The Charlotte News

Monday, April 21, 1941


Site Ed. Note: While the first previously omitted piece of this date's page was likely by Cash, we doubt the second one was.

For a piece on the greatest consumer of spinach, and, by the accounts, the best advertisement for consumption of same among the young, see "He Played Comedy Straight", October 14, 1938. In any event, if man wouldn't willingly eat it and the farmer was neither motivated to curtail the yield of his crop by allowing a portion of it to produce seed, the beetles provided accommodating mandibles for its leaves.

Returning for a moment to one of the three pieces originally uploaded, "High Price", regarding the large expenditure of Hitler's fighting force in men and materiel in order to capture territory in Greece which in itself was largely useless, a stepping stone to other booty, and difficult to maintain in light of the Greeks' detestation of the Nazis, we have come to mind, for some odd reason, a documentary which we just got around to watching finally a couple of nights ago, "No End in Sight".

Every American who cares at all about this country ought see this documentary. It is neither partisan nor constructed from wild-eyed heretics to the Administration, but rather comes straight from the mouths of those Administration and Defense Department and military officials originally assigned to the task of restoring order to and re-building Iraq after the mission was declared accomplished on May 1, 2003, a May Day carrying propitious omens from that aircraft carrier deck to which the President had flown as a bomber pilot, in military uniform, an unprecedented move for a United States President who, since the days of Washington, is strictly maintained within the protocol of American life and law as the civilian commander-in-chief of the military, and for good reason under our system of government. It was ominous for many things to come, built on many abuses which had already, in the 20 months since September 11, 2001, become darkly evident in this country with respect to the concept of constitutionally recognized democratic freedom, cynically cast aside in favor of establishment of autocratic power, and catering to photo-ops to maintain the support of those dark forces ever-present in this country since its founding which favor such a concept of autocracy, one based on ad hoc, subjective decision-making with no legal or constitutional or traditional or objective rationale, just daily appeal to those political forces desiring in loud fashion some form of vindication of personal vendetta for all which life has done to them in their eyes, and coalesced for excuse for its implementation and deployment, in this instance, around the September 11 attack--as if the day had been theirs alone for inducing feelings of hurt and disgust at such a wanton act of violence and mass murder, to the exclusion of all whom they despise personally, those to be labeled terrorists and evil-doers, including many of our own good citizens. The omen, in sum, was not one which was conducive to a belief that any mission had been accomplished or that a forecast could safely be made on that May Day that great days lay ahead for the country for whom the mission had been supposedly undertaken, not only to rid it of a cruel and malicious dictator, but also to install in that dictator's stead a democratic form of government and better way of life generally, free from the cruel cycle of violence, coup and counter-coup, and resultant unstable government, which has beset that country periodically since the days of the Ottoman Empire.

The documentary points out the huge cost of the war, as of early 2007, aside from the increasing loss of U.S. military personnel, and the estimated 600,000 Iraqis, some 380 billion dollars directly spent on military operations, with projected costs of another 390 billion dollars, and, including ancillary costs, substantially increased domestic gas prices, veterans' health care, replacement of military equipment, projected to reach a total of 1.86 trillion dollars. (We don't have handy the costs as adjusted for inflation for either World War II or the war in Vietnam, but we would be willing to venture that they were probably no more than this five-year fiasco, accomplishing in this case not only nothing of lasting consequence, but leaving a power vacuum in the country which not only has not established and does not portend any democratic or better way of life for the average Iraqi than before the invasion and removal of the rueful dictator, but which has probably made the daily quality of life, attendant with the same poverty and absence of essential services as before the invasion, even worse, now accompanied not only by the despair and bitterness engendered from dashed hopes for a better way of life, but moreover by the daily ritualistic killing and indiscriminate street violence coming from the various warring factions, primarily cut along religious lines between the disordered Shiite and Sunni Muslims.)

The most glaring point made by the documentary is that, despite the fact that there was no emergent need to invade Iraq, as the principal weapons inspectors at the time consistently stated in early 2003, there was virtually no plan in place at all for the reinstitution of government and re-building of Iraq after the initial invasion, that compared with the two-year advance planning in place for the occupation and re-building of Germany and Japan during the thick of World War II. The consequence of that shortsightedness has led to the present debacle.

