Special Forces soldier and author Robert Patrick Lewis on a combat patrol in Afghanistan

Are we the worlds police?

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            Or perhaps the more popular question these days is “why are we the worlds police?”  It’s a very valid argument if you have the misfortune of getting all of your news from American media, especially if you only follow one source of news for everything.

But if you are one of the small number who’s figured out their game and goes to other sources of news from around the world or great intelligence analysts like Stratfor and other private subscription-based intelligence services, you know what you get from American media is severely lacking in the global perspective, and probably already have an idea about what this article will contain.

For the rest of you, I’d ask you to step back for a moment and take a view at the bigger picture.  Sure hippies and protestors love to say that it’s because we’re war mongering psychopaths (even though as long as humans have recorded history there have been wars, large countries have taken over small countries, and in the past those countries usually raped the conquered literally and figuratively, while we allowed Iraq to give their oil exploration rights to China), but that’s not quite accurate.

From another standpoint, we can do what is usually great advice when talking about politics and/or government and “follow the money.”  It is true that wars and any type of military or governmental incursion take money, lots of money, and while the military is great at certain things, there are an awful lot of jobs they can’t facilitate efficiently or well, which is why private contracting companies take over and stand to reap the benefits of any type of intervention into another country.

This seems to be another major point today, with the term “military industrial complex” coming up over and over, used to explain everything from 9/11 to the war in Iraq.  The claims that industrialists and private companies influence our politicians to begin wars or step into other peoples incursions has so many rabbit holes, assumptions and connections that I don’t have the capacity to even begin to fully fathom, so I’ll go with what I know and have seen and experienced first-hand.

While the ground truth may be one or a combination of these things, there are two factors which I know greatly influence our role as the world’s police:  Firstly, stability, and motives which are based purely on our own well being.  Secondly, because it’s our job as a global superpower, and the same country who decries us for sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong today will scream in anger and blame us for not stepping in when it’s their neck on the chopping block.

So let’s begin with stability.  I spent my life traveling, the son of a Navy pilot gone commercial who had grown up in Germany with Grandpa stationed there after WWII and been stationed in Italy with the Navy.  My parents were world travelers, and as such my passport stamps were already full before I was in middle school.

As a world traveler, I got to see many perspectives that most Americans don’t see up close.  Most Americans who’ve never left our own borders only know of the world what they’ve seen on television or in the movies, and don’t really understand what the real world is like.

As a great man once quoted, “you can never truly know a land until you’ve smelled it’s dirt,” meaning that no matter how many books you read, intelligence reports you read or shows you watch, you don’t know anything until you have boots on ground experience.  This goes for politicians, citizens, and Generals alike.

A very funny thing has been happening to me lately; I’ve had an inordinate amount of friends contacting me asking, “did you know we have military in Africa now?”  I usually laugh a little bit and explain that if they’d read my book “Love Me When I’m Gone” they’d know we’ve had Special Forces in Africa as long as Afghanistan.  But why?

To an outsider who can’t use higher order thinking, consider knock on effects, or understand the world, stability may not seem like a very important issue, but in the world of global politics and security, it’s perhaps the most important issue.  Why do we send money to third world nations who seem to hate us and are rife with corruption?  Stability.  Why do we spend money building up their infrastructure?  Stability.  Why do we have Special Forces training their governments and armies?  Stability.  And if they get too out of hand why to we send Special Forces to help overthrow their government?  Stability.

So if you are an American who’s never left our borders or traveled too much outside of the country, especially the third world nations, I want you to do a quick mental checklist of everything you’d need to get around here in the US running errands; let’s say you have to drive to the grocery store, buy groceries, maybe go to the bank and withdraw/deposit cash, take your kids to the doctor for a checkup, and later that night have sitter come watch the kids while you meet friends for a drink.  Better yet, what if you were planning a trip across the border, to either Canada or Mexico?

If you’re thinking about all of these things in terms of the United States of America, there is one common theme that you’d need for everything listed above:  a form of governmental identification.  This is why I see the voter ID laws as ridiculous, as you couldn’t do any of those listed above (if using a credit/debit card or food stamps like most of the country) without some form of ID, yet it’s racist if we require it for one of the most sacred rights of an American citizen in voting?  That’s an argument for another article entirely, so let’s bring it back and imagine you were embarking on the second option to go across the border.  In this case you’d need not only a drivers license, but you’d also need a passport in hand.

As a guy who can speak with experience about North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, and many places in between, I can tell you that’s not the case for a large part of the world.  Not only do you not need an ID to drive or travel in many of these places, but you couldn’t use a credit card even if you wanted to.  Even in the European Union now, a group of some of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, once you’re within the EU borders, you can travel freely without having to show your passport.

