Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wham, Bam Bananastan

“If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” -- Sun Tzu

The New York Times reports that those wily guerillas in Afghanistan are throwing a curve ball at us. They’re fighting back, the so-and-sos, and it sounds like they know how to do it. “In Iraq, they hit you and run,” says one Marine who served three combat tours in Iraq’s deadly Anbar Province. “But these guys stick around and maneuver on you.”

“One force will put enough fire down so you have to keep your heads down, then another force will maneuver around to your side to try to kill you,” says another Marine. “That’s the same thing we do.”

Do you think maybe they do the same thing we do because we were the ones who armed, trained and funded them to drive out the Soviets? And do you think maybe some of those Afghan guerillas who drove the Soviets out remember how they did it?

We should have known we were up against a savvy enemy when, in June 2005, they set a trap for one of our helicopters and shot it down, killing 16 U.S. troops on board. The helicopter was flying in to rescue a reconnaissance team that was missing in mountainous terrain. The Afghan fighters had seen both the Soviets and us conduct this type of operation many times. There are only so many suitable landing zones in mountains. You don’t need radios or cell phones or even smoke signals to coordinate this type of ambush. All you have to do is put a couple of guys with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles at the landing zones and tell them to wait for a helicopter to show up. It’s telling that the brass in charge of our forces didn’t realize the Afghan fighters would be smart enough to work out a tactic that simple.

In early July the Marines mounted an offensive in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, and encountered less resistance than they anticipated. It’s clear to the Marines, the Times notes, “that Taliban fighters made a calculated decision: to retreat and regroup to fight where and when they choose.” In this regard too, the Taliban display superior intelligence to our senior military and civilian national security leadership.

"In war,” Sun Tzu admonished, “the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory."

Fighting first and groping for victory second is precisely what we did in Iraq. Regardless of what Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq author Fred Kagan and the rest of the surge strategy architects would have you think, we’ll never realize anything remotely resembling victory or success in Iraq. The Pentagon announced that it pulled our troops out of Iraqi cities by the June 30 deadline, but it lied (the Pentagon has acquired a habit of lying like the Israelis, who lie like other people blink). U.S. patrols are still entering Iraqi cities, and the Iraqi’s are hopping mad about it, insisting that they be accompanied by Iraqi troops. Be very skeptical of the idea that all of our troops will be out of Iraq by December 2011.

You might think that our leadership learned something from the Iraq example, but it didn’t. Obama went along with the Bananastan surge even though none of the military’s top brass—including defense secretary Robert Gates and his Joint Chiefs of Staff—could tell him what they intended to do with the extra troops or describe what they saw as an end state.

National Security Adviser James Jones and his White House war wonks—whom journalist Robert Dreyfuss laughably referred to as “Obama’s chess masters”—cooked up a Bananastan strategy that is nothing shy of hallucinatory. We’ll never realize its primary goals of creating stable governments and effective security forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we can’t disrupt “terrorist networks in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan to degrade any ability they have to plan and launch international terrorist attacks.” Modern terrorists don’t need sanctuary in the Bananastans or anywhere else to plan and launch their attacks. All they need is an iPhone. Heck, they can get by with a BlackBerry.

The tiddlywinks champs at Hillary Clinton’s State Department are even more delusional. They want to create a Civilian Response Corps (CRC) to help Gates’s troops fight in the Bananastans. It’s bad enough that the country that spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined has to hire mercenaries like Blackwater to fight its wars. Now, according to warmongery spokesmodel and dumbest freaking guy on the planet Doug Feith, we need to “line up civilians with expertise in water systems, police training, road-building, judicial administration, and other relevant fields and prepare them for deployment abroad.” Doug and the rest of the booger eaters behind the CRC initiative must have forgotten that we already have civilians with expertise in civil affairs lined up for deployment overseas; they’re in the reserves and the National Guard. Sure, it would be nice to send the LAPD overseas to keep the peace in Kabul and Islamabad, but then who would keep the peace in Los Angeles? The Lakers? Heh, they’d probably be deployed as well, giving jump-shot clinics to Afghan schoolgirls.

