Tuesday, April 06, 2010

McCrackers

To amend a line made immortal by Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, we have met the evildoers and they are us. It would be nice to think that we managed to change the vector of American foreign policy with the 2008 elections, but the New American Century is still afloat and running full steam ahead. All we’ve done is trade Rumsfeldian arrogance for McChrystalline oiliness.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld derided his critics as "Henny Pennys" who saw the sky falling every time they pulled their heads out of their heinies. Rumsfeld was, of course, an abject disaster, a micromanaging bully who single-handedly ensured the Iraq excursion would turn into a cluster bomb by threatening, according to Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, who was one of the original Iraqi Freedom planners, to "fire the next person" who suggested the military needed to plan an endgame for the war. As obvious a calamity as he was from the outset to discerning observers, Rummy managed to hang on to the SecDef slot for nearly six years, partly by surrounding himself with sycophants and cronies, partly by bullying the wimpy mainstream media, but mainly through the sponsorship of the then most powerful public figure on earth, his old pal Dick Cheney. Rumsfeld was so firmly entrenched in the top Pentagon spot that he only tasted Kiwi Parade Gloss after the GOP took a paddling in the 2006 election.

Rummy’s collision with the doorknob that hit him on the way out supposedly marked the end of the bad old days. The generals who told young Mr. Bush what he wanted to hear when he wanted to hear that we had enough troops in Iraq transferred along with Rummy to Platinum Parachute Command. A new crop of generals lined up behind "King David" Petraeus, who told young Bush the new thing he wanted to hear, which was that the Iraq war could be won if we sent more troops there.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, hand-picked by Petraeus to take over the war in Af-Pak, is a galaxy-class survivor who has managed to thrive under both Rumsfeld and his successor, Robert Gates. During the Rummy regime, McChrystal commanded the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a secretive outfit that journalist Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker described as an "executive assassination ring" that reported "directly to the Cheney office." JSOC’s functions, as Hersh put it, involved "going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them." McChrystal’s JSOC hijinks also involved extensive torture, murky connections with mercenary outfits like Blackwater, and use of questionable intelligence gained by private interests who gained government contracts through their connections with Defense Department official Michael D. Furlong.

Whether any of McChrystal’s whack ops killed or even targeted an actual terrorist is moot. We never seem to quite know for sure if our air attacks or night ground raids actually get the suspected terrorist they were going after, and we have little idea at all whether the suspect was actually a terrorist. Suspects wind up on the list based on the say-so of locals who are as suspect as the characters they finger; nobody on either side of the equation would pass for a solid citizen. We’re even iffy on just what the accuser said about the accused, because you can count the number of people who speak both Pashto and English and are brave or stupid enough to work for us on the fingers and teeth of a mockingbird.

McChrystal is singularly responsible for a significant slice of civilian casualties created by our Long War, which has accounted for exponentially more human suffering, death, and privation than did the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, McChrystal’s machinations over the four-and-a-half-years of his tenure at SOCOM were every bit as illegal and unsanctioned as any terrorist acts. Neither Dick Cheney nor any other vice president of the United States has any constitutional or legal role in the military chain of command whatsoever. If you think it’s remotely possible that McChrystal didn’t understand this, rethink. The guy’s had a law firm’s worth of JAG officers working for him since he was a measly one-star. If they were unaware of the illegality of the JSOC’s actions, they belong in the same prison cell McChrystal should be locked up in.

Then again, Stan the Man only eats one meal a day and only sleeps a few hours a night – his public relations team made sure the major media told us all about that – so maybe his lawyers told him that what he was doing was illegal, but he was so hungry and sleep-deprived he forgot. He may have an even better excuse than that. James Petras, the widely published professor emeritus of sociology at Bingham University, describes McChrystal as "the most notorious of the psychopaths" in Delta Force, which is saying something. The Army’s elite special ops outfit is a veritable mental-case assembly line. I’m inclined to agree with Petras’ assessment, though I’m not certain how it distinguishes McManiac from the vast majority of the rest of our generals and admirals.

Another talent McChrystal shares with most of his fellow brass hats is his ability to talk out both sides of his mouth. At his confirmation hearing in June 2009 he told the Senate that "the measure of effectiveness will not be enemy killed. It will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence." Then, in his first act as commander of the Af-Pak theater of operations, he launched an offensive designed to kill the enemy. Ever since, he and his propaganda directorate have fed us the same line about trying to limit civilian casualties even as he orders strikes and offensives that have proven to be surefire formulas for wreaking death and destruction on civilian populations.

Even Rumsfeld, as bull-goose loony as he was, recognized at some level, if even only dimly, that our tactics and strategy were creating more terrorists than they were killing. It’s hard to say if McChrystal is aware of that, dimly or otherwise, or of any other aspect of reality, to be frank about it.

