Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oh, Oh Watch That Dude In The Next Cubicle: He/She Might Be A Leaker!

Oh, Oh Watch That Dude In The Next Cubicle: He/She Might Be A Leaker!

Wikileaks' Most Terrifying Revelation: Just How Much Our Government Lies to Us
Wikileaks has shown that our government and military form a 'vast lying machine' that perpetrates mass murder in our name. READ MORE

WikiLeaks: Israel Plans Total War on Lebanon, Gaza
The Israeli military is planning out massive bombings of areas full of innocent civilians. READ MORE
Trotskyite Fourth International Attacks The Nation's 'Right-Wing ...
By Donald Douglas
The Nation magazine in the US, with its publication of “The Case of Julian Assange” by columnist Katha Pollitt (posted December 22, 2010), has joined the right-wing campaign against WikiLeaks co-founder Assange, a campaign directed by ...American Power - http://americanpowerblog.blogspot.com/

Generation W: WikiLeaks Ignites a New Generation of Hacktivists

…Assange may eventually be incarcerated or worse, but the genie is definitely out of the bottle at this point. There is no question but that hacktivist culture is now a worldwide phenomenon. The interesting question is not whether hacktivist culture will change our world. The interesting question now is what our world will look like after it is reshaped by hacktivist culture. Will corrupt businesses be exposed and put out of business? Will governments be forced to be more transparent? Will they collapse from the cost of expending energy on protecting their closed networks? Or will hacktivism lead to more secretive and insular governments? One thing is clear: things are not going to same…

As part of these programs, agency officials are being asked to figure out ways to “detect behavioral changes” among employees who might have access to classified documents.

A highly detailed 11-page memo prepared by U.S. intelligence officials and distributed by Jacob J. Lew, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, suggests that agencies use psychiatrists and sociologists to measure the “relative happiness” of workers or their “despondence and grumpiness” as a way to assess their trustworthiness. The memo was sent this week to senior officials at all agencies that use classified material.  

The memo also suggests that agencies take new steps to identify any contacts between federal workers and members of the news media. “Are all employees required to report their contacts with the media?” the memo asks senior officials about the policies at their agencies.

OMB Wiki Memo                                                                                                                                   
The memo is the latest step in a high-priority administration initiative begun in the wake of the WikiLeaks debacle. It has taken on potentially even more significance in recent days with the disclosure this week that Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,  plans to investigate what policies the White House is implementing to prevent future leaks.

But in its efforts to root out the next Bradley Manning (the Army private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks), the administration may be misfiring, according to one.

“This is paranoia, not security,” said Steven Aftergood, a national security specialist for the Federation of American Scientists, who obtained a copy of the memo.

What the administration is doing, he added, is taking programs commonly used at the CIA and other intelligence agencies to root out potential spies and expanding them to numerous other agencies — such as the State Department, the Energy Department, NASA, Homeland Security and Justice — where they are unlikely to work.

'It's triply absurd'

For example, the idea of requiring workers to report any contacts with members of the news media, as though all such contacts are suspicious, is “absurd” at the CIA, where it has long been standard policy, said Aftergood. 

“It’s triply absurd at most other agencies,” he added.

Representatives of the OMB and the Director of National Intelligence Office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

In late November, the OMB instructed senior federal officials throughout the government to set up special “assessment teams” to review how their agencies were safeguarding classified information. Robert Bryant, the chief counterintelligence official at the Director of National Intelligence Office, and William J. Bosanko of the Director of Information Security Oversight Office, which monitors the handling of classified information for the National Archives, prepared the memo outlining questions that agency officials should answer about their practices before reporting their progress to the OMB by Jan. 28. 

The memo doesn’t directly mandate the actions federal agencies should take in fulfilling their requirement to safeguard classified information. But it appears designed to prod them to take strong measures.

“Strong counterintelligence and safeguarding postures are necessary to protect classified national security information,” the memo states. Citing the OMB directive, it then spells out “questions your department or agency assessment team should utilize, as an initial step to assess the current state of your information systems security.”

