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Pat Buchanan - Was Iraq worth it?

Ten years ago today, U.S. air, sea and land forces attacked Iraq. And the great goals of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Destroy the chemical and biological weapons Saddam Hussein had amassed to use on us or transfer to al-Qaida for use against the U.S. homeland. Exact retribution for Saddam's complicity in 9/11 after we learned his agents had met secretly in Prague with Mohamed Atta. Create a flourishing democracy in Baghdad that would serve as a catalyst for a miraculous transformation of the Middle East from a land of despots into a region of democracies that looked West.
Not all agreed on the wisdom of this war. Gen. Bill Odom, former director of the National Security Agency, thought George W. Bush & Co. had lost their minds: "The Iraq War may turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history."
Yet, a few weeks of "shock and awe," and U.S. forces had taken Baghdad and dethroned Saddam, who had fled but was soon found in a rat hole and prosecuted and hanged, as were his associates, "the deck of cards," some of whom met the same fate.
And so, 'twas a famous victory. Mission accomplished!
Soon, however, America found herself in a new, unanticipated war, and by 2006, we were, astonishingly, on the precipice of defeat, caught in a Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict produced by our having disbanded the Iraqi army and presided over the empowerment of the first Shia regime in the nation's history.
Only a "surge" of U.S. troops led by Gen. David Petraeus rescued the United States from a strategic debacle to rival the fall of Saigon.
But the surge could not rescue the Republican Party, which had lusted for this war, from repudiation by a nation that believed itself to have been misled, deceived and lied into war. In 2006, the party lost both houses of Congress, and the Pentagon architect of the war, Don Rumsfeld, was cashiered by the commander in chief.
Two years later, disillusionment with Iraq would contribute to the rout of Republican uber-hawk John McCain by a freshman senator from Illinois who had opposed the war.
So, how now does the ledger read, 10 years on? What is history's present verdict on what history has come to call Bush's war?
Of the three goals of the war, none was achieved. No weapon of mass destruction was found.
While Saddam and his sons paid for their sins, they had had nothing at all to do with 9/11. Nothing. That had all been mendacious propaganda.
Where there had been no al-Qaida in Iraq while Saddam ruled, al-Qaida is crawling all over Iraq now. Where Iraq had been an Arab Sunni bulwark confronting Iran in 2003, a decade later, Iraq is tilting away from the Sunni camp toward the Shia crescent of Iran and Hezbollah.
What was the cost in blood and treasure of our Mesopotamian misadventure? Four thousand five hundred U.S. dead, 35,000 wounded and this summary of war costs from Friday's Wall Street Journal:
"The decade-long (Iraq) effort cost $1.7 trillion, according to a study ... by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Fighting over the past 10 years has killed 134,000 Iraqi civilians ... . Meanwhile, the nearly $500 billion in unpaid benefits to U.S. veterans of the Iraq war could balloon to $6 trillion" over the next 40 years.
Iraq made a major contribution to the bankrupting of America.
As for those 134,000 Iraqi civilian dead, that translates into 500,000 Iraqi widows and orphans. What must they think of us?
According to the latest Gallup poll, by 2-to-1, Iraqis believe they are more secure — now that the Americans are gone from their country.
Left behind, however, is our once-sterling reputation. Never before has America been held in lower esteem by the Arab peoples or the Islamic world. As for the reputation of the U.S. military, how many years will it be before our armed forces are no longer automatically associated with such terms as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, renditions and waterboarding?
As for the Chaldean and Assyrian Christian communities of Iraq who looked to America, they have been ravaged and abandoned, with many having fled their ancient homes forever.
We are not known as a reflective people. But a question has to weigh upon us. If Saddam had no WMD, had no role in 9/11, did not attack us, did not threaten us, and did not want war with us, was our unprovoked attack on that country a truly just and moral war?
What makes the question more than academic is that the tub-thumpers for war on Iraq a decade ago are now clamoring for war on Iran. Goal: Strip Iran of weapons of mass destruction all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran does not have and has no program to build.
This generation is eyewitness to how a Great Power declines and falls. And to borrow from old King Pyrrhus, one more such victory as Iraq, and we are undone.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Alan Robichaud - Opening a window to Lakes Region manufacturing might