Mr. Obama is allowing the warmongery to steer him into a course of action that will make America the latest superpower to impale itself on the far side of the Khyber Pass. In 1978 Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, manipulated events in a way that turned Afghanistan into the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. The West should not repeat the mistakes that the Soviets made,” he now says. “We are now running the risk of unintentionally duplicating what the Soviets were doing.”

Sun Tzu noted, “No nation ever profited from a long war.” A headline banner at the Department of Defense web site reads, “The United States is a Nation Engaged in What Will be a Long War.”

See you in the next new world order. Let’s have lunch. Maybe China will loan us the price of a couple of Happy Meals.

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.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Middle East Show of Farce

The demonizing of Iran has become the lamest running gag in the history of international relations.

A July 17 article at The Guardian leads with “In preparation for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, two Israeli missile class warships have sailed through the Suez Canal 10 days after a submarine capable of launching a nuclear missile strike.”

The fifth paragraph begins “The deployment into the Red Sea, confirmed by Israeli officials, according to the Associated Press yesterday, was a clear signal that Israel was able to put its strike force within range of Iran at short notice.”

This is utter bosh.

Israel’s German-made, diesel-electric powered Dolphin class submarines supposedly carry nuclear missiles with a range of over 900 miles. If that’s the case, the subs don’t have to deploy to the Suez to hit Iran; they can do that pier side in their homeport in Haifa. Israel’s Sa’ar class corvettes carry self-defense weapons and the Harpoon anti-ship missile that has a range of between 58 and 196 miles, far too short to hit Iran from the Suez.

Israel and Iran both possess sea denial navies that are glorified coast guards. To attack Israel’s navy, Iran’s navy would have to pass down the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, steam west across the North Arabian Sea into the Gulf of Aden, then hike up the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal and enter the Mediterranean. Israel’s navy would have to take the reverse route to attack Iran’s. Either navy would likely run out of gas or sink of natural causes before it reached the other one. They might agree to meet in the middle, but in an expanse the size of the North Arabian Sea they probably couldn’t find each other. We might give Israel’s navy a lift to the Gulf of Oman on a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, but as soon as its puddle paddlers unloaded and drove into the Hormuz, the Iranians would shoot their tokheses off with shore launched missiles (the Iranians might stick one up the carrier’s fantail as well.)

Israel’s cardboard saber rattling supposedly signals concerns about Iran’s intentions to develop nuclear weapons. That would be well and good if Iran had intentions to develop nukes, but all indications are that they don’t. As I’ve often noted, our own intelligence admits that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program and the International Atomic Energy Agency can’t find a trace of one. For the Iranians to develop nukes would be astronomically stupid, tantamount to painting a bull’s eye on their backs. Israel would have a perfect excuse to schwack Iran’s nuclear energy infrastructure with a preemptive strike, and from what we just saw the Israeli’s do to Gaza, they’d likely fire bomb Iran’s cities as well.

Despite what hate radio and FOX News and the Polly-cracker mainstream media have told you over and over, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has never said Iran would use nukes to destroy Israel, or anything remotely like that, and neither has anyone else in Iran’s government. Iran is incapable of projecting land power more than a few miles from its border, its navy is as potent as root beer outside of the Persian Gulf, and its air force is almost as old and broken down as North Korea’s.

Demonizing Iran has been a long-term project of Dick Cheney’s. Through his Iranian Directorate and his lip-lock with the Likud and neoconservatives cabals, he was able to have Iran declared to be our greatest “challenge,” even though Iran’s military budget is less than one percent the size of ours and less than half the size of Israel’s, and despite the Cheneyacs’ failure to prove a single one of their assertions regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions or of its meddling in Iraq and the Bananastans.

Iran baiting has become so popular that it’s practically a national pastime. Maybe that’s why Hillary Clinton has joined the likes of Newt Gingrich aboard Cheney’s crazy train.

