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The Land Where Theories of Warfare Go to Die

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Posted on Jun 28, 2010
U.S. Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Francisco V. Govea II

By Robert Dreyfuss, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

Is the COIN Cult Ascendant?

It’s too early to say whether Obama’s decision to name Petraeus to replace his protégé McChrystal carries any real significance when it comes to the evolution of his Afghan war policy. The McChrystal crisis erupted so quickly that Obama had no time to carefully consider who might replace him and Petraeus undoubtedly seemed like the obvious choice, if the point was to minimize the domestic political risks involved.

Still, it’s worrying. Petraeus’s COIN policy logically demands a decade-long war, involving labor-intensive (and military-centric) nation-building, waged village by village and valley by valley, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and countless U.S., NATO, and Afghan casualties, including civilians. That idea doesn’t in the least square with the idea that significant numbers of troops will start leaving Afghanistan next summer. Indeed, Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer with long experience in the Middle East and South Asia, who headed Obama’s first Afghan policy review in February 2009, told me (for an article in Rolling Stone last month) that it’s not inconceivable the military will ask for even more troops, not agree to fewer, next year.

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The Post is right, however, that Obama needs to grapple seriously with the deep divisions in his administration. Having ousted one rebellious general, the president now has little choice but to confront—or cave in to—the entire COIN cult, including its guru.

If Obama decides to take them on, he’ll have the support of many traditionalists in the U.S. armed forces who reject the cult’s preaching. Above all, his key ally is bound to be those pesky facts on the ground.

Afghanistan is the place where theories of warfare go to die, and if the COIN theory isn’t dead yet, it’s utterly failed so far to prove itself. The vaunted February offensive into the dusty hamlet of Marja in Helmand province has unraveled. The offensive into Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban and a seething tangle of tribal and religious factions, once touted as the potential turning point of the entire war, has been postponed indefinitely. After nine years, the Pentagon has little to show for its efforts, except ever-rising casualties and money spent.

Perhaps Obama is still counting on U.S. soldiers to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and win the war, even though administration officials have repeatedly rejected the notion that Afghanistan can be won militarily. David Petraeus or no, the reality is that the war will end with a political settlement involving President Karzai’s government, various Afghan warlords and power brokers, the remnants of the old Northern Alliance, the Taliban, and the Taliban’s sponsors in Pakistan.

Making all that work and winning the support of Afghanistan’s neighbors—including India, Iran, and Russia—will be exceedingly hard.  If Obama’s diplomats managed to pull it off, the Afghanistan that America left behind might be modestly stable. On the other hand, it won’t be pretty to look at it. It will be a decentralized mess, an uneasy balance between enlightened Afghans and benighted, Islamic fundamentalist ones, and no doubt many future political disagreements will be settled not in conference rooms but in gun battles. Three things it won’t be: It won’t be Switzerland. It won’t be a base for Al Qaeda. And it won’t be host to tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops.

The only silver lining in the Petraeus cloud is that the general has close ties to the military in Pakistan who slyly accept U.S. aid while funneling support to the insurgency in Afghanistan. If Obama decides to pursue a political and diplomatic solution between now and next July, Petraeus’s Pakistan connection would be useful indeed. Time, however, is running out.

Robert Dreyfuss is an independent journalist in the Washington, D.C., area. He is a contributing editor at the Nation magazine, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone and Mother Jones. His blog, The Dreyfuss Report, appears at the Nation’s website. His book, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, was published by Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books in 2005.  Listen to Dreyfuss in the latest TomCast audio interview discussing Obama’s war with the military by clicking here,  or to download to your iPod, here.

Copyright 2010 Robert Dreyfuss


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By last_boy_scout, July 18, 2010 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

If nation-building is included in the idea of winning the war, we’re talking about an effort
lasting decades and costing trillions of dollars, one with no guarantee of success

Indeed, you’re right.
The Afghanis, however, haven’t always been the “13th century-stunned” nation, as one of the U.S. officials has once described them.

Once (with the help of Soviet Union) they’ve managed to create a society of decent and civilized people. Society where women were allowed to get education — compare this with the today’s situation when the only right they have is to be stoned to death for some breaking of the elders’ law.

I’m not a bit of a Soviets fan but this credit I
should give them — despite the political realities
and actual reasons, Afghanistan was a safe place.

I may refer to this Foreign Policy article for
example — http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article…in_afghanistan as a proof of my words

Or just take a quick peek at this picture here —
http://ic2.pbase.com/o6/54/14154/1/8…eforeAfter.jpg

Kabul 40 years ago vs Kabul today

Here’s yet another curious article on the complicated twists of Afghan history — http://bit.ly/d8TbFe

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By huckleberry_finn, July 18, 2010 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Well, it’s been quite a while since the whole story
unfolded and where did we get? General shift of
strategy or any great achievements? I doubt.  Seems
that author of this article was right — Petraeus-McChrystal story was about trading this for that.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, - “I really can’t answer for or explain stuff you have made up in your head.”

-

You bring a very good point.  An authentically reasonable point. 

The people of the United States, those ignorant cows you write of, can apply it equally around the globe when confronted by enemy and critics alike.

Do you think this will work with Ahmadinejad? smile

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

GRYM—I really can’t answer for or explain stuff you have made up in your head.  I do agree that not everyone thinks as I do—it would be a dull world if they did.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

I’ve said it here a hundred times, at least.  The worldview often on display on this Web space mimics, verbatim, the United states’ most ardent enemies and unhinged critics.

-

Ahmadinejad brands US world’s dictator ahead of summit
(AFP) – 23 hours ago

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By Go Right Young Man, July 8, 2010 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, - “Let’s use the term state instead of nation, which is a very ambiguous term.”

-

I believe we should, at the very least, deal with the realities of the world.  Not attempt to wish things into reality. 

The United States, for example, is a collection of individual States with unique and individual constitutions.  These States United make up the nation.  This does not change because you feel a sense of ambiguity or a lack of clarity.

-

You do not see that it is you who believes people can and should be treated as “cows”.  It is you who believes that, given the power,  you would abuse that power with negative intent.  It is you whom believes you are “basically evil”.  You see “the state” as a reflection of yourself.

Not everyone thinks as you do. 

-

Free people are rarely dangerous. Free people tend to better themselves and their own lot in life.  Not take from others.

Clearly we view the world in much different ways.  Clearly we look upon and treat others in much different ways.

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By Anarcissie, July 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man, July 7 at 5:19 pm:

‘Anarcissie,

I fully understand that you believe the United States is an evil and murderous, imperial, nation.

Which nation would you like to see in the lead role now and into the future?’

Let’s use the term state instead of nation, which is a very ambiguous term.

All states are more or less evil, murderous and imperial because the state is war.  This doesn’t usually come out when states are small, because their competitors are larger and cow their ruling classes.  But you will notice in history that when states get into the top tier, they start throwing their weight around.  Their weight usually means war and other unpleasant practices.

When and if the United States sinks, as it probably will before too long given its profligate ways, some other state will be the big cheese and throw its weight around.  I am not looking forward to this.  I don’t think there is a better state, just as I don’t think there is a better war or a better murder or a better gulag.

