“Here “We” Go Again”
“What Happens When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing, And Don’t Care”
On 10 September 2014, the President addressed the nation on prime time TV to announce that the US military was going back into Iraq – under the impressive hubris of the royal “we”, naturally. What? Just a month earlier two-thirds of the American people, the royal “we”, were against going back into Iraq, and this is the president who couldn’t wait to pull all US forces out of the country, regardless of the consequences. The Barrack Obama Administration is suddenly sounding very much like the George Bush Administration of ten years ago – before everything got thoroughly muddled and screwed up by really stupid domestic politics.
The president’s administration had watched in silence for three years as the Shi’ite government in Iraq under Maliki, without a countering pressure that could have been exercised by a strong US military presence, had steadily purged the US-trained Iraqi military of competent Sunni officers and replaced them with Shi’ite cronies – which led to junior Sunni soldiers eventually walking off the battlefield in the face of advancing extremist forces streaming out of war-torn Syria. In effect, the Iraqi soldiers said, “Screw you, Maliki!”
I would have done the same. Why should I die defending a government I don’t trust, a government that views me as nothing more than expendable munitions serving its own duplicitous purposes? Those soldiers no longer had a vested interest in defending a government that was aggressively exploiting them and their group for their own self-serving agendas. The Shi’ite cronies, unable to lead, fled, so the Sunni soldiers predictably just walked away; the effectiveness of an army is always a reflection of its leadership. Only those “special” people in the very safe rear who have never laid their lives on the line in ground combat for an ideal could not foresee or understand such an event. (An actual leader, George Washington, did know; he was one of them, and he fully grasped the far greater long-range objective for the new nation he envisioned.) It’s not toys that make an army; people make an army. Soldiers are not brainless widgets. The US Army left behind a reasonably competent nascent Iraqi army composed bottom to top of members of all three of Iraq’s main tribal groups, an army that had a good chance of showing all Iraqis the way forward. But people who have lived their entire lives under oppressive, brutal and self-interested dictatorship need significant time to become comfortable with a better alternative, one that is equally inclusive of all citizens, all groups. A strong external hand is needed to keep everything on an even keel until the new alternative functions properly on its own, so that it all doesn’t just take the path of least resistance and inevitably drift back into the familiar dictatorship.
There are no “surprises” here, no factors that were “under-estimated” or “over-estimated”. There are only inevitable outcomes that were always predictable by anyone who actually knew what they were doing, understood how these things work, by those whose thinking is based in sound logic rather than flighty emotion. It’s worth noting that the intelligence briefings and estimates provided by DIA Director Army LtGen Michael Flynn over the preceding two years have been consistently accurate. This may, in fact, be a principal reason why General Flynn is being removed from his post a year early – a very common fate for generals who find themselves at odds with the political “narrative” advanced by the privileged ladies of the Administration.
The US walking away from Iraq before the job was done was as stupid as US “proconsul” Bremer firing the entire Iraqi army as soon as US military invasion forces had defeated Iraq, leaving the US military with only a quarter of the number of military ground forces required to secure and occupy the country, which naturally resulted in inevitable chaos and a whole army – the fourth largest in the world – of trained unemployed insurgents. Later, the absence of a status of forces agreement in Iraq as an excuse for pulling out completely was just a pathetic red herring, for dummies. When your military forces have invaded and finally conquered a country at astronomical cost in both blood and treasure, you do NOT leave that country until YOU are fully confident that doing so will not render all that cost wasted, irrelevant, of no consequence. You leave when you are ready to leave. American soldiers are NOT expendable refuse to be tossed away for cheap US domestic political agendas before their mission is completed. Then we even neglected to use the one leverage we had left – threatening to send arms directly to our strongest allies, the Kurds, unless Baghdad governed all groups equitably. (Nothing intended for the Kurds ever got past Baghdad. After over 30 years of close participation with the US Army Special Forces, the Kurds don’t need training in anything; these excellent and fair-minded fighters need ammo, small arms and vehicles, plus some close air-ground and surveillance support.) Such actions on the part of senior US civilians make inept and stupid US politicians and bureaucrats the US military’s worst enemy.
Now in September 2014 the administration was suddenly reversing course in response to dramatically changed American public opinion. The White House was, as usual, following rather than leading, and with the usual degree of ineptness. Well over 1,000 American soldiers have already been sent back into Iraq, and it is a foregone conclusion that more will follow, most likely in increments of 1,000 or so each. It is simply not possible to defeat or even degrade such an enemy with air power alone. Major ground forces will be required, but now, as a first step, the US Army has to try to rebuild, re-constitute and re-train an extremely fractured Iraqi army and orient it against enemy forces now appreciably made up of defectors from that same Iraqi army – defectors who were previously trained by US Army soldiers.
But what happened to change public opinion? The extremist forces had posted on the internet a couple of terrifying videos. The US military wouldn’t be doing anything if many millions of American women voters had not gotten all emotional after rushing to view a couple of really gory beheadings of two US journalists posted on the internet. Journalists everywhere were making at all a cause célèbre, generating fear among emotional Americans that the same could happen to them tomorrow, that these evil killers had to pay for their sins before they came to Main Street. And some, including the parents of one of the two journalists, were lamenting the fact that a US military rescue attempt had failed and that the US government had resisted efforts to raise ransom funds. (How the rescue attempt became public knowledge is shamefully inexplicable; these things are national defense secrets – for very good reasons, not the least of which involve any similar future attempts. But nothing is more important to bureaucrats in Washington than self-aggrandizement based on the actions of a very few brave others.)
Now once again we all have to listen to all those asinine talking heads pontificate totally ignorant nonsense about what “we” need to do in Iraq. Most of them don’t even know which end of the gun the bullet comes out. Over half of it is just the usual political baiting of domestic opponents – two sets of spoiled infants playing games with very high stakes in their very safe sandbox – in which “someone else” always pays the price. We’ve been listening to the same “expert” Baby Boomer stupidity for the past 20 years. It’s small wonder that our military always seems to be chasing its tail.
Then there’s the matter of the two journalists. Americans who stupidly go where it’s inherently very dangerous should not be surprised when bad things happen to them. Nor should they expect other Americans to risk their lives trying to bail them out of situations in which they purposefully placed themselves. Americans, including journalists, who need to show how brave they are, can do it the smart way and try to join the US Army or US Marine infantry. The “Real World” they seek looks very different from that perspective. Maybe we should start charging these irresponsible people for the costs of rescuing them from, or avenging them for, the consequences of their own stupid decisions, like many municipalities now do in the US. How much is the life of an American soldier worth, a soldier whose purpose is supposed to be defending his nation from foreign threats?
At the same time that everyone in the US and Europe was agonizing over the decapitations of two western journalists blaring constantly from every news and social media outlet, over 700 people from the Mid-east and North Africa drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach sanctuary in Europe. They were Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Sudanese, and, most shamefully, Libyans, whose country was bombed into rubble and dysfunction for eight months by “NATO”, which then just walked away from the huge mess it had created. As long as those people drowned out of sight at sea, they could be relegated to a few lines of just another sad story of no consequence to mull over for a few seconds while sipping the morning coffee. It mattered not that the bombing of Libya, over 80% underwritten by American tax money and American bombs, was undertaken as a phony “humanitarian” mission so as to circumvent the constitutional authority of the US Congress by an imperial presidency seeking cheap domestic political gain. Herd power is very selective.