A glimpse of the global marketplace was on display this past week when Belknap EDC sponsored several tours of local manufacturers who process and ship their products around the world. Being a nearly life-long resident of the Lakes Region and never having set foot inside some of the host manufacturers, I am probably more the norm of a typical resident who wonders,"what do they do inside those walls?"
I must say that I was totally surprised and impressed with much of what I saw and heard from those conducting tours of our manufacturing plants. First, to note that each of those companies I visited produce top quality components that are used all around the world, including some out of this world such as in the space lab and shuttles, was impressive. These precision products require high scrutiny in the manufacturing process and to my second point, the continuous quality improvement techniques used to harness their corners of the world's competitive market was astounding. In all cases, our hosts spoke with great pride in their work, in their people, and in their products. They were sensitive to quality on all levels including protecting the environment, not only here in our own back yard but wherever their companies exist throughout the world.
Belknap EDC along with Granite United Way, Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Huot Technical Center, Lakes Region Community College, Meredith Career Partnership, and others have been working collectively with local businesses to expand the career exploration and internship possibilities for local students through an initiative we call 200 X 2020. We hope to engage a minimum of 200 businesses in the fully array of cradle to career opportunities for students by 2020 so that we can assure a vibrant economy through a highly skilled workforce in a revived manufacturing climate right here in the Lakes Region.
While several local students participated in the plant tours, seeking an advantage in planning their higher education and career opportunities, not nearly enough benefitted from this wonderful experience to see the future in the making. Manufacturing is making a rebound in the U.S. and right here at home. Our companies universally stated their need for skilled employees. Students hearing their presentations know very clearly the academic and behavioral experiences needed to compete in the advanced manufacturing arena. Over and over we heard minimal requirements including middle math, blueprint literacy, computer skills, communications, critical thinking, problem solving and positive attitudes being essential entry level basics and everything on up. Our youth don't have to leave the area to find highly skilled, excellent paying jobs with benefits and clean working conditions but they do have to be ready to compete in an ever-increasingly competitive environment.
If you missed the manufacturing open houses this year, be the first to attend next time they are offered. Parents and teachers: be sure to give your students access to this inspiring experience. It will be one of the best opportunities you have to expose them to their future workforce opportunities in the exciting field of advanced manufacturing. It will help them select prerequisite academic courses while still in high school and it will certainly point them to and prepare them for appropriate higher education programs.
I want to sincerely thank Belknap EDC and all the manufacturers who opened their facilities to this year's Open House Tour and urge you to consider doing more of this in the future. It was eye-opening and impressive. It is incumbent on us all to support this industry for there to be hope for the future growth and development of our local economy. Advanced manufacturing is vibrant and on the cutting edge of tomorrow's technology. Let's make sure that its future is ours as well!
(Alan Robichaud is community development director for Granite United Way.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 12:20

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Froma Harrop - Better life is measured by more than money

Many speak of Gen X and Gen Y as "lost generations" destined to "not live as well" as their parents. A new Urban Institute study finds that young people up to the age of 40 haven't accumulated as much wealth as their parents did at their age. They face a bleak economic future, breaking a pattern of generational advancement.
The numbers may be right, but is the worry warranted? Time always will tell, but let's say this: Lots of shaky assumptions go into predicting how well today's young will live, starting with defining what it means to live well. It may be that today's young people end up living better, way better, than their parents — and by several measures, not just money.
The Urban Institute report focuses on one yardstick: wealth. It states that because investing and savings generate more wealth over the years, losing a decade of accumulation is especially serious.
Several financial setbacks certainly hit young adults hard. Many bought their first homes right before real estate values collapsed. They may now owe more on their houses than the properties are worth: Their mortgages are "underwater." They may be weighed down with student debt and frustrated by stagnant wages, a phenomenon predating the Great Recession.
Financially stressed young workers have been likened to their grandparents or great-grandparents, whose expectations fell and optimism dimmed in the Great Depression. That is not an entirely bad thing. The young people scarred by the economic calamity of the 1930s developed habits of thrift and caution that served them quite well in the post-World War II recovery — unlike much of the baby boom generation.
Middle-aged people traditionally save money and reduce debt for their later years. Many boomers, raised in the age of plenty, did not.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research reported in 2009 that 30 percent of homeowners aged 45 to 54 were underwater on their mortgages. They had feasted off rising home prices. Today's struggling young people will probably be more careful.
Also, many will have more time to make up for their youthful financial mistakes. Medical progress points to longer and healthier lives, at least for those who take care of themselves. This, like cleaner air, is one of the many marks of living well that don't easily translate into dollars.
Today, a low-income 55-year-old suffering serious heart disease has a better medical prognosis than did a multimillionaire of the same age and condition in 1960. Who would you say has/had the better life?
Chances are, younger Americans will also be working longer, enjoying perhaps 10 more years of wealth accumulation. (Full-time mothers concerned about losing economic ground in their child-rearing years should think about that.)
But is working longer a step backward? Not necessarily. That would depend on what kind of work you do and the career path you follow.
The common career pattern is illogical. Workers typically advance to the highest level of responsibility as they approach retirementage. Why can't the line be shaped like a pyramid, rather than the vapor trail of a jet taking off? One could rise in the early years, eventually hit the "top," then decelerate in terms of stress, hours and pay.
Many of today's Americans aged 65 and far older would jump at the chance to keep working, just not as hard. Some are even starting small businesses rather than face 25 years of enforced boredom and inadequate income.
Given the choice between more years and more money, most elderly people would choose the years. And years are what the young people have. Pessimism is clearly wasted on the young.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 09:47

