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Live Chat: Robert Scheer on McChrystal

Posted on Jun 25, 2010

(Page 4)

9:34 Comment From Foucauldian

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:34:18 GMT

Comment: We’ve been preaching to the choir, Steve.

9:35 Comment From Steve

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:35:39 GMT

Comment: As I write this I am also watching [Hugo] Chavez addressing an ALBA conference with delegations from all over Latin America 10 minutes from where I write in Otavalo here in Ecuador. I wonder if it will get any coverage at all in the U.S. Is this not part of the problem?


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9:37 Comment From Andre

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:37:15 GMT

Comment: Afghanistan has resources that multinational corporations, which the United States represents, wants, and this is the purpose of endless war. I hardly think the establishment has any interest in democracy in Afghanistan.

9:37 Comment From Anthony Thomas

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:37:34 GMT

Comment: Steve, not likely. At least not on English-speaking channels.

9:39 Comment From Foucauldian

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:39:04 GMT

Comment: There’s only one way to stop these imperialistic wars: reinstate the draft.

9:39 Bob Scheer

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:39:08 GMT


 (To Steve) I don’t believe that the left has been ineffective. I believe that the problems are enormous, and the power of the people who create the problems is immense. We don’t live in a Jeffersonian democracy where we can talk to our farmer neighbors about the facts and logic involved; we are at the mercy of advertising, of mass media, of propaganda and manipulation that is actually perfected in some of our major academic institutions, where spewing propaganda is somehow considered an important art form. This concept that David Halberstam had of the best and the brightest is all too ominous. What happens is that your brightest students, as Chris Hedges, our incredible columnist, documents almost weekly, have their values distorted, have their intellect perverted. And even if they start out on the left, they end up being mouthpieces for corporations that are run for profit, no matter whether the executives are left or right, and they corrupt politicians, no matter whether those politicians are left or right. What we have to do, as best we can—and people like Rachel Maddow, certainly, and Amy Goodman and Michael Moore have certainly provided popular models of this—is to reach larger numbers of Americans with a view counter to that of the big multinational corporations and the politicians who serve them.

9:39 Truthdig

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:39:08 GMT


 This next question is from Whoopster from Berne, Switzerland—Hello Robert, As an expat U.S. citizen living and working in Western Europe, I have become convinced that the U.S. primarily remains in Afghanistan (and other countries) in order to generate activity for the militarized U.S. economy.

Isn’t the real truth that the military-industrial complex wants to ensure endless invasion and occupation for the foreseeable future?

9:39 Truthdig

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:39:49 GMT


 We have time for a couple more questions. ...

9:40 Comment From Anthony Thomas

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:40:07 GMT

Comment: There are more people standing in line to buy an iPhone 4 than would protest the war, or at least the Media won’t cover it.

9:40 Comment From Foucauldian

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:40:41 GMT

Comment: Ain’t that the truth, Anthony.

9:41 Comment From Anthony Thomas

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:41:36 GMT

Comment: They won’t bring back the draft either, that’s political suicide. ...

9:41 Comment From Foucauldian

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:41:52 GMT

Comment: Of course not.

9:42 Comment From Anthony Thomas

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:42:26 GMT

Comment: There is already room for a third party (not the tea party); putting the draft back on the table would turbocharge that movement.

9:42 Comment From Foucauldian

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:42:53 GMT

Comment: One question to Bob: What do you think would be the best strategy to force Obama’s hand—in the little time he’s got remaining?

9:43 Bob Scheer

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:43:14 GMT


 (To Whoopster) Yes, and that is exactly the point I made in my last book, called “The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America.” Without some kind of international ominous enemy out there, it becomes impossible to garner any significant support for having a military budget that is closer to $1 trillion overall than the official $600-odd billion of the Defense Department. We now spend more money in real dollars than we did at any time during the Cold War—even at the height of the Vietnam War—and in fact European countries are cutting back their military budgets, making the gap between the United States and the rest of the world even greater. It is absurd that without a sophisticated military enemy in sight, without a significant arsenal arrayed against us, we can justify spending more than the rest of the world combined on sophisticated military weapons and military campaigns that have nothing to do with fighting terrorists. The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, which is the justification of this enormous military buildup, attacked us with an arsenal of box-cutters that you could purchase for a couple hundred bucks at Home Depot. And they didn’t launch their attacks from Afghanistan or Iraq, but rather Hamburg, San Diego and Florida.

