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The High Price of Patriotism

Posted on Oct 27, 2010
AP / Rodrigo Abd

An Afghan policeman gets weapons training with U.S. soldiers on the outskirts of Kandahar City, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.

By Robert Scheer

It’s over for the U.S. in Afghanistan, but that doesn’t mean the death and destruction are about to stop. Quagmires don’t just go away. However, the signs are everywhere that the American course in that nation is doomed, that those directing this forlorn attempt at occupation of a country that has never tolerated occupation know there is no positive end in sight, and that the locals from President Hamid Karzai to the competing warlords and the Taliban are cutting their own deals on the assumption that our wishes no longer matter.

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Predictably, the U.S. media dismissed Karzai’s denunciation on Monday of the role of American mercenaries in the wanton destruction of his society. “Karzai rails against America in a diatribe,” was the way a New York Times headline summarized his press conference, suggesting that his complaints were nothing more than the temper tantrum of an ungrateful child. 

But Karzai is right. American mercenaries are spreading mayhem across Afghanistan thanks to enormous U.S. spending on the contractors that he has ordered out of the country. “The money starts in the name of the private security companies in the hallways of the U.S. government,” Karzai stated in a clear description of the modern working of our military-industrial complex, adding: “The profits are made and arranged there … then they send the money to kill people here. … When this money comes to Afghanistan, it causes insecurity in Afghan homes and causes the killing of Afghan children and causes explosions and terrorism in Afghanistan.”

Our military investments recruit rather than combat terrorists, but that is not a bad outcome if the goal is greater instability as an excuse to keep defense spending absurdly high despite the end of the Cold War two decades ago. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Our military budget, bigger than that of the rest of the world combined and higher in real dollars that at any time since World War II, is nothing more than a profit and jobs center for the defense industry, which has its tentacles in every congressional district. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were never about combating terrorism, which is a supranational phenomena anchored in neither country. 

Fighting terrorists who are armed with box cutters does not require sophisticated weaponry, including an enormously costly drone force, but instead effective international police work dependent on sleuths who have mastered local customs and languages. But there’s not much money to be made off that sort of gumshoe detective work, and that’s why we have two hot wars going even though the al-Qaida enemy has left the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. 


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Karzai’s equally forceful defense at that press conference of his right to take money from Iran was another grievous blow to the American fantasy of using him to remake Afghanistan over in our image. “They do give us bags of money—yes, yes, it is done,” Karzai admitted, adding the obvious: “We are grateful to the Iranians for this. Patriotism has a price.”

Patriotism is always in the eye of the beholder, so why is Karzai’s patriotism tawdrier than that of the executives of Lockheed and Boeing who still build planes designed to evade Soviet air defenses that were never created? Karzai is now playing the patriot who will line the pockets of his most influential countrymen, and he has turned to another source, suspecting that our funding might come with too many strings attached. He is proving to be a substantial leader, corrupt as he may be, in that he is no longer willing to play the puppet. This sort of rebellion happened before in Vietnam when Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S.-imposed liberator, turned against us and our CIA assassinated him. How long before Karzai meets a similar fate?

This fatal syndrome in American imperial designs is well known to Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s key civilian adviser, who played a similar role in Vietnam. Back then, when Holbrooke was involved in the Phoenix assassination program (he now is involved with the drone assassinations), the reckless murder of civilians was aimed at winning their hearts and minds. It didn’t work because we destroyed too many of their bodies in the process.

The arrogance of these adventures in nation-building represents an enduring example of America’s deeply provincial and blindingly self-centered role in the world. That Holbrooke has learned nothing from his trail of deceit posing as diplomacy is not so startling given the obtuse nature of the man, but that Obama has entrusted this most critical aspect of his foreign policy to the likes of a hack like Holbrooke is truly depressing.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


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By christian96, October 31, 2010 at 1:46 am Link to this comment

Patriot10101——Every Saturday morning fruits and
vegetables are sold at an open market here in South
Florida.  Two months ago, I bought a few very hard
tomatoes and sat them in my kitchen.  They have been
there now for over 8 weeks and haven’t started to
rot yet.  It is obvious something was sprayed on the
tomatoes to prolong their shelf life.  When I ask
the young ladies two weeks ago if chemicals were
sprayed on the tomatoes to prolong their shelf life
the young ladies looking frightened whispered, “Yes.”
At least they were honest.  I’m wondering what the
chemical is that was sprayed on them and what effect
is the chemical having on my body as it attempts to
assimilate the nutrients from the tomatoes?  Have
any idea?  I don’t know where you live but try the
same thing.  Buy a few tomatoes and let them sit to
see how long it takes for them to rot.  I don’t think
my area is the only place this process is transpiring.  I just walked in the kitchen to inspect my two tomatoes.  One is just beginning to
rot slightly at the stem.  Yet the other looks as
though it was just plucked off the vine even though
it has been in my kitchen for more than 8 weeks.
God only knows how long it sat before I purchased
it. More deception from the business people who
worship money.