“Do you have an insider threat program or the foundation for such a program?’ the memo asks. It also seeks information about whether the agencies are using polygraphs and have instituted efforts to identify “unusually high occurrences of foreign travel, contacts or foreign preference” by employees.

Monitoring Of Former Employees?

Perhaps the most impractical question, according to Aftergood, relates to what steps the agencies are taking to monitor whether federal workers have visited the WikiLeaks website before they started their jobs or after they retired.

“Do you capture evidence of pre-employment and/or post-employment activities or participation in online media data mining sites like WikiLeaks or Open Leaks?” the memo asks.

Aftergood said he was baffled as to how the administration expects to monitor what websites employees visit from their home computers after they have retired.

“It may be that this is what the administration needs to do to deflect congressional anger” over WikiLeaks, he said. “But some of it doesn’t make any sense.”

A Christian Realist's Lament

by Andrew J. Bacevich

For someone who interprets the course of events from a Christian realist perspective, the prospects for healing and repairing the world appear less than promising. That defines the position I happen to occupy. Although my admiration for those who insist otherwise knows no bounds, I find myself unable to enlist under their banner: over the course of many centuries, evil has proven to be too persistent; humankind's penchant for folly too great; the allure of mammon too insidious; and power in all its variegated forms too corrupting.

No doubt cynicism and despair rank among the sins against which the realist must guard. Yet wisdom begins with taking stock of facts. Chief among the facts that we Christians have yet to acknowledge is this one: in this world (if perhaps not the next) the saving mission of Jesus Christ has failed, massively and irrevocably. The offspring of Adam and Eve remain unredeemed, stubbornly unaffected by the events of 2000 years ago to which Christians attribute such transformative importance. 

Practically speaking, the likelihood that any human endeavor, however earnest and well-intended, will reverse that outcome is nil. There are two ways to deal with this discouraging prospect.

The first way is to bear witness to the Truth anyway, simply because we deem it true -- even if expectations of thereby achieving success in practical terms appear nonexistent. This defines the position of Dorothy Day, pacifist and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, who wrote during World War II: 

We believe that success, as the world determines it, is not the criterion by which a movement should be judged. We must be prepared and ready to face seeming failure. The most important thing is that we adhere to these values which transcend time and for which we will be asked a personal accounting, not as to whether they succeeded (though we should hope that they do) but as to whether we remained true to them even though the whole world go otherwise. 

The second way is to settle for half a loaf, bending to circumstance and acknowledging the very real limits of what we can see or do. This is the camp I find myself inhabiting, at once more "practical" and yet far less worthy of emulation than Dorothy Day's.

In the wake of Christ's failure, I do not believe that mere mortals are able to discern history's purpose or determine its direction. God's intentions remain inscrutable. Darkness, confusion, and tragedy remain the lot of humankind.
Rather than repairing the world, therefore, the most we can reasonably hope for is to cope with the circumstance in which we find ourselves. The challenges inherent in coping are very large indeed. My own small contribution lies in inviting Americans who have embraced what C. Wright Mills once called the military metaphysic -- a tendency to treat war as all-purpose problem-solver -- to see the error of their ways.

Unlike Dorothy Day, whom I revere, I am not a pacifist. On the odd occasion, violence may provide a necessary and justifiable response to evil. Yet as history has demonstrated time and again, the efficacy of force is limited at best. Meanwhile, the costs of opting for the sword almost invariably exceed by orders of magnitude the predictions of those who advocate war, as America's post-9/11 "global war on terror" has amply demonstrated.

To accept war as a normal or permanent condition is both wrong-headed and profoundly wrong. Yet this describes where the United States finds itself today. Puncturing Americans' illusions about war and military power will not heal the world. But it just might reduce our nation's propensity for wreaking havoc at others' expense.

Andrew Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His latest book is Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War.