We all DO sympathize with the parents of the journalists killed by those evil fanatics. However, ransom paid for the release of civilians in war zones – over $150 million in the last year – is used to buy weapons that are used to kill and maim other civilians and American soldiers – just about the last brave people left willing to face those lunatics. If civilian journalists don’t want to be kidnapped, etc., then they should stay away from very dangerous places where kidnapping is a primary source of income – just as the US government warns all such travelers. If they can measure up, they can write and file their stories as US Army or US Marine infantry soldiers. If we can stop, arrest and toss in jail people intending to travel to join the jihadists, why can’t we stop, arrest and toss in jail idiots seeking to “do good” where the jihadists are killing people? The result in both cases is the same – propaganda, money and benefit to the bad guys. Just what do we say to the parents of American soldiers who die trying to effect the rescue of such irresponsible civilians? Do we give them equal air time to express their views? Of course, if US forces had not been withdrawn from Iraq, the Iraqi military would have been far better prepared to resist on its own the advance of the extremists into Iraq, and perhaps the kidnappings would not have happened to begin with. Now, in the final analysis, it all seems to boil down to US politicians buying emotional votes with more dead and maimed soldiers. (See Footnote #1.)
But this is the anti-war president who claimed all during his re-election campaign that all was well in Iraq, that “terrorism” had been defeated, that al Qaeda was on the run and the war was over. Now he runs the risk of contradicting himself with the actual truth. So naturally it’s time for some fancy word smithing. The US military is now going to engage in a “limited counter-terrorism campaign”, like a police department, and one with no end game. The one word US politicians really hate to utter before-the-fact is “war”. (And just how do you wage a war, or a “campaign”, against a method? “Terrorism” is just one of many methods employed in unconventional warfare (the only way possible to challenge a single conventional super-power). But it does not happen in a vacuum; it requires a human party to engage in it. And it depends on who the target is. The US military engages in what is “terror” to its targets when it remotely obliterates buildings containing dozens of people. (Are “we” at war with ourselves? “Terrorist” has become a generic term so broadly used by so many that it has become a meaningless label applied by the labeler to anyone they don’t like.) Just who is the party that engages in what is terror to us? It’s a ideology embraced by certain identifiable humans organized as a group. Identify it! Identify them! They certainly have no difficulty identifying us! We are the “infidels”! And then have Congress finally find a spine and formally declare a state of war against this enemy ideology that has been at war with us and attacking us everywhere it can for the past 20 years!
The last time there was a formal American declaration of war was in 1941, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was correctly perceived as an unprovoked act of war – an unprovoked act of war which the US then stupidly duplicated in 2011 in Libya without a declaration. (Bombing another country is an unambiguous act of war; war does NOT require the introduction of ground forces, of “boots on the ground”. In which asylum did that lunacy originate? The single attack on the US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole in October 2000 was an unambiguous act of war, an unambiguous declaration of war – for anyone who knows what they’re talking about – and there wasn’t a ground soldier in sight. Which idiots conjure up the utter nonsense tossed around by TV talking heads, by politicians who never even served in the Girl Scouts?) At the instigation of four American women appointed to very high places – Clinton, Rice, Power and Albright – the 2011 act of war against Libya was “smart” since “we” waited until after the country had turned over its weapons of mass destruction and could no longer defend itself against attack by a far superior force, a force with which its government was even cooperating in the “war on terrorism”, the greater war against an extremist ideology. (Yes, attacking and destroying Libya was exactly like stupidly shooting yourself in the foot, and it certainly showed Iran, in completely unambiguous terms, exactly what happens when you give up your nukes.)
The 1941 declaration was the reluctant war in which Eisenhower and MacArthur served, towering actual leaders now fading into ancient history right along with their example. Now the word “war” is never used before-the-fact so politicians can avoid the difficult inconvenience of the US Constitution, of requiring elected representatives to actually sign on the dotted line to declare or not declare a state of war against another clearly identified party. Politicians can say anything their wish and never be held accountable, but signing on a dotted line to a solemn declaration is pretty difficult to deny later. Such an act becomes just as much an important part of history as does the war itself, and, of course, the war’s dead soldiers.
For the next 70 years after 1941 America has sacrificed hundreds of thousands of her best men in ineptly directed wars that her spineless politicians were unwilling to even properly label, much less properly authorize in advance. These include the “police action” in Korea, the “conflict” in Vietnam, and the “operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus over 50 other “undeclared” military combat missions – not one of which represented an “imminent threat to the nation”. And only one of them (the Persian Gulf War) ever had a clear concise mission so that military “success” or “failure” could be objectively judged and the war properly ended when the mission was clearly accomplished without stupid civilian interference. Except for the Persian Gulf War in 1991, led by a President who actually knew what he was doing, these things just “evolve”, seemingly of their own volition, by direction of civilians with zero military experience or knowledge of their own, much less a clear understanding of where it’s all supposed to go, of what it’s supposed to accomplish.
Now those politicians are requiring those men to go to war without even giving the mission, the “operation”, a name — needed for a wide range of military purposes, including history. This is the “evolution” of the US military from “Defender Of The Nation” to the “President’s Own World Cop” – the last entity in the country that works being misused and perverted mostly for emotional domestic political purposes, to make certain groups of pathetic Americans feel better about themselves for not actually doing anything, and so to buy their votes with the lives of others. “Since everything at home is going to pot, let’s go bomb someone to make us feel better!”
A state of war is like a state of pregnancy; there are NO “degrees”. You either are, or you aren’t. Period. We have been in a state of war unbroken for the past 16 years – beginning with the 1998 attacks on our two African embassies and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole – while President Clinton was still in the White House. Given over 2,000 years of western civilization history, the attack on the USS Cole was the clearest declaration of war possible for a totally unconventional enemy that did not possess a single ship, plane, tank, missile or drone. There is no such cheap semantic distinctions for Master Sergeant Kelly if he dies on the beaches of Normandy or in some secret covert mission in the middle of the Sahara. HE believes he is “defending his nation.” The least WE can do is insure that is actually true, that it isn’t just some cheap effort to make the rest of us feel good for doing nothing on the very safe sidelines. There are actually people in the US, including in the US Congress, who actually believe that armed drones, F-16 fighters, warships, guided missiles, etc., do not constitute “armed forces” and that those weapons of war are not being used to engage in “hostilities” as they go about killing people and destroying stuff on the ground. It’s absolutely certain, however, that those morons would immediately view such entities as “armed forces” engaged in “hostilities” – war – if they were directed against THEM. It seems to all depend on which humans are being exterminated “antiseptically” (i.e., without “boots on the ground” – like, say, Pearl Harbor?). Who dreams up this nonsense, these asinine “distinctions”? Anyone who fires a single missile from sea that falls on San Francisco is instantaneously at war with America – no “boots” necessary. The people we elect to represent us in Congress cowardly dodge their own responsibilities and dump it all off on to soldiers to figure out in order to stay alive. How cowardly is it possible to get? And just to play to their own voting herds? Sixteen years of war and the Baby Boomer politicians running the show have still not been able to accept stark realities or come up with a coherent sensible strategy that stays in place longer than a few months.
The US Constitution stipulates that the people’s representatives in Congress must declare wars which are then prosecuted under the direction of the President. At the height of the “Cold” War, however, Congress adjusted this constitutional requirement in order to allow the President to act in grave emergencies, such as that presented by a sudden impending Warsaw Pact nuclear missile attack on the US that would be an “imminent threat” to the very survival of the nation if not instantaneously countered. But politicians have perverted this original sensible intention ever since, with “anti-war” Baby Boomer politicians achieving ever greater levels of duplicitous deception. It’s the “evolution” of the American democracy into a 17th century monarchy. (It’s not difficult to imagine what happens when America’s first totally unassailable and self-interested queen ascends to the throne.)