At a March video conference with troops in the field, McChrystal flat out admitted, "We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat." I’d love to have seen the McSmirk he had on his face when he said that.

Ultimately, whether he qualifies for a section 8 discharge or is merely an amoral leader of the world’s best-funded death squad, he’s ensuring that David Petraeus’ Long Warkeeps getting longer by creating an endless supply of enemy soldiers, and supposedly responsible, sane people in charge of the mightiest nation in the history of humanity – including the commander in chief who promised he would change things – are perfectly happy to sit by and let him do it. What’s more, the American public hasn’t risen en masse to demand an end to this madness, and there’s no sign it’s going to.

How McCrackers is that?

Catch the rest @ Antiwar.com.

31 comments:

  1. "Rumsfeld was so firmly entrenched in the top Pentagon"----one of the reasons may be the influence of Andrew Marshall, a sort-of Dr. Strangelove of the Pentagon. While most folks think that parody was about Kissinger, a deeper investigation into Marshal's history will reveal the very heart of fascist black ops mentality.

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  2. Yeah, Dandy Andy was definitely part of the equation.

    J

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  3. You get the feeling that nobody knows what the heck is going on anymore. The Special Ops seem to do what they like. That massacre of two pregnant women, a teenaged girl and a couple of Afghan government employees was hotly denied at first. Then they lied and said that the women were already dead. THEN it turns out they dug the bullets out of the women so they couldn't be tied to the murders.

    THEN they admitted it.

    Does McChrystal know? Does he care? Or is he operating as two separate people - the on-the-surface concerned guy during the day and the murderous special ops commander at night.

    After all, he doesn't need to sleep.

    I'm waiting for the Mr. Hyde side of him to surface during one of his many interviews.

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  4. He's a regular Col. McKurz.

    J

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  5. Anonymous5:55 PM

    Has anyone here seen the video released by Wikileaks showing the Apache helicopter attack on unarmed Iraqis and then follow up attack on the good Samaritan who went to the aid of the wounded?
    This tape seems to indicate to me that the Apache Pilots have rules of engagement that are outlawed by the Geneva convention. The pilot repeatedly said that if someone came to remove the wounded they were legit targets of his 30mm cannon.
    If this assumption is wrong then the only way that those Apache pilots can ever demonstrate that they are sorry is to comitt suicide. That may seem to be a very cruel thing to say but I will not appologize for it. If those are the new rules of engagement then every Appache Helicopter pilot should committ suicide. The only thing they may want to do before they put the gun to their head before they pull the trigger is make a video tape for their children explaining why they deserved to die and why they were protecting society by committing suicide. They could also take their chain of command out with them.
    My proposal is really a win win win situation. Society wins by not having such deranged people in its midst. Society wins by not needing to pay for thier imprisonment for the rest of their lives. The families of the pilots win by getting a life insurance payout rather than a family member in prison. The children benifit by not being raised by someone who obviuosly is not capable of preparing children for life on this planet. The pilots win by not being faced with life imprisonment. They would be allowed to escape scott free in to the next dimension.
    I know that it is considered very bad to encourage someone to committ suicide but there are exceptions to every rule. Rommel was encouraged to comitt suicide and he took that way out. So we would not be breaking any new ground.
    Curt

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  6. They are prepping for the Attack on Kandahar. I am sure much more of this will happen while Mac starts up his black/ops in and around Kandahar.

    There is a lot riding on the out come of this attack. Military, and political.

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  7. Anonymous5:34 AM

    OK, I have a new acronym to introduce in to the English language.
    A P A P which means Apache Pilots Are Pollution. I know that is painting with a broad brush. Some will say that you can not judge a group of people by the actions of one. Yet has even one Apache Pilot come forward to condemn the actions of the pilot(s) on the tape and to say that I would have not fired on the Good Samaritan. If an Apache Pilot has done that I would like to see it.
    Have any charges been brought against these people. Heil NO. I suspect the reason is because the tape provides evidence that the US was systematically breaking the Geneva convention. Being in the military for four years was enough to teach me how they could justify this to themselves.
    First step. Anyone we shoot is a Haji. Only a Haji would come to the aid of a Haji. Although in comming to the aid of wounded people the are conducting a red cross activity the "hajis" comming to the aid of wounded "hajis" will not maintain their non combatant status. One minute they will claim protection as a non combatant caring for the wounded and 10 minutes later they will be conducting combat operations. Therefore the wounding of "hajis" is a good thing because it allows us to smoke out other hajis that we would have otherwise not known about and then kill them all at one time.
    Well if war has no rules than neither does life. That is a perfectly consistent statement based upon the western view of war. War is politics by other means. Then politics is war by other means.
    Curt

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  8. McKurz? Do you mean a new take on the Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now character?