Obama's reign of terror in Afghanistan
World Socialist Web Site
Among the numerous other crimes being committed in the Afghan war, extrajudicial assassinations and the targeting of civilian housing and vehicles is ...See all stories on this topic »

War Crimes Year In Review | War Crimes
By Brandon Henander
In 2010 as in years before, we have seen the commission of more war crimes. We have seen justice brought to some, and impunity enjoyed by others. The.
War Crimes - http://warcrimes.foreignpolicyblogs.com/

Road To Peace In Afghanistan Doesn't Run Through Islamabad Or Langley

(http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2010/12/afghanistan-the-people%E2%80%99s-december-review /)

Most Afghans cringe when hearing the words "regional settlement" because to them it's nothing more than a euphemism for the meddling of foreign powers hell-bent on ensuring the political endgame in Kabul meets their interests, and chief among these culprits are the United States and Pakistan.

Afghans have longed to establish an independent government through self-determination, yet for the past three decades America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have undermined the will of the Afghan people and have fomented instability at every turn, which has led to incessant war.

OSLO - Israel's army chief told a US Congress delegation in late 2009 he was preparing for a large war in the Middle East, probably against Hamas or Hezbollah, leaked US diplomatic cables showed on Sunday.

In the cable leaked Sunday Ashkenazi is quoted saying Israel next time will not accept "any restrictions on warfare in populated areas." (AFP/Pedro Ugarte)

"I am preparing the Israeli army for a large scale war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite," Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi was quoted as saying in a cable from the US embassy in Tel Aviv.

The document, dated November 15, 2009, was quoted Sunday in Norwegian by Oslo-based daily Aftenposten, which said it had obtained WikiLeaks' entire cache of 251,187 leaked US embassy cables.

"The rocket threat against Israel is more serious than ever. That is why Israel is putting such emphasis on rocket defence," Ashkenazi told the US delegation led by Democrat Ike Skelton, the cable showed.

The army chief lamented that Iran has some 300 Shihab rockets that can reach Israel and stressed that the Jewish state would have only between 10 and 12 minutes warning in case of an attack.

However, it was Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon that posed the most acute threat, he cautioned.

According to the quoted cable, Hezbollah is thought to have more than 40,000 rockets, many of which are believed capable of reaching deep into Israel.

US officials meanwhile reportedly estimate the militant group has acquired an arsenal of around 50,000 rockets.

A 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel killed 1,200 Lebanese, many of them civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

And in his comments made nearly a year after Israel on December 27, 2008 launched the deadly Gaza war, Ashkenazi said "Israel is on a collision course also with Hamas, which rules Gaza."

"Hamas will have the possibility to bombard Tel Aviv, with Israel's highest population concentration," he was quoted as saying.

The Gaza war -- a response to hundreds of rockets fired into the Jewish State -- killed some 1,400 mainly civilian Palestinians and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers. It ended on January 18, 2009.

Israel had been harshly criticised for putting civilians at risk during fighting in the densely populated Gaza Strip.

However, in the cable leaked Sunday Ashkenazi is quoted saying Israel next time will not accept "any restrictions on warfare in populated areas," and insisted the army had never intentionally attacked civilian targets.

Tweeting Away the Time : by Ralph Nader

…It comes down to whether we have any time from our absorption into virtual reality to engage reality, including civil and political realities. A Society whose people do not show up for public meetings, hearings, protests and even local folklore events is a society that is cannibalizing its democracy, its critical sense of community purpose….

Obama Should Read WikiLeaks on Afghanistan

by Ray McGovern

Perhaps President Barack Obama should give himself a waiver on the ban prohibiting U.S. government employees from downloading classified cables released by WikiLeaks, so he can better understand the futility of his Afghan War strategy.

For instance, if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hidden from him Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's cables from Kabul, he might wish to search out KABUL 001892 of July 13, 2009, in which Eikenberry reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "unable to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state building."

