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Total number of comments: 55 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:03)

Michael Murry

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  • Answer to Glenn Greenwald
    • Good points, Joe. As a Vietnam Veteran myself (one who joined the Navy nuclear power program to avoid going to Vietnam), it pains me to have to agree with you, but with the change to an all-professional military, America ceased to have a "citizen" army. Now -- no matter how misused and abused by their feckless, hot-house-orchid "leaders" -- venal war criminals like Dick Cheney can simply sneer at them: "They volunteered, didn't they?" So they did and have. Private Jessica Lynch explained: "I joined the Army to get out of Palestine, West Virginia, since I couldn't even get a job at Wal-Mart." Poverty Draft, we call it these days. No more personal involvement by the privileged elites today than back during the days of official conscription. Professor Cole will never have to worry about NATO taking him up on his offer, however sincerely tendered.

      As heartless and "unpatriotic" as it may sound, the United States Military now fights for a regular monthly paycheck, career advancement, government-paid health benefits, and a pension after twenty or more years on the imperial job. The American people -- and especially their elected "leaders" -- want it that way. War no longer concerns the American people. Someone else will handle that sort of thing. And what military professionals America cannot obtain willingly from its own population, it can hire as mercenary Hessians from all over the globe. In fact, in Libya at this moment, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that America has more hired mercenaries on the ground than Moammar Gaddafi. The rag-tag Libyan "rebels" lost this fight two weeks ago, according to retired Army Colonel Jack Jacobs, and only foreign military forces, uniformed and non-uniformed, can keep President Obama's desperate gamble afloat and floundering for a few more days.

      America's "Best and Brightest" never learned the lesson of Vietnam, namely: "Never intervene militarily in the internal civil conflicts of foreign nations." Too clear and simple for such august and innocent intellects (such as President Obama's) to comprehend, they and their lineal successors have proceeded to launch one Vietnam after another after another. The certifiably insane always keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.

      As we used to say back in Southeast Asia: "No matter how you voted, you got more of Vietnam." And the beat goes ever on and on ...

    • Iraq and Afghanistan did not happen "cleanly." And I see no evidence to date that this lamentable and unnecessary war-of-choice will prove any less dirty. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

    • "All successful revolutions in time put on the robes of the tyrant they have deposed." Barbara Tuchman

      I have no idea who constitute the "revolutionary" rebels in Libya or what they would do if they ever gained power in that country. I don't think President Obama knows, either. Yet he has rashly risked our country's fast-diminishing resources and the prestige of our military upon the dubious prospects of a mysterious mob. Undaunted by debacle, however, he has now seen fit -- two weeks after he launched an embarrassingly ineffective war-of-choice against the pigmy potentate, Moammar Gaddafi -- to ask the CIA to go and discover just what he has done and with whom. Nice time to start asking.

      Ready? Fire! Now aim.

    • People fight wars to obtain "for free" by violence what an honest man would simply pay for.

    • President Obama likes to pose as a deliberative thinker. Then he makes the same knee-jerk bad decisions that the clueless Deputy Dubya Bush made before him without thinking at all. The top military brass and their right-wing allies in both of America's right-wing political parties have buffaloed and blackmailed President Obama from the get-go. His interminable foot-dragging getting our military out of Iraq, his stupid (two of them) escalations of the hopeless Afghan/Pakistan debacle, and now his desperate ad hoc gamble on some unknown and obviously overmatched Libyan "rebels" demonstrates conclusively that President Obama can babble bullshit with the best of them, but he can't think or decide worth a tinker's damn.

    • Who bought the autocrat's oil and then sold him the weaponry with which he oppresses his people? Answer: the very same self-interested, cynical powers that now find the disreputable autocrat less attractive than they did last year when they liked him just fine.

      French President Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Cameron, and American President Obama -- all "conservatives" busy waging class war on their own downtrodden workers -- thought they could get a little bounce in the popularity polls by launching a "splendid little war" against a human caricature like Moammar Gadaffi. That the despicable caricature does not seem at all daunted by the ferocious U.S./NATO (pardon the redundancy) onslaught against him does not bode well for the three conservative Western politicians who have bet their respective farms on a rather lame and easily stampeded Libyan camel.

    • How can one say "the price is worth it" if one doesn't know the price and, in any event, will not have to pay it oneself? Just ask former Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright. You know, the one who also asked -- in all apparent sincerity -- "Why even have this big expensive military if you won't use it."

      In other words: we do stuff because we think we can.

    • @ Jason Vines -- Of course something cannot logically be both unconstitutional and legal, but if one believes with President Obama that the expedient exercise of Power trumps the inconvenient restraints of Law, then the legal contradiction becomes irrelevant. President Obama has done what he has done and presented Americans with a "take it or take it" fait accompli. He has told us citizens, quite brazenly, to "like it or lump it." He hasn't quite gone as far as Emperor Caligula and sneered "Let them hate, so long as they fear." But he has thrown down an equivalent gauntlet: "Let them not approve, as long as they accept."

      If Americans passively accept this flagrant insult to their Constitution and democratic traditions, the Nation of Sheep will have finally crawled up its own ass and died -- irrespective of whatever happens in Libya.

    • @ carolofcarol -- The sanctions and bombings that President Clinton visited upon Iraq for nearly a decade in the 1990s resulted in the crippling of the Iraq economy and the deaths from malnutrition of half-a-million Iraqi children. President Clinton's Secretary of State Madeline Albright notoriously and glibly quipped: "We think the price is worth it." I have no doubt that President Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton feel the same way about embargoing and bombing Libyans -- for their own good, naturally. I pains me to see Professor Cole join this claque of moral cretins, but self-righteous claims to virtue based on expedient violence often do produce the strangest -- if not entirely savory -- bedfellows.