About the best I can hope for, while trying to undercut the notion of the state itself, is to convince people that aggressive violence and terror are not as great as they seem.  In that case the present leader might back off a bit, and maybe that might lead to a more peaceful world.  It is probably too late, given the damage that has been done, but hope springs eternal.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

I fully understand that you believe the United States is an evil and murderous, imperial, nation. 

Which nation would you like to see in the lead role now and into the future?

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By Anarcissie, July 7, 2010 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man, July 7 at 12:12 am:

‘Anarcissie, - “It is not controversial that the United States government has militarily attacked several countries which had not attacked the United States, nor were preparing to attack it.”

That is a far cry from your first opinion.  When you seem to suggest the U.S. is ripping through the globe killing and maiming. ...’

Some of my opinions are controversial.  However, the fact that the U.S. government has engaged in military operations against several countries, not at the time attacking the U.S., having attacked the U.S., or threatening to attack the U.S., is not controversial—it is simply history.

I think the number of countries attacked may be about 30.  Thus the killing and maiming is fairly selective, compared to Genghis Khan or Adolf Hitler.  The deaths may amount to only a few million.  No one knows—the U.S. government disdains counting its victims.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, - “It is not controversial that the United States government has militarily attacked several countries which had not attacked the United States, nor were preparing to attack it.”

-

That is a far cry from your first opinion.  When you seem to suggest the U.S. is ripping through the globe killing and maiming.

And you are correct.  The U.S. has “attacked” inside countries without first being attacked.  Directly anyhow. 

That was certainly the case when Britain took a leading role in bringing to the world’s attention the slaughter in Bosnia.  Ultimately the U.S. took the leading military role in ending the slaughter.  Europe certainly couldn’t do it.  The Russians and Chinese wouldn’t do it.  And no Muslim or Arab nation rose to the occasion.

Yes.  The U.S. and NATO ended the government of Milosevic.  A government which was able to start four wars within nearly as many years with its immediate neighbors.  True ethnic cleansing was, at the least, mitigated by U.S. military power.

The same can be said of dozens of U.S. “attacks”, as you would put it. 

-

What every U.S. President steps into.

The U.S. has been asked, and relied upon, to keep the peace all over the globe spanning the last several decades.  And, like it or not, being the Super Power left standing comes with constant requests for aid and strength from every corner of the planet.  a. It’s a constant and dynamic push and pull between 160 plus nations all trying to do, what they each believe to be, what is in their own best interests.  b. There are bad people and bad governments around the globe.  - The U.S. is not amongst them!  Free people are rarely dangerous.

I will repeat myself.  We need to keep the global context in the forefront, Anarcissie.  Not keep it out of sight as it’s inconvenient. 

The U.S. does not operate in a vacuum.  The U.S. is not an “imperial power”.  The U.S. did not get to where it is by ill means. 

Question to you and JD and garard:  There will always be leaders in the world.  It’s human nature.  Which nation would you like to see in the lead role now and into the future?  Choose one so I may understand.

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By Anarcissie, July 6, 2010 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment

GRYM—It is not controversial that the United States government has militarily attacked several countries which had not attacked the United States, nor were preparing to attack it.  That is simply a fact of history and all the propaganda in the world will never change it.

And, Stalin’s witty remark to the contrary notwithstanding, murder is murder, even if you kill a million people instead of one.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 6, 2010 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, - “While the U.S. government has done a lot of damage to other countries, including killing, maiming, terrorizing and impoverishing hundreds of thousands of non-combatants in countries which did not threaten the United States—this is not controversial—the worst effect….”

-

What is not controversial?  That the U.S. is an “Imperial power”, killing and maiming all over the globe?  If that is what you believe then it is, in fact, controversial.  Most people do not see the U.S, in that vain.  And thank goodness for it. - Most human beings see their own country as they reflect on themselves.  Self-loathing being an good example.

Imperial powers, true imperial powers, do not vanquish an enemy only to expend its own treasure and blood to build them up again and leave them their autonomy and cultures.  The U.S. is the only nation, in all of human history, that has displayed such abilities.  *It’s a testament to what free peoples can accomplish.

Contrary to what you and others have come to believe, the United States has played an important role in keeping the peace.  The U.S., via its military and diplomatic efforts, has saved multiples of millions of human lives in her brief history.

-

* “No arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”

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By Anarcissie, July 6, 2010 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

GRYM—I think my first task, as a citizen and resident of the United States, is to try to fix the problems of my own country, including its imperialism and militarism, which have become institutionalized.  That is, they’re permanent fixtures of our society.  If you look at the recent history of the U.S. you will see that its government embarks on some sort of military adventure every year or two.

While the U.S. government has done a lot of damage to other countries, including killing, maiming, terrorizing and impoverishing hundreds of thousands of non-combatants in countries which did not threaten the United States—this is not controversial—the worst effect, for me, has been on the culture of the country at home, which has become deeply imbued with the dishonesty, cynicism and cruelty implicit in empire.  This spiritual bankruptcy is paralleled by a growing material bankruptcy.

We should not be surprised: that is the fate of all empires.  It is my duty, as a citizen, to try to get my fellow citizens to act in such a way as to avert this fate.

The fact that evil is done in other lands is not an excuse for the government of this one to do further evil there or here.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 6, 2010 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

JDMystic - Anarcissie,

With little time last evening to cover this issue more thoroughly there is another context that is missing from your ill conceived narrative.  The Oil For Food Program.  An issue that you and your ilk assiduously avoid.  To speak or write of this issue obliterates your entire narrative.  How you do not feel deep shame is almost beyond my comprehension. 

F&#k the Iraqi people.  F*#k the truth.  Blame America (White Europeans) First In All Things! 

The corruption of the OFP program has been exhaustively documented.  Equally well known is how Saddam Hussein had spent many $ Billions of dollars on himself, on his family, on his multiple dozens of palaces and his inner political circle while Millions of people remained hungry and ill.  Who do you and your ilk find at fault?  Saddam Husein, in your callous narrative, was merely the hapless victim. The real villains in your narrative was, well, the white skinned Europeans, of course.

Millions of tons of medicines were imported to Iraq from 1992 through 2003.  Where did that medicine end up?  Saddam Hussein, his family, his Bath Party officials and the Republican Guard.  Who do you and your ilk find at fault?  Well, the evil United States (white Europeans), of course.  The obscene bigotry in your narrative is palpable!

-

It’s not enough, it’s never enough, to merely hear what you want to hear and regurgitate the narrative as if you know what you’re talking and writing about.

Your words and accusations get human beings needlessly killed.  It’s time for people like yourself to begin acting responsibly.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

JDMystic,

How refreshing it would be if I saw something from you with some depth.  Some context of events. 

I have two quick examples:

The U.N. sponsored humanitarian aid programs, to deal with the (humanitarian) problem, but those programs were vetoed by the U.S. and U.K. from their positions on the U.N Security Counsel.

