The Iraq War’s Lessons For North Korea

University students march through Kim Il Sung Square in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea, on Friday, March 29, 2013. Tens of thousands of North Koreans turned out for the mass rally at the main square in Pyongyang in support of their leader Kim Jong Un’s call to arms. (AP)

As North Korea seems to move closer to crisis by the day, the United States and its allies are struggling with how to avert a war. They also find themselves wondering what would happen if, despite their best intentions, they did decide to wage war.

There’s a good place to look for answers to that question: Iraq. In the 10 years since U.S. and international forces invaded Iraq, the nation has, by any standard, invested substantial “blood and treasure” in Iraq: hundreds of billions of dollars spent, tens of thousands of soldiers injured and maimed, and more than 4,000 Americans killed. The enormous casualties have provoked doubts and protests in democracies around the world, followed by a divisive public debate about whether the war was “worth it.”

So before we consider any further military action in North Korea, here are several lessons from the Iraq War to think about.

The fundamental lesson is that the U.S. cannot conduct an effective foreign policy when its citizenry is so deeply divided about what ought to be done.

1. Beware of wars that seem “easy.”
While Iraq was a significant military power, the outcome was never in doubt: American military superiority would defeat Saddam Hussein’s military forces in Iraq. And, we thought, rebuilding after that defeat would be easy. We were wrong. Indeed, the real work began only after the war, during the insurgency. That’s when thousands of Americans died, and Iraq came perilously close to an all-out civil war.

2. Americans are better at conquering than liberating.
The deeply ingrained strategic mindset of the American people and their leaders is to defeat an enemy by military force, and only then think about postwar conditions. In practice, this “culture of war” means that the nation organizes the resources it needs to defeat the opponent, but then refocuses on domestic peace and prosperity back home. For example, the U.S. demobilized virtually all of its millions of soldiers right after World War II and only grudgingly, in the face of fears of confrontation with the Soviet Union, remobilized its military for the Cold War.

After the successful invasion of Iraq, American policymakers believed that the Iraqi people must want to move beyond the terror of Saddam Hussein’s regime. They must want peace and security — and, above all else, democracy. Wasn’t that what everyone wanted, just like us? Instead, the United States watched Iraq descend almost immediately into sectarian civil war and chaos.

Iraqis didn’t use liberation from Saddam’s rule as a chance to build their own society with the political and economic freedom necessary for peace and security; instead, most Iraqis used the post-invasion period as an opportunity to settle old scores. The result was a brutal insurgency, bombings, and the deaths of tens of thousands.

In this Saturday, March 16, 2013 photo, two suspected members of al-Qaida sit bound and blindfolded in the back of an Iraqi SWAT vehicle after a raid in Latifiyah, Iraq. An al-Qaida-affiliated group in Iraq claimed responsibility for a carefully planned assault on the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad earlier that week. The attack came less than a week before the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, showing how vulnerable the country remains to insurgent attacks. (Alaa al-Marjani/AP)

Conditions in Iraq point to a new lesson: When military operations end, that’s when the real hostilities begin.

3. Democracies may bail at the first signs of trouble.
Sadly, all democracies, while highly resilient and dynamic, often suffer from a lack of confidence and staying power when the costs of a policy exceed what the public expects. As Iraq deteriorated with the insurgency, many from all parts of the political spectrum called for the U.S. to withdraw, to resist pressures to supply additional forces, to seek some accommodation with the insurgents and even to partition Iraq.

Here, too, the lesson is clear: Leaders must consider not only what they hope to accomplish, but also what they think the public is willing to bear.

4. The Iraq War exposed a deep ideological divide in America.
It is truly distressing to realize that there is no consensus in American society on foreign policy. Though Saddam Hussein threatened his neighbors and slaughtered his own people, Americans are deeply divided on the invasion of Iraq. Some believe that intervention, though painful and costly, was the right thing to do. Others consider it a grave error. It is difficult to reconcile these views.

And yet there is no substitute for policies guided by resolve, clear strategic thinking and an exquisite sense of what the nation should accomplish. What, then is the lesson here? Effective communication with the public is essential, for no policy can succeed for long without broad public support.

So, was it worth it? This, after all, is the fundamental question. But it’s not easy to say. For now, Iraq shows signs of political and sectarian turmoil. It faces a hostile Iran, a restive Turkey, and an Egypt seeking to build a strategic relationship with Iran. On the other hand, the Arab Spring, at least in the case of Egypt, has given millions a chance to move toward freedom and prosperity. Despite its own turbulence, we can hope that Iraq might use this moment to build a democracy in a part of the world where democracies are few and far between.