      Let us never forget the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth:

      WAR IS PEACE
      FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
      IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

  • Cole/ Van den Heuvel on Libya: Nation Podcast
    • As the late historian Barbara Tuchman wrote in The March of Folly:

      "Limited war is basically a war decided upon by the Executive, and 'without arousing the public ire' -- meaning the public notice -- means parting company with the people, which is to say discarding the principle of representative government. Limited war is not nicer or kinder or more just than all-out-war, as its proponents would have it. It kills with the same finality. In addition, when limited on one side and total for the enemy, it is more than likely to be unsuccessful, as rulers more accustomed to the irrational have observed."

      When I heard President Obama begin babbling about his swell new "limited" war-of-choice in Libya -- addressed to an uncritical audience of career military officers rather than to the Congress and the nation -- I thought immediately of Professor Tuchman's timeless comments.

      I'd say that President Obama has jumped the shark of instantaneous escalation to humiliating mission-creep failure -- again. Coming soon: the predictable violation of U. N. Resolution 1970 which ostensibly establishes an arms embargo on ALL of Libya. Gotta love those U. N. Resolutions that either authorize or prohibit what the United States either hides behind or disdains, depending upon the time of day, direction of prevailing political winds, tribulations of the tar-baby puppet/client du jour, and/or anonymous corporate campaign contributions promised or in hand.

      President Obama has started an Executive war-of-choice in Libya with limited prospects for gain and maximum opportunities for loss -- which explains why Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Germany decided to have no part of the misadventure. When the Lunatic Leviathan decides to shoot himself in the face once more, wisdom councils non-interference.

  • Qaddafi Forces Advance on All Fronts Despite Bombardment
    • @ Glen Tomkins -- thank you for the clear and succinct analysis of the probable battlefield situation in Libya. As well, I appreciate your refreshing use of terms like "loyalist" and "insurgent" instead of emotionally freighted rhetoric like "monsters" and "liberators," etc.

      Given your accurate assessment of the deteriorating plight of the insurgent forces -- for the second time in two weeks -- as well as the usual strategic ineffectiveness of the Magic Air Power Placebo, it comes as no surprise that the invested Western Powers have once again had to escalate their hands-on involvement, injecting their widely publicized "covert" operatives into Libya to (1) help target airstrikes on Gaddafi loyalists and (2) find out just who in the hell they've trapped themselves into backing at ever-increasing (and increasingly humiliating) economic, military, and diplomatic cost.

      The New York Times (i.e., the U. S. Government's mouthpiece) has the story today entitled "C.I.A. Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels." That didn't take long. So much for another of President Obama's mealy-mouthed promises not to commit American ground forces into the Libyan civil war. He has no doubt already violated U. N. Resolution 1970 establishing an arms embargo on Libya.

      As Marx said, history does repeat itself: first as tragedy, then as farce. When the "Can't Identify Anything" crowd arrive on scene, you can pretty much call the game over.

    • Your comments remind me of George Orwell's essay "Catastrophic Gradualism." Wrote he:

      "The formula usually employed is 'You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.' And if one replies, 'Yes, but where is the omelet,' the answer is likely to be: 'Oh, well, you can't expect everything to happen all in an instant.'"

      The longer President Obama continues breaking eggs in Libya without producing the expected omelet -- meaning "no more Gaddafi" -- the more tortured and convoluted his definition of "omelet" and "instant" will become. Just basing that statement on America in Vietnam, America in Iraq, America in Afghanistan/Pakistan, and so on and so forth. Broken eggs almost beyond counting. No expected omelets. Somehow, though, we always get the the bill for the omelets we never get to eat. What a sweet deal for rogue American presidents.

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • When President Obama and Professor Cole use words like "pragmatism" and "practical," I always substitute the more accurate term "expedient." Semantics do matter.

    • A good reference to Pete Seeger's timeless anti-war song during the late unpleasantness in Southeast Asia. A few years ago Presidents Bush and Obama inspired me to write a verse update called "Neck Deep in the Big Sandy. Just two stanzas picked from three pages of them:

      ...

      We’ve come around to sink once more
      Where no one ever planned.
      Instead of Delta mud, this time,
      We sink in desert sand
      Because an adolescent twerp
      Could not wait to “command”
      Some troops behind which he could hide
      His thieving sleight-of-hand.

      But things have not gone well, of course.
      Wars based on lies and fraud
      In no time go awry and leave
      Our legions mauled and clawed,
      Marooned for years and trapped by those
      Who – neither shocked nor awed --
      Reserve the right to rule themselves
      And name their own one GAWD.

      ...

      And so it goes ...

    • "Everyone loves a war for the first month."

      Yet I doubt that President Obama will get to enjoy this little war that he just started for that long. When the Shock and Awe of Magical Air Power fails to immediately shock or awe the evil monster and those who support him, then what?

      What if the current supporters of the despicable Libyan regime can defeat President Obama's favored "rebels" with bows and arrows? How many million-dollar-a-pop cruise missiles does President Obama plan to launch at those thirty-five-dollar bows? Has President Obama ever heard of the Law of Diminishing Returns? Does President Obama even think at all? Or does he spend his days trembling in terror lest Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power accuse him of not having the balls that they -- combat veterans all -- do?

      I hate war because I've participated in one. And I deeply suspect and resent hothouse orchids like President Obama who cannot refrain from starting more needless ones when he can't even FINISH the handful of debacles that we've had going for almost a decade now. He really needs to get an early start on making ex-President speeches for large sums of money.

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • You "would have wanted" Congressional approval -- you just wouldn't insist on it. So you didn't get it. "Power concedes nothing without a demand," or so I think I once heard candidate Barack Obama proclaim.

    • Yes. Another experimental proving ground for The Shock Doctrine of Global Privatization just begging for a little "humanitarian" killing to provide the necessary regime-change opening. I have little doubt but that L. Paul Bremer has already gotten his advance notification for assuming the "Viceroy" job, dismissing the Libyan army, losing nine-billion dollars of Libyan oil wealth, selling off government-owned assets to crony-connected Western corporations, and writing the Libyans' new constitution for them.

      But first things first. Gaddafi must go. What comes later? Oh, no need to worry about minor details like that.