But why is this so important?  It is one of the factors important in determining stability.  Another very important factor to be considered is corruption.  Sure our government and politicians are just as corrupt as any others around the world, if not more so, but the brightside (if you can call it that) is that our politicians are so greedy and enjoy such a lavish lifestyle that their price tags are very high.  That’s not so everywhere in the world were cost of living is only a tiny fraction of what it is here in the USA, and while a politician here may require a multi-million dollar bribe (oh, sorry, “campaign contribution”), a local governor in Mali, Niger or Djibouti may only require a few thousand.

What’s another factor in this stability equation we’re looking at? Infrastructure.  If a country doesn’t have the infrastructure to track it’s own borders, people, transactions and criminals, it’s basically an open market.  If they don’t have adequate border police, anyone with a determination can come into their country.  If they don’t have the infrastructure to monitor criminals and jails, someone can easily pay off a guard and walk free.  If they don’t have an adequate army, they have no way to control bad guys setting up camp in their back yard.

And that’s what stability all boils down to.  When you combine all of the factors listed above into one country or area, you have what we call an “off the grid” scenario, where a bad guy can disappear, operate completely unmonitored, unchecked and free to roam and do as he pleases.

Although it was popularized in the best selling novel by Tom Clancy and subsequent movie starring Harrison Ford “Patriot Games,” many Americans still don’t understand just how big the Sahara desert is in North Africa, and just how many terrorist training camps are set up there.

So you take all of the stability factors above, put together with any cop show you’ve watched and think about how easy you would be to find, let’s say if you murder someone while out and about running your errands.

They could track your vehicle by the license plates or speed pass tags on your car and cameras along all the highways.  They could track your transactions via credit, debit, or ATM transactions to follow where you are.  They can track your GPS location via you phone (yes, even if it’s off and battery is removed), and they can find you via any GPS unit in your car.  If you get pulled over without a drivers license and fit a description they’re looking for you just bought yourself a ticket straight to jail….but somehow you don’t need one to vote, still mind boggling.

Now let’s look at a country in North Africa, and we’ll go through the steps of how you would get into a country to start a terrorist training camp “off the grid.”  I’m not giving anything away here or giving them any new ideas; as a Green Beret who operated in North Africa, I can tell you this was their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), and is available via open-source channels and simple connect-the-dots.

 

The border police are understaffed and underpaid (if there at all), so they have two options: just make a run for the border and drive across where you know it’s unguarded, or play it safe and pay off someone in advance to look the other way when you come across.

Pay off the local governor and/or police chief of the area that you’re going to operate, possibly a few military officials, and ensure that nobody comes in the direction where you’ll set up camp, and if they do it’s just another shallow grave in the desert for them.

Again you have to understand that many parts of the world don’t value human life as highly as we do in America.  You can call me crazy for saying this, but it’s based on real personal experience, and is why Americans line up and donate more money around the world to relief causes than any other country, many times over.

Once you’re in the country, you don’t need a drivers license to get around, you only use cash to buy supplies, and the government doesn’t have any real way to track you via satellite imagery, cell phone or GPS tracking, highly skilled intelligence analysts or cameras around the country.  That is, of course, unless America or another first world country concerned with their own security provides it.

Again, if you think that I’m crazy and just making up a nightmare scenario, consider Afghanistan.  This is how the Taliban and Al Qaeda set up and operated there, and are currently operating in the remote Waziristan regions of Pakistan, as well as the Sahara desert, Yemen, and other locations around Africa and the globe (especially growing now in the islands of Southeast Asia).

 

To the average person it may seem like an easy solution; just send drones over the entire desert and hunt each of them down.  Do a quick Google search to see just how big the Sahara desert is, then understand their are Bedouins who have lived out there for centuries and we can’t just kill indiscriminately, and you’ll start to get an understanding of why that sounds much easier than it is.

 

So now let’s move into my second point: the expectation of the rest of the world that we’ll be there to protect them.  Think of America as your Big Brother (funny enough that it’s our own description of our government).  You and your big brother may not get along; although you love each other, you probably fight all the time, with him usually beating you up and subjecting you to humiliation and wedgies.

But while your big brother beats up on you or may not let you sit at the cool table with him and his friends at lunch or the mall, you still expect him to help you if you get in over your head and get jumped or beat up by other people at school.  He’s your big brother, and it’s expected that he will help you rather than laugh and point.  If he doesn’t help you, you’ll harbor a greater grudge against him than even the kids who beat you up.

That’s how the world sees us.  Even the countries in the Middle and Far East who love to badmouth us in the public eye (see Syria, Egypt, etc), they still expect us to help when the going gets tough.  Sure, there are other large countries around with the ability, but the world knows that Russia and China couldn’t care less about other countries unless it serves their economic interest, so America, whether we like it or not, are the de facto big brothers, and world police.

