Wednesday, October 21, 2009

General Treachery

The long war generals are still trying to shoehorn President Obama into going along with their agenda, and they’re not being a bit subtle about it.

Gen. Ray Odierno, U.S. commander in Iraq, says he may not be able to meet President Barack Obama’s promise to withdraw troops from that country. In an Oct. 20 article from right-wing media maven Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London, Odierno notes that things aren’t going so well in Iraq: increased violence levels, bickering in parliament, a “bloody campaign” brewing in the months ahead from al Qaeda and other militant groups, a possible postponement of elections, Anbar province getting out of control again. Tut, tut. It sounds like the surge wasn’t so successful after all.

Odierno, who is part of the long war cabal that includes Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, is on record as wanting to keep 30,000 or more troops in Iraq until 2014 or 2015.

Elsewhere, we have Gen. Stanley McChrystal, another long warrior, attempting to get 40,000 or more troops into Afghanistan for a nation birthing campaign that could last 20 years or more.

Professor Andrew Bacevich, a prolific author and retired Army officer, notes in the November issue of Harper’s that Odierno thinks the insurgency in Iraq may drag on for another five, ten, or fifteen years. “Events may well show that Odierno is an optimist,” Bacevich writes.

Violence may be down, Bacevich notes, “but evidence of the promised political reconciliation that the surge was intended to produce remains elusive. America’s Mesopotamian misadventure continues.”

Bacevich says Iraq is “bizarrely trumpeted in some quarters as a ‘success’ and even more bizarrely seen as offering a template for how to turn Afghanistan around.”

That trumpeting has been the result of propaganda operations on the part of the Pentagon. The military’s ability to manipulate the media is legendary at this point. The right wing press and broadcast outlets have always been military friendly, but now the mainstream media has become little more than a steno pool that repeats military public affairs press releases verbatim.

Bacevich, fortunately, is as brutally honest about Afghanistan as he is about Iraq. He calls Afghanistan “The war we can’t win,” and says, “Fixing Afghanistan is not only unnecessary, it’s also likely to prove impossible. Not for nothing has the place acquired the nickname Graveyard of Empires.”

Lamentably, voices like Bacevich’s are hard to come by. (Even sorrier is that his Harper’s article is behind a subscription firewall.)

Much of what we see in the media these days deifies our generals. Thomas E. Ricks is notorious for his hagiographies of Odierno and Petraeus. The recent hoopla over Stanley McChrystal has been disgraceful, most notably the 60 Minutes puff piece and an October 18 New York Times Magazine profile by Dexter Filkins. As Yale professor of literature David Bromwich notes, the Times seems to have gone gaga over McChrystal and his campaign to pile drive the president into going puppy dog for his general’s wishes. “The conclusion draws itself,” Bromwich says. “The New York Times wants a large escalation in Afghanistan.”

The most frightening moment in the Filkins article comes at the end, where McChrystal promises an Afghan governor, “We’ll stay as long as we have to until our Afghan partners are completely secure, even if that means years.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mullen have made similar remarks for the record.

Who are they to be making promises like that?

Our “partners” are crooks and liars. Odierno admits Iraq’s parliament is a zoo and we’ve seen over the past few months what a hobo Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai is. Even Gates admits the corruption in Afghanistan will continue regardless of the election results.

Yet the information blitz continues. Bad Taliban. Bad drug trade. Everyone in the military is mad at Obama. We were on the verge of winning in Vietnam when the bad news media and Congress pulled the rug out from under us, don’t do it again.

We’re witnessing an open revolt by our top military officers against a sitting president and the citizens who elected him. Our press, the fourth pillar of our democracy that is supposed to guard against such treachery, is aiding it. We’ve seen this happen before, not very long ago, when the New York Times helped Dick Cheney sell us the invasion of Iraq by publishing its story on the Nigergate hoax that cited anonymous “officials” more than 20 times.

In a Voice of America article published the same day (Oct. 20) that Odierno said he may not be able to withdraw troops on schedule, Obama assured Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that we will withdraw our troops on schedule. Al-Maliki prances back and forth—he wants us out of his country one minute but he’s willing to renegotiate the Status of Forces Agreement the next.

Who’s going to win this battle?

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. As well as the useless second round of elections (we all know how it's going to turn out, don't we?), the waffle and bafflegab about the goals, and the rogue military commanders whose only purpose is to keep this blood-and-money black hole going for as long as possible - or until they retire, crushed beneath a chestful of medals - Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqi had this to say about one of the supposed reasons for NATO efforts in Afghanistan:

    "The lot of some Afghan women has improved, but not for the majority. Many were scared off the presidential election by the Taliban. Many remain victims of a lack of security, prompting some to say of the harsh law and order in Taliban-controlled districts: 'At least we don't get raped.'

    One can't imagine a worse indictment of NATO."

  2. Dexter Filkins and Lara Logan are nothing but war pornographers. If Dexter Filkins was writing anything even approximating the truth, he certainly would not have been allowed to fly around in the general's helicopter with him and most likely would not be writing for the NYT. I can't believe they gave him and a bunch of other reporters at the Times a Pulitzer for that kind of reporting in 2009. He wants to make McCrystal "Stan of Afghanistan".

  3. Hey, as long as the Pentagon is OK with KRB and Halliburton electrocuting its service personnel in the showers, nothing is going to change.

  4. You know, the generals only have to keep Obama on the ropes until the end of 2011. When the presidential selection starts picking up steam, the new menagerie of Republican presidential hopefuls (shudder) will start beating the "surrender" and "appeasement" drum in Obama's face. I'm convinced that Mr. O is doomed to one term by the dying economy in any case, so it follows that the election will likely be a walk for the Republicans. Any threads left hanging in Iraq/Afghanistan will be promptly picked up by the new emperor.

    Of course, it's possible that by then impoverished Americans will be sick of war and vote for change - the real thing this time. (I suppose that mostly depends on how hard the government makes it for Americans to vote from homeless shelters). There might never be a better time for an electable third party candidate to emerge (care to throw your helmet in the ring, Commander?). Here's hoping that Ron Paul et al. will quit gracing the major parties with their presence and try to build a viable movement outside the system. I can't shake the feeling that, as a country, we don't have a hell of a lot of time left to get it together..

  5. Anonymous10:49 PM

    The Afghans, a loose group of Pashtun (Pathan), other ethic tribes and diverse small principalities have been at war with outsiders as long as their territory has been a crossroad of empires. Iraq is a kluge of tribes and Sunni and Shi'a frictions built by the British after the Ottomans disintegrated.

    Addressing the lot of women in Islam means telling Islam what is right and wrong. Not the job of a constitutional republic.

    Cannot get that done in Utah, what business trying in Afghanistan?

    A conference with the Joint Chiefs and Petraeus should end with all their resignations and bringing up some officers who support and defend the US constitution not perpetual war capitalism.

    Orwell warned of perpetual war as a method to throw away the fruits of a nation's production and not sharing it with the people.

    Continual appeals to fear and false pride are the tools of perpetual war.

    Militarism and perpetual war are in control and must be stopped.


  6. Another great discussion, folks. Thanks.


  7. Anonymous11:53 PM

    Didn't Hamid Karzai work for a major petroleum company before being 'elected'?