Thursday, February 28, 2008

what the success of the "surge" tells us

We aren't hearing much about the fact that the security situation in Iraq is much improved. Conservatives will tell you that this is because of a liberal bias in the media. The real reason is that in news, conflict sells. No conflict, no story. You know the old adage "if it bleeds, it leads" that the news business is famous for.
So what does the security situation improvement tell us?

First
, it proves that we didn't send in enough troops to begin with. Some may remember when the general who said it would take more troops to occupy Iraq was later forced out of his job. Well, the surge clearly shows that more troops have had a good effect. I would have liked to see president bush travel around the world on bended knee asking every major power for troops to help a real coalition.

Second, it proves that there was incompetence at the top. For years after the invasion, rumsfeld, bush, and generals talked about the "insurgency". However, they were not using counter-insurgency tactics. As a strictly amateur military history buff, I remember thinking this odd. The "bunker, green zone" mentality with surgical operations into Baghdad struck me as a new version of "search and destroy" (as the vietnam war era tactic was known). I guess if you don't have enough troops to "clear and hold" then you are forced into using search and destroy. I have a copy of the book and video series Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War by Michael Maclear. Rewatching the series recently, I was amazed at how many times I felt I could simply replace "vietnam" with "iraq" when they talked about tactics and strategy (and the failures of).

Third, the success of the surge shows us that real success in this war is not about the military. Yes, the security situation is improved, but that does not mean we are any closer to getting out of Iraq. If you look at the politics, you see that divisiveness reigns and the 3 major groups in Iraq are not much closer to reconciliation. We cannot win this war militarily. This means we need to engage Iraq's neighbors even if we don't want to. I am no fan of regimes such as Syria and Iran. But we will never leave Iraq as long as we don't have active engagement of Iraq's neighbors good and bad.

So we have a real counter-insurgency in place, we have (at least temporarily) enough troops to provide security, and the American people, while not happy with, are still supporting the policy. Now is the time to push for dramatic diplomatic and civilian efforts to improve Iraq internally.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Your Opinions? Welcoming the Stranger via the Web

How would you answer this: "How could we tweak CUCC's web site to offer God's 'extravagant welcome' to people seeking a place to nurture their faith journey?"


Here's how to give your suggestions.


1) Take a 15 minute exploration of the web site. Print a simple instruction page at http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcxkfpb_0gp7pjjf3 . It includes a short form for jotting your notes as you explore. Drop off your completed form at the office or email it directly to me (Jane Smith) by Thursday, March 13.


OR


2) Enjoy an hour of light supper and brainstorming on Tuesday, March 4, 6:00-7:00 pm. RSVP to me so I make enough food. You'll be done in time to attend Robert's Lenten prayer workshop.


OR


3) Call or email with your comments by Thursday, March 13.





Thanks.


Jane

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Steve and Marcy and Binks' Mom

Steve went home early yesterday afternoon. I told Marcy yesterday morning to give me a call if she needed any help with logistics (since I live right in her neighborhood). Late yesterday afternoon she called and said they needed help eating all the food that had been sent in. So Jo and Binks and I ended up joining Marcy and Elizabeth for dinner (while Steve napped upstairs). Binks' mother has pneumonia and moved into Steve's hospital room when Steve moved out (which explains why Binks was in the neighborhood). Small world, isn't it?

Don Lane

Don Lane's hip replacement surgery at Rex Hospital went smoothly and according to plan this morning. He went into surgery at 7:30 and was in recovery by 8:30. Susan went to the hospital with him at 5:30, and Jo and I left her around 9:15 AM. Her plan is to go to his hospital room (when a room is assigned) and meet him there when he comes out of recovery. Susan will remain at Rex for most of the day. The surgeon reported following the surgery that everything had gone well. Don probably won't be on his feet any today, but the plan is to get him up and about and moving around some tomorrow. Current indications are that he may go home on Saturday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More on Steve

Steve will be going home this afternoon. Last night was a rough night because of abdominal gas resulting from the surgery. Marcy spent the night at the hospital, and they were glad that she did that. But today Steve says the gas pains are gone, so they're both looking forward to being at home. Steve says that he's had many calls and cards from members of the congregation, and he says he has intensely felt the prayer support from everyone. He sends his thanks for all the types of care and support he has received.

Report on Steve

Steve was cleared by his doctor to go home whenever he wants to, but because of continuing pain from the surgery Steve elected to remain at Western Wake Hospital (Room 224) Sunday night. Quite a lot of folks from the church visited Steve on Sunday. Even though Steve was still uncomfortable from the surgery, he was in good spirits and conversed with visitors on a wide variety of topics. I'll post another report later today after I talk with Steve or Marcy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

E-mail Notification

Some people have asked if there's a way to be notified via e-mail when something new is added to the blog. Info has been added in the left column of this page that tells you how to arrange that.

More News on Steve

Binks had a long chat with Marcy this morning and reports that Steve is doing fine. He didn't get to his hospital room until about 6 PM yesterday, and Marcy did stay overnight in the room with him. Elizabeth is with Steve today. He's still on morphine but they will be starting to wean him from that today. No definite indication yet as to when he will be going home. Nancy Callaham is visiting him regularly and keeping in touch with Marcy. So the good news is that everything so far is going according to plan.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Steve Halsted's Surgery

Steve's surgery took place today from 11:15 until mid afternoon. Marcy met with the surgeon and learned that everything went according to plan, with no visible evidence that the cancer had spread beyond the prostate. Steve is expected to be in Western Wake Hospital at least until Sunday. Several CUCC members were at Western Wake today to be with Marcy during the surgery, and Marcy extends her thanks to all who have provided calls and other support for the family.