And, while he's at it, he should dig out the September 2009 cable from the U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan, Anne Patterson, in which she warns: "There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance ... as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these [Taliban and similar] groups in Pakistan."

The same conclusion is contained in the recent National Intelligence Estimates on Afghanistan and Pakistan. My advice to Obama would be: Don't let anyone gist them for you; read at least the Key Judgments.

Yet, in his recent defense of his Afghanistan-Pakistan policy, Obama acted as if he didn't know or understand the full import of these disclosures. Instead, he simply reiterated the "three areas of our strategy" in Afghanistan:
"To break the Taliban's momentum and train Afghan forces so they can take the lead; to promote effective governance and development; and regional cooperation, especially with Pakistan, because our strategy has to succeed on both sides of the border."

But the Taliban's momentum has not been broken nor is it likely to be, Mr. President. And good luck with President Karzai on that "effective governance" thing, not to mention the part about getting cooperation from Pakistan.
Indeed, the real Achilles heel of Obama's strategy, the true showstopper, is the forlorn hope of stronger cooperation with Pakistan.

Other WikiLeaks cables make Pakistan's deep concern about the encroachment of India in Afghanistan unmistakably clear. In one cable, for example, Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani is reported to have been "utterly frank" about the consequences of a pro-India government coming to power in Kabul. 

Kayani: "The Pakistani establishment will dramatically increase support for Taliban groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan ... as an important counterweight."

The Great Game

So, here's the important point to understand: While U.S. presidents and European leaders have long viewed Afghanistan as a strategic square on the global chessboard - from the British imperial Great Game to the U.S.-Soviet Cold War to today's "war on terror" - Pakistan sees its Afghan neighbor in the context of Pakistan's fierce regional rivalry with India.

Indeed, Pakistan's powerful intelligence service, the ISI, created the Taliban in the 1990s by recruiting Afghan refugees in Pakistan and building them into a force to drive out an Afghan mujahedeen regime in Kabul that Pakistan regarded as having overly close ties to India.

So, Mr. President, with respect to your third "area of strategy" - getting Pakistan to "cooperate" - you may wish to be more careful in making claims like: "Along with our Afghan partners, we've gone on the offensive, targeting the Taliban and its leaders and pushing them out of their strongholds."
What the President doesn't tell us is where those pushed-out Taliban go, but we know, don't we?

They go across the border and are given refuge by the same Pakistanis who continue to keep them supplied, trained and armed - as is abundantly clear in several of the ground-truth U.S. Army messages in the "Afghanistan War Logs" made available by WikiLeaks.

Has no one told the President that Pakistan's ace-in-the-hole against encroachment by archrival India into Afghanistan is none other than the Taliban?

And, as Ambassador Patterson has emphasized, Islamabad is not about to risk losing that high card even in the unlikely event that Washington should threaten to curtail military assistance to Pakistan. In that regard, Pakistan has other cards to play.

What most Americans forget regarding Afghanistan is that you can't get there from here. Some 80 percent of U.S. war materiel must traverse Pakistan.

Gen. Kayani has already demonstrated what he is willing to do when he feels Pakistani sensibilities are not taken seriously by the U.S. - like blocking supply convoys and letting them be torched by "militants." In short, the Pakistanis are well aware that the U.S. needs them at least as much as they need the U.S.

Understandably, Pakistan's leaders are pleased to take their sizable share of U.S. taxpayer money, but among the painful lessons learned in Washington is that this does not translate into influence - and especially not in regard to Pakistani strategic priorities and objectives.

Wooing a General

In Obama's Dec. 16 speech outlining the findings of his cursory Afghan War review, the President insisted that "we are seeing significant progress" in the goal of "disrupting, dismantling and defeating" al-Qaeda, but he complained that Pakistan's progress in rooting out terrorists "has not come fast enough."
"So," he added, "we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with."

But Pakistani leaders have wearied of Washington's imperious tone and have become inured to this kind of empty rhetoric. They brush it aside and laugh all the way to the bank.

