Monday, September 26, 2011

Click and Clack and Play War

27 Sep. 2011

by Jeff Huber

I’ve said for some time that the biggest casualty of our woebegone Ism Wars may be our national cognizance.  The lines between intelligence, news, gossip, rumor and brainwash have faded like a hangover at happy hour, and the gap between reality and perception has never been greater.  Big Media has been the dutiful echo chamberlain for Big War for so long that it may never again be possible for Americans, by now hopelessly addicted to the slime from their TV sets, to clearly conceptualize the causes and consequences of our fist-first foreign policy. 

Leon Panetta and Mike Mullen
testify before the Senate.
During an INFOWAR opportunity last week, Leon “Uncle Leo” Panetta and Mike “Moon” Mullen, the Pentarchy’s Click and Clack, told the Senate Armed Services Clodhoppers that the recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan were the evildoing of a terror networks relationship with the intelligence service of Pakistan.

Senator Lindsey Graham
has always relied on the kindness
of campaign contributors in
the defense industry. 
Mullen, the son of a Hollywood publicity agent, followed standard operating procedure and weasel wordsmithed his way out of presenting anything anyone could call, strictly speaking, a “lie.”  He told Blanche Graham and Joe Liebfraumilch and Senator Ex-Prisoner of War that the Hagqani terrorist network “acts as” a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Internal Services Intelligence Agency aka “ISI.”  You can drive the flat earth theory through that kind of wiggle room.

Mullen didn’t offer any proof to back his claims other than to cite “credible intelligence.”  Hey, Abbott.  At what point since 9/11 have we had “credible” intelligence, civilian or military, in this country?  U.S. intelligence is to intelligence what McDonalds is to food.  Our intelligence consists of bribing or beating sources into telling us what we want to hear and/or weaving facts out of air molecules and selling them to Congress and the public in packages designed by Mullen’s bull-feather merchant marines.  

Mullen is invoking a variation on Don Rumsfeld’s one-percent doctrine.  If one percent of anything the likes of Mullen says is true—and one can reasonably infer that yes, Pakistan’s ISI is up to things they’d rather we didn't know about—then we have to buy the other 99 per-cent of their message too.  It’s kind of like the colossus cosmetics company that only allows retailers to carry its top-of-the-line products if said retailers also display said colossus cosmetics company’s crud-ola.  We only have one military, and if we don't allow it to defend us from the 99 percent of our enemies that they manufacture, they won’t protect us from the one percent that are real.

Uncle Leo hurled a healthy helping of hamana hem-and-haw onto the heap about how “we should put as much pressure as we can” on Pakistan, and then he cut to the chase and said that if Congress forces the Pentagon to cut its budget it will cause “catastrophic damage to the military.”  Uncle Leo didn’t bother to explain what “catastrophic damage” meant any more than Moon troubled himself to clarify what a “veritable arm” might be or how it might “act as” anything. 

When you take a fire hose to Click and Clack's cockamamie presentations, you get "we need more money so we can continue to send American troops to third world countries that pose no genuine threat to us to act as targets for our enemies there who increase in number every day we keep American troops in their countries."  Neither Click nor Clack nor anyone in Congress nor the newspapers bother to point out the obvious truth that thee enemies who are killing our troops would stop being enemies the moment we took our troops out of their country.  The only way they can kill our troops is if we deliver our troops to their doorstep.  Despite what young Mr. Bush's spin physicians used to tell us, the only way they can fight us over here is if they manage to jump or swim across the oceans.  

Let's play war!
Panetta and Mullen are engaged in something I identified in Bathtub Admirals as “play war.”   Intelligence weenies tell bathtub admirals and sandbox generals what they want to hear so they can play war, and fight among themselves for control of the toy ships and tanks and airplanes and melting plastic soldiers, and to see who can suck up to the bedroom politicians the most and become master of the known universe (aka “become King David Petraeus”).  Play war assumes many guises, from stacked “battle experiments” whose purpose is to prove the need for the newest and costliest weapons systems to wars against countries that don’t have militaries to toys and games that the warmongery fashions to make war seem no more real than reality television programming. 

The latest play war toy to surface in the “real world” is something called the “Obama Kills Osama” (aka “OKO”) action figurine.  It was supposedly cooked up by some kooks in China to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  The figurine is cheesy to the point of obscenity.  The keyboard commandos who populate object to the figurine, but not because of its repellant portrayal of violence.  They don’t like it because it gives Obama credit for killing bin Laden, and not SEAL Team Six.  The repellent violence part they actually kind of like. 