The semantic gymnastics these ignorant and cowardly politicians can now conjure up to circumvent the US Constitution simply boggles the rational mind. None wants to put their political reputation irrevocably on the line even as they expect soldiers to irrevocably lay their lives on the line. At least Congress passed “resolutions” approving in advance the “operations” in both Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). Certain despicable politicians, however, after many soldiers had already been killed or maimed, even later voted against the war they had earlier voted for. And one of these jerks is now the US Secretary of State, out there busily ginning up new ways to sacrifice the lives of American soldiers in very vague and nebulous missions that are bound to change by the month depending on shifting domestic political breezes. (They now just issue sandals, rather than “boots”, to those soldiers, so politicians can say that they are not putting “boots on the ground” – which, of course, is just a meaningless lie, as all those Special Forces and Recon Marine soldiers and air controllers already back on the ground in Iraq know so well.) Voting to fund, and thus theoretically to authorize after-the-fact, a “military campaign” is hardly the same thing as signing on the dotted line to formally declare war on another party in advance, so it’s very easy for spineless politicians to engage in all sorts of self-serving rationalizations and convoluted mental gymnastics later.
It’s just unfortunate, I guess, that dead soldiers can’t so easily change their minds to suit their domestic political agendas.
But it is fortunate, I guess, that dead soldiers don’t vote,
That we can so easily just walk away from the unfinished messes “we” create and then tell the parents of those dead soldiers, “Never mind.”,
That Americans just can’t seem to feel ashamed of themselves.
(I’ll skip a discussion of an absurd “coalition” that defies even an inscrutable Chinese puzzle that may seem “acceptable” to quick-fix politicians but is impossible to execute militarily. It’s essentially just more of an open-ended remote-control whack-a-mole non-war, similar to the one we’ve been waging against Pakistan for the past 13 years (even though, of course, we’re told that we’re not really at war with Pakistan). Even though Iraq has exchanged one Shi’ite president for a less offensive Shi’ite president, the US air attacks are, in effect, assisting two parties that are counter to US interests – Assad in Syria and self-serving Shi’ite rule in Iraq. So the US is at war with ISIS, and itself. And a “campaign” is just one of a series of military actions taken during the prosecution of a war; I served in at least nine campaigns over three years just during the one war in Vietnam. Which declared “war” is this “campaign” part of? And, yes, the US military does give names even to campaigns. Abject ignorance abounds.)
On 18 September 2014 Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former wartime commander of US training programs in Iraq, told Robert Burns, Associated Press National Security Writer, on a flight to Paris, that about half of Iraq’s army is now incapable of partnering effectively with the US to roll back the Islamic State group’s territorial gains in western and northern Iraq, and that the other half needs to be partially rebuilt with US training and additional equipment. General Dempsey said expert US military teams that spent much of the summer in Iraq assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the Iraqi security forces concluded that 26 of 50 army brigades were still capable partners for the US military. He described them as well led and well equipped, adding, “They appear to have a national instinct, instead of a sectarian instinct.” He said the 24 other brigades were too heavily weighted with Shi’ites to be part of a credible national force. It is unlikely that a conventional army that is only half effective, and suspicious of the other half, will present much of a credible challenge to the fierce and dedicated unconventional onslaught of the Islamic State.
General Dempsey said no amount of US military power will solve the problem of the Islamic State’s takeover of large swaths of northern and western Iraq. The solution, he said, must begin with an Iraqi government that is able to convince the country’s Kurdish and Sunni populations that they will be equal partners with the Shi’ites in Iraq’s future. This, of course, was the whole idea of invading Iraq and removing a universally hated dictatorship modeled specifically after Hitler’s Nazis and replacing it with a better alternative that included all of the country’s citizens, groups and tribes in an equitable partnership. But too many pointy-headed Americans could never grasp that the long-range and even greater objective in Iraq was to stand up a nation in the middle of the Mid-east that could resist Islamic militant extremism and present a better alternative example to all others in the region. At the moment it appears that the Kurds, and many of the Sunnis, are no longer interested in partnering with the Shi’ites – who began screwing them over as soon as the last American ground soldier left. After all that colossal cost in American blood and treasure, paid by “someone else”, all those dead and maimed soldiers, the new Baby Boomer brilliant “leaders” in Washington had nothing better to offer that telling Americans, “Never mind.” (How many times have Americans heard that idiocy from Washington over the past forty years?)
(For a brief discussion of some basic fundamentals about military forces and warfare – which most Americans, including many in the foreign affairs and military arenas, seem to have considerable difficulty understanding – see “Smiling Faces And Purple Fingers – And Egypt“, posted separately. The article was written in 2010 and remains solid; it explains why we keep making the same mistakes in our “thinking” about “power”.)
P.S. And just how is any of the things that are taking place in the middle of deserts on the other side of the world of any concern to Americans? In the words of a famous politician, “What difference does it make?’”- to the security of the United States? No one ever examines the fundamental premises behind all the surface political nonsense. It’s anyone’s guess why we are going back in, why what happens in that part of the world is of any further concern to the security of the United States. We had a shot at making a real difference, but we threw it away on the ten-yard line; that ship has sailed. Let ISIS form its state, if that’s what the people in the region want. At least a state is a fixed entity that can be addressed much easier with conventional US military forces if and when it constitutes a threat to the security of the United States. And just why is all this solely a matter for American soldiers – while our straphanger “friends and allies”, including all those in Europe who have benefitted for a century from enormous American sacrifice, pony up little more than the customary rear area tokenism – just to gain a seat at our command table? And how can a country that can’t begin to solve any of its own very long list of monumental problems presume to be able to solve the problems of the rest of the world, or even a small part of it? The one most critical ally we need most for the real fight of THIS century is the one we’ve been relentlessly poking with sticks for the past twenty years – Russia. War is the last place where emotion should reign. But Americans no longer know how to think without girly emotion – as long as it’s “someone else” who has to pay the bills, take the blame and do the hard stuff for “very special me”. After a lifetime of this nonsense, I’m getting really tired of doing everyone else’s heavy lifting – to no end. I sure can sympathize with the Iraqi soldiers who walked off the battlefield; one of these days the same thing will happen to Americans.
“I ever will profess myself the greatest friend to those whose actions best correspond with their doctrine; which, I am sorry to say, is too seldom the case amongst those nations who pretend most to civilization.” — Captain J. G. Stedman (1744-97), British-Dutch soldier, author, artist, chronicler of colonial slavery in the Dutch West Indies.
There is very little bad stuff going on in the world today that has not always been going on, and quite often on far more horrific scales, usually perpetrated by militaristic states waging war at the behest of dictators, including “birthright entitled” kings and queens. Today it’s ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but yesterday the work of the Khmer Rouge in a Cambodia abandoned by America’s Baby Boomers made such atrocities look inconsequential by comparison. The same applied to Rwanda, consciously ignored by the rest of the world watching it on TV. We heap scorn on America’s nuclear attacks in Japan that cost the lives of 200,000 humans, while ignoring the 2,000,000 humans killed by the German siege of Leningrad, or the Allied fire bombing of Dresden. The main difference is that, unlike the past, today the ugliness of the bad stuff can be delivered into everyone’s hands via instantaneous social media, almost forcing them to look at it, see it, up close and personal. Taken together it can seem to the sheltered novice like a world at the apocalypse (a feeling I’ve carried with me constantly for the past half century all over the globe).
This makes it very easy for huge herds of people who have never experienced such things, including war, to be whipped into schizophrenic frenzy and panic. Our enemies know this about us, and play to it very well indeed – much better than we even try to counter it. Even worse, they know that stupid domestic American politics can always be counted on to thoroughly muddy the whole equation for everyone. Then there’s the size of the American interest group involved and how easily it can be emotionally manipulated for voting purposes. It was just “unfortunate”, I suppose, that Cambodia-Americans were not such a large voting group in the 1970s, or Rwanda-Americans in the 1990s. But put the emphasis on “girls” and “women”, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed American tidal wave – to which “someone else”, of course, will have to respond. TV talking heads love to play to these same herds to pump up their ratings. American women and their clones will get a thousand times more upset about a couple of kidnapped girls than they will ever get about a few thousand dead soldiers sent to find them. Since such atrocities, as horrible and repulsive as they are, do not represent an existential threat to the United States, any US military response will be an elective option – in which voter opinion polls will be the deciding factor. Since women are by far the largest voting block in America, it doesn’t require a genius to predict the outcome. But our military forces simply cannot be reacting to such atrocities everywhere every other day; we must make carefully considered choices within a broader logical strategy while finding ways to force others, including “friends and allies”, to step up to their own just responsibilities. (We also need to find ways to re-attach responsibilities to all those rights claimed by the “special” people.)