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By christian96, October 30, 2010 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

Well, it’s time for me to express myself in a free
speech democracy, whatever that is.  It sounds good.
It’s true we do have the right and obligation to
vote.  I’m going to go a little light on “obligation”
considering the vast majority of people are so stupid
they don’t know who they are voting for.  Back in
West Virginia when I was a boy we’d say, “They are
dummer than horseshit.” If you don’t believe me watch
The Price Is Right at 11am, EDT, on CBS. They select
the contestants out of the audience.  Most of them
are so fat they can’t hardly get down the isle.  But
they sort of represent a sample of American voters.
Four contestants are chosen from the audience to bid
on a prize.  The closest bid to the price without
going over gets to wobble up on stage and play for
more expensive prizes.  I’ve seen contestants bid
$700 dollars on a prize.  The next bidder will pause
and turn to the audience as if someone in the audience knows more than they do.  A sign of great
insecurity.  Then, they will look at the host and
say, “$699.”  Now, the previous person bid $700.  So
they have given themselves a range of $1 dollar to
be a winner.  STUPID? To the utmost!  When the winner
gets on stage they will have a more expensive
prize, like a car, to bid on. However, the producers
of the program have stacked the deck so that there
aren’t too many cars given away.  99.9% of the contestants know very little if anything about statistics and probability but the producers do.
Sort of like an election. A large percentage of the voters have no idea who or what they are voting on
but the producers of the election do.  While attending college I’d pick up a few bucks on election day by working for the Democratic Party.
Another person and I would drive around the little
coal mining community in which I spent my formative years picking up old Italian, Polish, etc. senior
citizens and driving them to the voting poll. We would have a stack of ballots which had already been filled out.  I’d hand one to old Dominick Amadola and say, “Dominick, put this ballot in your pocket.  When you get in the polling booth you take the ballot out of your pocket and fill out your ballot just like the one that is marked. Capish(understand)?”  As old Dominick exited the car he would say, “I capish(spelling?)”  When Dominick
finished voting we would drive him home and reinforce him with a small bottle of whiskey. Now, that was democracy in a small coal mining town in West Virginia.  Isn’t democracy grand?

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By ardee, October 30, 2010 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

LocalHero, October 30 at 7:27 am

I am rather stunned by your definition of the exercise of ones legal right to cast a ballot that directly influences our representative govt. as “coercion”. That our government commits acts in our name that I find atrocious, that our representatives are guilty of supporting the wishes of the wealthy and ignoring the needs of the majority are moot points. That one shuns an activity that could result in better representation seems a suggestion motivated by a hidden agenda rather than a studied or effective way to make necessary changes.

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By LocalHero, October 30, 2010 at 3:27 am Link to this comment

REDHORSE, you’re a level-headed fellow in my estimation - well, all except your silly advocacy of voting. And it just so happens that Doug Casey’s ‘Conversations With Casey’ e-letter today was about voting & he laid out 5 reasons why NOT to vote, one of which I’ll reproduce here because it’s the most relevant (to me):

Doug: “Well, a rational man, which is to say, an ethical man, would almost certainly not vote in this election, or in any other – at least above a local level, where you personally know most of both your neighbors and the candidates.

L: Why? Might not an ethical person want to vote the bums out?

Doug: No. I’ve thought about this a lot, so let me give you five reasons why no one should vote.

The first reason is that voting is an unethical act, in and of itself. That’s because the state is pure, institutionalized coercion. If you believe that coercion is an improper way for people to relate to one another, then you shouldn’t engage in a process that formalizes and guarantees the use of coercion.”

So, go ahead and point your bayonet at me. That is the essence of voting & I’ll have nothing to do with it such an evil act.

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By Sabagio, October 29, 2010 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

I side on the side of Captain Jean Luc Picard when he says: “It’s all about the Prime Directive, stupid.”

Sabagio Mauraeno on a bright , sunny day in Decatur, Georgia

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By christian96, October 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

Afghanistan—-We gave them their weapons and then
started a war with them.  How stupid is that?  I feel
so for the people of Iran.  They are next.  We’ve
got to be in a war to keep those weapons rolling off
the assembly line.  These deceptive political television ads are driving me crazy and it’s not a
far drive.  A little pre-election humor to lighten
the load:

While walking down the street one day a Corrupt Senator was tragically hit by a car and died.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

“Welcome to heaven,” says St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”

“No problem, just let me in,” says the Senator.