On that note, here is a snippet from the work in progress on Sandbox Generals:  
            Calling the “enemy” World Wide Evil (aka WWE) was Flip’s idea and he stole it from World Wide Entertainment, the fake professional wrestling franchise.  The subconscious association Flip created exploited Americans' latent tendency to think of war the same way they thought of professional wrestling: as an entertainment.  The main difference between the two was that though Americans knew professional wrestling was fake they managed to sufficiently suspend their disbelief to respond to it emotionally as if it were real.  Americans knew that war, on the other hand, was real, but they tended to regard it as entertainment, and attached little emotion at all to it.  Even graphic pictures of babies horribly burned by sulfur bombs seldom moved Americans, whose minds had come to equate the war violence they observed in the news with the special effects they saw in movies and television and video games.
We have met the barbarians, and they are us.

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.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fraud, Waste, and Standard Operating Procedure

20 Sep. 2011

By Jeff Huber

I’m not sure what made me think that taking time off to work on Sandbox Generals, (the sequel to Bathtub Admirals) would get me away from fixating on current headlines.  Last Saturday the thousands of days late and billions of dollars short New York Times editorial board ran an editorial excoriating  “Runaway Spending on War Contractors.” 

I owe it all to
Michael R. Gordon and
Judith Miller of the
New York Times.
“Tales of waste, fraud and mayhem by private contractors have been commonplace during 10 years of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the editorial they tell us.  “Now a Congressional study commission has put a ‘conservative’ estimate on waste of between $31 billion and $60 billion in the $206 billion paid to contractors since the start of the two wars.”  The rag-of-record’s editors also note that according to the study, “Excessive reliance on badly supervised private contractors indulging ‘vast amounts of spending for no benefit’ is the heart of the problem.”

Psst.  New York Times.  The heart of the problem is that Saddam Hussein wasn't trying to get yellowcake from Niger like you said he was back in 2002.  Are we supposed to get all het up by your editorial about contractors making big war bucks thanks to the propaganda you fed the country? 

Lamentably, we’ve been in a wartime economy since the Second World War on Evil, and even though that book-of-matches approach to fiscal policy is finally turning our fingers into Chicken McNuggets, there’s no alternative strategy that anyone is likely to implement.  Redirect all of that defense spending into domestic infrastructure project jobs that can’t be sent offshore because the workers have to be here to work on the infrastructure?  What for?  We’re still making money pig knuckle over ham hock on war.  Retooling an industry to make a new product when the old product is still profitable is a bad business decision.  Why do you think we’re still consuming oil and tobacco fumes? 

Here’s a sneak preview from this week’s labors on Generals, an Orwellian screed on how things got the way they are.  Be advised, this is a rough draft (!!!).    

