Wednesday, June 22, 2005

June 22, 2005
How to bring civility back to Capitol Hill?

Freedom of speech does not give a blank check to anyone to say what ever he wants.
Words have meaning. Our elected officials must be held accountable for what they say and do. If they are not responsible enough to govern themselves, we need to institute some means where they are made to pay a price both in dollars and in public opinion.

In any group, there are acceptable rules of conduct and guidelines. For example, in professional sports, a player can be fined or censured for bad behavior and the use of bad language.

I think we are at a stage where our elected officials must play by similar rules.

Word do have meaning and sometimes they can even cause damage and harm, to our reputation, our troops in the battle field, our citizens abroad and families at home.

Here is a short list of recommendations for our elected officials.
Don’t make personal attacks on others that you disagree. Argue with the policy and not the person.
Don’t make charges that cannot be backed up by facts. Rumors and innuendos have no place in government.
Curse words are out of line.
Miss statements should be corrected ASAP and genuine apology issued.
Keep down the rhetoric and hyperbole and stick to facts.

If all are officials agree to some basic restraint, it will go a long way to improve civility on Capitol Hill and perhaps lead to better working relations among the various parties.
Precious time and energy will not be wasted on addressing these distractions and perhaps used to debate real policies and important issues and pass bills which is their primary job.

My Solution:

Impose a fine of $1000 per incident on any official that behave or speak badly in any public forum. Private conversations are exempt.
An independent panel can be chosen to rule on the merit of any case.
Recommendation for censure can be made for extreme violations.
A scorecard shold be kept on all infractions and made public. There is much to be said about public shame to maintain civility.

Jack Lee

Monday, June 20, 2005

Timeline for withdraw from Iraq?

June 20, 2005
A Timeline to withdraw from Iraq?

A legitimate policy debate can be made regarding the question of whether the Administration should establish a timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq.

I for one support this policy for several reasons.

Providing a timeline will assure the Iraqi people that we are only there to help them and not occupy them. One of the mistakes after the first Gulf war was that we insisted on placing a sanction on Sadam’s Iraq with indefinite time frame. This ended up hurting not only the Iraqi people but our standing in the Arab world.

As a project manager, I know the positive effect a realistic schedule can have on completing the project on-time, within budget and with complete accountability. By having a timetable with defined milestones, a project manager can periodically assess how things are going and make adjustments to accomplish the task.

A timetable will also provide a verifiable goal and will give all participants a sense of reward for accomplishing something on an incremental basis.

It will also guide the coalition troops and the Iraqi counterparts to set priorities so as to best meet the deadlines. Given infinite time will only invite infinite possibilities.

A timetable is not cast in stone and can be modified when unforeseen circumstances occur and may affect the outcome. When it does happen, there is a cause and effect that can be explained and justified.

It will act also as a measurement tool to see how well is our strategy going and how effective is the outcome. I would also include the cost of the war in dollars and in casualties of our troops as additional tools. We can then say with some certainty that a particular action is worth the cost. This is standard cost vs. benefit analysis that most business perform on a daily basis.

The American people and Congress cannot issue a blank check for any activity without oversight. A timeline will act as a guide and help people in a position of power to make reasonable budgets and projections going forward.

Finally, there is the pride of ownership. It is human nature to want to be in control of ones own destiny. When the Iraqi people are given the ownership of their own future, they are more likely to put their lives on the line. As long as the Coalition troops are there to oversee and protect, there is little incentive for the local people to step forward.

To answer the most obvious counter argument – that is providing a timeline will give the insurgents an upper hand and allow them to just wait us out. However, this may not be such a bad idea given the current semi-chaotic state in Iraq. What is most lacking now in Iraq is stability. Without it, very little progress can happen. If we can attain some temporary stability, and allow training of Iraqi police, rebuilding the infrastructure, productive oil pipeline… to occur, we can go a long way to convince the people of Iraq that hope is on the way. They will reject the efforts of the insurgents some of which are foreign fighters and not Iraq nationals. Any violence perpetrated on Iraqis will be exposed as violence against their own people.

The blunt truth is this, after a reasonable period of time, if the Iraqi government and people cannot secure a working and functioning government, they don’t deserve to win.
The insurgents can only win if enough people support their cause.