So now let’s focus on the textbook example of this, Syria, and what is going on in the world today, and why we’ll see long-term consequences of our inaction there for generations to come.

We had a prime opportunity to step in early and handle the situation, at least offer some major assistance, but due to our own political mess and spineless politicians focusing on political theatre, did nothing, or very little.  The people there are being slaughtered by their own government, and while we’ve stepped into similar situations in the past, the administration chose the route to sit this one out, and only sent MRE’s at their expiration date as our assistance.

To cover their own rear ends, the politicians who chose inaction have let a huge smokescreen fly across the American media to make them look like the good guys, with the current news bytes showing Al Qaeda operating with the Free Syrian Army, and purporting that this is why we didn’t help.

Not so much.  Al Qaeda only stepped in and took hold there because this big brother sat on the sidelines doing nothing, and they stepped in to fill the void.  Why is this so bad for us?  Because regardless of reality, the world saw what was going on, and saw that while America stood on the sidelines, Al Qaeda stepped in to assist those who needed help, strengthening their view as freedom fighters to the Muslim world rather than terrorists.

Whether we like it or not, every child who survives this in Syria, whether the Free Syrian Army is victorious or not, will remember what happened.  Every child who lost one or both parents, who was displaced to another country as refugees, who sees the horrors of a long and protracted civil war, will remember that while America stood by and watched, Al Qaeda stepped in to help, and that is where their allegiances will fall.  If they’re ever asked to strap a bomb to their chest or attack an American convoy or embassy, this will be the deciding factor which may very well validate it in their minds as the right thing to do.  And it’s our own fault.

 

There is a great quote from a movie, I can’t remember which one, but John Malkovich plays a domestic terrorist, using cover as an American businessman just returning from a trip in Asia to give this story.  He tells someone over drinks (this is paraphased), “the reason the Japanese are so good is because of their outlook; American businessmen look only at the next quarter, while the Japanese look at the next quarter-century.”

Our current inability to focus on the long-term, big picture, global perspective is going to get the best of us if we don’t get it in check, economically, politically, militarily and in terms of our own future very soon.  We are cutting off our own nose to spite our face, and I blame most of it on our own broken political system.

Sure, money is tight, but we still have politicians lobbying for massive pork and bridges to nowhere (remember the money that went to Kentucky as a result of the last “government shutdown” deal?), but we pretend we can’t afford to pay for our own global security and stability.

So the next time you hear a protester on the street or newscaster telling you we shouldn’t be the worlds police, I hope that you remember this article, and understand that whether we like it or not, that’s exactly what we are (and have to be).

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Man in the Mirror, Race, Color and Creed

A friend of mine told me last week that as he read my blogs, he could imagine me yelling at the computer as I typed.  That’s not exactly what I’m going for, but pretty funny from a guy who knows me so well.  The things that I see in the news these days tend to get me a little heated, and it seems to come out when I write about those stories that get me worked up enough to put my feelings about them out there.

There are a few events which happened last week and are making the rounds in the news now, and there is one most of all that resonates enough with me to want to talk about…and hopefully you’re starting to learn my point of view enough to come along on this ride with me.

I’ve had an idea for quite a few years now, as I watch the world and America especially, fracture itself on purpose in the name of fairness and equality.  I’ve watched as people have tried as hard as they can to put themselves into every sub-group possible, in an attempt to find their
“identity,” but only succeeding in bringing them further and further from the rest of society, mankind, or people in general.

My idea is quite simple: As long as you define yourself by race, color, or creed, you will always be  defined by your race, color, or creed.

It sounds innocent enough, but stay with me here; at one time, we were all just people.  It was us against the world, struggling to keep the tribe alive long enough to pass on the bloodline and stay in existence, making our own footprint on this world.

People began to multiply, immigrated to different parts of the world and began their own tribes.  At one point, many of these tribes came together to form this great country that we call The United States of America.

I have Italian, Nordic and other types of blood running through my veins, but I’m not an Italian/Nordic/etc, I am an American.  My wife was born in Taiwan and raised in Texas, but she’s not a Taiwanese/American, she is an American.  As I said on “For Crying Out Loud” last week, my kids are “one part olive oil, one part soy sauce,” but they’re not Italian/Taiwanese-Americans….they are American.

But for some reason, in the last generation our society has strayed as far as they can from that point of pride, of calling yourself an American and instead putting as many hyphenations on the greatest of compliments as it takes to completely negate the “American” part of it.

When we were all just humans, we worked together as a tribe, to hunt and provide, to protect and care, to keep ourselves alive.  When we were all Americans, by the same token we all worked together to build this nation into the greatest civilization in the history of man.  We all pitched in an picked up trash if we walked past it, mowed our lawns, worked hard and brought home a paycheck, raised our kids to be fine, upstanding citizens, and the tribe was well.

