August 21st, 2006

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Good Morning!!

The kittens have some new toys and are happily playing.   One is a tunnel made, on the outside,  from tent material, and, on the inside,  it is lined with sheepskin.  Soft balls hang down.  They rest and sleep in there during the day.  They  wash each others'  faces, and, then,  sleep wrapped.   The other favorite toy consists of  two plastic disks with a ball that rolls between.  They play with it together, using the ball like a tetherball, each one batting it back and forth.

I realize the lightness of their energy fits the lightness I am feeling.   I feel young and responsive.  I reach in and there is something there, just softly there.  It is hard to explain, but I feel I have found my balance, and part of it is watching these kittens bounce, explore, and sleep.  I see how to use my energy and be and do, and do and be.

Happy Monday morning to you!!   It is gray here, perfect for spinning dreams into quilts,  and wrapping them like ribbons around the flowing streams.    
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A Sensible Approach!

Published: August 21, 2006

San Francisco

THREE years into the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, everyone from slicksleeved privates fighting for survival in Ramadi to the echelons above reality at the Pentagon still believes that eliminating insurgents will eliminate the insurgency. They are wrong.

There is a difference between killing insurgents and fighting an insurgency. In three years, the Sunni insurgency has grown from nothing into a force that threatens our national objective of establishing and maintaining a free, independent and united Iraq. During that time, we have fought insurgents with airstrikes, artillery, the courage and tactical excellence of our forces, and new technology worth billions of dollars. We are further from our goal than we were when we started.

Counterinsurgency is about gaining control of the population, not killing or detaining enemy fighters. A properly planned counterinsurgency campaign moves the population, by stages, from reluctant acceptance of the counterinsurgent force to, ideally, full support.

American soldiers deride “winning hearts and minds” as the equivalent of sitting around a campfire singing “Kumbaya.” But in fact it is a sophisticated, multifaceted, even ruthless struggle to wrest control of a population from cunning and often brutal foes. The counterinsurgent must be ready and able to kill insurgents — lots of them — but as a means, not an end.

Counterinsurgency is work better suited to a police force than a military one. Military forces — by tradition, organization, equipment and training — are best at killing people and breaking things. Police organizations, on the other hand, operate with minimum force. They know their job can’t be done from miles away by technology. They are accustomed to face-to-face contact with their adversaries, and they know how to draw street-level information and support from the populace. The police don’t threaten the governments they work under, because they don’t have the firepower to stage coups.

The United States needs a professional police organization specifically for creating and keeping public order in cooperation with American or foreign troops during international peacekeeping operations. It must be able to help the military control indigenous populations in failing states like Haiti or during insurgencies like the one in Falluja.

The force should include light armored cavalry and air cavalry paramilitary patrol units to deal with armed guerillas, as well as linguistically trained and culturally attuned experts for developing and running informants. It should be skilled and professional at screening and debriefing detainees, and at conducting public information and psychological operations. It must be completely transportable by air and accustomed to working effectively with American and local military forces.

Bureaucratic ownership of this force will doubtless be controversial. Because the mission of international peacekeeping entails dealing mostly with civilians, the force would ideally be a civilian organization. But no civilian department is currently structured in a way that seems suitable.

At least initially, the force would most likely fall under the Department of Defense. The establishing legislation should include a fire wall, however, to guard against the tendency of paramilitary units to evolve into pure warriors with berets, boots and bangles.

Crucial to the success of this force is that the American people thoroughly discuss and understand the organization and its mission. Only by having this discussion can we avoid the example of the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, which combined the Vietnamese National Police with American advisers to root the Viet Cong shadow government out of rural villages. The Phoenix Program was highly effective; because it was supposed to be secret, however, the program was not explained to the American people, and it became impossible to refute charges of torture and assassination. Without the support of the American people, the program lost momentum and died.