The enemy is not about this lunatic or that lunatic, about this group or that group; the enemy is an ideology. Regardless of the mental gymnastics that our “leaders” go through to convince themselves, and us, of total nonsense, that ideology has been at war with the “West” for a quarter of a century, since the “Cold” War ended. An ideology is like water; it goes wherever it wants to go, following any and all paths of least resistance. And one of those paths is our own steadily decaying ideology. Any sensible strategy to oppose such an enemy must start from our own ideology. But we have done such a truly excellent job over the past forty years or so of severely undermining and diluting what we are, what we stand for, what our values are, what we – all of us – are willing to defend, etc., that today our “ideology” against such a dedicated opposing ideology doesn’t stand a chance. If you are not willing to stand up for and maintain your own ideology, why do you expect me to defend it? The best we can do now is let the other side go where it wants to go, and wall them off from us as best we can for as long as we can. Besides, they know that we are doing an excellent job on our own of destroying ourselves. All anyone else has to do is stand by and watch as we become a mere fading shadow of our former self, a brief footnote in history, … a bunch of “special” people who really weren’t, who, in the end, stood for nothing except “very special me”.
Addendum, 23 September 2014: On 23 September 2014, the US Attorney General publicly revealed (to a well-known woman “journalist” famous as a mouthpiece for leftist and “feminist” politics at Yahoo News) for the first time the existence of an esoteric Islamic militant extremist group, known as the Khorasan Group, dedicated to conducting terrorist attacks inside the United States and western Europe. Attorney General Holder also stated that “we” had been monitoring this group, which was based in an area claimed by the “Islamic State” in northern Syria, for the past two years. He also implied that the group’s plans involved commercial aircraft.
It seemed a rather unusual revelation, and not just because of the chosen venue that simply had to have ulterior objectives with women voters. Just why was the information revealed, and at that particular moment? The comments about the Khorasan Group specifically planning attacks inside the United States were especially striking since they contradicted repeated assurances from senior US government officials in previous weeks denying there was any specific or credible information about any plots against the US homeland – in a country that thrives on fanning fear for profit and ever restricting citizen rights and freedoms. (It seems incredible that a terrorist group could be studied for two years by bureaucrats with no hint of the group’s existence leaking out – in that leakiest of all secrets sieves, Inside The Beltway.)
Also at that moment, however, the Obama Administration had just announced the commencement of US-led air attacks on the “Islamic State” in Iraq and, most notably, also in Syria. Later a “senior official” told reporters at a (unsourced) “background briefing” concerning the terrorist group that, “We were monitoring active plotting that posed an imminent threat to the US and potentially our allies.” And there you have the key words out there on the table: “imminent threat”. They were even able to link the group to bin Laden’s original circle – which brings into play Senate Resolution 23, dating all the way back to 14 September 2001, despite 12 years of relentless targeted assassinations of that circle. This link is shaky at best since the target of the current US offensive, “ISIS” or the “Islamic State”, did not exist in 2001 and had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11, and what remains of al Qaeda has severed all ties with ISIS in a disagreement over strategy.
The sudden public surfacing of the “Khorasan Group” was the cover needed by an imperial presidency to unilaterally attack yet another sovereign country – Syria (thankfully, this time, without using “NATO” or the UN as co-conspirators). The US military attacks in Iraq and Syria were launched on the President’s directive without the consent of the US Congress, much less with any consultation or discussion with the US Congress – which just might have asked some rather inconvenient questions about some inept administration decisions over the previous three years. Subsequent scattered Administration comments elsewhere added to the “narrative”. Obviously, the Administration was setting the pieces in place that would enable the President to claim that he had acted contrary to the US Constitution in the face of an “imminent threat” to the security of the nation. (“It’s just like Soviet Russia and the Warsaw Pact ten minutes away from sending a blanket of intercontinental ballistic missiles each with multiple nuclear bomb warheads raining down on every city and town in America!“) I suppose that there are one or two Americans here and there who might be stupid enough to accept this narrative, but I suspect that most Americans these days just don’t care since it “doesn’t involve me.”
All the discussion about “boots on the ground”, of course, is just to divert public attention from the obvious – that over half of the “boots on the ground” stuff is already executed by commercial contractors of the US government operating in the shadows with US taxpayer money, waging war for profit behind the image of real American soldiers but without the rules of honor that apply to those real soldiers. It’s just pretty difficult turning B-1, F-22, F-18, F-16 bombers, carrier battle groups, cruise missiles, etc., over to commercial contractors and tell them to, “Go get ’em!” But maybe that’s all part of the plan, too. Maybe it’s ALL about remote control “warfare” from a very safe distance, using expendable mercenaries on the ground pretending to be American soldiers. Has anyone seen any efforts to increase the strength of the US Army in the face of all this “great need” for ground soldiers? Of course not; they just keep firing them. The fewer real soldiers, the more money for mercenaries. The same applies to all those commercial companies now fanning fear for profit in the US domestic security business. Then there’s that humongous commercial “intelligence” industry, too, plus all those doing “diplomatic” work for State and USAID.
Congress enabled this stupid stuff. You have to wonder how many of those congressmen have money in those mercenary, security, “intelligence” and “diplomatic” money-making machines. It used to be that military or government service was an end unto itself – an honorable lifetime competitive career at good pay and benefits in service of the American people and their nation. Now, for very many in both the military and government, the focus has shifted to an opportunity for the narcissist to gain training and experience along with good pay and benefits (plus insider contacts and knowledge) … for only as long as it takes to set themselves up outside of government with a commercial contractor offering even higher pay. This, then, gradually becomes a rot within. The nation and its citizens, who pay for it all, are the scam’s victims. (See Footnotes #2 and #3 below.) Doesn’t it all make you proud to be American, living in the “land of the free, home of the brave”, the “greatest nation on Earth” – where all the things that once made us “exceptional” have been out-sourced for profit?
But how is any American citizen-voter supposed to evaluate this “spin” about Iraq? They can’t. They just have to accept that their officials are not lying to them for self-serving domestic political purposes. At this point, I, for one, don’t believe a word these entirely self-serving political animals say. These are world-class experts in the very wide field of slick propaganda serving first and foremost domestic political agendas. And the only thing that counts in those agendas is the emotional women’s vote (and, of course, the usual covering of their own asses).
Footnote #1. Americans Held As Prisoners Of Terrorists. In June 2015, the Obama Administration announced a “new policy” with regard to Americans taken prisoner overseas by Islamic militant extremists (terrorists). Such people are frequently held for ransom under the very real threat of decapitation, which is filmed for global propaganda purposes. The US government hitherto has had a public policy dating back over 200 years of refusing to engage in negotiation with terrorist groups or to pay ransoms (although it did hypocritically break its own policy in 2014 by executing a negotiated arrangement that exchanged five terrorists being held in the Guantanamo Bay military prison for one US soldier held in Afghanistan). This policy dates from Thomas Jefferson’s dispatch of the US Navy and Marines to Tripoli to end kidnappings by Barbary Coast pirates of Americans on the high seas. That first American foreign event in pursuit of international justice is immortalized in the Marine Corps hymn.