Did you ever take the time to read the relevant U.N. resolutions yourself?  Did you follow how China, Russia, Syria, Lebanon and France (Iraq’s largest trading partners - the vaunted “Monied” interests you rail against-)  whom pressed the U.N. hardest to ease sanctions on Iraq?  How three of those Humanitarian proposals included thousands of Km. of fiber-optics, which China, with their $3 Billion contract, wanted to import in order build up Iraq’s Air Defense systems (During the U.N. sanctioned “No Fly Zones)?  Did you put in the time to fully understand how Syria wanted included in those proposals the triggers and integral guidance items for SCUD missiles (banned by the U.N.)?  You never took the time to fully understand what was at issue, did you?  You read or heard it was Humanitarian and how the evil white Europeans vetoed food and medicine for millions of human beings.  End of narrative.

Did you pay attention to how nations such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Turkey (Iraq’s closest threatened neighbors), along with Spain, India, Pakistan, Italy, Germany and Poland lobbied the U.N. hard against those proposals lifting sanctions as they were written?  How it was all of the above nations, along with the U.S. and Britain, who wanted the proposed language changed in order to omit those and many other dual use and overt military items? 

Your passions are horrifically misguided.  Narrow in context.  If the narrative bodes ill for the U.S., it’s good enough for you.  No need to dig deeper. 

Two: “The Desert Storm War that resulted in the destruction of Iraq”.

Iraq was destroyed? Which cities, towns or Provence in Iraq were destroyed by allied forces during Desert Storm? <—This is the type of thing you write repeatedly which have no historical basis whatsoever.  “WHITE EUROPEANS DESTROY ENTIRE COUNTRY! MILLIONS KILLED!

Yes.  Your passions are horrifically misguided.  If you wish to beat yourself up, out of sense of guilt or self-loathing, feel free.  But know this; the claims you make needlessly get people killed.  They are the calculated political claims of America’s most ardent enemies.  You swallow it hook-line-and sinker.  You then regurgitate it to others.

-

Post Script.  The U.N., including China, Russia and France, unanimously passed three (3) resolutions openly condemning Saddam Hussein for keeping medical aid and food from the masses while dispersing it within his circle and republican guard.  Stop saying the evil white Europeans starved children.  Stop ignoring Saddam Hussein.

Everything I showed you above is tangible and verifiable. It does, however, require your time.  Read all relevant U.N. Resolutions yourself.  Read public statements from ALL global governments during the 1990’s.  The U.S. does not operate in a vacuum.

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By Anarcissie, July 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, July 5 at 12:48 pm:

‘... You accuse me of blaming everything on the U.S. I accuse you, and people who think like you, of being responsible for the deaths, human suffering, and the tragic folly that has ensued.’

I doubt if GRYM is anywhere near as responsible as the cynical bastards he makes the mistake of believing in.  He is responsible for being a sucker, of course, but so are we all at one time or another.

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By JDmysticDJ, July 5, 2010 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man

Your claim,

“The United Nations, for example, cites the government of Saddam Hussein for the deaths of over 2 million children after 1991.”

Is an absolute falsehood.

U.N.I.C.E.F. attributes the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children to U.N. sanctions. The U.N. sponsored humanitarian aid programs, to deal with the problem, but those programs were vetoed by the U.S. and U.K. from their positions on the U.N Security Counsel.

The deaths of 2 million children by Saddam Hussein which you claim is absolutely false. The 2 million deaths you claim include military and civilians that died as a result of the Iran Iraq war, and the George H.W. Bush encouraged insurrection by Shia and Kurds. U.S. covert activities during and before the Iran Iraq war are known to people who are informed.

The Desert Storm War that resulted in the destruction of Iraq, and so many Iraqi deaths, was indirectly caused by Western intrusions in Arab lands going back to the First World War. The West arbitrarily established borders, Monarchies, and protectorates that facilitated Western Access to Arab oil reserves.

Saddam Hussein was responsible for the deaths that resulted from the invasion of Quait. The Desert Storm War which resulted in the destruction of Iraq and the deaths of a million or more Iraqis, half of them children, could have been avoided if not for George H. W. Bush’s intransigence.

Some people, Neocons and Realpolitik types, claim that geopolitical realities justified the deaths. Seeing as how the deaths and destruction could have been avoided by using diplomacy, I do blame those who supported the death and destruction, rather than diplomacy.

Clearly, human rights and military abuses are occurring all over the world, but the U.S. is not advocating military actions in those incidences. The deciding factor seems to relate directly to oil, and to a lesser extent, religious and racial bigotry.

You accuse me of blaming everything on the U.S. I accuse you, and people who think like you, of being responsible for the deaths, human suffering, and the tragic folly that has ensued.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 3 at 7:16 pm

With that you get the last word.

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By Anarcissie, July 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

GRYM—I don’t think I can break things down any further.  To discuss whether something is true or not, we have to use evidence and reason.  The supposed beliefs of the American people are irrelevant, as are the beliefs of various people you think are evil.  If you bring them in, one can only suppose that you think they are relevant, that they prove something.  Or that they are distraction from your own inability to present evidence and reason for your case.

I’ll mention again, by the way, that your theory that the American people disagree with gerard and me about the various current wars is incorrect.  According to recent polls, they don’t.  As someone said elsewhere on this website, what we appear to need is not a peace movement but a democracy movement.

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By Anarcissie, July 3, 2010 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

So, how do corporate and cooperative farms differ?  Actually I didn’t know there were any cooperative farms, although I know there are cooperatives for moving, say, dairy products from the individual farmers into whatever they call the main economic stream.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 3, 2010 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, July 3 at 2:23 pm

I fully understand how and why you have come to the conclusions you have.  I simply disagree.

The information you follow, such as what you have shared here today, absolves Saddam Hussein of any responsibility in millions of Iraqi deaths.  Your entire focus, on every subject you opine on, rests with the United States.  As if the U.S. operates in a vacuum.  I disagree.

The numbers of deaths you like to follow and cite are dubious. - The United Nations, for example, cites the government of Saddam Hussein for the deaths of over 2 million children after 1991.  You and others like to ignore this and turn that blame onto who?  Again the United States.

-

I have never witnessed you write on any other subject.  Blame America First and Only is your mantra.  It is your entire focus.  It is your only interest.  If it bodes badly for the U.S. you are certain it is true.

Your passions are horribly misguided.

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By JDmysticDJ, July 3, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man

Thanks to Dr.GuideonPoyla, who posted this information on another thread, I don’t need to waste my time documenting the evidence in an attempt to get you to recognize reality. Some months ago I documented the numbers on another forum. At that time, you didn’t dispute the numbers but claimed the numbers were justified. Clearly you will not acknowledge reality. I’ll suggest that you choose to ignore reality because reality totally destroys the myths you try to advance.

“According to the 2006 Revision UN Population Division data, medical literature data, and other authoritative sources, the Iraqi Holocaust has been associated with 1.1 million post-invasion non-violent avoidable deaths; 1.4 million violent post-invasion deaths; and 0.8 million post-invasion under-5 infant deaths (90% avoidable and due to gross US Coalition violation of the Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War which demands that an Occupier supplies food and medical requisites to “the fullest extent of the means available to it.”
In addition, avoidable deaths under Sanctions (1990-2003) totalled 1.7 million, violent deaths in the Gulf War totalled 0.2 million and under-5 infant deaths under Sanctions totalled 1.2 million. Iraqi refugees (both inside and outside Iraq) total 5-6 million.
The ongoing Iraqi Holocaust (1990-2010) involves 1.6 million violent deaths, 2.8 million non-violent excess deaths, 4.4 million violent and non-violent excess deaths, 1.9 million avoidable under-5 year old infant deaths and 5-6 million refugees – an Iraqi Genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention definition of “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group“ (for documented details see ‘Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide’:” http://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/ ).

