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A Veterans Day message to my brothers and sisters

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I’ve spent more than a month thinking about what I wanted to say this Veteran’s Day. I thought perhaps this year would be less contentious than last, but it doesn’t seem that way. Our politics and culture is as divided as ever.

I hope that at least on the issue of our nation’s veterans we can all agree to set aside politics and division for just a little while. I maintain a Facebook account just to keep in touch with friends and relatives, and rarely, if ever, debate politics there. Others don’t seem to feel the same.

I’ve watched comrades I’ve been to war with savage each other over issues of race, guns, taxes, and even things as silly as the NFL. It has saddened me to see men and women who served side by side in the darkest of times forget that they are friends and comrades and assume the worst about each other. I’ve watched silently, reading their posts, replies, and counter-replies, but not commenting myself.

My heart is heavy as those who happen to be of a different race savage each other over the issue. I never considered it before, simply because it didn’t matter to me. They were my comrades. Most served with me as subordinates, a few others as superiors or peers. All were, and still are, my brothers and sisters.

I’ll put things in a larger perspective that most people can understand. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is someone whom I find politically reprehensible, as he runs as a conservative every six years, and behaves as no such thing while in office. Yet I find any attack upon his years spent in a North Vietnamese prison camp as disgusting. McCain was given the opportunity to go home early, yet refused to go without his fellow prisoners. If one cannot respect that service, in and of itself, how can you respect anything?

Kurt Schlichter and I have disagreed on Twitter often enough, usually over candidate, and now President Trump. I disagree with some of Kurt’s support for Trump as unwarranted, but I’ve never lost respect for Kurt’s long and honorable service in the Army. He’s a good man, and his service should be honored.

A man I almost NEVER agree with is Montel Williams. The former talk show host and Naval Academy graduate and I have sparred often enough over a variety of issues. We’re about as far apart on the political spectrum as it gets. And yet we follow each other on Twitter, even giving each other a hard time over each other’s branch of service like vets tend to do. Montel is my brother, and always will be, no matter how much we fight over politics.

Sure, there are those that were and still are in the military I don’t respect, but that come from what I know about their behavior in the military, not because of political beliefs. But those I just disagree with politically don’t stop being my brother or sister because of that.

I hope those I served with, and others, will come to that same place at some point. I frankly wish ALL people could serve in the military simply so they could find that same bond that I value so much in my fellow veterans. If we could at least have that level of respect for each other, I wonder if perhaps our political discourse might in turn become more productive?

At any rate, I hope that everyone, everywhere in the United States, will at least set aside politics for the weekend and honor this nation’s veterans who have sacrificed so much. Many of us are still sacrificing. We live with the nightmares of the dead we carried to their final flight home, or with the fact that we lost families in part due to our service. Please consider that this weekend, even if you can’t consider it all the time.

To those I served with, I begged you to remember the things we went through together, and that bond should be enough to help us keep our respect for one another, even when we vehemently disagree.

Foreign Affairs

Pulling out of the INF treaty isn’t just about Russia

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Pulling out of the INF treaty has very little to do with Russia

Russia has broken the treaty already, according to this administration as well as its predecessor. That’s enough to prompt President Trump to put out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, famously signed by President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev in 1987.

President Trump to pull US from Russia missile treaty

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45930206The US will withdraw from a landmark nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump has confirmed.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Trump said Russia had “violated” the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

The deal banned ground-launched medium-range missiles, with a range of between 500 and 5,500km (310-3,400 miles).

My Take

This isn’t about Russia. Their actions are the excuse for pulling out, but the reason for doing so is because China has no such restrictions. They’re advancements in weaponry have prompted the United States and our allies to explore means of warfare that have been prohibited.

Until now.

This is a counter to China’s continued aggressive actions. Russia will keep doing what Presidents Obama and Trump already acknowledged. No we can step up our missile program as well.

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Foreign Affairs

White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

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White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

Syria has been in a state of disarray for nearly a decade now. Ever since the infamous “red line” that President Obama failed to enforce, the Middle Eastern nation has been suffering through war, poverty, and occupation by hostile forces ranging from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran.

The Islamic State may no longer be an occupying threat in Syria, but Iran and Russia are. The White House has a plan to push them out of the country. It does not involve military engagement, though U.S. military personnel may engage if they feel threatened. Instead, the plan is to offer aid to the Syrians wherever they need help, except where Iran and Russia have a presence.

This represents a huge chunk of the crumbling nation.

Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank strongly opposed to the Iranian regime.

Driving Iran out of Syria would be one prong in an approach that would also involve continuing to destroy remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and finding a political transition after the exit of both ISIS and Iran that does not call for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

My Take

Any measure that does not put Americans in harms way is worth pursuing. As long as Syria is as vulnerable as it is, there are risks to both American and Israeli interests in the region. The war-torn nation needs help rebuilding so they can rightly remove Iran’s and Russia’s presence.

Perhaps more importantly is the need to rejuvenate a homeland for millions of refugees. They are already causing major problems in countries throughout Europe and Asia. If we can expedite the renewal of their homeland, it will prompt many to return.

We have no business fighting battles in Syria. The White House plan would use diplomacy and economic pressure to rid Syria of their occupying forces. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than further military conflicts.

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Military

Entire F-35 fleet grounded until fuel tubes inspected

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Entire F-35 fleet grounded until fuel tubes inspected

Following a crash last month in South Carolina of a F-35 fighter jet, the United States military has grounded the entire fleet. The suspected problem, faulty fuel tubes, must be inspected before the fleet will be brought back into combat duty.

F-35 jets: US military grounds entire fleet

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45827795“If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

“Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The aircraft, which uses stealth technology to reduce its visibility to radar, comes in three variants.

Each F-35 costs around $100 million. Expect the military to move quickly as the aircraft is crucial in the air defense of the nation, giving us complete air superiority regardless of the threat.

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