Friday, June 10, 2011

Today in History: Founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), 1935

This lengthy article presents a very interesting history of the organization, as well as a sketch of its recovery strategies and philosophy. Much emphasis is put on the notion of relying upon a "higher power", while there is also care to couch such language in such a way as to prevent that outlook from excluding those of a non-religious bent from taking advantage of the group for aid in kicking the habit. In those sorts of cases, the organization emphasises the 'strength in numbers' nature of the support group and community as being that higher power one can rely upon. Also interesting sketch of the organizational philosophy, and its emphasis on autonomy of individual groups. As, well, some biography of the two founders, and AA's parent organization, "the Oxford Group." As I said, rather lengthy, but fascinating, and worth a read.

Gates's parting shots at European NATO allies. Blunt.

On his farewell tour, he lambastes NATO for its performance in Libya and Afghanistan.  Full articles HERE HERE and  HERE

full text HERE

Sanka freeze dried version.

1. Much of Europe talks a good game when it comes to collective defense cooperation, but leaves the U.S. to do the heavy lifting when it comes to actual military operations, particularly in Afghanistan. European powers tend to place extensive restrictions on the utilization of their personnel, substantially minimizing their risk, as well as their need to provide material contributions to war efforts.

2. They do this either because they are chary to take the domestic political heat for the casualties, or because they cannot afford to do otherwise OR because they would rather not commit their own blood and treasure. (Inclusive sense of disjunction here)

3. Also, they have, due to such political choices over decades, become reliant dependents when it comes to their security, vis-a-vis the U.S.

4. The U.S. is sick and tired of footing the bill and doing the heavy lifting, and, in any case, may soon be unable to afford it.

5. Without fundamental attitudinal changes coming from the Europeans, America may choose to leave NATO or substantially reduce its 'footprint' in the organization.

5. In that eventuality, the Europeans have some choices to make regarding domestic budgeting priorities and security.

6. Gates (when focusing on the Libyan operations) pointedly exempted the Canadians, Norwegians, Danes and Belgians from this critique.

Some key graphs:

"The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense," he said.

Without naming names, he blasted allies who are "willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets."

The U.S. has tens of thousands of troops based in Europe, not to stand guard against invasion but to train with European forces and promote what for decades has been lacking: the ability of the Europeans to go to war alongside the U.S. in a coherent way.

The war in Afghanistan, which is being conducted under NATO auspices, is a prime example of U.S. frustration at European inability to provide the required resources.

"Despite more than 2 million troops in uniform, not counting the U.S. military, NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops, not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and much more," Gates said.