Friday, September 12, 2008

Here We Go 'Round the Bananastan, Bush

by Jeff Huber

Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki wants U.S. troops to leave Iraq. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani wants U.S. troops to stay out of Pakistan. In the former instance we'll be thrown out of a country after occupying it for six or more years. In the latter case, we'll get thrown out of a country before we go through the trouble of occupying it.

That's assuming, of course, that young Mr. Bush is serious about recognizing the sovereignty of our little buddies in the war on terror, which maybe isn't such a good assumption to make.

Knock, Knock, Knocking Down Pakistan's Door

On Wednesday September 3 Kayani said, “No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.” That was the same day that American Special Operations forces pulled a commando raid that chased Taliban militants or al Qaeda militants or "other" militants or some combination of the three out of Afghanistan and across the border into Pakistan and killed about twenty people, mostly women and children. The militants, whatever kind of militants they were exactly, apparently got away.

The New York Times noted that unnamed "top American officials" said the raid "could be the opening salvo in a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces" into Pakistan.

We might surmise that according to the Newspeak Dictionary top American officials use, "could be" is a synonym for "is" (which clarifies what their definition of "is" is), because on September 10 the NYT reported that unnamed top American officials said Mr. Bush "secretly approved" the broader campaign back in July.

You might want to get up on a tabletop at this point in the story because the horse trot gets pretty thick from here on in.

Merde in Your Eye

One of the top senior American officials told the NYT that “We have to be more assertive" because “The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable.” The NYT story notes that the situation in Pakistan has been intolerable for "nearly seven years" but doesn't comment on why the intolerableness has become so urgent now that "orders have been issued."

The September 10 NYT story does observe, however, that "It is unclear precisely what legal authorities the United States has invoked to conduct even limited ground raids in a friendly country." A different unnamed senior American official from the one who said we have to be more assertive asserted that "the Pakistani government had privately assented to the general concept of limited ground assaults" but "The official did not say which members of the government gave their approval."

To review the bidding: We have unnamed American officials telling us that Mr. Bush gave secret orders (which are now an open secret) for Special Operations forces to do special operations inside Pakistan that one unnamed American official says multiple unnamed Pakistani officials approved of.

That's fairly fetid, but don't get down off that table yet; more filly flop is coming your way…

Spit Sandwich

That the NYT shows concern about the legality of Mr. Bush's new retro-preemptive deterrence escapade is notable on several counts. First is that Mr. Bush has been pulling the same sort of shoot-'em-up shenanigans in Somalia, but neither the newspaper of record nor anyone else is concerned about the legality of that operation because, by and large, the people who've lost their lives in Somalia are the same color as the people who lost their homes in New Orleans.

Second, it's fishy that no one in our government can tell us who in the Pakistan government says it's okay for us to start a war in Pakistan, but it wouldn't really matter if we did have a name. A thousand John Yoos could connive day and night for a year and not come up with a convincing argument that the U.S. Constitution allows a president to go to war on the say so of a foreign government.

Our woebegone war in Iraq is a plethora of despicable things, but "illegal" isn't one of them. Hillary Clinton and several hundred of her best friends in the United States Congress passed an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq in October 2002 that constituted "specific statutory authorization" as delineated in War Powers Resolution of 1973 for Mr. Bush to "use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary" against Iraq. That, fellow citizens, is as legal as war gets in the Brave New World Order. Formal war declarations went out of style with big band jazz, and without U.S. backing, international treaty organization resolutions aren't worth what you have to pay a janitor to throw them in the trash.

Our Afghan oopscapade, the one that's spilling over into Pakistan, is notionally covered by the AUMF passed a week after the 9-11 attacks. If that AUMF covers Pakistan and Somalia, then it authorizes Bush to attack anywhere and anytime he wants to without giving Congress so much as the courtesy of a reach around, and amounts to Congress having delegated its constitutional war powers to the executive branch: which is, to say the very least, unconstitutional.

Don't get down form the table yet. We have two more gems of heinous humbuggery to discuss.

How War Was It?

It was so war…

Some in the mainstream media would have you believe that armed incursions into Pakistan to engage militants hiding there are covered by standing rules of engagement governing "hot pursuit." Bunk. "Hot pursuit" is something Jackie Gleason does when Burt Reynolds drives too fast; it is not a term associated with U.S rules of engagement. "Pursuit of hostile forces" authorizes said pursuit (and engagement) of said hostile forces if they "continue to commit hostile acts or exhibit hostile intent," but that's not something they're doing when, say, they're attending a wedding like they tend to be when we strike them with missiles fired from unmanned aircraft or manned nuclear submarines.

Speaking of missile attacks: Though it strongly opposes U.S. ground forces operating in its tribal regions, Pakistan's military—the closest thing Pakistan has to a government—has largely ignored American air strikes on its soil. This, in some ways, has led to a perception presented in the press that while "boots on the ground" may constitute an act of war, air strikes do not. But air strikes are every bit as much acts of war as invasions are, even if the air strikes are conducted by unmanned vehicles (a man somewhere sends them on their mission) and even the unmanned vehicles are controlled by a CIA agent or even a Blackwater mercenary rather than a U.S. military person.

Thus, Mr. Bush has been conducting an illegal war in Somalia (that nobody cares about) since at least as far back as January 2007 and in Pakistan (that everybody suddenly does care about) since at least year before that.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.


  1. "militants", "insurgents", "terrorists".,

    We put a label on people, and "fire at will."

    I think that also is part of the "Bush Doctrine."

    Or whoever is running the country these days.

  2. Anonymous9:12 PM

    Jeff, I believe that Shrub and his handlers are trying to start as many conflicts as they can to cover the fact that the US is losing just about every war Bush started. This guy must be the 'designated loser' forthe people who control him. He sure as hell can't do all of this on his own.

  3. I think you're exactly right. The idea is to initiate as much conflict as possible in order to a) make McCain a more attractive candidate, or failing that to b) leave Obama with an impossible situation so come 2012 the GOP can market David Petraeus as the savior of his country.


  4. Anonymous11:51 PM

    Of course the exponetial growth in US arms sales to foreign governments would have nothing to do with emerging conflicts . . . wink. War is good business.

  5. It's the best thing for business there is!

  6. Uh Jeff?
    I think when people refer to the Iraq war as illegal they're referring to international law , which opens up a nasty can of worms for the military actions of the US since about, oh, gee, 1898 or so?

    I don't study war, so I don't know.

  7. Nunya,

    I'm of the school that says international law doesn't matter when it comes to sovereign nations going to war.

  8. Nunya,

    Sorry, that was kind of a half baked response to your issue. Let me try this:

    My take is that nation's only give up portions of their sovereignty willingly or by force. Nobody is likely to force us to cede sovereignty, at least not by force.;-)

    International law only becomes "the law of the land" according to our Constitution when the Senate ratifies a treaty. When the legislature approves a war, it in essence abrogates any existing treaty that proscribed the war.

    Does that make a little more sense?


  9. Mad Mike5:48 AM


    senior gov't official #1 - who, oh who, could that be? especially one stating the Pres Bush gave the order in secret? What senior gov't official would have that kind of access?

    senior gov't official #2 - let's see, stating that the Pakistani gov't gave its go ahead - who would be in a position to know that?

    Mad Mike

  10. Whoever they were they were controlling the message and the NYT let them do it...AGAIN!

  11. Anonymous3:07 PM

    Huber: Our woebegone war in Iraq is a plethora of despicable things, but "illegal" isn't one of them.

    I think its interesting to note that President Bush has been scrupulous in getting UN SC approval for US action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the GWOT.

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