I voted against Hillary in the Virginia primary because she’d so clearly rolled over for the neocons for fear they’d call her a girly-man if she didn’t. As Secretary of State, lamentably, she’s still putting on a tomboy act for them. In a July 22 speech in Thailand, Hillary said the U.S. would extend its “defense umbrella” to protect its Middle East allies from a nuclear-armed Iran. We’ll take actions,” she said, “crippling action, working to upgrade the defense of our partners in the region.”

A little song, a little dance; a little seltzer down your pantsuit. The Iranians don’t have a nuclear weapons program and common sense says they never will, they’re surrounded by U.S. forces and outgunned by their neighbors, if they ever did acquire a nuclear weapon and use it on someone our retaliation would mean the virtual end of the millennia-old Persian culture, and Hillary wants to further cripple our economy by dumping more American-made arms into the region. Where do we find such women?

Bush/Cheney foreign policy turned the Middle East into an analog of Cold War Europe, and incredibly, they managed to cast pismire Iran as the second coming of the Soviet Union. That the Obama administration is conducting the same clownish statecraft is a sure sign that the American Empire will end not with a bang or a whimper, but with pie on its face.

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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cheney's Inferno

I tend to regard Dick Cheney the way most of us divorced folks probably think of our ex-spouses. The ex-spouses are going to hell and revenge is already ours, so why waste our breath on them? It’s likewise with Cheney. He’s out of power, his next political post will be as Vice-Prince of Darkness; is he worth wasting a thousand-word essay on anymore? Then something happens to remind me that there’s a big difference between Dick Cheney and ex-spouses. Ex-spouses may have been bona fide bums and broom jockeys, but none of them was the first arch villain of the 21st century.

Were any of us actually shocked by the recent revelation that Lord Cheney ordered the CIA to withhold information about a secret program from Congress for eight years? Given the galactic scale of his malevolence in the Office of the Vice President, ordering the CIA to lie to Congress amounts to a parking violation. Even before young Mr. Bush was elected, Cheney was a proponent of extra-constitutional presidential powers. Most of us are familiar with the unprecedented extent to which Bush exceeded his Article II authorities. Even more horrifying, though, is the way Cheney expanded the powers of his office.

The Constitution gives the vice president one power only: Article I states that “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.” Cheney made himself a vice-commander in chief.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Cheney, from a bunker beneath the White House, called his old pal Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. Cheney told Rumsfeld that "pursuant to the president's instructions,” he had ordered fighter pilots to shoot down the airliners involved in the attacks. What’s wrong with this scenario is that the vice president is not in the military chain of command. As delineated in the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, command authority passes directly from the president to the secretary of defense to the four-star unified commanders (Central Command, Southern Command, European Command, etc.)

Young Mr. Bush was alive and conscious throughout that crisis—well, as conscious as he ever was. He had no business passing orders through Cheney, and Cheney had no business ordering anybody to fire on anything. It’s possible that the military commanders he spoke to knew this and didn’t pass the orders along to the pilots in the air. Bush should have gone directly through Rumsfeld who, as it played out, was only informed of Cheney’s illegal orders after the fact.

We know that Cheney cooked the intelligence on Iraq through Doug Feith’s Office of Special Plans. Journalist and former CIA officer Philip Giraldi asserts that Cheney was behind the forgery of the Nigergate “Habbush letter” document. Cheney authorized Scooter Libby to leak classified information to discredit Joe Wilson when Wilson refuted the claim that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from Niger. Cheney also played a key role in revealing Valerie Plame’s undercover role in the CIA. Cheney’s secret White House Information Group, which included Condi Rice, Karl Rove, the nightmarish Mary Matalin and other right wing luminaries, sold the war to the American public through false propaganda echoed by access-poisoned journalists like Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller of the New York Times.

Cheney used the Iranian Directorate to cook intelligence on Iran much as the Office of Special Plans manufactured WMD evidence on Iraq. The Iranian Directorate was located in the same office as the OSP and included OSP veterans Abram Shulsky, John Trigilio, Ladan Archin and Reuel Marc Gerecht.

Cheney authorized illegal torture. He met secretly with big oil executives to formulate an energy policy that favored his pals at Exxon and Shell and the other major energy companies.

