Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bleep NATO

Tom Shanker of the New York Times tells us that NATO defense ministers have given their “broad endorsement” to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s plan to escalate the Afghanistan war into a full-Monty counter insurgency effort. NATO defense ministers love Afghanistan; it justifies their phony-baloney jobs.

Like much of the U.S. military, NATO became irrelevant when the Cold War ended. Pseudo-counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, who has been an adviser to David Petraeus and McChrystal, says one of the major reasons to press for a larger effort in Afghanistan is to preserve the NATO alliance. He doesn’t think counterterrorism is a particularly important reason to be in Afghanistan. (It’s not at the top of his list.)

To escalate our woebegone war in Afghanistan because NATO wants us to would be the dumbest foreign policy choice our country has ever made, and we’ve made a lot of dumb foreign policy choices. (My favorite example is becoming involved in World War I. We should have stiff-armed that fandango, let the Europeans bleed themselves ashen, then offered to feed them on strict conditions. Alas.)

The world needs NATO like fish need hammers. I had fun galore getting pie-faced with Brits and Germans other Europeans at after-hour planning sessions for international combat exercises, but fun galore isn’t a reason to escalate our war in Afghanistan. How much more blood and treasure do we need to pour into one of the bleakest parts of the world in order to throw a party for our European pals?

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been consistently critical of NATO involvement in Afghanistan to date. Gates has danced on a lot of laps in regard to this subject. He always wants more help from NATO, but he doesn’t like the help he gets. NATO doesn’t know how to do counterinsurgency, Gates has complained. But now, they’re all lovey-dovey about counterinsurgency, now that they realize how manpower intensive it is and how much throwing in with the McChrystal plan will defend their defense budgets. NATO, like much of the U.S. military, hasn’t had a reason to exist since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in the early 1990s.

Ludicrous Dick Cheney has asserted that the Obama administration’s “dithering” on what course to take in Afghanistan will “embolden” the evil ones. Everybody who can find the ends of their noses knows Dick Cheney is a dithering idiot; he’s never been right about anything. The only entity that has been emboldened is the western alliance military industrial complex, led by the Pentagon, who are fighting not for the safety of their countries but for their own existences.

The Pentagon’s long war grand strategy is good for everybody’s war business. The Afghanistan conflict is particularly suitable; it’s the kind of Orwellian war that can go on forever without getting too obnoxious, and in the case of America, it’s one that the Democrats, not the Republicans, have ownership of. Or at least it can be sold that way.

Shanker writes, “Mr. Gates, who has kept his views about additional troops close to his vest and has discouraged his commanders from lobbying too publicly for their positions, declined to be drawn out on this assessment.” That’s the biggest lie out of the New York Times since the Nigergate hoax that led to the invasion of Iraq. The media campaign the Pentagon has been waging to pressure Obama into acceding to McChrystal’s demands amounts to a soft coup.

Candidate Obama stuck his nose in the wringer when he deflected criticism of his vote against the surge in Iraq by saying it took vital assets away from the effort in Afghanistan, the “war of necessity.” That may turn out to be the tragic flaw of his presidency. The war in Afghanistan is no more necessary than most other American wars have been. None of the 9/11 attackers came from Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda isn’t there any more. As best we can tell, what remains of al-Qaeda is in Pakistan, and very little remains of it.

America and its NATO allies account for about 90 percent of global arms sales. We have no competitors.

There’s a lot of money to be made now on body and vehicle armor that don’t work. So the more kids we send to Afghanistan to get blown up, the more the folks who make the body and vehicle armor that don’t work make.

The neoconservatives who push our war agenda are invested in it, and they have, incredibly, gained a toehold in intellectually elite circles. That the “dumbest freaking human being on the planet,” Cheney sycophant Doug Feith, managed to become a visiting lecturer at Columbia University gives you an idea of how badly the national brain trust has been damaged by neoconservative influence. He eventually got canned, but he never should have been hired in the first place.

The Obama administration has finally had direct talks with Iran. As physicist Gordon Prather wrote recently, “Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Secretariat, Mohamed ElBaradei is seeking approval by the Obama-Biden administration of an agreement which ‘could open the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the international community.’”