The most noticeable change announced in 2015 involved the creation of an inter-agency group to function as a single point of federal government contact and to coordinate all matters involving such prisoners, including interfacing with their families and the press. This “Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell” (at the FBI) seems to be an excellent idea, but the President also said for the first time that US government officials can communicate directly with terrorists and assist families negotiate for the release of hostages. Because such a policy makes it likely that even more Americans will be taken prisoner in the future, could even lead to a thriving hostage “business”, the matter also set off another national “discussion” about such matters – most of it emotion-based, myopic and limited to only select parts of a much larger and more complex problem.
The following presents the subject in a logical manner, which includes all the other parts beyond the natural emotional consideration of the prisoner and the prisoner’s family.
The whole world is very familiar with the brutal modus operandi of Islamic militant extremists in areas under their control. There should by now be no surprises to anyone.
It would seem that Americans who travel to and place themselves into situations where they are likely to be kidnapped by Bad Guys do so willingly – and against the warnings of their own government. No one is forcing anyone to do anything.
It has already been demonstrated that the US government can arrest, charge, convict and confine to prison Americans solely for their intention to travel to places where they could join the Bad Guys.
A logical person could ask why the same behavior is a crime in one case and not in another.
If Americans are held for ransom, the Bad Guys benefit from any money paid by their enemies – an action which could be regarded as “materially aiding and abetting the enemy“, or “treason in time of war” – actions which potentially endanger other Americans.
Does the new policy mean that those American prisoners with rich families or employers will have a high probability of gaining freedom while those who do not have such readily available money will be thrown to the wolves?
If Americans are held for ransom, other Americans could be dispatched to attempt their rescue – which would place those other Americans in harm’s way, and at very significant cost to the US taxpayer. Such rescue operations are inherently very high risk.
If those rescuers are also taken prisoner, the problem, and its propaganda value, would be very significantly magnified.
Why are certain Americans “valuable”, while other Americans are “expendable”?
If those rescuers (in all likelihood professional American ground soldiers) are killed in the process, who compensates their families for their loss? They certainly did NOT die “defending their country”.
Do rescuers have the opportunity to decline, without penalty, to participate in such rescue attempts? “You want me to risk my life against people you are willing to pay to kill me?”
It would seem to the logical person that the problems could be solved if the US government treated all Americans equally under the law – and arrest, charge, convict and confine to prison EVERYONE for their intention to travel to certain areas designated as under the control of America’s armed enemies.
What is so hard about this stuff? We are at war. Either we’re all on the same team, or we’re not. Despite the asinine beliefs of some, there is NO “special” in equal.
All this mushy nonsense arises from the firm belief held by a huge majority of super-spoiled Americans that, “I have RIGHTS! I do NOT have responsibilities! It’s everyone else’s responsibility to ensure whatever rights I decide to demand for “very special me” at any moment in time!” And this emotional childish idiocy is tearing America apart, from the inside. There is almost no “someone else” left!
Footnote #2. What’s Really Going On? This is a society so sick that it would now rather hire armed contractors for profit in war than maintain the number of professional US soldiers needed to do all the dangerous things that politicians and their voters want their armed forces to do. Why should a soldier risk his life serving his nation under very tight rules for $600 a week while the guy across the alley is risking his life serving his company under his own rules for $600 a day? How does the soldier know that he is engaged in a noble purpose or just being used in a cheap subterfuge designed to make profits for contractor companies? Such things do nothing but sow doubt, suspicion and distrust among uniformed soldiers for all those non-soldiers around them in very dangerous environments. How is anyone to know who’s in charge, what’s really going on, what the proper chain of command is? Is it about American ideals or corporate profits? Is there a difference? Who’s responsible? Who’s accountable? Who’s screwing up the comms channels? Why do so many of these jerks pretend to be real soldiers, sullying the reputation of the latter? If those guys are really worth that much money to a company using taxpayer dollars, why don’t those taxpayers pay their real soldiers that much – and obviate the need for “guns-for-hire”? The use of armed contractors in conflict zones fills real soldiers and intelligence professionals like me with revulsion.
I know that Paul Bremer fired the entire Iraqi army so as to pull the rug out from under the US Army and Marine Corps and create the chaos that would require the infusion of countless civilian contractor companies waiting in the wings to chase planeloads, tons!, of freshly printed US taxpayer cash. Very quickly there were just as many civilian contractors running around loose in Iraq as there were US soldiers. Mass confusion reigned supreme everywhere. No other factor was more responsible for the endless death and destruction that became the Iraq War, that cost the lives of so many Iraqi civilians and US soldiers.
I do not want these contractor guys anywhere around me. If you want me and my guys to go in and do dangerous stuff, you must first remove every non-soldier contractor completely from the entire picture. If these guns-for-hire are so great and dedicated, they should have remained competing with contemporaries in the professional armed forces that provided them all that training and experience for an actually noble purpose, or they should have pursued careers that don’t come anywhere near US combat forces. The very fact that they left the military early is enough to give me doubt; the fact that they show up under a company logo wins only my distrust. With every US government “foreign affairs” agency – from State, Defense and CIA to USAID – now employing many hundreds of these contractor companies all over the world, how is anyone to know what is really going on, what is truth and what is deception, what is local reality or what is just foreign messes purposefully engineered for profit? How can you complain about the Russians using “little green men” while you are using “little gray contractors”? How do soldiers know they are going in to fix a genuine calamity, or to address a purposefully created scam? Are all those World Cop roles, not pre-approved by the US Congress, just about waging war for profit? Who the hell can you trust?! I no longer even trust all the privileged ladies at the State Department; it’s very easy for marginal bureaucrats in places like Nigeria and Ukraine and Egypt, even Moscow, to dodge accountability when they have contractors out there in the shadows doing stuff the bureaucrats cannot, and should not, legally do. I now start with one rule: Don’t trust anyone – until they have earned that trust. Few do.
Just what does “boots on the ground” really mean? Not only does the US military employ professional conventional combat soldiers; it also employs professional unconventional combat soldiers and can now also hire significant mercenary forces. The latter two can be used covertly. When the Russians do the latter, others call them “little green men”; when we do it, everyone pretends they don’t exist. But just what is the real purpose of American secret warfare? It’s almost always a case of hiding the truth from the American people so as to control the narrative to the best self-aggrandizement of politicians chasing votes.
“The Ugly American” is a quasi-fictional political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer published in 1958. Ostensibly taking place elsewhere, it actually describes the post-WW II early experience of Americans in Southeast Asia (Vietnam) and allegedly portrays several real people, including the ambassador and other embassy personnel, who are represented by pseudonyms. Note that the book was published in 1958 – when the only military people in Vietnam were a small number of the US Army Special Forces (who were living with and teaching the local people, mainly along the border with Laos, to defend themselves), but already in 1958 it describes America’s losing struggle – what would later to be called “the battle for hearts and minds” – against Communism in Southeast Asia, all because of innate arrogance and the failure to understand the local culture.
Many who have not read the book naturally assume that the title refers to Americans in general when they travel abroad. But there are two “ugly” Americans here – the American diplomatic and ex-pat business and charity community and a rather average American Greatest Generation guy named Atkins who takes a different approach. The plain-looking (“ugly”) engineer lives with the local people and comes to understand them and their needs. He offers them genuinely useful assistance with small-scale projects that are built by and for the same people who directly benefit from them. “He doesn’t feed them fish; he teaches them to fish.” It is argued in the book that the Communists were successful because they practiced tactics similar to those of Atkins, and I quickly reached that same conclusion when I first arrived a decade later. It’s not rocket science, and it’s not super-high-tech weaponry or trillion dollar projects. It’s essentially comprehensive local knowledge, low-cost projects and what used to be called good old American common sense (plus an appreciable amount of bravery).
