Guarding the Surge Narrative While Iraq Burns

Looking at  Margaret and Jason’s close monitoring of the continued bloodshed in Iraq– something like 300 Iraqis  dead in bombings since last Monday — it’s becoming clear that nothing short of a nuclear bomb dropped on the Green Zone will get administration officials and their supporters in the Washington military establishment to acknowledge that something is really wrong in Baghdad.

There is obviously an agenda , and that agenda is to let the Iraqis have their holiday over our supposed departure on June 30. As I have written, and as Erik Leaver and Daniel Atzmon suggest today, there are a lot of smoke and mirrors engaged here and no one really knows how many U.S troops and private contractors will remain in trouble spots like Baghdad and Mosul after the end of the month.

But this is just one thread of the agenda. The integrity of the Surge Narrative is vital, and any sense that the stability gained in the last year is beginning to dissolve will put a lot of assumptions about the so-called “population-centric” Petraeus Doctrine (“clear, hold and build”) into serious question. That is probably why speakers at the big Center for A New American Security confab were pretty adamant that the recent violence is the mark of al Qaeda “remnants,” and definitely not a reanimated Sunni insurgency. No surprise that retired Gen. Jack Keane, known as the “godfather of the surge” for his work in writing the “plan for success” with Frederick Kagan at AEI and the “new” counterinsurgency manual with Petraeus in 2006, was on hand to suggest we don’t “overreact” to the recent bombings in Iraq.

“The security situation in Iraq is truly a good one,” Keane asserted from the dais of the Willard Continental Hotel ballroom on June 11, a day after a car bomb ripped through a market, killing 30 people in Nasiriyah. Sure there were spates of violence, but “that doesn’t justify the troop presence we have.”

Maybe not. A lot of us don’t think a six-year occupation was justified in the first place. But that seems to be beside the point right now. People like Keane and the aforementioned administration officials are bent on playing down the heartbreaking,  relentless fragility of a people we deemed necessary to liberate and manipulate to our own geopolitical ends. But yet everyday the violence gets worse and the civil and political situation remains well, a basket case. Rather than suggest, perhaps, the Surge fell short of its exalted goals and gloried, storied distinctions, they will ignore what is right in front of their faces. Political expediency still reigns. If anyone thinks it will be any different for the people of Afghanistan (our other war) a year from now, I have a market to sell them in Adhamiyah.

Because They Were Just Tourists, You See

Of course, any act against the United States government is an act of terrorism. Just read the first graf of this Jeff Stein blog post:

He may yet turn out to be the avatar of Iranian democracy, but three decades ago Mir-Hossein Mousavi was waging a terrorist war on the United States that included bloody attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine Corps barracks in Beirut.

So he was waging this terrorist war on the United States. In Beirut. Beirut, Lebanon. And what were these Americans doing? Oh, just minding their own business:

[W]hy were American and French troops in Beirut in 1983, the mid-point of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war (1975-1990)?

Israel’s 1982 Invasion of Lebanon

On June 6, 1982, Israel, led by gen. Ariel Sharon, invaded Lebanon. The goal was to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization’s operation in Lebanon, where it had established itself as a full-fledged state-within-a-state: The PLO controlled most of West Beirut and most of South Lebanon.

Israel’s invasion was brutally, tactically efficient but strategically disastrous. In 18 weeks, according to the Red Cross, some 17,000 people, most of them Lebanese civilians, were killed in the invasion. The PLO was routed. But Israel created a power vacuum in its place. That vacuum was immediately filled by a new Shiite militia in South Lebanon receiving weapons and money from Syria and Iran, a group that called itself the Party of God, or Hezbollah.

Meanwhile the PLO agreed in August 1982 to exit Lebanon. To ensure a safe exit, the United States, France and Italy sent a multinational force to Beirut. By August 30, Yaser Arafat and the PLO were out of Beirut. Some 6,000 PLO fighters were evacuated, mostly to Tunisia. The Multinational force was gone by Sept. 10. Four days later, the U.S. and Israeli-backed Christian Phalangist leader and Lebanese President-Elect Bashir Gemayel is assassinated at his headquarters in East Beirut.

From Blunder to Massacre

On Sept. 15, Israeli troops invaded West Beirut, the first time an Israeli force enters an Arab capital, supposedly to maintain the peace. The invasion did the opposite. Israel bused dozens of Christian militiamen to the southern suburbs of West Beirut then unleashed the militiamen—many of them from villages that, several years earlier, had been the scene of massacres by Palestinians—into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The militiamen’s orders were to find remaining Palestinian militants hiding in the camps.

But there were no such laggards. Israel knew that the Christian militiamen would attack civilians. Which they did, for two days and nights, under Israeli supervision. To enable the killings at night, Israeli forces launched flares into the night sky.

The Multinational Force Is Asked to Return

In the wake of the massacre, the Lebanese government of Amin Gemayel, brother of Bashir, asks the multinational force to return to help ensure peace. The Marines, the French paratroopers and the Italians land in Beirut again on September 24.

At first the American forces acted as objective peacekeepers. But gradually, the Reagan administration gave in to pressure by the Gemayel government to take its side against Druze and Shiite Muslims in central and southern Lebanon. American troops, welcomed with rice and roses in the Shiite slums of Beirut, slowly became pariahs in Shiites’ eyes. Mistrust turned to outright belligerence once American forces used their firepower to shell Druze and Shiite positions in the mountains surrounding Beirut.
Continue reading “Because They Were Just Tourists, You See”

Is the War Party out to get Gen. Jones?

Steve Clemons and TNR are both reporting a move inside the Obama White House to get rid of National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones.  Clemons says the line being pushed is that the man is just plain lazy and a bad manager (which would explain his success in government), but that

what is clear is that Jones has enemies and that they are trying to undermine his place in the Obama orbit.