The Washington Post started the New Year with a front-page article offering more evidence about the U.S. dilemma, a piece by Karin Brulliard and Karen DeYoung, entitled "U.S. courts Pakistan's top general, with little result."
The title should have been "U.S. cannot harness Pakistan behind Afghan effort: Defeat Inevitable."

Still, the Brulliard/DeYoung report highlights the fact that Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mullen has been assigned the task of bringing Kayani around to Washington's way of thinking. Their story notes that Mullen has had "more than 30 face-to-face meetings with Kayani, including 21 visits to Pakistan since late 2007."

Two weeks ago, during his most recent visit to Pakistan, Mullen said it was "very possible" that Pakistan would be able to root out insurgents from havens inside its territory that serve as a launching point for lethal strikes in Afghanistan. Possible perhaps, but don't hold your breath.

Mullen has spoken of the "criticality of Pakistan in terms of overall success" in Afghanistan. However, the authors say both men believe there is a "trust deficit between the two militaries."

But it's not really a "trust deficit," as we've seen. It is a strategic difference - a clash of interests - that cannot be bridged.

A Simple Syllogism

In effect, Brulliard and DeYoung set up a simple syllogism, but avoided the politically incorrect conclusion, however compelling:

--Major premise: "What the Obama administration's recent strategy review concluded is a key to success in the Afghan war [is] the elimination of havens inside Pakistan where the Taliban plots and stages attacks on coalition troops in Afghanistan."

--Minor premise: "Pakistani army chief Kayani, who as Pakistan's army chief has more direct say over the country's security strategy than its president or prime minister, has resisted personal appeals from President Obama...is unlikely to change his mind anytime soon...and is hedging his bets in case the American strategy for Afghanistan fails."

--Conclusion: If the U.S. must get Pakistan's help in eliminating the Taliban's safe havens to prevail in Afghanistan and if that cooperation won't be forthcoming from Pakistan, the prospects of U.S. "success" are close to zero.
Yet, however obvious this conclusion may be, it goes begging in the arch-Establishment Washington Post.

What really rubs across the grain is the apparent naïveté that reigns among policy makers in Washington - reflected in the oft-expressed hope by Secretary Clinton, Mullen and others that the U.S. can somehow change the strategic vision of Pakistan with a mix of flattery, threats, money and gifts (usually in the form of sophisticated military hardware).

It was particularly painful to hear Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, tell a rapt audience at Harvard's Kennedy School several weeks ago that she expects the Pakistanis to come around, once we are able to "shift their strategic calculus."

But Kayani and his colleagues are not naïve. The Washington Post article quotes Kayani as complaining that he is "always asking [Gen. David] Petraeus what is the strategic objective in Afghanistan." As well he might.
I suppose, though, it doesn't much matter whether or not the likes of Flournoy, Mullen and Clinton really believe they can get more help from the Pakistanis.

My guess is that - given the U.S.'s actual strategic vision as opposed to its stated objectives - senior U.S. policy makers feel stuck in Afghanistan and may realize by now that it is a forlorn hope that they can buy more cooperation from Islamabad, no matter how much money or weaponry they bring to the table. 

As Kayani and the Pakistanis are well aware, the actual U.S. objectives have much more to do with the traditional Western interests in the region - strategic geography and natural resources combined with more recent worries over what might happen with Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

The Pakistani nukes were the byproduct of a previous U.S. obsession with Afghanistan in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan thought he could checkmate the Soviet Union by arming Islamic fundamentalists, both Afghan and Arabs, to battle Soviet troops that had been sent in by Moscow to protect a secular leftist regime in Kabul.

Part of the price for securing Pakistan's cooperation was Washington's willingness to look the other way while Pakistan circumvented non-proliferation protocols to secretly build a nuclear arsenal. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "Reagan's Bargain/Charlie Wilson's War."]

A Long-Term Approach

Given the variety of U.S. strategic interests in Central Asia, today's bedrock American policy appears to be the creation of an enduring U.S. presence in Afghanistan. That's right; think longer term than even 2014.

