How War-Monger-in-Chief Will Again Get the “Peace” Vote

Politicians constantly utter what they know to be falsehoods in order to garner votes and high esteem from an ignorant electorate. The latest and greatest of such sideshows is – and will be – Obama’s war in Afghanistan.

Military and administration officials have repeatedly explained that the Afghan war will continue long past Obama’s fabled December 2014 deadline for withdrawal. Top British commander, Lieutenant General James Bucknall, said the other day that “December, 2014, is not the end of the campaign. It’s a long-term commitment,” and that “we will reduce numbers – but we will not go away.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said just last week that “We will not take our leave” in 2014 and that it’s too early to tell how large the occupation would be after the deadline and for how long it would last. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, too, has said “It is clear that no one is rushing to the exit.”

US General John Allen, the new commander of the occupation of Afghanistan, last week disavowed the 2014 date, saying “we’re actually going to be here for a long time.”

The Daily Telegraph confirmed that Obama administration officials were working on a deal with the Afghan government to have a large scale occupation – at least 25,000 troops and many more contractorsthrough 2024. And people thought ten years in Afghanistan was a lot.

The Obama administration’s so-called shift in war strategy – from country-wide military occupation to targeted special operations and training missions – is Orwellian claptrap for more of the same. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, in remarks in Washington in mid-September, said that by 2014 “the US remaining force will be basically an enduring presence force focused on counterterrorism.” The technocratic pedantry obscures the reality that the war will continue.

Yet, watch and see in the upcoming 2012 campaign how much Obama will use this 2014 date as a stump speech to coddle gullible Obama voters into casting their ballots – again – for a reincarnation of their supposed nemesis, George W. Bush. See if Obama gets reelected on a promise that the war in Afghanistan has nearly ended (that is, if recession-conscious Americans can conceive of going to the ballot box with any intention other than voting themselves other peoples’ money).

As a matter of fact, watch how much Obama’s similarly broken promises vis-à-vis ending the Iraq war will be completely stricken from the presidential debates. The Obama administration has spent years badgering the Iraqis into accepting a large contingency of US troops and contractors to remain in Iraq beyond the December 2011 deadline for a full withdrawal. To push this through, Maliki circumvented the Iraqi Parliament to make the decision dictatorially. Now that Obama has succeeded in strong-arming the continuation of the US occupation of Iraq, they are demanding US soldiers maintain immunity from Iraqi law.

Unfortunately for Obama, the Bush administration failed to secure a deal for a full scale contingency of tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely. Back in 2007 Bush administration had drafted the first Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which detailed a prolonged and continued US troop presence in Iraq with no specified limits and called for “facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments” and for US forces to work indefinitely to “deter foreign aggression against Iraq.” This was overly egregious for Iraqis and couldn’t pass muster in Iraqi politics. Thus the 2008 SOFA demanding full pullout in December 2011. Too bad for Obama, since he almost certainly would have signed on to that plan and is now trying to resurrect it.

These realities about Obama’s Iraq policies are unlikely to receive more than 60 seconds of air time in the presidential debates or in the uncritical after-debate punditry. Afghanistan will get some focus, but Obama will insist – beyond all the evidence and repeated admissions by top military and administration officials – that the end is right around the corner, after all the “progress” he’s made in Afghanistan. And Americans will simply nod, acquiesce, and then vote.

Coalition Tries to Undermine Afghan Traditional Governance

The Associated Press headline pushes the occupation line that the “coalition” is trying to “build” a cadre of leaders, but a perusal of the text makes clear that Kabul and its Western masters are actively demolishing age-old local governance traditions in a probably futile attempt to establish a European-style central state.

The piece begins describing a failed, underattended shura in far-southern Helmand province, organized by Kabul carpetbaggers. Why did only seven men show up? Gee, could it be this:

“The army commander had invited locals to the small fortified camp, but sometimes those invitations were extended during gunfights when soldiers and U.S. Marines were using private Afghan homes and farmers’ poppy fields for cover.”

*door smash*

“We’re using your house as a shield against gunfire from your neighbors. Obey us or die. Also, wanna go to a cool party next week? It’ll be about how great it will be to have a Ministry of Sport.”

The article describes the various problems suffered by the few local elders who have decided to jump on the government bandwagon. One of them is that constant fighting and threats of assassination make it, hm, difficult? to extend authority. Also, reports AP matter of factly, “Some are corrupt.” Nowhere is it noted that if one side of the fight withdrew, the other side would have nothing — or at least a lot less — to fight. After all, local insurgents didn’t pick this war. It came to them.

To illustrate the utter stupidity of trying to surreptitiously form a state in a tribal area, one of the elders who did show up to the shura said he obtained permission — from the Taliban. That’s pretty cocksure for an insurgency we’re often told is on the wane.