    • What about minding one's own business and not killing unknown foreigners should cause a person to feel "shameful" or "cowardly"? The American military blasting away at Libya from high altitude and long range faces almost zero danger of coming to the slightest harm. The chest-thumping chicken-hawks at home in the U. S. face even less than zero chance of suffering the least inconvenience from whatever happens in Libya, one way or another.

      I can't speak for Michael Moore, but I personally lost my own mind back in Southeast Asia helping my country destroy Vietnamese villages in order to save them. Consequently, the ongoing American military debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan -- although initially wildly popular in America -- have come as no surprise to me. Nothing that the American government has done over the past forty years -- especially in the realm of killing foreigners for peace and freedom -- has convinced me that the virulent American brand of belligerent "sanity" has anything to recommend it.

      America does not have a "Left" worth mentioning, which accounts for the country's long slide rightward into crony-corporate crypto-fascism. And no matter what happens in Libya, the non-belligerent Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Germany will most likely profit from not getting involved in the first place.

      I wonder what President Obama will wear when he lands on the aircraft carrier flight deck to exult: "In the battle for Libya, America and its allies have prevailed!" Perhaps in the subsequent power vacuum and civil war in Libya, and with President Obama's glorious words ringing in his ears, the unemployed American with no home or health care can scrape together two bucks for a cup of over-priced coffee at Starbucks -- and feel just too proud and brave about Libya to notice his own poverty and human degradation.

    • 1. As a matter of fact, "war" -- or the "use of force" (for the euphemistically inclined) -- almost always goes wrong.

      2. As a matter of fact, Imperialism came to a bad end halfway through the twentieth century. National independence took its place -- not that the American government seemed to notice.

      3. As a matter of fact, military force seldom, if ever, solves social problems -- unless one wants to argue for it as a means of reducing "excessive" human populations. Most often war creates more social problems than it solves. I give you Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan as Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C.

      Those arguing for aggressive war seldom advance arguments worthy of serious consideration. Fighting to defend one's home and family has some justification, but the imperial United States of America at present merits no resort to this argument. Neither Libya nor Iraq nor Afghanistan nor Pakistan has attacked or threatened to attack American homes or families. Therefore, the United States of America has no business visiting vast military destructiveness on these countries, their homes, and their families.

      Q. E. D.

    • @Liberal -- excellent comments about good intentions and the road to hell that they historically pave. As David Halberstam recounted in "The Best and The Brightest" (the classic tale of how the good intentions of all-tough-and-stuff "liberals" led to America's debacle in Southeast Asia):

      "John Kenneth Galbraith always argued with [McGeorge] Bundy about the use of force, and Bundy would tell Galbraith with a certain element of disappointment, 'Ken, you always advise against the use of force -- do you realize that?' Galtraith would reflect on that and then note that Bundy was right, he always did recommend against force, in the belief that there were very few occasions when force can be used successfully."

      Those who argue against the desperate, ad hoc and ill-considered use of force -- by which I mean WAR -- can do so not only on the basis of principle, but on grounds of historical counter-productiveness as well. And none of this reasonable and reasoned opposition to gratuitous, state-sponsored violence has anything to do with walking or chewing gum.

    • @Captain Obvious -- I have opposed American military interventionism since I graduated from Jr. High School in 1961. Yet my "dirty fucking hippie," or "leftist" objections have typically met with nothing but scorn from my chest-thumping fellow citizens, whether unapologetic Republican fascists, or just bullied and browbeaten right-wing "Democrats" trying so desperately to look "tough." The Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon intervention in Southeast Asia cost me six years of penurious indentured servitude in the United States Navy -- the last eighteen months of that dreary duty in the now-defunct Republic of South Vietnam. I earned my anti-war skepticism about "humanitarian intervention" the hard way, and so I have opposed every military intervention by every American president for most of my life. Yet the interventions do not cease, but continue to grow more numerous, frequent, and ruinous.

      The chicken-hawks have won -- again. And I have lost -- again. But I do not despair of opposing the execrable exercise of desperate, panic-stricken Executive War, now euphemistically referred to as "kinetic military action." As Edna St. Vincent Millay said simply of the awful reality of life:

      "I know."

      "But I do not approve."

      "And I am not resigned."

    • @Mark -- Thank you for adding your views about the abstention from voting in the U. N. Security Council by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Germany. I, too, found the good professor's views on this subject simplistic to the point of irrelevance. A veto would have prevented the United States from injuring itself and its own interests, so why interfere? On the other hand, refusing to aid the United States in yet another of its belligerent military interventions carries no penalty, but can only leave these other countries in a more advantageous position to pick up the pieces after all the dust and blood settles on the damaged combatants. I count the true vote in the United Nations Security Council as SANITY: 5, CHEST-THUMPING VAINGLORY, 3.

      Obama, Cameron, and Sarkozy -- all conservatives -- each have domestic popularity problems due to their stagnant economies and simultaneous class-warfare attacks on workers (in the guise of balancing budgets unbalanced by rampant military spending and tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy). They have the usual complement of bureaucratic rivals (many in their own parties) sniping at them from the right over alleged "weakness" somewhere on the other side of the globe (Who lost China, Vietnam I, Vietnam II, Algeria, etc.) Nothing like a "splendid little war" to prove their martial mettle and pump up those worrisome poll numbers. Everyone, after all, loves a war for at least the first month. Or so they think. So why on earth would the leadership of Brazil, Russia, India, and China want to risk their own national interests over something as venal and petty as the domestic political squabbles currently roiling the United States, Britain, and France? Better to stand aside and let the Lunatic Leviathan and its two attendant camp followers go blundering by to their own detriment.

      I don't think that the emotionally overwrought Professor Cole understands how important nations view the conduct of foreign policy in the pursuit of genuine national interest. I say this while neither walking nor chewing gum.

  • Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN No-Fly Zone
    • I once took some university classes in Buddhism from a former Sri Lankan ambassador to France and the United States. Over lunch one day, we got to talking about Vietnam and American military intervention throughout the developing world. He told me of his own government's decision to refuse America's offer of military assistance vis-a-vis the Tamil insurgency then taking place in his country. When I asked him why, he said simply:

      "If the Americans come, they will only draw an arbitrary line through a temporary problem and make it permanent."

