Live Chat: Robert Scheer on McChrystalIf you missed Robert Scheer discussing his latest column and Gen. McChrystal with readers or you just want to relive the excitement, you can read the full transcript here.
BLANK 9:06 Truthdig
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:06:06 GMT
Comment: Welcome everyone! The live chat will begin shortly. Feel free to chat among yourselves in the meantime.
9:08 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:08:31 GMT
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:09:43 GMT
|First question: Did McChrystal intentionally set up this situation, to avoid being at the helm when Afghanistan implodes?|
9:11 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:11:05 GMT
|Great question. I thought about that myself while I was on the treadmill this morning. The situation is a disaster; the Polish defense minister has just said NATO has a mess on their hands — our allies are cutting out on us, and there’s no positive outcome in sight. Whether he is that cynical, I don’t know, but what’s happened to him is going to be better for his career than if he had stayed to preside over the inevitable disaster.
9:11 Comment From Foucauldian
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:11:12 GMT
Comment: That sounds logical,
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:11:40 GMT
|Next question: How do you feel about Gen. Petraeus replacing Gen. McChrystal?|
9:12 Comment From Anthony
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:12:38 GMT
Comment: Isn’t the G8 meeting largely about holding onto NATO support for the war effort?
9:13 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:13:15 GMT
|It was obviously done for political reasons, so that Obama would seem to be tough on terrorism, but since Afghanistan is no longer a serious base of terrorism vis-à-vis the U.S., and al-Qaida operates freely around the world wherever they can buy an airline ticket, this posturing will not make us safer. He [Obama] took exactly the wrong message from the excellent Rolling Stone piece, which reminded me of articles I wrote 45 years ago back in Vietnam — that there is no positive interventionist military outcome, and yet once again, a Democratic president refuses to heed the message.|
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:13:40 GMT
|This next question is from Truthdig reader Rogers. –
Scheer, it seems to me that your take on this does not recognize the differences between the situation we currently face and the ’60s. What do you think are the relevant differences and similarities?
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:14:57 GMT
|(If you have submitted a question please give Robert Scheer some time to answer the previous questions; we will get to yours shortly.)|
9:16 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:16:03 GMT
|I don’t see the differences in terms of claiming to fight an international enemy that threatens you. In the ’60s, there was something called international communism, but communism was even then hopelessly fragmented. There were hardly two communist governments that were on decent speaking terms — certainly not the Chinese and the Vietnamese communists. Yet we insisted we were fighting a war against a unified international communism. Now we commit the same error in insisting we are fighting a war against a unified international terrorism, but the Taliban in Afghanistan is, like the Viet Cong in Vietnam, a homegrown movement that has to be dealt with by people in the country who understand the culture, and change will come — as it has in Vietnam and China — from within, and not by foreign invasion.|
9:16 Comment From Steve
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:16:12 GMT
Comment: Which are the regulatory bodies and why aren’t they being held more accountable. This would not likely have happened with Norway’s requirements. …
9:19 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:19:06 GMT
|(To Steve) If this refers to the oil spill, clearly we didn’t have an effective regulatory regime regarding oil drilling any more than regarding banking. The lobbyists own Washington. Read my book out in about four weeks called “The Great American Stickup” for the whole sorry, sordid tale. Regulation is not a dirty word in Norway, where they very effectively control their drilling operations, but thanks to the Reagan Revolution, abetted by Clintonomics and drunk to excess under George W. Bush, we lost regulation of any important aspect of multinational corporate activity in this country, be it in health, finance, mineral exploration, or what have you.|
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:19:14 GMT
|Question from Truthdig reader kayrun — Gen. McChrystal’s and staff’s disclosures to Rolling Stone are so far from normal protocol that it raises the question whether this was deliberate provocation of President Obama or staged? If so, would one purpose be to appoint Gen. Petraeus to head up the Afghanistan war? Obama would surely have the power to do this, but perhaps did not want public questions about putting Petraeus in charge. McChrystal must have known that this would be like setting fire to a munitions depot.|
9:19 Comment From Steve
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:19:21 GMT
Comment: Oops — I (Steve) was thinking about the oil spill. …
9:20 Comment From Foucauldian
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:20:28 GMT
Comment: Indeed, we’re still persisting on manufacturing an enemy. In the ’60s it was the communists; today it’s terrorism. It looks like U.S. foreign policy hasn’t changed one bit. The same old mentality.
9:22 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:22:24 GMT
|(To kayrun) I answered this with the first question — that I could see McChrystal wanting an exit strategy for himself, as did Gen. MacArthur back in the Korean War. And now, he is off the hook, and as things disintegrate in Afghanistan, it’s all going to be Obama’s doing, because he got rid of our John Wayne figure. Obama has fallen into the trap. Instead of changing course and picking one of the people who knows this policy is bankrupt, like our ambassador — a former general — to run things, which would mean basically taking seriously the date for beginning to get out and turning power over to this Afghan military that we’ve invested so much money in, he’s actually picked another so-called miracle maker in Petraeus, and it won’t work. It didn’t work in Iraq, which remains a bloody mess, and it certainly won’t work in Afghanistan, which is a far more complex, impenetrable situation.|
9:22 Comment From gibby
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:22:43 GMT
Comment: What do you think about Ragland saying turn house [over] to lender if don’t work with lender to lower loan, and what do you think of Hedges’ thought on revolting against the system?