The legislation establishing the police force should firmly anchor it in respect for human rights. Its mission will be to advance American ideals of justice and freedom under the law, and it must do so by example as well as word. That will be both difficult and critical in a place like Iraq, where it would have to wrest control of the population from insurgents who regard beheading hostages with chain saws as acceptable.

Stringent population control measures like curfews, random searches, mandatory presentation of identity documents, searches of businesses and residences without warrants and preventive detention would be standing operating procedure. For such measures to be acceptable to the public, they must be based on solid legal ground and enforced fairly, transparently and impartially.

The police are used to functioning within legal restraints. Our armed forces, however, are used to obeying only the laws of war and the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice. Soldiers and marines are trained to respond to force with massive force. To expect them to switch overnight to using force only as permitted by a foreign legal code, enforced and reviewed by foreign magistrates and judges, is quite unrealistic. It could also threaten their survival the next time they have to fight a conventional enemy.

Forcing the round peg of our military, which has no equal in speed, firepower, maneuver and shock action, into the square hole of international law enforcement and population control isn’t working. We need a peacekeeping force to complement our war-fighters, and we need to start building it now.

Terence J. Daly is a retired military intelligence officer and counterinsurgency specialist who served in Vietnam as a province-level adviser.

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Exciting news -

On Aug. 21, 1959, President Eisenhower signed an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state of the union.

That brings back grade school, and coloring in our two new states.   Alaska became the 49th state on January 3rd, 1959.

Today, it doesn't seem so long ago.  I feel myself curled up in a ball where my head easily touches and blesses my toes, and the past is new as now, and now, is fresh as the enthusiasm of a kitten, and time is lovingly rolling round and round, signaling with light the joyful life that is me, and you, and we!

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Jon Carroll today -

This column by Jon Carroll today is excellent with some important statements by Jimmy Carter, and a reminder to read Jill Caroll's experience with her captors in Iraq.  I just read her account in the SF Chronicle today, and it is essential reading.


Monday, August 21, 2006


There is a three-story gray stucco apartment house on Park Boulevard in Oakland. As of late last week, the flag of Lebanon hung from one window of that building. From another window, in what seems like another apartment, hangs the flag of Israel. I have no idea what kind of dialogue is going on inside the building -- Israel and Lebanon are, technically speaking, not even at war with each other -- but I imagine things are sometimes a little tense in the hallways.

The world is everywhere around us and we are everywhere in the world, even when we are going to the grocery store. There are no bystanders anymore; even if you don't want to be in, you're in. Which apartment would you enter first, and why?

There's no right answer. Suffering is a constant on all sides, and governmental misbehavior is epidemic. The Israelis apparently instituted their huge offensive (the excuse was the two kidnapped soldiers, but it is clear the invasion has been planned for some time) in the belief that the air strikes would turn the people against Hezbollah because they would blame it for their plight.

When has that ever worked? The people of Vietnam did not blame their government for the bombings, they blamed the Americans. The people of Iraq didn't blame Saddam Hussein for the bombings, they blamed the Americans. Why? Because that's who was doing the bombing. It's not a complicated reaction. What are the markings on the plane? OK, we'll hate them.

It's the Dick Cheney School of International Relations -- one would have thought the Israelis were smarter than that. So after 30 days of destruction, more than a thousand people killed, not much has changed. Israel's peril is still real. The Palestinians are still wretched. The only thing that has changed is the condition of the towns and villages of southern Lebanon.

Ah, but guess who's in there providing succor to the needy? Hezbollah. This is also not a surprise; Hezbollah was doing that before the bombings -- that's how it has gained followers. It's a tactic even older than Tammany Hall, and it works; it's the Christmas turkey theory of politics. You just can't blow away an indigenous social and religious movement with an air campaign. If you bombed Texas for 30 days, would you get rid of the Christian conservatives? Nope. You'd create a lot more of them.