Cheney has a reach-around relationship with Israel’s hard-right Likudniks. Sidney Blumenthal of reported in August 2006 that Cheney and his henchmen were sharing National Security Association intelligence with Israel as part of an attempt to escalate the Iraq war into open hostilities with Iran and Syria. Many are convinced, as am I, that Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon was agreed upon at a meeting between Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu at an American Enterprise Institute conference in Colorado.

Cheney subverted the operations of the entire executive branch by inserting neocon ideologues in key positions. Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and Stephen Cambone strangled dissent in the Defense Department. Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley ensured that his boss Condoleezza Rice was nothing more to Bush than a workout partner and an office wife. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton undermined Colin Powell’s efforts at statesmanship. In the second Bush term, when Rice moved to the top State billet, Cheney arranged to have Bolton made U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., ensuring continuation of the administration’s “make them an offer they can’t accept” diplomacy, of which the Iran policy was a perfect example. Insisting that Iran give up its inherent right—as guaranteed by the U.N. Nonproliferation Treaty—to develop nuclear energy as a precondition to direct talks ensured that those talks would never take place.

Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vermont), speaking of the revelation that Cheney had directed the CIA to withhold information from Congress, said that nobody in America, including Cheney, is “above the law.” Where has Leahy been for the last eight years and change? Everybody in the Bush administration except Scooter Libby was above the law.

President Obama has so far been reluctant to investigate the wrong doing of the Bush administration. That’s a mistake. If we let that administration’s major decision makers walk, we leave the door open for the next generation of tyrants to give us a repeat performance.

Cheney will spend the next life roasting in a room at the Robert McNamara Suite of the LBJ Hilton in Hell, but we need to start rebalancing the scales of justice on this side of eternity.

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.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Persian Ploy

A 5 July story by David Sanger of the New York Times typifies how completely our mainstream media have been bulldozed by the warmongery’s propaganda machine. “Despite Crisis, Policy on Iran Is Engagement” states that “the accelerating crackdown on opposition leaders in Iran” will not deter the Obama administration from “seeking to engage the country’s top leadership in direct negotiations.”

We don’t have a clue what’s actually going on in Iran. Is there a crackdown on opposition leaders, or merely a major operation underway to quell extreme civil unrest? A 6 July Los Angeles Times headline declared, “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard takes command.” (LAT later changed the web headline to “Iran's Revolutionary Guard acknowledges taking a bigger role in nation's security.”)

The first paragraph explains that the Revolutionary Guard has taken over its nation’s security, which is its job, which is the reason it was formed in the first place. The twelfth paragraph of the story reads, “The Basiji militia…is also said to be mobilizing to crack down on the demonstrators.” The NYT normally sources this kind of inflammatory, irresponsible statement to unnamed “officials.” The LAT didn’t bother to source this story to anybody; it even used passive voice.

Very little of the media’s reporting on Iran is fact based. As journalist Gareth Porter recently noted, both the Bush and Obama administrations have charged Iran with giving aid to the Taliban but neither have offered no evidence to support their allegations.

The Pentagon’s top weasel wordsmiths have led the misinformation parade.

In an April press conference, Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said, in reference to Iranian authorities, "We’re seeing some evidence that they’re supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan." When pressed to explain what “some evidence” consisted of, Mullen backed down and admitted there was no "constant stream of arms supply at this point," and he was basing his charge on evidence from “some time ago.”

In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in April, General David Petraeus said, "In Afghanistan, Iran appears to have hedged its longstanding public support for the Karzai government by providing opportunistic support to the Taliban." Appears to have hedged? Providing opportunistic support? Ooh, that sounds bad, but what in the wide world of sports and leisure does it mean?

That’s the same kind of unsupported innuendo Petraeus used to accuse Iran of funneling weapons into Iraq. Accusing Iran of stepping up the flow of weapons into Iraq in September 2007, he said, "It appears that that is increasing and we do not see a sign of that abating." You can’t see a sign of something abating if it was never happening in the first place. The only party ever proven to have provided weapons to insurgents in Iraq is Petraeus himself. In August 2007, the Government Accountability Office reported that about 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols distributed to Iraqi security force trainees vanished in 2004 and 2005, when Petraeus was in charge of training Iraqi security forces.