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By Go Right Young Man, July 3, 2010 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

Unfortunately you took what I clearly wrote and veiled my words into things unrecognizable.

For example.  Why did you feel the need to hatchet my words?  I wrote: “It matters a great deal who believes “these things”.  Some are attempting to kill because of “these things”.  These things, the notion that the U.S. is a tyrannical murderous nation, are patently and demonstrably false.”

I was clearly writing that these falsities are getting people killed.  How it does indeed matter who believes in “these things”. I did not write that you should believe because others believe. - I could not have been more clear.

Example II: “I passionately believe we can, and should, give people more credit.”

I was writing on how much I disagree with both you and garard on how ignorant the masses are.  There is no need to re-interpret my words. I wrote what I meant and meant what I wrote.  We should give people more credit.  Period.

You are, of course, free to disagree.  But I will continue to take exception when you opine on how the masses are ignorant for not seeing things your way.

-

We cannot have an open discourse if you re-interpret my words.

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By Anarcissie, July 3, 2010 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man, July 3 at 12:02 am:

‘Anarcissie,- “No, you’ve twice said that statements, beliefs, should be judged by who, or rather, which side believes in them, rather than by evidence and reason.”

I wonder if you would be kind enough to point out where I wrote that beliefs should be judged on who believes, rather than evidence or reason? ...’

Here are two cases.  In the earlier case, you appear to be saying that I should believe something because other people believe it (‘give people more credit’) but the statement is vague.  When I asked you to clarify it you repeated it.  The more recent statement is explicit; it was made in reference to some bad characters and the only possible interpretation is that we should not believe in anything they believe in, because they’re bad.


Go Right Young Man, July 1 at 10:21 pm:
‘... It matters a great deal who believes “these things”....’

Go Right Young Man, June 29 at 8:59 pm:
‘... Both of your comments strike me as MASSIVE rationalizations in various attempts to countenance why you find yourselves largely in the minority.  Time and again you have both exhaustively explained in writing how and why you are smarter than most.  How the masses are ignorant and gullible.  How each of you find yourselves amongst the “elite thinkers”.

I passionately believe we can, and should, give people more credit.’

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By Go Right Young Man, July 2, 2010 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie,- “No, you’ve twice said that statements, beliefs, should be judged by who, or rather, which side believes in them, rather than by evidence and reason.”

-

I wonder if you would be kind enough to point out where I wrote that beliefs should be judged on who believes, rather than evidence or reason?

I think you have misread or misjudged the things I have written.

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By Anarcissie, July 2, 2010 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

GRYM—No, you’ve twice said that statements, beliefs, should be judged by who, or rather, which side believes in them, rather than by evidence and reason.  That strikes me as indicating that you think the truth of statements is unimportant, and what matters is whether they give power to your side or the other side (as you define them).

If truth is important, then what matters is whether statements can be justified by some means that will produce the truth, like evidence and reason, not who believes in them.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 2, 2010 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, - “So you don’t care about truth?  That’s what you appear to be saying.”

-

Are you posing a genuine question?  I honestly can’t tell.  It doesn’t seem possible that anyone could arrive at that conclusion after reading anything I’ve written.  I could not have been more clear on what I believe “the truth” is.

You’re being facetious, yes?

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By Anarcissie, July 2, 2010 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

GRYM—So you don’t care about truth?  That’s what you appear to be saying.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, - “GRYM—the question isn’t who believes in these things; it’s whether they’re true or not.”

-

It matters a great deal who believes “these things”.  Some are attempting to kill because of “these things”.  These things, the notion that the U.S. is a tyrannical murderous nation, are patently and demonstrably false.

The United States has made many mistakes in her rise on the world stage.  Being a murderous thug is not amongst them.

Believing “these things” is, as I have stated, misguided.  It also happens to needlessly get human beings killed.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

The United States suffers many human ills, has made numerous mistakes and tends to be arrogant, however, because I believe it to be so important I will repeat myself:  The United States exceeds all others on matters of human rights.  - Nothing sends an (outside the mainstream Left) thinker through the roof faster than making this fact perfectly clear.  Nothing makes them angrier than pointing out a few simple truths.  Truths which completely run counter to their desire, via guilt and self-hate,  to see the United States as the cause of the world’s ills.  The cause of all its wars and human foibles.

There are reasons why the United States is the most sought after interlocutor on the planet.  There are reasons why 150+ nations look to the United States to lead.  There are reasons why every nation on the planet looks to the United States for help after a catastrophe. - Including her enemies and critics.  There are reasons for the very direct correlation between America’s prosperity and the lifting of Billions of human beings out of abject poverty, hunger and illness all over the globe. 

It is not her (white European) people that makes the United States one of the most productive, innovative, hard working and humane.  And it’s not her “evil, murderous, tyranny”.  It’s her architecture. 

The United States of America is built upon the notion that the individual human being, left alone , pursuing his or her dreams and aspiring to be the best that he or she can be, based on his or her desires, is what defines the United States.  Individual liberty, a representative form of governance, with an independent judiciary has made this nation’s people explode with hard work and prosperity.  Not world domination.

-

To add insult to injury:  The World Health Organization has estimated that the United States’ Millennium Challenge will likely save the lives of 50 Million people on the planet before the decade ends.  No nation on earth can claim anything close.

The most “Liberal” amongst us seethe at this fact.  Yes, you read it right.  They seethe at the notion that the United States can be so instrumental in saving the lives of tens of millions of people.  The United States, you see, kills people.  It does not keep the peace and save lives. 

I will be outright blunt now:  People such as JDMystic assume everybody conducts themselves as they would.  It’s called guilt.  And they simply cannot imagine anyone acting and thinking differently.  Blame America First.  Above all else; self-flagellation.

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By Anarcissie, July 1, 2010 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment

GRYM—the question isn’t who believes in these things; it’s whether they’re true or not.

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By Go Right Young Man, July 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

DmysticDJ, - “Millions dead, more maimed, millions displaced, nations invaded and occupied, indiscriminate killing, opposing and not ratifying international human rights agreements, opposing and not ratifying international war crimes treaties and agreements. The list of real human rights violations goes on and on.”

-

I have little doubt that you believe the above wild and unhinged claims.  As I have little doubt that Nasrallah, Zawahiri, Rahman, Chavez and Nosair believe all of the above as well.

Do you have any compunction to regurgitating the claims of many of America’s enemies?  Those whom use such clap-trap to call others to arms against the United States?  Or do you simply assume if it be sufficiently negative it must be true? - Consequences be damned?

Your passions are horribly misguided.  The saddest part, in my mind, is that you are clueless to just how harmful your myopic ignorance often proves to be.