      I think that says it all about as well as anyone ever has.

    • The good professor complains that some skeptics of American humanitarian bombing in Libya (otherwise known as taking sides in a civil war) have reached a premature conclusion ("it hasn't ended yet") on the basis of less than 7 days worth of evidence. Yet the good professor has himself reached at least 10 conclusions about "success" based upon the same meager, less-than-7 days worth of evidence. Not a good show, that.

      As David Halberstam pointed out in his classic, "The Best and the Brightest": John Kennedy's Bay of Pigs lasted only 4 days, but Lyndon Johnson's lasted 4 years (before Richard Nixon took over and extended the debacle for another 4+ years). Blundering American military "interventions" -- i.e., acts of undeclared war -- have a rather poor historical track record. Skepticism about their announced aims and prospects remains always a perfectly defensible attitude. Premature celebrations of their "success" -- especially when wearing a "top-gun" flight suit on an aircraft carrier -- not so much.

    • Count me among the "frankly silly," "unrealistic," and "willfully blind" skeptics like Tom Englehardt who says:

      "Think of this, then, as the “human rights” intervention. So far, it seems to be a remarkably seat-of-the-pants affair, suffused with the usual American faith in the efficacy of military power. As far as I can tell, Washington is relying for success on pure, dumb luck (and the vague possibility that, if the U.S. and allies whack his forces hard enough, Libyan monster Muammar Gaddafi’s officer corps could turn against him or their troops might defect to the rebels). Luck could hold, but what would follow remains bleakly unknown. Look for the no-[fill-in-the-blank]-zones to expand if Gaddafi hangs on, the rebels don’t advance fast enough, and desperation and confusion set in. In the meantime, the learning curve in Washington when it comes to interventions seems nonexistent."

      Professor Cole has given us his euphonious phrase "the liberation movement at the moment" -- which tells us nothing about the next fifty-nine minutes of the next hour of the next day of the next week that no one has thought of. "Thinking" reduced to "moments." Indeed. Precisely that short-sighted. Tom Englehard, on the other hand, gives us the more accurate term: "no-[fill-in-the-blank]-zones." I think that Professor Cole should henceforth use Tom Englehardt's phrase in his "top ten bombing success stories" series, since what someone may not fly or drive or carry around in Libya changes too fast for delineation.

      In the meantime, millions of Americans have no jobs or health care and Bank of America has just agreed to help fund the demolition of derelict properties in Detroit Michigan (which looks like an earthquake and tsunami has hit the place) -- all while President Obama and the American Government "stand idly by" and do nothing. A rather scathing and damning demonstration of American "priorities," I say.

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • Yes. First, buy someone's oil with some money. Then steal the money back again -- hopefully, after "unfreezing" it -- and then use the stolen money to buy loaded weapons for children who have no leader, no organization, no purpose, and who don't know one end of a rifle from the other. That ought to result in quite few deaths among the children. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

      Unfortunately, the day the bombing peters out because the bombers have gone bankrupt and/or have grown tired of losing to yet another middle-eastern nobody, then chances are that the Libyan leader -- or his sons, or someone else from his tribe -- will do what he would have done, anyway, without all the additional bombing and blundering and death resulting from America destroying more villages in order to save them.

    • I don't think that Michael Moore has any problem with his memory. Who needs a memory when just reading the daily headlines of America's latest bombing, night-raid, or hired-CIA-mercenary blunder suffices to explain the greatest source and extent of "terrorism" in the world today? Where do Americans get off lecturing the rest of the world about "terrorism"?

      And when "overwhelming Shock and Awe" neither overwhelms nor shocks nor awes -- the "enemy" simply disperses and changes tactics -- then what? I remember this depressingly familiar cycle only too well. I suspect that the hapless President Obama will have some difficulty handing this devolving mess off to some other, greater fool. Few have a shorter or shallower memory than he apparently does.

      Every day that the Libyan leader doesn't lose, he wins. And every day that President Obama doesn't win, he loses. I first learned this lesson back in Southeast Asia some four decades ago. I've never forgotten it, and President Obama seemingly has no capacity for learning it in the first place. I'll take Michael Moore and his memory any day.

    • Your country, your blood. You have a right to fight, bleed, and die for what you want. Or not. That does not mean that the United States has any obligation to kill your countrymen for you. And as for your lack of military training and weaponry, et cetera, every time I see you aimlessly shooting bullets up into the air (with no regard for where they come down or upon whose head), I have to surmise that (1) you do indeed have no military training and (2) you have abundant ammunition to waste. In short: you do not inspire in me any desire to squander my own country's time, blood, and money abetting your obvious lack of organization, discipline, and purpose.

      If you really want your freedom, then fight for and win it yourself. Then your country will belong to you and not the foreigners who always intervene for their own crass, commercial interests and not out of any "morality" or "humanitarian concern." Americans have a long and sordid history of destroying villages in order to save them. So take great care whom you ask to save your village for you.

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
    • First off, I read with my eyes and not my ears. I no more hear "shouting" when I read upper-case letters than I hear "whispering" when I read lower-case ones. As a helpful hint, you might want to have your software service provide italics and bold capabilities so that posters may add these visual elements for emphasis, should they so desire. In suggesting this, I do realize that some people reading italics may experience a sense of vertigo and that exposure to "fat" lettering may make others feel overweight, but in the interests of discouraging fanaticism, we can surely make some sacrifices.

      Apropos of the subject at hand: i.e., yet more "humanitarian" killing of some objectionable humans in "defense" of other preferred humans, James Carroll had a word of caution about that back in 2003:

      "Saving souls by killing bodies is impossible. Beware a nation announcing its innocence en route to war."

      Finally, since America is so broke that it can no longer tolerate collective bargaining by American workers, I must assume that Libyan oil revenues will eventually defray the significant costs of this latest humanitarian blood-letting. Or not?

  • UN Allies Bombard Libya to protect Protesters
    • So, "No Fly" really means "No Drive." That little bit of mission creep didn't take long. Sounds like "Free Fire" to me. But if Shock and Awe doesn't produce either shock or awe, how long before the Law of Diminishing Returns sets in with a vengeance? It shouldn't take long to find out.

  • Qaddafi Bombards Rebel Cities, Defies UNO
    • Stipulated hypocrisy aside, it appears as though the United Nations now commits America to yet another war without the Congress of the United States having the first thing to say about it. I can still fondly remember how President (and former General) Eisenhower used to respond when self-interested factions tried to stampede him into acting rashly, against his better judgment:

      "Don't just do something. Stand there!"

      Buffaloed Boy Obama has once again let the chicken-hawk chorus stampede him into "just doing something." Exactly what, when, where, how, and why remain -- naturally -- a complete mystery to the American people.

      But let us by all means "just do something.' I mean, after all, America has had such a smashing record of success to date, blundering into one nationalist, sectarian, or tribal vendetta after another over the past half-century. Why stop to think and let others fight their own battles for their own reasons?

  • Tunisia between Democracy and Anarchy
    • From your fellow historian, Barbara Tuchman:

      "Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed."

      And as regards the most recent American "revolutionary" presidential election, the putting-on of the previous tyrant's robes took hardly any time at all.

      Just a cautionary note ...

  • Biden: US Could be in Afghanistan Past 2014; Bombing Shakes Capital
    • "The invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anesthetizes a portion of one's brain. ..."

      "Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase -- some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse -- into the dustbin where it belongs." George Orwell, Politics and the English Language"(1946).

      My comments regarding the useless lump of verbal refuse, "wait them out," had to do with Orwell's admonition to think in concrete and meaningful terms and not with whatever marginal tactical decision the quisling Hamid Karzai may make to retire comfortably in either Dubai or Huntington Beach, California alongside the former Premier of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky. I merely do my part to jeer at the Orwellian misnomers as loudly and often as I can.

    • " ... consistent policy is more likely to succeed."

      "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

      "If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No sense being a damn fool about it." -- W. C. Fields

      A consistently bad policy -- namely, the foreign military occupation of Afghanistan -- will not succeed simply by virtue of consistently extending the stupidity in perpetuity. On the other hand, a prompt and complete withdrawal of American military forces from Afghanistan will not fail simply by virtue of its inconsistency vis-a-vis the present disastrous policy of mindlessly "staying the curse."

      Consistency for its own sake -- i.e., "narcissistic solipsism," has nothing to recommend it in the case of America's ruinously demented "policy" of continuing the existing "policy" of militarily ravaging Afghanistan (not to mention the U. S. Army, Marines, and National Guard) simply because some other cosmic nitwit once implemented the policy in a fit of historic hubris and national official malfeasance.

      As we used to say back in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (the forerunner of today's Bush-Obama Buy Time Brigade): "We lost the day we started and we win the day we stop." Consistent stupidity will continue losing by staying. Inconsistent wisdom (a rarity among America's official "elite") would win by stopping. This really does not constitute rocket science.

      And just for the record: upwards of 60% of the American people consider (and have considered for years) America's policy in Afghanistan "not worth the bloodshed and financial cost." This level of public resistance to current policy hardly constitutes "the base of the Democratic Party."

    • " ... the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents are expected to attempt simply to wait out the US if they have fair confidence that it is on the way out."

      Oh, for crying out loud! Will you please give these tedious, tendentious canards (like "waiting us out") a rest?

      What, I must ask, has motivated "the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents" for the past ten fucking years when America WAS NOT on the way out? Do you mean to say that the indigenous freedom fighters of Pashtunistan (on both sides of the Durand Line) have fought us American invaders for a decade BECAUSE WE PLANNED TO STAY but now plan to go on fighting us for three more years BECAUSE WE PLAN TO LEAVE? Have you given even a moment's thought to how stupidly mindless this "waiting us out" bullshit sounds?

      To the best of my knowledge, the Vietnamese still live in Vietnam in 2011 while I left there in early 1972 (followed by the last remaining American military forces in 1975). I guess the Vietnamese "simply waited us out" (from 1945 to 1975) huh? For THIRTY YEARS? Like they ever intended to live anywhere else but where they already live and we don't!

      And you claim to have some passing acquaintance with the subject of History?

      Take this one to the bank, Professor: American military forces will leave Afghanistan with their tails tucked proudly between their legs -- but they WILL leave. All other foreign invaders before them have. The only question involves how much more stupidly the American government will continue to act and for how long and at what enormously ruinous cost to Americans and Afghans alike.

      As W. C. Fields put it: "If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No sense being a damn fool about it."

      As in Southeast Asia four decades ago, so too in Iraq and Afghanistan today: America has a pack of damn fools running America (and a few other impoverished nations) into the ground out of a fear that to acknowledge past stupidity will make our friends cease to respect us and our enemies cease to fear us -- as if our continuing stupidity hasn't already accomplished precisely that result.

      Apparently, you haven't yet gotten the news that the tipping point has turned the corner and begun connecting the dots on the ink-stained, flypaper dominoes in the tunnel at the end of the light.

  • Sarah Never Does Anything Wrong
    • Good point. President Obama has already claimed the power to summarily kill American citizens -- at least, those with "muslim sounding" surnames -- for "instigating" or "encouraging" or "rooting for" or "thinking about" or "plotting" or "imagining" or "materially supporting" whatever he wants to designate as "terrorist" activities. Logically extended, this self-granted "power" to "terminate" "terrorists" would seem to make Sarah Palin eligible for "early retirement," if you follow the dog-whistle implications.

  • Al-Khoei: Why We Shouldn't Be Celebrating Iraq's New Government: Power-Sharing Means Nothing without Reconciliation
    • Your observations about the American puppet governments in Baghdad and Kabul reminded me of a favorite quote from a book I have read and re-read ever since returning to America from serving eighteen months in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam, 1970-72):

      "In an interview with Pham Van Dong, one American asked the North Vietnamese foreign minister how he could call the Saigon government an "American puppet" when it acted with such consistency against American interests. 'Ah, replied the minister, 'it's a puppet, all right. It's just a bad puppet.'" -- Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: the Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (1972).

  • Lawsuit over Drones in Pakistan forces CIA Station Chief to Flee
    • Anything and everything that the United States has done to subvert international law and the sovereignty of other states will come back -- in the same pointed and explosive form -- to the United States. I doubt that few nations in this world will find that long-overdue blowback either surprising or lamentable.

  • Karzai Wishes he had Joined Taliban
    • We -- and the Russians before us -- have already done that "arm the Northern Alliance" thing. This explains why the Soviet Empire no longer exists and why the Pashtun-based Taliban control 80% of Afghanistan while the US-armed-and-backed Northern Alliance can hardly claim "control" of Kabul. By all means, let the United States continue doing what has so spectacularly failed in the past. What else can one expect from American foreign policy but insanity?

  • Why our Afghanistan War Dead don't Seem to be News
    • Team "Working Class" vs Team "Corporate." Works for me.

    • As Edna St. Vincent Millay once said:

      "Yes, I know."

      "But I do not approve."

      "And I am not resigned."

      Despite your obvious and understandable frustration, it does not sound to me as if you have truly resigned yourself to injustices which you know of and do not approve. As Barbara Tuchman wrote in The March of Folly, "the American government react[s] to intimidation from the rabid right at home." A more pathetic illustration of this truth than President Barack Obama one could not possibly hope to find -- both as regards domestic economic policy and "foreign" policy -- by which we mean domestic economic policy under another misnomer. The "rabid right at home" has only one overriding policy, as Professor Paul Krugman explained in his book The Great Unraveling, namely:"an end to all taxes on capital." Understand that, and you understand the American government's domestic economic policy and its collateral, supportive policies of internal repression of individual rights coupled with external aggressive imperial militarism: both designed to keep the citizenry frightened, uneducated, and impoverished into acquiescing in its own enslavement. Again, to see this nakedly rapacious policy in action, one need only witness President Obama's hapless capitulation to -- if not outright connivance with -- this "intimidation by the rabid right at home" in its tireless quest for "an end to all taxes on capital."

      We also need to analyze and debunk the rabid right's Orwellian destruction of language (for the hoi polloi) as the principle instrument employed to make a countervailing critical analysis impossible. Again, listening to President Obama consciously dropping the "g"s from off the end of his verbs and gerunds -- "itchin' for a fight" (some other time) -- in pathetic imitation of Deputy Dubya and Sarah Palin's phony "down home" diction, illustrates just how spineless and obsequious the "opposition" to"the rabid right at home" has become. America doesn't even have a President (of either party) who can speak like a thoughtful, educated person anymore without fear of ridicule by the braying mob for his or her "arrogance" (note the Orwellian substitution of "arrogant" for "educated.")

      Getting back to official Orwellian gobbledegook related to Afghanistan in particular, I don't think one can find a more telling example than the following from our chief commanding General Motors General, David Petraeus the other day:

      "I think no commander ever is going to come out and say 'I'm confident that we can do this.' I think we say you assess, we believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect.” General David Petraeus, 12/6/10.

      As George Orwell wrote in Politics and the English Language: “The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism.” So, to assuage my own frustration at our President and General itchin' for fights and talkin' like they might someday, perhaps, stumble upon something somewhere (either in America or the Hindu Kush) that might possibly constitute an "aspirational goal" in only a few more years of "Friedman Units" (after a decade of them), I composed:

      The Inflated Style as Euphemism

      The general has started talking funny
      Like, never stating what he can achieve.
      Instead, he babbles jargon for the money,
      Which means he plans for us to never leave.

      We've been there now so long that few remember
      How many times we've heard the same old song.
      Our plans, those scruffy foreigners dismember
      While we proclaim that we've done nothing wrong.

      The President has donned his bomber jacket
      To have his picture taken with the troops:
      For conquerors, cheap tools that serve the racket;
      For statesmen, simple patriotic dupes.

      Our President and General have blundered
      And now can only stall for yet more time
      While citizens back home whom they have plundered
      Refuse to see the nature of the crime.

      We went to “war” with tax-cuts for the wealthy
      And exhortations to consume and spend.
      Now broke and begging from the thieving stealthy,
      Our leaders will not say when this will end.

      Our presidents and generals stage dramas
      And wave the bloody shirt while spouting gas
      To keep us safe from peasants in pajamas
      And poppy farmers smoking hash and grass.

      We did this once before in Southeast Asia
      As names upon a granite wall attest.
      The country, though, prefers its euthanasia:
      The laying of all memory to rest.

      So let us listen raptly to the latest
      Inflated euphemism coined to quell
      The slightest thought that we might be the greatest
      Bullshitters in the history of Hell.

      Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2010

      None of this changes anything, I know, but somehow I feel a little less frustrated with the lurid spectacle of my country's inarticulate implosion. Orwell said that we should openly jeer at the pompous pretenders pitilessly pelting us with their vapid and venal ventriloquism. I, for one, intend to do my part.

  • Cole in Truthdig: Iran is Winning, Israel Losing
    • Russia and China -- among a host of other nations and corporate entities -- continue trading with energy-rich Iran because of the obvious benefits of doing so. (Think Iran/Contra and the Reagan Administration that publicly refused to have any dealings with the country it regularly dealt with).

      Empty and meaningless "sanctions" -- otherwise known as "embargoes," "punishment," or "acts of war" -- have so far done little except expose the erstwhile "punishers" as ineffective and hypocritical losers. This has not gone unobserved in the Middle East, where real loss of power and influence by America and Israel continue further and further to isolate the deranged duo from a world grown tired of their belligerent bullying.

    • Do the schoolyard bullies who steal President Obama's lunch money every day at recess really harbor any intentions of letting their favorite punching bag look "tough" on anything? I rather doubt it. As philosopher/scientist/logician Charles Sanders Peirce once said: "Where two faiths flourish side by side, renegades are looked on with contempt, even by the party whose beliefs they have adopted." Translation: Who would trust as a new recruit a turncoat who regularly betrays his own party?