The WWEIII (The Third World War on Evil, aka the Cold War on Evil aka the CWoE) everybody agreed to plan for but never have after everybody agreed not to blow up the world with nukes first centered on a WWEI style trench war with tanks in the middle of Europe.  But the action in the center ring was actually just a sideshow to justify the air and naval hootenannies that would break out like herpes everywhere else in the world. 
That was the war the Navy and the Air Force would fight, a peripheral war that actually had little to do with the stated Evil Empire objective of expanding its client state buffer to include Western Europe so as to ensure no more Hitlers or Napoleons would come along and destroy their armies and countries in a vain attempt to capture Moscow again.  Jack supposed that made the objective of us Americans and our little NATO (“Not A True Organization,” according to Jack) buddies was to ensure that another Hitler or Napoleon did come along and try to wreck the world in an attempt to capture Moscow.  That didn’t make any sense, Jack ceded, until you considered that the objective of global thermo nuclear-war between the ESSR (Empire of Semi-Socialist Republics) countries and the loose league of American customer states was to destroy the world before the other guys did. 
While the high-tech conventional war was peripheral to the opposing physical objectives of expanding or limiting Russia’s European real estate holdings, the war’s overall strategic objective quickly evolved into an economic one, a contest to which of the two diametrically smoke-and-mirror economic systems could outlast the other.  So seeing which economic system could develop and field and maintain the most outlandishly exorbitant air and sea weapon systems that would never actually be used for their designed purpose became the modus of combat in what Jack came to know of as “play war.”   
Both sides of the CWoE justified lavishing precious national wealth on extravagant weaponry by using it in the dirty little third world proxy wars they suckered each other into from time to time, in Korea and Vietnam and Bananastan and elsewhere, but pricey mayhem machines had little affect on the outcomes of these teakettle conflicts.  Third world wars were dumb soldier intensive affairs that mainly required low-dollar carbon-based air-breathing weapon systems largely procured from the lower and middle classes by means of conscription or the lure of stable employment with benefits. 
A key factor of top-drawer air and naval gizmology was not merely that it was expensive to produce, although it most certainly was.  The beauty part, the piece of resistance of all this, was that however much any given piece of this high-tech crap cost to make, it was boatloads more expensive to maintain, and the older it got, the more it cost to keep in operation.  Better yet was that the more a given gizmo cost to make and maintain, the longer it was expected to last, which made it even magnitudes more to make and oodles more to keep operating.  So if a flying submarine cost a butt-zillion Houdinis to make, it cost ten butt-zillion Houdinis to keep flying and diving for the thirty years it was supposed to last, at which time it would become eligible for a life extension overhaul that would screw it up so bad it would need two or three follow-on overhauls to fix the first one.  By the time the damn thing was finally turned into a museum in some coastal Podunk that needed a tourist attraction, the flying sub will have cost an amount roughly equivalent to what the Gross National Product was in the year it was built.
The Evil Empiricals followed the same general force strategy vector but in a somewhat different manner.  Their working class enlisted stiffs who maintained their gear weren’t nearly as well educated as our working class enlisted stiffs, so they built stuff three or four times as solid as it needed to be, realizing that when it broke it was broke-dick and nobody was going to fix it.  Hence, rather than spend more Carnacs trying to fix broke-dick stuff they just made new stuff. 
A by-product of that practice was that our intelligence weenies could say with a fair amount of accuracy (for a change) that they had a lot more stuff than we had, and we could turn that information around to justify building more expensive stuff to give ourselves the so called “technology edge” to bridge the “numerical superiority gap,” two buzz phrases that Flip often wished he’d been old enough to have originally stolen them from whoever their real originator had stolen them from.  It didn’t matter that their numerical superiority gap was a de facto hoax since more than 99 percent of their gear was rusting on the flight line, sinking at the pier, or burning in Chechnya. 
That’s not to say that our gear was all immaculate and purring like a fat tomcat getting its dick scratched.  Throughout our careers, when Jack and I went on play war deployments overseas, we were lucky if half of the jets in our air wing were fully mission capable (aka FMC)—i.e., they flew and all their radars and weapons and so on worked like they were supposed to—at any given time.  Squadron skippers typically reported a 75 percent FMC rate because reporting anything lower was like sinking the teeth of their careers into the chewy end of a shotgun barrel.  Maintenance supervisors knew this and ensured that by the end of any given day the paperwork would reflect a 75 percent FMC rate, even if the spare parts that would make a given aircraft FMC weren’t onboard the ship and wouldn’t arrive for weeks if ever. 
It must have been some time around the VWoE (Vietnam War on Evil) that air wing maintenance officers and ship supply corps gonifs cut the dope deal where as long as a part was on order everyone would pretend like it was on hand whether it was or not, thus making both the maintenance and supply pukes look good without actually having to do their jobs.  Squadron skippers looked the other way because phantom parting made them look good, and air wing commanders looked the other way because it made them look good too, and the same thing held true all the way up the chain of command.  And there was little fear that anyone would ever blow the whistle because everybody was in on the scam.

Postscript: Monday morning the PPPP (Pentarchy’s Primary Propaganda Platform) trotted out the crown jewel of the information campaign to preserve the defense budget.  “Retiree Benefits for the Military Could Face Cuts” reads the headline of a Times story that says if the Pentagon has to face fiscal reductions, the burden will fall on retirees, whose benefits the bull feather merchant marines are now calling a “social program.” 

The military’s spin physicians’ main assumption is that we can keep our present and future wars going with “support the troops” brainwash while we cut back on the support we promised the troops of our past wars.  That won’t hurt recruiting as long as the economy makes joining the military our nation’s most attractive career option.  If irony were alive and with us it would smirk at the fact that the head-sex fiends who cook up this scare tactic strategy will themselves get screwed if retiree benefit cuts come to pass. 

Mind you now, if we cut retiree benefits we’ll still have flying submarines, and stealth airplanes that are too expensive to actually use in wartime because they’ll shoot themselves down over enemy territory due to design flaws, and multi-billion dollar bomber drones that fly halfway across the world from mega-billion dollar aircraft carriers that are already halfway across the world. 


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.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Postcard from the Beachhead

by Jeff Huber

13 Sep. 2011

Aloha, y’all:

The great thing about living at a beach is how much it simplifies one’s late summer vacation travel arrangements.  You don't have to go anywhere to take a vacation.  And you don't really have to quit working to take one either.  