In the initial days after the U.S. occupation of Iraq, there was no policing set up to stop looting, no martial law authorized by the Pentagon to enable the military to supplant the vacuum of civilian control of the country until a government could be instituted. Not only the great historic treasures of the heritage preserved for centuries in the country's museums were looted wholesale or destroyed during the first month after the war, buildings stripped bare to the walls and rendered useless, the walls themselves hammered away to get at the rebar imbedded in the concrete, large industrial machinery employed to take away whole plant fixtures and equipment, routine violence including murder and rape running rampant through the unpatrolled and controlled streets, but moreover, unprotected arsenals of weapons fell into the hands of what soon became the guerilla insurgents, developed out of the 27-40% unemployed left by the purges exacted by Paul Bremer, the czar sent by the Administration in May, 2003 initially to institute some level of order and to re-build the country. But by that point, thanks to the uncontrolled looting, any semblance of authority in the country was in the hands of radical fundamentalist religious elements preaching death to enemies as a solution to the power vacuum.

Bremer immediately made three fateful and blundering decisions, without consultation with anyone, including the highest-ranking Administration and military officials, those in Washington and those in Iraq: 1) stopping the formation of an interim Iraqi government; 2) the purging from society of all Ba'athist Party members, the party of Saddam Hussein, including bureaucrats, teachers, and technical support personnel who had joined the party only for survival, leaving in its wake a gaping void of expertise for the rebuilding of the country's infrastructure and preservation of that which survived the invasion with the aid and cooperation of those who knew the country best, and producing instant massive unemployment from whose ranks insurgent forces enjoyed fertile emotional recruiting ground, having the effect of making of the American forces, not liberators, but punitive occupiers; and 3) the disbanding of the Iraqi military, many of whom were ready and willing to assist the American military in preserving order, leaving an additional half million former soldiers unemployed and disgruntled with the ugly American, ready and willing then instead to join the insurgents, providing the insurgent groups crucial knowledge of the various locations of the unprotected weapons caches and how to deploy those weapons effectively. All three decisions, made from Washington before Bremer arrived in Iraq, were made against the advice of General Jay Garner assigned initially to head the reconstruction and humanitarian effort and who had led that effort in northern Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991. The result was madness.

Contractors sent to rebuild the country, and being paid under contract by the United States government to do so, wound up participating in random violence aimed at innocent Iraqi citizens, in one instance shown photographing themselves joyriding through a Baghdad thoroughfare, with Elvis playing in the background, indiscriminately machine-gunning innocent motorists, and doing so with apparent impunity, an episode equivalent to any of the most gruesome urban gangster scenes ever created in Hollywood or in reality by those unable to distinguish reality from fiction, complete insanity of the most dangerously psychopathic order--among contractors sent to rebuild the country; recent college graduates sent to Iraq purely on the basis of nepotism, their parents' contribution to the Republican Party, not skill, being assigned to key tasks, such as in one instance, an appointment of a young woman fresh out of college, without any experience in traffic management or city planning, to formulate a plan for traffic control in Baghdad; lack of communication between key Administration officials in Washington and those on the ground in Baghdad during the initial stages of the rebuilding effort; inefficient and wasteful contracts, in one instance recounting the 1.2 million dollar border fortress, looking like a medieval castle out of Disneyland replete with four-corner battlements, built by a private contractor employed by the government, and taking three times as long to build as the $200,000 fortress built by the Army Corps of Engineers eliciting and gaining the support in the process of sympathetic Iraqi contractors.

It is in sum a bleak picture painted of this morass into which the Administration has placed the country with incompetence which makes Vietnam look like a supremely efficient military operation; one which stubbornly persists, despite overwhelming disapproval of the country's role in it for at least the past three years.

At last, the image conveyed is one of a large number of incompetents at the top, people without military experience, who, cynically for the sake of political appeal to their supporters, planned and executed the invasion of Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein, a photo-op, but made absolutely no effort at the harder task of post-war planning in advance, sent in poorly organized personnel without sufficient support to enable rebuilding and restoration of order.