Jimmy Carter made a statement about the conflict in Lebanon the other day; it did not receive wide enough coverage, so I'm going to reprint a few paragraphs:

"It is inarguable that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens, but it is inhumane and counterproductive to punish civilian populations in the illogical hope that somehow they will blame Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking the devastating response. The result instead has been that broad Arab and worldwide support has been rallied for these groups, while condemnation of both Israel and the United States has intensified ...

"Leaders on both sides ignore strong majorities that crave peace, allowing extremist-led violence to pre-empt all opportunities for building a political consensus. Traumatized Israelis cling to the false hope that their lives will be made safer by incremental unilateral withdrawals from occupied areas, while Palestinians see their remnant territories reduced to little more than human dumping grounds surrounded by a provocative 'security barrier' that embarrasses Israel's friends and fails to bring safety or stability ...

"A major impediment to progress is the U.S. administration's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and will be withheld from those who reject U.S. assertions. Direct engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority and the government in Damascus will be necessary if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and leaders involved risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran."

In other news: I trust you read the series by Jill Carroll about her three months as a hostage. It's remarkably evenhanded, considering her harrowing circumstances, but it does not hesitate to blame the murderers for their murders and the terrorists for their terror.

It is good to remember that when Carroll was finally released and told reporters that she'd been well treated by her captors -- which was true -- she was immediately attacked by right-wing columnists for being soft on terrorism. Wrote John Podhoretz of the National Review: "It's wonderful that she's free, but after watching someone who was a hostage for three months say on television she was well-treated because she wasn't beaten or killed -- while being dressed in the garb of a modest Muslim woman rather than the non-Muslim woman she actually is -- I expect there will be some Stockholm Syndrome talk in the coming days."

There was no talk because there was no syndrome. I mean, even being taken prisoner by terrorists allows you no slack in the attack dog community.

You've heard this before, but it's still true: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
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Poem by Jane Hilberry -


Our lives will not flash before our eyes.
Light travels the curved walls of time
like a train whistle that lowers
in pitch while diminishing.
But when the train doesn't swerve
at the turn, or a girl, sleepy, looking for
the bathroom door, falls between cars - the light
does not intensify. There is no inward curve, no
              Her parents hope she didn't see,
didn't feel the bare rail, the clutch
of wheels. Still, they wish
they'd kissed her again, pressed
every bone to their hearts,
like a fern making a fossil in sand.

They store her suitcase
in an upstairs room, an atom, intact.
Below, the clock sounds like the clack of ties.
For those on board there is no
relativity: the shriek
of the whistle does not fade.

Jane Hilberry
Body Painting
Red Hen Press

Copyright (c) 2005 by Jane Hilberry.

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Spirituality -

A few years ago, I heard Jim Wallis speak at Grace Cathedral.  He is the founder of Sojourners, which works for true Christian values, as Jesus would have seen it, and Mohammed, and Buddha, too.  If you believe that those who are picking tomatoes for McDonalds deserve a fair wage, click here, and sign.

Also, if you do eat fast food, choose Taco Bell over McDonalds.
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Pilates -

I just had my third session, and I must admit tears came, as I saw how I stopped trusting my body, and then, felt today how everything has just been waiting for me to step back in.  The body-mind is a wondrous thing.  Celebrate yourself today, and move from your bones.  Your muscles know what to do.    Happy Celebration of spine and soft ribs!
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Tonight -

An old friend calls.  We have not spoken in years.  Her brother died, just died.  She has been grieving this last year.   Her son has a baby boy.   They gave him an old Hebrew name and an Arabic name in their prayer for peace.  Welcome,  Ramiel Said Gordon.   If only it could be that easy, peace found and cultivated, in the naming of our children.  If only we truly could have peace, each one of us within, and between, and in the embrace of us all.  I so want the sanctity of peace,  and I know we need some creative tension in our lives, and can't that be found in daily watching the sun stroke the sky, and the earth open up new paths for seeds?
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Emerson -

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson