You are herePetraeus
By John Grant
Washington--Defense Secretary Robert Gates may be the consummate insider bureaucrat and a nice man, but his calling our war in the Pashtun homeland “the meat in the sandwich” begins to get at the real problem of the Afghanistan/Pakistan War.
Besides being a preposterously flippant and insensitive metaphor presumably uttered for clueless middle American consumption, his sandwich image is as misleading as all the war-selling PR coming out of the Pentagon and the Obama White House.
Here’s how he described his sandwich: “The Pakistanis come in behind the insurgents from the Pakistani side and, coordinating with us and the Afghans, we’re on the other side.” Of course, he's referring to what is informally dubbed Pashtunistan, down the middle of which Sir Mortimer Durand drew the Afghanistan/Pakistan border in 1893 to divide and conquer the Pashtun people. The border is a Western illusion. And, of course, the Taliban are largely Pashtun.
By John Grant
The only way to survive such an insane system is to be insane oneself.
- Joseph Heller
When the going gets weird, the weird go pro.
- Hunter Thompson
The Pentagon has its hands full in Afghanistan trying to make the debacle there look like a success for the December assessment it must provide President Obama.
The brilliant counterinsurgency theorist General David Petraeus is “pulling out all the stops,” according to The New York Times. He has expanded hunter/killer special-ops raids to a dozen a night, and he has pressured the CIA to ramp up its already heavy rate of drone attacks.
We no longer have body counts as in Vietnam, but the killing pace is on the rise to clear out insurgent leadership – or anyone, in COIN parlance, who is “irreconcilable” to US interests.
Petraeus Cons Obama on Afghan War
By Ray McGovern
One thing that comes through clearly in Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, is the contempt felt by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, toward President Barack Obama.
One of Woodward’s more telling vignettes has Petraeus, after quaffing a glass of wine during a flight in May, telling some of his staff that the administration was “[expletive] with the wrong guy.”
No need to divine precisely what may be the “expletive deleted.” Petraeus’s Douglas-MacArthur-style contempt for the commander-in-chief comes through clearly enough. But Obama is no Harry Truman, facing down a popular general who may fancy himself a future president.
Pity poor Obama. Journalists favored with an advance peek at Woodward’s new book, like Peter Baker of the New York Times, report that Obama last year pressed his advisers to come up with ways to avoid a major escalation in Afghanistan.
By John Grant
At the beginning of the Iraq “surge” in 2007, Senator Barack Obama was leery of General David Petraeus, but now, we learn, he has warmed to the four-star Pentagon celebrity and calls him “Dave.”
In meetings, according to an anonymous White House official, when the talk is of Afghanistan, Petraeus “always brings up Iraq” and the surge there, The New York Times reports.
By all accounts a very savvy politician always aware of his image, it is not strange that Petraeus would remind people of the thing he is most revered for, which is the so-called “surge” in Anbar Province of Iraq, the strategy that turned a hemorrhaging disaster into a stabilized, suppurating wound.
Now, he is doing the same thing in Afghanistan – except Afghanistan is politically and culturally about six centuries behind Iraq.
What Obama Won't Say Tonight
By Ray McGovern
August 31, 2010
President Barack Obama’s aides say his speech this evening marking the end of “combat operations” in Iraq will avoid the vainglorious aspects of President George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003. We’ll see.
On the chance Obama might be open to pivoting away from the reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq and addressing honestly the worsening quagmire in Afghanistan. I have offered him the following text:
My Fellow Americans,
… so much for Iraq. Turning now to Afghanistan, let me be clear. My learning curve has been steep, as the New York Times noted last weekend. The curve has also been jagged as I have tried to assimilate the not-always-consistent advice the four-star generals have given me.
Obama Boxed In by Generals on Afghanistan
By Ray McGovern
Just back from Afghanistan, Marine Commandant, Gen. James Conway held a news conference Tuesday to add his voice to the Pentagon campaign to disparage the July 2011 date President Barack Obama set for U.S. troops to begin leaving Afghanistan.