9:44 Truthdig

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:44:02 GMT


 Foucauldian’s question will be the last one we have time to answer.

9:45 Comment From Steve

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:45:21 GMT

Comment: Thank you for providing an opportunity for interesting and provocative exchanges!

9:45 Bob Scheer

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:45:34 GMT


 (To Foucauldian): I think we have to have basically a three-point program to save him [Obama] from himself. One, financial regulation has to have some muscle, and the debate right now in Congress over whether to prevent federally insured banks from being involved in this Wall Street casino of derivatives trading is a critical test. Two, he has to be serious about getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan and hold to the deadlines that he already has announced. Third, he has to ratchet up his criticism of BP and their allies and demand environmental accountability across the board. 

9:46 Comment From Foucauldian

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:46:11 GMT

Comment: Thank you again.

9:46 Bob Scheer

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:46:18 GMT


 I must go tape KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center” now—thank you everyone.

9:46 Comment From Anthony Thomas

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:46:22 GMT

Comment: Thanks

9:46 Truthdig

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:46:31 GMT


 Thank you, everyone, for joining us. 

9:46 Truthdig

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:46:55 GMT


 Remember to follow us on Facebook—

9:47 Truthdig

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:47:14 GMT


 and Twitter of course -

9:47 Truthdig

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:47:24 GMT


 See you next week

9:47 Comment From Andre

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:47:29 GMT

Comment: Thanks.

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By Tim, June 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This debacle also seems to allow greater convenience towards opening up discussion about the rules of engagement. This, at a time when I’m noticing a lot of opinion pages highlighting the frustrations of commanders in the field who are being pinned down and denied arial support due to the “winning hearts and minds” campaign.

I think, as Petraeus desires, we are going to see an increase in offensive measures. And with the pointless (and seemingly strategic) release of the U.S. Geological Survey’s assessment of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, who here thinks our boys are going to be told to remain passive?

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By FRTothus, June 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

And the lie of Muslim terrorists with box-cutters finds fertile adherents by those who should know better.

Unless and until we understand that such lies are manufactured, and how they serve to enrich the wealthy, ensure a larger National Security State, and justify any and every act of imperial aggression and a ever-increasing military budget, we will never be able to face the most profound fact of all: That our government continues to lie to us at every turn, and that in order to be considered “credible”, journalists must accept and repeat those lies.  Such willful ignorance is breath-taking.

Mr Sheer, with all due respect, do a little investigation, how about?  For starters, maybe you can explain to us how a jumbo jet full of passengers crashes into the side of the Pentagon without leaving any passengers, luggage, engines, landing gear and squeezes into a hole smaller than the circumference of its fuselage.

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd.”
(Bertrand Russell)

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By gerard, June 26, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

On or about December 20, when most Americans are busy with last minute Christmas shopping, Adm. Westmoreland, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will reach into his uniform pocket, and remove a Bible that he always keeps there. It will magically open at page 101 and he will read:

Greetings.  Verily I say unto you that the Afghan War is over.  Actually it has been over for some months but I guess you haven’t noticed.

Do as I say now, because I am your Higher Commander.

Go at once to Mr. Karzia, bow politely and tell him that your guys are finished and that he can talk all he wants to the Taliban and make any deal he wishes.  You are out of here.  Tell him just don’t let the Taliban claim a “victory” because you will need that word when you get back home. If he curses you in English, tell him when you started you thought you were doing the right thing.

Tell him the minerals and stuff in the hills belong to him to manage as he sees fit.  Then pull your men back from battle positions and clear out a.s.a.p.