“Well, I’d like to, but I have orders from the higher ups. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”

“Really?, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,” says the Senator.

“I’m sorry, but we have our rules.”

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.
They played a friendly game of golf and then dined on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who is having a good time dancing and telling jokes.

They are all having such a good time that before the Senator realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens in heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him, “Now it’s time to visit heaven…”

So, 24 hours passed with the Senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

“Well, then, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.”

The Senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: “Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.”

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell…

Now the doors of the elevator open and he’s in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulders.

“I don’t understand,” stammers the Senator. “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there’s just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?”

The devil smiles at him and says,

“Yesterday we were campaigning, Today, you voted..” 

Vote wisely on November 2, 2010

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By omop, October 29, 2010 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Could it be that our High Price of Patriotism is catching?

An Israeli newspaper reports that the Israelis are over joyed that they are now
with the English and Americans the trio of convicted war criminals.

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By surfnow, October 29, 2010 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

Amerika’s nationalism is the arrogant,imperial, phony kind that brought about World War I. It has no nobility, honor or genuineness. It is the kind that demagogues like Sarah Palin and the fools that clog our airwaves all employ. It is the kind that Samuel Johnson mocked, and it will doom us.

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By Lafayette, October 29, 2010 at 3:19 am Link to this comment

Hats off to the French for ripping out all Monsanto crops of “seeds of deception!”


In general, I reproach my fellow Americans because they spend to much time bitching in a blog and not enough in the streets demonstrating. In France, we are just finishing a national strike over a period of two weeks.

Allow me to explain what that means, because you have likely no idea. The right to strike is inscribed in the French constitution. (Which is not the case in the US, btw.) However, any right to strike is limited to the simple substraction of a worker from their place of work and picketing whilst negotiations supposedly ensue.

The nation was almost brought to a standstill when strikers shut down the distribution of gas and diesel-fuel (more than half the cars in France are diesel-engine). Meaning this: The line between the right to strike (of workers) and the right of individuals (fellow citizens) to circulate was transgressed.

My point: In France, the right to strike is taken to a dangerous extreme. It remains, nonetheless, the most effective way of getting media attention towards provoking public debate. Which blogs will probably never achieve, since they are so dispersed.


Now, about Monsanto and GMF-plants.

First, I live in a farming community in France. Secondly, there is not a river here that is not perpetually green with algae (I mean year-round) because of the treatment of a poor soil with nitrate laden fertilizer. Thirdly, the incidence of sickness from the use of both fertilizer and pesticide chemials is significantly higher in this zone than in urban communities.

GMFs are intended to reduce the need for both above mentioned chemical products—so there is some benefit. The problem is the question of whether GMFs are Frankenstein Food or not. And there the debate only begins, because there is not much evidence one way or another—in a subject that has become a polemic.


Let’s be careful about civil disobedience and not attribute any particular polemic to justify its exaggerations. Civil disobedience has its role in democracy, but the most important element is the ballot-box.

Meaning this:
* Any democratic system that incorporates referendums is inherently more difficult to manage.
* Still, it remains the most effective way of assuring that republicanism (representational democracy) is not corrupted by vested-interests, which is presently the case in America.
* In the political balance of power, it introduces a fourth power—that of Vox Populi (the voice of the people). If referendums can cause the retraction of any law passed by national or state legislatures.
* Meaning that it cannot be used indiscriminately.

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By PatrickHenry, October 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin”.

Sam Adams

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By REDHORSE, October 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

It’s easy to scapegoat our military but the central problem exists in all aspects of the present American crisis. Our military like every branch of government follows orders. And, the orders are given by appointees to major cabinet posts and positions filled by revolving door politicians and lobbyists who actually write and dictate policy and law at the whim of corporate profiteers. It’s not something else.

    Want to change it? Then Major Campaign Finance Reform is the first step. Why doesn’t it happen?TRUTHDIG abounds with rumors of hidden International money, Rovian zombies and indignation at the Right Wing machinations of our Supreme Court that allowed it.  Wheres the ACTION?

    From day one of this Presidency the MSM spun Republithug propaganda and Democratic failure. In the end, it appears, they were able to convince America to VOTE against its own best interest and perhaps give our House of Representatives to a thug like Boehner. WOW!!

    Many here even decry the VOTE.

    How is it possible the Rethug/MSM can even rattle a putrid bag of bones like Palin in your faces? It’s a sense of powerlessness so deeply ingrained it’s pitiful. That’s why there’s no ACTION. You have to believe change is possible. Either “progressive” Americans are helpless to the level of infantile paralysis, or in fact, no matter what they say, in reality, void of all moral social conscience, as long as they have theirs, just don’t care.


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By gerard, October 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy:  CAPS and TIRADE.  You know, it’s that poiicy to cure the global warming myth.

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By Fat Freddy, October 28, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment


Is there something wrong with your “CAPS LOCK” button, or are you just being an asshole?

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By ghouri, October 28, 2010 at 8:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You comment or write but the mind set in american politics will never change. This is part of history killings and killings solve no problem and to create problems then punish them is american policy.
Politics have become tired and inefficient instead of solving the common mans problems they create and then produce hatred e.g. they have produced so much hatred against Muslims around the world and don,t know why.This is correct they need an enemy which is a false theory.
We can build with enorm resources a wonderful world for all but americans claim only for them.
America has never learned from past and will not learn in future and poor people around the world are victim of american politics

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By RayLan, October 28, 2010 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

The lies and deceit have been especially USEFUL in taking us to war - namely Iraq and now Afghanistan with NONSENSE about spreading democracy at the point of a gun- so the voices you keep hearing that you think are GOD - to go to war - may be coming from the OTHER ONE or just your confused wishful thinking.

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By bogi666, October 28, 2010 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is happening is Biblical Prophesy,The New World Order, Globalization, One World System all of the aforementioned are the BEAST of revelations. The BEAST is a system not an entity, and it is PREDATORY CAPITALISM. The BEAST initially fails and it rises again for a short and last time.As with any creature threatened the BEAST, globalized PREDATORY CAPITALISM, will viciously protect itself and with nuclear weapons in its arsenal it will not be a pretty site.

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By fearnotruth, October 28, 2010 at 12:04 am Link to this comment

RE: ...“In fact we don’t yet know how many of these blasts are by Taliban
and how many are carried out by them (US security companies).”

and breaking today here

Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan Fueling the Taliban, Senate Report

By Scott Horton

October 27, 2010 “Harpers”— The American decision to rely more heavily
on contractors and to downplay the use of uniformed military in Afghanistan
has led to a sharp detour in the process of nation-building, a Senate Armed
Services Committee report (PDF) has concluded. To meet their security
concerns, the contractors have turned to “warlords and strongmen linked to
murder, kidnapping [and] bribery.” The report also documents incidents in
which contractors have tendered payments to the Taliban.

BUT the story looks like something of a limited hangout - closer
analysis of the Global War of Terror’s overarching mission reveals that many
acts of “terrorism” are actually black-op provocations, designed to ‘fuel’ the
Global War of Terror - Cover UP SOP: Incompetence and Blowback - what this
appears to be.

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By FRTothus, October 27, 2010 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment

>>”...terrorists who are armed with box cutters” is a
fiction, “...nation-building” is a cover story.  They
have their men in suits who profit from wars, and we
have our much better (taxpayer-) funded and
(military-) protected ones.  As William Blum put it,
a terrorist is someone who doesn’t have an air

“And in the general hardening of outlook that set
in… practices which had been long abandoned -
imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners
as slaves, public executions, torture to extract
confessions ... and the deportation of whole
populations - not only became common again, but were
tolerated and even defended by people who considered
themselves enlightened and progressive.”
(George Orwell, 1984)

“There is a hard core of people in the United States
who will not be moved, whatever facts you present,
from their conviction that this nation means only to
do good, and almost always does good in the world,
that it is the beacon of liberty and freedom.”
(Howard Zinn)

“Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may
successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay
in power only if it destroys first of all the
national institutions of its own people.”
(Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism” - 

“To initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an
international crime, it is the supreme international
crime, differing only from other war crimes in that
it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the
(International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Germany
- 1946)

“Only the grand scale and technocratic impersonality
of the crimes conceived and directed by the [U.S.]
ruling elite acting under cover of state authority
distinguish them from garden variety killers.”
(Darrell Hamamoto)

“Cuba has ... been condemned for not allowing its
people to flee the island. That so many want to leave
Cuba is treated as proof that Cuban socialism is a
harshly repressive system, rather than that the U.S.
embargo has made life difficult in Cuba. That so many
millions more want to leave capitalist countries like
Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, El Salvador, Philippines,
South Korea, Macedonia, and others too numerous to
list is never treated as grounds for questioning the
free-market system that inflicts such misery on the
Third World.”
(Dr. Michael Parenti)

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By mrfreeze, October 27, 2010 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment

American hasn’t really won a war in the last 100 years:

1) WWII, not really (Allied Victory)
2) WWII, not really (Allied Victory)
3) Korea, tell me when it’s over
4) Vietnam, a total loss
5) Contra “freedom fighting” in Central America (fail)
6) Grenada, Reagan Jerk-off
7) Kuwait (Gulf 1) Incomplete
8) Iraq, fail
9) Afghanistan, fail so far

We shed our blood and spend our coffers dry because the military (poor babies) want to be heroes and defend the “Homeland.” The uber-irony is that our once-great nation is falling apart. Our cities, roads, bridges and infrastructures are crumbling, our Supreme Court has given our politics over to corporations, our schools are being strangled and the average American has lost touch with reality….......Why fight wars when there’s no real country to fight FOR?

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By TheHandyman, October 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

There are probably a fair number of old Russian officers and enlisted men who sit around in the bars drinking vodka and smile whenever the US and Afghanistan are mentioned. History does not repeat itself exactly but it is for certain that what goes round comes round and Vietnam keeps coming around for this country time and again.

An acquaintance and I had a discussion about why it is that we have money to give to all those people overseas but do not have the money to help our own citizens. When I mentioned our 750 bases overseas and the billion dollar war machines she said that it was a good thing we had all those bases because the soldiers there would be on welfare if they weren’t employed by the military and we were helping those countries fight terrorism. She could not grasp that some of these countries have no terrorism and some of them only have terrorism because we are there. She can’t comprehend that something is severely wrong when the only way you can make it as a country is to have lots of soldiers because you can’t create jobs for them. She claims that we have to keep our defense budget high because China is spending more money than we are and they are going to attack us. Need I even say she is a Republican? She, like way too many other Americans are just unable to connect the dots between our continued wars and defense spending and the deterioration of our economy and our lives. What she fails to realize is that if we continue on the way we are we will spend ourselves into bankruptcy and we will become the USSR with each State going it’s own way!

As for Obama, Mr Scheer, your good friend Ralph Nader told you as much and you chose not to believe or support him. You maybe right now, but Ralph was right way back then as he was when he was right about Bush!

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By moonraven, October 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment

“Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”

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By Hammond Eggs, October 27, 2010 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

(Karzai) is proving to be a substantial leader, corrupt as he may be, in that he is no longer willing to play the puppet.”

If Karzai suddenly dies of renal failure, even though he’s never had any kidney problems, or if he commits suicide in a fit of depression because he was off his meds, don’t be surprised.  The real cause of his death will be Diem Syndrome.

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By sukhbir, October 27, 2010 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scheer, like the U.S. media he criticizes, hides and distorts what Karzai actually said. Talk about mayhem caused by American mercenaries, Karzai accused US security companies of being behind terrorist attacks that have killed women and children. “In fact we don’t yet know how many of these blasts are by Taliban and how many are carried out by them (US security companies).”

The Pakistani government also accused the US, last week, of being behind terrorist bombings in that country.

The Turks and Iranians have made similar claims, but this is never reported, let alone investigated, by the U.S. media.

The U.S. media barks about Karzai’s Iranian money bags admission, but fails to mention the bags of US money Karzai has also admitted to receiving.

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By sukhbir, October 27, 2010 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scheer, like the U.S. media he criticizes, hides and distorts what Karzai actually said. Talk about mayhem caused by American mercenaries, Karzai accused US security companies of being behind terrorist attacks that have killed women and children. “In fact we don’t yet know how many of these blasts are by Taliban and how many are carried out by them (US security companies).”

The Pakistani government also accused the US, last week, of being behind terrorist bombings in that country:

The Turks and Iranians have made similar claims, but this is never reported, let alone investigated, by the U.S. media.

The U.S. media barks about Karzai’s Iranian money bags admission, but fails to mention the bags of US money Karzai has also admitted to receiving.

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By jonathonk99, October 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment

Great article but basically regurgitated analysis from the last six years. Everybody’s on their little computers and it’s really cute. Here we write in
hopeless isolation all about what’s wrong in the world but are at a loss as to
how to begin fixing it.

I think everyone around is getting tired of analysis and finger pointing.  Maybe
we’re not fed up enough yet.  We all know the situation.  We all know who the
bad guys are - 99% of Capitol Hill and Wall Street.  Now let’s start a broad
based movement in all the states to put a fork in the bullshit, rake it out of
existence, and redefine liberalism, and the political debate.  Jesus Christ!  I
don’t understand how Glenn Beck can pack Washington Memorial with
dissidents and the so-called Left has no response at all??? 

Where is the Left’s reaction?  No where because there may be no Left left
according to Chris Hedges!  Where are leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. when
we need them?  Where are student activists like the Social Democratic Society? 
Where are the real artists, and the people in the streets?  Certainly not in the
news… Sigh…

The biggest thing the Tea Party and the radical right has going for them is to
make themselves visible even though it’s not really clear what they stand for
but they clearly make their rants HERD!!!!!!!  That’s exactly what the Left needs
to do.. Start getting RADICAL!!!!!.  Start getting focused, making yourselves
visible and heard somehow even if it means offending lots of people.  Start
writing into newspapers letting them know we are tired of the biased objective
analysis and we want REAL news!  Stop paying for Cable TV and supporting the
corporate propaganda machine!  And for God’s sake stop voting for
Republicant’s and Democant’s!!  People put too much faith in the dumb Ballot
Box!  The real fight exists outside the Ballot Box!  The real fight is considered
by business as an ever-lasting-battle for the minds of men not just one waged
for one day every two years!  And the real fight exists in the halls of
Washington, in the Banks, on your television, in the papers, and everywhere
you turn.

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By faith, October 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

oops, I may his tapped the wrong link button.  If so, I apologize.

Next, I comment regarding that such articles as Mr. Scheer’s would have been
equally valuable in 2003.  I suspect that many of us here stopped our
subscriptions to the Los Angeles Times newspaper when they no longer carried
Mr. Scheer’s columns.  The Times was being spiteful and we saw right through it. 
Thank you Mr. Scheer for continuing an intellectual argument in favor of peace
and against the wars in the middle east. Your words are far more persuasive than
mine could ever be.  You are a true hero.

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By gerard, October 27, 2010 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment

Note that the words of God and the words of Jesus seem to differ slightly.  Choose peace.

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By RayLan, October 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

“The Holy Spirit who is OUR Commanding Officer; not someone in the Pentagon or WH, TOLD us to FIGHT”
Oh oh we got a live one…another right wing hawk with a direct link to the Almighty- Heaven help us.

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By Sabagio, October 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

“When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with hurricanes of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.’
Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits.”

’ In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”
Sabagio Mauraeno on a rainy day in Georgia pondering words written by an American Patriot over 100 years ago.

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By Angel Gabriel, October 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Basoflakes -
I heartily agree that this was an excellent article by Mr. Scheer. It could easily have been written in 2003, but no matter, it is just as accurate written today in the truth of the War in Afghanistan, and the interests being served by it’s continuance.
When you mention, “If all else fails we can start over again”, in the ideal we can, but the cold hard truth in the matter is that until there is an all out revolution in the country that takes out the power and money, starting over is merely a dream.
American’s are nowhere near the point of revolution to wrest control of the country back to the actual “People” where it should be in a Democratic system that is functional to the model. Sadly, apathy rules, and the power will continue until United returns because Divided we are, and as long as the rule by fear game continues it will never change.

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By DavidByron, October 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

Felt like the essay ended half way through somehow.

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By Tom Joad, October 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment

As to the comment “would that Mr. Scheer had written this article in 2003”....Mr. Scheer WAS writing these kinds of articles in 2003. He’s been right all along…..

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By Basoflakes, October 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

Good article, but where do we go from here?

First, America must demonize, not lionize, the messengers of murder and anti-Americanism, the US military.  As long as commercials fill the air by the military stating how ‘mature’ and ‘patriotic’ military service is, and seeing as the HS dropouts that join the military only watch TV, the pool to draw on military thugs will grow ever larger.

Second, reduce the budget to a point where it fills the defense need, and nothing else.  That would mean a 75% reduction in the budget.  Since the clowns who are currently in the military will need a job, create a CCC or WPA like FDR did, and put 6.5 million to work rebuilding the infrastructure of America.  Not only will that stop our wars, it will kick start our economy, reduce our debt, remove our trade deficit, eliminate our reliance on China for loans and put us back to where we were before Reagan started us on this mess.

Third, tell parents that all American kids must read Sy Hersh’s ‘My Lai’ and Howard Zinn’s ‘People’s History of America’.  This will get them to understand what true patriotism is.  Hugh Thompson is the most patriotic person in the Vietnam War, and no one knows who he was.

Fourth, reverse the Citizens United ruling, make elections public funded only, eliminate K Street lobbyists and guarentee third parties in all televised debates.  No more oligarchial two party debates anymore.  Nader and McKinney talked about the US problems better than the two ‘major’ parties combined.

If those things don’t get us going in the right direction, we can start over.