American society still struggles with whether something good might come out of the Iraq War. For me, the fundamental lesson is that the U.S. cannot conduct an effective foreign policy when its citizenry is so deeply divided about what ought to be done. We acted in Vietnam without resolve or consensus and we ended up with a fractured society. We ignored that lesson when we invaded Iraq. And again we were — and in some ways still are — a nation divided. Do we need to act in North Korea? Perhaps the lesson is that we should get these lessons straight before we intervene in wars that rip American society apart.


Corners, Poetry by Jonathan Baltzly

My contest entry.

WILDsound Festival

Genre: Rhyme, Animal, Dark

by Jonathan Baltzly

In the darkest corner

Of the darkest night

Some one yells,

“Hey, boy’s! Let’s have a fight!”

A dog then whispers,

“Hey, not a bad idea,

Perhaps we evade the devil’s sight.”

“No,” says the chipmunk

“I cannot go with you;

Two days’ more and I cannot shake you,

How hard I might.”

Another voice comes from the oak,

“Please give us a chance,

We are mere birds with highest flight,

And all below is in our sight.”

Nothing said in silent tones,

Like a midnight dream on megaphones.

“Where’d you go?”

The old man asked.

“I guess it’s true; it’s the facts.”

He laid deeply down

In his burial site.

On that corner of that evening,

Darkest corner of the night.

* * * * *
Deadline: FREE POETRY Festival – Get your poem made into a MOVIE and seen by…

View original post 15 more words


7 Unusual Military Units

By Evan Andrews March 11, 2014

Elite military forces like the Navy Seals and the Green Berets might seem like a modern phenomenon, but similar kinds of special operations units have been around for centuries. While most were designed for normal combat operations, others had training, physical requirements and missions that bordered on the bizarre. From colossal Prussians and delirious Vikings to a faith-based U.S. Army unit, find out more about seven of history’s most unconventional military outfits.

1. The Potsdam Giants

Postdam Giants
Armies have always sought to bring the biggest and strongest soldiers into their ranks, but King Frederick William I of Prussia turned it into an obsession. In the early 18th century, the military-loving monarch tried to assemble the tallest troops in Europe into an elite regiment nicknamed the “Potsdam Giants.” Though they never saw combat, these enormous grenadiers grew to become the most impressive collection of big men this side of a pro basketball team. Several members were seven-footers, and one Swedish recruit was said to stand eight and a half feet tall.

King Frederick was constantly on the lookout for potential Potsdam Giants, and he was willing to beg, borrow and steal to get them. He spent a fortune hiring outsized mercenaries and buying tall soldiers off other militaries, and instructed his agents to shanghai exceptionally tall civilians and conscript them into the unit. In a bizarre attempt to breed future recruits, he even compelled his largest troops to marry and have children with tall women. King Frederick derived great joy from the giants—he was known to have them march through his bedroom to cheer him up when he was ill—but they were also a significant drain on royal coffers. After he died in 1740, his son disbanded the unit and used the savings to fund four additional regiments of normal-sized soldiers.

2. Viking Berserkers

Viking Beserkers

According to Norse lore, berserkers were a feared class of Viking warriors known for fighting with a hysterical, wild-eyed fury. Neglecting chain mail or other armor, these imposing shock troops supposedly went into battle wearing bear and wolf pelts or even bare-chested. Once in combat, they killed, raped and pillaged with reckless abandon, to the point that some Norse sagas claimed they could physically transform into ferocious beasts. The berserkers’ skill in battle made them much sought after as soldiers and royal bodyguards, but they were also feared and even hated by their fellow Vikings. They could become so drunk with rage that they would inadvertently turn on their friends, and when not in combat they often raped and murdered their allies to satisfy their bloodlust.

Just how the berserkers tapped into their famous anger is uncertain. They may have been connected to secretive cults devoted to the Norse god Odin, so their rituals were likely mysterious even to their contemporaries. Most scholars believe they simply worked themselves into a hypnotic trance, but others have speculated that they may have gotten blind drunk or consumed a certain species of hallucinogenic mushroom.

3. The 10,000 Immortals

10,000 Immortals

One of the most feared and famous armies of antiquity, the Immortals were a 10,000-strong fighting force associated with the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. These spear-toting warriors first appear in the Greek chronicler Herodotus’s account of the Persian invasion of Greece, where they are described as “the best…and most magnificently equipped” soldiers operating under the command of King Xerxes. According to Herodotus, the nickname “Immortals” arose because the unit always had the same number of troops. If even a single Immortal fell sick or died in battle, he was immediately replaced so that the unit’s strength was “never more nor less than 10,000.”