Don’t we already have many guides as to the success rate of slamming Eurostates onto tribal societies with ancient and viable alternative modes of governance? Somalia is an ongoing nightmare of violence, due in large part to the neverending attempts to smash its traditional law-based society and bring back the sort of state that brutalized Somalis for decades. Even Pakistan has never been able to truly tame its tribal areas. It’s the same in many other cases.

But how are America’s partners, the Brits, helping demonstrate the fabulousness of Western-style secular government?

Oh they’re building a million-dollar mosque.

Which NATO blew up.

Addicted to Militarism, Despite Repeated Failures

Richard Falk has an insightful and somewhat dispiriting piece at al Jazeera called “Why the Afghanistan War Won’t End Soon.” He writes about the prescience of the so-called ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ (once referred to as “sickly inhibitions against the use of military force”), and about the systematic tendency for America, as the planet’s military superpower, to aggressively apply military solutions to non-military problems. I was reminded of the opportunity to avoid unnecessary war after 9/11 by treating the attacks as a criminal act instead of an act of war (how many lives and dollars would have been saved, how many laws never broken…). But Falk focuses on conflicts like Afghanistan, say, which have available solutions towards ending war but which are treated to the Petraeus counter-insurgency magic described by Falk as “gradually expanding the war by means of a surge of troops combined with a ten-fold increase in drone attacks” with little regard for civilian casualties. Why the insistence on applying ineffective and destructive militarist solutions when they are not applicable?

Why do intelligent people persist in doing stupid things? If we had a completely convincing answer to this question we would have a far clearer understanding of the dysfunctional underbelly of US/NATO foreign policy.

To get such clarity, we probably need to delve into the collective unconscious of the warmakers, but even without such Freudian probes, there are some obvious dark forces at work in the West. For Europe especially, but also the United States, there is a definite nostalgia for the colonial period when military intervention was efficiently triumphal and conspicuously rewarded with prestige, markets, and resources. There lingers in the West a sense that there must be a way to restore those happy days of global ascendancy despite the formal elimination of colonial rule. Closely connected with this residual imperialism, given some credibility by way of economic globalisation in the 1990s, is the parallel adherence to the realist belief that it is military power that continues to shape world history.

What follows from this search for explanations is what might be described as ‘militarism,’ here defined as the compulsive or addictive reliance on hard power for conflict resolution that is not altered by repeated experiences of failure.

[…] Whether American militarism is better regarded as insanity or addiction is not so significant, but that its compulsiveness discourages a proper diagnosis and cure is a distressing reality. It has led to a succession of prolonged bloody confrontations that bring misery and encourage extremism.

Add to these explanations the fact that the last decade has seen a truly unique expansion of military capacity and defense industry booms, all of the most readily available (and profitable) tools are military in nature. So no wonder that is the most popular and proximate diagnosis.

Insane Chinook-Shooter Claim Denied by Taliban

Here’s the deal now: in the case of who shot down that Chinook in Afghanistan and if he was indeed killed by US forces yesterday, we have the word of the often-lying Pentagon against that of the often-lying Taliban. What to make of it, I don’t know, but given the latest news, I’m sticking with my original analysis, which is that America’s own Virginia-based international militant group made an utterly unbelievable and frankly insane boast to yet again boost the president’s F*ck-Yeah Factor despite all evidence.

A Taliban spokesman flatly denied that the Chinook shooter was killed in the recent strike. Some other guys were, for sure, he says, but the guy with the golden shot is off doing other jihadilicious things in another part of the country. It was, after all, four days after the Chinook was downed. It seems unlikely the brigade responsible would hang out just on the other side of the mountain and have a picnic.

But one question still remains. Is Iran responsible!? Some military-fantasy fiction writer is pretty sure of it!

Pentagon Claims to Kill Very Man Who Shot Chinook

CNN-watching pays off every day. Every day there is something so utterly insane and unbelievable about the war or the economy that I can’t help but stare in disbelief at the screen, or just laugh my ass off. This morning, it was that second thing.

Anchor Don Lemon cut into his newsreading timeline to announce that the Pentagon was saying that it had killed the man who shot down that Chinook on Saturday in Afghanistan.

Yes, the VERY man holding the grenade launcher, whose projectile struck the chopper and took it down. Forgive them for at first not knowing what exactly was used to take it down. Forget that the presence of this anonymous man wasn’t even known by the very elite units that were killed in the crash. We’re supposed to believe that the same people who couldn’t find Osama bin Laden for ten years, a man whose identity, among many other facts, we knew inside and out, somehow found some rag-clothed fighter with a shoulder-fired thing and successfully KILLED HIM? And can say so with such certainty they could report it to news agencies?

Yes, ok.