What do we have now?  As people began to stray from our national identity, our society followed.  As people dropped the “American” from their only description, flags stopped appearing in so many yards, graffiti went up on every wall and overpass sign, and the trash stopped getting picked up.

As the pride in our society diminished, and it became more about “me and mine” rather than “us and ours,” education began to falter; the home structure is on the ropes, with the traditional family being a minority rather than a majority these days.  As our American brothers and sisters cared more about other details than being American, we let our society slip away.

We used to have an “ask what you can do for your country” mentality, even when dealing with our own races and/or cultures back in the day.  It wasn’t “we feel alienated because there is one fewer of mine than yours in political office,” or “not enough of a certain race represented in small business owners.”  It was the opposite; instead of, “what is America doing for me,” it was “look at what we’re doing for America.”

Proud Irish and Italian immigrants building the skyscrapers in New York.  All black/Irish/Italian units like the Red Tails or the Fighting 69, doing their part for this great country and using it as a point of pride, showing just how damned proud they were to be American; they used those points of pride to show just how much they contributed and belonged to this great society, rather than trying to fracture away from it and turn it into something it wasn’t.

So what got me onto this subject today?  Well, for one, I watched Django Unchained last week…..wow.  After announcing on “FCOL” last week that we hadn’t received the viewer from SAG, a friend sent me his copy, and all I can say is wow.  Good job Tarantino, it makes Roots look soft.

There are a few news stories that followed, interestingly enough, about a man slapping a toddler on an airplane and another man in a hospital saying only white nurses could touch his newborn.

I think that both of these events, and many other like them, are a result of people having this “you vs me” mentality, and I’m not saying that IT is a result of our fractioning and trying to create our own identities based on anything that sets us apart, but I feel that the fracturing is making it worse, more apparent, and more widespread.

People are inherently jealous of those who have what they don’t, and that can be money, special attention, fame, or anything that a certain person wants.  We used to have a society where people would say, “wow, that person has everything I want, I’m going to work hard and get it myself.”

We’ve now changed, I believe due to this fractioning and loss of American identity to a “look at what that jerk has, why do they deserve it and not me, I’m going to ruin their life and/or take it from them.”

By calling ourselves everything under the sun besides American, by flying the flag in our car/yard of the country we LEFT for America and a better life instead of the American flag, by creating our own identity rather than that of our countrymen and brethren, we have taken ourselves out of a society that works together toward a common goal to a narcissistic one who only believes that the group of people with whom they can identify should be happy and successful.

Think I’m getting a little overboard with this?  Look at the ACLU and the cases it has been fighting.  Look at the cases involving Atheists and, instead of giving them a better leg up, the fight is completely about taking the First Amendment rights away from the majority of this country, which is religious, and not allowing them to express themselves.

It is not a fight about trying to make the country, or even Atheists better, but rather destroying the livelihood and ability to express themselves away from people who are devoutly religious and attribute and success or happiness in life to their creator.  It’s not “i’m going to work hard to better myself,” but rather “I’m going to work to take what’s important away from you.”

Long story short, I feel that we are starting to fall way too far from the apple tree.  We’re all on “Team Human”, and as soon as we started going away from that, countries formed, boundaries were made and wars were waged.

Even within our own country, we have begun to move away from “Team America,” and as we’ve done that, our society has begun to shake at its foundations.  It would take much more than I can imagine to get us back to the “Team People” mentality, and as a sheepdog I do believe that there are evil people in the world who need to be forcibly removed, but maybe we can get back to the “Team America” way of living.

But how can we do that?  By just paying attention to what you’re doing, every day, all the time.  We involve so many biases and judgements in our daily life, based on things that are so engrained in society today that we do it without thinking.

Pay attention to everything going on around you; understand that Republican, Democrat, Liberal or Leftist, we are all American.  Our politicians have fallen into this trap and become so polarized that they are completely ineffective, and have further divided our nation into “red” and “blue” states.

Don’t fall into that trap; whenever you listen to the news, meet someone new, take your kids to school, or whatever you’re doing in life, remember, above everything else, you are an American, we live in the greatest society known to man, and we are letting it slip through our fingers.  Only by coming together on the common goal of keeping our society at the top of the pack can we ever succeed.

I was giving my son a bath after getting back from the gym this morning, and as my iPod was on shuffle, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson came on.  I hadn’t heard this song in some years, but it was great timing given what was already going on in my head and in the news.

If you, like me, haven’t heard that song in quite awhile, go put it on.  I’ll be here when you’re finished, but really listen.  And if you feel bashful about it, or that it challenges your masculinity in some way listening to Michael Jackson, remember that this Green Beret with shrapnel still in his body from Afghanistan has been listening to it all morning on repeat….I’m not saying i’m the toughest or most masculine guy in the world, but I’m closer to the top half than the bottom, and I love that damn song.