Senator John Kennedy was so gripped by “The Ugly American” that in 1960 he and five other opinion-makers bought a large advertisement in the New York Times. They said that, because the book’s message was so important, they had sent copies of the novel to every US Senator. The novel was a best seller for a while, until it faded, leaving only its title in the popular consciousness. Reading that same book today would be very useful to almost every American dealing in the government “foreign affairs” arena. In fact, it should be required reading for everyone in Congress, the White House, State Department, the US military, CIA, USAID and Commerce (and all their countless respective commercial contractors), plus the huge US charity industry. President Kennedy wisely institutionalized both the Special Forces and the Peace Corps shortly after assuming office in 1961, but the Irish-American died in 1963, as did the lessons of the book.
In the novel a local journalist in 1958 observes, “For some reason, the [American] people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They are loud and ostentatious.” He was speaking mostly of Americans living on the American people’s dime. Less than ten years later I observed this same behavior among what was by then a really huge American military and civilian presence in Vietnam, and most especially in Saigon.
Today such Americans as portrayed in the book rarely leave their enormous fortified Little America bunkers and do little more than dole out truck-loads of US taxpayer money to hired intermediaries who work a little closer to people whom they, too, fail to understand. And very often, the worst aspects I encounter in many foreign countries are, in fact, the worst aspects of American culture – exported for profit. It’s the Americanization of the world – at the very lowest common denominator level.
The oldest son of one of my neighbors in Montana had just turned 20 when the attacks of 9/11/2001 took place, and, after a few months, I realized that I hadn’t seen him around. Since I wasn’t sure if he had gone off to college or joined the military, I waited for his father to bring up the subject on those infrequent occasions when we happened to meet. He never mentioned it, and I was then traveling quite a bit. Then, a few years later, I happened to encounter the dad’s pick-up on a dirt road and stopped to chat. There was the boy, slightly bigger and much more self-assured, but with the same easy smile and quiet laid-back style. The boy had joined up with a couple of other guys associated with a religious charity and gone off to Afghanistan for a couple of years – on their own dime. While the war raged all around them, the boys had spent their time teaching local villagers out in the middle of nowhere how to build small but sturdy houses and school rooms while learning their language and culture. These were the type of Americans I always hoped to encounter on my endless travels abroad, but so rarely did. But it was nice to know that there were still a few such Americans out there. The boys lost money on the deal, but they gained a lifetime of knowledge and experience that will always serve them well.
Footnote #3. State And USAID Contractors. Guns-for-hire is definitely not the only problem involving US government contractors. Here are a couple of examples of other contemporary US government proxy work.
The AP reported on 4 August 2014 that USAID was using a US contractor to foment revolution in Cuba via untrained third country Latin Americans pretending to be tourists or medical AID workers. “But their efforts were fraught with incompetence and risk, an Associated Press investigation found: Cuban authorities questioned who was bankrolling the travelers. The young workers nearly blew their mission to “identify potential social-change actors.” One said he got a paltry, 30-minute seminar on how to evade Cuban intelligence, and there appeared to be no safety net for the inexperienced workers if they were caught.” Cuban intelligence is one of the most competent intelligence services in the world, and the Cuban government is known to be significantly less than kindly to people it believes are up to no good. The fact that a company was doing such work using innocent victims on behalf of a US government agency tasked with providing aid to Third World countries in need simply transcends the bounds of rationality, even sanity.
I’m a taxpaying American voter, and fairly well tuned in to what’s going on, and I had no idea Congress had given USAID the mission of fomenting covert proxy revolutions anywhere. The agency is supposed to be an altruistic organization, similar to the Peace Corps, not a bunch of Keystone Kops running around getting people arrested or killed while totally embarrassing the few government professionals America has left in such business. But, as part of the Great Peace Dividend at the end of the “Cold” War that cut the US military in half, Congress gave USAID and State trainloads of extra money to dole out to “contractors”, plus the employee spaces needed to dole it out. It won’t be long before the US military is the ONLY American entity left that has the world’s trust – despite certain nitwits using it, too, for cheap cover to hide their inept nefarious activities. The whole idea of not tainting certain altruistic US organizations was to not hinder their ability to execute their far greater missions – of winning hearts and minds for the American taxpayer through TRUST.
The AP identified the company with the USAID contract as Creative Associates International, but after three months USAID had still not provided AP with a complete copy of its Cuban contracts under the Freedom of Information Act. Just what is “Creative Associates International” anyway? Its president and CEO is a Bolivia-born immigrant from Argentina. She obtained a master of arts in early childhood development from the University of Maryland and has lived in the Washington, DC area for more than 35 years. She and three other women started CAI in 1977, using Head Start money. CAI is now the second largest government contract company owned by women; it has been solely dependent on government money throughout its entire 37-year history, from Head Start to USAID. How it graduated from helping Head Start children in Washington to fomenting revolution in dangerous foreign countries is anyone’s guess. (I strongly suspect it’s just a matter of a life-long developed expertise is securing government contracts (doles), mainly by exploiting like-minded insider bureaucrats assisting “friends and allies” to milk all the perpetual “women and minorities” angles.) CAI (easily confused in the Third World with “CIA”) now has “field offices” in 14 countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, South Sudan, Yemen, Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Honduras, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Zambia, Tanzania and Morocco. Twelve of these troubled countries have been on the front pages of US and world newspapers over just the past six months as of considerable concern to the US military. (The only country that seems missing is Ukraine.) A key component to CAI operations is emotion, fanned via huge stampeding social media herds.
Another troubled country is Nigeria, where boys are routinely killed and girls kidnapped by an Islamic extremist group calling itself Boko Haram. This group has established a caliphate, and according to the AP on 4 September 2014, the US ambassador has promised the country a “major border security program” to help Nigeria and its neighbors combat the increasing number and scope of Boko Haram attacks. The US Ambassador in Nigeria is a career diplomat who happens to be a Black-American woman. Two weeks later there still was no further explanation of that promise, but it’s a safe bet that it’s being fleshed out in secret behind the Beltway curtains and will involve the US military wading into some of the world’s densest and deadliest jungles. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with the continent’s largest economy; its 170,000,000 people are divided almost 50-50 between Muslims and Christians – in over 50 different tribes.
Nigeria also has a large army of some 80,000 poorly paid soldiers with a budget of $2.3 billion, and often provides soldiers on peacekeeping missions in other African countries. But demoralized soldiers say they are outgunned by Boko Haram, and that some of their colleagues are colluding with and even fighting for those fanatics. But the main problem is endemic corruption that has officers stealing some of the pay of the rank and file, who complain they are dumped in remote areas and ordered to fight without food or water despite blistering temperatures. In addition to surveillance drones and personnel to operate them, which the US military recently provided to help search for the kidnapped girls, the US military has supported the peacekeeping and simulation centers at the Nigerian Armed Forces Staff College—the only one in Africa and a major regional asset — and has continued to provide equipment and training for Nigerian peacekeeping forces, while promoting effective civilian oversight of the military and its adherence to human rights norms. It would seem that the US doesn’t want Nigerian soldiers screwing over others, but doesn’t care at all about others screwing over the Nigerian soldiers – which, of course, is just self-defeating stupidity.
Peacekeeping outside Nigeria is one thing; inside Nigeria the military is anther matter entirely. To compensate for inadequate military and police forces, poorly paid, trained and equipped local militia forces are being used in “Operation Flush” against Boko Haram, and they frequently operate well beyond the bounds of humanity. These militia gangs routinely round up innocent boys and young men, falsely accuse them of being Boko Haram and kill them by the hundreds, usually with machetes. So, while the world focuses on kidnapped girls, young male Nigerians are under genocidal assault by both Boko Haram and the militia forces; for them there is no difference between the two in the brutality of death they both inflict.