Postscript:  Thou Shalt Not Kill.

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By felicity, June 26, 2010 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

TheJaundicedEye - “Afghanistan is not Vietnam” is an ‘interesting’ piece of spittle given that when Russia went to war with Afghanistan, Brezezinski wrote a letter to Carter saying that now America could give Russia its Vietnam.

And there are some who argue that Mother Russia, already on the skids, sealed its downfall when it went to war with Afghanistan.  (But of course America pays absolutely no attention to, gives no credence to historical precedent because America is an exception, peopled by the exceptional, guided by God, blah, blah, blah.)

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By TheJaundicedEye, June 26, 2010 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

How many of you remember the straight faced lies issuing from Washington, the neocons, warmongers and
defense profiteers stating flat out, without qualification, “Afghanistan is not Vietnam!”
Well, if it is not, it is one hell of a good imitation.
The USA is continuing to demonstrate the kind of hubristic stupidity and delusions of immortality and invulnerability which led to the USA having its ass handed to it after many years of farting around in Vietnam.  Mayhap it will not be quite so clear a defeat this time, since the USA is not squaring off against a fully functioning nation state, but, rather, tribal zanies.  However, the basic mistakes are the same .  The USA is engaged in a war far from home, with incredibly long and exposed supply lines.  There is no way to streamline the logistical system because most of the world is against the USA as it continues its mad adventuring.  The USA is once again messing around in someone else’s backyard and has not taken the trouble to find out who the enemy is, how he thinks, or what can be gained by playing this stupid game.  The US soldiers in Afghanistan have no more idea why they are in Afghanistan than a virus has why it is in someone’s
respiratory system.  There is a lack of clear objectives and a lack of understanding of what will constitute victory.  The only real difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam is the fact that in Vietnam there was a conscript army.  Today, there is a professional force, all wearing the pickle suit by choice, although, for many of the soldiers, it is not much of a choice.  Overwhelmingly, the grunts, the ground pounders, continue to be from the poorer, less privileged groups and areas of the USA.
So, why is Afghanistan not Vietnam?  As far as I can tell, the only real differences between Vietnam and Afghanistan are geographic location and the fact that there is not a conscript US force in Afghanistan.
Sooner or later, the outcome of this insane field trip will be the same as the outcome of Vietnam.  The only way available to produce anything which can plausibly be passed off as victory is to commit levels of troops and equipment that are just not possible, for time periods that are just not possible. This war has all ready cost the USA trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and the respect of the world.  The damage from this piece of idiocy is quite likely to be even more serious than the damage that followed Vietnam.  Actually, I have just realized that the last sentence above is actually another reason why Afghanistan is not Vietnam.  Eventually, the fact that all of this gross stupidity is being paid for by borrowed money is going to have some effect on the USA’s ability to borrow money. 
So, I am about to make a suggestion which has been made before, but no one has ever been smart enough to see the value in it.  The USA should call a press conference, declare victory and drag itself home, before the inevitable day of judgment.  Who is in the captain’s chair does not matter one little bit.  The end is foreordained.  McChrystal’s war or Petraeus’s war, makes no difference.

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By Ouroborus, June 26, 2010 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

I’m tired and don’t want to read anything; where’s the

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By Marc Schlee, June 26, 2010 at 2:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t a “masterstroke” when you get it right the first time instead of screwing up really, really bad and then sweeping it under the political carpet?



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By richard nixon, June 25, 2010 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think it would be beneficial to have more of these discussions and even start a
forum on here. There are a lot of questions I would like to pose about articles
written on here, just to general readers, but many can easily got lost below the

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By gerard, June 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

Robert:  I’m making this sugggestion from both listening in and submitting a question and from reading the results online.  I think you had better decide ahead of time on one subject for discussion the following session and limit questions to that subject alone.  Otherwise it is coming off as an awkward hodgepodge lacking in coherence and impact.

Just a thought. I know a lot of work goes into it.

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