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By gerard, October 27, 2010 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment

Thanks, Mr. Scheer.  Whistlel-blowing takes guts. Now we need to figure out a practical way, or ways, to support—and defend—Mr. Scheer—and Mr. Assange and any others that have appeared, are appearing or will appear. That’s the very least we can do.

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By 3rd party voter, October 27, 2010 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment



and words:

“The history of the present ... is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny…

“... erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance…

“... has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power…

“...taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments

“ this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation…

“... excited domestic insurrections amongst us..

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

“A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

“...They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation…

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Real Americans are Rebels   1/3 1/3   1/3

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By felicity, October 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Would that Mr. Scheer had written the article in
2003.  The United States is ‘stuck’ in the belief
that democracy/capitalism is best spread from the
barrel of a gun, or the bomb from a drone.  We’re in
pathology territory here so a ‘cure’ at this point is
impossible.  We can only wonder which country will be

Do we wonder why we’ve not managed to “win the hearts
and minds of the Iraqi people?”  Could it be because,
among other things, the fact that in 2003, 20% of
Iraqi city dwellers lived in slums and today, 53% of
Iraqi city dwellers live in slum?.  (I thought
American contractors were being paid billions to,
among other things, rebuild what we’d bombed the shit
out of.  Silly woman, I.)

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By faith, October 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Well said, Mr. Scheer.  And I agree, it is truly depressing.

As to the comment by anarcissie,  “The ruling class may be arrogant and self-
centered, but they are hardly blind or provincial.” I kindly disagree.  Mr. Scheer’s
analysis:  “The arrogance of these adventures in nation-building represents an
enduring example of America’s deeply provincial and blindingly self-centered
role in the world.”,  is right on point.  Clear when we note how very few of our
military intelligence speak any of the middle eastern languages there, and are
dependent on what some vendetta/grudge holding local tells them.  Nor, are
our troops really familiar with local customs and mores. Further, the U.S. is self
centered and it is coming back to haunt us.  We do not rule the world.  Our form
of government is not necessarily the finest form for all nations.  We can no
longer be the world’s police power, nor benefactor.  We need to clean up our
own house before we start throwing stones.  Just a thought…

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By glider, October 27, 2010 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

I wish people would stop excoriating Obama for not prosecuting Bush era war criminals.  How can he do such a thing when he is a war criminal himself. I do not give a shit for his worthless Nobel Peace Prize joke.

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By loneagle, October 27, 2010 at 11:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No one’s hitting the point here, including Mr.
Sheer. What sort of action by U.S. citizens who
deplore war policy would be effective do you
think? Protest?


When you think about it even just a little, the only
type of warfare remaining to the so-called little
guys in this time of “full spectrum dominance” by
the ever more technologically destructive U.S war
machine fueled by our defense budget, is little
teams of men burying bombs in the night, putting
them in vehicles or taping them to bodies and
motorbikes and blowing up civilians.  No other
governments are trying to compete with the U.S.
war machine. China and Russia are the only one’s
that even could and while we’re reigning terror
from the skies with ever more inventive explosive
devices, they’re focusing on increasing their power
through economic means. They’ve got the threat
of nukes in their back pocket and that’s all they
really need. China’s big weapon is cheap labor
and an endless supply of workers, with which we,
due our high cost of labor, cannot compete. And
that is why on the other war front, our labor force
is being systematically impoverished, so they’ll
quit grumbling and work for less so we can
compete. What’s a few more dead people due to
terrorism, in a world that already has too many
mouths to feed? And why should we intelligently
and with determination seek to dismantle
terrorism at its roots when terrorist acts so
effectively help on the one hand by generating
fear, to swell the Pentagon budget, and on the
other, by conveniently increasing the national
debt, thereby justifying the impoverishment of the
middle and working class? It’s just too good a
management formula to let go by.

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By LadyR, October 27, 2010 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You just don’t get it, do you, Robert?  It’s all about oil/money. And Karzai is just a straw man—the real power brokers are, of course, the world banks and oil corporations. The world currently runs on oil, and the oil brokers intend to keep it that way.
You’d better read The Syndicate and The Real History of the West, by Nicholas Hagger for the real truth.

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By wrought iron gates, October 27, 2010 at 11:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Did anybody hear what Mikhail Gorbachev said regarding the US pulling out of Afgan. He said it was the best thing to avoid another Vietnam.

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By Anarcissie, October 27, 2010 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

‘... The arrogance of these adventures in nation-building represents an enduring example of America’s deeply provincial and blindingly self-centered role in the world. ...’

The ruling class may be arrogant and self-centered, but they are hardly blind or provincial.