Petraeus is the most shameless, self-serving general we’ve had since “Dugout Doug” MacArthur. Petraeus’s worst piece of Socratic skullduggery regarding Iran also came in September 2007. Just after the GAO had fingered him as the individual most responsible for arming the insurgency, Petraeus accused the Iranians of everything from arming Iraqi militants to assassinating Iraqi politicians. He challenged the Iranians to “show me” his charges were false. That was a Machiavellian ploy worthy of the first bona fide arch villain of the third millennium, Dick Cheney. The young Mr. Bush administration promised to prove its allegations of Iran’s support of the Iraq insurgency in January 2007, when it also announced the surge strategy. It never did, and most of those allegations have been discredited.

Cheney’s Iranian Directorate manufactured intelligence on Iran in much the same way that his Office of Special Plans cooked the intelligence that “justified” the invasion of Iraq. Cheney was, and still is, on the leading edge of the long war oligarchy’s effort to convince the world that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Cheney attempted to alter the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran to reflect his hard line stance on Iran’s nuclear program. He howled like the Wolf Man when the report was published stating that Iran had halted its nuclear program in the fall of 2003. He and his allies continue to tout the “Iran’s relentless drive for a nuclear weapon” mantra, and the media continue to echo it for them.

Having a fistful of nuclear weapons would paint a Bullseye on Iran’s back. Nukes are a deterrence weapon. The problem with deterrent weapons is that by the time you use them, they’ve already failed to stop whatever they were supposed to deter. The second Iran used a nuke on one of its neighbors, the U.S. or Israel would virtually obliterate the entire Persian race in retaliation. Possessing nuclear weapons would actually destroy Iran’s national security, as they would justify a massive preemptive strike by vastly superior powers.

Cheney’s disinformation machine has created almost universal belief that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that he would use nuclear weapons to “wipe Israel off the face of the map,” but as Professor Juan Cole has pointed out, Ahmadinejad said nothing of the kind. Ahmadinejad's exact quote was, "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Cole explains that Ahmadinejad simply expressed the desire that the Israeli government would disappear as the Shah of Iran’s regime collapsed in 1979.

Iran has never attacked another country in its 74-year existence. It is incapable of projecting conventional land power more than a few miles from its borders; its air and naval power cannot operate significantly beyond the Persian Gulf. Iran’s defense budget is less than one percent the size of ours.

After the electoral shenanigans in Ohio and Florida that led to two ruinous terms for the Bush/Cheney regime, what business do we have condemning the results of any election held in another country?

The only thing we know Iran to be “guilty” of is its ambition to develop a nuclear energy industry and become a major political and economic force in the Gulf region.

Could someone explain to me again why the Obama administration shouldn’t engage Iran’s top leadership in direct negotiations, or why it would possibly need an excuse for doing so?

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, July 05, 2009

Bull Pulpit

According to ABC news, Dick Cheney is worried by America’s pullback in Iraq. Dick wants Americans to support the effort around one more corner, and one more after that, and a thousand more after that. But Dick needn’t worry. We’ll be in Iraq for a long, long time. Ditto for the Bananastans.

Ray “Desert Ox” Odierno got all the U.S. troops out of Iraqi cities by the June 30 deadline. At least that’s what the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media tell us. The al Maliki government proclaimed the birth of Iraq’s “sovereignty” from the American occupation, but like Cheney’s turned corners and young Mr. Bush’s “mission accomplished,” the sovereignty claim has been made many times before. And oh, 130,000 American troops still occupy Iraq, the number of troops we had there in January 2007 when “King” David Petraeus began his cockamamie surge.