Even though Nigeria provides 8% of the crude oil bought and imported by the US, USAID spends about $250 million of US taxpayer money in Nigeria every year. Here is the breakdown of those funds for 2012:
Health $173.0 mil
Democracy and Development $ 23.6 mil
Program Management $ 19.3 mil
Economic Development $ 11.7 mil
Education and Social Services $ 9.3 mil
Environment $ 1.3 mil
Peace And Security $ 0.0 mil
TOTAL $238.2 mil
Notice that USAID pays a contractor about $20 million a year (about 8.5%) to manage its assistance programs, and that none of that money goes to Nigerian ‘peace and security’. Seems to me that the ladies at State and USAID could make ALL US taxpayer money to Nigeria contingent on their ending the corruption that is screwing over Nigeria soldiers and then using some of the money they spend to “manage” all that money — to spend on “Peace And Security” in the Nigerian military, especially if “peace and security” is important enough for the US ambassador to promise a “major border security program”.
Most of State and USAID’s contractor companies are run by women and minority groups – who previously were sucking the government teat in US domestic social programs. Now they operate under various and sundry “civil society” programs at State and USAID and have offices all over the world. They are busily fomenting “revolution”, organizing political demonstrations, stacking government bodies with stooges, manipulating elections, recruiting spies, funding political oppositions, etc., in places from Egypt to Ukraine to Russia. It’s becoming nearly impossible to tell which hand of government is working at cross purposes to another hand of government, or even within the same agency. But one thing is certain – it’s ALL inept, and it ALL risks US military involvement to fix the resultant messes. But that is the aspect that makes it all possible. As long as the world has only one military super-power, morons and lunatics can do anything they want without fear of blowback on the US. And Congress will naturally pay to support women and minority companies. (It’s all about “job creation”.) A lot of this stuff used to be done in the open by “non-government agencies” using charity money; now it’s done in the shadows by government contractors using US taxpayer money. NOTHING Americans do anymore is coherent; it’s all gross stupidity in a nut house – using other people’s money.
How many of those “Non-Governmental Organizations” (NGO) out there are really covert extensions of US “diplomacy”? Many of these outfits operate under a “human rights” banner interested in effecting “social change” in host countries – social change that may or may not be in the best interests of the host country and its citizens. How many of these companies are being used as cover by unnamed “diplomats” to effect processes in host countries that were never approved by American voters or their representatives in Congress, much less well considered by those engaging in the duplicity? Are such contractors being used to shield (provide “plausible deniability” to) US government bureaucrats with their own hidden agendas and ideologies? When something goes wrong and results in an “NGO” enterprise coming under the intense scrutiny of the host country’s government, legal institutions and public press, is it really a case of the US government using “diplomacy” to take a hidden activist role in the host country’s politics? How many of these contractors then use social media herds to further fan and manipulate public and government reactions? How many of such covert efforts eventually result in violent processes that require the attention of a US military that was all along used as an implied club by those involved in setting in motion the violence from the very safe sidelines? Who is really responsible when people, including US soldiers, start dying?
The events of the winter of 2013-14 in Kiev Ukraine warrant much closer examination of contract companies doing work for State and USAID, as do those in a wide range of other “troubled” countries, including Egypt during the period of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. My impression is that those contractors are doing far more damage than good on behalf of the American people – with their money.
Anyone supporting what the US government now does as a matter of routine everywhere far from its borders has relinquished the right to throw stones at Russia for doing similar things right in its own front yard, and with a lot more overt honesty. At least Russia does what it does to support its own clearly defensive self-interests. The US does it to rearrange the world according to “very special me”.
It’s no longer just the CIA out there working in the shadows. Now everyone can play “spy”! And there’s no requirement for one player to coordinate their covert programs with any other player. Presumably everything is orchestrated by the unelected White House ideologue advisor on “human rights” – and all safely under the protective wing of the world’s only super-power military – everyone’s working dog on a leash.
NOTHING is what it seems anymore.
Footnote #4. Ebola. Nigeria is a country in eastern West Africa, a region consisting of 340,000,000 citizens (greater than the US population) divided among 17 independent states. The AP reported on 16 September 2014 that the Obama Administration will be sending 3,000 US military personnel to West Africa to assist in combatting an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that is threatening to become a major epidemic. Hardest hit by the outbreak so far are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – three joining countries on the Atlantic coast. The President made the announcement at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Administration officials said that this new US military mission, which as usual has no end game, intends to:
– Train as many as 500 health care workers a week.
– Erect 17 heath care facilities in the region of 100 beds each. (Presumably this will provide one facility in each country. The US military process routinely involves teaching local personnel how to do such things on their own with provided materials.)
– Set up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate between US and international relief efforts. (This is a good choice since Monrovia is on the seacoast, which facilitates direct US Navy support and back-up to US military personnel deployed on the ground. The Liberian President is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (76), the first elected female head of state (2006) in Africa. The Liberian National Assembly is debating granting her even more powers beyond those contained in a state of emergency declared in August. Liberia’s state radio announced that Senate elections scheduled for October would be in definitely postponed.)
– Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that USAID will deliver to Liberia. (Apparently all those commercial contractors didn’t want to go where it might be dangerous. The US military can do this over such a huge region with the aid of its helicopters.)
– Carry out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on how to handle exposed patients. (Since just 3,000 US military personnel cannot do this alone, presumably the effort will involve teaching local personnel.)
The US military effort will include medics and corpsmen for treatment and training, engineers to help erect the treatment facilities, civil affairs personnel to assist in public information, and logistics specialists to assist in patient evacuation and transportation. Each of these expert specialists are professionals in their respective military career field. Most of the 3,000 soldiers will be drawn from the US Regular Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry Division, based at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky – the same “Screaming Eagles” division that has been in constant combat for the past 13 years. They will be augmented by specialists from elements such as US Navy SeaBees, and supported by US Air Force personnel and their C-17 military cargo flights bringing in these men plus hundreds of thousands of tons of equipment – as soon as Liberia’s heavily damaged airport runway can be repaired enough to handle the planes. Contingents of US Marines from US Navy ships will provide security for the US Army and US Air Force personnel involved in the effort; total number of US military personnel will rise considerably above the announced 3,000.
The military effort will be under the supervision of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), located on Fort Detrick, Maryland. This is the US military’s main institution and facility for defensive research into counter-measures against biological warfare; it works closely with CDC. (The unified (all-service) US Africa Command (AFRICOM), currently led by four-star Army General David Rodriguez, has overall command of US forces throughout the continent.) The officials said it would take about two weeks to get these US forces on the ground. Advance US military personnel were on the ground in Liberia within 24 hours of the President’s announcement.
The US military is uniquely qualified for such humanitarian missions, in which it engages on a routine basis all over the world. If they are publicized, such missions usually impart a sense of pride in Americans, but often most Americans never hear of them, and very few understand just how difficult they really are. There is always a lot more planning and preparation involved with these things than most others would ever imagine. This one is a very complex mission. In the first place, extreme precautions must be taken to mitigate the likelihood of these soldiers themselves becoming infected with the virus. Second, precautions must be in place to be able to address a wide range of potential contingencies – including the protection of these soldiers from violence. And that’s just the beginning.
Even though the US Defense Department (Pentagon) is constantly updating thousands of contingency plans for just about anything the President might ask of the US military (within existing resources), such humanitarian missions should never be undertaken “on-the-fly”. On the way out of the successful Persian Gulf War in 1991, some of the already deployed US forces were diverted to Somalia on what appeared to be a routine humanitarian mission under United Nations auspices. The mission did not get the serious attention in Washington by the new Clinton Administration that it warranted, and soon US military personnel were embroiled in a very violent local war, without adequate forces and equipment of their own. This is what became known as the very deadly “incident” in Mogadishu – “Blackhawk Down”. Warm and fuzzy humanitarian missions can get very ugly very quickly. The US military should never rely on support coming from others, including “allies”, especially when the going gets rough, should always be fully prepared to immediately address potential contingencies.