      Barak Obama apparently cannot learn from either recent history or his own failed experiences seeking "bipartisanship" from pathological partisans determined to see him fail at everything he attempts. In Iraq and Afghanistan, even as he drags out and deepens the debilitating debacles began by Deputy Dubya Bush, the Republicans only "support" him in his folly because they know it will lead to ruin for which they will blame him -- claiming preposterously that "their guy" really had it all "won" before a "Democrat" came along to screw things up.

      I've heard it claimed that Obama plays some sort of Vulcan 11-dimensional chess that we veterans of the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-72) cannot possibly understand or appreciate. In fact, the bungling boob doesn't seem capable of taking up the game of checkers with any prospect of learning how to play. He seems pathetically obtuse, not to mention politically tone-deaf and incompetent. I'd say that Iran has little to fear from him as an adversary -- quite the opposite.

    • What? The invertebrate Barak Obama publicly take a "principled" position only to limp away from his usual drubbing lamely "compromising" what he never had any intention of insisting on in the first place? Surely, you jest. Right?

  • Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government
    • The danger to democracy from knowing too little far outweighs any putative disadvantages accruing from knowing too much. Translation: the public has a right to know EVERYTHING.

      In America, citizens can drive high-powered motor vehicles and own lethal weaponry of every imaginable type -- both personal freedoms which result in tens of thousands of fatalities in America every year. America tolerates this annual, self-inflicted carnage because Americans supposedly value freedom to harm themselves more than they desire absolute safety from fellow-citizen maniacs. So Americans can certainly tolerate knowing everything that their corrupt and incompetent government does in their name, despite the occasional -- if any -- "harm" that might come from realizing what bureaucratic fools and charlatans we have robbing and bullying us on a daily basis.

      In any event, since our deranged and out-of-control "government" insists on reading our mail and collecting information on us in violation of our Fourth Amendment "guarantees" against "unreasonable search and seizure," etc., then we citizens certainly have the right to collect information on -- and read the mail of -- our government. The government supposedly works for us, not we for it. Way past time to get that proper relationship straightened back out again.

      Given the choice between believing Deputy Dubya Bush and Backboneless O-Bomber on the one hand, and believing Julian Assange on the other, I'll go with Assange. Truth generates Credibility and Lies beget Disbelief. If the American government cannot operate in the light of truth, then it has no credibility and needs to go away and stop oppressing us with its Manufactured Mendacity and Managed Mystification. The Warfare Welfare and Make-work Militarism need to cease as well.

      America, as an experiment in democratic self-government, now teeters precariously on the brink of abject failure -- precisely because the public not only doesn't know what it should, but evinces little desire to know anything of substance in any event. I applaud Wikileaks and will support that organization in any way that I can, but crony-corporate crypto-fascism has become so entrenched in American life -- thanks to the whimpering implosion of the Democratic Party as any sort of advocate for poor and working-class Americans -- that I don't see where even a dozen Wikileaks could tip the scale back towards real democracy. It doesn't seem all that clear to me that a majority of Americans even want democracy anyway. Too much trouble and time away from the TV.

  • 'Burn the Qur'an Day' Endangers US Troops: Petraeus
    • The Vietnamization program's 11-week "counter-insurgency" training course -- from which I graduated in 1969 -- included a week of S.E.R.E. training, which acronym stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. The survival part consisted of marching around for a week in the desert near Warner Springs (outside San Diego) with little food or water and sleeping on the frozen ground at night with only half a plastic poncho and part of a parachute for "cover." On the morning of the next-to-last day, we got the chance to "evade" capture, if we could, before having to turn ourselves in at 12:00 noon so that our "captor"/instructors could throw us into a mock prisoner-of-war camp. There, we got an afternoon and night's experience "resisting" our imprisonment (which included a few water-boardings) while picking up hints as to how we might try to "escape" if ever actually caught in such an unfortunate circumstance. I don't recall anyone "desecrating" any bibles in order to put psychological "pressure" on us. Most of the sailors that I went through the training with would probably have chipped in with many a profane suggestion as to just what our "captors" could do with that barbaric piece of inscrutable literature. "Desecrating" it would probably only have raised our spirits instead of crushing them. Mostly, we just wanted to get something to eat instead of only getting to dream about food. Unfortunately, when we finally returned to base after our week of near starvation, our stomachs had shrunk so much that we couldn't eat more than a few bites from the heaps of food we had loaded onto our plates. Now that really pissed us off.

      Anyway, the so-called "winning the hearts and minds" stuff in our training materials rapidly morphed into "Grab 'em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow." I rather suspect that today's military in Iraq and Afghanistan understand General Petraeus's newly resurrected "C.O.I.N." doctrine the same way, no matter what they and he allow the American public to think about the nature of their occupational attitudes. I understand that U. S. Marines now engaged in killing Afghans for resisting them refer to their activities as "mowing the lawn." Same doctrine, same callous condescending attitude towards the indigenous natives, and the same result in generating more "resistance" than it quells. For a supposedly "smart" man, President Obama seems either abysmally ignorant about the American military or too dumb to learn from listening to its endless annual excuses -- or both.

    • "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

      In agreement with Jefferson's timeless wisdom, therefore, I do not approve "Jewish" governments, "Islamic" governments, "Christian" governments, or any government affiliated in any way with any form of superstitious animism -- religion, by definition -- especially the Single Spook variety -- the most malignant of all. In other words:

      The concept of the single GAWD
      Leaves little more to mock.
      Yet charlatans consider this
      Their tawdry trade and stock.
      No worse idea ever crawled
      From underneath a rock.

      500 years ago, people -- perhaps -- had some excuse for "believing" in animist nonsense. But after Gallileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein? "Religion" leads nowhere but back to the cave. Way past time to move on from anachronistic animism -- and the priests, despots, and barbarism it always engenders.

