Much is being made of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which she used when she was Secretary of State. To me, the real issue is not that Hillary endangered national security by sending classified information in the clear. No – the real issue is that the Clintons act as if they are above the rules and laws that apply to “the little people.” They are superior and smug, totally devoted to themselves and their pursuit of power and the privileges that come with it. It’s a matter of character, in other words. Hillary’s evasiveness, her lack of transparency, her self-righteousness, her strong sense of her own rectitude, make her a dangerous candidate for the presidency.
My second point is this: The issue of classification should be turned on its head. The real issue is not that Hillary potentially revealed secrets. No – the real issue is that our government keeps far too much from us. Our government uses security classification not so much to keep us safe, but to keep the national security state safe – safe from the eyes of the American people.
Continue reading “Two Points About the Hillary Clinton Email Fiasco”
When it comes to the Pentagon, nothing succeeds like failure. That is the message of William Hartung’s latest article at TomDispatch.com. The Pentagon, Hartung notes, continues to receive massive funding from the American taxpayer, even as its various wars drag on, seemingly without end. Hartung, who wrote a book on Lockheed Martin and the military-industrial complex, has a knack for revealing the latest Pentagon follies. Even as you read his latest at TomDispatch.com, I’d like to add two more items to his list:
1. Washington Think Tanks: Perhaps you’ve heard of them, centers for thinking about national defense, hiring the best and the brightest to come up with disinterested recommendations to safeguard America. Ha! A few days ago, The National Interest ran an article on what these think tanks were proposing, the “latest fashions in warfighting,” as the article’s title put it. Please note there’s no “fashion” in peacemaking or war-ending.
Four out of the five think tanks featured in the article were in basic agreement. “Deterrence” had to be based on massive investments in offensive weaponry. There was much agreement as well on modernizing America’s nuclear arsenal, on the need to feature more drones and other unmanned platforms, on air power and power projection, as well as support for the wildly expensive F-35 jet fighter. In sum, more of the same at the Pentagon, only more.
Continue reading “At the Pentagon, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure”
General (retired) David Petraeus was on PBS the other day to explain the current Iraqi offensive on Mosul. Sure, his military “surges” in Iraq and Afghanistan had no staying power, and he disgraced himself by sharing classified information with his mistress during an extramarital affair, but nevertheless let’s call on him as an unbiased “expert” on all things military. Right?
Anyway, I thought the following words of Petraeus were revealing:
But that’s the extent of what we [the U.S.] can do [in Iraq today]. We can encourage, we can nudge, we can cajole [the Iraqi military and Kurdish forces]. We can’t force. And it is going to have to be Iraqis at the end of the day that come together, recognizing that, if they cannot, fertile fields will be planted for the planting of the seeds of ISIS 3.0, of further extremism in Iraq.
Wow. There’s no sense here that the US is to blame for planting the seeds of Iraqi extremism (or, at the very least, fertilizing them) in those “fertile fields.” Overthrowing Saddam Hussein in 2003 and demobilizing Iraqi military forces predictably left a power vacuum that facilitated factionalism and extremism in Iraq, which was only exacerbated by an extended and mismanaged US occupation. Petraeus’s “Surge” in 2007 papered over some of the worst cracks, but only temporarily, a fact that Petraeus himself knew (consider all his caveats about “gains” being “fragile” and “reversible”).
Continue reading “Why Is Petraeus an Expert on Mosul?”
Should the United States reject the “first use” of nuclear weapons? That question was put to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during their first debate. Colonel (retired) Andrew Bacevich asks us to take their answers seriously in his latest insightful essay at TomDispatch.com, which I urge you to read here in full.
Trump was asked to respond first, and his rambling answer, I thought, showed the evidence of someone who had crammed for a test. He was desperate to show he knew something – anything – about America’s nuclear forces (here some may recall how Trump obviously knew little about America’s nuclear triad during the Republican primary debates). So Trump rambled on about obsolete B-52s flown by the sons and grandsons of previous pilots, a non sequitur since the B-52 has been continuously upgraded with new engines, advanced avionics, the latest in high-tech weaponry, and despite their age they’re still more than capable of doing the job. But somebody must have told Trump to use the B-52’s age as a talking point, and he was determined to get it in.
Continue reading “Ignorance and Dishonesty: Trump, Hillary, and Nuclear Genocide”
Today brings yet another announcement of more U.S. troops to Iraq. This time 600 are being sent as logistics support, advisers, and enablers (that term, “enabler,” is fuzzy indeed: enabler of what? More failure?). That brings the number of US troops in Iraq to more than 5200, but of course this figure seriously under-represents the American presence in the region. Nowadays, most “troops” are provided by private contractors, and many of these are US military veterans who discovered they could make a lot more money wearing mufti than in Uncle Sam’s uniforms. At the same time, the US continues to provide heavy-duty weaponry to the Iraqi military, including Apache attack helicopters and the HIMARS rocket system. All of this is intended to help the Iraqi military retake the city of Mosul.
That the US is yet again providing more troops as well as heavy weapons as “force multipliers” highlights the failure of US military efforts to “stand up” an effective Iraqi military. The enemy, after all, has no Apache helicopters, no HIMARS system, and no US advisers, although we certainly “enable” them with all the US weaponry they’ve been able to capture or steal. Despite a lack of US military training and aid, ISIS and crew have proven to be remarkably resilient. What gives?
Continue reading “The USA in Iraq: Putting Out the Fire with Gasoline”
My parents taught me a lot of common sense sayings. You’ve probably heard this one: mind your own business, or MYOB. Most people have enough problems of their own; it’s not a good idea to compound one’s problems by messing around with other people’s lives.
What’s common sense for individuals is also common sense for nations. Think of the USA. We’ve got plenty of problems: crumbling infrastructure, inefficient and inadequate health care, too many people in too many prisons, social divides based on race and sex and class, drug and alcohol abuse, not enough decent-paying jobs, huge budgetary deficits, the list goes on. Yet instead of looking inwards to address our problems, too often we look outwards and interfere in the lives of others. How can we solve other people’s problems when we can’t solve our own?
Consider our nation’s foreign policy, which is basically driven by our military. We have a global array of military bases, somewhere around 700. We spend roughly $700 billion a year on national “defense” and wars, ensuring that we have “global reach, global power.” To what end? Our nation’s first president, George Washington, famously warned us to avoid foreign entanglements. The nation’s great experiment in republican democracy, Washington knew, could easily be compromised by unwise alliances and costly wars.
Continue reading “The MYOB Foreign Policy”