Their motives may not be earnest concern about the tempo or pace of Jones’ management style — but they very well could be his unwillingness to allow the liberal interventionists inside the Obama administration to have more than their fair share of power in the Obama decision-making process.

Jones has structured an all views on the table approach to decision making — quite evident when it comes to Middle East policy — and the hawkish/neocon-friendly/Likudist-hugging part of the Obama administration’s foreign policy operation may be engaged in a coup attempt against Jones.

I don’t know if he’ll survive this latest effort to oust him — but folks need to know that those “longer knives”, on the whole, do not have pure motives.

This is why America’s founders were so intent on maintaining a standing army, so that the generals would serve as a restraining influence on the warmongering civilian thinktanker-types, right?

Enlisting Homeschoolers

It is disheartening to see that the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is promoting service in the Army National Guard. According to a recent Home School Heartbeat:

More than ever, homeschool graduates are finding that their education has prepared them for open doors in many fields of opportunity. Today on Home School Heartbeat, HSLDA President Mike Smith and Army National Guard recruiter, Chaplain Paul Douglas, explore a door that recently opened a little wider for homeschool graduates.

Mike Smith:
Chaplain Douglas, the Army National Guard adopted a streamlined enlistment policy for homeschoolers this past year. Please tell our listeners about that.

Chaplain Paul Douglas:
Sure thing, Mr. Smith. The Homeschool Path to Honor is a new approach to bringing homeschool enlistees into the Army National Guard. Colonel Mike Jones, a homeschool dad himself, recognized very early on that the process was confusing to a lot of our recruiters. And a lot of times, homeschool families were being penalized—inadvertently—for being homeschoolers. So we looked at the policy. We looked at the way that it was constructed. We came up with a better way of organizing it. So if you go to the website, you can see the Army National Guard Homeschool Path to Honor—really very simply, walks you through the whole process, tells you what the requirements are, helps families get their young people into the Army National Guard, if they so desire. Chaplain Tim Baer, who will be taking my place at the helm of the recruiting effort, he’s the director of that program now. He’s a good man. And we all want homeschoolers to succeed.

Well, Chaplain Douglas, thanks for working to make these policy changes happen! We appreciate your service. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

I will never understand why parents who would never allow their children to set foot in a public school would encourage, or at least not discourage, their children to join the U.S. military and not only face government propaganda and immorality on a much greater scale than exists in the public schools, but participate in bringing death and destruction to the latest “enemy” of the U.S. empire.

Medvedev’s ‘Tough Guy Act’

According to CBS, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first six months in office have contradicted the “liberal” reputation he (apparently) had when he was first elected. Maybe it’s a shock to some that one can be “soft spoken” and never have been a KGB spook and yet still, as president, look out of the interests of one’s country. But the examples given for Medvedev’s alleged illiberalism don’t hold water.

Opposition to missile defense? Nearly everyone with a clue is opposed to the US basing a missile defense system, especially one that does not even work, in Poland and the Czech Republic. Being a liberal in either the contemporary American or the classical sense doesn’t preclude opposing US imperial ambitions, anyhow.

Criticizing the US financial system? Hasn’t everyone all the way up to our own president done so by now? Economists have been warning of a collapse for years and classical liberals have been warning about bubbles since before anyone alive on this planet was born. This is hardly a “continu[ation]” of “Cold War rhetoric” on Medvedev’s part.

Georgia. Please. I think any journalist who would like to remain credible at this point should just recognize that Georgia did indeed begin the August conflict, and not desperately reach for something, anything with which to bludgeon Russia — even for filler in a weak hit piece. Really, if all you have is that Russia “used excessive force against Georgia” — not at all an objectively measurable statement — you simply must shut up.

And then, oh no! Russia sends a warship to Venezuela. Somehow, the completely insignificant country of Venezuela has become the boogeyman not just of the right wing, but of the mainstream as well. You don’t have to be a fan of that Chávez clown to be confused by all the wasted breath over a government with no choice but to sell Bush’s America its oil. That Russia wants to add a little luster to its rusty, crumbled image does not make Medvedev suddenly anti-liberal.

No, it’s not Medvedev’s image as a liberal that is in doubt — if it ever existed. It’s CBS’s as a significant source of original journalism. This frivolous, vacuous bit of tripe doesn’t belong on a news page. For more sophisticated analysis of Russia and its foreign (and domestic) policy, I suggest War Nerd.

John McCain: “I’m a Terrorist”

Well, OK, he didn’t say that explicitly. But he did say it implicitly.

A basic logic lesson and please forgive me if you think I’m talking down to you. I’m really not. It’s just that I’m shocked at how many people, including McCain, don’t seem to get logic. If I say, “All crows are black” and I also say, “That bird is a crow,” then I’m saying that that bird is black even if I don’t say so explicitly.

On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday, April 20, John McCain called William Ayers “an unrepentant terrorist.” What was McCain’s evidence? McCain said that Ayers “was engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent people…” So McCain is saying that someone who engages in bombings which could have killed or did kill innocent people is a terrorist.

Now consider what McCain did. McCain flew a bomber, an A-4E Skyhawk, over North Vietnam. I don’t know whether he actually dropped his bombs before being shot down. But certainly he was engaged in actions that, if he had succeeded, could have killed innocent people. Which makes McCain, in his own words, a terrorist.

Now McCain could argue that that’s different because, as he said elsewhere in the interview, “I had a reconciliation with the Vietnamese, when we normalized relations.” Did he apologize to them? He didn’t say. If he did, that would make him a “repentant terrorist.” Too bad Stephanopoulos didn’t challenge him.