We’ve been spending too much time looking to inept politicians or others in charge to make the changes that we need to get back on the right track as a society, but they have more than proven themselves incapable (or unwilling) to do it for us.

If we want to make a change and get our country back on track, to be the same great nation for our kids as it was for us and our parents, it all starts with us.  It starts with me, it starts with you, it starts with all of us together.

Take a long hard look in the mirror, if you have kids, take a long hard look at them.  If you, like me, believe that we going in the wrong direction in society, don’t wait for someone else to change it, start making a change with the man in the mirror.

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Author Robert Patrick Lewis on the Dr. Drew Podcast 3/8/13

Download the Dr. Drew podcast on iTunes or the Adam Carolla app to hear “Love Me When I’m Gone” author Robert Patrick Lewis talk about PTSD in troops.  This episode was recorded at Carolla 1 studios on February 22nd, but will air March 8, 2013.

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Weapons for Egypt (who doesn’t want us), none for Syrian/Bahrain rebels (who need us)

As I tend to do from time to time, I’d like to start here with a few quotes which I think are applicable:

“He who forgets the past is doomed to repeat it.”

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

 

The issue at hand that has me all hot and bothered today is actually a conglomeration of several, so please bear with me, I’ll tie it all together at some point. For reasons that are becoming clearer every day, the media is neglecting to connect these, so hopefully I can do that for you here.

 

My first issue is with the sending of weapons, F-16’s and tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood which runs the vocally hateful- of-Americans, rapidly de-stabilizing chaos that is Egypt. It seems that regardless of the trillions of dollars of debt that we’re in, masses of taxpaying Americans (notice the qualifier there) up in arms about our growing debt, and despite the fact that this government is extremely vocal about their distaste for and distrust of America, we are sending hugely expensive weapons, and fighters planes their way…..as a sign of gratitude for standing against us?

 

My second issue, and I’ll tie these together shortly, is with our lack of support for the Syrian freedom fighters/rebels/terrorists, labeled as one of the above, depending on who you talk to (you can include the Bahrain fighters/rebels/terrorists who we did nothing to help as well). The only group in trouble RIGHT NOW in Egypt is the government; it’s pretty widely recognized that their election, bringing the Muslim Brotherhood of bloodthirsty Salafists into power, was a sham, made readily apparent by the massive protests and claims of election fraud that came the day after the announcement they had won.

 

But Syrian rebels are being massacred by their own government daily, as has been going on in Bahrain.  When was the last time you heard about that in the main stream media? Check out former CNN Journalist Amber Lyon on the Joe Rogan Podcast for some really scary stuff about that and how she was censored and fired for trying to tell people about the Bahrain tragedies.  Yet we act as if they need no help? But Egypt does?  Why?

 

I understand Geopolitics about as much as a guy can without working in a think-tank in DC, and a lot of this has me truly perplexed. Adam Carolla has a bit he calls “stupid or liar,” and I don’t know which one to call whatever yes-man Generals  advising the president right now, but either one terrifies me.

 

You see, this is one of the ways that terrorists are born. The Syrian people, at large, have been rather ambivalent to us. Iraq didn’t spill over into their country too much, we’re haven’t labeled them as enemies as we have with Iran (who’s younger generation actually loves Americans and the West…another thing you won’t see/hear in the main stream media), and so they never really had an all-out agenda towards us as many do and/or have.

 

But they do now. You see, even though most of the world will get mad at us for acting as “the world’s policemen” when they DON’T need it, they get very bent out of shape if we don’t intervene when they DO need it, and right now, they need it. And most likely our biggest problem is that our enemies who see that need will supply it, and in so doing, they will multiply our enemies.

 

The original decision to NOT put arms into the hands of the Syrian rebels was supposedly made because of fear that they would fall into the hands of our enemies, as happened in Libya, and would be turned against us. The actuality of what is happening is much, much worse.

 

Many of our enemies don’t have the conventional, large-scale armies to take us on head-to-head, or can’t risk the global political fallout of doing so, and have instead been playing the cat-and-mouse game of behind the scenes warfare and proxy wars that we started in Afghanistan vs Russia (by arming rebel groups or fighting us directly in the theatres in which we are engaged ie Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Pakistan). I saw this first hand in Iraq and Africa, and althought many on the Left tried to play it off as conservative propoganda, I’m telling you from experience it’s real.

 

 

So in Syria, you have a conglomeration of enemies of America who saw our lack of involvement, used it as a “call to arms” for jihad, and are arming and fighting alongside the rebels. When, and there is no “if” here, the Assad regime falls, all of his weapons, from one of the most heavily fortified Army’s in the middle east, will go to those rebels, who will have a severe hatred of America. But why?

