Lt. Gen. Lynch Growing Tired of Waiting for His Droid Army

“There’s a resistance saying that armed ground robots are not ready for the battlefield. I’m not of that camp,”
– Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch

Perhaps underscoring the old adage that “to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” Lieutenant General Rick Lynch, who holds a masters degree in robotics, is pretty sure all his problems in Iraq could be solved with a massive army of battle droids.

Lt. Gen. Lynch is now claiming that 80 percent of the soldiers who died under his command could have been saved if only he had enough killbots.

There’s got to be a sense of urgency here,” Lynch noted, “I am so tired of going to demonstrations.”

Lynch is also hoping to deploy heavily armed robots to places where he suspects IEDs might be planted to “kill those bastards before they plant the IEDs.” It has to be noted, however, that US forces killed several farmers in Afghanistan this summer because they couldn’t tell the difference between IEDs and cucumbers, and question if the robots are any more observant.

Liz Cheney and Tom Friedman Agree: Give the US Military the Nobel

One of the most notable developments surrounding the debate about the Nobel Committee’s decision to award Obama its peace prize has been the apparently spontaneous agreement by both Tom Friedman and Liz Cheney that the president should make the occasion a celebration of the U.S. military. It speaks volumes about the ideological anchorlessness of Friedman, who, according to a recent National Journal survey of Democratic and Republican insiders, is the media personality with the single greatest influence among party elites.

Here’s Cheney on “Fox News Sunday” after denouncing the Committee’s decision as a “farce.”

“But I do think he [Obama] could send a real signal here. I think what he ought to do frankly is send a mother of a fallen American soldier to accept the prize on behalf of the U.S. military and frankly to send the message to remind the Nobel committee that each one of them sleeps soundly at night because the U.S. military is the greatest peacekeeping force in the world today.”

And here’s Friedman after expressing dismay “that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way” in his column published Saturday, entitled “The Peace (Keepers) Prize.” Most of the column consists of “the speech I hope he will give” when he accepts the prize in Oslo Dec 10:

“Let me begin by thanking the Nobel committee for awarding me this prize, the highest award to which any statesman can aspire. As I said on the day it was announced, ‘I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.’ Therefore, upon reflection, I cannot accept this award on my behalf at all.

“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.”

There follows a series of inspirational paragraphs about the U.S. military’s heroism and sacrifice from World War II through its rescue operations “from the mountains of Pakistan to the coasts of Indonesia” (with no mention of Vietnam whatsoever) before he concludes in a long coda:

“Members of the Nobel committee, I accept this award on behalf of all these American men and women soldiers, past and present, because I know — and I want you to know — that there is no peace without peacekeepers.

“Until the words of Isaiah are made true and lasting — and nations never again lift up swords against nations and never learn war anymore — we will need peacekeepers. Lord knows, ours are not perfect, and I have already moved to remedy inexcusable excesses we’ve perpetrated in the war on terrorism.

“But have no doubt, those are the exception. If you want to see the true essence of America, visit any U.S. military outpost in Iraq or Afghanistan. You will meet young men and women of every race and religion who work together as one, far from their families, motivated chiefly by their mission to keep the peace and expand the borders of freedom.

“So for all these reasons — and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty — I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world’s most important peacekeepers.”

Note that there’s nothing in Friedman’s talk about “soft” or “smart power,” of which he is supposed to be a strong exponent. Nor even about the country’s voters who voted Obama into office. It’s all about the military, its goodness, and even its altruism.

To my mind, the agreement between Cheney and Friedman makes for a great illustration of the the similarity in worldview between the hard right — I think Liz is actually more of a neo-con in her strong feelings about Israel than her dad ever was) and liberal interventionists like Friedman. And that worldview, of course, not only implicitly extols American exceptionalism, but also — to put it bluntly — American militarism, a phenomenon to which Andrew Bacevich devoted an entire book after the Iraq invasion.

Here’s some of what Bacevich, a retired army colonel who teaches at Boston University, wrote as excerpted on Tomdispatch.com in 2005:

“[M]ainstream politicians today take as a given that American military supremacy is an unqualified good, evidence of a larger American superiority. They see this armed might as the key to creating an international order that accommodates American values. One result of that consensus over the past quarter century has been to militarize U.S. policy and to encourage tendencies suggesting that American society itself is increasingly enamored with its self-image as the military power nonpareil.

“…Since the end of the Cold War, opinion polls surveying public attitudes toward national institutions have regularly ranked the armed services first. While confidence in the executive branch, the Congress, the media, and even organized religion is diminishing, confidence in the military continues to climb. Otherwise acutely wary of having their pockets picked, Americans count on men and women in uniform to do the right thing in the right way for the right reasons. Americans fearful that the rest of society may be teetering on the brink of moral collapse console themselves with the thought that the armed services remain a repository of traditional values and old fashioned virtue.

Confidence in the military has found further expression in a tendency to elevate the soldier to the status of national icon, the apotheosis of all that is great and good about contemporary America. The men and women of the armed services, gushed Newsweek in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, “looked like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. They were young, confident, and hardworking, and they went about their business with poise and élan.” A writer for Rolling Stone reported after a more recent and extended immersion in military life that “the Army was not the awful thing that my [anti-military] father had imagined”; it was instead “the sort of America he always pictured when he explained… his best hopes for the country.”

In the hopes he’s going to do, or not do, something

I’ve been thinking a lot about this Obama – Nobel Peace Prize business today, actually I’ve been trying to ignore it but I’ve run into several people today who think it’s a great idea and going to spur Obama to do something good… or at the very least spur him to not do something really, really bad.

But that’s not the way any of the other Nobel prizes work. Willard Boyle (one of this year’s Physics laureates) got it because 40 years ago he invented the CCD, which is an enormously valuable piece of technology. Herta Müller got the literature prize because she wrote some poetry people really liked.