There is no guarantee that the insurgents will cut back their activities to wait us out.
What will happen is that they will loose some momentum. Anything that can reduce the daily terrorist bombings in Iraq will help. Besides, just because we state a timeline does not mean we must abide by it. Any increase in insurgency can cause us to re-evaluate our strategy.

Finally, our troops in the field can also benefit from having a timeline to work towards.
They can look forward to the day they can come home and feeling a sense of pride that they will accomplish their mission within stated goals.

The End

Jack Lee
Yorktown Hts. NY

Sunday, June 19, 2005

An open letter on the Iraq war

June 19, 2005
Open letter to all who opposes the Iraq war –

I have a simple question for everyone who is against the Iraq war.

Assume everything being the same with the current war except for one fact, suppose WMD was discovered in Iraq and the coalition troops diffused them.
Would you still be against the war? Be very honest with yourself, and think.
This is a trick question.

If your answer is yes; you have just been exposed. The “missing” WMD is just a convenient ruse to use against the war. You are a pacifist at heart and if it wasn’t for the WMD, you would have found some other issue to argue your case…(prison abuse…)

However, if your answer is no, then you are basically in agreement with the Bush administration’s position. That is this war was necessary and just and in the long term best interest of stabilizing the Middle East region.

A third possibility is that you disagree with the prosecution of the war. You have a better way. This is a fair argument if you can offer any specific plan that will help. So far, I haven’t heard any coming from the dissenters. We can debate whether we have enough troops on the ground, or the right equipment…

The real culprit is Sadam Hussein. He deceived the world in believing that he had WMD thinking that will protect him against an all out invasion. I believe he was also re-assured by the French that they will step in at the last moment to veto any military action by the Security Council of the UN. He miss calculated and did not heed the warning – that George W. Bush is a man of his word. He says what he means and he means what he says. How refreshing coming from a politician.

Put your self in the President’s shoes for a moment. Here we are after 911. You are given the following intelligence – though flawed as we now know – that Sadam Hussein has been deceiving the weapon’s inspectors for years. Everyone knows that he had WMD and WMD programs. There was no proof that he had destroyed them. He had used them before against the Iranians and his own people. He has been abusing the oil for food program for years, siphoning off millions to build his palaces and fund WMD research. He has been supporting terrorist groups and providing them with a sanctuary. He has openly been defiant of the no fly zone and he has openly declared the US to be the Great Satan. What do you do? If you do nothing or just maintain the status quo. If another terrorist act happens and it was traced back to Sadam, the very same blow hard like Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry will be the first to level the charge – why didn’t you do something about this pending threat? Would impeachment be far behind? Given that scenario, any reasonable executive will err on the side of caution and decide to remove this gathering threat. The tough question is when and how? If you wait, Sadam’s power and strength will be increased and any military action may cause additional casualties. So it comes down to a cost vs. benefit analysis. As far as the charge that we rushed to war, that is a miss-representation of the fact. There was no rush – it took 16 months from Nov. 2001 to March 2003. The Congress debated and voted to approve the action. The UN passed resolutions. Sadam was given every opportunity to avert this crisis. He chose to defy and fight. The blame rest primarily on Sadam and secondarily on the French and the UN which were corrupted by the oil for food program and allowed Sadam to be defiant till the very end. 20/20 hindsight is always right. Had we known for sure that Sadam did not possess WMD, then the better approach would have been to contain him through sanctions. Though I’m not sure it would have been the best solution for the Iraqi people.

Even if you disagree with the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq, we should all agree that given the current state of affairs, we need to help them create a stable government and restore peace. So, the question is why are the French, the German and the Russian governments reluctant to help at this stage? Also why are the MSM (main stream media) so pessimistic and biased in their reporting of the Iraq situation? Do they secretly wish that we fail? I wonder…

What about those WMD’s?
Let us revisit the question of WMD. If you are one of those that believe the Bush administration concocted a lie and took us to war with Iraq, let me ask you to consider this. If you believe in the conspiracy, why did the Pentagon prepare for chemical attack in the run up to the war? Why did they not plant WMD in Iraq after the invasion? If they are sinister enough to create a false claim, they must be sinister enough to cover all bases.
My personal believe is that the WMD’s, if existed, were shipped off to Syria and buried.
Remember during the first Gulf war, Sadam sent his entire fighter plane to Iran for cover.
The truth will come out. Sadam is alive and will go on trial soon. Many of my suspicions regarding the French, the Russians, the German’s and the UN will come to light. Even Sadam’s frame of mind leading up to the war will come to light. These issues must be resolved if we are to have closure about what really went down.