It is as if the only planning was to destroy the country and then leave it to itself to destroy itself. Perhaps that is no coincidence given that 20% of the world's oil supply resides under that country's soil, more even perhaps, say the experts, than Saudi Arabia, waiting to be tapped. Perhaps it is no coincidence that since that war, oil prices have sky-rocketed to unprecedented levels, six and seven times that per barrel before the Iraq war and historically--despite promises at the outset in 2003 that the oil revenues from post-war Iraq would eventually pay for the rebuilding effort and for the war itself, even if few people with any sense ever believed that poppycock.

But, five years ago, before it all began, too few in the country were listening. Most wanted vengeance--for what exactly, vis à vis Iraq, we have yet to determine. But so it was.

Not unlike Nazi Germany after the perceived humiliation of the aftermath of World War I and Versailles. Some in this country persist in thinking that the embarrassment of Vietnam needs redressing through exercise of military might, a handy excuse for it to these having been provided by the horrors of September 11, 2001.

Thus the question, as we posed five years ago, as anyone who could still think at all rationally and objectively was posing five years ago: who are we and who have we become as a country in the aftermath of the Cold War, with the United States now standing alone as pre-eminent among the world's military powers?

It is the question we must now answer in this new election year.

We ourselves think it time to eat some spinach, get some iron in our diet, and get rid of these emotional, subjective ad hoc approaches to life, that might makes right, that money means everything, and start listening to voices of reason again, voices which counsel not "law and order" seeking "Evil-doers", but law under the good and time-proven auspices of the Constitution of the United States, one which seeks objectivity under rules of established and well-promulgated law as the arbiter of disputes, not might or money, one which is responsive in the halls of government to each and all of our free citizenry and not instead offering the voice of incessant suspicion of it in some supercilious effort to establish in its stead royal peonage--for a refreshing change.

Maybe when we get that aspect of American life right again, we can act as good examples and stewards for the establishment of reasonable government and order within the tragically war-torn country which today is still Iraq, little different, if not worse, than under the dictatorial regime which preceded this ill-advised and poorly planned pre-emptive war to liberate it.

Boon For Jr.

Even Adolf Can Sometimes Serve A Splendid Purpose

Even Adolf Hitler has his incidental uses, as Junior is now about to find out.

About twenty years ago some astute soul put around the word in America that spinach was rich in iron and other minerals and ought to be a part of everybody's diet. Many canny oldsters promptly found out that the same was true of other greens and so balked at being fed the horrid-smelling-and-tasting stuff.

But mamas in general went for the gospel hard, with the result that from that day to this Junior has had every day to gulp up a vast mass of the nasty stuff down his gullet. Indeed, the evil has gone so far that little boys have even been known to learn to like the stuff, an evidence of depraved taste of the same sort as Georgia clay-eating or the Mexican custom of eating the bugs from the maguey plant.

But relief is in sight for Junior, if, like most, he still retains his manly outlook and properly despises the mess (you probably mispronounce it; it's properly spinage). Because when the plant is allowed to produce seed its leaves tend to be small, few American growers provide their own seed. Instead the seed are imported from Asia Minor or Europe.

Which is where Adolf comes in. His war has cut off the seed supply and now they are already very scarce in America. A domestic supply, alas, will probably be developed soon enough. But in the meantime it looks as though spinach is going to be so scarce and so high that Junior will enjoy at least a temporary vacation from it.

Bill Jones*

A Man Beloved For His Great And Good Qualities

The variety of the names by which he was known testifies to the wide and warm regard in which William Myers Jones was held. To the friends of his late distinguished parents, a generation which has almost passed, he was still Willie Myers. To his intimates who preferred a less formal title for a completely natural person, he was Bill.

And to those who as boys had grown up with him, or who had served in the AEF with him (he made a grand soldier), or had come to know him in his younger manhood, he was, for no evident reason, Shorty.

All these names were matched in William Myers Jones with the qualities which they suggested: Willie Myers for the perfect gentleman, gallant, thoughtful, punctilious. Bill for the agreeable man who made friends because of a genuine liking for people and of their liking for him, and who held friends because loyalty was the cardinal principle of his code.

And Shorty for the good fellow, the man's man who was at home in any company and who chose it for congeniality alone.

Some qualities he lacked and it would be false to pretend that as modern standards go he was an exemplar. To the contrary, for him earlier times would have been more propitious. He should have lived when it was what a man was rather than what he had done which counted.

Yet his life manifested the great and enduring virtues of encourage, kindness and uprightness, and as a consequence he was a person much beloved for himself alone.

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