Conway claimed that intelligence intercepts suggest that this deadline has strengthened the conviction of those resisting the U.S.-led occupation that it is just a matter of time before most foreign forces leave.
“In some ways … it’s probably giving our enemy sustenance. … We think he may be saying to himself … ‘Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.’”
Conway, however, was quick to reassure supporters of the war in Afghanistan that Taliban morale is likely to drop when, “come the fall [of 2011] we’re still there hammering them like we have been.”
By John Grant
“Taft is a fathead.” (Theodore Roosevelt, 1912)
The anti-gay blog QueerHunt has just launched an expose that General David Petraeus is gay and has a secret Arab boyfriend he periodically meets in a Dubai hotel. The young man goes by the code name ‘awrence, an apparent reference to how T. E. Lawrence was known by his beloved Arab boys.
Just imagine the legs this will get in the blogosphere.
But wait. There is no blog called QueerHunt (that I know of) and I just batted out the lead paragraph above on my keyboard. I totally made it up. But in this freaky world we live in, it’s now a meme out there for any nutcase with a blog to run with.
My apologies to General Petraeus for abusing him to make a point, but there's really no difference between this hypothetical scenario and the absurdity that 18% of Americans and 31% of Republicans think President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
By John Grant
First it was Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attacking the “professional left” (whatever that means) for wanting to "eliminate the Pentagon." Then the liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd kicked the left for “constantly sniping at Obama" and for considering "pragmatism a moral compromise."
Next, pragmatist Senator Harry Reid announced he opposed building an Islamic mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in New York, the sort of pragmatism power-Democrats understand, ie. pandering to the intolerant bigot vote in a tough election, in Reid’s case against Republican nutcase Sharron Angle.
The fact the New York mosque is far from Nevada and is the project of a Sufi element of Islam that preaches peace and love didn’t seem to bother Harry.
The left does not oppose pragmatism or compromise; the left can’t stand the absence of backbone and a moral compass.
Aug. 17: Amir Bar-Lev, director of "The Tillman Story" talks with Chris Hayes about what he learned in the three years he spent producing his documentary.
From OpEdNews.com, Ross Sherwood adds further details to the story of a battalion commander in Iraq who ordered his soldiers to engage in "360 degree rotational fire" upon being hit by an IED, and to shoot "every motherf*cker on the street," including women and children. Roy Corcoles recounts the training which reinforced the reaction to obey the order. You were asked, if you saw an attacker with many civilians close by and it was certain some would be killed or hurt, would you fire your weapon? The correct answer was "yes." But if you did not answer yes fast enough, you were beaten.
The soldier in a now-famous Wikileaks video who found a rocket launcher at the scene of a controversial 2007 Apache helicopter attack, in Baghdad, said in a radio interview this week that he did not believe an ambush was imminent. The video shows 12 men, including two Reuters newsmen, standing on a street corner before being fired upon with the Apache’s 30mm cannon, resulting in what appears to be an unprovoked massacre. The video caused an international outcry after it was leaked to the media by the government watchdog Wikileaks. The presence of the rocket launcher was seized upon by defenders of the attack as proof that the attack was justified, and that this was evidence of an impending ambush.
Still trying to control the meme and locking out the crime of the propaganda by the civilian and military leadership!
Aug 12 2010 - What do you think? Did the MPAA dishonor Tillman’s memory — and the freedoms he fought for — by worrying more about f-bombs than about getting his story out to the widest possible audience? Should the ratings board evaluate movies that handle historically important subjects by a different set of standards? Or would that only open an even bigger can of worms? Continued
By John Grant
Military violence has such a death-grip on national policy in America, it’s hard for citizens to grasp there are real alternatives to war.
Marine General James Mattis, the man appointed by President Obama to replace General David Petraeus as leader of the Central Command that oversees all US operations in the Iraq/Afghanistan theater, is a colorful case in point.
Mattis is famous for his tough guy statements. My favorite is: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
His most quoted remark is about how much fun killing is, especially when one is killing Afghans who slap their women around.