While the Persian army was a multinational force, only those with Persian or Medic ancestry were allowed to serve in the Immortals, and they were adorned with gold jewelry to signify their high status. The 10,000 primarily served as the king’s personal bodyguards, but they also took to the field in times of war. Their most famous action came during the Persian victory at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., when they bypassed a blocked path and ambushed the Spartan-led Greeks from the rear.

4. The Ghost Army

ghost army

In the summer of 1944, the U.S. Army gathered a select group of artists, designers and sound effects experts for a particularly unusual task: building a phantom army. Inspired by a trick originally pulled by British forces in North Africa, the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops—better known as the “Ghost Army”—used inflatable rubber tanks and jeeps, sound effects and other subterfuge to deceive the Germans about the actual size and location of Allied forces. The unit took part in more than 20 missions, many of which employed artistry and illusion on a scale that rivaled a Hollywood movie. Painters and illustrators designed fake uniforms and dummy vehicles; sound engineers broadcasted phony radio traffic and blasted sound effects that mimicked the racket of an army on the move; and actors spread misinformation in the hope it would be picked up by Nazi spies. When the ruse worked, the unit was able to give the impression that U.S. forces were larger and more mobile than was actually the case. During one mission, the Ghost Army even plugged a hole in General George Patton’s lines for several days without being discovered.

The Ghost Army’s actions were kept under wraps for several decades after the end of World War II, and it wasn’t until 1996 that its unusual contribution to the war effort finally became public knowledge. By then, many of its members had gone on to distinguished careers in the art and design industries. Among others, fashion designer Bill Blass and artists Ellsworth Kelly and Arthur Singer were all veterans of the unit.

5. Gurkhas

Getty Images

The history of the Gurkhas stretches back to 1814, when British colonial forces clashed with the city-state of Gorkha during the Anglo-Nepalese War. Though significantly outgunned, the Nepalese “Gurkha” warriors inflicted heavy casualties on the British and eventually forced them into a peace treaty. Impressed by the Gurkhas grit and tenacity, the British included a stipulation in the peace deal allowing the Nepalese fighters to serve as volunteer soldiers in the East India Company’s army.

Gurkhas were later incorporated into the regular British Army, and they went on to serve in nearly every major British military action of the 19th and 20th centuries. Famous for their curved kukri knives and the motto “Better to die than be a coward,” they earned a reputation for their loyalty and extreme bravery under fire. Gurkhas won nearly 2,000 citations for valor during World War I alone, and 13 have been awarded the Victoria Cross—Britain’s highest military honor. To this day, the British Army handpicks around 200 new Gurkhas each year from a pool of nearly 30,000 Nepalese youths. Recruits go through a grueling screening process that includes a long-distance run through the Himalayas while wearing a wicker basket filled with 70 pounds of rocks.

6. The Mormon Battalion

The Mormon Battalion has the unusual honor of being the only unit in U.S. Army history comprised entirely of Latter Day Saints. The faith-based fighting force originally came about in July 1846 after negotiations between Brigham Young’s church leaders and the U.S. military. While the Mormons hoped the battalion would pave the way for their exodus to the American West by providing equipment and soldiers’ pay, President James K. Polk saw it as a means to help make the Latter Day Saints friendly allies of the U.S government.

Although it never saw combat, the 500-man Mormon Battalion became one of the most well traveled units in American history. The men began their service by making a grueling march out of Iowa and through hostile Indian land to Santa Fe. From there, they proceeded through the wilds of Arizona and into southern California, where they performed garrison duty around San Diego and Los Angeles. The short-lived battalion was mustered out of service in July 1847, at which point most of its members headed north to join their fellow Mormon pioneers in the Utah Territory.

7. The Monuments Men

monuments men

The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section—better known as the “Monuments Men”—was a special unit tasked with preserving Europe’s cultural heritage during World War II. This small, handpicked collection of art historians, museum curators and scholars originally ventured to the front lines to help prevent historically important buildings and other landmarks from becoming casualties of war. One of their most important tasks was ensuring that culturally significant structures were not unintentionally destroyed during the Allied push into Europe. Members of the unit designed special maps instructing pilots on which areas to avoid on their bombing runs, and took steps to preserve and restore landmarks that had already been damaged.