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By hark, October 27, 2010 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m sorry, Mr. Scheer, but MSNBC is into bashing Tea Partiers and right wing crazies, and doesn’t want to deal with issues that actually matter.

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By MK Ultra, October 27, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They don’t call Afghanistan “the Graveyard of Empires” for nothing.  Just like every other empire that went there before the USans and only returned, moribund, to exhale their last breath on their corrupt, decayed lair, the US Empire, mortally wounded, is getting ready to retreat. 

I’d say “rest in peace” but these murderous bastards don’t deserve peace when they have made hell on Earth for so many millions of innocents.  A more befitting wish would “may you all rot in hell for all eternity” - you have earned it!

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By omop, October 27, 2010 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

The most erudite statement by Mr Scheer to date needs to be sent to every
Senator as well as Pres. Obama.

  “The arrogance of these adventures in nation-building represents an enduring
example of America’s deeply provincial and blindingly self-centered role in the
world. That Holbrooke has learned nothing from his trail of deceit posing as
diplomacy is not so startling given the obtuse nature of the man, but that
Obama has entrusted this most critical aspect of his foreign policy to the likes of
a hack like Holbrooke is truly depressing.”

  Mr. Holbrooke according to an Asia website is a promoter of TAP (a pipeline
from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan to Pakistan) of an Israeli owned gas/oil
franchise in Turmenistan funded by the IMF.

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By madisolation, October 27, 2010 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

Robert Scheer’s columns have become more on-target lately. This is a great piece of writing. He writes:
“Our military investments recruit rather than combat terrorists, but that is not a bad outcome if the goal is greater instability as an excuse to keep defense spending absurdly high despite the end of the Cold War two decades ago. Isn’t that what it’s all about?”
Eisenhower was right, and Obama has turned out to be the Great Enabler of of the Military/Industrial Complex. We need a new president right away, one who doesn’t demean himself and his country as he licks the rear ends of the wealthy defense corp CEO’s. Instead of dead civilians, Obama sees dollar signs and personal enrichment. I hope somehow, some day, Bush and Obama will answer for their decisions to murder for profit.

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By ardee, October 27, 2010 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

Profit whatever the cost. The cost of these wars for profit falls heavily upon the third world certainly. But it falls inevitably and with equal or greater force upon the USA, and in subtle ways as well.

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By fearnotruth, October 27, 2010 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

RE: The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were never about combating
terrorism…we have two hot wars going even though the al-Qaida enemy has
left the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Robert, you keep inching toward it, but you’re not quite there: OBL was a
CIA asset since Brzizinski and Gates launched his legend!


Who Is Osama Bin Laden?

by Michel Chossudovsky
Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

The following text outlines the history of Osama Bin Laden and the links of the
Islamic “Jihad” to the formulation of US foreign policy during the Cold War and
its aftermath.

Prime suspect in the New York and Washington terrorists attacks, branded by
the FBI as an “international terrorist” for his role in the African US embassy
bombings, Saudi born Osama bin Laden was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan
war “ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight Soviet invaders”. 1

In 1979 “the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA” was launched in
response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in support of the pro-
Communist government of Babrak Kamal.2:

With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI [Inter Services
Intelligence], who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war waged by
all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from
40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan’s fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens
of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually more than
100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad.3
The Islamic “jihad” was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia with a
significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade:

In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive
166,...[which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert military aid to the mujahideen,
and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet
troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal.
The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies
—a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, ... as well as a “ceaseless
stream” of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters
of Pakistan’s ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There the CIA
specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for
the Afghan rebels.4

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using Pakistan’s military Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) played a key role in training the Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA
sponsored guerrilla training was integrated with the teachings of Islam:

Predominant themes were that Islam was a complete socio-political ideology,
that holy Islam was being violated by the atheistic Soviet troops, and that the
Islamic people of Afghanistan should reassert their independence by
overthrowing the leftist Afghan regime propped up by Moscow.5

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By BarbieQue, October 27, 2010 at 6:21 am Link to this comment

“...Predictably, the U.S. media dismissed Karzai’s denunciation on Monday of the role of American mercenaries in the wanton destruction of his society. “Karzai rails against America in a diatribe,” was the way a New York Times headline summarized his press conference, suggesting that his complaints were nothing more than the temper tantrum of an ungrateful child…”

Hammer meets nail

But this:
“...Our military investments recruit rather than combat terrorists, but that is not a bad outcome if the goal is greater instability as an excuse to keep defense spending absurdly high despite the end of the Cold War two decades ago…”

Writing this kind of stuff will not get Mr. Scheer invited to Dianne Fineswines next bash (see Blum, Richard)

Excellent piece

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