  • What would Martin Luther King Say? Mosques and the New Jim Crow in America
    • A very well written opinion, except for the unnecessary and vitiating phrase "too long," wherever it occurs. NO ONE has the constitutional authority to deny guaranteed rights AT ALL. EVER. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. NOT FOR ONE DAMN SECOND. Justification of any compromise whatsoever validates the nullification of rights by nothing more than one faction's frenzied fiat. "Justice delayed is justice denied."

  • Taliban Ambush Kills 30 on Road Crew in Helmand;
    60% of Americans Oppose Afghan War
    • As with our previous imperial debacle in Southeast Asia: "We lost the day we started and we won the day we stopped." Just stop this stupid shit. Yesterday. "Winning" more loss. What a concept.

    • As Vietnam ought to have taught anyone above the intelligence above that of a planaria worm: you cannot restart support for a quagmire war/occupation already written off by the citizenry years before. And these Taliban folks in their squadrons of Toyota land cruisers don't seem -- in the least -- about to stop growing in numbers, organization, and audacity. This will only get worse and more humiliating for the United States and its lacky "coalition" the longer America remains where it has no business or genuine interests -- meaning Afghanistan. As I wrote in my poem, "Neck Deep in the Big Sandy":

      "We stay because of violence
      That we cannot prevent.
      We stay, inflicting violence,
      To mask our true intent.
      We stay so that the perpetrators
      Never must repent.
      We stay for any rationale
      A baboon could invent."

      But in only a couple more Friedman/Mullen Units, as General Petraeus keeps saying, the tipping point will begin to turn the corner and connect the dots on the ink-stained, flypaper dominoes in the tunnel at the end of the light. Manufactured Mendacity and Managed Mystification, I say. Our political/military "leaders" lie just to keep in practice, just so they won't forget how. Anyone who takes a word that they say at face value needs to have their head examined for terminal deficiency.

  • Last US Combat Units withdraw from Iraq
    • Sorry for the garbage text after "comparison," which should have ended my posting. Do you suppose we could have a return of the "preview" function? It could really help.

  • 59 Dead, 120 Wounded in Iraqi Suicide Bombing;
    Iraqi Parties reject US Power Sharing Proposal
    • "... in a country with high unemployment and relatively few opportunities still in the small private sector, an army job is going to remain sufficiently attractive to young men [up to the age of forty] that they will risk trying to join regardless of a few [deaths or maimings] here and there."

      And to which country, again, does such a dismal economic/employment motivation for military "service" apply?

      Just asking.

  • Mosque Building and Gay Marriage vs. Mob Rule by the Right
    • A justice of the peace married my mother and father during WWII. Nothing in their marriage certificate mentions anything about religion. When I got married (again) in 1999, my aged mother went with us (as our witness) to the local county courthouse where she walked with us into a roomful of clerks at their desks and announced to all present: "They just need someone to say the words." A young lady clerk looked up at us and said: "I can do that. You can be my first!" So we went outside and repeated some words, paid our fee, got some signed documents, and have remained happily married for the last eleven years. Nothing about religion had or has anything to do with the propriety or legality of our marriage.

      Religous maniacs really need to keep their delusional bigotry to themselves and stop trying to tell the rest of us free people how to live our lives. Like Jefferson, I don't find the "twenty god" pagans or the "no god" free thinkers at all objectionable compared to the lethally obnoxious "one-and-only-one-GAWD" Jews, Christians, and Muslims. As Benjamin Franklin said of and to them: "Either one of you is right or all of you are wrong." I think it goes without saying that the latter of these logical possibilities carries with it the truth of things.

      Religion means "animism," or a belief in the existence of "powerful" but unseen spooks who ostensibly require human charlatans (rabbis, priests, ministers, and Imams) to speak for them -- a magic charade otherwise known as "ventriloquism." It leads nowhere but back to the cave, where a great majority of humankind apparently still wish to live. I say let them -- but don't let them bring their cave's darkness outside with them so as to blot out the sunshine for the rest of us.

  • US Military Mission in Iraq ends not with a Bang but a Whimper
    • What a brilliant scheme by our current commander-in-briefs! Escalate and deepen our Afghanistan Vietnam as a political cover for "drawing down" (but not actually leaving) our Iraq Vietnam. Too bad the solopsistic, descending spiral still leaves us with two Vietnams. Somehow I get the impression that President Obama thought of Afghanistan the way President Reagan thought of Grenada: namely, to get a quick and easy political "victory" to cover for hauling ass from a humiliating, bleeding-nose disaster. President Obama really doesn't know the first damn thing about Vietnams and how they end -- badly. He doesn't even know how to pick a *real* patsy that our fuck-up-and-move up military can actually defeat in, say, something less than twenty years. For someone rumored to possess an intelligence superior to that of Deputy Dubya Bush, carrying on and actually worsening Dubya's debacles (military and economic) rather puts an end to those innocent suppositions about President Obama.

  • Steele blames Obama for Afghanistan, Defends Iraq War
    • Contrary to those who profess complete American impotence when it comes to terminating stupid and counter-productive wars, the United States of America certainly can cease and desist from continuing any war "just like that" -- and the sooner the better. As with America's disastrous and stupid War on Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), the old slogan still holds true for Iraq and Afghanistan: namely, "We lost the day we started and we win the day we quit." When you find yourself doing something contrary to your country's own self interest -- if not bat-shit insane -- then you can do nothing better for yourself than quitting "just like that."

      I realize that this common-sense truism flies in the face of what passes in America for "conventional wisdom" (meaning, a consensus of widely held error), expressed most commonly as: "our friends will not respect us and our enemies will not fear us if we stop acting so bloody stupid." This presumes, of course, that our friends respect our stupidity and our enemies fear it -- absolutely contrary to fact and logic. In the real world, both America and Southeast Asia started getting better right away, just as soon as America stopped its un-called-for belligerence against some third-world peasant nations that had never done anything to harm America. In the same way, Iraq and Afghanistan -- not to mention America -- will start getting better right away the moment America ceases its un-called-for belligerence against these third-world countries that never did anything to harm America.

      Really. Americans ought to mind their own damn business and try winning their own hearts and minds for a change, assuming that Americans have either.

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