Is it possible that the war crowd will allow that to happen? Prather notes that we’re on the verge of getting the kind of transparency on Iran’s nuclear program that Iran offered early on in the Bush administration, only to be shunned.

Let’s pray that Obama doesn’t make the mistake of listening to NATO or his generals or the right-wing noise machine, and does the smart thing by beginning to back out of Afghanistan, and continues toward normalizing relationships with Iran.

And oh, mainstream media—especially the New York Times and the Washington Post—stop letting unnamed “officials” drop propaganda into your “news.” That sort of thing gets us into wars we don’t need to fight.

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.


  1. The real utility of NATO is that it keeps America and Europe as partners despite interests and cultures that would otherwise quickly lead to rivalry if not conflict.

  2. Good point, Sven. I don't think we need to fight a war in Afghanistan to keep from fighting among ourselves, though.


  3. Afghanistan is just like every idiot war America has been involved in since 1945. All wars of choice. Choice profits for the corporations that make the weapons and weapon systems. None of those war have added anything to the security of America. None of them aided the defense of America.
    Who has attacked this country? Ever? OK, the Brits in 1812 and Villa did cross the southern border in 1916 or there abouts. A one time raid on a small town in New Mexico.
    Since then we have not been attacked. Sending our troops to far off places, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc do not do anything for the security or defense of America.
    Maybe we ought to rename the "Department of Defense" the "Department of Empire and Conquest". At least then we would have some small bit of truth in advertising. Somehow being totally honest and calling it the Department of Obscene Profits would be a bit much even though it is true.
    Just the opinion of a veteran of an imperial war in southeast Asia (Vietnam).

  4. I like that, Charlie: Department of Empire and Conquest.

    Consider it stolen! ;-)

  5. I just watched a Frontline program on Afghanistan from October 13th. All the usual players were interviewed. The only military type with a speck of integrity was Andrew Bacevich. King David made a brief appearance with a Power Point presentation, and Kilcullen - your favourite, Jeff - was opining about something or other. He has vestiges of an Australian accent. Does he have dual citizenship or something?

    McChrystal looked gaunt and driven, like a crazed crusader.

    As for NATO, it should have been disbanded yonks ago. Rasmussen is a bit to the right of Attila the Hun. I could never understand how he ended up as the Danish prime minister. It must have been a great relief to the Danes to see him go.

    (Mind you, I still can't understand how we ended up with out neoCon war prime minister, Stephen Harper, either.)

    The Canadian defense minister, Peter MacKay, was coveting the NATO chief spot, even stirring up a supposed Russian sortie which threatened Canada. Total garbage, of course, but it was MacKay's attempt at sword waggling.

    The Russians, flying in international airspace, which they're perfectly entitled to do, weren't threatening anything, as far as anyone can tell. Even Sarah Palin knows how close Russia is to our northern borders. She lives next door.

    As far as I can tell, none of the civilian population in any of the NATO countries supports the war in Afghanistan as it is, much less an escalation of it.

    But who cares about the civilians? They're only paying all the bills after all. Why should they have any say in what happens?

  6. NATO has become Mercenary HQ for the West. Its main objective is encroachment on Russia and China. NATO is an Empire builder within its own right. They have become the centurions for the [natural resource] trade routes. IMHO; There might be a new NATO adversary on the horizon. SCO ===Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

  7. Thanks again for all the great comments.

  8. Anonymous9:04 PM

    NATO has of value.

    Department of Defense was coined by minitruth in (the National Security Act) 1947.

    At least they didn't call it minipeace!

    NATO is "buying" weapon systems of its own. Most of the stuff is US military industrial complex cash cow kind of things.

    To get NATO in they are getting "co-production" equal to each nation's "contribution" to NATO.

    In the case of the US if NATO bought a Boeing 767 tanker, Boeing would only do about 40% of the work.

    That way they encourage the NATO states to develop warfare welfare (not the Germans, but the others) states so they can do 1914 all over again.


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