Government is a fiction in so many ways, not least of all in how it literally just spins utter lies for the consumption of its useful rubes. Just think that for each of us who raised an eyebrow in disbelief — or total bemusement that they could think anyone would believe such a good-vs-evil fairytale so obviously crafted for the consumption of above rubes — there are 10 others going “America! F*ck Yeah!”

Update: More clarification comes this afternoon, with the Pentagon claiming that “intelligence gained on the ground” helped them find and kill the specific Taliban fighters. This is in a valley that was just shown to LOATHE the occupation more than the Taliban. And so, what, JSOC troops just sauntered around kissing the hands of the tribal leaders who hate their guts? And the locals just helpfully pointed in the direction of the hiding place of this shooter, whom they also witnessed actually shoot the Chinook down? Uh-huh.

CNN Allows Fantasy Novelist to Seriously Blame Iran for Afghanistan Chopper Shootdown

Imperial cheerleaders have a habit of blaming Iran for everything bad that happens to a US occupation, so I have come to accept they will pull that boogeyman out any chance they get. And yet I was still surprised when CNN contributor and Bush regime mouthpiece Frances Townshend and Brad Thor, a political thriller novel author, started saying Iran was probably responsible for this weekend’s shootdown of a US chopper that killed 30 American military personnel, including members of the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden.

Townshend is a former Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush and is still an adviser for DHS and the CIA, whatever her merits. But who is this Brad Thor character? He was never in the military, and claims with no official verification to have “shadowed” a Black ops team in Afghanistan to research a novel. He was a regular contributor on the show of retired Fox News nutbag bawler Glenn Beck, and is for some reason a member of the Heritage Foundation. He also claims — again with no official verification — to have been invited by Homeland Security to come up with imaginary terrorist scenarios.

Townshend expressed alarm that the Taliban were able to act so close to the capital of their own country, where “our troops” are supposed to be shoring up the corrupt Karzai regime — something she sees as a good thing. She used the shootdown to illustrate how “fragile” American “gains” are in the country and that we shouldn’t pull out our troops “too quickly.” So far, pretty typical.

CNN host John King then asked Thor if the Afghan government was ready to take on security after the foreigners leave. No, he said, “the Afghan government is completely corrupt — and it’s riddled with Iranian spies! There’s a lot about the killing, the terrible tragedy of these SEALs being killed that is very, very disturbing, John.”

That’s when I stared at the screen in disbelief. Really, he just dragged Iran into this? Hey, why not? Everyone hates Iran.

And then Townshend backed Thor up. “We have seen an increasing amount of Iranian involvement and support in Afghanistan… and oh, by the way, they’ve been spoilers, inserting themselves into Afghanistan and undermining US efforts. The Iranians don’t always come in the front door,” she continued, saying they use proxies. Those dastardly Muslims are always doing that.

She went on to say the Iranians act as “spoilers” all over the world just to mess with America. “And it made sense in Iraq, a neighbor… but we see it as well in Afghanistan.” She didn’t say who “we” are, exactly, but who needs citations on a mere news program?

This is all still very typical, vaguely blaming the enemy of the day. But it got out of hand when the fiction novelist, speaking with the authority of an official in the know, started saying “we” have word that the type of weapon used to down the chopper is the same as seen used by “Shi’ite extremists” in Iraq, which “had Iranian fingerprints all over them.” These “fingerprints” are merely the fact that the materials that make up these weapons are possibly manufactured in Iran. The US government has unsuccessfully proved that the Iranian government itself ever had anything to do with the supply of militia weapons in Iraq over the last several years. In fact, as Jason Ditz recently pointed out, Iran has a good relationship with the Iraqi government and would not likely seek to undermine it.

“We don’t have confirmation” for what exactly took down the Chinook, Thor said, but if we simply refer back… here, right! to the thing he said earlier about Iranians in the Afghan government, it would seem to almost… prove? sure! that Iran gave weapons to the Taliban to do a terrible, awful, evil, oriental thing like attack an invading military force. Because really, Thor persisted, we’re supposed to believe monkeys like the Taliban could point a thing and shoot it at another thing!? I mean come on, amirite?

We’re back to believing Iran, fighting its own extremely violent US-backed Sunni terrorist attacks on its own turf, would support another Sunni extremist movement in a neighboring country? Not to mention Karzai himself has admitted to receiving “large sacks of cash” from the Iranian government!

Why was this Thor person on CNN, or any other news shows? Because he writes some Tom Clancyesque novels? And because of this he’s allowed to spread random, baseless anti-Iran propaganda with a “yeah!” from another so-called “expert”? Seriously?

CNN shouldn’t have fantasy novelists like Brad Thor on their news programs anymore unless they want their own reporting to continue to read a lot more like fiction.