9:23 Comment From Steve
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:23:02 GMT
Comment: Do you think that the “left” should start organizing with the thought in mind of an alternative to Obama after his many betrayals? What else can we do?
9:24 Comment From Anthony Thomas
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:24:05 GMT
Comment: Start organizing? It’s a semi-police state, we …
9:24 Comment From Anthony Thomas
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:24:13 GMT
Comment: We’ll never get enough people for the MMS to cover it.
9:24 Comment From Foucauldian
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:24:27 GMT
Comment: Good question, Steve. I’m afraid the left hasn’t much pull. It’s the independents who hold the key to political victories.
9:24 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:24:54 GMT
|(To Steve) Oh boy. Everyone should organize — not just the left — to demand that Wall Street be reined in, that unemployment insurance be extended to the millions that need it to survive, that deep-ocean drilling be stopped until we figure out how to do it, and that the U.S. end both these unnecessary wars we’re involved in. I don’t see these as left or right issues, but rather as a matter of common sense. As a candidate, Obama indicated that he had a healthy measure of common sense on such matters. And what we need to get across to him: that his presidency is doomed if he does not return to the clarity of his campaign.|
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:24:59 GMT
|Next up Truthdig reader Lane from Los Angeles — Obama was supposed to be a man who has learned from history (i.e. Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson, Iraq, Bush, ad infinitum). We’ve known for years our presence in the Middle East in general is the main contributing factor to terrorism. We all knew that al-Qaida was in Pakistan at the time Obama redoubled the commitment to Afghanistan. I was personally shocked at Obama’s decision to increase the commitment there, and now Obama is having to reconsider based on information everyone already knew. My question is what was it in the McChrystal Report that could possibly make a man with Obama’s intelligence go for this? Or what is it about Obama that could have been impressed by McChrystal? When Obama was elected I thought we had a smart man. I just don’t get it. Help me out with this.|
9:27 Comment From Foucauldian
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:27:43 GMT
Comment: Heartless as it may seem, the discontinuation of the unemployment benefits may just be what the doctor ordered. The underclass has been kept relatively appeased with the measly checks.
9:28 Comment From Anthony Thomas
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:28:38 GMT
Comment: Intelligence has nothing to do with a captured government, and the installation of neoliberals and neoconservatives all over the government [and in] presidential-appointed positions makes it nearly impossible to do anything sweeping.
9:28 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:28:52 GMT
|(To Lane) The answer can be given with a simple word: opportunism. That’s the quality that helped him become president; it’s a quality that’s encouraged by our elite education, which says get the right answer that powerful people want to hear rather than search for the truth. It’s a system that rewards so-called winners — people who care about career over more important values, and unfortunately, that’s the Obama we’re seeing. It’s not the kid struggling to define himself in a working-class community in Honolulu, but ,unfortunately, in the polished product of an elite education we have once again the prospect of the best and the brightest leading us dangerously astray. But we still see flashes of the Obama that we voted for, and hopefully as he goes down in the polls, he will play to his better nature.|
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:28:59 GMT
|Truthdig reader inge asks — I haven’t seen anything or anybody question the ACCURACY of the writer(s)’ article in Rolling Stones. Why is everybody believing it to be fact what’s in it? Why is that? Thank you.|
9:30 Comment From Foucauldian
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:30:07 GMT
Comment: “But we still see flashes of the Obama that we voted for, and hopefully as he goes down in the polls, he will play to his better nature. ”
9:30 Comment From Foucauldian
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:30:23 GMT
Comment: I don’t see any basis for your optimism, Bob.
9:31 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:31:18 GMT
|(To inge) Because if this guy [the Rolling Stone reporter] had not gotten it right, beginning with McChrystal, the people he wrote about would be screaming to the high heavens. I’ve been there as a journalist in the midst of controversial stories that rely on interviews, and I also helped launch Rolling Stone’s editor, Jann Wenner, who began at Ramparts, which I edited back in the ’60s. And being in what has been considered the “alternative,” as opposed to mainstream, media, we always knew that we’d better get our facts straight or we were quickly finished. And this is an incredibly well-reported story, and the fact that it has not been challenged attests to its veracity. Trust me, if these guys had a way of squirming out of it, we would have heard it by now.|
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:31:31 GMT
|Next question from Selma Goldberg — Gen. McChrystal: What EXACTLY has to happen which convinces you the war has been successful? Describe in detail the environment in Afghanistan and the evidence this will be lasting. And how long do you think this will take to achieve?|
9:31 Comment From Foucauldian
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:31:44 GMT
Comment: McChrystal wouldn’t have apologized if the report wasn’t true.
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:31:49 GMT
|(Steve, we will get to your question next.)
9:32 Comment From Steve
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:32:06 GMT
Comment: We (the left) are many — what do you think we have been doing wrong to be so ineffective?
9:33 Bob Scheer
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:33:19 GMT
|Selma — I assume that’s a question you’re putting to McChrystal, which he answered in his original report, where he said quite candidly that this would be a very long, if not endless, battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, and that it would involve using the U.S. military in its most inappropriate and most ineffectual campaign to do educational and political organizing to make Afghanistan a mirror image of Midwestern U.S. society. It ain’t gonna happen.|
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?
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.|
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?
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.|
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
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:46:31 GMT
|Thank you, everyone, for joining us.|
Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:46:55 GMT
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Fri, 25 Jun 2010 17:47:14 GMT
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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
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