We’ll no doubt have 30,000 or more troops in Iraq well into the 30s. The Status of Forces agreement isn’t worth the latrine linen it’s printed on. Young Mr. Obama’s promise to have all combat troops out of Iraq early in his watch was a sham from the get go. As journalist Gareth Porter explained in March, the transformation of “combat troops” into “support troops” is Orwellian Newspeak. Assign a fistful of “advisers” to a combat brigade and it becomes a peace platoon. Transfer a baker and a butcher into an infantry battalion and it turns into a delicatessen. Augment an armored division with two lap dancers and it’s a USO tour.

The misinformation campaign in the Bananastans is even worse. At his Senate confirmation hearing, Stan “The Man” McChrystal swore on a stack of Army field manuals that “the measure of effectiveness will not be enemy killed. It will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence.” When he landed in the Bananastans, he issued a “tactical directive” that his publicity agent, Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, said would limit use of air strikes to reduce civilian deaths.

Shortly after that, McChrystal ordered a major offensive in southern Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan troops met little resistance because the Taliban fighters had the common sense to fade away rather than fight a superior force. In eastern Afghanistan, however, insurgents killed two American soldiers in a frontal assault on a U.S. base and forced the defenders to call in airstrikes to avoid being overrun. Unnamed “military officials” said 10 insurgents had been killed in the counterstrikes. So much for the number of enemy killed not being the measure of effectiveness.

In the other Bananastan, Pakistani air strikes, supported by the U.S., killed 12 “suspected” insurgents. There’s no sure way of telling if any of these kill statistics were really insurgents or not. Our intelligence in that part of the world amounts to beating or bribing someone into telling us what we want to hear, and it will never be any better than that.

For almost a decade now, U.S. intelligence has been to intelligence what Pig Latin is to Latin. Someone like Ahmed Chalibi tells a lunatic ideologue like Dick Cheney whatever fairy tale he needs to hear to justify an invasion of a country like Iraq. Dick Cheney passes that fiction on to access-poisoned journalists like Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller. The next thing you know, the handsomely paid for lie pops up on the front page of the New York Times and it becomes gospel truth.

Our entire information environment is polluted, perhaps beyond recovery. Nowhere is this truer than the packaged messages we receive regarding our wars. Admiral Smith calls himself a public affairs officer, but he’s every bit the propaganda operative that Joseph Goebbels was. Military information operations of all sorts have merged; it’s all strategic brainwash now. The firewalls between public affairs and operational deception and black propaganda have vanished like a blind dowager’s jewelry.

The traditional news media are now fully embedded members of the Pentagon’s long war sales force. At one end of the spectrum, we have Pentagon beat veterans like the horrible Thomas E. Ricks, who has pawned whatever integrity he once had for a seat in the front car of Petraeus’s armored motorcade. At the other extreme we have NBC dimwit Jim Miklashevski. I doubt if Jim understands a single word he says on TV about military affairs. The likes of Smith must have to write extra short talking points for Mik, so he doesn’t forget them before he goes on camera.

You can’t trust the media’s retired military experts any further than you can shoot them out of a popgun. Barry McCaffrey, Wayne Downing and Ken Allard were among the many who passed along pro-war propaganda under the guise of “expert analysis” and who profited from the war through their connections with major military contractors.

Most of the military press outlets like are run by ex-Department of Defense public affairs types. Naval Institute Proceedings, the self-labeled “independent forum,” has offices on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy. The head of the Naval Institute is always a retired admiral or Marine general. An editorial board of active duty officers headed by a true-believer bird captain approves all Proceedings articles. Anything that drops out of an admiral’s rear end and lands on a piece of paper becomes a Proceedings cover story. The one military press outfit I tend to trust is the Military Times consortium, but even their material must be filtered through a healthy layer of skepticism.

So it is that the Pentagon can get away with saying one thing and doing the opposite over and over and over. Everyone who knows how to sound like they know what they’re talking about doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, or they’re in the tank, or both.

Dick Cheney has a long-standing, consistent record of being in the tank and not knowing what he’s talking about, but that makes no never-mind. Any time he wants to broadcast his Dr. Doom message, the media will happily give him a bull pulpit and all the bandwidth he wants.

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.