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By Anarcissie, July 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

gerard—Google is all-knowing.  In regard to the human-rights ratings, I was pretty sure the U.S. was not number one except for those rating organizations which it funds, and that’s just domestically.  I can’t help but consider that the hundreds of thousands of people the U.S. government has killed, maimed, terrorized, tortured, starved, exiled, cleansed and so forth for no reason but the political and economic interests of its ruling class, in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Panama, Serbia, Iraq, Somalia, Nicaragua, blah, blah, blah, also suffered some sort of rights violation.

Some historians argue that major motivations for the revolt of the English colonists in North America was a prohibition against colonization west of the Appalachian divide imposed by King George (who was trying to get along with the Indians by at least pretending to respect their rights) and the growing popularity of the anti-slavery movement in Britain, which, if it succeeded (as it in fact did forty-odd years later) would result in the abolition of slavery in its colonies, i.e. the U.S.-to-be.  It would be rather ironical if the fine words of the Declaration of Independence about all men being created equal and having the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were used to cover an intention to commit the genocide and slavery which in fact ensued.  It’s nicer to believe they just happened to happen.  Still, one hears Dr. Johnson crying in the wilderness, “How is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of Negroes?”

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By gerard, July 1, 2010 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

Anarchissie:  Thanks for the references.  I particularly appreciate that because, as you have probably observed, I’m strong on the theoretical and intuitive, and I mostly “smell”  facts but don’t know where they came from.  I had a hell of a time with footnotes and bibliographies in school! However, through long experience I have found my assumptions, presumptions and intellectual consumptions more reliable than not.  We go with what we are given, for better or worse.A sense of humor tops it all off in the end.  Love.

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By gerard, July 1, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

GoRight:  “You cannot display a firm conviction, all things being what they were, as to whether or not American Independents was worth fighting for.”
  That’s right.  “All things being what they were.” What does that mean?  Do you pretend that you or anyone else now living knows “what things were” then, when we can’t even be sure what things are today?
  It is sad to have to admit it, but part of the human condition is not to be able to know everything, and yet to have to make judgments—some of which will be right and many wrong (due to lack of adequate information).
  I am sorry to have to insist that what is happening is always beyond any person’s comprehension—not to mention what happened in the past which is always highly colored by partisan opinions and different points of view.
  Theoretically, and recently more and more practically, I am opposed to all wars for any reason in view of the obvious facts that killing people is wrong, and that every war can be justified by people who wish to kill. However, no war can be proven to have been “the only solution”, and with increasingly disastrous hi-tech weapons, wars are becoming even less viable as solutions to any problems we face.

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By JDmysticDJ, July 1, 2010 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Accepting Go Right Young Man’s unsupported assertions and false premises gives credence to his arguments.

His claims defy common sense, and are illogical in the extreme. Only a person oblivious to reality would make the claims he makes.

Millions dead, more maimed, millions displaced, nations invaded and occupied, indiscriminate killing, opposing and not ratifying international human rights agreements, opposing and not ratifying international war crimes treaties and agreements. The list of real human rights violations goes on and on.

There is reality, and there is reality as one would wish it to be. Go Right Young Man either can’t distinguish between the two, or he is knowingly trying to get people to accept a false version of reality.

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By Anarcissie, July 1, 2010 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

last_boy_scout, July 1 at 8:13 am:

‘I actually think that Petraeaus doctrine may be worth
following in the only case — the USA withdraws its
troops from Afghanistan in 2011. ...’

Well, that’s not the way you do a war properly.  You do not schedule a withdrawal when you don’t have complete control of the situation, and from what I read here, the U.S. not only doesn’t have control of the situation, they’re losing the war in terms of territory and population controlled.  If nation-building is included in the idea of winning the war, we’re talking about an effort lasting decades and costing trillions of dollars, one with no guarantee of success.

On the other hand, if the U.S. ruling class has actually decided to get out in 2011 regardless of conditions, then the war is, in effect, over, and some other game is in play.

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By Isernia, July 1, 2010 at 4:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What disturbs me most about the Afghan situation is the silence of US and NATO country citizens to be disturbed about its high cost in “blood and treasury”. Historians, especially those of ancient Rome, see so many parallels, in the power of generals and Pentagon, to the military ascendancy that took over Republican Rome.  Where are today’s US generals like those of WWII…humble and wise.  Marshall where art thou when we so need you?

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By last_boy_scout, July 1, 2010 at 4:13 am Link to this comment

I actually think that Petraeaus doctrine may be worth
following in the only case — the USA withdraws its
troops from Afghanistan in 2011.

Still Obama must be doing the right thing, even
appointing the W’s man to what seems to be the most
important military post in the country. Hopefully
they won’t be trying to strongarm each other, while
setting up the negotiations with Taliban.

Btw, given all this situation with McChrystal’s
retirement, Petraeus appointment and the whole shift
of the Afghan strategy, I wonder what would happen to
the MI-7 deal. U.S. military planned to purchase few
Russian utility helicopters, as long as they were
proved to be much more suitable and reliable in
Afghanistan, than the Blackhawks (and cheaper as
well).

Senators Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala., ex D.-Ala.) and
Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), lobbying the interests
of Defense Solution group, however, questioned the
necessity of this deal (source —
http://www.win.ru/en/topic/4767.phtml), having
offered to give the contract to some “good ole
American guys” rather than Russians with their
“doubtful democratic identity”. The decision-making
process should be up in the air by now. I kinda
wonder how it all would turn out.

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By Anarcissie, June 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment

gerard, June 30 at 7:41 pm:
’... It may be true, as you say, (until recently) that U.S. has “the best human rights record on the planet.” I’m not entirely sure, statistically speaking. ...’

http://www.carleton.ca/cifp/app/gdp_ranking.php?order=Average
http://www.vexen.co.uk/countries/best.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldwide_Press_Freedom_Index

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By Anarcissie, June 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man, June 30 at 10:19 pm:
‘Anarcissie, - “GRYM—are you seriously proposing that the validity of an idea can be measured by its popularity?”

Absolutely not.  I wrote nothing of the kind.

Unlike you and garard I believe we can, and should, give people more credit.  Incidental to that is how you both find yourselves in a position whereas most people, real thinking people, disagree with you.

Correct me of I’m wrong. Is it not the two of you who commiserate on how utterly ignorant the masses are for not seeing “the validity” of your views? ...’

Is the word valid a problem for you?  I mean by it some combination of “true”, “useful”, “worthwhile”, etc. 

I don’t understand what you mean by “give people more credit” if you don’t mean that ideas should be judged by their popularity.  What would I be doing differently if I “gave people more credit”?

As it happens, according to the polls I’ve read, most people (who think about the subjects) do agree with me about the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the other war in Iraq, the war in Vietnam, and a number of other related matters.  Maybe it’s you who should be giving people more credit—if we can determine what that means, and if that’s what you believe in.  As I say, though, I’m not sure what your theory is.

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By Go Right Young Man, June 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, - “GRYM—are you seriously proposing that the validity of an idea can be measured by its popularity?”

-

Absolutely not.  I wrote nothing of the kind. 