“You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
Rachel Maddow does her show live from Afghanistan, she traveled there last week and the first show was aired last night, 6 July 2010.
We came to Afghanistan because we wanted to understand whether the American war strategy makes sense, whether the continuing and growing presence of U.S. troops is helping us reach our goals there. President Obama's "uplift" strategy for winning in Kandahar is in full swing -- only it's not about blowing things up but rather opening police stations and trying to create a civil society.
As Brigadier General Ben Hodges told us on a drive through Kandahar City this week, that's a tough bar to reach. Kandahar has run on corruption since the days of ancient traders on the Silk Road paying for safe passage. Hodges said coalition forces need to establish trust between local people and the government, at the level of policemen and district officials.
This is the first cut from last nights airing.
Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | July 4, 2010
On July 4 General David Petraeus assumed command of 142,000 U.S. and NATO troops in a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. He succeeded the disgraced and soon to be retired General Stanley McChrystal as chief of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, those serving under U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/Operation Enduring Freedom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
He now commands military units from 46 official troop contributing nations and others from several additional countries not officially designated as such but with forces in or that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, such as Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. Neither the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the Second Punic War nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars that bore his name commanded troops speaking as many diverse tongues.
That Petraeus took charge of soldiers from fifty nations occupying a conquered country on his own country's Independence Day has gone without commentary, either ironic or indignant. In 1775 American colonists began an eight-year war against foreign troops - those of Britain and some 30,000 German auxiliaries, the latter a quarter of all forces serving under English command in North America. Currently the three nations providing the most troops for the nearly nine-year-old and increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan are the U.S. (almost 100,000), Britain (9,500) and Germany (4,500).
Last March General David Petraeus, then head of Central Command, sought to undercut his own testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that was critical of Israel by intriguing with a rightwing writer to put out a different story, in emails obtained by Mondoweiss.
The emails show Petraeus encouraging Max Boot of Commentary to write a story-- and offering the neoconservative writer choice details about his views on the Holocaust:
Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife at our quarters last Sun night?! And that I will be the speaker at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in mid-Apr at the Capitol Dome...
Petraeus passed the emails along himself through carelessness last March. He pasted a Boot column from Commentary's blog into in an "FYI" email he sent to an activist who is highly critical of the U.S.'s special relationship with Israel. Some of the general's emails to Boot were attached to the bottom of the story. The activist, James Morris, shared the emails with me. The tale: Read more.
By Missy Comley Beattie
My mother has an opera-quality voice. No training. Two of my siblings can sing. I can’t. At all.
I positioned the karaoke machine near the television set and plugged the auxiliary cables into the back of the TV for a wider word screen. I rarely watch television, except when “researching” the inadequacies of “mainstream” mediocrity for an article. Every now and then, when I read something important on the Internet, I turn on the tube to see if anyone is addressing the issue. Usually, the answer is either an “Update” sentence beneath the blathering blahblah blahers or a no.
So, largely, the TV monitor will be an accessory for the karaoke machine that is my scream therapy. “Sing, sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong.”
A May 30 Delaware County Times editorial headlined, "Is US fighting unwinnable war in Afghanistan" asking:
"Why should America (believe) it can (accomplish what the) Soviet Union (and) Britain couldn't....? Public sentiment against it is growing, and "Many pundits say the war....can never be won militarily...." How many more "US service member" deaths are tolerable?
On January 21, 2010, Britain's New Stateman sounded the same theme calling the Afghan war "unwinnable," recent events showing intensified fighting, rising casualties, and a popular resistance determined to prevail. "Britain should be making plans to withdraw," the publication concluded. So should America with no right to be there ethically, morally or legally, the war clearly in violation of US and international law like all others US forces waged since WW II.
On June 26, the UK Spectator, published since July 1828, was just as unequivocal, calling US and Kabul leadership "fractious, confused and contradictory, a sure sign that the war is being lost....Yes, the war in unwinnable. History and time are on the Afghans side."
