Tuesday, September 02, 2008

They Lied with Their Boots On

Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

--Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Vladimir Putin, who promoted himself from being Russia's president to being Russia's Dick Cheney, says America's Dick Cheney orchestrated the Russia-Georgia conflict to benefit the presidential bid of the neoconservatives' next white hope, John McCain. I've googled high and low and can't find a whisper of denial of Putin's accusations from our Dick Cheney or any of his henchmen.

Maybe the Cheney Gang has given up bothering to deny anything. Maybe they realize that by now, any time it's the word of Russia's Dick Cheney—or for that matter anybody else's Dick Cheney—and our Dick Cheney, the world population makes the safe assumption that our Dick Cheney is lying. Or it could be that they're simply so used to telling earth shattering untruths and getting away with it that they don't even bother to tell them any more.

It's the eye-watering lies of the neoconservative oligarchy that everyone remembers, but I've come to believe the little lies they tell reveal more about their malignant nature, and I'm particularly interested when these venial mendacities get dropped not by our politicians, but by our ever growing phalanx of political generals. I recently ran across one of these gems in, of all places, The Times of India.

At a late August Washington press conference, Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway said that al Qaeda members in Iraq are moving to the safe haven in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. "I think the al Qaida knows that they have blown a movement in Iraq through a number of missteps over time," he told reporters. The spine of the story, however, is not about the migration of al Qaeda fighters, but how Conway knows about said migration.

"No intelligence agency would say this," Conway confessed. Now that's something, when they can't bully a single intelligence source into backing up their fractured fables. So how did Conway verify his assertions to the vigilant fourth estate? "My guess is," he told them, "my belief is that they probably have gone to that safe haven in the FATA."

My guess? My belief? My God.

Conway's crack talk is reminiscent of a July 19 Associated Press interview with top U.S. commander in Iraq General David Petraeus. King David said that senior Al Qaeda leaders "might be" diverting fighters from the war in Iraq to the Afghan frontier area. He also said that Al Qaeda "might be" reconsidering Iraq as its highest priority war front. What made him say this "might be" happening is "some intelligence that has picked this up.” In case you're wondering what "some intelligence" might consist of, Petraeus explained that, "It's not solid gold intelligence." And "not solid gold intelligence" means what, exactly, General?

“There are unsubstantiated rumors and reflections that perhaps some foreign fighters originally intended for Iraq may have gone to the FATA," Petraeus finally told AP, which means in point of fact that the entire story about al Qaeda in Iraq transferring itself to the Bananastans is total f***ing bulls***; but that didn't keep Petraeus from telling it or the Associated Press from running it.

But the goofy intelligence this bull feather mattress is supposedly based on isn't the goofiest part of it. The goofiest part is the story's basic premise. How do you suppose al Qaeda dudes in Iraq are getting to middle Bananastan? I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're probably not flying there first class out of Baghdad International. And you can bet your sweet bippy they're not forming up and marching 2,000 miles through the mountains and deserts of Iran and Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy Seals might be able to do something like that, but it would take them a very long time.)

Yeah, you can smuggle dribs and drabs of martyrdom interns from Baghdad to Islamabad or wherever. You'd do that with key leadership personnel, or with special task operatives like the carload of out-of-towners who pulled off the 9/11 attacks. But it's not like the Petraeuses of this world would have you believe, with Field Marshall bin Laden and 50 or so of his best number-two men sitting around the strategic display in the Situation Cave making weighty decisions on troop movements. All right then, we'll take the Third Lebanese Division along with elements of the X Karbala Corps and shore up the Four-Oh-First Palestine Battalion at their positions along the Khyber Pass.

This logistical dissonance hits straight at the heart of the inanity behind the "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" mantra, recast in summer of 2006 by then Central Command chief General John Abizaid as "If we withdraw before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here." The enemy can't get here from there, not in the kinds of numbers Abizaid and the rest try to conjure in our imaginations. It's not always certain whom the "enemy" is when Mr. Bush's echo chamberlains refer to them, but it sort of doesn't matter. No enemy, actual or potential, has an air force or navy big enough to bring a suitable occupation force to America. The oceans are too wide to swim or jump across, and big grown up generals like John Abizaid should know better than to believe a hoard of Hajjis can get here on flying carpets or can wish themselves here by rubbing a magic lantern.

Why do men with four stars on their collars talk this kind of far-fetched poppycock?

Part of the answer lies in their need to sustain the myth that Saddam Hussein was connected with the 9/11 attacks. In a new book, author Ron Susskind claims the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, hand written letter designed to contrive a false link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto calls Susskind's accusation "absurd." Of course it's absurd, Tony, but that's not what we asked. Could you tell us whether or not it's true?

It's a yes/no question, Tony. Take your time.

By the way, in case you didn't know already: the pack of Sand Webelos that calls itself al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has about as much to do with the real al Qaeda as Erik Estrada has to do with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Where Do We Find Such Liars?