    Timothy Findley wrote a novel in 1993 called Headhunter where the character escapes from the novel and terrorizes the city of Toronto as the doctor in charge of a large psychiatric institute.

    Look for McChrystal's next posting in charge of rehab for mentally traumatized vets.

    I watched that Apache gunship video yesterday. I thought I was going to be sick. Glenn Greenwald wrote that what's unusual is that we're actually seeing it. The events it shows aren't. They're happening all the time, every day - war as a video game. They were using 30mm shells, enough to pierce armour or blast through buildings.

    They just blew people apart, literally, and laughed when a tank rolled over one of the bodies. That's going to be in my nightmares (asleep and awake) forever.

    WikiLeaks says they have an Afghanistan video, too.

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  10. Anonymous1:54 PM

    I think McChrystal commanded the JSOC, not SOCOM.

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  11. You're absolutely right, anon. Thanks for the catch.

    J

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  12. WEll, keep it up man.

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  13. Twenty minutes of sanity amongst all the crazy talk.

    Andrew Bacevich talks to Bill Moyers on April 9, 2010.

    "...[I]'m sure this sounds too simplistic. It would be way too simplistic for people in Washington. But if you want to get out of a war, you get out of a war."

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  14. And that WikiLeak-video has upset an awful lot of people all around Europe. The video has been shown on TV, talked about in our radio stations and people talk about it all around here, shocked about what they saw.

    Then: Jeff Huber Writes
    What’s more, the American public hasn’t risen en masse to demand an end to this madness, and there’s no sign it’s going to.

    Neither do the Europeans, who demonstrated intensively against the Vietnam war when I was young. I suggest that people today are calmed down (pacified) by Prozac or work all around the clock.

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  15. Kerstin,

    I think you're on to something. It's not just a prozac nation, it's a prozac world.

    J

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  16. Another important reason in USA, I guess and may be the most important one, is that the US-army of today is not based on compulsory military service. No one has any reason to protest today as everybody knows that he or she will not have to go to Iraq or Afghanistan if they don't want to. And middle aged parents know that their children will not be forced into the wars. This makes today's situation very different from the one in the days of the Vietnam war.

    Most people in Sweden are against our engagement i Afghanistan (even if it is very limited,) but they don't protest in the streets and here I believe that the "don't worry about anything- pills" that so many people are drugged with these days explains much of the lack of engagement and unwillingnes to protest.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous11:03 AM

    Jeff,
    I did something today on the spur of the moment that I think is kind of funny. For a while now I have been buying these little heart shaped polished marbel stones with Chinese carachters engraved on them and puting them in areas where children play when I walk my dog. The purpose was for children to find them and feel that they had found a lucky charm.
    Well today I was thinking about where to leave one when it occured to me, why leave it for a child to find? If an adult finds it and thinks that it was left there for them to find the consequences are in all likely hood going to be really funny maybe even romantic. You see in a few days, on May 1st, here in Germany young men give their girl friends these, I do not know what to call them in English, but it is a romantic custom.
    So I placed this heart shaped piece of marbel in front of this bicycle storage locker at the train station that had a bicylce in it. When the person comes for his bicycle he is not going to be able to open the door with out noticing the stone.
    I do not think that it is likely that he will think that someone is crazy enough to just randomly leave such a stone in front of the door to his bike locker.
    If it was not a random event he is going to conclude that he has a secret admirer. I find that pretty darn funny. That should screw up the plans that the Gods had for this person for a while. They are going to have to work harder now to bring him back in to the correct orbit.
    Unless, they knew what I was going to do and were counting on it.
    Shit, do you think that I should go back and pick up the stone? Maybe that is what the Gods wanted all along. Well, maybe I just had to ask that question to keep the Gods wondering if I am going to go back or not.
    Curt

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  18. Curt,

    As an honorary Daoist I can guarantee you that you and the heart stone were an integral part of the plans the gods had for this person, so don't sweat it! ;-)

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  19. Anonymous8:21 AM

    An interesting thing happened to me a while back long these lines.
    I had written a pro Russian commentary on DODBuzz.com or Line of Departure.com perhaps and the next day I found two packets of Russian spices next to my house door. I was sure that these spices were connected to my post. Either someone in the military was mocking me or someone from the Russian side was sending me a secret thank you.
    I told my wife about this and she is very skeptical about every thing. Here first comment was did any of the neighbors get some. I said that was my first thought too. I checked with the neighbors and we were the only ones to get some. So even she thought that my explination was reasonable.
    A few weeks latter my sister in law asked my wife how we liked the spices. It turns out the she had left them. Neither one of us would have thought that to be the case because she has her own key to our house. She did not have it with her at the time because she figured that someone would be home.

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