TomDispatch Presents Ann Jones, Counterinsurgency Down for the Count in Afghanistan..., But the War Machine Grinds On and On and On
From TomDispatch this morning: an expert on Afghanistan, just embedded with the U.S. Army near the Pakistani border, offers a devastating account of just why the American war strategy is failing: Ann Jones, "Counterinsurgency Down for the Count in Afghanistan..., But the War Machine Grinds On and On and On."
Ann Jones, who worked with Afghan women for years and wrote the moving, prescient book Kabul in Winter, was just embedded with a U.S. Army unit at a forward operating base near the Pakistani border. She saw in person there and elsewhere how the American counterinsurgency strategy is flailing amid even larger policy failures. In her latest TomDispatch post, she puts together a devastating portrait of Afghanistan today, based on four questions: Why isn't the American war strategy working? (Dead civilians, broken promises, angry Afghans, and upset American soldiers.) If it's not, why does the president stick with it anyway? (False hopes of misapplied "lessons" from Iraq.) How, by comparison, is the enemy's strategy doing? (Just fine -- they've launched a "surge" of their own -- while a "creeping Talibanization" of the country is underway.) And if everything's going so badly, why can't it be stopped?
Jones answers that last question in her conclusion to this remarkable overview of Afghanistan today as a planetary disaster area and looting zone: "And so it goes round and round, this ill-oiled war machine, generating ever more incentives for almost everyone involved -- except ordinary Afghans, of course -- to keep on keeping on. There’s a little something for quite a few: government officials in the U.S., Afghanistan, and Pakistan, for-profit contractors, defense intellectuals, generals, spies, soldiers behind the lines, international aid workers and their Afghan employees, diplomats, members of the Afghan National Army, and the police, and the Taliban, and their various pals, and the whole array of camp followers that service warfare everywhere.
"It goes round and round, this inexorable machine, this elaborate construction of corporate capitalism at war, generating immense sums of money for relatively small numbers of people, immense debt for our nation, immense sacrifice from our combat soldiers, and for ordinary Afghans and those who have befriended them or been befriended by them, moments of promise and hope, moments of clarity and rage, and moments of dark laughter that sometimes cannot forestall the onset of despair." Jones has written a piece for our moment, a must-read!
The horrid attacks of 9/11 led to the cry: Why do they hate us? Most Americans seemed to believe that it was because we are such nice people. But the Times Square bomber reminds us that terrorism is mostly a response to U.S. government policies.
After 9/11 President George W. Bush reassured Americans: we were attacked because we are beautiful people, spreading freedom around the world. But often the actions of our government are seen by others as less than beautiful. To seek an explanation for terrorism is not to excuse monstrous attacks on civilians. But understanding what motivates people to kill could help reduce terrorism in the future.
Terrorism is not new. It was used against Russian Tsars, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and British colonial officials. Algerians employed terrorism against the French and later Algerian governments. Basque and Irish separatists freely relied on terrorism. Until Iraq, the most promiscuous suicide bombers were Tamils in Sri Lanka. In none of these cases did the killing occur in response to freedom, whether in America or elsewhere.
Robert Pape of the University of Chicago studied the most recent cases: "The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign--over 95 percent of all the incidents--has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw." Read more.
In a country with a society that has been beating off occupation forces, i.e. the Soviets and more, and with the warrior culture long embedded, they can't be trained to be a U.S. Military Force nor a once Soviet Military. They understand the insurgent mindset, in their own country and region, and can only refine that knowledge, something ours and other Militaries never learned to understand. We enjoy big priced toys of mass destruction and mass kill and fight with them while occupying others in their land!
AIR DATE: June 29, 2010
The Iraq Inquiry has released the names of US officials and military officers it met during talks last week.
Members of the Iraq Inquiry Committee held a series of meetings in Washington DC and Boston from Monday 17 May to Friday 21 May with people from the current and former US administrations. The private discussions took place to allow the Committee to receive a wider international perspective on the UK’s involvement in Iraq over the period being examined by the Inquiry. The Committee also met the current French and Australian Ambassadors in Washington.
