Friday, May 29, 2015

Words to Live By

From an email:

Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not. -- Henry James

Compassion is language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. -- Mark Twain

Carry a heart that never hates , a smile that never fades and a touch that never hurts.

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. -- Robert Brault

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you, not because they are nice but because you are.

Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up.

A good character is the best tombstone.

Those who loved you will remember. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.

It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles, it might be the only sunshine he sees all day.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. -- Rudyard Kipling

Don't be yourself — be someone nicer.

Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it.

Love your enemies - it will confuse them greatly.

There is one word which may serve as a rule for all one's life — reciprocity. -- Confucius

Grownups know that little things matter and that relationships are based on respect.

Don't wait for people to be friendly, show them how. -- Henry James

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway. -- Henry Boyle

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. -- Abraham Heschel

If we should deal out justice only in this world, who would escape? No, it is better to be generous for it gains us gratitude. -- Mark Twain

Be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, tolerant of the weak, because someday in your life you will be all of these. -- George Washington Carver

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. -- John Wooden

If those who owe us nothing gave us nothing, how poor we would be. -- Antonio Porchia

You cannot do a kindness too soon for you never know how soon it will be too late. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach. -- Winston Churchill

Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. -- Frank A. Clark

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. -- Epictetus

Don’t let those who take advantage of your generosity stop you from being generous. -- Author Unknown

Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. -- Maya Angelou

In a world full of people who couldn't care less, be someone who care s more. -- Author Unknown

Love thy neighbor and if requires that you bend the truth, the truth will understand. -- Robert Brault

Was It Worth It?

UPDATE XI:  "Washington can provide aid, training, arms, air power — even troops. But it cannot hold together a nation that is falling apart."

Read the Washington Post, Iraq exists only as an idea, not a nation.

UPDATE X:  "The [Iraq] WMD claims were the result of the need to find a case for the war, rather than the other way around. Paul Krugman is exactly right when he says:

'The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that.'

Read The Atlantic, The Right and Wrong Questions About the Iraq War.

Read also Bloomberg, The Iraq Invasion: What We Knew Then, which notes that 2004 and 2008 Senate Intelligence Committee reports outline the numerous lies, not mistakes but lies, of Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice and others to promote the war.

UPDATE IX:  Some people never learn, or admit error.

Read Vox, Jeb Bush learned the wrong lessons from the Iraq War and the Washington Post, Jeb Bush’s Iraq quagmire is just getting started.

Remember what I said, many times before and during the war: what is the objective, what will be the cost, and are Americans willing to pay the cost to achieve the objective.

Pretty prophetic I must say.

UPDATE VIII:  "Iraq’s army looked good on paper when the Americans left [in 2011], after one of the biggest training missions carried out under wartime conditions. But after that, senior Iraqi officers began buying their own commissions, paying for them out of the supply, food and payroll money of their troops. Corruption ran up and down the ranks; desertion was rife.

The army did little more than staff checkpoints. Then, last year, four divisions collapsed overnight in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq under the determined assault of Islamic State fighters numbering in the hundreds or at most the low thousands, and the extremists’ advance came as far as this base [Camp Taji, only a few miles from Baghdad, the Iraqi capitol]."

Read The New York Times, U.S. Soldiers, Back in Iraq, Find Security Forces in Disrepair.  

UPDATE VII:  "'There is no state left. It is a state of militias.'

The state of Iraq has indeed failed. It no longer has the legitimacy or the power to extend control over its whole territory, and the power vacuum is being filled by a multitude of non-state actors, increasingly extreme and sectarian, who will likely continue to fight each other for years to come, supported by regional powers. Whether a new kind of order will finally emerge, with more local legitimacy, remains to be seen."

Read The Atlantic, 'Iraq Is Finished'.

UPDATE VI:  "The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011.  The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. (They) alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment." [Of course he can't agree it was inevitable, that would be admitting the war was a mistake to begin with.]

Read the Washington Post, Petraeus: The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq

The article notes how in 2008 Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander, taunted Petraeus that Iran controlled Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. 

UPDATE V:  "Last year saw the highest number of terrorist incidents since 2000, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index released by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Worldwide, the number of terrorist incidents increased from less than 1,500 in 2000 to nearly 10,000 in 2013. Sixty percent of attacks last year occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

The report suggests that U.S. foreign policy has played a big role in making the problem worse: 'The rise in terrorist activity coincided with the US invasion of Iraq,' it concludes. 'This created large power vacuums in the country allowing different factions to surface and become violent.' Indeed, among the five countries accounting for the bulk of attacks, the U.S. has prosecuted lengthy ground wars in two (Iraq and Afghanistan), a drone campaign in one (Pakistan), and airstrikes in a fourth (Syria)."

Read the Washington Post, After 13 years, 2 wars and trillions in military spending, terrorist attacks are rising sharply.

UPDATE IV:  "During the reconstruction of Iraq, the United States spent about $20.2 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces, about a third of the total funds spent on reconstruction.Today, those same security forces lost control of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. . .

Iraqi security forces still haven’t ousted ISIS from Fallujah, which it captured at the beginning of this year, but Mosul is a much larger and more strategically important city."

Read Slate, The Fall of Mosul and Is the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” a Real Country Now?

UPDATE III:  "It’s been nearly eleven years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which, almost since it began, proved to be the historically fatal element in the war on terror launched by George W. Bush’s White House. His Administration, and its sundry neoconservative wingmen, went so far as to tout the war in Iraq as a means to promote democracy across the Muslim lands. At the same time, there was a growing unease that things might not turn out well. In a 2005 conversation I had with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq at the time, Zalmay Khalilzad, he spoke of his fears: 'I shudder to think what we could face if we don’t fix Iraq.' He foresaw the possibility that an Iraqi civil war between Sunnis and Shiites could infect the entire Middle East.

Where are we today? It seems a good time to take stock."

Read The New Yorker, What the War in Iraq Wrought

UPDATE II:  "The proof of how pointless the entire [Iraq war] was—if you even needed more—came Friday morning, with a report . . . in the Washington Post.

'At the moment, there is no presence of the Iraqi state in Fallujah,' a local journalist who asked not to be named because he fears for his safety told Sly. 'The police and the army have abandoned the city, al-Qaeda has taken down all the Iraqi flags and burned them, and it has raised its own flag on all the buildings.'

Fallujah has fallen, and the same scenario is about to happen in the even-larger city of Ramadi."

Read Slate, Tell Me Again, Why Did My Friends Die in Iraq?

UPDATE: "President Obama’s announcement Friday of the withdrawal of nearly all troops from Iraq by Dec. 31 and an end to the U.S. war in Iraq marks a bittersweet moment for many of the families of the more than 4,400 American service members who lost their lives in the conflict.

The organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors . . . estimates that 2,465 people lost their spouses and that 3,137 children lost a parent. Some 8,964 parents lost a child, while 13,446 lost a grandchild and 3,675 lost a brother or sister." Read the Washington Post, For families of fallen, a bittersweet day.

As first asked below three years ago, and again in 2010, was it worth the price in blood and treasure?

Robert Kaplan, an early supporter of the war in Iraq, asks "Was the invasion worth it?"

His conclusion, no.