ISIS and Ukraine: They’ll Say Anything

When I tuned in to US president Barack Obama’s televised speech on his plans for war against the so-called “Islamic State,” I expected exactly what we got — a bland sundae of pseudo-patriotic drivel topped off with some whipped cream of big bucks for the military-industrial complex and the cherry of regime change in Syria. What I didn’t expect was a bon mot homage to a previous era:

“[W]e are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” — US president Lyndon Johnson, October 21, 1964

“[W]e cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves …” US president Barack Obama, September 10, 2014

A curious inversion: LBJ’s remark came near the end of the “advisor” era in Vietnam and prior to the massive, direct US military intervention there. Obama’s reprise comes after nearly a quarter century of massive, direct US military interventions in Iraq and proposes to make history run backward into an “advisor” scenario. Curious, but clearly not accidental.

We all remember how Vietnam ended. After two lost ground wars in Asia in the last 12 years, after recourse to the history book accounts of the post-WWII era, you might expect Obama to have learned a lesson by now. And you’d be right.

Continue reading “ISIS and Ukraine: They’ll Say Anything”

The Manning Show Trial: These Teachable Moments

I’m shocked – shocked! – that Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge who ruled in February that Bradley Manning could be tried on various charges even after being held prior to arraignment for more than five times the absolute longest time specified in the US Armed Forces’ “speedy trial” rules, has now also ruled that Manning can be convicted of aiding an enemy that does not exist. Yes, you read that right: There’s only an “enemy” to aid, in any legal sense, if the United States is at war, a state created by a congressional declaration. There’s been no such declaration since World War II.

Lind had only one legal duty as judge in this case: To dismiss all charges due to the government’s failure to meet the “speedy trial” deadline. If the United States was, as John Adams put it, “a government of laws, not of men,” that’s exactly what she would have done.

Lind’s superiors had a clear duty as well – to remove her from the bench after that first illegal ruling and charge her under Article 98 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

Any person subject to this chapter who –

(1) is responsible for unnecessary delay in the disposition of any case of a person accused of an offense under this chapter; or

(2) Knowingly and intentionally fails to enforce or comply with any provision of this chapter regulating the proceedings before, during, or after trial of an accused; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

No, I’m not really shocked that none of this happened. It’s par for the course. Laws, including the “supreme law of the land,” aka the US Constitution, are for us little people. The US government doesn’t need or want them, except for use as camouflage. It does whatever it wants to do (or rather whatever the ruling members of the American political class tell it to do).

The only reasonable takeaway from the Manning trial is that American “rule of law” is a sham. The US government doesn’t operate within the Constitution’s constraints on state power, nor does it honor that Constitution’s list of enshrined individual rights. It never has done so absent extreme compulsion and it never will do so on anything like a regular basis.

The corollary: If the US government isn’t bound by its own alleged rules, why on Earth would anyone else be?

Reprinted from the Center for a Stateless Society under Creative Commons license.

No War, No Sanctions, No Intervention, No Assassinations

Clear, simple, to the point. A nice, simple set of values that all kinds of people should be able to get behind.

It’s the platform, manifesto, talking points, everything of No War on Iran: National Day of Action, February 4th.

A lot of anti-war activities get bogged down in lengthy laundry lists of talking points and arguments from the “top,” before they ever reach the larger numbers of people they’re supposed to recruit or inflluence. They end up having something for everyone to disagree with.

This thing leaves everyone free to make their own arguments and not have to answer for someone else’s stupid ideas. No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations. Anything else you want, bring yourself.

“Radical anarchist KN@PPSTER” and “sane policy advocate KN@PPSTER” are both down with the four points, for different but not really incompatible reasons.

From a policy standpoint, screwing with Iran is the silliest damn idea I’ve heard in a decade characterized by silly ideas.

The US has fought and lost two full-blown wars in Asia (and smaller ones in Asia and elsewhere) over the last ten years, draining its treasury and degrading its military (in both the moral and practical senses).

Launching a third major war, against an opponent three times as populous, with much greater regional support, and much more militarily advanced than either Iraq or Afghanistan … well, if you were looking for  proof that the assorted War Colleges of the US armed forces have “special needs” classes, just check out the number of different crayon colors used in drafting that contingency plan.

From an anarchist standpoint, war (and preparation for war) is one of the primary instruments which the political class of every country, and their “transnational” partners, use to savage the freedoms and empty the pocketbooks of their subjects for their own benefit. 99% of the time, that’s its only purpose. The other 1% of the time is when one particular clique of the political class is in real existential danger from another clique or cliques, and wants their subjects to bail them out.

So, get back to me if the war you’re selling is revolutionary class struggle, productive (us) vs. political (them). Otherwise, I’m not buying. And this ain’t that.

But that’s all just me. I’m sure you have your own reasons. On February 4th, let’s set those other reasons aside and stand together for no war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations.

[cross-posted from KN@PPSTER]

Duh, Winning! (Hearts and Minds Edition)

From Three Against Hitler, by Rudi Wobbe and Jerry Borrowman:

Near our home was a shoe store, owned and run by a Jew. Even before 1933 his store windows and swastikas had been painted on the walls and door. But, after the “takeover,” the Nazis demolished his store in broad daylight. They broke all the windows, threw the merchandise onto the sidewalk, and dragged the proprietor and his wife and two children into the street. They started beating and cursing them, all the while calling them dirty names and shouting that they weren’t fit to live among the exalted German, Aryan people. The greatest indignity of all is that after the family was lying in the gutter in agony, the Nazis urinated on them. I was only seven years of age when this took place, but I remember it vividly.

From Afghanistan:

From Pamela Geller, quoted in the Houston Chronicle [h/t — Eric Dondero]:

I love these Marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.

In future dictionaries, a “geller” will be defined as “a near-perfect intersection of abject stupidity and irredeemable evil.”

[cross-posted from KN@PPSTER]

In case you were wondering …

No chance that Sarah Palin is changing her War Party stripes or adopting a Ron Paul / Old Right line as she releases her 2012 presidential campaign book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag:

[C]ontrary to the ugly accusations of the antiwar crowd, America doesn’t go to war for big business or for oil or for the sake of imperial conquest. The reason, inevitably, is freedom. — pp.38-39

Yeah, yeah, dog bites man. But hey, I just saved you $12.99.