What about the fact that Iraq has no connection with 911?
This is another one of those arguments that people use to say we have no business in Iraq.
They cite polls that show a majority of Americans believe that Iraq was involved with the 911 attack and the Administration mislead the public about this non-existing link.
I for one was never in that camp. I follow the news very closely and I heard the speeches.
There was no direct involvement by Iraq in the 911 attack.
However, post 911, our tactic must change in dealing with rogue nations and Iraq was the primary rogue nation. We had a long history with Sadam going back to the first Gulf war.
The new tactic is called preemption. Prior to 911, we could not use this or we would have been condemned by the world and by our own citizens.
Sometimes, a good offense is the best defense.
Let me illustrate with a simple lesson from history. During the 1980’s, President Reagan was faced with numerous terrorist acts perpetrated on Americans. There was no proof that linked Omar Quaddafi of Libya to these crimes. There were suspicions that he was secretly funding the terrorist. Reagan took preemptive action and sent cruise missiles after him. He barely survived and lost some close family members. Soon after, he was quiet. He got the message loud and clear.

What is our exit strategy with Iraq?
The answer lies with the Iraqi people and their newly elected government as it should.
If they want a democratic free Iraq, they must fight for it. Just as with other emerging democracies, freedom comes with a heavy price tag. It is paid with blood, sweat and tears.
It is a long and tedious and trial by error process. We can only do so much to help.
The old saying applies – you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
The jury is still out as to the final outcome in Iraq. We can only pray that they succeed.
We have already paid a heavy price in terms of our soldier’s lives and limbs(over 1700 dead and 10,000 wounded so far). We have provided billions of tax payer dollars to give them a fresh start. The rest is up to the Iraqi people.

We need to provide them the training to be self protecting.
We can help them rebuilt their infrastructure.
We can help them establish the cornerstones of a free enterprise system.
We can help them with their oil resource to help pay for their future needs.
And then, we must leave them alone.

Scorecard so far:
26 Million Iraqi’s are free. A tyrant is deposed. Women and girls are given new freedom to work and attend schools. A new democratic government was elected by 58% of the population. A constitution being drafted. Not bad.

What else can the US do?
We need to revamp our intelligence community from top to bottom. We can never be in a similar situation again. In dealing with future threats such as North Korea and Iran, we must have solid intelligence so that the President can make a sound decision. Our credibility is on the line and the lives of our troops are at stake.

What can the MSM do?
The media can help by reporting the facts both good and bad and offering differences of opinions but presented in a fair and balanced manner. They can also be a fact checker and keep a score card on those who are in a position to influence policy. They can be the conscience of the nation and maintain civility in our discourse. They should not participate in personal attacks and spreading rumors. If a politician is caught using such antics, they should be called upon it and be held accountable. They should be our eyes and ears in the world stage. Reporting on what is happening and not creating news.

What can the UN do?
The UN must be reformed such that past scandals (sex, oil for food, peace keeping) are fully investigated and addressed. The guilty must be punished. Integrity restored.
The Security Council and the General Assembly must be revamped. We cannot allow equal representation for all. Despots and tyrants cannot have equal voting rights on the UN. The French does not belong in the Security Council as a permanent member.

What can the world community do?
The world needs to understand that we are all in the same boat. We can help each other to counter both natural and man-made disasters. Just as after the tsunami disaster in Indonesia last December, the world responded with kindness, relief and funds. The US military was a force for good and the only force capable of helping on such massive scale.

What can you do?
Be honest with yourself, think and use logic to assess the situation and leave emotions out. Support our troops.

Final wish -
On this Father’s day 2005, let’s all agree to honor our fathers especially those service men that are serving in Iraq and all over the world in defense of freedom.
God bless them all.

Request for feedback –
If you have any comments or criticism of my thesis, please send them to me. I am open to re-assess the situation as more facts come to my attention.
I would also entertain new ideas to help us win the war.
I am approaching this with logic and without emotion and bias. We can debate issues and policy but please don’t make it a personal attack on me. We are all Americans and we all
wish for the best. The discourse should always be on the approach and on policy. Unfortunately, in real life, some problems have no good solutions. We can only make the best of it. Iraq may be one of those situations.

Jack Lee email:

The End