Unlike you and garard I believe we can, and should, give people more credit.  Incidental to that is how you both find yourselves in a position whereas most people, real thinking people, disagree with you. 

Correct me of I’m wrong. Is it not the two of you who commiserate on how utterly ignorant the masses are for not seeing “the validity” of your views?

-

And the United States still has the best human rights record on the planet.  The vast majority of the six billion people on the earth hold the United States and her human rights values in high regard.  Over a hundred-fifty nations, the majority on the planet, look to the United States to keep the peace.  Openly asking ourselves why seems tantamount to understanding global events.

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By Go Right Young Man, June 30, 2010 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment

garard, - In regards to the Revolutionary War - “Who can say about what could have been—or could be?  What should be is a little easier.”

-

After all you opined that is your bottom line.  Literally. 

You cannot display a firm conviction, all things being what they were, as to whether or not American Independents was worth fighting for.  At best you wish upon the many things that could have been.  - A non-committal answer if ever there was one.

-

To put this in contemporary terms:

Thirteen men came within a whisker of blowing up the U.N. building along with the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.  All planned to take place five minutes apart and designed to kill tens of thousands of people. Your thoughts on the matter come down on the side of the esoteric questions of “what should be”.

You must admit, as an anti-war advocate, you have the much easier roll.  “In The World”, as it is called amongst the Intelligence Community, there are real human beings working 24/7 at preventing the mass murder of tens of thousands of Americans.  These people do not enjoy the same luxuries you enjoy.  To these people, “what should be” likely means tens of thousands more people died in New York City.

-

Deep and esoteric questioning has its place.  It’s one of the ways man has both progressed and declined.  But doing it at the expense of “In The World” seems unwise and far from promising.

Bottom line.  American Independents, in truly stark terms, was a very short time ago.  You most decidedly did not answer the root questions concerning war.

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By Anarcissie, June 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

GRYM—are you seriously proposing that the validity of an idea can be measured by its popularity?

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By gerard, June 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

GoRight:  Again:  You say: “For example: Americans have a terrific ability keep themselves centered and focused on the basics.  It’s one of several reasons why the United States has the best human rights record on the planet.”

At this point I have to ask you (in order to answer your question) what you regard as “basics” that Americans have had such a “terrific ability to keep themselves centered on.” Certainly education is not one of them!
  It may be true, as you say, (until recently) that U.S. has “the best human rights record on the planet.” I’m not entirely sure, statistically speaking. 
  However, I am rudely reminded that we are still holding 200 or so prisoners at Guantanamo who have possibly been tortured, are possibly being tortured, and have no rights at all.  There are also other prisons, many of them in the boundaries of the U.S. which are holding people as felons for using crack cocaine but not felons for using more expensive brands of the same drug.  Many of our prisons are presided over by guards who couldn’t care less about prisoners’ “civil rights” and carefully ignore gross abuses daily. 
  In closing may I remind you of the treatment of legal citizen-demonstrators on the recently militarized streets of Pittsburgh, Pa—my hometown.
The machinery brought in to “quell” their nonviolent protest and keep them from expressing their legitimate claims against the financial sector of society was not far different from the equipment used on the Afghanistan front.  Minus the drones. That’s yet to come, I might presume from more recent activities in Toronto.
  And by the way—what about the poor, bedraggled, abused civil rights of the Navajos, the Hopies and the Sioux, etc.?  Tell me again about the smallpox germs in the blankets, and the Long March.
  I have to go now.

-

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By gerard, June 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

GoRight:  It is difficult if not impossible to answer a question about whether or not something “should have” happened. So many contingencies hang on each other, and the event under discussion happened in the past—this one 250 years ago.
  Ideally, as an anti-war advocate, I would first point out that the situation might have been handled differently, and many lives would have been spared for more constructive ends.  Of course I cannot say that all those lives would have been constructively lived, so don’t ask me that! One of them might have assassinated George Washington before he became President.  Another might have cobbled together a printing press far superior to Ben Franklin’s.  I just don’t know.
  But I will hazard a guess that if the tea had not been dumped into Boston Harbor, we would not have to cope with a crazed right-wing group called the Tea Partiers.  And if, in the original Constitution, it had been written that slavery in any form would be illegal in the original colonies, punishable by life imprisonment. there might not have been any Civil War.
  Who can say about what could have been—or could be?  What should be is a little easier.

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By Go Right Young Man, June 30, 2010 at 5:10 am Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, June 30 at 12:45 am

Your passions are misguided.  If you could extend yourself and talk to an immigrant from Poland, Cuba, Afghanistan, Sudan, or East Timor you would find yourself humbled.  You would never again believe as you do today.

The United States -or in your racially tinged outlook (“the Europeans”)- is not the cause of the world’s ills.  Only those who have lived their entire lives well fed and secure, able to speak their mind without fear of imprisonment or death, feeling free to travel without “permission” believe as you do.

In your affluent and secure cocoon you have yet to learn the reasons why 150+ nations on the globe look to America to keep the peace.

-

You need to “unplug”, JD.  Unplug and speak with real human beings.

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By JDmysticDJ, June 29, 2010 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man  

You say.

“It’s one of several reasons why the United States has the best human rights record on the planet.”

Given all the information you’ve received on this cite, how can you possibly believe that statement is true? Is it because you are irrational beyond belief, and believing this absolute falsehood is comforting. Or is it that you are an inveterate liar, who is seeking to advance a mythical utopian and classically chauvinistic agenda by purposefully lying.

Your rationale is exactly the same as the early colonialists. White Europeans are not a superior race; they have turned the entire world into a nightmare of tyranny, and war.

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By rollzone, June 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment

hello. i am so anti-establisment i can not sit idly by while interlopers are injected into the “uncontrolled” media. in the beginning, petrodollars are financed into the future to build castles in the sand. a great city of vibrant dream architecture now rises into the atmosphere, where once there was a river needing a dredge, and a boring beach. 1/4 of all new construction is going on there right now. it is in the Middle East. bankrupt the petrodollar with new, abundant, clean energy- and all that progress stops, and scatters into the wind. war strategy today is as much about recruiting all the worst public fodder from the species to eliminate as cleansing, as it is protecting corporate interests. we do not fight war. war is kill the enemy. we have 400 times overkill every day, so what would we do without an enemy? downsize. so instead, dream up a new conflict. something whereby the guy next door could be training some delinquent in his garage to kill people, and declare war on them, they will make you a general. military engagement is not about winning, it is about sustaining. sustain the boogeyman with with illegal drug money so you have an enemy. protect the oil monopolies so cities can be built. we are at war with ourselves so the military can do what it wants. it will expand bases, it will deploy more troops, it will police the world. we are the new world order inspite of the will of the people, and there is no longer anything we can do about it. move on progressives and reformers: spend a little tax on me.

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By Go Right Young Man, June 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, June 29 at 5:27 pm
&
gerard, June 29 at 2:43 pm

-

Both of your comments strike me as MASSIVE rationalizations in various attempts to countenance why you find yourselves largely in the minority.  Time and again you have both exhaustively explained in writing how and why you are smarter than most.  How the masses are ignorant and gullible.  How each of you find yourselves amongst the “elite thinkers”. 