I suppose by now most Americans are inured to hearing our highest-ranking military officers tell outrageous lies, but I'm not. I find their chronic mendacity disgraceful, and can't help but wonder what's going on in their military minds. Possible explanations abound.

Solzhenitsyn theorizes that evildoing has a threshold magnitude, and when individuals cross that threshold they leave humanity behind. George Orwell's doublethink is the power "to tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them." In his celebrated essay "On Bulls***," Professor Harry G. Frankfurt suggests that what bulls***ters misrepresent has nothing to do with their beliefs, that their only value they recognize is expediency. Conversely, retired Army Colonel Paul E. Valley, creator of the MindWar concept, says that in order to be effective the information operative "must know that he speaks the truth, and he must be personally committed to it." (Emphasis Valley's.)

I'll offer a few more suppositions that may apply in the cases of the three generals. We can probably attribute Conway's prevarications, at least partly, to simple-minded singleness of purpose. There's little question that Petraeus is an historic case study in unbridled personal ambition. As to Abizaid, I'd really, really, really love to know at what precise moment in his career the guy took his last drug urinalysis.

It's probably less important to ponder why these men did what they did than it is to consider what to do about them. Here's what Solzhenitsyn had to say about the bad men of his time and place:
In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundation s of justice from beneath new generations… Young people are acquiring the conviction that foul deeds are never punished on earth, that they always bring prosperity.

It is going to be uncomfortable, horrible, to live in such a country!
Solzhenitsyn's words reverberate for me when I think that not only has David Petraeus been rewarded by his promotion to head of Central Command, he personally hand-picked the latest crop of Army one-star generals.

And if McCain loses in November, just you watch who the GOP trots out in 2012.

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. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.


  1. Anonymous4:11 PM

    You say that Mr. Putin is the Russian-Cheney.

    I don't think so.

    In fact Mr. Putin has never killed a lot of his fellow citizens with a big false flag scam like 9-11!

    Mr. Putin is a patriot, Cheney a traitor.

    We in Italy say that "ciascun popolo ha i governanti che si merita".

    Good luck!


  2. Jeff,

    I can't tell you how much I appreciate reading the words of an intelligent military officer.

    Your humorous take on the puppet show is always appreciated.

    Thank you.

  3. I think Dana Perino uttered the same word about Putin's claim that Fratto said about Susskind's claim.

    According to Sydney Blumenthal, on Huffington Post today, cracks are appearing in the GOP.

    Bush is said to be "furious" about the convention, which John McCain seems to think he should run. I guess he only wants to hug Bush, when it's politically advantageous.
    Otherwise, he just wants the president to do hurricane patrol in Texas.

    According to Mr. Blumenthal, the Bush family wanted Mitt Romney on the ticket. McCain wanted Lieberman, so as a "what was left over?" we got Palin.

    I wonder if it has occurred to Senator McCain, that President Bush still has some pull, inside the beltway. Ya think?

    Cheney said to heck with it, and took off for Georgia to see what he could screw up over there.

    Maybe before he comes back, he will think of an answer for Putin.

    My son and I had this "war over there, before they come over here" discussion, not two hours ago.

    I'm going to e-mail him this commentary. There will be a test.

    Thanks Commander, as always.

    (I do hope you are wrong about 2012).

  4. Anonymous,

    Remarkably, a lot of people still think Dick Cheney is a patriot.


    Yes, it is all something of a Punch and Judy play, isn't it? Or is it more like The Muppets Movie?


    Mick and Mitt. What a shame we'll never see it. I betcha they would have gotten into a pubic fist fight before the GOP convention was over.


  5. Anonymous11:06 PM

    Commander Huber: I think you meant a "public fist fight" but your comment is just find with the way it is.

  6. You get what you teach.

    Although the Army in the 1980's paid lip-service to the primacy of ethics, values, and professionalism, the reality for anyone awake was that advancement to the highest levels of command required first-and-foremost a ranking patron.

    This patronage is so important that it completely trumps actual performance in positions of responsibility. Men and women with patrons seem immune to either their own incompetence or their own misfortune. On the other hand, extremely competent men and women who have very successful commands are retired without a thought.

    I have personally seen the effects of patronage:

    1) NTC evaluators described this battalion as the worst artillery battalion in the U.S. Army (including a vehicle safety violation that resulted in a National Guard soldier being killed during training), yet this commander attended the Naval War College afterward and make his first star.

    2) his unit had the highest suicide rate (not attempts--"successes") in the DoD, and the Crips and Bloods regularly had gun battles in his barracks, and yet he is on the JCS staff and in line for his star.

    3) the successor to one of these two "stellar" commanders performed miracles in his tenure that rebuilt the subject battalion to new heights of efficiency and morale, and yet his reward was retirement.

    The problem is that patronage is not about ethics, morals, or professionalism. Patronage is about the power to deliver.

    We get what we teach.

  7. Samms,

    Yeah, I meant "public," but like you said...


    Nothing trumps a patron saint, and a string of DC tours is required now too.