The Post's Walter Pincus reported on Dec. 21 that Bagram airfield in Afghanistan continues to grow.

In mid-December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put out a "pre-solicitation notice" for a contractor to build the eighth of nine planned increments for troop housing at Bagram "to replace expeditionary housing facilities."

Pincus notes that 18 months ago there were already 20,000 American military and civilian personnel housed there.

In 2008, the Army explained the need for supplemental funding for an ammunition storage facility at Bagram, where 12 "igloos" were planned to support Army and Air Force needs. 

The Army wrote, "As a forward operating site, Bagram must be able to provide for a long-term, steady state presence which is able to surge to meet theater contingency requirements." Read: The U.S. military is in Afghanistan for the long haul.

A year earlier, CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon, in testimony to Congress, described Bagram as "the centerpiece for the CENTCOM Master Plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia."

Strategically situated as it is, Afghanistan is not only a key chessboard square from which to hunt down the few hundred surviving al-Qaeda operatives or to launch some future emergency mission to secure Pakistan's nukes if Islamic extremists take over, but it also happens to sit next to huge reserves of natural gas and oil.

Are we getting the picture? The Great Game has simply found new trappings with a rationale more attuned to the Western political realities (and sensibilities) of today -- and with a fresher title.

We now have the "Long War," which has many similarities to the old Great Game. It is still a competition for the region's resources albeit with the United States and China joining the ranks of outside powers elbowing for position.

The Grim Ground View

On Dec. 27 another Washington Post front-page article by Greg Jaffe highlighted how the misadventure in Afghanistan looks to the oft-praised but more often forgotten forces on the ground:

"Earlier this year, Lt. Col. Joseph Ryan concluded that his 800-soldier battalion was locked in an endless war for an irrelevant valley.

"‘There is nothing strategically important about this terrain,' said Ryan, 41, a blunt commander who has spent much of the past decade in combat. ‘We fight here because the enemy is here. The enemy fights here because we are here.'

"Ryan's challenge for the past several months has been to figure out a way to leave the Pech Valley...without handing the insurgents a victory. ..."
"Pech" means bad luck in German - and maybe not only in German.

The word seems to speak to the reality that the Lt. Col. Ryans and grunts of this world take the casualties while the Clintons, Mullens, and Flournoys of Washington plot high strategy, including packaging the costly conflict as necessary to protect the fearful American people from terrorism.

However,  the documents released by WikiLeaks and the recent analysis by the U.S. intelligence community combine to make it clear that the stated objectives of the U.S. either are unachievable or are facades for other unstated goals.

It is not rocket science. Not only the WikiLeaks documents and U.S. intelligence analyses, but simple logic gives the lie to Obama's recent claim, after his perfunctory Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review, that "we are on track to achieve our goals."

Is President Obama impervious to documentary evidence, intelligence analysis and logic? That beggars belief. So why does the President insist on continuing the March of Folly begun by his predecessor?

A Cogent Answer

We owe it to those being killed and maimed every day to demand a cogent answer to this question. The alternative is to revert to the ethos of Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade," a classic poem commemorating a battle between British and Russian forces in the Crimean War in 1854, during the Great Game era:

'Forward, the Light Brigade!' Was there a man dismay'd? Not tho' the soldiers knew Some one had blunder'd: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die, Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred Update: Into the Hindu Kush rode the 140,000 U.S. and NATO troops.

It is essential that we resist the administration's attempts to infantilize and seduce us by the comfort of soothing illusion.

President Obama's brief address on Dec. 16 about achieving "core goals" in Afghanistan was riddled with a Swiss-cheese patchwork of holes - a case study in non-sequiturs and empty phrases suitable for a Rhetoric 101 class on specious logic.

If the White House PR people still think that the sonorous alliterations out of a Dr. Seuss style-book -"disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda"- will suffice to ensure the support of the American people, they have another think coming.