I passionately believe we can, and should, give people more credit. 

For example: Americans have a terrific ability keep themselves centered and focused on the basics.  It’s one of several reasons why the United States has the best human rights record on the planet.

-

garard,

In light of your passionate anti-war beliefs, and considering that the end of “slavery” was cited twice as many time as “Taxation without Representation” as reason for leaving English rule at English shores, I’m still wondering if we can get a Yes or No answer on whether or not the American Revolution should have been fought.

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By Anarcissie, June 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

But people accept the media as they are.  They would have a different sort of media if they demanded it.

Maybe war and the whole conquest-subjugation thing (which applies to a lot of “peace” as well) is “in the grammar”, as Nietzsche said of God.  People vote and work to hang themselves because they like the idea of hanging somebody and don’t get the fact that what goes around comes around. (Although some surely do, or we wouldn’t have that proverb.)

If the Internet isn’t destroyed by the big corporations who are trying to get it under their control (more conquest and subjugation) we’ll see a different kind of media and see if it has any effect.

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By gerard, June 29, 2010 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

Samson:  You say “One of the great mysteries of American politics is why do voters constantly vote against their own self interests.”
  Where’s the mystery in that?  Major media like Flock’s News have hypnotic power over people who don’t have enough education to tell propaganda and sleeze from fact.
  Major political parties raise enough money from conservative sectors of the country to buy time enough to give the impression that “everybody” thinks this, “everybody” is voting for that. 
  Under-educated people want to be “on the winning side” so they vote for these seeming-winners.  Then along comes the Supreme Court and by fiat single-handedly donates unlimited corporate funding to campaigns!
  Private enterprise capital controls the public interest—the most evil of all evil business transactions, and the basis upon which all other economic injustices are perpetrated. 
  That this kind of fraud is routine and legally sanctioned is only one shocking result of decades of heartless manipulation by people who ARE educated (so much for education!) and yet continue their maniacal destruction.  Why? 
  Without dragging religion in here, I am reminded that Jesus, hanging on the cross, said, paradoxically, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”  Are we, then, expected to say “Don’t forgive them, for they do know what they do?”  Or deny the screeching probability of almost universal guilt?  Theirs, and ours.
  You can see that I am having a very hard time here—as aren’t we all? What to do how to do it—because I can’t see the rationale behind the behavior of guys (and gals) like those G8s all suited up in Toronto, limo-ing up and down barricaded, tear-gassed streets six miles from thousands of people (mostly young) who travelled hundreds of miles to talk to them. What gives?
And who can expect such an unbalanced situation to stand upright for more than six seconds?
  When private enterprise gets out of hand, what is public enterprise supposed to do? 
 
  .

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By christian96, June 29, 2010 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

America’s not the only nation producing military
weapons.  At the beginning of the cold war Russia
produced the AK-47.  Who provided the money for
the development of the AK-47 and who made money when
it was sold?

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By Ed Harges, June 28, 2010 at 9:03 pm Link to this comment

re:By heavyrunner, June 28 at 11:31 pm:

You write: “I want to see a cost/benefit analysis of protecting
a pipeline route through the deserts of southern Afghanistan
against that of building massive solar arrays in the Mojave desert
right here at home.”

But the pipeline is not the only reason or even the main reason
the US occupies Afghanistan.

The US and Israel have been threatening war against Iran for some years now.
Iraq and Afghanistan frame Iran on the left and right like parentheses. Surely
this fact is not merely parenthetical. If you want to keep Iran under threat of
attack by the US, these twin occupations make a lot of neoconservative sense.

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By heavyrunner, June 28, 2010 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

Sorry - pasted the wrong url.  Here is Pete Seeger singing “Big Muddy”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXnJVkEX8O4

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By heavyrunner, June 28, 2010 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

http://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/the_land_where
_theories_of_warfare_go_to_die_20100628/

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By heavyrunner, June 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

Petraeus dresses like a banana salesman, not like someone should who is leading the U.S. military.  That was my impression of him when he did the coin toss at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago and his chestful of banners and medals just keeps getting heavier and more out of line.

I want to see a cost/benefit analysis of protecting a pipeline route through the deserts of southern Afghanistan against that of building massive solar arrays in the Mojave desert right here at home.

But then how would Wall Street sell all their coal and oil?

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By Ed Harges, June 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment

A variant of the “graveyard of empires” sobriquet.
Like many clichés, it happens to be true.

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By photoshock, June 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

AF, if by continent you mean North American continent then you are correct. But what does this have to do with the story?
The story as written regards the idea of outdated and outmoded methods of war, dying in the land of Afghanistan.
America does happen to be a country, more so than the European continent and their subservient countries.
With knowledge as highly advanced as yours, surely the idea of a country known as America fits into the grand scheme of things. We, the people of America, are tired of sending our troops to untold foreign lands to fight enemies that our government has created, for expedient’s sake.
Our government in their infinite foreign policy wisdom, created the Taliban, jihadist’s one and all to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The CIA, also created ‘the list’ better known now as Al-Qaeda to help in the fight against the totalitarian forces of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia and other states that would seek to kill and enslave Muslim peoples. For this we get the branding of America as a nation of people who deserve to die because we are heathens and profligates.
America is now a nation that is fighting for its existence as a world power, yet should we have to give up this nonsensical fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will be better off for the diplomatic machinations that helped to end this debacle. We spend way too much on war profiteering and not enough on social issues in America. Given 25% of the budget that is spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in America we could wipe out hunger, reduce homelessness to near zero and give everyone healthcare without so much as batting an eyelash.

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By Samson, June 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Ellis neglects the main benefit of these wars.

The pro-corporate politicians who only represent a small fraction of the voters use these wars to drum up support for their own political campaigns.

It was never a surprise that McCrystal’s Kanduhar offensive was planned for June, as that’s when Obama and the Democrats wanted both the flagwaving for the troops and the news of a victory (real or not) flowing back to the American people for the elections.

One of the great mysteries of American politics is why do voters constantly vote against their own self interests.  Why do workers vote for politicians who serve the corporate bosses?  These wars, and the propaganda that surrounds them, is one of the answers to that question.

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By Samson, June 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

This article is a bit dated.  Yesterday, Obama apparently started openly attacking any who are opposed to this war by attacking people who are ‘obsessed’ with withdrawal.

http://news.antiwar.com/2010/06/27/obama-slams-obsession-with-ending-war-in-afghanistan/

Obama is now promising a longer war in Afghanistan, and still one with no perceivable strategic gain to America, and is now oppenly attacking his supporters who want this war to end.

Something like 55% of the American people want us out of Afghanistan.  Good bet most of those are Democrats who voted for Obama.  So, Obama is now openly attacking his supporters in order to force the continuation of the war that even Dubya had enough sense to try to back away from.

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By gerard, June 28, 2010 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Interestingly, neither the human soul nor Mother Nature are very interested in “quick return on investments.”

