April 8th, 2006



After a long time suspecting it, I finally know... LJ is screwing up my friends list.

I have custom filters available for all sorts of various groups, such as close friends, people serving in Iraq, etc. Yet, when I do a search for all recent LJ posts out of Iraq, I see recent posts from friends listed there that aren't showing up in the custom friends list, even though I've checked to make sure they are part of my custom group.

Now, I have a huge friends list, but still, how hard is this to really test? I suspect it effects some accounts more often than others, but that's really just a feeling.

So, just in case you feel that you don't get a lot of comments from me lately, there might be a reason...

Well, that's cheery news... not.

Seymour Hersh has written a rather omenous new article for the New Yorker on a future war with Iran. It sounds like he believes that neither side is going to back down, and that war is likely at this point.

"God may smile on us, but I don’t think so. The bottom line is that Iran cannot become a nuclear-weapons state. The problem is that the Iranians realize that only by becoming a nuclear state can they defend themselves against the U.S. Something bad is going to happen."

My guess is that any move against Iran will wait until shortly after the next Congressional elections -- say, 2-6 months later -- in order to give the Bush administration time to beat the drums in a way that they might not want to do during the election cycle. Waiting until after the election is, incidentally, the same thing that Bush did when he attacked Fallujah.

That said, I still have some hope. The very fact that Hersh has written this article changes the situation, and could help to reduce the chances of such an action occuring.

As we now know from Iraq, the final decision to go forward with an attack on Iran is most likely to be firmly and absolutely decided upon about three months in advance. If people want to try to stop this conflict, they should be aware of this fact and plan accordingly. The time to start informing others, to show outrage, and to contact your politicians is now.

If Bush has shown us one thing, it's that the only thing worse than a leader who always backs down is one whose pride and arrogance does not allow them to change his mind at all. The best chance of avoiding conflict at this moment is a complete sea change and a public renunciation of the doctrine of pre-emptive war.

I understand why so many Republicans (with notable exceptions) are unwilling to stand up to this essentially unconstututional and antidemocratic state of affairs, but why are so few Democrats willing to do so? What rights, freedoms, and beliefs do they not only support in theory, but are willing to stand up and defend? Where is their Contract with America?

Many Conservatives attack the Democrats for not having a solid, united stance on issues, and I can certainly see their point. That said, it's better to be divided over complex issues, then to try to solve complex issues in a simplistic, reactionary manner. You have to pick your battles in this world, and Bush has not chosen wisely.

The new military -- indentured servitude.

I just read this post from a soldier in Iraq on LJ. I'm keeping their identity anonymous, but here's what they said:
Why doesn't this story surprise me at all? They can't keep people on active duty anymore, so they just make IRR (Individual Ready Reserve ) the next best thing to active duty: National Guard!

They damn well better grandfather us out of this bullshit, or I imagine there will be lots of lawsuits springing up. They're already talking about extending the initial commitment from 8 years (4 years active, 4 years IRR) to 13 years (4 years active, 9 years IRR). Not to mention, they don't tell you that you have to explicitly terminate your IRR status at the conclusion of your commitment, or they leave you on the IRR rolls by default. There's a guy in my unit whose brother got called up after his 8-year commitment was entirely over. He tried to protest in court, but he was told, "Sorry, you never terminated your IRR status." Of course, they never tell you that you have to do this. It's not even mentioned in the finest of fine print in your enlistment contract. You can imagine what I'll be doing the day my contract finally expires.


In other words, people who complete four years of military service -- even in the Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves -- are going to be forced to train and be prepared to deploy for duty for up to an additional nine years. In fact, they could be forced to serve in the active military for that entire time.

That's an awful lot to ask of people who, in many cases, signed on the dotted line, expecting to serve only about 39 days a year for four years. 156 days becomes 4745 days... whatta deal!

optimsprm is looking into the details of the IRR rules, for those who want to check them out.

He found a particularly disconcerting section of the IRR rules, Section 12301, which says this:
"a member on an inactive status list or in a retired status may not be ordered to active duty under this subsection unless the Secretary concerned, with the approval of the Secretary of Defense in the case of the Secretary of a military department, determines that there are not enough qualified Reserves in an active status or in the inactive National Guard in the required category who are readily available."

In other words, "We can't retain you unless we say we can, and for as long as we feel necessary." Ouch. Sounds like the kind of shit that always seems to happen in bad late-night war movies, doesn't it?!

I also found a few interesting exceptions to the regular IRR rule (i.e. Active Duty+IRR=8 years):

"In some cases, a person on IRR status can be called up as many as 10 years after departure from the armed forces, the Pentagon says."

David M. Miyasato enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1987, served three years of active duty during the first Gulf War and received an honorable discharge in 1991. He remained on inactive status for five more years, until 1996 . . . But in September, Miyasato received a letter from the Army . . . "I was shocked," Miyasato said yesterday. "I never expected to see something like that after being out of the service for 13 years."

Here's an archived post by a former soldier on how to check your IRR status.

Also, it's worth noting this official quote in a recent article on the new Individual Ready Reserve policies:

"While the mission of the IRR is to provide a pool of previously trained Soldiers who are ‘individually ready’ for call-up, our culture and past management of the IRR has made it difficult for many to accept that call-ups will become common practice."

I bet a lot of soldiers are going to wish they knew this before they signed on the dotted line, eh?