Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cockamamie COIN

“Soldiers came to school today,” announced the Kindergarten kid. "They only kill bad people. They don't kill good people." This is story comes to us by way of Jon Letman of Truthout. The Kindergarten kid was his son, who is five.

Letman relates that:

In his book The Limits of Power, Boston University history Professor and retired Army Col. Andrew J. Bacevich describes a near future in which the US is in an almost constant state of war. He writes, "Rather than brief interventions ending in decisive victory, sustained presence will be the norm ... The future will be one of small wars, expected to be frequent, protracted, perhaps perpetual." If Bacevich's bleak assessment proves true, it's no wonder the National Guard sees value in chatting up kindergarteners.

The 50-year Long War embraced by the Pentagon and its allies in the military-industrial-congressional complex is by far the most insidious policies ever bottom dealt to the American public. Sun Tzu noted more than two thousand years ago that no nation ever profited from a long war.

America is ruled by its military-industrial-Congress complex, a juggernaut that has an expanding life of its own. Reuters reports that, “U.S. defense spending in coming years must rise roughly six percent on average from the record sum sought by President Barack Obama this year just to meet current plans.” So much for the peace dividend Big Daddy Bush promised us.

War has become America’s top export. We don’t make anything worth buying any more. Our cars suck. Military recruiting is through the roof because of the poor economy.

How pathetic it is that the most powerful nation on earth has nothing to offer its youth but war. Even more pathetic is the kind of war the nation has to offer them.

COIN, the acronym of choice for counterinsurgency, has replaced airpower and nuclear weapons as the latest “truth” in American warfare. COIN’s basic premise calls for “effective governance by a legitimate government.” We don’t have effective or legitimate governance in Iraq or Afghanistan, and we’re not going to have it. Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite government will never “unify” with the Sunni and Kurd factions in Iraq, and Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government resembles Al Capone’s mob.

We’re fighting junk wars to prop up junk governments with junk strategies and we’re giving our kids junk body armor to fight them with.

And we’re recruiting children to keep these wars alive for as long as we can.

God help America.

Fake-tanned House Minority leader John Boehner and 14 other Republicans have written a letter to President Obama about his “long overdue” decision about Afghanistan. “For over two months you have been engaged in a strategy review that has left the country, our military and allies uncertain about your commitment to the war in Afghanistan and unsure about your will to do what is necessary to win this conflict,” the letter reads.

There is no winning our conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq. We shouldn’t have engaged in them from the start. We can pour national treasure and the blood of our young into those two sinkholes, two of the most corrupt countries on the planet, from now until kingdom come and we won’t accomplish gnat’s whisker’s bit of good.

The U.S. has spent $53 billion on “relief and reconstruction” in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. The projects in include “tens of thousands of hospitals, water treatment plants, electricity substations, schools and bridges.”

But, but, but, “there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, potentially wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Iraq’s ability to provide basic services to its people.”

So we have to stay there forever. Jolly old fun.

“Exacerbating the problem,” says the NYT, “Iraqi and American officials say is that hundreds of thousands of Iraq’s professional class have fled or been killed during the war, leaving behind a population with too few doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists and others.”

Who chased them out? Not Saddam Hussein. He’s deader than a door latch.

We may or may not manage to skulk our way out of Iraq. If the Pentagon has its way, we won’t. Desert Ox Ray Odierno, the American Commander in Iraq, thinks the insurgency in that country may go on for another 15 years.

Underfed and sleep deprived Stan McChystal, our loopy commander in Afghanistan, wants to build a combined force of U.S, NATO and Afghan troops of over a half-million to pull off a nation birthing project that will never end.

None of the wars we’re fighting have anything to do with our national security. Like it or not, the folks who have kept another 9/11 from happening are the folks in our homeland security apparatus (FBI, NORAD, FAA, and the rest of the alphabet soup agencies that should have kept 9/11 from happening in the first place.)

That military recruiters are aggressively targeting the Kindergarten generation should alarm all of us. We “don’t kill good people?”

Pluck me in the heart. We kill more civilians than bad guys. We create more bad guys than we kill.

We need to shut down the Pentagon’s Long War, and we need to keep military recruiters from molesting children.

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. I was reading a post this morning from TomDispatch and Pratap Chatterjee on Afghanistan as a Patronage Machine and really got the feeling that the war, the death and the destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places was merely a smokescreen for the business interests going on behind it all - oil, war contracting, massive construction, and of course, "Pipelineistan", as Pepe Escobar calls it.

