Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.Vladimir Putin, who promoted himself from being Russia's president to being Russia's Dick Cheney, says America's Dick Cheney orchestrated the Russia-Georgia conflict to benefit the presidential bid of the neoconservatives' next white hope, John McCain. I've googled high and low and can't find a whisper of denial of Putin's accusations from our Dick Cheney or any of his henchmen.
--Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Maybe the Cheney Gang has given up bothering to deny anything. Maybe they realize that by now, any time it's the word of Russia's Dick Cheney—or for that matter anybody else's Dick Cheney—and our Dick Cheney, the world population makes the safe assumption that our Dick Cheney is lying. Or it could be that they're simply so used to telling earth shattering untruths and getting away with it that they don't even bother to tell them any more.
It's the eye-watering lies of the neoconservative oligarchy that everyone remembers, but I've come to believe the little lies they tell reveal more about their malignant nature, and I'm particularly interested when these venial mendacities get dropped not by our politicians, but by our ever growing phalanx of political generals. I recently ran across one of these gems in, of all places, The Times of India.
At a late August Washington press conference, Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway said that al Qaeda members in Iraq are moving to the safe haven in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. "I think the al Qaida knows that they have blown a movement in Iraq through a number of missteps over time," he told reporters. The spine of the story, however, is not about the migration of al Qaeda fighters, but how Conway knows about said migration.
"No intelligence agency would say this," Conway confessed. Now that's something, when they can't bully a single intelligence source into backing up their fractured fables. So how did Conway verify his assertions to the vigilant fourth estate? "My guess is," he told them, "my belief is that they probably have gone to that safe haven in the FATA."
My guess? My belief? My God.
Conway's crack talk is reminiscent of a July 19 Associated Press interview with top U.S. commander in Iraq General David Petraeus. King David said that senior Al Qaeda leaders "might be" diverting fighters from the war in Iraq to the Afghan frontier area. He also said that Al Qaeda "might be" reconsidering Iraq as its highest priority war front. What made him say this "might be" happening is "some intelligence that has picked this up.” In case you're wondering what "some intelligence" might consist of, Petraeus explained that, "It's not solid gold intelligence." And "not solid gold intelligence" means what, exactly, General?
“There are unsubstantiated rumors and reflections that perhaps some foreign fighters originally intended for Iraq may have gone to the FATA," Petraeus finally told AP, which means in point of fact that the entire story about al Qaeda in Iraq transferring itself to the Bananastans is total f***ing bulls***; but that didn't keep Petraeus from telling it or the Associated Press from running it.
But the goofy intelligence this bull feather mattress is supposedly based on isn't the goofiest part of it. The goofiest part is the story's basic premise. How do you suppose al Qaeda dudes in Iraq are getting to middle Bananastan? I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're probably not flying there first class out of Baghdad International. And you can bet your sweet bippy they're not forming up and marching 2,000 miles through the mountains and deserts of Iran and Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy Seals might be able to do something like that, but it would take them a very long time.)
Yeah, you can smuggle dribs and drabs of martyrdom interns from Baghdad to Islamabad or wherever. You'd do that with key leadership personnel, or with special task operatives like the carload of out-of-towners who pulled off the 9/11 attacks. But it's not like the Petraeuses of this world would have you believe, with Field Marshall bin Laden and 50 or so of his best number-two men sitting around the strategic display in the Situation Cave making weighty decisions on troop movements. All right then, we'll take the Third Lebanese Division along with elements of the X Karbala Corps and shore up the Four-Oh-First Palestine Battalion at their positions along the Khyber Pass.
This logistical dissonance hits straight at the heart of the inanity behind the "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" mantra, recast in summer of 2006 by then Central Command chief General John Abizaid as "If we withdraw before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here." The enemy can't get here from there, not in the kinds of numbers Abizaid and the rest try to conjure in our imaginations. It's not always certain whom the "enemy" is when Mr. Bush's echo chamberlains refer to them, but it sort of doesn't matter. No enemy, actual or potential, has an air force or navy big enough to bring a suitable occupation force to America. The oceans are too wide to swim or jump across, and big grown up generals like John Abizaid should know better than to believe a hoard of Hajjis can get here on flying carpets or can wish themselves here by rubbing a magic lantern.
Why do men with four stars on their collars talk this kind of far-fetched poppycock?
Part of the answer lies in their need to sustain the myth that Saddam Hussein was connected with the 9/11 attacks. In a new book, author Ron Susskind claims the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, hand written letter designed to contrive a false link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto calls Susskind's accusation "absurd." Of course it's absurd, Tony, but that's not what we asked. Could you tell us whether or not it's true?
It's a yes/no question, Tony. Take your time.
By the way, in case you didn't know already: the pack of Sand Webelos that calls itself al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has about as much to do with the real al Qaeda as Erik Estrada has to do with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Where Do We Find Such Liars?
I suppose by now most Americans are inured to hearing our highest-ranking military officers tell outrageous lies, but I'm not. I find their chronic mendacity disgraceful, and can't help but wonder what's going on in their military minds. Possible explanations abound.
Solzhenitsyn theorizes that evildoing has a threshold magnitude, and when individuals cross that threshold they leave humanity behind. George Orwell's doublethink is the power "to tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them." In his celebrated essay "On Bulls***," Professor Harry G. Frankfurt suggests that what bulls***ters misrepresent has nothing to do with their beliefs, that their only value they recognize is expediency. Conversely, retired Army Colonel Paul E. Valley, creator of the MindWar concept, says that in order to be effective the information operative "must know that he speaks the truth, and he must be personally committed to it." (Emphasis Valley's.)
I'll offer a few more suppositions that may apply in the cases of the three generals. We can probably attribute Conway's prevarications, at least partly, to simple-minded singleness of purpose. There's little question that Petraeus is an historic case study in unbridled personal ambition. As to Abizaid, I'd really, really, really love to know at what precise moment in his career the guy took his last drug urinalysis.
It's probably less important to ponder why these men did what they did than it is to consider what to do about them. Here's what Solzhenitsyn had to say about the bad men of his time and place:
In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundation s of justice from beneath new generations… Young people are acquiring the conviction that foul deeds are never punished on earth, that they always bring prosperity.Solzhenitsyn's words reverberate for me when I think that not only has David Petraeus been rewarded by his promotion to head of Central Command, he personally hand-picked the latest crop of Army one-star generals.
It is going to be uncomfortable, horrible, to live in such a country!
And if McCain loses in November, just you watch who the GOP trots out in 2012.
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.