In West Africa we have the same problem that we have in America – huge tribes of people connected by instantaneous social media – which easily facilitates misinformation, half-truths, and outright lies being rapidly disseminated throughout huge populations. Once that happens, anything is possible, including great fear and panic. There is as yet no cure for the Ebola virus, and it has already claimed over 2,500 lives, so such facts alone are bound to engender fear. Suspicions about the virus and those bravely trying to contain it are rampant in West Africa, and there have already been a number of small violent incidents. The spread of the Ebola virus could easily contribute to political instability in the region. If left unchecked, the virus itself could transform and become even more contagious. There is also real potential for the virus to spread globally. Sending a small non-combatant US military contingent into such an inherently dangerous and potentially volatile environment is no mean undertaking. The possible contingencies are numerous, from the minor to the very major. There is always a high potential for “mission creep” or a complete “mission change” … in a New York Minute.
This is one humanitarian mission that warrants the full and constant attention of all Americans.
And, yes, those brave American military personnel who participate in it, and survive, may later be awarded a special service ribbon as thanks. (See “Military Fruit Salad”, posted separately.)
The seventeen states of West Africa are: Nigeria, Benin, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Togo, island of Cape Verde and island of Saint Helena.
(The US has also put up an initial $750 million for this program. I wonder how many of those State and USAID civilian commercial contractor companies are lining up to grab contracts to run off and wage war against Ebola in West Africa; probably not many.)
Of course, there would be no Ebola crisis, and thus no need for the US military in West Africa, if organizations also funded by the American taxpayer – like the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the US State Department, USAID, you name it – had been doing their jobs competently when signs of the disease first appeared last year. The non-government international volunteer organization Doctors Without Borders had gone into remote areas of Guinea almost a year earlier, taken a look, and immediately began sounding the alarm – which was ignored. Whenever you see the US military go into action, the first thing you know is that civilians in high places have failed at their damned jobs. At least 10,000 people paid for that abject bureaucratic negligence with their lives.
When the President says that “the US is and must take the lead” on the anti-Ebola fight in West Africa, he has something else in mind, not just bureaucrats, civilian health care workers or local hires at US embassies. He can simply order the US military to go to West Africa because members of the US military are not represented by unions or lobbies and cannot sue politicians and bureaucrats for the incompetence, negligence and stupidity of the Government. Because they willingly give up a large number of citizen rights as another price they pay for their service to the American people, members of the US military can also be summarily subjected to strict policies that cannot be applied to bureaucrats and other US citizens without a wide range of negative legal and political repercussions.
This is NOT the case with most European military services – whose governments have asked for military VOLUNTEERS to go to West Africa. The number of their military people volunteering for such duty so far has not been impressive. A chief question in Europe and elsewhere is whether or not the US will care for any “coalition” military people who might contract the disease – so as to also not threaten their own populations. Can the US promise this treatment to those non-US military volunteers as part of the price the US routinely pays for foreign participation in “coalitions”? (The number of medical people and the financial cost of treating just one Ebola patient in the US is staggering.) Europeans see the protection of their own populations as their Number One Priority, and the best way to ensure that protection is to avoid citizen exposure to the disease. European military members are European citizens, with rights.
Army Chief of Staff General Odiarno’s decision to quarantine in Italy US Army personnel returning from brief assessment and planning duty in West Africa to AFRICOM HQ in Europe was absolutely correct, and meant also to send a strong signal to Italy and other members of “NATO” of US intention to protect their civilian populations. But the prospect of a post-duty 21-day quarantine may be further reducing the number of European military volunteers.
The absence of unions, etc., is one of the main reasons why so many Americans are so comfortable using the royal “we” when the “inanimate widget” US military is sent out to wade into real danger of little or no real consequence to the defense security of the US. “What’s the cost of the lives of a few hundred or a few thousand dumb “troops” to ME? Zero.” Etc. And no voice is ever raised to counter that view (unless the subject is, of course, female members of the military). This is not the case in Europe, where all military people have rights plus a very loud voice, including in those countries that rely on a draft. American liberals are always very strong supporters of unions – except when the absence of those unions in the US military can be used to the self-aggrandizement of their “leaders”.
Footnote #5. The American War Culture…. comes from the George Lucas Theory of Antiseptic Warfare.
“American exceptionalism”. “We need to lead!” “We have to go get these guys where they live”, etc., etc.. All day long and deep into the night, Americans play politics while thumping their chests and singing about “the land of the free, home of the brave”, about doing battle with an evil enemy (who has “us” cowering in corners). “Everyone” demands that “we” go forth and risk “our” lives to make “very special me” feel safe in the crib. “We”, of course, is never further defined. And there’s never a hint of suggestion that any of our many foreign “allies” likewise step up to THEIR responsibility and do the same. “America can do it all!” “We are the greatest!” It’s especially disconcerting when the macho war talk comes from a group of attractive women in expensive dresses and very high heels flashing very long legs sitting leisurely on a couch before national TV cameras. To guys like me, it’s simply surreal, macabre even. Sick.
Just who is this “we”? As someone old enough to see the very stark difference, America today is vastly different than the America that still counted on ALL men being drafted into military service for service in deadly wars. In those days, not so long ago, America might experience one war in a generation, and it always involved literally millions of American men. Back then you could always count on far more reasons why NOT to get involved in foreign adventures; today no one ever even considers caution. During Vietnam, American men hid their fear and loathing of the Draft behind a fervent “anti-war” ethos. Today these same “anti-war” Baby Boomers are at the forefront of the war proponents. (And none of them, of course, knows anything about real military stuff, and especially about its limitations.)
Today the wars never stop, but now they never involve more than a few thousand men no one knows or ever even met. The wars just blend into non-stop killing hither and yon until Americans lose interest and move on to something else. Then they just tell the spouses, children and parents of all the dead and maimed soldiers, “Never mind.” It never had anything at all to do with “defending the nation” in a “struggle for survival”, did it? They never do. If they did, “we” would never let them drag on forever without resolution or abruptly call a halt to them at mid-stream. It’s all just to score cheap domestic points against the opposing political party, with the lives of others.
In Europe, where military forces are still maintained by a traditionally discriminatory male-only draft, you hear FAR less, if any, saber-rattling “we” talk. Europe is far more like America used to be before the end of the Draft and the rise of the American World Cop. It seems that when “we” might actually involve “me”, people are considerably less brave and macho, even with the lives of others. But then, ANYONE can sit safely on the sidelines risking the lives of others to vicariously pump up their own self-esteem. Even the sanctimonious Europeans are eager for “America to lead” – which, of course, just means risking the lives of American solders rather than their own far more “special” people.
America has devolved into a continuous war culture, where the demands never stop for the US military to go solve everyone else’s problems, while risking the lives of just a very tiny portion of “us”, who is actually “someone else”. Even the intellectually bankrupt State Department plays the same game, too ignorant even to realize that war represents the failure of diplomacy. There’s something very pathetic, and sick, about America. It’s as if “we” have become a culture from the ancient past and have a need to sacrifice the lives of soldiers to appease the gods and make “me” feel better for doing nothing at all.
In a morally corrupt culture full of “very special me” cowards, everyone wants to be The Queen. But no one wants to recognize that the most powerful conventional military super-power in the history of the world has lost over 7,000 brave soldiers in 16 years of unresolved wars against a prehistoric unconventional enemy that does not possess one single ship, plane, tank, missile or drone. People with actual brains realized ten or twelve years ago that maybe it’s time to re-examine that George Lucas theory, but most Americans keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome every time. That should tell you all you need to know about contemporary Americans.