The Chilcot Inquiry restarts today, The second round of hearings will run from 29 June to 30 July 2010. Live streamed testimony once again when they do. No one knows if they'll be releasing all or part of the transcripts etc. as to their visit here and talking to some of the previous administrations insiders, all lower level. Apparently they're still talking to the Americans most close to the needs of the British Inquiry into Iraq.
29 June 2010 The head of Britain's inquiry into the Iraq war says his panel has held a private meeting with U.S. General David Petraeus.
Obama Misses the Afghan Exit Ramp
By Ray McGovern | June 24, 2010
Has it occurred to President Barack Obama that Gen. Stanley McChrystal might actually have wanted to be fired — and thus rescued from the current March of Folly in Afghanistan, a mess much of his own making?
McChrystal leaves behind a long trail of broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. For example, there is no real security, at least during the night, in the area of Marja, which McChrystal devoted enormous resources to pacify this spring. Remember his boast that he would then bring to Marja a “government-in-a-box” and thereby offer an object lesson regarding what was in store for those pesky Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city?
It is now clear that there will be no offensive against Kandahar anytime soon. For the 500,000 people in Kandahar, this is surely a good thing, but it is a huge embarrassment for McChrystal and his former boss, now his successor, the never nonplussed Gen. David Petraeus.
When McChrystal and his undisciplined senior aides let a Rolling Stone reporter know what they really thought of the “intimidated” Obama and most of his national security team, Obama and his advisers took the bait.
They let McChrystal fold his tent in the night and steal silently away from the disaster he leaves behind. White House advisers then brainstormed the idea of replacing McChrystal in Kabul with the straight-arrow Petraeus whose is known for running a tight command. Done!
Master Political Stroke?
Since the announcement Wednesday, the Stanley-out/David-in move has been hailed by Official Washington as a political masterstroke. We shall see. There is, to be sure, some short-term cosmetic cleverness. In my view, however, future pitfalls and pratfalls are likely to far outweigh any political points Obama might score in the near term.
President Barack Obama has decided to relieve Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his command over all U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, sources tell NBC News.
Obama is scheduled to make an official 1:30 p.m. EDT announcement about the general. Meantime, the Associated Press reported that Obama has chosen Gen. David Petraeus to replace McChrystal as top Afghan commander.
Earlier, McChrystal was seen leaving the West Wing and climbing into a van after his nearly half-hour private showdown with the president. Read more.
On McChrystal Comments, Gen. David Petraeus Conspicuously Silent
By David Gura | NPR
ABC’s Luis Martinez and Z. Byron Wolf report: While testifying at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command, passed out at the witness table....Despite the dire look of the situation, less than 30 seconds later, Petraeus walked away from the table escorted by staffer....As the general left the Capitol today, he told reporters that he will be back to testify tomorrow when the hearing resumes.
"I'll eat breakfast tomorrow," he said.
War Criminal Petraeus Ordered Secret Directive for Clandestine Military Activity reminiscent of War Criminals Rumsfeld & Cheney
By Kevin Gosztola
From Gosztola Blog
The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti reports Gen. David H. Petraeus has signed a "secret directive" that orders a "broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region."
According to Mazzetti, the directive was signed in September and would send "small teams of American troops" to "both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces." More importantly, "the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate."
By Dave Lindorff
You had to love the headline the Philadelphia Inquirer put on the jump page of columnist Trudy Rubin’s Sunday commentary about word that the Obama administration is hoping to talk with at least some mid-level Taliban leaders about giving up the fight and “coming over” to the “government” side.
“Relax--No deal with Taliban is Imminent,” the headline read. “I suggest everyone take a deep breath,” Rubin wrote. “The US position toward talks with the Taliban has shifted somewhat, but no deal with top Taliban leaders is imminent, or even likely.”
Phew! Thank god for that! Imagine Americans actually sitting down and discussing peace just as we’re getting a good war on!