Wake me when the
war is over.
Shady and I are enjoying the last of the summer sun here at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, though I’m still full steam ahead working on finishing the current draft of Sandbox Generals (we’re just now getting to the point in the narrative where Fix Felon regains the throne of the Pentarchy by eating King David alive, lending credence to protagonist Jack Hogan’s long held suspicion that Fix is, in fact, an undead mother groper).

And of course I’m keeping up with our woebegone wars—12 of them at last count.  I see over the weekend where Uncle Leo is foursquare behind keeping three or four thousand troops in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline.  Pentagon echo chamberlain Eric Schmitt of the New York Times tells us that Uncle Leo’s plan keeps considerably fewer troops in Iraq than “proposals presented at the Pentagon in recent weeks by the senior American commander in Iraq, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, to keep as many as 14,000 to 18,000 troops there.”

You sure have to wonder how Schmitt got that quote from Austin, and why he might stenograph it for us when he already got the “official” word from the “boss” that the “Pentagon” only wants to keep three or four thousand troops after the deadline.  Maybe if we only keep three or four thousand troops in harm’s way for the hopeless cause of supporting a corrupt government, it won’t seem so bad.  After all, that general man wanted to keep lots, lots more, didn’t he?

Oh, but then if we don't give the general as many troops as he wanted and things don’t go well, it will be somebody or other’s fault for not listening to what his generals said, won’t it?  

Our goal in the Arab world
 is Peace without
One also has to wonder what prompted Schmitt to write that the proposal to keep troops in Iraq until brown cows give chocolate milk reflects “the tension between Mr. Obama’s promise to bring all American forces home and the widely held view among commanders that Iraq is not yet able to provide for its own security.”  Schmitt doesn’t bother to mention that Iraq is not yet able to provide for its own security in spite (because?) of the fact the man in charge of training Iraqi security forces clear back in 2004 and 2005 was none other than our own, our very own Teflon General, "King" David Petraeus

Schmitt also doesn’t bother to pose the question of why, if miracle worker Petraeus’s Surgin’ Safari in Sumaria was so rootin’-tootin’-high-falutin' successful then how’s come we still gotta leave us troops there to get blowed up?  And Schmitt ponder the puzzler that if seven years weren’t enough for the Iraqis to get their own security act together, how many years will it take them?  (As many years as there are left?) 

Schmitt makes the vanishing Iraq deadline sound like news.  It’s nothing of the sort. The Pentarchy started its hell-no-we-won’t-go media campaign the second Candidate Obama made his 16-month withdrawal promise and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki said why, sure, that sounded kosher to him.  Joint Chiefs Chairperson Mike Mullen went so far as to write an article in the summer of 2008 for Joint Force Quarterly, his personal glossy propaganda rag, that warned of the danger that a Democrat in the White House would pose to the mission in Iraq. 

And General Lloyd J. “Harrumph” Austin III’s proposal to keep 14 to 18 thousand troops in Iraq for an unspecified amount of time rhymes with General Ray “Desert Ox” Odierno’s statement in early 2009 (via the "dean" of the Pentagon press prostitution ring Tommy Ricks) that he wanted to see 30,000 or so U.S. troops in Iraq until 2004 or 2005.  Or so. 

Troop Tent Trollop Tommy was also the bull feather merchant chosen to throw a brass gauntlet in young Mr. Obama’s face in an early 2009 episode of Meet the Press, when he laid out the case to NBC fop David Gregory that Obama will have betrayed the troops if he withdraws them from Iraq against the generals’ wished because of a darn old campaign promise.

“Cave Man” Obama took a ten count vis-à-vis the New American Praetorians’ agenda a long time ago.  He won’t start standing up to them now.  Stand by to support the troops to your grave.  And theirs. 

I'll be posting here sporadically through the fall as I wrap up Sandbox Generals.  It's fun but taxing work.  Think 1984 meets Blazing Saddles

Ciao, hounds!  


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.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Operational Pause for the Cause

Happy End of Summer!

I’m celebrating Labor Day this year by making it the first day of my summer vacation which, if I’m going to take one, I need to get cracking, don’t I?

Wake me when the next war
is over.
Catch you after the equinox.  Hopefully we won’t have started a fourth war by then.  Well, a fifth war, if you count Yemen as being a war already.  Which it is, when you get right down to it.  Then again, we’re also at war in Somalia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Syria.  So here’s hoping we’re don’t start a how ever many-eth war it would be if we start a new one before fall officially starts. 

And what would the rush be?  It’s not like we need new wars to replace the ones we already have.  Out withdrawal “deadlines” for Iraq and the Bananastans are more fictional than Sergeant Fury and His Howling Commandos, though not nearly so well written, drawn or inked.   

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.