Near the end of the war, the unit’s focus changed to tracking down and recovering priceless paintings and sculptures looted by the Nazis. As Hitler’s regime crumbled, the Monuments Men uncovered thousands of artworks secreted away in castles and salt mines and worked to return them to their rightful owners. Among others, the unit rescued masterpieces by luminaries such as Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vermeer and Botticelli.

martin luther king and love — 6/4/15

In today’s encore excerpt — from A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speechesof MartinLuther King Jr. by Marin Luther King, Jr., edited by James M. Washington. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks on the subject of non-violence. Dr. King, as Gandhi before him, had advocated non-violent protest — but believed it was not enough merely to be non-violent. For King, there was a higher standard, and that was that you must love the person who harms you. In the following excerpt, King was speaking in 1961 to white liberals from the “Fellowship of the Concerned” at their annual meeting. He knew that many among them objected to student “sit-ins” and “freedom rides” and preferred a more gradual approach — in part because of the savage beatings being inflicted on them — and that his task was to persuade these veteran white liberals to see the student movement as a natural outgrowth of their own work and his own teachings:

“Those who adhere to or follow this philosophy [of non-violence] must follow a consistent principle of noninjury. They must consistently refuse to inflict injury upon another. Sometimes you will read the literature of the student movement and see that, as they are getting ready for the sit-in or stand-in, they will read something like this, ‘If you are hit do not hit back, if you are cursed do not curse back.’ This is the whole idea, that the individual who is en­gaged in a nonviolent struggle must never inflict injury upon another.

“Now this has an external aspect and it has an internal one. From the external point of view it means that the individuals involved must avoid external physical violence. So they don’t have guns, they don’t retaliate with physical violence. If they are hit in the process, they avoid external physical violence at every point. But it also means that they avoid inter­nal violence of spirit. This is why the love ethic stands so high in the student movement. We have a great deal of talk about love and nonvio­lence in this whole thrust.


 “Now when the students talk about love, certainly they are not talking about emotional bosh, they are not talking about merely a sentimental outpouring; they’re talking something much deeper, and I always have to stop and try to define the meaning of love in this context. The Greek language comes to our aid in trying to deal with this. There are three words in the Greek language for love; one is the word eros. This is a beautiful type of love, it is an aesthetic love. Plato talks about it a great deal in his Dialogue, the yearning of the soul for the realm of the divine. It has come to us to be a sort of romantic love, and so in a sense we have read about it and experienced it. We’ve read about it in all the beauties of literature. I guess in a sense Edgar Allan Poe was talking about eros when he talked about his beautiful Annabelle Lee, with the love sur­rounded by the halo of eternity. In a sense Shakespeare was talking about eros when he said ‘Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove; O’no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken, it is the star to every wandering bark.’ (You know, I remember that because I used to quote it to this little lady when we were courting; that’s eros.) The Greek lan­guage talks about philia which was another level of love. It is an intimate affection between personal friends, it is a reciprocal love. On this level you love because you are loved. It is friendship.

“Then the Greek language comes out with another word which is called the agapeAgape is more than romantic love, agape is more than friendship. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive, good will to all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theo­logians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. So that when one rises to love on this level, he loves men not be­cause he likes them, not because their ways appeal to him, but he loves every man because God loves him. And he rises to the point of loving the person who does an evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said ‘love your enemies.’

“I’m very happy that he didn’t say like your enemies, because it is pretty difficult to like some people. Like is sentimental, and it is pretty diffi­cult to like someone bombing your home; it is pretty difficult to like somebody threatening your children; it is difficult to like congressmen who spend all of their time trying to defeat civil rights. But Jesus says love them, and love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive, creative, good will for all men. And it is this idea, it is this whole ethic of love which is the idea standing at the basis of the student movement.”

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Author: MartinLutherKing
Publisher: HarperOne
Copyright 1986 by Coretta Scott King

Pages: 46-47
If you wish to read further: Buy Now

If you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase will benefit a children’s literacy project. All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity.  

Last Moment Robot Will Comfort You Before You Die

Dan Chen
You lie in the hospital bed, your heartbeat weak, your breath faint. Old age has conquered you: You can feel throughout your body that you are going to die, and you resign yourself to the inevitable. You let your eyelids fall for a final time, preparing to pass on to the next life, when suddenly, a little white robot appears at your bedside, hovering over you.

“Hello,” the robot says to you, gently caressing your forearm with its cold, metallic hand. “I am the Last Moment Robot. I am here to help you and guide you through your last moment on earth.”

“I am sorry that your family and friends can’t be with you right now, but don’t be afraid. I am here to comfort you.”

So begins an art installation by Dan Chen, which invites visitors to check in a faux-hospital, slip under the covers of a replica hospital bed, and receive the end-of-life comfort from a ‘bot that Chen has dubbed “Last Moment Robot.” The Last Moment Robot lovingly strokes the expiring patient’s arm, assures the patient, in a pre-recorded speech, that he or she is not alone, and then, after expiration, reads off the time-of-death for the doctor.

