A quick break from politics to slip in some religion. I’ve read a couple of things recently pointing out what is obvious but somehow ignored: Religious people are obsessed with the gays! (and if Desmond says it, you know it must be true). The latest in a long, long line is Senator Craig, who just to be clear is totally not gay, OK?

Now I’m not going to say that their opinions on homosexuality are wrong (they are, but that’s not my concern here). There’s certainly a reading of the Bible that would back up their view for Christians and Jews, and while I’m less informed I’m sure something similar is true in the Koran.

So it might be wrong, but there is a case to be made. But, to bang once again on my most quoted statistic, a child starves to death every 5 seconds. It is utterly inconceivable to me that any god worthy of praise would want us to focus on which gender some guy loves when through pure indifference a child dies in the time it takes to… well, what the hell can you do in 5 seconds? Turn the TV on? Scratch your arse?

Should the matter come up in conversation I see no reason to hide your dislike of homosexuality, or adultery, or broccoli (it’s your right to appear as foolish as you choose), but otherwise, to quote the great philosopher Chandler Bing, “Big picture please!”

Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged with


There’s some talk at the moment about reinstating a draft, which got me thinking about the idea of troop levels in general. For some time the goal of the Pentagon was to be able to operate in two regional-level wars – a step down from world war, but then in theory there should only be one of those at a time, and it should distract everyone – though it was sometimes modified to a regional and one or two minor conflicts.

This changed to some extent with the idea of an agile military. The thinking was that with the advanced technology available to the US they would not need to get involved directly in so many conflicts (because they could use air strikes to manage the situation), and when they did get involved they would overwhelm the opposition quickly and be ready for redeployment.

I’m sure there are criticisms to be made of that idea, and indeed the current multi-decade occupation of Iraq seems to show that winning a quick war doesn’t mean your military can go home. But beyond that, there was always the question of whether the US should be ready for more than one war at a time at all. War is a serious undertaking, goes the thinking, such that if you’re involved in one it should be vital to a country’s existence, and if something more important came along you’d basically switch to a ‘world war style’ footing.

Here’s the thing. There is one occasion when it’s definitely worth thinking about being able to fight two wars, and that’s when you’re already fighting one. We’re currently seeing that the military is barely up to the task in Iraq, not in determination or skill, but purely in the numbers. The fact that we’re already in one war doesn’t significantly change the odds of another war coming up, leaving us totally unprepared. A draft may not be the answer, but it’s not a stupid idea.

Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged with


I was thinking about the issue of the Iraq parliament taking August off, and the stock response from Tony Snow and others that it’s awfully hot in Iraq in August. Yes, it’s true that it is very hot, even if, as I imagine, it’s a dry heat. It’s also true that this pat answer is shameful on its face because the troops stationed there don’t get to take the month off. What has struck me, however, is that this seems to be as far as almost all the criticism of the idea goes. There are two other criticisms that should be made of the idea, but seem absent.

The first is purely practical. With temperatures reaching 130F in Baghdad, you might think that lawmakers would be glad to hang out in a lovely air conditioned building during the day. That they do not suggests to me that 1) power isn’t reliable enough to count on the air conditioning (that’s certainly true for most of Baghdad, but I don’t know what special provision there is for the parliament), or 2) they don’t see the point of being there. Which leads us on to…

The second issue is more substantive. Despite recent reporting, there is no majority coalition government in Iraq, and no clear path to getting one. Faced with the challenges of uniting Iraq, or even orchestrating a graceful split, the government can’t even place its hand on its heart and say it will have the same leader in a month’s time. As sure as there is much to be done in the country, there are few with the ability and drive to get it done. Staring at that, I’d take August off too.

Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged with