Friday, December 21, 2007

What Are They Teaching Our Children?

Yesterday I was watching the news in the morning as I often do and when my teenage daughter heard the announcement that President Bush was going to hold an end of year press conference she commented “President Bush is an idiot” so I asked why she thought this and was stunned by her answer. I’ll summarize as it was a typical teen all over the place response but the points she made were:

· Some guys attacked one state and Bush attacked a whole innocent country
· Bush killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in response to only few hundred killed in the US
· Bush loves war and wanted to keep fighting other countries to gain more power
· Canadians (which we are) shouldn’t be dying in Afghanistan for Bush and America since we weren’t attacked and the UN hasn’t authorized the war
· Muslims won’t hurt us if we stop stealing their oil, taking their land, killing their people and putting them down by calling them evil and terrorists

As I said I was stunned but decided to ask where she’d learned about these things and was told social studies. I was sure she couldn’t have been so misguided or mislead by a school or a teacher so I first began by walking through some of her information and correcting some of the falsehoods with facts.

· Al Qaeda directed terrorists hijacked four planes and attacked targets in three states vice one
· During the war in Afghanistan less than 75,000 Taliban have been killed, but if you combine all deaths it’s probably close to 125,000 and the number of people killed or wounded during the various attacks on American targets over the past two decades comes close to 5000 dead with 20,000 or so wounded
· America has never fought a war to expand its country and often after liberating countries at great personal cost turns them over to their own people, she was a bit surprised to find out that Bill Clinton while President ordered the invasion of Haiti with UN sanction and Serbia (Kosovo province) without UN sanction thus equaling President Bush’s two invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan
· Some 28 Canadians died on 9-11 and that as part of NORAD and NATO Canada was not only honor bound but legally bound to come to America’s aid and that we are in Afghanistan under a UN mandate without any caveats on conducting combat operations and that the democratically elected government of Afghanistan has not only invited us to help them but are now begging us to stay in Kandahar.
· We pay for oil based on world markets, we occupy no land outside of our own countries and we make great efforts to say repeatedly that vast majority of Muslims worldwide are honorable, peaceful people who simply worship differently but equally and that only a small number of Muslims misuse their religious writings to justify terrorism against both Muslims and Infidels and that is evil

I then went on to ask if she knew why America responded to Al Qaeda’s attack on 9-11 by invading Afghanistan and she replied:

· Osama bin Laden ordered the attack and he’s not from Afghanistan so that just proves that Bush is just out for war and that innocent Afghan’s are paying the price for his (Bush’s) aggression
· Iraq and Afghanistan were quiet countries before Bush invaded them and made them worse
Again I decided the best way to educate my daughter was not to criticize her or her teachers but instead to provide her with facts, she’s a smart kid and usually open to hearing all the facts:
· Shortly after the Taliban came to power, they allowed Al Qaeda to run training camps and operate safely within Afghanistan in exchange for money, weapons, equipment and training
· On 10 Sep 01 Al Qaeda assassinated the only General who the Taliban never defeated as a gift to Mullah Omar and in exchange he refused all UN and US requests to detain and turn over Osama bin Laden over a one month period of negotiations
· I explained what the Taliban stood for and focused heavily on what girls her age couldn’t do and that even today teachers are still heavily targeted by Taliban extremists
· Afghanistan was peaceful but under horrific conditions as was Iraq and that with freedom comes turmoil and uncertainty and that all free nations went through years or decades of violence and change but in the long run people are more prosperous and happy with freedom than they are when they are under a dictatorship

I also decided to check into her school’s curriculum regarding these areas and discovered that the written text doesn’t support this very left wing approach to the subject, which leaves the teacher. As it is the Christmas break there’s little opportunity to discuss this with her but the New Year will certainly bring that opportunity.

While I’ve long sensed that the vast majority of schools and teachers are left leaning I was surprised at the ignorance my daughter was showing over the attack on 9-11 and on the subject of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in general not to mention the GWOT. It’s truly amazing that our children can be misdirected and mislead regarding such import matters and it reminded me of the importance of being involved in how your children are educated otherwise we’ll see a repeat of the naïve late 60’s and early 70’s.

As the conversation shifted to the drive to school I was willing to agree with her young desire for peace on earth but also tried to let her know that hugging Osama bin Laden wouldn’t help keep her from being bound in a burqa, restricted to traveling with only male relatives, kept out of school and not being allowed to get her driver’s license. Now since teenagers are very self-centered creatures that one hit home and she decided that ousting the Taliban and capturing Osama bin Laden was a good plan as nobody is going to stop her from getting her license and driving her Mom’s Mustang next summer.

I told her if that was her goal she could start calling me Osama anytime.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lee in Wonderland

I just spent the last 30 days at an isolated bush camp in the middle of Chad, which is in the middle of Africa without radio, TV or Internet only to return to the capitol N’djamena and CNN International and an on again off again Internet to find the world and American in particular had gone insane.

First I discovered that the NIE had determined that Iran had stopped their secret military nuclear weapons program in 2003, now it would appear that the threat isn’t what we thought it was, but am I to believe that the program Iran denies having is no more and Iran is now saying we told you so while still deigning the existence of the program?

Next up was the release of a letter from the director of the CIA to its employees announcing that in 2005 tapes of harsh interrogations that occurred in 2003 were destroyed after CIA lawyers said it was ok to do so and the appropriate congressional panels were notified of both the intent of the destruction and the actual destruction although if you listen to several democrats they weren’t notified and the CIA might have obstructed justice. Now I can’t for the life of me understand why the director would release such a letter so publicly.

What the hell is going in the US intelligence community? I feel like Alice in Wonderland coming out of the dark and finding the World, as I knew it had changed dramatically. In both cases I can’t for the life me understand what those in the know felt they could accomplish in either case but then I started to think this through and began to wonder why at this time did the NIE come out and use the language they did?

Well here’s my theory on this: First the intelligence community is still very upset with the administrations response to the way they’ve allowed the CIA to take the wrap for the WMD failure prior to the second gulf war. The intelligence community maintains that the administration misused the information and analysis that was provided to them. I must say it’s a little childish but very possible that the language used in the latest NIE was clearly meant to teach the administration a nice little lesion. Administration’s will come and go but we actually run the place. It certainly put the Bush administration into a tough spot going forward with a very dangerous Iran who is still actively working against US interests in Iraq, Syria Israel and Lebanon and without a doubt regardless of their struggles in creating fissile material will continue to try to do so, so the leadership has options. They have also watched how the US finally had to deal with North Korea eagerly and are focused on developing missiles as quickly as possible to get as far down the nuclear road as they can without the security council shutting them down. Second the NIE wanted to publicly ensure that if the administration went ahead with it’s plans and eventually attacked Iran and found that once again the administration was wrong they’d be in the clear.

When we look at the CIA, my first guess is that the destruction of the tapes was about to leak and the Director simply wanted to get ahead of the story and ensure it was clear when the tapes were destroyed and who was in charge then, he also attempted to put a reason out there for the destruction that Americans might accept, that being the welfare and safety of those working to keep us safe. I was pretty surprised by the congressional response denying that they had been notified as I highly doubt the CIA director would make such a statement without having the signed copies of the documents acknowledging receipt of information that are required when such information is provided to congress. I’ve noticed the rhetoric has died down a great deal after the first few days and that most members are now saying let’s see what the investigation shows. That’s typically the line folks take after the actual leadership had a chance to get the word to shut up out there as I’m very sure Congress was informed as required by the oversight laws and didn’t object at the time so it’s much harder to do so two years later.

I must say I’m still stunned over the whole affair and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly and completely America is willing to hurt its own interests. For all those that talk about secret or hidden agenda’s you’ve got to ask yourself if anything is really a secret anymore or if any topic is off limits in this age of information.

Having come from my info vacuum into this madness was an interesting experience in itself and certainly made me wonder how the world managed to respond to issues in a timely manner in the past. It also certainly left me wanting to return to my isolated ignorant world as soon as possible. It would appear the mad hatter is running America these days!