 

Because as we’re sending them food packages and a few bandages, we’re sending F-16’s, tanks and arms to Egypt. We are sending weapons to a government who openly mocks us, who is a step away from either folding or turning those same arms on their own people, while the rebels in Syria who are fighting for their homes and lives are massacred due to being severely outgunned.

 

But now the tides have turned, and those weapons and men that we should have supplied are being supplied by our enemies, along with a healthy dose of Anti-American indocrination. And from a guy who can tell you from experience, the bonds formed by fighting shoulder to shoulder with someone are stronger than any other in humanity, and they’re fighting with our enemies.

 

So let’s focus on Egypt again….what else could be bad about arming them with fighters and tanks? Hmmmm….what in the world would Egypt want to do with heavy weaponry like that. Who is our only lifelong ally in that region, one with whom Egypt shares a border, and the Muslim Brotherhood vehemently promises to rain fire upon? Israel. And if you don’t think those weapons are going to be used against our only true allies in the Middle East, the Israelis, I have to play the Carolla “stupid or liar” game with you.

 

I’m getting to the point at which I’m going to start breaking down into name-calling and insults, which is my cue to stop. Please share this, listen to Amber Lyon on the Joe Rogan podcast, and pay attention to many different news sources. The line that you’re getting from the White House is not accurate, and I would even go so far as to say that the Generals who are advising the President are either being completely ignored, or they are yes men who should be tried on charges of treason for the horrible decisions that they’re allowing to be made.

 

It is a long-held quote and truth that we know in Special Forces, one that I quoted at the start.   I’ll close by quoting it again. Pay attention to what’s going on in the world around you, and decide on your own, not via the White House press secretary,what is what.  And I remind you that:  “One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.”

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Gays in the military, Don’t Ask, Don’t tell

There are a lot of people in our society today who love to get up in arms about various military subjects, regardless of whether they know any of the boots-on-the-ground, battle-tested truth or not.  Politicians who have never spent a day in combat boots but think they know how to control military spending or combat operations, journalists who think they have the truth about women in combat, and sideliners who think they have the answer on one of the biggest hot-button topic of our time, gays in the military.

From a man who’s served as a Green Beret on all of the fronts in which we’re currently engaged, I can tell you that, to my brothers and I from my ODA, we couldn’t care less.  When it comes down to bullets on target, carrying your rucksack up that mountain, accomplishing the mission and watching my six, there are a lot of things that can mean the difference between life-or death for your entire team, but there are a few others that have no place in that equation: race, color, creed, and yes, sexual orientation.

I would consider myself very conservative on 99% of issues, but my belief that government has no part in telling Americans how to live their life applies here over my support for the RNC.  I have many straight friends who chose not to join the military, and harbor no ill-will or doubts about them, but when I hear that people want to serve this country, put their lives on the line for my flag and swear the oath to defend the constitution and are denied because of who they love it really bothers me.

There is a quote that I feel applies greatly here, from the great William Shakespeare and quoted again in a rather famous movie: “We few, we lucky few, we band of brothers; for he who sheds his blood with me today, he shall then be my brother.”  If you are enough of an American Patriot to sign up and put your life on the line to defend her, I don’t see how anything else matters, and I will consider you my brother.

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Women in Combat

Before the ladies start sharpening their knives and sending hate-mail, let me preface this; my wife is a better shot than me with a pistol (but I’ve got her with a rifle hands-down).  After two kids, it’s an easy bet that she’s tougher than me.  I can say without hesitation that she’s smarter than me.  But, I can also say that I would go back to war 1,000 times so that she never had to see it for a second.

The word has just come out about allowing women into combat, and it seems as if the wrong questions and people are being asked their opinions in the media, and a lot of people have been asking mine, so here it goes if you want it.

Firstly, I don’t deny the fact that there are women out there who want to be on the front lines, or that there are many women who could do a great job there (see above).  My main problems with this idea are the operational environments in which we are currently operating, and the effect this will have on general morale (keep reading….for different reasons than one would think).

From an operational environment standpoint, you have to realize where we are currently engaged in combat, and ostensibly will be in the near future.  I’ve been to Afghanistan, Iraq and North Africa, and these battles and environments are much different than those you see in the typical wars from years past.

Namely, that all of these countries are Muslim-dominated and put women below cattle on their “respect” list.  I’m not saying that all Muslims do or think like this, as you may very well have an American Muslim neighbor who is just as horrified by this as you, but from a guy who’s been on the ground in all of the places that we are engaged in combat, please trust me that this is the norm there.

In our current operational environment, our “hearts and minds” campaigns are fought on the streets and in the villages, where Infantry squad leaders and Special Forces ODA’s are routinely in Shura’s (meetings) with village elders, and much of our valuable on-the-ground intel comes from walking through villages and talking to locals.