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Roy Sanborn - Waterfront Sales Report

There were three sales in February on Lake Winnipesaukee at an average of $1.26 million. That's down from last February when we had seven sales that were all below the million dollar mark resulting in an average price of just $606,429. While the total number of sales are down this year so far, at least a few high dollar properties are moving.
The largest sale in February is a brand spanking new Scott Fuller Development home at 34 Boathouse Road in Moultonborough. This 5,500-square-foot, high quality contemporary has all the features expected in a grand lake home on Winnipesaukee including a great room with soaring cathedral ceilings, massive stone fireplace, and a wall of windows facing the lake that opens out to a massive lakefront deck. There's a first floor master suite with a fireplace and private deck and a gourmet kitchen that is open to the great room and dining areas. Upstairs are three quest suites, a media, bonus room, and loft area from which you can view the stunning great room below. The walk out lower level has a large family room with a fireplace, billiard room, and home theater (of course!) This home sits on a private .89 acre lot with 180-feet of frontage, a sugar sand beach, and sunset views. The exterior is finished in cedar shingles and clapboards with a natural stain for that Adriondack feel. Sounds pretty spectacular to me! This home was listed at $2.5 million and sold for $2.35 million.
At the other end of the spectrum, the least expensive sale on the lake was at 40 Governor Wentworth Highway in Tuftonboro. This property consists of a 1960's vintage, year round 2/3 bedroom home and a Victorian era three bedroom guest cottage on a half acre lot with 91-feet of frontage on Winter Harbor. The main house has basic amenities including an eat in kitchen living room, den, one full bath, two beds down and a large room on the second floor for sleeping a herd of kids and will probably make way for a new waterfront home. The guest cottage looks more interesting with its wrap-around porch and would be a neat structure to keep as it is also located steps to the lake. This property was originally listed at $795,000, was reduced to $635,000, and sold for $585,000 after 469 days on the market. The current assessment is listed at $782,700 so whether the new owner is going to build new or use as is, I bet he is delighted with his purchase.
There were no sales in the month of February on Winnisquam or Squam! Ouch!
If you are a property owner on a lake I would highly encourage you to visit the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association's website at www.winnipesaukee.org . This non-profit organization is dedicated to protecting and preserving the water quality in the Lake Winnipesaukee watershed area. Its ongoing activities include coordination and assistance to the UNH Lakes Lay Monitoring Program on Lake Winnipesaukee, educational outreach and awareness programs, assistance to communities in milfoil prevention activities, and development of the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Management Plan. There is a wealth of information here about how to do your part in keeping our lake pristine and they also post their newsletters on line that you will find extremely informative. Lake monitoring data can be found on www.winnipesaukeegateway.org along with recreation information, watershed maps, and info about the watershed management plans. These are two great sites that everyone who loves Winnipesaukee should visit!
As of this writing there were 176 homes for sale on Lake Winnipesaukee with 73 of those below the million dollar mark! You can get onto lake with an island property generally starting in the $200-400,000 range. There is a camp available right now on Bear Island for $169,900. I'm not saying it's great, but it is a buy at $100,000 below assessed value! There are 16 homes available on Winnisquam starting just under $300,000 and many, many homes on smaller lakes in the are starting perhaps for a little less. So, if you want your piece of waterfront heaven in the Lake Region this would be a great time of year to start your search.
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled as of 3/12/13 using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Roche Realty Group and can be reached at 603-677-8420

Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2013 22:37

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Kate Flaherty - How I remember Mr. Sargent

It was with a heavy heart I received the news that Mr. Sargent, my former English teacher from Gilford High School, had died. Memory and distance can trick the brain into freezing time altogether, and this can be particularly true when it comes to teachers and friends we leave behind after high school. I hadn't seen Mr. Sargent since my graduation decades ago, so in my head he's still the same as he was then, flattop haircut and short-sleeved dress shirts, a different striped tie for every day of the week.
Mr. Sargent didn't look like an English teacher, he looked like a math teacher or an engineer or like an actual military sergeant — the kind who would flip a quarter onto to your bunk and give you two weeks of latrine duty just because it didn't bounce high enough off the blanket.
If you didn't know him — and I definitely didn't that first day of 11th grade English — you'd expect him to be exacting and severe, the kind of guy who'd cut you no slack, no matter what.
It didn't help that while the other English teachers at Gilford got to serve up "The Great Gatsby" or "Catcher in the Rye" or "Lord of the Flies" — books with enough intrigue or violence or adolescent angst to make any lesson slightly more manageable — Mr. Sargent had the trying task of teaching early American Lit. The curriculum consisted of Pilgrim journals, Puritan sermons (mainly of the fire and brimstone variety), Emerson essays, and, worst of all, Henry Thoreau's "Walden", a book that seemed just as torturous to a 16-year-old as calculus or SATs or a gym class first thing in the morning.
And we didn't even have a proper classroom — we were shoehorned into a tiny, windowless space in a corner of the library that probably had been storage at some point or an office where the librarian hid to catch up on reading the Life or Outdoor magazines that never seemed to remain on the racks. There were no desks, so we all just sat on the floor in a semi-circle around Mr. Sargent, who sat in one of the only available chairs, crossed his legs, balanced whichever thankless text we currently had to read, and began to teach.
And we all know what happened next, right? Even Mr. Sargent would have to agree that this is one of the oldest stories in the book, whether it was part of his early American Lit curriculum or not. I know I wasn't the only one who ended up scrawling Emerson quotes on my notebook — the most popular was "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist" — or the only one who grudgingly admitted Thoreau had some pretty good points. (I was probably the only one who tacked a poem on my bedroom wall by the Puritan Reverend Michael Wigglesworth, but that's a story for another time.) Emerson and Thoreau were rebel punks and Wigglesworth was possibly the original Goth—as for the deceptively meek Emily Dickinson? She was easily the trickiest of the bunch.
I'm not sure how Mr. Sargent led us to a place where we could find value in what we read, where we could somehow connect words that were centuries old to our own world of Joe Strummer and John Hughes and the all-too enticing anti-Thoreau sentiment of "Greed is Good" from Wall Street. I think his gift had something to do with his sense of humor — this wry little smile he'd get once we wore ourselves out with complaints and finally happened upon the truth that he knew was there all along — but more to do with a deep and genuine kindness. His smile didn't mean he was laughing at us—though we sure deserved that more often than not—it was just benevolent amusement that it took us so darn long to figure everything out.
And I wonder now if we were shoehorned into that tiny room in Gilford High School by design rather than lack of space. It wasn't much smaller than Thoreau's cabin had been, and it certainly was spare. There was just us on the floor with our notebooks and pencils, and Mr. Sargent sitting in his chair, legs crossed, book on his lap.
I suppose you could say that in addition to having this frozen-in-time image of Mr. Sargent from my 11th grade English class so long ago, memory and distance also have allowed me to idealize his impact on me as a writer and teacher and an ever-evolving nonconformist, but I really don't think so. With that vintage flattop and a different striped tie for every day of the week, he was probably the first real nonconformist I ever knew; Emerson and Thoreau would be proud. I'm proud too, that I could call him my teacher.
(Kate Flaherty is a teacher and writer from Gilford.)

Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2013 20:26

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