  8. Anonymous9:36 AM


    Minor edit, I believe in the first para you should replace Yeltsin with Putin? I mean, one is drunk with power, the other was a drunk, so I can see the confusion. ;-)

    Some clown was saying Palin for GOP Prez in 2012, but I'm not so sure. However, she does have an incredible amount of foreign policy experience, maybe King David can be her VP in 2012?

    And maybe I'll pack my bags for Canada!

  9. Wk,

    Nice catch, thanks.


  10. There is a person in Alaska with a wonderful blog: www.mudflats.wordpress.com

    Like the rest of us, trying to keep up with the "spin."

    Rove was probably right when he said that her selection was a "campaign" decision, not a "governing" decision. What I understand is that McCain's campaign funding has dramatically increased, what with Dobson, et al., now on board.

    On the bloggers, including you, Commander, something I was reminded of in a book I'm reading. That you give us a whole different perspective, and a fearless different perspective on this idiocy we have to try to co-exist with on a daily basis.

    What I was reminded of had to do with The Anthrax mystery that we never seemed to have solved.

    I'm not a fan of tabloids. Sensationalism doesn't appeal to me. Logic does. Common sense does. Which is why your blog is a regular stop.

    However, remember when Anthrax was sent to Daschle's office, and postal workers died? And not long following that, it was discovered in a somewhat obscure building in Florida? And, somebody else died?

    That somewhat obscure building was the publishing headquarters of ..... "The National Enquirer."

    The really out of the mainstream media. Which, at the time, the administration had a lock on. Including the NYTimes, WAPO, etc.

    It has been stated by "The Enquirer," that they told the good Governor, they knew about her daughter's pregnancy, and were about to publish the news. Additionally, they made us aware of John Edwards' humananity.

    I'm not a fan of the Enquirer. But, now I understand why they were shut down right after 9-11.

    The idiots in charge didn't anticipate the phenom known as "the internet" and "bloggers".

    Took a while, but it was worth it.

  11. EL,

    As recently as two years ago I'd have said your NE story was daft, but now, it seems wholly credible.


  12. The commander is in fine form today: "martyrdom interns," "Field Marshal bin Laden," "sand webelos."

    Thanks for the straight talk about troop movements.

    Re lying: Cheney isn't one of those he believes in what he's saying and he doesn't care. Watching him closely on Sunday morning talk shows reveals he has a little "tell." After he says something, he glances at the interviewer with a look that seems to say "Did I get away with that one?" Watch him.

  13. I think you're right, Russ. It's probably that one tiny vestige of a conscience that cause all his heart problems.


  14. Anonymous2:06 PM


    You are assuming he has a heart. I respectfully disagree, most strenuously!

  15. WK,

    Well that pacemaker of his has to be keeping time on something!

  16. but....but... we are going to give Georgia $1 Billion dollars, and they will be part of NATO, (It has been decreed) so that Russia "can't invade them" anymore.

    Meanwhile, on the homefront. The Dow has dropped what .... 250-300 points today?

    Wall Street is not impressed with the goings on.

    Unlike some media. And bloggers. And delegates.

    My eldest, to whom I sent your commentary had this to say "Can we Republicans get our money back, on these jokers we voted for eight years ago?"

    No comment.

  17. Yep. A billion to Georgia, but by golly not one more red cent to rebuild houses for them coloreds in New Orleans!

  18. Relax! Now we got the Palin-bo to blast them raghead Bullwinkles back to Mecca!

  19. Hey, I hear she's "electrified" the GOP. I wonder if they didn't actually mean "electrocuted."


  20. Commander,

    Could be "electrocuted."

    She is not available to the press.

    Word is she is going back to Alaska.

    I guess "Loose lips don't sink ships anymore."

    She has announced the date of her son's deployment to Iraq, as 9-11.

    And. Or... they could be planning a wedding.

    "Radioactive" - Caribou Barbie.

    Can't recall when the ticket, once announced, nominations and acceptance all over with ... didn't go on the campaign trail to try to scare up some votes.

    We live in strange times.

  21. Caribou Barbie. I am so jealous of whoever came up with that one.

    Drat! Curses!

  22. When I suggest to you to read:


    Pay attention!

    I wish I could take credit. I can't. Read it on the blog somewhere.

    Cindy McCain - is henceforth:

    "SugarMama Barbie"

    We need all the comic relief for the next two months we can get.

    Course Mr. Governor Palin is:

    First Hunk Ken.

    We could just go on and on.

  23. Anonymous4:15 PM


    first, a great blog.

    Re: Vlad's claim, I think the man to credit is really Robert Scheer who claimed it was a election plot back around August 13th (as googled):

    The fact that Vlad the Bad picked it up (well, his PR people) and played it back like guitar feedback technique that opens the Beatles' 'Ticket to Ride' shows that the Kremlin has picked up quickly western PR technique.



  24. Nah, Alex, I think Vlad arrived at that conclusion without Scheer's help. I know I did, and so did a lot of other people.