If the “hearts and minds” COIN strategy is still our mission, how well do you think it’s going to go when we force a Muslim village elder in the mountains of Afghanistan to do business and negotiate with someone he sees as inferior and not worthy of talking to a man?  How about when she says something he doesn’t like, and does what he’s done his entire life and reaches out to give her the back of his hand?

You see, Americans love to look at the world in terms of America, and many of those who have never traveled outside of this country and “smelled the dirt” in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa, have no idea what the mentality is like there, yet love to make assumptions of what’s the best way to operate.  Most of our current politicians can fall into this category, because landing at Bagram for an hour photo-op doesn’t count as “combat credit.”

It doesn’t matter how “progressive,” “PC” or “forward-thinking” we are; our enemy is not, and even our friends and allies over there are not.  When you are a guest in a house, you follow the rules of that house, and if we are not there as occupiers then we are breaking the rules of the house.  The locals became very upset when they were forced to speak with clean-faced American soldiers, and considered it an insult (we had a rather large loss of rapport ourselves in Afghanistan when our command forced us to shave our beards), and I can only imagine their reaction to this.

My second point has not to do with the toughness of women, but the hard-wiring of men.  Unless we are going to make a 100% switch overnight to all-women in combat, I can tell you that this will end badly on the battlefield.

As a Combat Medic, one of your highest priorities when soldiers are wounded in combat is triage.  It’s rare that only one person is hit, but not so rare that there is only one medic.  If you’re in a situation with 5 casualties, just one medic and at least a half-hour until the MEDEVAC arrives, your priority is triage; save those you can, pray for those you can’t.

Israel has seen this before, yet we’re choosing not to learn from their lessons.  They found that time and time again, in the situation I mentioned above, if there were both women and men injured in combat, the men (medics and Infantry alike) would spend all of their time focusing on the women, even when they were long gone.  Time and time again the “savable” men would die because the others would try to save the woman even after she was far gone.

Again, it doesn’t matter how much you brow-beat the PC and progressive ideas into us, we are hard-wired as men to protect women….if you’re any sort of decent man, that is.  We will focus all of our efforts on saving and protecting women, even to the dire consequences of losing others, sacrificing security, or neglecting other men that are injured with the “suck it up bro” mentality.

In closing, I just want to re-iterate that I’m far from anti-female, not saying that they can’t hack it, or are inferior in any way.  I’m just saying from my experience, and the experience of other combat-tested troops, that this will not end well.

We have too many politicians focusing on polling data and progressive ideals, forgetting to ask the people who will be affected and who have played these games before.  Open your eyes and ears, ask questions of soldiers on the battlefield, not those in the Pentagon focusing more on political gain that what’s going on downrange.

 

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Obamacare and the No Free Lunch Principle

Like most of my blogs, this one is starting because of something that I heard (from a left-wing nut-job, of course) that has been bothering me quite a bit.

I was using Twitter in the way that most conservatives do….to find and pass along info the Main Stream Media glossed over or passed on entirely, and began my second favorite use of Twitter: arguing with a liberal.

The thing that really got to me was the way he wrote me off, as most Leftists and Liberals do when they hit a brick wall while in a discussion/argument with a Conservative; by calling me a racist Republican.  Sorry, wrong on both counts, but good try.  Do they not understand that most of the intelligent world has caught on to that cop-out and understands it’s the Liberal “white flag” meaning that you know you’ve been beat?

The argument which preceded my mislabeling was about Obamacare and the recent tax increases.  Before it devolved into name calling, he asked what was to me a funny question: “How do you not understand that raising taxes on the rich and providing free care to everyone is needed for our economy?  Don’t you know anything about Economics????”

Funny enough, yes.  I have a Bachelors Degree in Marketing, owned my own business in college and am now working in the business office of one of the nation’s top 5 hospitals….I left the Army part of my resume out because, while the government spending side of the argument will play in here, my role as a Green Beret didn’t have much to do with spending decisions or economics.  But based on the other experience, I’d say I have a little more Economics background, both Macro and Micro, than the average journalist writing for a left-wing online publication.

I was introduced to the “No Free Lunch” principle in Honors Economics class in High School.  My teacher was one of my top 5 I’ve ever had, and she is probably the reason I never switched majors in college and knew Business was for me from Day 1.

There are quite a few places you can find this principle quoted and explained on the internet; basically, the principle says that nothing is free….and the principle can be applied to any tangible good, such as a lunch, or an intangible good, as the time taken to sit down to said lunch.

This is because even if you aren’t paying for it, somebody is.  There is an entire supply chain that is required to turn grain into wheat, wheat into bread, package that bread, ship it to the restaurant, etc.  Even if the restaurant bakes its own bread, chances are they got the ingredients from someone else, and even if it was at no cost, the time spent procuring these items is valuable.