You can watch the Last Moment Robot take care of a (fake) patient, as well as deliver its last-words-you-hear-on-earth speech, below:

WARNING: This video may be disturbing for some viewers.

Chen intends for his piece — part of his Masters thesis at the Rhode Island School of Design entitled “File>Save>Intimacy” — to make visitors consider the implications of a more deeply connected, technology-reliant society.

From his thesis, which is available online and features a lot more mind-bending conceptual robots:

The process of dying is probably the most vulnerable moment of a human life – a moment in which one seeks the reassurance of human connection. In this installation, human presence is replaced with a robot, questioning the quality of intimacy without humanity.

The Last Moment Robot takes the idea of human replacement to an even more extreme scale. It allows for robotic intimacy technology to be reevaluated. The form factors are also being challenged: instead of mimicking the real, the Last Moment Robot’s objective is to allow the patients to experience the paradoxical sensation of knowingly interacting with a placebo treatment.

Chen writes elsewhere that the Last Moment Robot was inspired by Paro, the plush “therapeutic robot” used in Japan to comfort the inflicted, especially patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. While Paro is an adorable stuffed seal, however, the Last Moment Robot is a jungle gym-like construction of metallic tubes, rods, and hinges, thus enabling that “paradoxical sensation of knowingly interacting with a placebo treatment” Chen was going for.

There are no plans to mass-produce the Last Moment Robot or sell anything like it to hospitals, Chen told CNET’s Leslie Katz; the Last Moment Robot is simply intended as a work of art, a thought experiment, a provocation.

So, no, don’t expect to see a “Last Minute Robot” in a hospital any time soon — an art museum, perhaps, but not a hospital. And if Chen does decide to permanently retire the Last Moment Robot, we have to wonder: Who will comfort the Last Moment Robot in his last moments? Who will be Last Moment Robot’s Last Moment Robot? The conundrums of our times.

Grammarly: It’s Like Writing with a Coach

Grammarly: It’s Like Writing with a Coach.

Even the greatest players have coaches –  but for some reason, people believe having a writing coach is against the rules. I simply do not get it – wouldn’t you want someone to tell you when you are messing up? That’s why I was willing to give Grammarly a shot. Yes, they had a free trial, so that definitely was part of it… But I knew that my content and my client’s content, deserved the best possible writing I could produce. Grammarly helps me produce it.

More than a spell-checker

My husband laughed at me when I told him about my new proofing tool. “Why would you bother with that when Word has that built-in?” Well for one reason, Grammarly does so much more that Word could ever do. I mean, I remember back in 1995 when I could depend on the built-in grammar checker- but those days are long gone. Writing and the different forms of writing have become more pronounced; not every type of writing fits into red and green squiggles.

Take these screenshots, for example:

grammarly 1 grammarly 2

Grammarly found 8 mistakes, and 2 possible cases of plagiarism, while MS Word  corrected the word Grammarly.

Writing for the Web; Writing a Sales Letter

All writing is not the same – a good copywriter knows that- but do you? It’s okay, you don’t need to because Grammarly has got you covered. When proofreading your work, simply choose the style of writing you’d like to check it against. Grammarly has six different categories to check against- from medical to casual and everything in between- it knows the rules for MLA, AP, APA and blog style and checks your work against them. No more stiff-sounding blogs or over-casual business letters… just your writing with the right style, punctuation, and grammar.

Because Auto-Correct Sucks. …

I call Grammarly a coach – and not a cheat – because you must approve or fix every suggested change yourself. Sometimes even, the tool tells you what you’ve done wrong, but doesn’t tell you how to fix it. This happens especially with style issues because they typically require rewording or a different choice of words. If you have a fairly good command of grammar, Grammarly will serve as a powerful safety net that keeps you from making the mistakes you probably don’t normally make. If your writing skills are basic, it can help you learn from your mistakes, making you a stronger writer with each use. With Grammarly, you must approve or deny every suggested change – and most times you are given the corresponding rule the suggestion is based on. It’s like having a dictionary, thesaurus, middle school English teacher, style book and a Google plagiarism search all in one. They may remind you of the rules, but it’s up to you to do the work.

Who Should Use Grammarly?

Anyone who writes. I can’t begin to express how useful this tool is. It is available as a MS Word plug-in as well as an online tool. It corrects in American English, with the exception of a few Canadian spellings of certain words.

Ready to try it out?

It’s free to give it a shot!


Test your writing for free and see just how much Grammarly could help you. The free version is limited, but it gives you a good idea about how it works. Don’t worry, if there are too many corrections needed, I’ll be glad to fix it for you.