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By gerard, June 28, 2010 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

Intuition tells me that we are seeing the early death throes of modern war as an effective foreign policy.  Symptoms:  Lack of ability to “win” in spite of superior numbers and equipment; widespread anxiety plus a sullen, chaotic silence on the part of civilians world-wide.  Increasing secrecy at all levels and an increase in the use of indirect cointel black operations where deceit is more important than confrontation. Increasing tolerance of torture and cruelty plus tendency to identify conquest with radical religious beliefs.  Increasing criticism of civilian control over military operations, and desire for military control over civilian government; increasing fear of failure and doubt among farflung troops, and a sense of not knowing what’s going on. Among civilians, a widespread fear of the future. Among the fighting forces increasomg PTSD-like symptoms and suicide. 
  All this points toward the advent of the end of war—particularly high-tech war == and a period of profound shift in human psychology—what seems like a house-of-cards effect with noone—leadership or otherwise—having a clear sense of what is ahead. 
  The centers of power—economic, military, civil, theoretical—(being themselves reactionary by nature) seem at a loss and without any strategy beyond a blind insistence on taking the wrong roads out.
  Overall, the times may be the most hopeful we have seen for centuries, but they will require intelligence, courage and foresight from every living soul who can summon the courage to stand up.

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By possibarendless, June 28, 2010 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

Requirements for a stable modern society:  Education,
food, family stability, building materials, hope for
the future, and trust in your neighbors/group
identity.  COIN is the result or realizing that
killing the bad guys is not the best way to help a
tribal society become a modern society.  The
execution of COIN is centered around helping educate,
keep alive, and have good relationships with the Afghan people EVEN IF THEY PLAN ON KILLING TROOPS
TOMORROW.  This is a hard pill to swallow for troops
trained to protect one another and their fellow
troops at all costs, rather than their own
countrymen.  The worst part is it only takes one guy
to screw it up for everyone and turn a tribe against
all US troops.  However, if we’re committed to
shutting down Afghanistan as a place for outsiders to
train terrorists and kill us, it will have to be
done.  Courageous restraint is the only way to win—
and by winning I mean a stable modern society in Afghanistan not beholden to anyone but confident in themselves as a nation.  McChrystal was doing his
best to help this along—too bad his staff was too
mouthy around the wrong people.

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By Go Right Young Man, June 28, 2010 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

Good people can argue whether or not the United States should leave Afghanistan.  An equal number of good people can argue the wisdom of entering Afghanistan to begin with - 90% of Americans supported the decision.

What concerns me is the horrific poverty and widespread illiteracy amongst the Afghan people. 

While the United States and others are there let them continue building schools.  There is no better way to lift human beings out of abject poverty.

In 2002 an estimated 38,000 children went to school in Khost Provence; in March 2008 the number had climbed to 210,000, including 44,000 girls.  That is but a single Provence.

Keep building roads and school as quickly as possible.

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By scotttpot, June 28, 2010 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

This is directly from the Wall Street Journal Wednesday June 16th -
  “Earlier, Gen. Petraeus appeared to struggle with whether withdrawals should
begin in july ,2011.Pressed by Mr .Levin whether it was in his ‘’ best ,personal,
professional judgement ‘’ that reductions should begin then, Petraeus paused for
eight seconds before appearing to hedge , saying, ‘’ we have to be careful with
timelines .’‘
A week later he was named the new commander in Afghanistan.

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By felicity, June 28, 2010 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

tobysgirl - maybe it’s because I don’t have any of the gadgets that it seems to me that a lot of Americans do have them. And I actually think the things are addictive which is why having to give them up (return to the 15th century) would be met with a great gnashing of teeth and renting of clothes by their users. 

Religious zealots, whatever their stripe, always want to return to the past. Of course they really have no idea what the ‘past’ was like.  Foreinstance, they assume that today’s youth are beyond sexually promiscuous while the youth of colonial times were all virgins prior to marriage.  WRONG.  About 75% of the married youth in colonial times produced children much less than 9 months later.  The only difference between them and us was that they got married when they got pregnant.

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By AF, June 28, 2010 at 8:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The Taliban’s (I didn’t know the Taliban was responsible for 9/11) goal is to return the Muslim world to the 15th century.”

The Talibans’ goal is LOCAL, only Afghanistan, as pointed out repeatedly by Mullah Omar. If the Talibans’ go in power again in Afghanistan, Pakistan will control them once again, and you can be sure that NO al-Qaeda bases will be permitted, and you’d also fix the drug problem, just how the Talibans’ did in 2000, when they eliminated all the drug fields.

ps. “America” is a continent, not a country.

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By Tobysgirl, June 28, 2010 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

Felicity, how many people in the U.S. have all the electronic gadgets you mention? Have you noticed the large numbers of U.S. citizens interested in returning US to the 15th century? I think it’s more proper for US to be concerned about the direction of OUR country. We unleashed the Taliban in the first place, and the American Taliban is alive and thriving. By which, for those of you liable to misinterpret me, I mean the so-called Christian fascists.

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By felicity, June 28, 2010 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

If I closed my eyes and overlooked the absence of that Texas accent, listening to Obama ‘explain’ his policy in Afghanistan this weekend, I could have been listening to LBJ ‘explaining’ his Vietnam policy in 1964-65.  We know how that turned out after untold American and Vietnamese lives were lost and the treasury of the United States was drained.  You’d think we would have learned a lesson. 

The Taliban’s (I didn’t know the Taliban was responsible for 9/11) goal is to return the Muslim world to the 15th century. The Afghani people might have something to say about that? 

I suggest we give each Afghani man, woman and child over age 10 a cell phone, a twitter/tweeter/twatter, and an ipod.  A helluvalot cheaper than funding the so-called war and a helluvalot more likely to make the Afghanis rise up and rebel against returning to the 15th century ala the Taliban.

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By balkas, June 28, 2010 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

Most probable US goal is to let the three main factions in agh’n make peace or war; suppporting everybody while establishing permament bases there.

ANA, wld function in name only. Obviously, pashtuns wld not join ANA.

US or US/nato agggression was never a mistake but an aimful act: keep chaos, puppetization, and dismemberment of the country going for decades or even centuries. tnx

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, June 28, 2010 at 3:36 am Link to this comment

What we have here is a failure to communicate…
Just shaking them boss, just shaking them…

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By photoshock, June 28, 2010 at 3:33 am Link to this comment

History has proven that no nation state can make the tribal regions that make up the Afghani nation kowtow to those who try to rule it.
Much to the chagrin of the British and especially the Russians, these failed attempts have led to changes in their government that forever altered their governing system.
We, the American people now face the same dilemma. To leave before victory or stay and fight and lose the support of the world in the public and private arena.
How does this shill for the military-industrial-Congressional complex, President Barack Hussein Obama, chose the path of least resistance and the least damage to an already tarnished reputation?
Only he knows what the oligarchs are planning, only President Obama, can decipher the many schemes of those who run the world. Afghanistan will not be conquered by any means other than completely destroying the whole nation by nuclear means.
We are at a crossroads. Should the President choose the former and stay to victory, we the American people will pay dearly in blood and troops, should he choose the honorable but offensive way, that of leaving while the job is half-finished then America may salvage some of its international reputation and leave with a sense of ‘Vietnam’ hanging over the heads of the military.

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