Arianna Huffington upped the ante. In a Sept. 18 McClatchy article that launched the Pentagon’s propaganda campaign to elbow President Obama into surrendering to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s demands to super-escalate our cross-purpose war in Afghanistan, unnamed senior military officers suggested that McChrystal might resign if he doesn’t get what he wants.
Huffington suggests a counter battery.
The only person in government who seems to have an ounce of sanity regarding the Afghanistan situation is Vice President Joe Biden, who is advising Obama to tell McChrystal to go buck sergeant himself, that sending more troops in to an escalation of a counterinsurgency campaign to support Hamid Karazai’s regime, one of the most corrupt, illegitimate governments that ever existed, is a bad idea. Who would have thought Biden would be the one to display common sense in the Obama administration?
Huffington suggests that Biden should put the prospect of his own resignation on the table. That’s a good idea.
The Afghanistan conflict is a colossal cluster bomb. Al-Qaeda, who National Security Adviser James Jones admits consists of fewer that 100 fighters in Afghanistan, is toast. If we allow another 9/11 to happen—especially after we rubbed out the fourth amendment with the Patriot Act—it won’t be because they followed us here. It will be because a lot of folks in our Homeland Security structure took a snooze at the switch again.
Another suggestion, Arianna: let’s start telling the kids we’re sending into cockamamie combat that their leaders are lying to them. A regular Pen and Sword correspondent related recently that she “Just saw a TV-program about Afghanistan, where an American soldier in Afghanistan confidently declared that it was better to fight the Afghans in Afghanistan than to have to do it at home.” The kid who said that has obviously been brainwashed into believing the impossible. Afghanistan couldn’t invade Pakistan or Iran, much less the United States.
What are our schools teaching our children about geography? Anything? We’re the mightiest nation in the world that possesses the best-trained, best-equipped military in history, and our Army logisticians are crying like walruses and carpenters about how hard it is to bring 20,000 soldiers home from Iraq. An unnamed representative of the military, no doubt a lame-stick public affairs officer, told the New York Times that the 20,000-troop redeployment is “the largest movement of soldiers and matériel in more than four decades.”
What a crock of ammonium nitrate. Moving 20,000 troops around is nothing compared to the troop movements we’ve made the past forty years. Does the Times reporter who cut and pasted this propaganda tidbit—Marc Santora—know anything about military history? How does he think we invaded Iraq twice? How many troops does he imagine were involved in those enterprises? (It was a whole lot more than 20,000.)
Folks in our military live in an information tunnel. A February 2006 Zogby poll of our troops in Iraq showed that almost 90 percent of them thought our invasion of that country was “retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11.” By February 2006, everyone else on the planet knew Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. How could our troops have been so deluded?
It’s partly because of the operant condition they receive in basic training. Don’t think: obey. It’s also because they lead cloistered lives. You live on a base or you live in the town your base is in and everybody’s military friendly, not like those liberals who don’t understand you who live in blue states you’ll never be stationed at.
Right-wing odium radio and FOX News dominate the tuned in receivers on our military installations. The most acceptable “high-brow” information pursuits involve reading the Wall Street Journal editorial section in the office (or pretending to. In my military experience, holding a newspaper in your lap was a way of pretending you were doing something important while you crabbed about how lousy that vanilla pudding was in the officers’ mess last night. Why couldn’t they make chocolate for a change? Or raspberry? Darn it.)
The biggest shame of all is how this mentality spreads to the very top of the chain of command and how it tinkles downhill. If you can handle it, see this story by Karen Russo of ABC News. It describes how injured American soldiers in a firefight with Afghan militants refused to be evacuated by helicopter because they wanted to stay and fight with their “buddies.” It crushed my heart, except at the end of the piece the ABC talking head (Chris Cuomo, who appears to have found a gym in Afghanistan to keep his male model physique up to snuff) turned the video spot into yet another shaped message that we need more troops in Afghanistan.
That’s what the Pentagon’s embedded reporter program has given us: a media we can’t trust because it is access poisoned. Any imbed reporter who doesn’t echo the easy company line gets scraped off against a concrete wall.
What we need is zero troops in Afghanistan. And we need more people like Joe Biden to stand up and reinforce that message. If it takes him walking off the job, then let it be.
Quitting his job in protest might be the strongest move Joe Biden made in his life as a politician. On the other hand, I’d rather see Joe stay on the job and watch McChrystal and the rest of the long war mafia—Dave Petraeus, Mike Mullen and Ray Odierno—march off to Fort Palooka. When we get rid of them, then just maybe we can turn off our militaristic lunacy and become the world leader the rest of the world would like us to be.