    It's all a gigantic lie so that domestic scuzzballs can siphon money into their bank accounts and into the pockets of the local scuzzballs in the country of operations, with a veneer of patriotism and valour to cover up what's really going on.

    Scuzzballs to scuzzballs - while wasting your money, your family and kids, your sanity. Real people are dying, alright, but they have nothing to do with these crooks.

    Most Canadians are just waking up to the reality of how many contractors we're paying for and how much it's going to cost us. Soldiers, on the other hand, are poorly paid, inadequately cared for and are pretty much left on their own if something terrible happens.

    I wish I could say "heads will roll" but they probably won't. They'll "retire" and go on the rubber chicken circuit, or something.

    I'm still desperately looking for a link to a story I read a few weeks ago, where Afghan farmers in the northern regions were complaining that the complicated system of wells and conduits they had built over centuries and probably millenia to irrigate thier fields and orchards in a arid and difficult land are drying up thanks to a new irrigation project instituted by some western power which was trying to "do good" (and make a chunk of change, or course).

    Locate wall. Bang head sharply. Repeat until sense or unconsciousness intervenes.

  2. Fil,

    Let me know if you find that link about the irrigation.

  3. I think your commenter is perhaps misremembering reports on the decline of the karez systems in Northern Iraq:

    Karez Facts and Figures

    "A kahrez is a man-made underground aqueduct used to provide a reliable supply of water to human settlements or for irrigation. The technology is known to have developed in ancient Persia and then spread to Iraq and other cultures. Oral histories often report local karez to be 100-350 years old.

    A Karez has the potential to produce 864,000 L/day, enough drinking water for 8,640 community members and 1,440 households. "

    To the best of my knowledge and belief there is no equivalent in Northern Afghanistan, certainly I saw none in my time there.

  4. Anonymous12:02 AM

    What do we have to do, put on fireworks display in space to make people stop sending their children to die for the government/ business consortium???

  5. Vietnam was bad enough. I spent my tour with 5th Marines there 1970-71.
    What this government of ours is having the troops do now is much worse. At least we knew, 13 months and then home, if you lived through the tour.
    The troops today are being "retained" past the end of their enlistments. "Stop loss". They are serving multiple tours in the war zones. It is an all "volunteer" service today, no draft.
    As bad as Vietnam was, I have great compassion for the troops who are stuck in the illegal wars we have them in. They are being treated not much better than property. The care they get from the government is not the best, as it should be. They have done all that has been asked of them and more. They deserve the very best care we can offer.
    Indeed, the suicide rates are climbing in the military. And why not? "Stop loss" and multiple tours will do that to people. It is surprising that the suicide rate is as low as it is.
    I am beginning to think that maybe the US government is also illegitimate. Would any sane, rational country abuse its military the way this government has?
    Sorry for ranting on, but this crap is really pissing me off.
    semper fi

  6. Another great discussion gang, thanks.


  7. Commander,

    Not only "endless war" -- but -- "endless war - for profit".

    Mercenary/Private Contractor style.

    The more the private contractors rip us (taxpayers) off.... the more and higher dollar contracts our Congressvarmints award them.

    It sux, and it's starting to piss me off also.

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  9. Anonymous9:09 AM

    I think that one reason Obama is taking so long to decide about Afghanistan is that the MIC is trying to prolong the perception that the Pres. is actually in charge of things and not just a PR spokesman for the MIC. Of course my opponents will say that I do not know what I am talking about but then who are they to call the kettle black. I do not care who you are if you are not spending 24 hours a day with person you can not really be sure what they are up to. So for those people who think that my idea that the 4 star Generals run the United States is naive all I can say is that you (my critics) are naive.
    The rulers spread disinformation like manure on a corn field. The only way that one can get an idea of what is up is by figuring they try to point away from what they want people to know.
    So how can one really no anything for certain. In times of great darkness one can not know anything for certain one can only follow the NORTH Star.
    America's Che Yenne Medicine Man
    Curt Kastens

  10. I'll leave it to Dubhaltach, since (s)he seems to know the area, that it may not have been a kahrez system that was screwed up by an irrigation project.

    Perhaps it was a river or stream diversion that caused the farmers to lose their water for irrigation.

    Still desperately looking for the link.

    The Law of Unintended Consequences, I guess. "Look! Here's a stream. Nobody seems to be using it. Let's divert it!"

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