There is another great example I read about Bill Gates online this morning; it is estimated he makes about $250/second, so if he were walking down the street and saw a $100 bill, would he bother to bend over and pick it up?  If so, his opportunity cost in the 4 seconds it took him to pick up $100 would have lost him $900.  Basic Economics and Business 101, although these principles should obviously be applied to things besides walking down the street and eating a sandwich.

So, now that I’ve scratched the surface and saved you a couple of grand on Micro and Macro Economics classes, back to my current job (besides author, which is why you’re probably reading this blog in the first place).  My 9-5 is in the business office of one of the top 5 hospitals in the nation.

As such, I get a lot of notifications to changes in our contracts with many of our suppliers of medical devices.  Health Care is a big business these days, and if you didn’t know that, you’re not paying attention.

I received a notification today that another one of our device manufacturers is increasing their prices and lowering services because they have to fire staff.  Why?  Because of the new 2.3%  Federal Excise Tax on Medical Devices for Obamacare.  I also have many sales representatives from these companies who are having their pay reduced, having the taxes taken out of their commissions, or are being required to pay in other ways.

But I thought Obamacare was the Panacea to end all of our ills?  Isn’t it just a harmless ray of sunshine, made to spread love and care throughout the world with no unintended consequences or victims?  And didn’t the President say it would come at no extra cost???

Well, that’s certainly how it was portrayed, but the answers to those questions is No, No, and NO.

Here’s the most basic thing I’ve learned through my time working on the business side of hospitals: insurance companies and medical manufacturers (you can even include Big Pharma in there) ALWAYS win, and they ALWAYS pass the bill along to the consumers.

One of my sales rep friends told me a funny story about a company trip to New York for a business conference last year.  He had never been to Manhattan before, and he said he was dumbfounded the first time he saw it, especially working in the medical industry.  Next time you’re there or see a picture, pay attention to who owns most of the tallest buildings: insurance companies.

I work for a teaching and community hospital; long story short, that means we provide top-tier medical treatment to anyone, regardless of insurance status.  But I thought that didn’t exist and Obamacare was fixing that?  Wrong again.  We have multiple hospitals in our enterprise, and a number very close to 50% of our patients are either Medicare, Medicaid, CCS, International Clinic, Childrens Hospital, Veterans Administration, or no insurance at all.  And Obamacare is going to hurt us.

You see, even though we see all of these patients on government sponsored programs, we are not a government-owned facility.  And when we see a patient who is uninsured or under insured, the medical device companies and insurance companies don’t take it easy on us or give us a break; we get less back from the government than we would another patient, but pay full price to whoever supplied the required devices.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, here’s where the “Free Lunch Principle” concept kicks in; Obamcare was made to make it cheaper on you to get insurance or healthcare, but in no way is making it cheaper for hospitals.  God forbid they reduce the litigious liability insurance that hospitals face against teams of ambulance chasers just waiting to take us down.

On the contrary, Obamacare is made to make it easier and give that lunch to some in the population, while taking a bigger bite of the sandwiches of those who work hard to pay for them out of their own pocket, with our own blood, sweat and tears.

I live in California, which already has the highest healthcare and insurance costs in the nation.  Why?  Because the Medi-cal (Medicaid) system here has become so overrun that those of us who actually work, pay taxes and act like responsible adults and take care of ourselves have to pay for those that don’t; and since this state takes it upon itself to welcome non-producers with open arms and give them welfare and medi-cal immediately, and ask nothing of them in return, it is only getting worse.

So who’s paying for the Obamacare lunch?  If you’re reading this, probably you.  If you are one of the declining number of Americans who actually work or do anything beneficial for society and earn money and pay taxes, you are paying for that lunch.  Even before Obamacare starts, we are starting to see these taxes come on board.

The manufacturers aren’t eating that cost; the hospitals aren’t eating that cost; the insurance companies definitely aren’t eating it.  But since the people getting Obamacare aren’t paying to begin with (or are paying well below its actual cost) guess who gets the tab after they’ve finished their meals and left the restaurant?  Us.

The hardworking American taxpayer who is constantly hearing that they “aren’t paying their fair share.”  As the unemployment, welfare and food stamp numbers skyrocket with people who aren’t paying ANY share, we are being called the bad guy and accused of trying to keep the money that we worked for while our tax burden and costs grow heavier and heavier.  And don’t expect a thank you.

If I go too much further this will probably devolve into at least a baker’s dozen other tangents, so I’ll leave it there.  I hope you enjoyed this Robert Patrick Lewis ECO 101 presentation; I hope you learned something, I hope you’re a little more informed, and I hope you understand that this will not end well…..as long as you’re the person paying for lunch.

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