patrols or was involved in ambushes that we were setting up. No one wants to be the target of an ambush we don’t plan—I was the target in a couple of those too.

Because of my experiences in Vietnam, during the first Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), I organized a letter writing campaign with my secondary English students in La Puente, California.  One girl’s older brother was in Kuwait, then he moved on to Iraq after the war started in earnest. When his letters arrived, class time was set aside for his sister to share what was happening to him. I feared we might hear he had been killed. But he was fortunate and made it back in one piece.

Recently, I joined Operation E-Book Drop. This program offers free e-books to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any troop with a computer may sign onto Smashwords.com and download a book if they have the coupon code. They have to request the codes through the program. More than two hundred authors and nine publishers have joined this program.

Another program, Book Readers for SF (Special Forces—kindlesf@gmailcom), is putting Kindles in the hands of troops that belong to Special Forces in Afghanistan. Many of these soldiers are stationed in remote, rugged, mountain outposts.

Now, I’m adopting a Spc. in an Aviation Regiment from Operation Desert Swap http://operationdesertswap.webs.com/.

I’m mailing a copy of my novel, My Splendid Concubine, and will send cards and gifts when holidays come along.  Once we have been in combat, I don’t think any veteran forgets what it was like.

Discover Stanford Study shows effects of PTSD trauma on brain

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”