Suppose the selection committee gave the Nobel Prize in Physics to some high school student in the hopes she’d be inspired to do something great. Suppose they gave the Prize in Medicine to an entry level employee at some drug company in the hopes he’d eventually discover something really useful. Wouldn’t we think they were putting the cart before the horse?

Nobel Peace Legacy Was Meant To Be Radical

So many promoters of war have won the Nobel Peace Prize in recent history: Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, to name a few.

But Alfred Nobel’s will, where he laid out the requirements for winning the Peace Prize, were anything but moderate. Nobel said the prize should go to:

…the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. (emphasis added)

Obama Will Go Naked to Stockholm

Obama, Kissinger, Wilson, Roosevelt and Moniz.

Quick. What do Barack Obama, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger and Egar Moniz have in common? All won the Nobel Prize, the first four for “peace” either as sitting presidents, or in Kissinger’s case, while his bombs were falling on innocents in Vietnam. Moniz won the prize in Physiology or Medicine for his invention of the lobotomy. Of these five he wrought the least carnage.

Today we awoke to news that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Some looked quick to see whether it was April 1. Most often folks mumbled resignedly “War is Peace.” I prefer the Vietnam era formulation that warring for peace is like fu**ing for virginity. A few wept tears of disappointment, certainly mainstream Medea Benjamin who, having recently come out definitively as a hawk, must have thought that with this adjustment the Nobel was certainly in sight. Code Pink needs a new name now. Justin Raimondo suggests Code Yellow. But I believe Whores for Wars might be better. (That would only apply to Medea and the national leadership, many of the local Code Pinkers being genuine anti-interventionists who cannot stomach the narcissistic national leadership like mainstream Medea.)

My good friend and Israeli expat Joshua was at first afraid he was having a bad dream or that the Nobel committee was working a cruel joke. After all, Joshua reasoned, Obama is war criminal, who has engineered the biggest military spending in human history, who daily drops bombs on innocents, women and children in at least three countries, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, who supports the worst war criminals and lodges some in his administration, who destroyed in a few months the “hope” for a peace in the middle east. The western world has gone crazy, no doubt, says Joshua. And since war is now peace we might rename all organizations appropriately – United for War and Justice, War Action, and so on.

This led Joshua to predictions for future Nobels.

Next year, literature: Obama for “The Audacity of Hope” – the greatest fiction ever.

Next year, economy: Obama – creating a new statistical metric for recovery.

Next year, peace: Bush/Cheney – based on Obama’s peace prize precedent.

Year after, peace: Netanyahu – the man behind Obama’s peace in the Middle East.

But to this writer we witness the second repetition of history. The US Empire’s first great colonial war on the Asian mainland in the last half century was Truman’s Korean war. This was repeated as tragedy in Vietnam at the hands of the Best and Brightest, with Johnson and Kennedy in the lead. And now the Iraq/AfPak war comes at us from Bush and Obama and Congresses both Democrat and Republic. If Vietnam was tragedy, then certainly Iraq/AfPak is farce. There were no WMD in Iraq and everyone knew it. By the military’s own admission there are about 100 Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, so the US troops are not there because of Al-Qaeda – and everyone knows it.

Now the ultimate comedic turn comes with the award to Obama of the Nobel War Prize. Perhaps the antiwar movement needs to adjust its tone from pure outrage to ridicule. After all Obama and the elite running this country are without clothes as they parade before us as men of peace, puffed up with talk of fake health care reform and assuring us of economic recovery that provides no jobs. It would be hard to make this stuff up. And through our tears at the predicament we are in, we can at least ridicule these hypocritical murderers. They deserve to be seen clearly as the cruel and absurd hollow men that they are. They march before us unknowingly naked.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com. He believes that if the Nobel Committee were serious, Cindy Sheehan would have won the award long ago.

Chicago and Pakistan

Appropriately, Congress passed the Kerry-Lugar “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009” and the International Olympic Committee made its much anticipated decision just as the baseball season drew to a close.

Yep, the Windy City’s National League franchise remained America’s team (it keeps on bombing) and the IOC chimed in (slightly twisting the Cubs’ theme song), “Hey America, what do you say, Chicago’s going to lose today.”

An AP article in my local paper was headlined “Chicago faced anti-U.S. votes,” bringing Pakistan into the picture:

“Some people just don’t like the way Americans do things.

“One IOC member, Syed Shahid Ali of Pakistan, told Obama that foreigners ‘can go through a rather harrowing experience’ getting into the United States and asked how he intended to deal with that when thousands of people come for the 2016 games.

“Obama replied that ‘America, at its best, is open to the world,’ and the presentation ended with no further questions.

“‘This is an easy way for countries to express resentment toward us, as a superpower, without suffering any consequences, like having their foreign aid cut off or their weapons programs cut off,’ said Doug Logan, CEO of USA Track and Field. ‘It’s an easy way for them to express a great amount of displeasure.'”

As a Pakistani-American was attesting to in a blog picked up by the Yahoo Pakistan page, IOC member Ali didn’t go far enough, it’s not only “foreigners” who “can go through a harrowing experience getting into the United States.”

But that’s just an aside, the real business here is to indulge in some conspiracy theory. Had CEO Logan been reading the Pakistani press in the wake of the Kerry-Lugar bill’s passage last week, the idea may have occurred to him that Ali, as a patriot, spoke out in the hope, however vain, that Pakistan indeed would be made “to suffer” the “consequence” of “having its foreign aid cut off.”

What follows are Kerry-Lugar-related excerpts mostly from Dawn, The News International and The Nation. The articles, mostly op-ed, raise three Pakistani concerns with the aid package.

Continue reading “Chicago and Pakistan”