Here a war, there a war, everywhere a war

Opinion piece by Mark Turner


The  U,S. and Russia are conducting military strikes in Syria. The US and Russia may have strategic interests in bombing the crap out of their least favorite parts of Syria.  The scary thing is, the US and Russia are  waging very separate wars in this region.  What could possibly go wrong here?

Other U.S. war theaters include Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan.  Except for when we bomb a hospital, we never seem to talk about these wars, or even what our success would look like in these places.  We simply accept the death toll as a cost of our freedom?

Last week, the president announced that US forces shall remain in Afghanistan after he leaves office. Does it bother anybody else, that a generation enters high school never knowing a time when their country was not at war?  Shall our children never know peace?


War on violence

Opinion piece by Mark Turner



It was a community college public speaking course. The instructor had us perform an exercise on persuasion, in preparation for our assigned speech to persuade. Our instructor selected 10 students, and split them into pairs. He gave 5 of them a $20 bill. For the exercise, he instructed those with the $20 to keep it. He instructed the cashless to persuade their partner to give up the $20 bill. Various techniques were employed, from negotiation to coercion. Some techniques worked, and some were unsuccessful. Early in the exercise, one student grabbed the wrist of a hand holding a $20 and demanded release. After a brief resistant protest, the student released the cash, but slapped the aggressors hand.

The exercise taught me an important lesson about how effective violence can be in getting what we want. It showed me how quickly some will resort to using violence, without even attempting negotiation. It also showed me how some folks immediately respond to violence with violence. When this happens in the classroom, it is uncomfortable. When in happens in the streets, or other battlefields, it is mostly tragic.

The Charleston Grace AME congregation did not choose to respond with hate or violence when their church was shot up. Instead, they stunned the world when they responded to the bloody massacre with words of love, forgiveness, and grace.

Why was this response so stunning? It was stunning because it is so uncommon.

If humans are meant to survive, we must evolve. We must learn that violence, while effective, is not the solution to any of our problems. I think that humans must evolve away from violence, and take a more thoughtful approach. What do you think?

Preaching peace

Opinion piece by Mark Turner


In May 2015 Pope Francis said “many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war.”

As I pointed out in my last post, war has been profitable…



in Feb 2014, Pope Francis was quoted   “Every day, in the newspapers, we find wars,” he said, “and the deaths seem to be part of a normal day’s tally. We are accustomed to reading these things.” It seems, he added, “as though the spirit of war has taken control of us.”

What at do you think?  Has our perpetual state of war desensitized us to the point that we no longer have a responsibility to even talk about it?  As our U.S. Congress won’t even debate war authorization, shall we, as citizens, just accept an endless state of war?  I advocate peace.


Warriors score!

Opinion post by Mark Turner

Last night, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to take a 3 game to 2 advantage in the NBA Finals. Both teams know what they have to do to become champions in the best of 7 series.   It made me wonder about our military wars and warriors.  Do we really have any meaningful metric to measure the success of our heroic warriors? What does winning our war even look like?

Then, the Northrop Gumman ad from the Super Bowl airs.  This ad features an awesome new war machine that looks like a UFO from another world.  I found it truly stunning.



The ad ends with the ‘Value of Performance’ slide.  It made me wonder if the only real metric that anyone cares about in our war is the ‘value of performance’.  Here is the 2 year stock chart for Northrop Grumman:


Here is Locheed Martin:


General Dynamics anyone?


Judging from these charts,  it would appear that there is a metric for the success of our war.  Please tell me that there are better ways to measure the success of our war than these stupid charts!



War: Remember when…

Opinion post by Mark Turner


Yes, I am old, but I remember when

  • The U.S. Constitution stipulated that Congress had the power to declare war. Back then, the U.S. Congress would actually debate sending our soldiers off to war. Now, Congress gives the Executive extraordinary powers to wage war.
  • Covert war.  if we didn’t want to talk about our wars, we called them covert wars.  Really!  Google it.  Search for Covert war Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and you will yield results. Now, we just don’t talk about our wars at all.
  • Images of war were broadcast on television.  We saw lots of blood on the evening news. If you were eating dinner, you had to turn it off. It was ugly. War was ugly. Now, demonstrations in major cities are referred to as war zones. Just ask Bill O’Reilley.
  • Peace Dividend. We were promised a peace dividend when the Cold War ended. We were supposed to be able to rebuild our infrastructure with it.  Instead, we continue our war spending like a crack addict out of control.
  • We fought wars with Boots on the Ground.  We have brought home our surging U.S.  boots on the ground, mostly, from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, we still have boots on boats, boots in the air, and boots flying drones, but no boots on the ground.

Many more Americans can name the last 3 American Idols, than can point to Afghanistan on a map.  Does it seem like most Americans just don’t care anymore? It does to me. What do you think?


Opinion Post: Drones, are we not men?

by Mark Turner

Drones are fun.  The advances in technology have made Un-manned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) almost affordable.  These amazing devices have GPS, wi-fi, HD cameras, and an app.  Yes, drones are here, and they are fun.  If drones are flying in your neighborhood, you might find them somewhat annoying – very much in the way that a 5 pound mosquito might be annoying.


Of course, you may be slightly more annoyed if THIS drone is flying in your neighborhood.



I don’t know from experience, but a Predator drone is probably fun to fly.  They somehow remove the personal element from killing people. If you have lost a home, limb, or family member to one of these 2 ton mosquitos, then you likely don’t ever want to see  one in your neighborhood. They say that 2400 people have died in drone attacks of the past five years.   We don’t even talk abou it.  Drones don’t make the killing invisible!  War is necessarily dehumanizing, but instead of getting better at de-humanizing  war, don’t you think it be better if we could de-war humans?  Can we even talk about it? What do you think?

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