But the President's form-over-substance speechwriters keep at it nonetheless, adding some "r" alliterations to the earlier "d" sounds.

In his speech, Obama said al-Qaeda "remains a ruthless and resilient enemy bent on attacking our country. But make no mistake - we are going to remain relentless in disrupting and dismantling that terrorist organization."

Does this mean that with the 140,000 NATO troops now in Afghanistan, we've been able to kill or capture some of the 50 to 100 al-Qaeda operatives who CIA Director Leon Panetta has said may still be in Afghanistan and maybe some of the few hundred hiding on the other side of the border with Pakistan?
Alas, we are left to figure out that answer for ourselves, as Obama went off on a familiar tangent, equating al-Qaeda with the Taliban. (BULLETIN: For those who only think inside the Fox box, please know that the two are not the same.)

This bloody adventure in Afghanistan is made all the easier to continue by the reality that is not "we" who are condemned "but to do and die," but mostly disadvantaged folks from our small towns and inner cities whom we privileged Americans are happy to let do the dying for the rest of us.

Is it that Americans no longer care about this sort of thing? Are we so dumbed down as not to be able to see that there is no justifiable logic behind the killing, maiming and destruction, even assuming the professed goals in Afghanistan are the real ones - a dubious assumption indeed.

Facades of Empire

Washington's present course in Central Asia can be much more logically understood if the real goals of the violence are to achieve what an empire requires in terms of military bases, natural resources, strategic interests and further enrichment of the super-wealthy.

This is to explain, not to defend. And, in case you're wondering, my view is that these goals are both morally indefensible and unachievable in the longer run.

Combine them, however, with back-home political interests - Democrats fearful of being called out by Republicans and the Right as weak on defense and soft on terror - and you have a better sense of why the Afghan War drags on.

Americans have been generally inclined to give the government and its official explanation for war the benefit of the doubt - but only for so long. Many are now coming around to the realization they've been had.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey of Americans conducted from Dec. 17 to 19 (immediately after Obama's public reassurances), 63 percent of the respondents expressed opposition to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan - an all-time high.

For those who think Afghan opinion also matters, recent polling conducted by the BBC, ABC, and other news organizations shows that, in provinces where there is the most fighting, the proportion of people approving of attacks on U.S. troops has risen from 12 to 40 percent in the last year.

Since Gen. Petraeus loves metrics for gauging the progress of his counterinsurgency strategies, he might want to put those numbers into one of his PowerPoint displays about his success at winning hearts and minds.

As Harry Truman was fond of saying, most of us were "not born yesterday." Those able to think outside the Fox box can discern when artificial alliteration and dubious logic masquerade as articulation of sound policy.

Congressional Hearings?

It may take a couple of run-throughs of this background, but Americans are inclined to "dis" (to use inner-city vernacular) artifices like "disrupt, dismantle, defeat" as empty slogans hiding a lamentable lack of cogent thinking.

I find myself asking, a la John Kerry before he let the imperial Establishment do a lobotomy cutting the connection to the Vietnam file in his brain, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Maybe it is too much to expect today's John Kerry to do better than his timorous predecessor as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Vice President Joe Biden.

In the run-up to President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, Biden caved in to strong White House pressure and staged faux hearings featuring the kind of "experts" who predicted that an invasion of WMD-laden Iraq would be a "cakewalk," and shunning those of us predicting catastrophe.

Et tu, John? One can always pray for miracles, but the current Foreign Relations Committee chairman appears to be the same empty shirt who let himself be persuaded by his handlers in the 1990s that his dreams for political advancement required making peace with the Establishment.
Sadly, it's almost impossible to envision Kerry converting back to the more courageous politician of his early days in the U.S. Senate when he challenged the Reagan administration's foreign policy, let alone to the gutsy young Navy officer who in 1971 confronted the same committee he now chairs.

This article first appeared at Consortiumnews.com
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President's Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). 

No comments: